Review: The Coming Storm

Title: The Coming Storm
Author: Regina M. Hansen
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Music, myth, and horror blend in this romantic, atmospheric fantasy debut about a teen girl who must fight a powerful evil that’s invaded her Prince Edward Island home—perfect for fans of An Enchantment of Ravens.

There’s a certain wild magic in the salt air and the thrum of the sea. Beet MacNeill has known this all her life. It added spice to her childhood adventures with her older cousin, Gerry, the two of them thick as thieves as they explored their Prince Edward Island home. So when Gerry comes up the path one early spring morning, Beet thinks nothing of it at first. But he is soaking wet and silent, and he plays a haunting tune on his fiddle that chills Beet to the bone. Something is very, very wrong.

Things only get worse when Marina Shaw saunters into town and takes an unsettling interest in Gerry’s new baby. Local lore is filled with tales of a vicious shape-shifting sea creature and the cold, beautiful woman who controls him—a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Marina. Beet is determined to find out what happened to her beloved cousin, and to prevent the same fate from befalling the handsome new boy in town who is winning her heart, whether she wants him to or not. Yet the sea always exacts a price…

Review:

1950, Prince Edward Island: Teenager Beet MacNeill has always been close with her older cousin Gerry. On the night when his son, Joseph, is born in her house, she sees Gerry’s ghost and hears his fiddle song, so she knows he has died on his journey home. A year later, Gerry’s mysterious mother dies suddenly. Her niece, Marina Shaw, appears and takes her place in town as the mysterious loner. However, Marina seems to be able to control Gerry’s baby. Beet is the only one who holds the key to saving baby Joseph.

This was a mysterious story filled with folklore. There was a mix of Scottish and Eastern Canadian folklore. As the story progresses, the real secret behind Marina’s sudden appearance becomes clearer. The story was slowly unraveled through Beet’s present narrative and some flashbacks about people in the town who have met a strange woman throughout the previous century.

The setting of Prince Edward Island was an important character in the story. The beaches and water were influenced by the magic wielded by Marina and Beet. Music was also an important part of the story. All of the senses were used in this setting, so I really felt like I was in PEI while reading the story.

The Coming Storm is a beautiful Canadian story.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance

Have you read The Coming Storm? What did you think of it?

Review: Pax Samson Vol. 1: The Cookout

Title: Pax Samson Vol. 1: The Cookout
Author: Rashad Doucet, Jason Reeves (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Pax Samson: The Cookout is the first volume in a new action-packed, fantasy trilogy that depicts a world struggling to find peace in the midst of threats, and a young superhero chef torn between following his passion and following in his family’s footsteps. 

When it comes to the kitchen, no one knows cooking better than twelve-year-old Pax Samson. He’s a hero when it comes to testing recipes and supplying copious amounts of Dragon Noodle Soup at his family’s cookouts. It’s tough being a master chef, though, when the rest of his family are world-famous superheroes, and they expect Pax to take up the beacon to keep the world safe with his telekinetic powers. 

Pax’s home planet of Soltellus is home to all walks of life, including humans, gods, as well as elves, orcs, dragons, sprites and other fantasy races known as the “Enchanted” all living in a modern society similar to our own. Among them is the Samson family, led by the fearless and mighty Grandma Samson, the greatest superhero to ever live and the person responsible for always saving Soltellus when trouble strikes. She’s been doing it for hundreds of years, but she’s ready for the younger generation of Samsons, including Pax, to step up. 

When the mad god Odin, long-time enemy to the Enchanted race and arch-rival to Grandma, resurfaces in another attempt to regain power, Pax will attempt to put his training into practice, but ends up just making things worse. Tempted to hang up the superhero cape and stick to the kitchen, Pax faces the toughest decision yet when a legendary savior of the Enchanted people arrives, along with a startling discovery that there might be parts of the Soltellus history that are wrong. Pax, determined to protect his family and friends, will do everything he can to stop the new threats set on disrupting the peace between humans and the Enchanted.

Review:

Pax Samson is a twelve-year-old superhero who loves to cook. He comes from a big family of superheroes, but cooking is his passion. His family is led by Grandma Samson, the strongest and most powerful superhero. Now Pax, his sister, and his cousins have to step up and help the family defeat his grandma’s enemy, the ancient god Odin.

I love superhero stories. Pax was a fun character because he was trying to figure out where he fit in with his family and in the superhero world. He felt torn between following his family’s legacy and doing what he wanted, which was cooking. Luckily, he was able to do both.

The art was brightly coloured. The superheroes had distinct costumes in vibrant colours. I liked seeing the different generations depicted in the art. There were some flashbacks that had monochromatic illustrations, so they stood out against the present story.

Pax Samson is a fun middle grade graphic novel!

Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Pizazz by Sophy Henn

How to be a Supervillain by Michael Fry

Have you read Pax Samson Vol. 1? What did you think of it?

Review: The Queen Will Betray You (Kingdoms of Sand and Sky #2)

Title: The Queen Will Betray You (Kingdoms of Sand and Sky #2)
Author: Sarah Henning
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 6, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The breathtaking sequel to The Princess Will Save You in the Kingdoms of Sand and Sky duology — a brilliantly-executed YA fantasy homage to The Princess Bride

To stay together forever, Princess Amarande and her stableboy love, Luca, must part: Amarande to reclaim her kingdom from usurpers, and Luca to raise a rebellion and find his destiny. Arrayed against them are all the players in the game of thrones for control over the continent of The Sand and Sky. Facing unspeakable betrayals, enemies hidden in the shadows, and insurmountable odds, their only hope is the power of true love…

Review:

In this sequel to The Princess Will Save You, Amarande and Luca have finally been reunited but they have to separate again. Amarande must reclaim her kingdom from her newly returned mother and brother. Luca goes to reclaim his own birthright that he has just discovered. Along with their cast of friends, Luca and Amarande must face two Queens in their quest to conquer the kingdoms of The Sand and Sky.

This was an intense sequel! There was a large cast of characters from the last book. Since they were all separated for most of this book, each chapter followed someone else in a different area. It reminded me of Game of Thones, in the way that each of the characters were on their own quest in the world but they all related back to the same goal of conquering all of the kingdoms.

The one thing that was a little confusing was that everyone had secrets. This also reminded me of Game of Thrones, because each character had different motivations than what they showed everyone else. It got a little confusing when someone was hiding their real reason for doing things. It also made the story intense and suspenseful when so many people were lying, but it was sometimes difficult to keep track of who was on which side.

The Queen Will Betray You is a great sequel!

Thank you Tor Teen for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Queen Will Betray You? What did you think of it?

Review: Geis: a Matter of Life and Death (Geis #1)

Title: Geis: A Matter of Life and Death (Geis #1)
Author: Alexis Deacon
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Nobrow Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

As the great chief matriarch lay dying, she gave one final decree: Upon her death there would be a contest. Having no heir of her own blood she called on the Gods. Let fate decide the one truly worthy to rule in her place. The rich, the strong, the wise, the powerful; many put forward their names in hope of being chosen. But when the night came . . . only fifty souls alone were summoned.

Book one in gripping action, supernatural, and historical fantasy graphic novel trilogy where souls battle in a contest to become the ruler of an island.

Review:

When the chief matriarch died, she didn’t leave an heir. Instead, she left a contest in her will for fifty people to compete and earn the title of chief. Their first task is to be dropped somewhere in the world and find their way back to the castle. However, they don’t know that this will contained a geis: a magical curse that cannot be broken. All of the competitors must stay in the contest until a chief is named, but if they do not make it back to the palace by sunrise, they will automatically be killed.

I loved the premise of this story. The geis in the will was a secret from the competitors, which made the story so much more intense. Some of the characters wanted to quit, but they didn’t realize that quitting would mean death.

The art in this book was so beautiful. There were a lot of characters but they each had a distinct style and different colour of clothing. Sometimes with a large cast of characters in graphic novels, I can’t tell them apart. Each character was a distinct person, which made this story an easy read.

Geis: A Matter of Life and Death is a beautiful graphic novel! I can’t wait to read the next one!

Thank you Nobrow Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Geis: A Game Without Rules by Alexis Deacon

Other books in the series:

  • Geis II: A Game Without Rules

Have you read Geis: A Matter of Life and Death? What did you think of it?

Review: The Taking of Jake Livingston

Title: The Taking of Jake Livingston
Author: Ryan Douglass
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Fantasy, LGBT
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 13, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee.

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Review:

Jake Livingston feels like an outsider because he’s one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep and he’s not as popular as his older brother. Jake can also see dead people. He sees the way people died on a loop in the place where they died. Teens start dying in mysterious ways, and they were all connected to a school shooting in a different high school. Jake meets Sawyer, the ghost of the school shooter who is taking revenge on the survivors of the shooting. Jake has to figure out a way to stop Sawyer before he takes over Jake’s life next.

At first glance, this was a horror story with gruesome deaths. However, Jake’s story had a lot of layers. Jake felt like an outsider at school because of his race and his ability to see ghosts. At home he also felt like an outsider because he didn’t think his family would accept that he was gay. After a while, I realized that Jake and Sawyer had a lot in common. They had both been abused by their family, and were headed on a similar path. It was up to Jake to decide if he had the same ending as Sawyer or not.

There were quite a few disturbing scenes in this book. Jake witnessed many deaths on a loop. There was a school shooting as well as a suicide. There was also an attempted rape and child abuse. These are potentially triggering scenes but they were brief.

