Monday, April 24, 2017

Loose Yourself in Avalonia and a Giveaway!

I am absolutely honoured to have been selected to be part of the official blog tour for The Rise of the Dawnstar, book two of Farah Oomerbhoy's enchanting Avalonia Chronicles series.


The Rise of the Dawnstar, book two of The Avalonia Chronicles.

Aurora Firedrake returns in the spellbinding sequel to The Last of the Firedrakes. The seven kingdoms of Avalonia are crumbling and evil is spreading across the land like a plague. Queen Morgana is close to finding a way to open The Book of Abraxas and it’s only a matter of time until she uses the power trapped inside its pages to enslave the entire world. With Avalonia growing more dangerous by the day, Aurora must travel through war-torn lands and deep into the heart of the fae kingdom of Elfi. Her goal is to find a legendary weapon infused with the last of the realm’s ancient magic—the only weapon in the world powerful enough to stop the queen. Aurora might have survived her first battle against Morgana, but the true fight to save her kingdom and restore her throne has only just begun…

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Many thanks to NetGalley, Wise Ink Creative Publishing and last, but never the least, the author Farah Oomerbhoy for providing me a copy of this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review. 

When we left Aurora Firedrake last at the end of The Last of the Firedrakes, she was running with Kalen and Rafe in tow, off to find the Dark Dagger and the secrets to breaking the curse that would set her mother free.  Still reeling in the aftermath of the battle with Morgana and her Shadow Guard, Aurora is left overwhelmed with all that has happened and trying to come to terms with who she thinks she is and who she will be.

The first thing we need to talk about is the cover!  Absolutely gorgeous, just as The Last of the Firedrakes was breath taking this cover is enchanting, much like the story inside.  I couldn't put it down.  I devoured it in about a day and then went back through more slowly, highlighting passages that I fell in love with as I went along.  This is a series that you can lose yourself in.  

The Rise of the Dawnstar picks up right where we left off (THANK YOU FARAH!) and while many authors would think a time jump would suit the story, the right choice was made here to see what life was like for Aurora on the run and how she came to be closer to both Kalen and Rafe. She comes to learn slowly that the people who had thought her the answer to their prayers at first now cower from her after the destruction of the Shadow Guard and seeing how vast her power truly is.  They even want to turn to her over to Morgana in favour of the devil they know than the potential of something much worse should Aurora turn to dark magic.

This sequel surpassed all of my expectations - and they were soaring let me tell you!!!!  Flirtations, action, adventure, pirates (yes, there are pirates!), epically magical battles, and a torrent of heartbreak and manipulations inside the Elfi court.  I wasn't Tristan's biggest fan when we first met him, but there is something about him, though I am still firmly planted on the side of Team Rafe! There is truly something in The Rise of the Dawnstar for fans of every type of fantasy! 

"I have told you once, Captain Gerard," I snarled softly, looking him straight in the eyes.  "I did not kidnap your prince, and I don't know where he is.  Maybe you should check the brothels and taverns back in Neris.  That is where he usually spends all his time, I hear."
Aurora is still the feisty, sassy heroine that I came to admire and she is still growing into herself, still becoming more assured in the power that she can wield and what her destiny is.  She can be cutting when her ire is raised and her back's against the wall.  She can also be tender and vulnerable, a mark of strong female role model for young girls.  I lost myself in her, a character that is so captivating I couldn't tell where she ended and I began during my reading - a mark of excellent writing!  My heart broke for her in moments and soared in others (no spoilers here, you'll just have to read it yourself!!!!).

I really don't know how I'm going to survive the wait for the final instalment of the trilogy - and no one would hold it against you Farah if you decided to add a little more to this universe at all!

Prepare yourselves for the battles to come, for there is hope for this world yet.  The Age of the Dawnstar has begun.

 5 of 5 Stars and Two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me!

About the Author

Farah OomerbhoyFarah Oomerbhoy is the international bestselling author of The Avalonia Chronicles. Her first book, The Last of the Firedrakes, was originally published on Wattpad where it gained over two million reads and a Watty Award. Since publication, her debut has gone on to win a silver medal in IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards and the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, along with winning a finalist placement in the USA Best Book Awards. Farah loves the fantastical and magical and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest. With a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai, Farah spends her creative time crafting magical worlds for young adults. She lives with her family in Mumbai, India.


