Family Camp Trip – Albeni Cove

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It feels so remote yet it’s less than 1.5 hours away from Spokane. This campground is small, wooded and on the Pend O’reille River. Our spot was surrounded by trees and even had a creek running through it!

Where: Albeni Cove

Info & Booking

What I loved:
-Camping spots are very spaced out, surrounded by trees and level. It’s not a parking lot for tents! I find it weird/uncomfortable to go camping and have strangers right next to you and not having any control of their behavior.
-The swimming area is sandy and clean. It’s pretty shallow for a long depth and then sectioned off by a rope to indicate the deep area.
-Clean bathrooms with showers! Yeah!
-Fire pits are usable even during summer (fire season) and at each site.
-Picnic table at each site.
-If you forget something, Safeway is about a 5 minute drive away. We took a short trip to get the wine I forgot (celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary).

Family Friendly:
100% family friendly. Our kids spent their time swimming, splashing in the creek, hiking, looking for wildlife through binoculars, hiking, and stargazing. Not once did they complain of being bored. Amazing!

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Readability: I finished a novel while we stayed there.It helped that the kids were busy! It’s a new to me series: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Review coming soon!

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Repeat: We would go again. In fact, it was already our second visit.

Happy Trails!
-Hannah

 

 

 

Roar

Roar (Stormheart, #1)Roar by Cora Carmack

5 stars

“You are lightning made flesh. Colder than falling snow. Unstoppable as the desert sands.”

Roar is the gripping tale about Princess Aurora who lives in a land that is ravaged by magical storms. Stormlings like her family, inherit the power to tame and control the storms and it is their duty to protect their kingdom. Except Aurora does not have any affinity with the storms. In an attempt to still protect the kingdom without any magical skill, she is arranged to marry the son of a neighboring kingdom. It is only days before her wedding that Roar begins to realize there is much more the magical storms than she was led to believe.

**Okay before I really dive into the review, can we just appreciate how GORGEOUS this cover is?? I must find out who did this art!!**

The Story-Okay, so maybe not the most original story. Princess has an arranged marriage only for her whole world to change causing a chain of reactions that sends her on an adventure of self discovery. It was the pitch that really did me in. We have had so many elemental books recently where people come across gifts to fight one another. But what if it wasn’t another race or people that you were fighting against, but the world itself? This book hooked me from the start. It was both beautiful and exciting from start to finish. In fact, I don’t recall a dull moment at all. Roar had a vast magical world, feisty characters and plenty of action and romance to drive the story to the very last page.

The World Building– Ok, really magical storms? The world building was so fantastic! The cover is only a small example of how descriptive Cora Carmack writes without droning on and on. The world building slid in seamlessly as the story progressed so you weren’t bogged down by just history or just luscious scenery. The concepts that she introduces were incredibly original. I loved the idea of stealing a storm’s heart and while having said heart it helps you control similar storms. I loved that there are brave souls and that chase and hunt down storms. Everything about the story helps promote vivid imagery that keeps the mind entertained.

The Characters-Aurora is such a great main character. She is spirited, brave, determined but still with fault. She isn’t this magnificent princess that she portrays, but she is willing to fight for the strength that she needs. I loved that she can be naïve but she learns as she goes and doesn’t back down to uncertainty. No one can blame her for keeping her real identity and skills secret because it would cause chaos, therefore causing her to suffer alone without any sort of reprieve.

Locke is not your typical “hero”. He isn’t some brave prince swooping in to save the day. He definitely creates an interesting dynamic as he has to battle his will against the princess’ determined spirit. She won’t back down, and Locke is forced to match her determination.

I love that though everyone may be slightly attracted to each other, there isn’t any instalove or ridiculous romance. Each character has a temperament that adds to the story.

Overall– this was one of my most anticipated books, and I was incredibly happy that it came in my June FairyLoot box. It was love at first sight from just the cover, and it didn’t fail to follow through with any of my expectations. In fact, it both met and exceeded them. It is definitely one of my favorite reads for 2017, and I cannot wait until the next book comes out.