The Taking of Jake Livingston is a creepy horror story!

Thank you Penguin Teen for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Love and Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford

Have you read The Taking of Jake Livingston? What did you think of it?

Review: The Prince and the Troll (Faraway Collection)

Title: The Prince and the Troll (Faraway Collection)
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Short Story, Fantasy
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Source: Purchased
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 15, 2020
Rating: ★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A charming everyman and a mysterious something-under-the-bridge cross paths in a short fairy tale by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and the Simon Snow series.

It’s fate when a man accidentally drops his phone off the bridge. It’s fortune when it’s retrieved by a friendly shape sloshing in the muck underneath. From that day forward, as they share a coffee every morning, an unlikely friendship blooms. Considering the reality for the man above, where life seems perfect, and that of the sharp-witted creature below, how forever after can a happy ending be?

Review:

A man dropped his phone off a bridge one day, and it was caught by a troll. The troll tosses it back to the man, and he decides to bring her coffee everyday to repay her for helping him. They bond over their shared Starbucks drinks while comparing notes on their separate lives spent above and beneath the bridge.

I read another book in the Faraway Collection and I loved it. Unfortunately I just didn’t understand this one. The writing was simple and not very descriptive. The things that were described in the most details were the Starbucks drinks, which I’m familiar with. When I think of fairytales, I think of the lush, magical worlds they’re set in, which this story was lacking.

I’m not sure what fairytale inspired this story. I had to do some research on what this story was actually about after reading it, because I just didn’t understand. Some theories say it’s about climate change, which I agree with because the prince and the troll talk about how the weather has affected their ways of life. I wish this message came across clearer in the story so that I wasn’t left wondering what happened.

Unfortunately, this short story wasn’t for me.

What to read next:

Hazel and Gray by Nic Stone

The Princess Game by Soman Chainani

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Prince and the Troll? What did you think of it?

Review: Vengeful (Villains #2)

Title: Vengeful (Villains #2)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The sequel to VICIOUS, V.E. Schwab’s first adult novel.

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done. 

Review:

After Sydney brought Victor Vale back to life, he has to live with some changes to his superpower, including frequent death. Meanwhile the ExtraOrdinary Observation and Neutralization is trying to hunt down all of the EOs, or people with superpowers, they can find. They have to resort to their prisoner and asset, the villainous Eli Ever to track the new EOs. There’s a new ExtraOrdinary in town, and she’s like nothing they’ve seen yet.

These ExtraOrdinaries had incredibly destructive powers. They get their powers from being revived after death, and their power relates to their final thoughts before dying. There were complications with mixing different powers, such as when Victor had side effects after being brought back to life with Sydney’s power. These were creative powers with surprising consequences.

This story is told through alternating timelines, all leading to one massive event. Each chapter jumps to a different time period, whether years, weeks, or days before the final event. I thought this format would be confusing, but it’s actually easy to follow with the rhythm of the plot.

Vengeful is an exciting sequel to Vicious!

What to read next:

We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Other books in the series:

Have you read Vengeful? What did you think of it?

Review: The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1)

Title: The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1)
Author: Graci Kim
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Graci Kim’s thrilling debut about an adopted Korean-American girl who discovers her heritage and her magic on a perilous journey to save her witch clan family.

Riley Oh can’t wait to see her sister get initiated into the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches their family has belonged to for generations. Her sister, Hattie, will earn her Gi bracelet and finally be able to cast spells without adult supervision. Although Riley is desperate to follow in her sister’s footsteps when she herself turns thirteen, she’s a saram–a person without magic. Riley was adopted, and despite having memorized every healing spell she’s ever heard, she often feels like the odd one out in her family and the gifted community.

Then Hattie gets an idea: what if the two of them could cast a spell that would allow Riley to share Hattie’s magic? Their sleuthing reveals a promising incantation in the family’s old spell book, and the sisters decide to perform it at Hattie’s initiation ceremony. If it works, no one will ever treat Riley as an outsider again. It’s a perfect plan!

Until it isn’t. When the sisters attempt to violate the laws of the Godrealm, Hattie’s life ends up hanging in the balance, and to save her Riley has to fulfill an impossible task: find the last fallen star. But what even is the star, and how can she find it?

As Riley embarks on her search, she finds herself meeting fantastic creatures and collaborating with her worst enemies. And when she uncovers secrets that challenge everything she has been taught to believe, Riley must decide what it means to be a witch, what it means to be family, and what it really means to belong.