Everybody loves a giveaway, don't they?  I know I do! Take a look at what's up for grabs for all those following the blog tour for The Rise of the Dawnstar.
Grand Prize

 First Runner Up
Second Runner Up

For each stop on tour, there will be a special number at the end of the post. Collect all the numbers, add them up, and enter to win one of three prizes! Once you have all the numbers you can enter the giveaway here: 

The giveaway closes on May 21st, 11:59pm Eastern US time. 

My number is 30. 

Good luck! 

Visit some other members of the tour for their numbers!  Lisa Manterfield has an Interview with Farah as well there are excellent reviews from The Reading Cat and The Book Lover.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Review: The Last of the Firedrakes

I started writing my reviews in this blog after the following was written March 29, 2016 on Goodreads.  If you aren't a member there yet, Goodreads is a great place to find your next read, information about books that your interested in, or even to find out what your favourite author is currently reading!  It really is a community of readers, and if you head over and sign up, feel free to send me a request - I love getting to know readers with similar tastes to mine!

In light of the surprise review coming on Monday, *cue sneaky ahem coughings*, I thought I would share the review of a book very dear to my heart.  I actually read this again a few weeks ago and found that I love it as much now as I did then - actually I think I love it a little more.  As the release to the anxiously anticipated sequel draws near, it's time for you to take a look at The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy and wait with me for April 24th and the sequel's release...

The Last of the Firedrakes (The Avalonia Chronicles #1)The Last of the Firedrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received my copy of this eBook free in exchange for an honest review.

Wow! All I can say is WOW! This was a beautiful tale - it started slowly, but by the time it reached its climax I was really pulled into the story. Who hasn't wanted to be the hero? What little girl hasn't wanted to be a princess and a the hero of her own fairy tale? I know that I always did. Aurora spoke to me, called out to me and it was beautiful to find someone that I could identify with on so many levels. I love that she is strong, unable to shy away from danger based solely on an indelible curiosity fuelling her every move.

I hate the love triangle, or maybe, that was entirely the point. It felt ridiculous to have a character who is very much a 'Robin Hood' Rafe be forced in to a marriage with the seeming 'Sheriff of Nottingham' that is Leticia? That's not even the best example, but she is more suited to the evil cousins than she is to Rafe. Kieran is never really a love interest for Aurora, but there's a pseudo triangle mounted there between Rafe, Kieran and Aurora. I have one piece of advice - YA books do not ALL need a love triangle! The Rafe/Leticia romance and the realization that this is not a good match and that Leticia is not what she appears, this is the most that should be there. The attraction between Aurora and Rafe is true - now it's just a case of waiting to see if she can defeat her enemies, save her mother, and marry her Robin Hood.

I hate that I have to wait so long for another book, but once it is out, sign me up!!! 4 stars because of the forced love triangle - which I have no doubt will be quickly swept aside by the author's beautiful prose.

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You can pick up your copy of The Last of the Firedrakes  on,, iBooks, Kobo and wherever other fine books are sold. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Exciting News!

I'm sure you've noticed that a lot of the books I read were provided in exchange for honest reviews, and last year during one of these exchanges I managed to read a book that I fell in love with. Now I get to be the kickoff post of the blog tour for the release of the sequel!!!

I hope you all join me on Monday, April 24th, 2017 to celebrate this - and there might be some added bonuses to entice you to read and share alike!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Review: Heartless

Heartless Heartless by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You know when you hear about what the author of a series you're in love with is working on next as it comes to close and you think you can't wait to see what they do with this? You think the premise sounds great and you think you would love to read it because it sounds like it's right up your alley. You think about what a great and imaginative retelling they provided you in X book or Y book and how you just know that they are going to rock this concept too because how couldn't they? That's how I felt going into Heartless. I was coming off a high of reading some excellent books (Cinder, Scarlet, etc.) and felt certain that Marissa Meyer could handle the Queen of Hearts based on how well she'd tackled Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Snow White.

What I found was not what I was hoping for...