-Scrill

The Big F

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The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin

ARC from Swoon Reads and Netgalley for a fair review.

Publish Date: August 29, 2017

5 stars

“Being lost, being without the plan I’d armed myself with my entire life, got me out of my comfort zone in ways that challenged me and forced me to grow as a person.” 

Maggie Ann Martin debut? I dub thee for fans of Kasie West and Morgan Matson.

The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin was a breath of fresh air in the YA contemporary category. Instead of a story about a 16 year old falling for that one guy that sweeps her off her feet in the most unexpected ways we are given the story of post high school but not quite adult. Where YA contemporary has steadily given us that high school romance and NA/Chicklit gives us those mid-twenties/fresh out of college taking on the world through middle age stories, Martin has delivered us a refreshing story that manages to land right in the middle. While The Big F dances around the typical tropes it doesn’t exactly take the same path.

Dani is fresh out of high school and as the daughter of a college guru she is on her way to the college of her dreamsor not. She’s failed her AP English class and her acceptance into the communications program has been taken away leaving her without a college plan. That is until she meets Luke, the boy next door who held her heart till he moved away when she was 11, wearing a t-shirt advertising the local community college. She finds herself enrolled into a community college as a last ditch effort to hopefully get back on track. If only she could figure out how to handle her new budding relationship, passing her classes and getting back into the good graces of her parents.

The Story-Like I said before, I loved that this didn’t follow all the typical YA contemporary tropes, but they are there, just not obnoxiously…

Firstly, lets touch on the base that she has a healthy relationship with parents that are, wait a minute, still together. There was no tragic death of one of her parents or a divorce sparking some kind of character building. Her parents were together, her family spent time together, and her brother was normal. Now, this book didn’t pretend that the world was perfect as her friends have had their own parental issues. It just wasn’t one of the defining issues for Dani. In fact, everything Dani goes through is self-inflicted and she figures it out on her own.

The boy next door trope is probably the biggest cliché in this book. Thankfully, the story doesn’t completely drive this one home, and uses it merely as a spring board for the plot. You know what the best part of this one was? It was almost more of a reach for a familiar connection rather than the one next door that is suddenly confessed to.

Lastly, the friend that sets you right trope. Dani had two friends like this. She had a friend to set her right emotionally, and a friend to check her when she was drowning academically, what a lucky girl. Even though they were there for her though, it wasn’t like her friends had to knock her silly and talk sense into her; they were just there for that extra push.

Was this the next story to make your heart break into a million pieces and then soar to the moon? No, but it’s the type of book you can enjoy over a weekend, silently cheering her on and grinning and her foolheartedness

The Characters

Dani-Okay, I really liked her. I think my favorite part of her was that though she had her romantic tendencies she felt so tangible. She was realistic, straight forward, and had her weaknesses that didn’t put her in the damsel in distress category. Despite making some key choices that she has to fix, she is still fairly level headed. She doesn’t need people telling her what to do, just the usual pat on the back and reassuring words.

Luke-What can I say really? He is pretty much the perfect boy next door. What makes him so perfect? He is the boy we dream about when we’re 11 but realize that everyone has their flaws even if they sit on such a high pedestal.

Porter-Everyone needs that one friend that shakes things up. Porter is that friend that introduces you to new things without making you go buck wild crazy that your family is completely concerned. I feel like all the Porters of the world are underappreciated, and I thank Martin for helping the “gangly boy” stand out.

Zoe-This girl has got to be the best wing woman ever. Martin did such a good job of incorporating a supportive friend without her own issues becoming the plot of the story. Zoe isn’t some magical creature that doesn’t have any drama per se, but the book wasn’t about her and she did a stellar job as a supporting character by not stealing any drama thunder.

The Connection– Personally, I have always felt completely detached whenever I read about the following things in YA contemporaries who were obsessed with going to a university. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against this age old tradition of kids graduating high school and heading off to college. I loved that this book showed a little bit more of the alternative – the wonderful world of community college.

