Book Review: Magic

Title: Magic
Author: Mike Russell
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 💫
Genre/s and tags: Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy/Supernatural, Magic Realism
Content warnings: Graphic depictions of violence/murder (one scene depicts a woman being sawed in half), mentions of child abuse, mentions of domestic violence, mentions of suicide, mentions of genocide
Goodreads synopsis: 

Does magic exist? Charlie Watson thinks it does and he wants to tell you all about it. Before he was famous, Charlie Watson decided to write a book to share with the world everything he knew about magic. This is that book. You will discover why Charlie always wears a top hat, why his house is full of rabbits, how magic wands are made, how the universe began, and much, much more. Plus, for the first time, Charlie tells of the strange events that led him from England to the Arctic, to perform the extraordinary feat that made him famous, and he finally reveals whether that extraordinary feat was magic or whether it was just a trick. 

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I received a copy of this book from the publisher
in exchange for an honest review! 

I’ve read Strange Secrets by Mike Russell last year and I enjoyed it a lot. So when I was asked to review a new book from him, I was excited to dive in!

Magic is a strange yet funny and heartwarming story that will make you think about magic and the world, and will make you wonder just how real magic is.

My thoughts on Magic

magic-by-mike-russell-front-coverWhat you need to know, first of all, is that this book is sort of a personal account of Charlie Watson and his strange journey with magic. Charlie, our protagonist, is directly talking to the readers and telling us about his  various encounters with different people, telling us about his thoughts and feelings. As a result, I was able to fully connect and understand Charlie as a character. He’s kind, innocent and childlike, and although that can be a little annoying at first, it’s impossible to hate him. He goes through many changes and the readers are right there with him. At the end of the book, I loved his character arc!

The plot is truly strange and interesting, and yet it has a heartwarming touch to it. I felt like it was a little bit dragging at the first few parts, but once the conflict has been introduced, it has been an exciting turn of events. Charlie met a lot of people who made him realize different things, people who made him question whether magic is real or not, and people who made him think about the existence of everything.

There are also a couple of issues talked about in the book. Bullying was a recurring theme and I love the subtlety of various characters overcoming it. Suicide/depression was also talked about in the story, but I feel like the author could have expounded more on that.

Overall, this was quite a nice read and I recommend it to those who are looking for a little magic!

Quotes from the book

You have to be brave if you want to know the truth. You have to risk being disappointed. 

First of all, this book was about how magic exists. Then it changed into a book about how magic doesn’t exist. Now I don’t know if magic exists or if it doesn’t exist, but I really want to find out. 

She’d had enough of men being in charge of her. She wanted to be independent. 

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Have you guys read this book yet? What did you think? Tell me in the comments!

Catch my interview with author Mike Russell later this week!

 

Book Review: Infinity Son

Title: Infinity Son
Author: Adam Silvera
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 💫
Series:
Infinity Cycle #1
Genre/s and tags: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, POC, Gay rep
Content warnings: Physical violence, graphic descriptions of violence (one scene involves decapitation), animal death
Goodreads synopsis: 

Balancing epic and intensely personal stakes, bestselling author Adam Silvera’s Infinity Son is a gritty, fast-paced adventure about two brothers caught up in a magical war generations in the making.

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

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Infinity Son is one of my most anticipated releases this year since Adam Silvera is one of my favorite contemporary authors! This one, however, is a little different—it’s fantasy! So, I was really excited to see Silvera in a new genre and see how he fares. Fortunately, I received a copy from the January Illumicrate box and now I’ve finally read it!

My thoughts on Infinity Son

As a whole, I think Infinity Son is an intriguing new fantasy novel with just enough punch to keep you wanting for more.

First and foremost, I loved the concept of the celestials and specters and phoenixes and magical creatures. I wish there was more about the world-building though. Like what is the difference between celestials and specters, Spell Walkers and Halo Knights. Or explanations about the existence of different magical creatures (not just the phoenixes). I’m still hoping I get some of these answers on the next book, though!

