Review: “Faelorehn: The Otherworld Series #1” by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

Faelorehn: The Otherworld Series #1 by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson

 A review by Domoni.

Megan is an odd 17-year-old. Average teen problems used to be her biggest fear until she found out who she really is. Found wandering LA at the age of two, her adoptive parents could never tell her where she came from. Always feeling different than everyone she knew, she was an easy target for bullies, though her small loyal group of friends always had her back. One strange night in the swamp seems to have awoken things from her childhood that she had been told were mental illness. Can this handsome exotic young man give her the answers she is looking for?

I enjoyed this book. The pace was great and kept my attention. Though I felt the author’s description of the characters was light, which made me struggle to create them in my head. This is not a bad thing though, as some people enjoy being able to fully create the image of a character in their mind.

The premise is not new, but it felt like a fresh take on the fairy dropped in our world story. I do wish there had been more interaction with the other characters and the ending felt like too much story was left out. I suppose that is the hook to get you to buy the next book. Which I will be doing. Overall a fun read with good potential for an enjoyable series.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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“iZombie: Dead to the World Volume One” by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred

iZombie Dead to the World Volume One by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred

 A review by Courtney.

iZombie is a comic that I’ve been meaning to pick up ever since I started watching the show. The book has a few things going for it besides the TV show; it’s based in Eugene (I tend to be partial to books/comics based in Oregon), the main character is female, and there is a supernatural element one can expect especially when having a title like “iZombie”. Even with all these things going for it, it took me seeing an iZombie panel at ECCC to finally pick it up.

iZombie starts with the audience meeting the main character Gwen where she works with a bunch of dudes in a cemetery as a gravedigger. Readers unfamiliar with the show might be wondering why on earth this cute main character is working in such a morbid sad place; the comic answers it pretty quickly by explaining at the end that Gwen is a zombie who buries the bodies by day and digs them back up at night so she can eat their brains. We also learn that when Gwen eats brains, she gets the memories of the deceased person. When she finds out that the person (whose brain she ate) was murdered, she attempts to find and exact her own brand of zombie justice.

I liked several things about this book and one of the weirdest for me was hearing the narration from Gwen in my head similar in style to the way I hear the voice of Veronica Mars when reading those books; it felt very similar in style to Rob Thomas. I also enjoyed the variety of creatures that were featured in the book. I was happy that it wasn’t just zombies, but ghosts and vampires and others creatures that felt organic to the story. The art fit the tone of the book and added to the kooky nature of the story.

I would recommend this comic to people who enjoy the tone of the show iZombie, just be aware that it isn’t exactly the show and that there are differences, but that it was those differences that made the book more enjoyable.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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Review: “At Yomi’s Gate: Book One of the Magma Sea Cycle” by John Meszaros

At Yomi’s Gate, Book One of the Magma Sea Cycle

 A review by Hannah.

Set in an Earth much like our own, volcanoes ring the Pacific Ocean.  People both fear and revere the volcanoes.  A select few have a deeper connection that allows them to control fire and lava.  Whether they were born with the power, acquired it, or had it thrust upon them unwillingly, all must learn to control their abilities to improve their connection to the Earth and the Magma Sea that lies beneath her crust.

Futomi has been forced by his uncle, Daimyo Kotoheisei, to track down the Batu-no-kaji, a living weapon of mass destruction.  Instead he finds Sakura, the girl who bears the god of fire imprisoned in a tattoo on her back and Ikuko, a shy but impressive priestess.  Even though his family is a stake, Futomi chooses to help Sakura instead of turning her over to his homicidal and powerful uncle.  When an accident involving a powerful artifact merges Sakura with the fire god, she resolves to save Futomi’s family.  Unfortunately her rescue mission ends in tragedy, when she loses control of her new abilities.  Her actions will take Sakura and her friends on a journey to confront the creatures of the underworld and those responsible for her transformation.

This book started out fast and shallow, like a stream.  The main antagonist is killed within the first quarter of the book.  Parties are quickly and easily created.  Fumito finds Sakura and Ikuko within the first chapter.  People were convinced to take certain actions, even if they were violently opposed to those actions a few pages ago.  Even though Sakura and Ikuko know they are being hunted by the Daimyo, they still team up with Futomi and he is not the most reliable person.

But, just like a stream, you must watch your step while wading through this book.  Before you know it, the story is more like a deep river.  Rash decisions turn out to be well thought out.  “Trusted” allies are only trusted as far the other party can throw them, which in Ikuko’s case is actually pretty far.  This story starts out with a save the maiden fairy tale vibe, but it turns into a tale about overcoming adversity, repairing damaged relationships, and always striving for a better future.

I am looking forward to the rest of this series.  I want to know what happens to everyone and who we will meet next.  There is so much potential that the story could literally go anywhere.  This part of the series is set in medieval Japan, but the next book may be anywhere along the Pacific Ocean.  I can’t wait to see how the characters deal with language barriers, secrets from their pasts, and the futures that awaits them.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Flawed” by Cecelia Ahern

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

 A review by Amanda.

I received a copy of this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Celestine North is a seventeen year old girl striving for perfection. Society no longer tolerates mistakes and those who break the rules, even unwittingly, are branded Flawed – literally. Citizens who make a mistake are put on trial by the Guild. The Guild was formed long ago to curb societal wrongdoing, such as taking a risk at work that fails, committing adultery, and otherwise seeming undesirable. Those found guilty are branded with an F in a location on their bodies that depends on their crime.