I consider my town a college town. Spokane has both Gonzaga and Whitworth, a remote campus for WSU downtown, EWU just a stone throw away in Cheney and two community colleges. I had the luxury of going to both community colleges over the course of five years, and while I missed the whole dorm/sorority bit, I don’t feel like I missed out on all that much as far as my education goes. I think one of my favorite parts of the book was really that Martin didn’t dog against community college, even though Dani’s mother was a consultant for college acceptance. It was refreshing to be reminded that while they don’t typically offer 4 year degrees, they are an amicable stepping stone for transferring to university for either catching up on requirements for a program or simply determining that maybe you don’t know exactly what you want to do.

Purchase The Big F on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

-Scrill

NYXIA

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

ARC from Netgalley for an honest review

Publish Date: September 12, 2017

5 Stars


“Babel might have all the keys, but they don’t know what they’re keeping in the cage.” 

 

Before I get into this review, let me just say that I never read Ender’s Game, but I think I watched the flop-ish of a movie. Now while I found a few things that I didn’t particularly love about the book, it wasn’t anything that I fully disliked, they were just aspects that I just shrugged off.

Nyxia is a futuristic story about this guy named Emmett that gets recruited by a company called Babel into this space quest to a distant planet called Eden to mine for a substance called Nyxia. 9 other teens are also recruited on this mission as well. Turns out only 8 of them get to go and they must battle it out for the chance to make a lot of money and go to Eden.

The Story-What I liked most about Nyxia was that it wasn’t just about the challenges that the characters have to go through. Yes, a majority of the book is stock full of vivid accounts of the challenges, however, there is this underlying creepiness that Babel has form all the secrecy. First of all-Babel? I mean, in the Bible the story surrounding Babel is about how all the descendants of Noah started to overreach and build a tower to get to Heaven & God-at which point God was like, oh heck no let me scatter you and make you unable to understand each other. So that, and all the other biblical references in the beginning really set it up for the company to not be trustworthy. Do we ever find anything out? Not really, the men in charge openly admit that they aren’t just one wizard behind one curtain, there are many wizards behind many curtains. Quotes like this:

“But a quick glance shows that not all the kids around the table can see the writing on the wall. Translation: Walking away isn’t an option.”

just really set up the book to have a lot of twists and turns in the story, and boy are there a lot of twists and turns. (BTW, in case you don’t know “writing on the wall” is another biblical reference). Anyway, as soon as you start to think the book might plateau, BAM twist and then BAM turn. Literally, at 97% of the book another twist is thrown in.

The World Building-Let’s be real. They were on a spaceship, there wasn’t much world building. What little there was was in creation of Eden & the elements that go with it. The Adamites, the nyxia, the history behind previous travels was where any world building was. Here is one of the few things that bothered me comes in, but still was able to shrug it off. Here we are in the near distant future, Google apparently has been eaten up by this company Babel, but we are wearing these full masks for translating? There is already an ear budthat you can get that translates like 5 different languages from Waverly Labs and I would have expected a little more advancement than what was depicted in the story. 

I loved the complexity of nyxia and what it was capable of, and I can’t wait to read the next installment so that I can learn more about what it really is, what’s Babel up to, and what has really happened down on Eden. I really hope Reintgen really spends a little more time on the background than the day to day in the next book.

The Characters-Oh my little children. I wanted to scoop each of these kids up and hug them till their worries went away. Firstly, people can stop complaining, because, drum roll please, we have a narrator that is a POC. Emmett is a kid from a hoodrat neighborhood in Detroit. What I love about him is that he doesn’t let it define him. It’s where he’s from, but not who he is or where he is going. Aside from Emmett we have a smörgåsbord of ethnicity. Each character had their own history and skill to bring to the table. I really look forward to learn more about each character as their adventure continues on Eden.

The small bit of romance felt rather shallow. With the kids pitted against each other, it was hard to even imagine something romantic sparking, but I did appreciate all the camaraderie that was built. I did find the romance to be a little bit of a reach, because how does one chose one person over the rest of the kids scrambling to go when they really didn’t have much time to get to know each other. Still, they’re kids, they have hormones so and a limited variety of other people so…

Anyway, I loved it. It was exciting from start to finish. I felt connected with the characters and wanted rooted them on.