Oftentimes, it felt like there were too many characters, but not enough characterization. I felt like some characters are only there for the action and battle scenes. In fact, they only characters I was invested in are Emil and Ness. Emil is too precious for this world and Ness has a tragic backstory and a potential to become something more. On the other hand, Emil’s brother, Brighton, was downright insufferable. Pretty sure he ruined the mood for me 80% of the time and I felt like I was physically in pain just reading his chapters (I am NOT kidding). Although, if this is the author’s mission in the first place (that is, to annoy the readers with Brighton’s personality), then he did a pretty a good job.

The plot was entertaining and it kept me at the edge of my seat. There were a few plot twists that managed to shock me and made the story more interesting. However, there were still some plot points that were a bit confusing. I’m hoping we get more of these in the sequel. That said, the story line was still enjoyable for me and I absorbed it nonetheless.

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Overall, I believe the author did a decent job with his first ever fantasy novel. I can’t wait for more! How about you guys? What did you think about this book? Tell me in the comments!

 

ARC Review: The Unfairfolk

Title: The Unfairfolk
Author: Sara Wolf
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Series:
Valenbound #1
Genre/s and tags: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal/Thriller
Content warnings: “This book contains mentions of a car/train crash, heavy mention of parental abuse, domestic violence, sexual harassment, alcohol, drugs and drug use, nicotine use, self-harm, and heavy mention of blood.”
Goodreads synopsis: 

A promise made is a promise kept, until the very end of all death.

Sixteen year old Lilith Pierce’s mom is getting remarried. Which, sucks. To one of the richest men in Europe. Which, honestly? Sucks a little less.

Lilith’s warily stoked – after Dad disappeared, it’s been all tears and police visits and sleeping pills for Mom. So, yeah. She’ll suck it up for seven months and get shipped off to the ultra-luxe, ultra-selective Institut Le Silvere – a prestigious boarding school in the Swiss Alps – while they honeymoon. How hard can it really be? It’s not like she’s got maybe-permanent hypervigilance, or anything.

It’s not like the woods around the school are maybe-alive.

It’s not like she’s being stalked by a man with glowing red eyes.

It’s not like the neighboring village whispers that all the students are cursed.

It’s not like resident model Ciel Lautrec is the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen, or anything. Too beautiful to be human. So beautiful the hypervigilance shuts right up. It’s not like she can’t handle Silvere’s self-appointed, self-conceited lawkeeper slash bully Alistair Strickland. Because she can. She can handle it all.

She’s always handled it all. Because she’s Lilith-fucking-Pierce.

And the forest knows that best of all.

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Atmospheric, thrilling, and enthralling. For me, these are the three words that can best describe The Unfairfolk. This book is the first of a new series from Sara Wolf that will beguile readers from the first chapter until the very last.

My thoughts on The Unfairfolk

unfair-360x570-1The Unfairfolk follows Lilith Pierce as she puts on her brave face and flies to a foreign a country to attend a prestigious boarding school, as her mother and her new husband enjoy a luxurious honeymoon around the world. In Institut Le Silvere, she meets Ciel Lautrec, an otherworldly person she can’t help but feel attracted to, and Alistair Strickland, a seemingly cruel lawkeeper she keeps running into. Unfortunately for Lilith, she also encounters other people, things, and creatures that she just can’t ignore. Like Von Arx who seemed to hate her the first time they meet, or Knight Durand, a building inside the school grounds that’s been on renovation for several years now, the man with fiery red eyes who seems to be stalking her, and more. What Lilith doesn’t know is that she’s about to uncover something else in this school, and it will all start with the forest.