After the heartbreaking narrative of Fairest, I think I expected a treatment of the Queen of Hearts that I could feel for, one that I could identify with and see a connection with. I think I was expecting too much because I did not find the same kind of kinship with Cath and her struggle.

I think I would have been able to get behind it if it hadn't tried to create a world with yet another madman in the court of Hearts. I think I would have been able to get behind it if there was a relationship gone wrong between Hatta and Cath. I think this would have been something more interesting than the death of a nameless, faceless Jester causing her to snap and start spouting "off with their heads!"

The rating is 3 stars because, and I can't say this enough, the quirky world building and the writing itself is beautiful. The word choice is stellar and the description is breathtaking. It was a great premise that fell short on execution. I am not used to a book from Marissa Meyer that I can put down (several times) and have troubles picking back up. I'm hoping to be back to the norm with Renegades.

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Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

DNF @15%

I tried, really I swear I tried! This one was so over hyped - I've tried twice to pick it up again, but I can't get any farther into the book than I was before.

I think this is the only time you will ever hear me say, the movie was so much better than the book!

If you want to read something where the writing feels disjointed and pandering, where you can't make a connection with the story... This is your book right here, but it isn't for me.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Review: Wintersong

Wintersong Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I dreamt of this man, this embodiment of a Goblin King throughout my childhood. It didn't matter that I was taught to love his music by my mother, no matter what David Bowie would always be Jareth, the Goblin King, for me in my heart and in my dreams. When I heard that Wintersong was a sort of retelling of that story, a retelling that paid tribute to the original tale though it was its own story, I decided I had to read it. I waited until people I trusted, people with whom I share similar tastes, had read and reviewed the book before taking it up. I know that people could look at my reading activity on the tale and think, wow, she really doesn't seem like she was as impressed as a five star review, but there is so much more to it than that.

Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.

I can't say that my head wasn't filled with the images of Jareth & Sarah as I read this book. I can't say that I didn't imagine all the things that I wished would have happened as he sang to her "Live without the sunlight/Love without your heartbeat/I, I can't live within you" but I was present enough to know that this book was a book written out of love for the idea, love for the story. I thank you S. Jae-Jones for writing something that paid dear homage to those characters that I held so dear in childhood reverence. These characters, this story was treated with love, honour, compassion, reverence... This was the most beautiful treatment that I could have hoped for.

This truly was the story of a boy and girl who fell in love with each other as they danced together to the music that she heard in her head surrounded by the beauty of the Goblin Grove. They played together, danced together, shared their selves entire with each other and then, Liesl grew up. Liesl grew up and she left the Goblin King and her childhood fancies behind; the love that she felt for the young boy in the wood not lost, but buried beneath the oppression of her immediate world. She let the pain and rejection she was feeling make her invisible. She was shown that whenever she strove for the attentions of her father, he would crush her, break her down and make her invisible, so she stopped trying to be visible. She stopped trying to be anything but the strange, ugly little girl that she thought she was, undeserving of applause or admiration from anyone. Can I tell you that this hit home? It hit home hard, slamming me in the chest because even if I wasn't torn down by parents, I had been torn down and believed that I was that strange, ugly girl as a child myself (around 9 years old was where it started and so too did it begin for Liesl) and I could see myself within her and the very normal reactions to her situation. The connection took root, and that made everything else history.

Though there was a familiarity in settings (the ball, the masks, the goblins themselves, the decay, the city at the centre of the labyrinth, the concept of a labyrinth itself), the tone and spirit of this story was something entirely different. The game they played, the search for Käthe (like the search for Toby), the oubliette, little twists on the original and only taking up about half of the book yet resolving itself very differently than it did in that original tale. Instead of telling the Goblin King that he held no power over her, she offers up her life to him, her hand in marriage if only to save her sister, her brother, her world above... I don't imagine that she had envisioned remembering the love and the trust that she felt with the Goblin King when she was a little girl in the Goblin Grove. Liesl the girl, the inn keeper's daughter who gave her all for everyone else in spite of her own dreams and wishes flourished and grew into Elisabeth the woman, the lover, the wife, the sister, the composer who brooked no indifference or invisibility, who was whole and accepting of herself and striving for what she deserved, never accepting less. This was a beautiful coming of age for her, beautiful and powerful and stirring. I wept several times for the beauty of it.

