Book Review of Join or Die by J. Adrian Ruth

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Title: Join or Die

Series: Heir to the Scion

Author: J. Adrian Ruth

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

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A group of outcasts, struggling to survive in a school filled with monsters.

An average kid, growing up in Las Vegas, Alex Ayers life skids off the rails when a dragon shifter comes for him. Alex is a Creature, monsters from myths and legends. And he’s in line to lead all the Creatures in the world, if he doesn’t get killed first.

Now forced to attend a school filled with every horror he’s ever imagined, Alex draws together a group of friends to become his own mini-army.

A depressed vampire facing an identity crisis.

A class gossip with white hair and a frosty outlook.

A werewolf who plays with magic.

A Valkyrie straining against her berserker’s rage.

Can Alex keep his friends safe, fight for his own life, and catch a killer, all while keeping his grades up? And what will his future hold, as he begins his change into a Creature he knows nothing about?

*I received this book from Netgalley for my honest review*

This is a really cool mixture of Rosario+Vampire and Harry Potter. Alex’s life is thrown for a loop when he finds out he is halfbreed—half human, half creature. I won’t spoil what he is, as that is a big mystery he has to discover, but it is a really cool twist. He is mad his father left him and never told him the truth, and that resentment plays a big part on what he need to do to accept his fate.

I liked the other characters as well, especially Elvey, the half vampire-half elf roommate. That is, actually, one of my favorite mixtures and one that I think would be cool to read more about. Both a creature of life and death—a cool dynamic that hasn’t been touched on. I also like Yoshi and how he is a Japanese creature. The author did a great job of mixing a few different creature myths from different parts of the world.

All in all, if you like Percy Jackson or Harry Potter or Rosario+Vampire, I think you will like this series! The story is a little on the shorter side, but to me that is nice as it is a relaxing read.

~Dani

Book Review of Girl on the Run by Abigail Johnson

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Title: Girl on the Run

Author: Abigail Johnson

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

Release date: 10/6/20

PREORDER HERE

Back cover:

A fast-paced original paperback thriller about a girl who discovers that her mother might not be who she says she is . . . and now someone is hunting them both.

Katelyn wants the best for her widowed mom. Surprising her with an online dating profile seems like a good idea.

It isn’t. Katelyn’s mom hasn’t just been acting overprotective all these years–she’s been hiding something. And now that anyone can find them online , Katelyn is in a desperate race against time to uncover the secrets of the past–not only her mom’s, but also her own.

As Katelyn’s world unravels, she begins to trust the guy who brought this nightmare to her door and to doubt the one person she never thought she would. Because her mom has been hiding for a reason: she’s been waiting.

Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller, and horror paperback original titles coming to you fast and furious each month. Enjoy everything you want to read the way you want to read it.

*I received an ARC for my honest opinion*

This novel had me hooked from beginning to end! From chapter one, we are on the run and we don’t stop until the end. Everything is fast-paced and you can feel the adrenaline dripping from the page. This novel is filled with suspense, mystery, heartache, and you can’t put it down! The pacing was perfect and information was given to the character and reader in a believable amount and at a believable time frame. Johnson does a great job of showing us the emotions and action instead of telling. No wording felt awkward and the series of events flowed naturally together.

The characters were very believable as well. You get the right info about them at the right times to make you wonder what is really going on. I loved the mystery behind it and how our main character had to figure out what really happened. Katelyn was a believable teen going through this madness and her actions never felt contradictory. While reading, I could tell Johnson did a lot of research to make this story unique and believable, which is something I really like in a book.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves YA or thrillers. You won’t be disappointed!

~Dani

 

If you preorder from Changing Hands, you can get a preorder special! For details, CLICK HERE.

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Book Review of Shinto: The Kami Way by Dr. Sokyo Ono

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Title: Shinto: The Kami Way

Author: Dr. Sokyo Ono

In collaboration: William P. Woodard

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

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Back cover:

Shinto, the indigenous faith of the Japanese people, continues to fascinate and mystify both the casual visitor to Japan and the long-time resident. Relatively unknown among the religions of the world, Shinto: The Kami Way provides an enlightening window into this Japanese faith.

In its general aspects, Shinto is more than a religious faith. It is an amalgam of attitudes, ideas, and ways of doing things that through two millennia and more have become an integral part of the manner of the Japanese people. Shinto is both a personal faith in the kami—objects of worship in Shinto and an honorific for noble, sacred spirits—and a communal way of life according to the mind of the kami. This introduction unveils Shinto’s spiritual characteristics and discusses the architecture and function of Shinto shrines. Further examination of Shinto’s lively festivals, worship, music, and sacred regalia illustrates Shinto’s influence on all levels of Japanese life.

