Only Words (Shane Ashby Trilogy #1) by Summer Kiska

419ky6iv5blIf magick defines me, who am I without it?

Has your boyfriend been turned into a bunny?  Does your creepy stalker need a time-out as a toad? Or maybe you want a little more oomph in your spells? Shane Ashby—Celtic witch with three times the power of your average magick-user—has you covered.

Or, well, at least I used to.

I’ve been cursed. That’s bad enough, but now I have to defend against a sister I never thought I’d see again. And with the worst timing ever, a desperate, if irritatingly attractive warlock shows up at my door in need of a tutor. Apparently, I’m his “last hope.”

Somehow, I have to figure out how to keep breathing, not have an emotional breakdown, and make sure no one around me gets caught in the crossfire. All while having one proverbial hand tied behind my back.

Sure, I’ve got this…

 

REVIEW: A fun read with a refreshing perspective | ★★★★☆

It’s such a refreshing perspective for a story to be told from a witch whose speech is limited due to a curse. I had a lot of fun reading this book, and from Shane Ashby’s interesting point of view. It was incredibly easy to like her, and the love interest Jeremy Reeves as well. Though to be honest, I am rooting for the other guy, only because he’s a P.I. and a teleporter! There are few other characters in the story but none of them are bland, including Freya, the cat! Overall, this is definitely a good read and a great start to a trilogy.

Review originally posted on Amazon.

Unknown Element by Brittani S. Avery

518i87uvc7lIn fifteen-year-old Rex Marshall’s mystical world, beings are classified by and can harness the powers of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Light, and Darkness. When Rex, the rebellious son of an abolitionist councilman, impulsively purchases the freedom of Meenal, a peculiar blue slave, they discover a deep connection over one commonality: both don’t know who—or what—they are.

Rex and Meenal’s journey of self-discovery and Rex’s need to defend his birthright and inheritance takes them to the Saldur Empire, the country from which Rex’s homeland, Maventa, won its independence—the same place his missing mother hails from. As Rex acts as ambassador between Maventa and the Saldur Empire, his connection to his mother becomes stronger than ever, and his origin becomes eerily clear.

The quest to unearth their elements may prove life-threatening— or worse.

REVIEW: Intriguing but with character issues | ★★★☆☆

There are some aspects to enjoy about this book, but it’s significantly hindered by the main character Rex who is difficult to like. Even though his hot-tempered personality is meant to be part of a mystery, it’s still difficult to follow such an unlikeable lead. His behavior (and some others as well) is also a bit much for a teenager although that may depend on the culture? For me, it’s cringey mainly because they’re underaged. However, the world itself is interesting and there are other intriguing characters such as Meenal. So, if there is a sequel to this book, I will still continue with the series, hoping that Rex would have developed into a better character.

Review originally posted on Amazon.

Swinging Sanity by N. F. Mirza

44172434When the author was struggling with loss, illness, oppression and a perpetual cycle of anxiety attacks and phases of depression, she spent day and night stabbing keys.

And out poured poetry.

When the abyss spat her out she strung together those mutilated verses and compiled this book for the world to read what it feels like when you are swinging between sanity and insanity.

 

REVIEW: Pain and darkness beautifully expressed | ★

From the title to the art to the words themselves, the book is an excellent package. The poetry captures the darkness of pain and madness beautifully. My favorites are: “Clash of Extremes”, “Insomniac”, and “A Million Dead Stars”.

Review originally posted on Amazon.

Reciprocity by Sean M. Locke

41139191All Kaeri Hawen wants is a peaceful life in the Lower Terrace. No more collecting debts. No more breaking kneecaps.

But then the Boss’s loose cannon of a son massacres a dozen rival gangsters with a single pull of the trigger. Kaeri’s quiet retirement is off the menu—for now.

Kaeri knows she’ll get no rest if this looming gang war erupts into the streets. If she wants out of her life of crime, she’ll have to stop Kasper and his devilish weapon first.

Maria Cantabile is a clever young noblewoman with a penchant for tinkering and a devastating right cross. She’s descended into the Lower Terrace to retrieve two precious possessions: her delinquent little sister, and the stolen prototype of her reciprocating repeater carbine.

Kaeri knows just where to find both—the girl and the gun sit in Kasper’s greedy, bloodied hands.