Review:

Thirteen-year-old Riley Oh was adopted into a Korean witch family. She’s excited for her sister, Hattie, to be initiated and earn her powers, but Riley wants to somehow get her own powers. Hattie and her find a spell to connect them and share Hattie’s powers with Riley. They have to perform the spell in front of everyone in their community, but they’re stopped at the last minute. There’s a secret from Riley’s past, which could kill the girls if they perform that spell. Riley still wants to get her powers so that she no longer feels like an outsider in the family. She gets a quest from a goddess, who wants her to find the last fallen star. If she can find the star, she will get her powers, but the task seems impossible. Riley must complete the task before she loses everything she loves.

This story had a twist on the “chosen one” narrative. Rather than Riley being the chosen one to save the world, she was the only one in her family who didn’t have powers. Riley became the chosen one when she had to complete the quest. The quest had larger implications in their witch community, so she did end up being the one who had to save them all.

Korean culture was an important part of the witch community in this book. Their portal was inside an H-Mart store. Riley encountered creatures from Korean folklore. Though Riley was adopted, her biological parents were also Korean so she looked like her family. I loved the way Korean culture was so integral to this story.

The Last Fallen Star was a fun story! I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.

Thank you Rick Riordan Presents for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Have you read The Last Fallen Star? What did you think of it?

Review: The Betrayed (The Betrothed #2)

Title: The Betrayed (The Betrothed #2)
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: June 29, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Kiera Cass brings another sparkling romance to a stunning conclusion in this sequel to the instant #1 New York Timesbestseller The Betrothed.

Can you follow your heart when it’s already broken?

After fleeing Coroa and leaving the memory of her beloved Silas behind, Hollis is unsteadily adjusting to life in Isolte. The Eastoffe family’s affection is a balm on her weary spirit, though Etan, a surly cousin with a deep distaste for Coroans, threatens to upset the uneasy peace she’s found.

While tensions at home ratchet up, disquiet in the kingdom of Isolte is reaching a fever pitch. The Eastoffes may have the power to unseat a tyrannical king—but only with Hollis’s help.

Can a girl who’s lost it all put the fate of her adopted homeland over the secret longings of her heart?

Review:

In this sequel to The Betrothed, newly widowed Hollis escapes to the neighbouring country of Isolte with her husband’s family. Her mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and Hollis are accompanied by her husband’s cousin, Etan Eastoffe, to his family’s home. Hollis knows that King Quinten is responsible for the deaths of her husband and her parents, so she is eager for revenge. The Eastoffes are a powerful family who have the ability to fight back against the King. Hollis has to risk everything again to make things right.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism of the first book but I loved it. It was unconventional and didn’t follow the traditional fantasy romance storyline. Hollis didn’t end up with the love interest from the beginning of the story, and the man who she chose ended up dying in the end. This was such a shocking ending that I was excited it’s really where the story was going to go in this book.

Hollis didn’t make as many wild choices in this book as she did in the first one. She had the team of her new family to support her decisions and help her. I loved the enemies-to-lovers romance in this book. It was more predictable than in the first book, but I loved it. I was worried that the ending wasn’t going to be what I hoped, but I was pleased with it.

The Betrayed definitely lived up to my expectations!

What to read next:

The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Betrayed? What did you think of it?

Review: The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow

Title: The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow (The Okay Witch #2)
Author: Emma Steinkellner
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Contemporary
Publisher: Aladdin
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 6, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this hilarious and heartwarming sequel to the bestselling and critically acclaimed graphic novel, The Okay Witch, half-witch Moth Hush uses magic to boost her confidence with disastrous results—perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Molly Ostertag!

Moth Hush is starting to settle into her newfound witch heritage and powers, but life at school continues to be rough. Even her best friend, Charlie, doesn’t entirely understand what it’s like for her to always be the one who gets mocked, and things only get worse when Moth’s mom starts dating one of the dorkiest teachers in the school! Then Moth gets hold of a mysterious charm that can unleash another version of herself—one who is confident, cool, and extremely popular. What could possibly go wrong?

Review:

Moth Hush is a witch, but she’s not allowed to do magic at school. She gets teased at school, and it would be easier if she could just use a spell to make herself more likable. The bullying gets worse when her mom starts dating one of her teachers. Then, Moth discovers a magic charm necklace that can make her popular. But every kind of magic has a price.

This graphic novel started out with a recap of the first book. I was really glad to see that because it’s been a while since I read the first book. It was told by her talking cat, Lazlo, who is a hilarious character. I appreciated seeing this brief recap at the beginning of the book.

Moth faced bullying in her school. Her classmates were quite mean. Moth felt like an outsider since she had just discovered she was a witch, but she couldn’t tell anyone except for her best friend. Using a magic charm didn’t solve her problem. It masked it for a while, but it ended up causing a bigger issue in the end. Rather than fighting back or changing what kind of person she was to please her classmates, Moth had to learn how to be herself.

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow is a great middle grade graphic novel!

Thank you Simon and Schuster for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Just Pretend by Tori Sharp

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow? What did you think of it?