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Six for Sunday

Six for Sunday: Magical Characters I’d Love to Be Friends With

Six for Sunday

Six for Sunday is a weekly blog post by Steph @ A Little But A Lot where you share 6 books that to share to go with that Sunday’s prompt. To learn more, click here.


The stellar theme for this month’s Six for Sunday posts is “Magical May.” Today’s prompt is magical characters you’d love to be friends with.

This prompt is my kind of perfect for me because many of my favorite characters have magical abilities of all kinds and are some of the best people you’ll ever read about. For my list, I chose characters from Tamora Pierce’s books since she is my all-time favorite author. She also writes young adult fantasy, so her characters are perfect for today’s prompt.

Magical character I really want to be besties forever with are:

( 1 ) Daja Kisubo

Magic: metal

( 2 ) Diane (Veralidaine) Sarrasri

Magic: wild magic – communicate with animals; shape-shifting

( 3 ) Alanna the Lioness

Magic: healing

( 4 ) Beka (Rebekah) Cooper

Magic: hear spirits of the dead through pigeons; hear sounds & conversations that happen near dust spinners

( 5 ) Briar Moss

Magic: plants

( 6 ) Tris (Trisana) Chandler

Magic: weather


Who are some of your favorite magical characters that you would like to be friends with?


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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Book Reviews

Book Review: Maya and the Return of the Godlings by Rena Barron

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"Maya and the Return of the Godlings" by Rena Barron (cover)
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Series: Maya and the Rising Dark
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: The threat from The Dark is far from over. Twelve-year-old Maya knows this. After crossing the veil between the two worlds, saving her father, and narrowly escaping the sinister clutches of the Lord of Shadows, tensions between the human world and The Dark are higher than ever. And even worse, Maya’s orisha powers as a godling are out of control.

Now a guardian in training, Maya spends her days patching up veils with her father and cleaning up near-disasters like baby wormholes that her erratic powers create. But when Maya and her friends discover that something went terribly wrong during their journey to bring her father back to the human world, they are forced to return to The Dark and restore what they left behind, the one thing keeping the veil from falling: her father’s soul.

The Lord of Shadows is mobilizing his forces for an all-out war against the human world. And this time, Maya and her friends will need all the help they can get. Even if that means teaming up with their greatest enemies, the darkbringers.

 

REVIEW: In Maya and the Return of the Godlings, the stakes are higher, but that doesn’t stop Maya and her friends from braving The Dark once more to find her father’s soul and prevent the Lord of Shadows from entering the human world in order to destroy it. There are a lot of problems to deal with all at once.

Maya proves once more how brave she is, but I felt in this sequel she was more reckless in a not so appealing way. I was on board with Maya wanting to go back to The Dark instead of waiting three months for backup to arrive. And I also get her wanting to prove how capable of a guardian she could be so that her father doesn’t have to work alone repairing veils anymore. But I thought she could have made better choices in how she would accomplish that. For example, there was one scene that – while not entirely her fault – resulted in (probably) million of dollars in damages and someone could have gotten seriously injured or killed.

I do like that Frankie and Eli get a chance to really shine and demonstrate how much they’ve improved with using their godling powers. I liked that we’re introduced to a few new characters with the potential to really shake up the story.

And I liked that we get more backstory of what happened before Maya’s dad created the veil and the opinions about human-darkbringer-orisha associations from all sides. Having these POVs, especially with the possibility of another war brewing – increased my investment in the story. All of the revelations throughout really brought home what could be lost if the Lord of Shadows and his army isn’t stopped.

The pacing of the story threw me off at times because something would begin and then stop, seemingly unfinished, in random places and then sometimes never fully addressed again. But I do like the potential these new storylines had/will have. Just wish certain things had a fuller end-for-now, like about Frankie and her biological mom.

The story is heading in a great direction. The author built up the story and got it to a good place for a showdown to happen in book 3, Maya and the Lord of Shadows. I can’t wait for its release!

Lastly, I am loving the cover art for this series. All three are stunning and colorful and pretty! Strength exudes from them that you can’t help but be drawn in by. This book’s jacket illustration was done by Geneva Bowers and the jacket design was done by Andrea Miller.


More by Rena Barron

Maya and the Rising Dark (#1)


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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About Books

Currently Reading – March 7, 2022

What is the genre of your current read(s)?

Over the weekend, I finished reading Summer Nights with a Cowboy and Wednesday Wilson Will Fix All Your Problems. Now I’m reading a middle grade fantasy called The Girl of Magic and Dreams by Charity Tober.

I won an e-copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway last Fall, but haven’t had a chance to read it until now. The cover is really pretty and I like the idea of a Dream Realm that’s protected by Dream Watchers. I’m interested in this character’s journey and how she might overcome internal and external conflicts. This title is also currently available on kindle unlimited if you have that.