-Scrill

The Black Witch

25740412The Black Witch by Laurie Frost

5 Stars

“Real education doesn’t make your life easy. It complicates things and makes everything messy and disturbing. But the alternative, Elloren Gardner, is to live your life based on injustice and lies.” 

Okay, so here’s the deal. There are a plethora of long reviews (both bad & good) going over this book. So, I have decided to make this as to the point as possible. Before I start, let me just say one thing. I am incredibly glad that I read the book instead of heeding the reviews imploring people to stop supporting the writer & publisher.

The Story-Elloren Gardner comes a family that is descendant of a famous mage that essentially lead a revolution against the races that were controlling and killing their kind. She is now at the age where she can either be wandfasted (married) or go off to university. Her uncle is steadfast in having her wait to be wandfasted and has her go to university. Throughout the book she has to deal with the pleasures and ramifications of her genial history. The major conflict she must deal with is the prejudice that has been ingrained into her society against every other race.

The World BuildingLaurie Forest did an amazing with the world building. She has taken quite a few of paranormal creatures and molded them into a new world rich with history, violence, and hatred. From elves, werewolves, mages, to some adapted creatures such as Kelts, Urisk, etc. I found it incredibly fascinating to find so many types of races and being who I am, I took a great interest in trying to find out where some origins came from. I question things like are the Kelts supposed to be Celtic? The Elves have several races within the race, such as a Smaragdalfar, a green scaled elf, is that rooted from smaragdnine which basically means emerald in color? Are Icarals rooted from the winged God Icarus? Forest did such a wonderful job integrating all these races and creating history for each of them. She really made it plausible as to why the Gardnerians are SO racist. From the history they are taught, to religious aspects, to even their toys, they are raised to hate everyone and put themselves on pedestals. The fact the Elloren changes at all is a miracle since every other race is pretty much super awful to her. Why would she want to be more accepting of them? 

The Characters-This is the one place that I felt the book lacked, but it wasn’t enough to dock even a half star for me. I mean, I adored Elloren for the most part, but really, is Lukas Grey really worth all the torment she’s getting? I was really proud of reading her transform her opinions, even if it does take almost the entire book for her to drop most of her prejudices. But honestly, she’s 18 years old and her environment is not exactly promoting the change, so lets give her the benefit of the doubt and appreciate the fact that she even does get past how she was raised. Also, could Fallon Bane be any more of Regina George?

I mean I was really expected a little bit more than teen drama when it came to boys…

Anyway, I loved the book, and I can’t wait to read the next installment and see what other secrets we can discover about the world.

-Scrill

Our Dark Duet

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

5 stars

 

“How much does a soul weigh? he wondered.
Less than a body.”
 

Okay, so it’s been a few days and I think I have had sufficient amount of time to adjust to life after reading this book. Just a fair warning that I do not even know how to begin reviewing this book, but I will do my best. Let me just start off stating that I listened to the audiobook on this because that was the first version I could get my hands on from the library. I listened to most of it at 1.75x or 2x speed because I could not get through it fast enough to find out what was happening. With that being said, the audiobook version was excellent and Therese Plummer is amazing.

ODD picks up 6 months later with Kate in Prosperity. She’s being her usual bad assness kicking butt, taking names, and slaughtering monsters. Unfortunately, she’s skirting her responsibility in her own city. August is still in Verity and is smothering out the small amount of humanity that he has learned to harbor within himself. Both are haunted by the demons of their past (quite literally) and it takes a new monster that feeds on chaos that brings them together where they both confront each other and said demons. 

The World building
Let’s face it, there really isn’t much word building aside from the monsters in these books. I mean, there really isn’t any need for it. We get it, it’s a city seized by monsters. So where Schwab spends most of her world building is within the cruelty of each monster race and the desperation of the people still residing in the city. It is a newly accepted culture of fight with the FTF or be fodder to the Corsai and Sunai.