The writing style is atmospheric in every way possible. The author never fails to make the reader feel so much of the character’s thoughts and emotions, or the surroundings or setting of a current scene, or the ominous threat that seems to loom over the characters. There were a number of times when I truly felt the eeriness of a scene being described in the book, as if I was watching a scene from a horror movie. It’s also impressive how the tone changes every time the point of view switches in every chapter. There’s the first person point of view from Lilith and a third person point of view that alternates between Ciel Luatrec and Alistair Strickland. In every chapter, the tone changes and it matches the characters and the setting so well that it just pulls you in the moment.

The characters are absolutely enthralling. They all have their own personalities and each of them offers a story to tell to the readers. Lilith Pierce is one hilarious (yet deeply scarred) main character. I love her humour and her frankness, but at the same time, there are moments that she was childish. And she knows this herself, she knows it’s her flaw. Alistair Strickland, on the other hand, is layered. I thought I already knew his character, but he kept surprising me as the story progressed. Last but not the least, Ciel Lautrec is one intriguing character. There’s something unnerving about him, whether it be his beauty or his personal (and obscure) ambitions. These characters have a lot more to show to the readers, and I’m excited to see them in the sequel.

I also love how the book touched on several social issues, and I hope the author will tackle more of them in the next books. Lilith and her mother, as well as other characters, are victims of abuse and went through traumatic events. Social class and power imbalance are also a primary theme in the book. We see how toxic and detached rich people can be. And we see how being a child of powerful and influential people means never experiencing normal things and always being too careful around the public. Sexuality is also talked about in the book, albeit in brief passing moments.

The plot is intriguing, mysterious, and thrilling in a way that you’re excited to know what happens next but also very afraid of what the next chapter will bring. I have to say though, at its entirety, the book seems like a prologue. A lot of events transpired in the book, yes, but the progress of the main conflict went slow. It wasn’t until the last 20% of the book that we truly got to know more of the sinister man that’s been following Lilith, or the magical yet strange things that roam around the Institut Le Silvere. As a result, the ending feels a lot like a cliffhanger. But at the same time, it also feels like a promise—a promise that there’s something more and that it’s just the beginning of the story.

Overall, this book is a great read, and the Valenbound series seems promising as ever. I can’t wait to read the next book and see what comes of Lilith’s journey!

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Have you read this book already? Is it in your TBR? Tell me in the comments!

(This review was first published on The Nerd Daily.)

ARC Review + Favorite Quotes: The Electric Heir [Blog Tour]

Title: The Electric Heir
Author: Victoria Lee
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Series: Feverwake #2
Genre/s and Tags: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, LGTBQ+, Bisexual rep, gay rep, plus other queer characters, POC, Racism, M/M romance, OwnVoices
Content Warnings: Profanity, alcohol/drug abuse, mental health and suicide, non-consensual/rape, emotional abuse and manipulation, physical abuse. For a much more detailed list, see this content warning post from the author themself.
Publication date: March 17, 2020
Goodreads synopsis:

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.

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Hello book nerds! Guess what? It’s my tour stop in The Electric Heir Blog Tour hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club and. For this post I have a review to share, as well as some of my favorite quotes!

I’ve already published a review for The Electric Heir back in January (it’s one of my favorite reads that month, probably the whole 2020), but I couldn’t resist on signing up for this blog tour! And with luck, I was chosen to be a part of the tour! (Thank you so much The FFBC!)

My thoughts on The Electric Heir

The Electric Heir is just so beautifully written. Not just because of the magnificent prose, but because the author understands how to build characters and let them develop and be their own. These characters are interesting because they’re complex and they keep on changing as we read the story. I loved witnessing the whole journey these characters went through. Painful as it is, their arcs are well-developed and carefully-written. Best of all is that the storyline is gripping and it tackled several significant themes. There was abuse, trauma, mental health, politics, unhealthy relationships, and more. Everything wraps up at the end of the book and it is satisfying indeed.

For a detailed book review, click here.

