ARC REVIEW: Stake-out – by Lily Luchesi

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Title: Stake-out
(Paranormal Detectives #1)
Author: Lily Luchesi

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
First published: May 19th 2015
Publisher: Vamptasy Publishing
Finished reading: January 25th 2017
Pages: 128
Rating 3,5qqq

“Who would’ve guessed that, in this world, there were vampires, werewolves and specters lurking around every corner; that evil witches who lived for centuries were being burned to to death a few miles away?”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I confess I’m normally not a fan of vampire stories and tend to stay away from them, especially since I seem to dislike about 99% of them. But when I was approached with the question if I wanted to read the Paranormal Detectives series, something about the description caught my attention and I decided to give it a go. And even though I’m normally allergic to fanged characters, I enjoyed Stake-out a lot better than I thought I would. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the vampire element didn’t seem to bother me, which can probably explained by the fact that the vampires are properly scary without all the ‘sparkling’ and cheesiness. I found Stake-out quite a refreshing story and I liked that it had other supernatural creatures; the vampire/creature hunting is a very interesting angle as well. The story was both easy and entertaining to read, although I do have to admit the amount of question marks used can get a bit annoying. The plot and characters make up for it though, and I loved the flashbacks/past life subplot. If you like a good paranormal fantasy story that isn’t fluffy or overly romantic, Stake-out is without doubt a great choice. I will be reading and reviewing both sequels soon!

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When Detective Danny Mancini finds out the murder suspect he is following is actually a 200 year old rogue vampire, nobody actually believes him. The department put him on early retirement despite his many years of service, and things are getting worse from there. Then, two years later, the beautiful Detective Angelica Cross shows up at his doorstep and offers him to join a secret branch of the FBI. She wants him to track down Vincent, the vampire that ended is career two years ago. But Danny’s new life will need some time getting used to…

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Stake-out isn’t just another vampire story. Sure, vampires play a big role, but the plot is more about hunting supernatural creatures and following the main character Danny as he slowly comes to terms with his new world working for the secret branch of the FBI. I especially enjoyed the flashbacks and past life elements and I will be looking forward to find out how the story continues.


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BOOK REVIEW: Empire Of Storms – by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Empire Of Storms
(Throne Of Glass #5)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Finished reading: October 7th 2016
Pages: 704
Rating 3qqq

“The fear of loss . . . it can destroy you as much as the loss itself.”

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WARNING: unpopular opinion ahead. Those who follow my blog will probably already know that I really enjoyed the first four books of the Throne Of Glass series in the past. The first book had it flaws, but the other three definitely made up for those little things that bothered me. And then I read Empire Of Storms, and I’m not sure what to think about this series anymore. I kept asking myself what on earth happened to the awesomeness I had grown used to… Because this fifth book has turned out to be a mayor disappointment. The story is overlong and most characters are basically a bunch of horny teenagers that want to sleep with each other all the time. What’s with all the romance?!?! It’s almost like Empire Of Storms is written by a different person, because the change is pretty drastic. I used to love Aelin and Manon as a character, but especially Aelin has lost my respect with all the blah romance scenes and Manon was absent for way too long. Sure, there are some pretty mindblowing action scenes and the general plot is interesting enough, but I felt like it missed the spark of the previous books. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that book 6 will be a huge improvement and that it will make up for Empire Of Storms; less romance and more epic battles and magic please! It’s going to be a long wait though, especially after that cliffhanger ending… Sigh.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first four books yet. I’ll keep the summary short but it’s almost impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius… The kingdoms of Erilea are fracturing around her and enemies will have to become allies if Aelin is to protect those she loves from the dark forces that want to claim her world. War is looming everywhere and the only chance for survival lies in a desperate quest that might just destory it all. Will Aelin and her friends be able to find a way to stop the dark power on time?

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I’m not lying: I was expecting another mindblowing sequel when I picked up my copy of Empire Of Storms. Instead, I was faced with an overlong and romance-infested story that just didn’t meet the high standard of the previous sequels. The many many cliche romance scenes made me want to vomit and were basically a huge distraction from the otherwise quite interesting plot. I don’t mind long descriptions (especially since Sarah J. Maas always has excellent prose), but I kept having the feeling the story could have been a lot shorter. I will definitely still read the book 6 when it comes out next year, but I will be keeping my expectations low just to be safe…

BOOK REVIEW: All The Birds In The Sky – by Charlie Jane Anders

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Title: All The Birds In The Sky
Author: Charlie Jane Anders
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
First published: January 26th 2016
Finished reading: April 11th 2016
Pages: 316
Rating 2qqq

“You know… no matter what you do, people are going to expect you to be someone you’re not. But if you’re clever and lucky and work your butt off, then you get to be surrounded by people who expect you to be the person you wish you were.”