The Characters
Let’s start with Kate, just because she is a little easier. The entire first half I was pretty mad at how she could sit in Prosperity trying to pretend she’s not selfishly in a safer city while her home essentially rots from the inside. In the meantime she is trying to make up for it by protecting some other city. Screw those guys. However, I was honestly a little disappointed not to see anymore of her friends from there after she left. Schwab spent a little time introducing them, but we didn’t really get much out of it.

August is just as sweet and tender as the first book. He may not believe it, but he is the more human than the humans. His ability to have empathy about the souls that he is reaping is just mind blowing since the other Sunai don’t seem to grasp it. He is no monster. He is a tiny little kitty, with hidden claws that come out in the form of his violin and bow that slash through the corsair. I just love how conscious he is of all his actions. The moment I most loved about August was when he realizes just how much power he has through his music on people. 

To keep this review spoiler free, let’s just group all the other monsters together. They are creepy AF. I feel like we get a little more of a taste of the Corsai & Sunai, and their mentalities are so twisted. The flesh and torture that they obsess over just might be what helps us put August on such a high pedestal. 

The Story
Guys, this book was flawless. Schwab has created a monster that we love, a damaged girl who is the one person who keeps him human, and a monster so scary I was thankful that I didn’t do the book at night time. This book made me appreciate the nightlight in my room. The way the story plays out really isn’t so much about the war that is going on between the humans and the monsters as much as the war each of our characters has with themselves and what they have to do. We are left wondering, are we who we are based on our actions, or do our souls way more than that? 
Despite how beautiful the book ends it will leave you broken.

-Scrill

Dramatically Ever After

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Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Publish date: May 6, 2017
Received an ARC from Netgalley for a fair review.

5 stars


“I became a character, bur the character was actually me. I’d been so busy pigeonholding myself into characters everyone else believed I was this week that I almost let go of full, three-dimensional Em who had dreams and potential. The Em who could be pretty amazing, in her own way.” 

The kids from PCHS are back, and this time we are following Em, one of Phoebe from Bookishly Ever After‘s friends. Super confident and flirty Em has her chance at a scholarship that could help fund and convince her parents to let her pursue her theatrical dreams. Unfortunately, she is pitted up against the one boy in the school who she feels puts on more of a show than she does center stage.

This book was ridiculously cute. It had just the right amount of teenage uncertainty, teenage hormones, teenage maturity, and teenage heartbreak. In the first book, Phoebe drew from the characters in her books to give her confidence. In this book, Em uses her skills as an actress to befuddle the competition, and I just love how we all know that its going to definitely blow up in her face. Fake it till you make it is one of my mottoes, and in this case she literally does. 

Em is such a ridiculous girl. Now, despite her feeling that she is pretty much a love guru, it turns out when it comes to her own situations she is as blind as a bat. It was agonizing (in a good way) to read her struggle through her relationship with her hot German boyfriend who no longer lives on the continent while juggling her flirting with the competition and keeping face against the other 100-so competitors. I loved that despite her lack of esteem in her skills, she still puts up a brave face and fights through her situations. She may make some pretty dumb decisions, and oh my gosh, the way she responds about Wil is just so….ughhh how is she so dumb?! But you know what? I know girls misunderstand the way she did all the time, and it was so frustrating (again, in a good way) to read her through it.

Kris. Dreamy Kris. Of course he has to be so freaking dreamy and all around perfect. Good looking, talented, kind, good Samaritan, and incredibly smart. Of course Em thinks he is a fake! At first, I was a little annoyed that he was so perfect too. And though I know as a reader that he is probably supposed to actually be all those things, I couldn’t help but side with ridiculous Em and her accusations, thinking, NO ONE IS THAT ANGELIC! I was happy to see that he did actually have faults and his own learning curve when it came to his own actions.

I loved how Isabel Bandeira worked in phrases/terms that incorporate the dramatic aspect.

“I needed Wil’s perfect leading man sotic support, the big silent shadow behind me always willing to hold me up.”