Fifteen photographs, numerous drawings and Dr. Ono’s text introduce the reader to two millennia of indigenous Japanese belief in the kami and communal life.

Chapters include:

  • The Kami Way
  • Shrines
  • Worship and Festivals
  • Political and Social Characteristics
  • Some Spiritual Characteristics

About the Author:
Dr. Sokyo Ono was a professor at Kokugakuin Daigaku, a Shinto university in Tokyo, and has lectured for the National Association of Shinto Shrines. He also served as Executive Director of the International Institute for the Study of Religions and the Japan Religious Cooperative Council

William Woodard directed the research unit of the Religious and Cultural Resources Division, Civil Information and Education Section, SCAP from 1946 to 1952.

I asked for this book for Christmas to help with my research for two different YA Japanese Fantasy novels I am working on. I felt that this gave some good insight of what it is like at Shinto shrines and how Shintoism is engrained in a lot of daily life actions in modern Japan. I found it to be quite fascinating, as we don’t learn much about this religion in schools or while looking at cultures in general. A lot is said about Buddism, but not much is said about Shintoism, and this book goes over a bit of why that is. I wished it went a little more on the changes throughout history and what actions changed or didn’t with a timeline, as my novel takes place in different periods through Japan.

I highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about this religion, whether it be because they are interested in Japanese culture, research for something they are writing, or if they want to visit shrines in Japan and understand what is respectful and what is not. I can’t wait to visit Japan and pay my respects to the kami at various shrines.

~Dani

Book Review of The Damned by Renée Ahdieh

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Title: The Damned

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Back cover:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with the second installment of her new sumptuous, sultry and romantic series, The Beautiful.

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly.

But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien. Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

The Damned, Renée’s latest installment in The Beautiful series is just as decadent, thrilling, and mysterious as her last, as she continues her most potent fantasy series yet.

This book was nonstop magical! From page one I was hooked! I finished the first book a couple of months ago (see book 1 review here) and I enjoyed it a lot, but this one was all that and more!

*Warning, Book 1 spoilers below*

Book 1 leaves off with Celine having her memories of Bastien wiped and Bastien having been turned into a vampire. Instead of starting off with Celine, whom was the main character for the first book, this story mostly takes place from Bastien’s POV and other vampires in his group. I loved this duality, so we finally see what is going one behind the series. The first book was a little slow, although there is something to be said about slow paced books to really set the mood, but this one is nonstop. We learn a lot more about the folklore behind vampires and the werewolves. I won’t spoil any more, but this a mythology that is well weaved together and left me wanting more. I really want to read book 3 right now!

If you didn’t care for book 1, I highly recommend still picking this book up to read. You will not be disappointed!

~Dani

Book Review of Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kong

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Title: Opium and Absinthe

Author: Lydia Kang

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

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Back cover:

From the bestselling author of A Beautiful Poison comes another spellbinding historical novel full of intrigue, occult mystery, and unexpected twists.

New York City, 1899. Tillie Pembroke’s sister lies dead, her body drained of blood and with two puncture wounds on her neck. Bram Stoker’s new novel, Dracula, has just been published, and Tillie’s imagination leaps to the impossible: the murderer is a vampire. But it can’t be—can it?

A ravenous reader and researcher, Tillie has something of an addiction to truth, and she won’t rest until she unravels the mystery of her sister’s death. Unfortunately, Tillie’s addicted to more than just truth; to ease the pain from a recent injury, she’s taking more and more laudanum…and some in her immediate circle are happy to keep her well supplied.

Tillie can’t bring herself to believe vampires exist. But with the hysteria surrounding her sister’s death, the continued vampiric slayings, and the opium swirling through her body, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for a girl who relies on facts and figures to know what’s real—or whether she can trust those closest to her.

I haven’t read any historical mysteries in quite a while, but when I saw this one had the folklore of vampires, I couldn’t resist. From page one, I was hooked on this story. It started off with Tillie getting injured from a horse-riding accident. She gets treated with some opium, and slowly the opium addiction Tillie faces starts to develop. I could tell Kang did a lot of research on the history of medicine during this time. I loved how it was weaved into the story and had a big part of what challenges Tillie faced.