"The Girl of Magic and Dreams" by Charity Tober
Image via Goodreads

ABOUT: Twelve-year-old Sophia Warner comes from a long line of Dream Watchers, humans possessing magical abilities from the Sandman himself and entrusted with protecting the Dream Realm. Frustrated by her slowly evolving powers and the continuous disapproval of the Council of Dreamers, Sophia becomes more and more reckless as she tries to force her full abilities to manifest in a desperate quest to locate her mom—who went missing in the Dream Realm four years earlier.

But things take a dangerous turn when Watchers begin to go missing and the ruler of the nightmares, the Shadow Queen, is to blame. Trapped on a dark island in the world of dreams by the Sandman long ago, the evil queen craves to find enough magic to finally break free from her prison and take over the Dream Realm.

As the only child Dream Watcher, Sophia is told to stay out of it. But when tragedy strikes her family, and the Council of Dreamers hesitates to intervene, Sophia is forced to make a choice. With the help of her best friend, a magical cat named Cosmo, can Sophia not only conquer her own fears and learn to control her magic, but also stop the Shadow Queen’s evil plans before all is lost?


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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Books of the Month

[January 2022] Book of the Month: Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

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It’s the first Book of the Month post of 2022! I chose Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston. I chose this first of a series because it was an incredible fantasy story with a likable and relatable main characters, a bunch of supernatural beings, and unique world building. I was so captivated by this story. It was one of my top top favorite reads of 2021. I can’t wait to read what is sure to be a thrilling sequel, Amari and the Great Game.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston cover
Image via Goodreads

Title: Amari and the Night Brothers
Series: Supernatural Investigations #1
Author: B.B. Alston
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Recommended?: Yes

ABOUT: Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal?

Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s old closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside, if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarves, yetis and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate.

Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids—who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean and how old is Merlin? Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson alone for Amari with signs like ‘Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it?’ If that all wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs – but Amari is given an illegal ability. As if she needed something else to make her stand out.

With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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Book Reviews

Book Review: Awakened by Moni Boyce

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DAY 19

Cover of "Awakened" by Moni Boyce.
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Oracle Chronicles #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Secret lineage, a ruthless vampire, and forbidden love.

Willow Stevens dreams of stardom are eclipsed by the real nightmares of a sinister man haunting her dreams. Unbeknownst to her, Eli Walker, her hot but snobbish co-worker, may know the reason nightmares plague her, but their history shows he is more prone to reject her, than help her.

Then Willow passes out at work only to wake in Eli’s apartment. There she has her chance to learn more about her heritage. But, knowing why the vampire king stalks her doesn’t make the nightmares disappear. If anything, they become more real as she now faces off against a slew of creatures she’d always believed were myth.

That Eli is one of those creatures is just her luck. Secret witch guild or not, his natural ways are casting spells her heart can’t escape. As a Protector his only focus should be her safety. Anything else is forbidden. He plans to stay in task, but some women break a man, or tempt him to break the rules.

Can Eli keep Willow alive and safe from the vampires long enough for her to grow her own powers or will both cast aside rules for a reckless passion that will only lead to danger?

 

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Awakened was a good start to this series full of supernaturals, a bit of romance, and action.

Willow’s life is upended when she learns she’s an oracle being hunted by the king of vampires who has been haunting her dreams for many years. Her Protectors – a group of witches and a werewolf – must keep her safe and her powers out of the wrong hands.

I like Willow and how she begins to evolve as she learns more about her past and powers. She’s been alone for a long time, so I like that she kind of finds a place to belong again with the Protectors. Sometimes she did come across as flat, so I’m hoping we get to dive deeper into her character more in the next book.

Eli is also an interesting character. As the leader of the Protectors, he’s torn between his duty and his feelings for Willow, which becomes a major source of contention.

The world building was good and easy to immerse within. I did wish there was more action happening because there were times that I was bored. But since this is the first book of a series the minimum shown was fine.

I really wish Killian, the vampire searching for Willow, had more presence. I wanted to know more about him from Killian directly rather than what other characters say about him.

Awakened was a good first book. I absolutely love the cover; it’s gorgeous! I think this series is heading in a good direction plot-wise and has a lot of potential.

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Book Reviews

Excerpt Review: House of Beating Wings by Olivia Wildenstein

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DAY 16

Chapters (prologue & 1st) provided by author’s newsletter.

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy
Series: The Kingdom of Crows #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

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Prediction: House of Beating Wings is going to be amazing! Only two chapters in and I am in need of more!

What first drew me in was this is an auto-read author, it’s a new adult fantasy (which I need more of!), and it will have fae AND crow shifters (yes, please!).

Fallon Rossi (MC) has charmed me! The beauty of her character is her compassion, which will be a great stark contrast against all those who view her with scorn or shame because she’s a halfling.

