BOOK REVIEW: The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling

The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy

Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy/Fairy Tale
Series: None

The Ickabog★★★★/5

SUMMARY: Once upon a time there was a tiny kingdom called Cornucopia, as rich in happiness as it was in gold, and famous for its food. From the delicate cream cheeses of Kurdsburg to the Hopes-of-Heaven pastries of Chouxville, each was so delicious that people wept with joy as they ate them.

But even in this happy kingdom, a monster lurks. Legend tells of a fearsome creature living far to the north in the Marshlands… the Ickabog. Some say it breathes fire, spits poison, and roars through the mist as it carries off wayward sheep and children alike. Some say it’s just a myth…

And when that myth takes on a life of its own, casting a shadow over the kingdom, two children — best friends Bert and Daisy — embark on a great adventure to untangle the truth and find out where the real monster lies, bringing hope and happiness to Cornucopia once more.

REVIEW: My first book of the year was THE ICKABOG by J.K. ROWLING. And wow, was it a fitting book to how 2021 has begun. The metaphor of the story is really singular to the political climate in the USA right now, and for it to be able to relate in such a simplistic and innocent way goes to show the complexity of the ideals behind it. The book was somewhat light-hearted and if you don’t look deeper beyond the words written on the pages, the story is an enjoyable and easy read–it’s around 275 pages but definitely didn’t feel like it, because I finished it in one sitting.

King Fred the Fearless: I really hate ignorant characters, but in reality there are many people in the world like this. They’re selfish and vain, and will turn a blind eye to anything that doesn’t directly concern them. I did enjoy the twist at the ending though. While he wasn’t the brains behind the whole Ickabog scheme, he did have a hand in letting it happen due to his inability to rule the kingdom. But his redemption at the end was a great way to show how people can change for the better.

The Ickabog: *Roar* I loved that part and definitely imagined it being said in my head. The bornded idea of their Ickaboggles being brought into the world was such a unique one. It touches on the ideal that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Children are so easily influenced by their parents’ heart and state-of-mind as well as the world that they’re being born into. But even like the first Ickaboggle, people can change with time as long as they are given the opportunity and environment to do so.

Overall, I think this book is great to introduce young readers to the political controversies going on in the world today. While children may not fully understand the extent of what the world is going through at the moment, they undoubtedly feel the tension and know that something isn’t quite right. While to a certain extent ignorance is bliss, I also believe that being educated and possessing knowledge of how the world is changing is an important one to instill into the next generation.

“Monsters” are only as scary as you make them out to be.

People can change if given the opportunity and environment to do so.

Ruling with fear and lies will bring an untimely end to power.

The last thing I want to mention was the fact that J.K. Rowling released one chapter at a time for free online and then held an illustration contest for children to submit their work to be printed in the physical copy. This was a quarantine project for her and I think it was such a great idea to get readers involved in the process. (The drawings are so unique and fanciful!)

I would definitely recommend the book for a quick and light read! Buy a copy on Amazon.

DESTINY OF LIGHT

The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy
NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

Republish of KALCYON

Seventy years ago, Alythea Somer and Logan Bray were tangled in the thorns of a wretched destiny. Now, seventy years later, she’s gone and he has returned to Celestria to unleash the wrath of his betrayal. The bloodlines of powerful families run strong within the veins of three special Valkryns who are blind to the secrets binding them to their ancestors’ past.

Selena Somerset is invited into the Guardianship to assist in the pursuit of Logan Bray, however, a string of disappearances and tragedies begin to occur–all the victims being six-year-old children. But these children are special, and the power growing within them is being exploited into darkness. Can Selena save the kidnapped children from the darkness Logan is forcing upon them?

I have officially completed the re-publishing of DESTINY OF LIGHT, book 2 of The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy. The paperback version is available on Amazon, and the hardcover version will be available in a week.

Revisiting this part of Selena’s adventure was exciting for me and I really enjoyed how she evolved and grew. I’m excited for you all to read the ending of her journey in the final installment of The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy, Prophecy of Fire.

Buy your copy on Amazon.

FATE OF ASH (The Phoenix Ashes Book I)

The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy

RELEASE DATE: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2020

Republish of KARNAGE.