Celestine takes pride in being as precise as possible. She is an aspiring mathematician and values logic over almost everything else. She loves her family, even if her sister Juniper walks a thin line of propriety. Her boyfriend, Art, is the North’s neighbor, and son of a Guild judge. Celestine has never doubted their future together; his humor balances her solemnity quite nicely. Her plans are torn apart when her logical mind, and compassion, compels her to break a rule, landing her in a holding center, awaiting trial. Worried for her family, as well as Art, she struggles to decide whether she should do what is right or what is expected of her. Making things slightly more complicated, her new “neighbor” in the holding center is Carrick, a mysterious young man whom she feels a connection with, despite never speaking a word to him.

Flawed is the first YA book by this author. Readers may recognize her contemporary fiction novels such as P.S. I Love You and Thanks For The Memories. This was a stunning story, full of interesting characters and a darkly relevant plot. It moves quickly, keeping the readers attention captured. The romantic aspects were on the predictable side but it didn’t detract from the story as a whole and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am anxious to continue the story and see which direction it goes in!

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “Tell The Wind And Fire” by Sarah Rees Brennan

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan A review by Amanda.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, Tell the Wind and Fire tells the story of Lucie, who straddles two cities – one Light and one Dark. For two years, she has struggled to protect her father and hide the truth of her past from the Light authorities. All of her careful planning comes undone when her boyfriend, a prominent Light citizen, is accused of passing information to a sans-merci, a member of Dark resistance group. The ordeal drops another man into Lucie’s life. A Dark magician whose motives are unclear, but to whom danger and intrigue are attracted, this man has the ability to upset everything Lucie has worked so hard to achieve.

All Lucie wants from her new life is for her father, and herself, to be safe. She keeps her head down, smiles brightly when told to, and stays silent when she has a different opinion than is expected. Helping a citizen of the Dark city goes against all of her self-preservation instincts but she can’t seem to avoid it. Lucie’s skills as a Light medic and her practice at appearing meek may work to her advantage, if only her compassion and stubborn spirit would cooperate.

Tell the Wind and Fire is gritty, dark, and action-packed. Lucie is a conflicted character, torn between keeping safe and doing what she feels is right. The romance is an integral part of the story, which feels raw and authentic. The love story did not appear to be an afterthought, as I have read before; instead, this world was built around the varied relationships in Lucie’s life. It was skillfully done and well-balanced. The romance did not overwhelm the plot but enhanced it. The over-arching story is gripping and keeps the reader guessing until the end. The one downside that I found with this book is that it appears to be a standalone, and I would love to read more about the people and worlds that the author has introduced us to.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “Hounded” by Kevin Hearne

Review of Hounded by Kevin Hearne

A review by Vanessa.

Traveling the earth for more than two millennia should give one a great sense of wisdom and a very significant mental leg up on everyone else around.  So how is it that Atticus O’Sullivan finds himself square in the middle of someone else’s power struggle?  That is just how it is when dealing with ancient Celtic Gods known as the Tuatha De Danann.  In an attempt to stay away from them Atticus, a very old and possibly the last remaining Druid, has been hiding out in Tempe Arizona for the last several years.  He wants nothing to do with them but when the Goddess of Death comes flying into your life, you listen.  She warns him that an old rival who has been dogging Atticus for many centuries is coming for him.  Even with the advance warning, Atticus finds himself pulled by Gods of old, both friend and foe, into a frightening culmination of centuries of animosity.  His magic is old and powerful, and he has learned to wield it to create strong protections for himself but it may not be strong enough to defeat a God.  His best hope is the magical sword he still holds known as Fragarach, the Answerer.  It has the ability to cut down any enemy regardless of any magical protections, and also happens to be the source of the target on his back.

Lucky for him Atticus is not alone.  His best friend Oberon, who happens to be an Irish wolfhound with a telepathic connection to him, is a loyal soldier ready to fight to keep him safe… as long as there is the possibility of a harem of poodles in the end.  Atticus’s enemy is cunning and has no issue controlling some of the mortals in Tempe to force Atticus to give him the sword by any means necessary; including framing him for a crime and letting the police search through his things to find the sword.  It is a good thing that Atticus has lawyers that just so happen to be a werewolf and vampire.  On intimate terms with the Goddess of Death, the Goddess of the Hunt, earth elementals, a powerful werewolf pack, a coven of witches, and a beautiful bartender who is suspiciously more than she seems, the Druid just might prove very difficult to defeat.

This was a fun read from beginning to end, no doubt.  It had a depth of history and backstory that was delightfully engaging without being entirely overwhelming, although it skirted the line a couple of times.  I found myself laughing right out loud on multiple occasions, thanks to the frequent comic relief provided by Oberon’s telepathic dialogue with Atticus.  The Irish wolfhound was by far my favorite character.  But there was no lack of interesting and engaging secondary characters to choose from.  As my first foray with a male author into the world of Urban Fantasy I was very pleased with the experience.  The book is classified as fantasy of course, but those of us rabid, loyal fans of Urban Fantasy can certainly recognize a fellow of the craft.  The romantic entanglements of the main character do tend to hold a little less depth than one might desire, but it is not a detriment to the story in any way.  Hearne’s storytelling is wonderful; he has given just enough in the first book of this series to get me completely hooked for the rest.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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