Additionally, you get a good sense of the social divide by blood in the world the author’s created that I think will heighten the conflicts to come since Fallon is friends with a pure-blooded fae prince, Dante (ohhh, potential love interest maybe???).

I’m really interested in learning more details about how Fallon became friends with a prince, what happened to her mother, and about her grandmother (who seems strong, wise, and kind of revered).

I cannot wait to read the finished product!

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ARCs Book Reviews

ARC Review: A Swift and Savage Tide by Chloe Neill

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Thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! A Swift and Savage Tide is out now!

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Series: Captain Kit Brightling #2
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Captain Kit Brightling is Aligned to the magic of the sea, which makes her an invaluable asset to the Saxon Isles and its monarch, Queen Charlotte. The Isles and its allies will need every advantage they can get: Gerard Rousseau, the former Gallic emperor and scourge of the Continent, has escaped his island prison to renew his quest for control of the Continent.

Gerard has no qualms about using dangerous magic to support his ambitions, so Kit and the crew of her ship, the Diana, are the natural choice to find him—and help stop him. But then Kit’s path unexpectedly crosses with that of the dashing and handsome Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, who’s working undercover on the Continent in his own efforts to stop Gerard. And he’s not the only person Kit is surprised to see. An old enemy has arisen, and the power he’ll wield on Gerard’s behalf is beautiful and terrible. Sparks will fly and sails will flutter as Kit and crew are cast into the seas of adventure to fight for queen and country.

 

My Review: Another great read from Chloe Neill! A Swift and Savage Tide is an excellent high seas adventure full of perilous battles at sea, romance that defies the status quo, a crew of charming, resilient characters, and one outstanding ship captain who I admire.

Book 2 ups the stakes, increases the risks. Once more, Kit proves how valiant and capable she is as a ship captain and leader. She’ll do whatever it takes to stop Gerard Rousseau from regaining power to take over the Continent. He continues to use dangerous magic and dangerous people to achieve his goals, his time in exile proving quite useful much to Kit’s frustration.

But in her pursuits and encounters with a deadly blast from the past, Kit comes to learn that there’s more to being aligned (having magic) than what people have always feared. The backstory behind that fear she a lot of light on some of the current strife. I like that Kit is open to exploring her magic further (though with a healthy amount of skepticism and wariness). I like the potential this aspect of the story could have in the future since magic has been a source of reluctance and contention.

I loved the progression of Kit and Grant’s relationship, rocky as it was for most of this book. Even though Grant has always treated her as an equal and that they work so well together, Kit is reluctant to fully embrace her feelings for him. To Kit, they are incompatible because they come from vastly different backgrounds and social status. She doesn’t want to lose herself, the sea to which she’s aligned to, and all that she’s accomplished.

As Kit tries to come to terms with the new possibilities of magic and her deep feelings for Grant, it’s clear that there is more to her than previously realized/known. This wonderfully thickens the plot. I can’t wait to see how all she’s learned unfolds in the next book.

Every conflict in book 2 was more suspenseful and dangerous than the last. The sea battles were exhilarating and tore at my emotions because Gerard always seemed one step ahead. The strength of the Diana (Kit’s ship) was considerably tested. The author does a great job making action scenes worthwhile.

In my review of book 1, one thing I had a problem with was that conflicts seemed to resolve too easily or were short-lived. That was thankfully not the case this time around, so I felt more invested in the journey and outcomes.

Book 2 was loads of fun for all its high volume of tension and angst. A small moment I liked a lot was when Kit and other characters were discussing their doubt that tiny, invisible (bacteria/germs, as we now know them) creatures made people sick or caused infections. It was just a light, humorous moment after a troubling battle.

I am truly enjoying this series and following along Captain Kit Brightling’s adventures. High seas stories are always entertaining. I can’t wait to read on!


More by Chloe Neill

Captain Kit Brightling
The Bright and Breaking Sea (#1)

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Servant of the Crown by Duncan M. Hamilton

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Image via Goodreads

Genre: Fantasy
Series: Dragonslayer #3
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Long laid plans finally bear fruit, but will it prove as sweet as hoped for? With the king on his deathbed, the power Amaury has sought for so long is finally in his grasp.

As opposition gathers from unexpected places, dragonkind fights for survival and a long-awaited reckoning grows close.

Soléne masters her magic, but questions the demands the world will make of her. Unable to say no when the call of duty comes, Gill realizes that the life he had given up on has not given up on him.

 

My Review: All good things must come to an end, as the saying goes. Servant of the Crown was a great ending to the Dragonslayer trilogy. Many emotions ran through me, thoughts on hyperdrive, because I didn’t know how Gill, Solène, and Pharadon would succeed in stopping the usurper, Amaury. I was hooked!

Mirabay is irrevocably changing, which is never easy to deal with, especially on this scale. I think for some characters they’re starting to realize their worth, what they want from life, find a purpose, and/or discover what matters. Almost like, what will they do with the time they have left?