Able to generate electricity, Selena Somerset is admitted into Vanderwald Academy, a school for the gifted who possess a special ability known as a Ceres. There, she meets an alluring, yet distant student named Lucas Brayden who is burdened by a haunted past. Thrown together by the hands of fate, Selena grows closer to him and uncovers the pain he has been hiding.Selena soon discovers a hidden Ceres deeply rooted into her tangled past. As the descendant of an ancient power, she is carved into a destiny that questions her very existence. When a thief’s sudden rampage terrorizes Celestria, Selena and her friends must figure out who the culprit is to bring him to justice. Friendship, love, and betrayal lay in wake for her as she is faced with the impossible decision to save the many or to save the only one who she has ever loved.

BOOK REVIEW: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Book Review

midnight sun

Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Series: Twilight Saga (EXTRA)

Midnight Sun★★★★.5/5

SUMMARY: When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.

REVIEW: Disclaimer…I was a twihard fan back in high school, like had the posters framed and hung above my bed kind of twihard. In a lot of ways, the Twilight saga really opened my eyes to writing. I loved everything about the series (except the first few movies…but that’s a whole other beast of a review). I remember being in a huge reading slump once I finished that series.

I had read the first couple chapters of Midnight Sun when they were leaked and was hooked! I’m so glad that Meyer decided to complete it for us to enjoy. You best believe that I preordered that bad boy right when I found out that it was being released. Now, for the nitty gritty!

I attempted a Twilight reread a couple months back. I couldn’t get over the simplicity of the writing. It just wasn’t as refined as the recent books I’ve read. But it was the first book and her writing has definitely improved since. I found Midnight Sun to be extremely engaging. Almost everything Edward thinks is written down–and being a vampire, he thinks FAST, so there’s a lot to unpack. It’s no wonder that the book is a massive 650+ pages. Literally, I was shocked at the sheer size of the book. It’s not as if the font is big either, so you know there is a lot of content packed into it. Overall, I thought her writing was great and really enjoyed the in-depth look into Edward Cullen’s torn mind.

At times, I felt I was waiting for things to happen for a little too long. Since I was already familiar with the story, there were some key parts that I was itching to get to but sometimes it took forever to get there. This book wasn’t one that I would be able to sit and read it in one go. But still, for nostalgia’s sake, I loved the extra content.

The insight on the background characters was a huge plus. Learning more about the vampire world was definitely intriguing new content. There were little easter eggs in this book that gave me “ohhh, so that’s why that happened…” moments, which were really fun to experience. Example, when Edward explained deeper into Jasper’s special abilities. That part in the Twilight book never really made sense to me. Putting her hair down and her hood on really wouldn’t hide her from a vampire–so that part made a lot more sense to me. Also, I love Emmett! Edward interacts with him a lot during this book and I really enjoyed the times they “conversed.”

Bella Swan: So, in this book, Bella seems so much…deeper. I loved her character in this book more than Twilight. That being said, it might be because it’s the way Edward sees her through his eyes. One thing is for sure, I was never able to picture Kristin Stewart as Bella throughout this book either! Bella had so much depth in her character. She was likable, strong, and overall good (as Edward would put it).

Edward Cullen: So, so much is going through his head. He comes off as dramatic at times, but that’s because he cares for Bella so obsessively. The creeping into her room every night to watch her sleep should have turned me off, but I still thought it was cute (haha! please don’t judge me!). He’s a complicated individual and has subdued himself to the darkest future possible. I literally hated the fact that throughout the entire epilogue, he had basically already decided he was leaving. He kept telling Bella, “forever,” and then adding in his head…until it’s not. I hated New Moon, so the fact that he already had one foot out the door, left a sour taste in my mouth.

In conclusion, if you’re a Twilight fan, then ‘yes’ you should definitely read this. I’m not a big audio book fan, but I think this one would actually be kind of nice to listen to–only because you’re already going to unconsciously picture the movie in your head while you read it (which is what happened for me). While it is a glorified rewrite of Twilight, Midnight Sun offers new content and insight that you’ll enjoy when throwing yourself back into a world of vampires.

Buy your copy of Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer here!