“We were both actors in this high school drama and our roles were already scripted for us.”

“Despite my natural cynicism, hope crept into me and I felt like breaking int a musical number like something out of thirties film.”

If you want a cute YA romance with just a dash of heartbreak and a spoonful of gushiness, then this is the book for you.

-Scrill

The Alchemists of Loom

The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga, #1)

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

5 Stars


“This Dragon and she had embarked on an odd journey with each other. It was a winding path that had taken them across Loom, and what she thought was to be their final destination had turned out to be a resting point before the next, greater trek.” 

TAOL was fantastic! Kova gave us a rich new world full of history, a unique culture and races, and complex characters. Initially I was just stoked for another Elise Kova book, then I saw dragon, then I saw the cover art by Nick Grey). It was one of my 2017 most anticipated and it did not let me down. The story follows Ari a chimera, both fenthri & dragon, as she helps a dragon, Cvareh, on his mission to meet with the Alchemists guild of Loom. They have help from their friends, and with their combined skills they make their way across Loom with defeat around every corner.

Loom is the dreary world bellow the clouds, made of different guilds of Fenthri with different professions/skills. Nova is the colorful world above the clouds where the Dragons live. These are not your normal dragons, they are human like, but with retractable deadly claws, pointed ears that have exceptional hearing, and brilliant eyes that see better than any of Fenthri could imagine. Their worlds are drastically different in more than just the colors of the skin and the flatness or sharpness of their teeth. Their cultures and social understanding show how much they come from different worlds. Hitting the ground running, almost quite literally, Kova starts the story from Ari’s point of view in one of her many missions that are against the Dragons. The world is not dumped on you, but you are slowly wrapped into it as you learn about where these characters are and the history that has morphed their personalities.

Ari is such a complex character. She always has another card up her sleeve, and even by the end, I felt that I was just barely getting to know this vicious character. I loved reading about all her special skills and general badassness. Especially the action sequences that had her propelling herself with her gold cords.

Cvareh was a much more open character as he didn’t seem to be hiding as much as Ari. I loved their interactions and how much they played off each other. They are both so strong willed that I am amazed that they even learn to be civil towards each other, especially with Ari’s seething hatred for Dragons. Their duo would not have lasted long if it wasn’t for Florence who helped buffer the awkwardness and overall atmosphere that hovered between the two. Florence also added a little zing to the equation. I imagined her as a little gnome like the ones in WoW to be honest. 

I loved how different the characters the races are. We weren’t given typical humans or elves or whatever. We were given humanoids. The Fenthri are monochromatic in color and are classified to their guild and status by tattoos on their cheeks. The Dragons are brilliant in colors for skin, show off their muscular bodies, and even bleed gold. And then we have the Chimera, like Ari, who are Fenthri with stolen Dragon parts. Like how freaking awesome is this??!

The back of the book had a handy reference section that I checked frequently. Listing pronunciation, Dragon houses/social ranking, guild brands. My only problem with the book was just how I had to figure out what the purpose was for the guilds. It wasn’t until the end that I was entirely shore about each specialty. I sort of wished it was just a little bit more spelled out rather than just guessing based on context.

Because the world building is slowly given throughout the story, there really isn’t a dull moment where you are just reading descriptions of the land or about the culture. The pacing of the book is non stop action that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

-Scrill

Daughter of the Pirate King

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

5 stars

 

“All the sirens throughout the centuries have carried their stolen treasures to an island, Isla de Canta. There can be found the wealth of history, treasures beyond imagination. This is what my father seeks. This is why I’m here. This is what I’ve prepared for: stealing another piece of the map.” 


I adored everything about this book. The characters, the (minimal) world building, the action, the (minimal) romance. This was one of my anticipated releases for 2017, and even as a debut book it did not let me down. The story follows Alosa as she embarks on an adventure to steal 1/3 of a map that leads to an island that holds a treasure that pirates dream about. Despite her determination and persistence she encounters obstacle after obstacle that she must overcome to finish out the task appointed to her by her father.