The mystery of her sister’s death was also well set up. There were a lot of twists and turns, and I didn’t know who to trust. I really loved how much suspense and mystery there was. Although there were some parts that felt a little slow, I felt it was good pacing overall.

If you enjoy Historical Fiction and Amateur Sleuths, I highly recommend!

~Dani

Book Review of The End of Magic by Mark Stay

 

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Title: The End of Magic

Author: Mark Stay

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

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Two powerful mages. One steeped in privilege, the other bound by a moral code. Their world is thrown into chaos by the end of magic.

‘What will you do when the magic is gone?’

Sander Bree is a royal mage. He lives an easy life advising the king on matters of court and politics, yet he still complains that he’s stuck in a rut.

Rosheen Katell is a wandering mage and, with Anzu her griffin, she’s worked hard to build a reputation as a trustworthy truth seer. She never lies, never kills.

Very soon, their magic will be gone. A cataclysmic event will change their lives and world forever.

Sander must keep a promise that would have been difficult enough with magic, but is a suicide mission without it.

Rosheen is forced to side with a murderous warlord, and her once-solid principles are tested and found wanting. Both will be set against one another in a war unlike anything the world has seen before, in this sweeping fantasy of magic’s ending.

A stand alone fantasy novel for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch

This story is a mix of fantasy, adventure, mystery, and friendship. The main characters must help to save the life of a young girl as she is dying from poison. The only way to do this is to go get mermaid blood. This is not an easy task, especially since something happens and magic is no more.

Stay does a great job weaving in different characters. I really liked Rosheen and her griffin Anzu. She faces a lot of trouble as magic is now gone and she must fight without it. She is an awesome character that I enjoyed a lot!

I definitely recommend to anyone who loves fantasy!

~Dani

 

About the Author

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Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. Author of the fantasy novel The End of Magic, he is also co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com

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Book Review of The Awakening by L. J. Smith

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Title: The Awakening

Series: The Vampire Diaries

Author: L.J. Smith

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 2/5

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Back cover:

The first book in L.J. Smith’s New York Times bestselling Vampire Diaries series, the basis of the hit CW TV show starring Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, and Ian Somerhalder.

Elena Gilbert is a high school golden girl, used to getting what she wants. And who she wants. But when the boy she’s set her sights on—the handsome and haunted Stefan—isn’t interested, she’s confused. She could never know the real reason Stefan is struggling to resist her:

Stefan is a vampire, and Elena’s in danger just by being around him. What’s more, Stefan’s dark, dangerous vampire brother Damon has just arrived in town. And wherever Damon goes, trouble always follows.

Fans of The Vampire Diaries TV show will find this book packed with the same kind of heart-stopping suspense, fierce romances, and jaw-dropping surprises that they know and love, all brought to life by New York Times bestselling author L.J. Smith.

I am a fan of The Vampire Diaries TV show and finally got around to reading this book. By the first chapter, I noticed a lot of differences from the show, which I totally understand as telling stories on TV is a lot different than with a book. So I treated it as a completely different story.

But that being said, I did not enjoy this story at all.

First off, I did not care about Elena whatsoever. She was a B**** to everyone around her. First, she walks down the hallway of school and just feels all the boys wanting her (even her uncle makes a comment about her dress before prom). It is implied all of them want to or have dated her. Currently she is dating Matt but the moment she sees Stefan, she tosses Matt to the side and goes after Stefan. She starts rumors about Stefan so no other girl will go out with him. Then prom comes, Stefan is ignoring her because he realizes she looks like Katherine, and he doesn’t want to hurt her. He ends up going with someone else and Elena, who has Matt help her by trying to make Stefan jealous, find him with someone else so she runs off with another guy to go party in the cemetery, where her parents are buried, and leaves her friends behind without telling them where she went.

Yeah, no. I don’t care about this main character. She never realizes her mistakes, doesn’t care she makes others worry, all she cares about herself, and it doesn’t ever get better. I do not recommend this book. I am glad they changed Elena in the TV series.

~Dani

Book Review of Omnihumans by Tom Leveen

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Title: Omnihumans

Author: Tom Leveen

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

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He’ll sacrifice anything to save these children. . . except being human.