Once upon a time, a savage, violent time, humans, goblins, kobolds, Hödekin, and Lorelei lived side by side in the world above, feeding, fighting, preying, slaying. It was, as I had said, a dark time, and Man turned to dark practices to keep the blood tides at bay. Sacrifices, you see. Man turned against brother, fathers against daughters, sons against
mothers, all to appease the goblins. To stop the needless deaths, one man— one stupid, foolish man— made a bargain with the old laws of the land, offering himself as a sacrifice.

The focus of Wintersong is predominantly the coming age of Liesl, but there is also a focus on the Goblin King and is he (and this bargain of a bride) really what he seems to be. A lot like Jareth, this Goblin King is not what he appears to the naked eye. The Goblin King is a title, it is a legend, it is not an imperfect immortal truth and it does not have to be your prison forever. This was something that I hadn't thought about. Oh sure, I had thought about living in the Underground, would it be good for the human spirit? How would the body adjust/react to the foods, sights, smells and tastes? Could you live without the sunshine? One line striking a cord with me:

What is eternal life but a prolonged death.

This story shows you how Elisabeth came to have a deeper love for her Goblin King, shows you how she fell in love with him, saw him, all of him. She learns how to find the music within him, the beauty behind the glamour. He learns to let her in, to give her his trust and his heart as she learns to do the same with him. Was it insta-love?

PUH-LEASE! IF you even remotely decide to tell me that you have gone ABSOLUTELY insane and you haven't read the same book. He had loved her since she was a child/they were both children playing in a wood together dancing to the wildness, the strange, the queer, the music in her head. This was about them discovering their true selves and being able to share themselves entirely with one another. Unfortunately, it was also a story that was heartbreaking in that in the end -(view spoiler)

Love is the bridge that spans the world above and below, and keeps the wheel of life turning.

I hope that this is true, I hope that this could happen... because I need more... I NEED MORE!!!!! This direct sequel that is coming, I need to know - is there a happily ever after to this story? Or just a happy enough?
(view spoiler)

I want to know, does it go on? Is it a bond not broken by time? Space? Linear and non-linear distance? I want to know and I wait anxiously with baited breath to hear the truth of the tale and for Elisabeth to call him home by name.

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Review: The Collapsing Empire

The Collapsing Empire The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What did I think? What did I think??!!!!????

I have made no secret of my love affair with John Scalzi novels, and I make none now either: THIS BOOK IS FULL OF SO MUCH WIN IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CONTAIN MY SQUEELING!!!!!!

*cue fangirl screams*

This is, yet again, another amazing opening to a series. I applaud all of it - ALL OF IT!!!!!!

The caste system, the idea of spacial living without any connection to Earth and their origins because the Flow shifted away from them... There are sociocultural issues, open sexual fluidity, and the currently socially relevant issue of the 1% keeping themselves in power to the pain of the common working class. Everything is handled with grace, class and beautifully open acceptance.

The characters are some of his best ever - especially, KIVA MOTHER FUCKING LAGOS! I love love LOVE Kiva (her mother to a lesser extent but her as well!!!) and any pages that featured her utterly wonderfully profane and humourous very real and human interactions made me smile, laugh, even chortle with glee!!

I am anxiously awaiting more of Cardenia and especially Kiva and the Lagos house - I just want MORE!!!!!!!

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Review: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There were a lot of words I could use to describe this story... A LOT of words that could describe my thinking. Obtuse came to mind about a couple of the characters many times. Pedantic, when thinking of the prose because heaven forbid we do not speak like PhD lit student in our novel as that might be unbecoming to our prowess as an author. HEAVEN FORE FEND!

I felt like I was being talked down to, a lot like Nora seemed to feel. The comparison to my favourite story of all time was not played out as well as it could have been, and while I'm curious if Nora ever redeemed herself, this book was WAAAAAAAAAAY to dense and slow paced with a negligible plot. In fact, the woman you think of as the heroine (or whom you should think of as the heroine) isn't even the one the story really turns out to be about! If another book comes, I won't be rushing to find it and may not even grab it until it's hit the 2 for $1 bin. Disappointing and nothing like the other series it was compared to which caught my eye in the first place!

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