Alosa-as the title describes she is the daughter of the pirate king. Her character is both beautiful, ruthless, and overall badass. The thing I particularly appreciated about her though is that despite all her redeeming qualities, she was still aiming to please her father. She did not fear the high seas, death, or the other pirates. What she feared was what would happen if she failed her mission and let her father down. With the prospect of making him proud shes goes to many lengths to complete her mission-including let herself be captured despite her ability to escape time & time again. At first her ego was a bit much, but her fearlessness and skill is proven throughout the story to not be just talk.

“These men don’t know who they’re dealing with. I am power and strength. I am death and destruction. I am not someone to be triffled with. They are beneath my notice.”

Riden & Draxen-The pirates who capture her are also both handsome, ruthless, and smart. I loved that they too are willing to make sacrifices for what they desire most, and a ransom on a beautiful pirate princess is sure to do just that. They are both not what they seem and have a bond that even Alosa can appreciate and understand. They are key to adding more depth to Alosa’s character as she views her lack of family/bond with anyone besides the women on her own vessel.

The world building in the book is minimal but is not lacking. While the majority of the book takes place on a pirate ship lengthy descriptions of the scenery is neither present or necessary. What Levenseller does give us is circumstantial history and the presence of a world outside the confines of the wood ship. Conversations with and descriptions of the surrounding pirates gives a feel of the lifestyle aboard the ship. Through the tales from the pirates we learn of sirens who lure men away and steal the treasure that Alosa is after. It also gives the premise of the fantastical elements that are woven into the book. Every pirate story needs a siren and other deadly creatures of the sea.

Sword play and swashbuckling is prevalent throughout the story, and there isn’t a throat that Alosa wouldn’t hesitate to slit if it meant achieving her goals. The action sequences as well as the hint of espionage help drive the story from scene to scene. I couldn’t help myself but start humming the Pirates of the Caribbean theme music every time a fight scene would commence. 

Of course, a little romance goes a long way. Despite Alosa being headstrong and adamant to doing everything in her power to get the map that she has been searching for, she can’t help herself but feel something for the one man who seems to figure her out. As it is only an underyling part of the story, the romance aspect does not take away from the action packed story. In fact, it adds to only justify who she does or doesn’t kill based on her relationship with her captors and the rest of the crew.

-Scrill

A Crown of Wishes

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi 

 

5 stars


“But for the first time, I wanted to believe in the things that outlasted us: the stories that came to life in a child’s head, the fear of the dark, the hunger to live. Those were the footsteps that not even Time could discover and erase, because they lived far out of reach, in the song of blood coursing through veins and in the quiet threads that made up dreams.” 


I absolutely adored this book. While The Star Touched Queen introduced us to a magical world and a beautiful story, A Crown of Wishes gave us two snarky characters, a new magical land, and an exciting story from start to finish. In this book, Maya’s little sister Gauri finds herself in a tournament for wishes with the enemy kingdom’s prince Vikram. They travel to the land of Alaka where Kubera is hosting the tournament where you either win a wish or meet certain death.


Chokshi delivers us a magical world once again that is basically a dream land on paper. The imagery that is presented to us gives me similar vibes as What Dreams May Come was like- magical, beautiful and even dark at times. Alaka is presented in such a way that you can feel the warmth coming off the pages and imagine what a cup of memories might taste like. Again, I loved the cultural inspiration and building off of Hindu legends. With a world that is already so magical anything can be done, but Chokshi kept with a basic wit Kubera, the Lord of Wealth.


Gauri and Vikram were such a delight to get to know. While they bickered they learned where each other’s strengths where and how to handle each situation to their benefit. They had such quirky habits that made them so endearing, like the way that Vikram steepled his fingers when he was pondering over a puzzle.

The pacing to the book was perfect. TSTQ was at times somewhat slow and occasionally confusing. But in ACOW the story is consistent and doesn’t have any lulls. Each scene flows into the next with continuous imagery, witty banter, and anxious challenges for our two heroes. The connection between Gauri and Vikram transitions well as they learn to be friends and trust each other. 

-Scrill