BOOK REVIEW: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Book Review

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Author: Shelby Mahurin
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Series: Serpent & Dove (Originally a duology but now a scheduled trilogy)

Serpent & Dove: ★★★★/5

SUMMARY: Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned. As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage. Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.

REVIEW: Before I start my review, I want to point out a few things. One, shamefully, it’s been almost a year since I’ve finished reading a book, so this is the one that got me out of my slump. Two, I purchased this book purely based on the cover. Three, this is my first book with witchcraft that I’ve read since Harry Potter.

I’ll start with what I loved: This book is about 500 pages–with pretty small font–but it didn’t feel like the book was long at all. The pacing made the story go by so quickly. I’ve read some other reviews that stated the first 200 pages were hard to get through, but personally I really enjoyed the build up. The last 50-100 pages is where I started having a bit of a problem with the pacing, but more on that later. I found the dialogue extremely engaging and enjoyable—it wasn’t overdone or forced.

In terms of chapter formatting, the book transitions between the views of Lou and Reid. I loved both characters and really appreciated getting two points of view. Originally, I’ve never really been a fan of multiple character POV’s, but Mahurin did an amazing job in integrating the story together. It worked because I liked both characters and genuinely wanted to know how they were feeling and thinking.

Overall, the plot was fresh and it kept me engaged. I hope that Mahurin expands on the different witch magics: Dame Blanches and Dame Rouge. The war between the two types of witches is definitely going to be revealed in the next book, and I think it’ll expose even more layers to the magic system.

What I didn’t like: Mahurin had a lot of twists throughout the book, but I saw each of them coming before it happened. All the twists were revealed one after the other, and I found it a bit jarring. It didn’t give me enough time to register them because it literally unraveled within a matter of moments. Since this was originally supposed to be a duology, I think the author felt she had to reveal the majority of the twists this first book so that she could wrap things up in the second. However, now that it is a trilogy, I’m assuming she’s going to be adding a new villain or possibly a betrayal of some sort to extend it. In my opinion, I thought keeping it a duology would’ve been perfect.

Also, the during the climax fight scene, I was really disappointed at the “Big Tiddy Liddy” part. Honestly, it was such a pivotal moment–intense, blood pumping–that fell a bit flat when the author added that in. It really didn’t make any sense to me at all. The buildup was climbing only to be disrupted with that small input. Maybe some people found it funny and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Louise le Blanc: She’s a badass, sassy main character. Despite her insecurities, she has a strong sense of compassion for those she cares about. Her loyalty and ability to draw the people around closer to her is apparent in her fun attitude. She’s definitely a friend that I would love to have. I’m looking forward to seeing Lou embrace her magic and face Morgane head on.

Reid Diggory: As a Chasseur (witch hunter), he’s as pure as it comes. His strong beliefs blind him for the majority of the book, but eventually love wakes him up. Even though his loyalty to Lou wavers for a moment, he subconsciously knew that he couldn’t live without her. I’m hoping there’s more character development for Reid, in terms of personal growth since his entire belief system came crashing down on him.

Coco: Lou’s best friend and confidant. I loved the friendship they shared, and when they interacted it was some of my favorite parts of the books. Coco is the smart, beautiful friend who cares for Lou so much that she would give her own life for hers.

Random thoughts: The author isn’t much of a world builder, in the sense that she doesn’t go in depth in writing descriptions of the surroundings. She’s very minimal. Personally, I don’t mind that because I have a really overactive imagination and was able to picture it in my head, no problem. But for those who really like to get the nitty gritty descriptions of setting, this book does not have that.

Also, Serpent & Dove is categorized as a young adult, but I think it should be considered more of a new adult book. There is one steamy sex scene. It’s not overly graphic and is written tastefully. Personally, I enjoyed it because it helped develop their relationship to the next level.

While I did enjoy the book, I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars because I felt something missing once I finished reading it. I think spreading the twists or emphasizing them in some way would have really improved the intensity of the reading experience. I would definitely still recommend this book to anybody looking for a fantasy romance book to read. Despite the length, the read is pretty quick, and all in all, it took me about 4 days to finish–the first day I read about 150 pages. 

The second book comes out on September 1, 2020, so it’s the perfect time to get started on this one!

Buy your copy here!