Some parts of the story were sad because of certain character deaths, leaving me brokenhearted. One death I felt had a high chance of being avoided if people didn’t waste time.

I wish Solène had more page time. Though told in varying POVs, Gill was featured the most, which makes sense in the grand scheme of things, because he kind of begins the series and we finally get that long awaited showdown between Gill and Amaury in this last installment.

I was a little disappointed with the end of Amaury’s story. He’s one of the best, most wicked antagonists I’ve ever read. I felt he deserved a longer build up in that final scene. It went by too fast.

The last little bit of the story was also disappointing. While things wrapped up well and came full circle, it seemed like Gill and Solène got the short end of the stick. After all they’ve been through and sacrificed to save Mirabay from danger, they’d more than earned…a happier ending? for lack of better words. “Once a servant of the crown, ever a servant of the crown,” I guess.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the book and would recommend this series. Hamilton’s stories will leave you amazed and entertained.


More by Duncan M. Hamilton

Dragonslayer
Dragonslayer (#1)
Knight of the Silver Circle (#2)

The Wolf of the North
The Wolf of the North (#1)

Blood of Kings
The Squire (#1)

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller

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Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Mental Health
Series: Bladesmith #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Eighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power.

Then Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord, and the result is a sword capable of stealing its victims’ secrets. A sword that can cut far deeper than the length of its blade. A sword with the strength to topple kingdoms. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister and flees.

Joined by a distractingly handsome mercenary and a young scholar with extensive knowledge of the world’s known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a worthy wielder or a way to destroy it entirely.

 

My Review: I liked Blade of Secrets, but not as much as I thought I would. The cover is gorgeous, I felt connected to its main character, and the plot was original. I liked the amusing banter, the beautiful sisterly love, cute-as-can-be romance, and the loads of action.

Ziva I could empathize with her social anxiety, which was authentically portrayed. People-ing is hard for some, easier for others. Ziva’s awkwardness, her inability to converse, and that her sister, Temra, often has to do the talking for her, tends to be misunderstood.

I liked Ziva’s magical abilities, how she imbues anything she makes with magic. Ziva stands out as unique among other overpowered MCs I know of. However, I’m unable to suspend my disbelief towards some of her naivety about the weapons she makes. She understands the impact the commissioned sword would have on the world in the wrong hands, but she still seems…surprised? I don’t know. I can’t help questioning her hopes/goal for past weapons made.

Fortunately, this does make for a suspenseful conflict with a seemingly low success rate. The threat level was significantly high throughout the book. The warlord, Kymora Avedin, is rich, powerful, well-known, and a superior fighter. How will Ziva and company succeed in keeping the sword from the warlord’s clutches? It’s a conundrum that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat.

Ziva and Temra’s sisterly bond is so strong. They have each other’s back and love deeply. Ziva is extremely protective of her little sister who is all she has left in the world. Everything Ziva does is for Temra. Their close bond was my favorite part of the book.

I am all for Ziva’s budding romance with Kellyn. There were just too many setbacks on Ziva’s end. I get why but I just wanted them to move forward. They belong together, I just know it!

Kellyn gets Ziva and her anxiety when no one else but her sister ever did. He’s kind, patient, but real. His backstory was really nice and I like what his presence does to the plot. His quips with Petrik, another charming member of the group, livened things up during super tense situations. Kellyn is very underrated by the other characters that I don’t blame him one bit for feeling annoyed and angry when all he’s been is fair and generous, keeping up his end of the deal as a hired sword.

I have mixed feelings about the ending. After a tough, hard-fought battle, I didn’t expect things to take another drastic turn. I guess it’s fine and leaves things on an emotional and uncertain high.

Blade of Secrets is full of surprises, secrets, betrayals, and revelations. Despite my misgivings, Ziva, Temra, Kellyn, and Petrik are an interesting squad whose story-line I want to see through. I want to read more of whatever Levenseller writes next.


More by Tricia Levenseller

Warrior of the Wild

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First Read of September

Happy Saturday!

Although I don’t have a definite tbr planned for September, I’m deciding to start the month off by reading Servant of the Crown by Duncan M. Hamilton.

Image via Goodreads

Yes, it’s the third book I’m reading from him this summer but also the final book of a captivating fantasy trilogy.

Gill and Solène have come a long way since book 1. They gone through so much to reclaim and gain control over their lives (respectively), while at the same time facing off against dragons and whatever evil machinations the devious, and power-hunger Amaury sends their way.

It never gets easier saying farewell to a highly entertaining book or series. The author has taken readers on a wild ride and created such rich, multi-dimensional characters. I’m envisioning this final book will be as gloriously fantastical and dangerous as its predecessors.

What was or will be your first read of the month?


As Always, Happy Reading!!!

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