The deadly noblewoman and the gold-hearted gangster will have to work together to stop a city-wide bloodbath. They’ll have to break their own rules, and betray their own families. They’ll have to risk falling in love. Do they have what it takes to save the Lower Terrace, and save each other?

This dieselpunk crime fantasy is perfect for readers who enjoy the hard boiled noir fiction of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, but want to see more LGBT romance and airships. If that sounds like your shot of whiskey, check out RECIPROCITY!

 

REVIEW: An excellent sci-fi noir mobster story with a lesbian lead | ★★★★★

I am not that much into mafia stories and I was not able to relate to everything here, but boy, oh, boy, is this a solid piece! The writing is slick and clever, the world-building is captivating, and the characters are cool and complex. I would definitely love to follow Kaeri and Maria in another adventure, perhaps in a sequel? ;)

Review originally posted on Amazon.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

40220795Read the book that started the phenomenon. Sarah J. Maas’s New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series has taken the world by storm.

Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament – fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

 

REVIEW: Enjoyable if you don’t take it seriously | ★★★☆☆

I feel like the main character Celaena Sardothian being given the label “the greatest assassin” is a huge insult to the term “assassin” and I really resent the book for that. She has the behavior, attitude, and mentality of a modern-day teenager because she is a teenager (although not supposedly in modern-day), and actually, there’s nothing wrong with that. But she’s as immature as teenagers tend to be, and to label her an assassin just to make her look cool is bringing down the coolness factor of the word “assassin”. The way she reacts to and views certain things are quite normal for a teenager but somewhat laughable for an assassin. There was a part where I actually laughed out loud because she was upset that she was not invited to the ball. This “greatest assassin” is upset that she was not invited to the ball. LOL! I wish there was this angle of “she was a trained assassin but is just now learning how to be a teenager” coming-of-age theme just to make her immaturity a bit more believable. We could also maybe get flashbacks of her past kills from time to time. But we get neither of these and instead we have an immature assassin at best.

The romance is a bit bland because instead of it being the “forbidden romance” between assassin and prince, it felt more like two teenagers being attracted to each other where I’m more inclined to let them enjoy their youth (so stop being overdramatic and just go for it!), than to feel any kind of weight or stakes for this kind of romance. I guess this is supposed to be a love triangle… and I’m actually rooting for the other guy — who, by the way, seems a bit young and inexperienced for a “captain” (yet another term whose coolness factor is brought down).

The tournament itself is also problematic. We have elimination tests that are set so far apart, and they’re not even that elaborate. And we are informed of some of them in hindsight and kind of dismissively. And in between these tests the participants are required to train — but why would established assassins, murderers, thieves, etc. need to be given time to train? It would have been much more believable if this whole thing was like a young assassins academy or something and they are on their way to graduating by performing these series of elimination tests. Also, the action is really lacking, which is weird because introducing a main character as an assassin usually implies a lot of action.

There is also a mystery plot where people in the castle are being killed horribly. To avoid spoilers, let me just say it ended up to be underwhelming for me.

Now that I’ve given my negative points, I’m gonna start with the positives.

The cover art looks good. That’s all!

Haha, kidding. From the get go I realized that this book is on the less mature side of Young Adult, so I decided not to take it so seriously and try to enjoy what I can.

Removing the assassin aspect to it, Celaena is not exactly unlikeable. Although I never felt that she was cool, I feel that she is a relatable character (for teenagers, not assassins) who can stand on her own. I love that she enjoys reading and is resourceful. More often than not, her connection to Chaol, Dorian, and Nehemia are enjoyable to read and I find these friendships believable. Dorian is not particularly interesting, but Chaol and Nehemia are. I never really believed him as a Captain, but Chaol feels like that honorable dependable buddy for both Celaena and Dorian. Nehemia is probably the most intriguing character in this story and that’s all I’m gonna say about her (to avoid spoilers).

The pacing of the story was also good. There were only few moments that felt dragging or too fast. The writing was very accessible and although not perfect, it was quite decent. And it played a huge part on why I enjoyed the book in spite of my frustrations with it. Another thing that kept me glued to the story is the intrigue behind the magical lore.

In the end, despite having major problems with it, I still managed to enjoy this book, with the hope that the next ones are better.

Review originally posted on Amazon.