The world became aware of them sixty years ago: people with remarkable physical and sometimes psychic powers, often with terrifying deformities. Most folks call them deviants; deevs for short. Rejecting the slur, they call themselves omnihumans.
Manic is a federal officer tasked with taking down allegedly dangerous deevs. He loves his job, and he’s damn good at it. He’d wipe ’em all off the face of the earth if he could, because he believes every deev out there is a threat to mankind, just by their very existence. Not everyone agrees with him, though, including his only child—a naïve college girl who has devoted her life to protecting the civil rights of those very same deviants that he hauls in off the streets.
When his daughter’s tuition funds suddenly run out, Manic accepts a high-paying, off-the-books gig assassinating individual deevs. But after learning a deviant he’s killed was hunting down gangsters trafficking in the minds and bodies of human children, Manic decides to inherit the deviant’s quest.
Manic’s identity and clarity of purpose are thrown into chaos when he uncovers the concrete labyrinth where the gangsters are doing their dirty work. There, he finds a vigilante deviant who’s also trying to destroy the organization. Manic discovers deevs may be more human than not, as it becomes irrevocably clear that rescuing these most innocent of humans may not only cost Manic his life . . . but his humanity . . .

This book reminded me a lot of the show Heroes and the X-Men, but if it was told in the perspective of those who were hunting the mutants. The press portrays these omnihumans as being dangerous, and Manic really could use the money for his daughter’s tuition. And at the same time, he would be keeping the city safe, right?

Right?

Leveen does a great job portraying the mental process of reasoning out what is right and wrong for someone in this possession. Manic wants to do what is right, but how does one know what is right? At the same time, Malakai, an omnihuman, is trying to save someone child from a human trafficking wring. What will happen when these two go head to head? Will Manic be faced with the realization that maybe these omnihumans aren’t as dangerous as they are? Or will he follow orders?

This is a great military sci-fi for anyone who loves this aspect of X-Men. I highly recommend to fans of this genre!

~Dani

Book Review of The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

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Title: The Beautiful

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 4/5

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Back cover:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans is a safe haven after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent in the middle of the carnival season, Celine is quickly enraptured by the vibrant city, from its music to its fancy soirées and even its danger. She becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s enigmatic leader, Sébastien Saint Germain.

When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in Sébastien’s own lair–the second dead girl to turn up in recent weeks–Celine battles her attraction to Sébastien and suspicions about his guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

After a third murder, New Orleans becomes gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose–one who has now set Celine in his sights. As the murderer stalks her, Celine finally takes matters into her own hands, only to find herself caught in the midst of an age-old feud between the darkest creatures of the night, where the price of forbidden love is her life.

At once a sultry romance and a decadent, thrilling mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet.

I don’t know if you all know this, but I love vampire books 😛 So when I saw this book, I had to pick it up. Then @PenguinTeen was having a readathon with this book so I had to join.

Taking place in the beautiful area of New Orleans during the 1870s, this gem of a book (with the second book coming out in July) kept reading for hours on end. I needed to know what was going to happen next, and couldn’t put it down. It is gorgeously written and the prose is excellent. Celine is a very witty character and I love all her development.  I also loved Bastien and found him to be an awesome character.

The only problem I had with this book was that it didn’t quite explain everything that happened or tie up some loose ends. Although there is going to be a second book, where it left off made sense for the second book, but we don’t have all the answers for what was happening in the first first place.

I definitely recommend this book if you love New Orleans and vampire stories. I definitely can’t wait for the second book!

~Dani

Book Review of Never Date A Siren by Byrd Nash

 

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Title: Never Date A Siren

Author: Byrd Nash

Review by: Dani Hoots

Rating: 5/5

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When Brigit ran away from her helicopter parents, all the dryad wanted was an uncomplicated college life.

A contemporary fae YA fantasy with twists and surprises.

But being a fae among humans isn’t easy. When she’s kicked out of her apartment by her Troll roommate, stealing a bedroom from a human appears to be a simple plan.

Unfortunately, he has problems of his own – a messy break-up with a Siren means without her help, he will die.

A quirky fae fantasy about true friendships and magical companions.

Meet a hopelessly dim coco mat and a sarcastic cat, who may be too busy taking a bath to save you.

This book was a great start to a series. I loved how Nash weaved in different fae folklore together. The interactions between the different types of fae was very clever and unique. I haven’t ready too many fae stories, but I found this to be quite original.

Poor poor human Logan got caught up in a Siren’s magic. The description of what it would be like to hear her call, be stuck in her clutches, and have to figure out a way around it was really cool. I can’t wait to read more about these characters.

Brigit was a really cool main character. She is very smart, follows the codes of the fae, but is able to do it in a way to get what she wanted. If you want an awesome female character, this is your book!

All in all, I definitely recommend!

~Dani