My favorite quotes from the book

As I’ve mentioned, The Electric Heir‘s prose is just awe-inspiring and poignant. As a result, I have a lot of favorite quotes from this book. But for this tour stop, I managed to choose my top five. Here they are:

THE ELECTRIC HEIR FAVE QUOTESTHE ELECTRIC HEIR FAVE QUOTES 4THE ELECTRIC HEIR FAVE QUOTES 3THE ELECTRIC HEIR FAVE QUOTES 2THE ELECTRIC HEIR FAVE QUOTES 5


The Electric Heir Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble Book Depository | Google Books

Preorder campaign for The Electric Heir: Submit your proof of purchase or library request and you get to choose between two digital short stories!

About the Author 

Victoria Lee author image
Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whisky.

Victoria writes early in the morning, then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work.

She is represented by Holly Root and Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary.

Website| Goodreads | Twitter | InstagramFacebook

Tour Schedule

See more reviews, interviews, guest posts, playlists, and dream casts from other wonderful bloggers included in The Electric Heir blog tour hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club! Click here to see the tour schedule!

Giveaway

Win (1) copy of THE ELECTRIC HEIR by Victoria Lee (US Only)
Starts: March 11th 2020
Ends: March 25th 2020

Enter here!

ARC Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Genre/s and Tags: Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, LGBTQ+ rep, M/M romance, F/F romance (mentioned)
Content Warnings: Prejudice/hatred
Publication date: March 17, 2020
Goodreads synopsis:

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

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I received an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much Tor Books!

The House in the Cerulean Sea

 

I went into this book not really knowing anything other than the synopsis and that it’s queer.

I never knew that it will blow me away with such a beautiful, breathtaking, wholesome story. Because that’s what this book is: a beautiful, breathtaking, wholesome story from start to finish.

(Sorry, my mind went blank somewhere around here. I was trying to think of other things to describe this book, but I don’t think they’ll ever be enough! *cries*)

My thoughts on The House in the Cerulean Sea

For starters, The House in the Cerulean Sea is wonderfully-written. It was able to capture the emotions and thoughts of the characters and project it to the readers. It was also funny, yet poignant and deep. I couldn’t simply stop reading, and if I did, the story stayed on my mind.

This book is character-driven, and the characters are just amazing. I loved Linus’s character arc. He starts as this obedient and loyal employee who feels small and unseen. At the end of the book he’s not any of those things anymore, and I loved that! He discovers and realizes many things, and he grows and he learns. My favorites would have to be the kids though, specifically Chauncey (the unidentifiable green blob) and Lucy (the Antichrist (yep, you read that right indeed)). They’re just so pure! I loved Arthur and Zoe as well. They completed the story and I loved that Arthur got some character development, too!

The plot, though simple, is incredibly profound. Linus is a case worker and the fate of this rundown orphanage and the dangerous, yet extraordinary kids lie in his decision and recommendation. The story follows Linus and his one month stay at Marsyas Island Orphanage. It’s slow going, but Linus gets to know the kids and the caretakers. He gets to know the island and the prejudice against the orphanage. He realizes the unfairness of many things. He realizes where he belongs. He finally finds his own home. Along the way, there are secrets, riots, self-realizations, love, and healing. It’s wholesome, pure, and absolutely perfect.

Above all, this is a story that teaches us to be kind, that the world is not merely black and white, and that it’s okay to feel small once in a while. I’m completely blown away by it. I fell in love with this story and I’ll forever cherish it in my heart.

Quotes from the book

“You are a fire, and they need to know how you burn. Not only because of who you are, but because of what they have made you into.”

“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.”

“This isn’t simply an orphanage. It is a house of healing, and one that I think is necessary.”

*Note that these quotes may differ from the published copy.


Buy The House in the Cerulean Sea

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository


In conclusion, The House in the Cerulean Sea is definitely one of my favorite reads of 2020 and I am slowly becoming a fan of TJ Klune (I read his novella Blasphemy and it was hilarious!).

Anyway, please consider checking this book out on Goodreads and adding it to your TBRs!