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The reviews I’ve seen before reading All The Birds In The Sky are right; this book is WEIRD. I think this is one of those books that either works for you or it doesn’t. Unfortunately, I belong to the second group… And I have the feeling this is going to be another unpopular opinion review. Let’s get started, shall we? First of all, the pace was quite slow and it took me a long time to actually finish it. The plot was all over the place, I didn’t particularly like the characters and the story simply didn’t make sense to me. Also, I thought this was an adult novel, but most of it felt more like a middle grade/YA read; up until a few sex scenes were thrown in. WTF?! I normally like weird, but I feel that in this case it might just be too much. A lot of people think otherwise so don’t let my review stop you from reading this one if you think you would like it. There is one thing I know for sure though: I wish I had Charlie Jane Anders‘ imagination to write a story with a worldbuilding this complicated and fully of creativity. And with a cover this beautiful and interesting blurb I sure would have thought I would enjoy it a lot better… Such a shame I didn’t.

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Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead are childhood friends and  have known each other for a long time, but that doesn’t take away they both have secrets. Magical powers, a mysterious Tree in the forest, the invention of a two-second time machine… Nothing exactly ordinary for sure and they ended up parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. Neither of them had it easy growing up, but now they are both adults, living in San Francisco and the world is falling apart around them. Laurence has become an engineering genius who is trying to avert a catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention, while Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted. They didn’t expect to see each other again in the first place, and less did they expect to be fighting on completely different teams… Because while Laurence’s plan is all about technology, Patricia and the other magicians want to repair the world’s ailments with the help of nature. Will they be able to save the world before it’s too late?

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Like I said, I really wanted to enjoy this story and I normally like anything weird and extraordinary, but I think in this case All The Birds In The Sky just was a bit too much for me to handle. The plot was all over the place, I didn’t really like the characters, the pace was a bit slow, the story didn’t really make sense and the whole age-group-problem was confusing as well. I know a lot of people seem to have enjoyed it, but this story really just wasn’t for me.

BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Darkness – by Kami Garcia

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Title: Beautiful Darkness
(Caster Chronicles #2)
Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: October 12th 2010
Finished reading: March 29th 2016
Pages: 503
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“There’s something about sitting alone in the dark that reminds you how big the world really is, and how far apart we all are. The stars look like they’re so close, you could reach out and touch them. But you can’t. Sometimes things look a lot closer than they are.”

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I read Beautiful Creatures, the first book of this series, over a year ago before I had a lot of experience reading YA fantasy and I gave it one of the highest ratings. I’m not sure why I never picked up the sequel before my TBR jar decided it was time for me to read it, but I’m now left wondering if I actually enjoyed it that much back then. Why? First of all, I wasn’t really impressed by Beautiful Darkness. I’m not saying it’s a bad read; it’s without doubt entertaining and easy to read with its fast pace, but I’m missing the spark that would turn it into a 5 star read. It might just be that the sequel isn’t as good as the first book (which isn’t such a strange thing since a lot of YA fantasy series seem to suffer from the exact same syndrom), but I found the main characters and some of their actions actually quite annoying. That and the love triangle definitely were the cause for quite a few raised eyebrows. Both the plot and the whole strong female character idea aren’t exactly original, but if you are looking for some good magical action and an easy read, I guess this series would still be worth reading.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book yet. I’ll keep the summary short but it’s almost impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Ethan Wate used to think Gatlin was just another small sleepy Southern town where things never changed, until he met Lena Duchannes. She was the girl of his dreams, literally… A whole secret world is being revealed to Ethan, one that had always been hidding in plain sight, and even her deceased mother seemed to have been keeping secrets from him. Gatlin has been marked by a curse that affects both Ethan’s and Lena’s family… And impossible, magical events have been happening ever since. Ethan and Lena have been fighting those problems ever since they met , but after what happened recently Lena starts pulling away… And Ethan doesn’t know how to save her or change her mind.

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After I reread my review of Beautiful Creatures before starting Beautiful Darkness, I had really high hopes for the sequel. I think part of the fact why I didn’t enjoy the sequel that much is that I’ve read a lot of YA fantasy series since and the plot and characters don’t sound that original or exciting anymore. Sure, there is a lot of action and I like the worldbuilding of the Caster world, but I can’t say it’s one of my favorite series either. I will probably read the last two books at some point though, just to see if things improve later on. I’m already keeping my fingers crossed the love triangle won’t be playing a big role in Beautiful Chaos

BOOK REVIEW: Queen Of Shadows – by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Queen Of Shadows
(Throne Of Glass #4)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
First published: September 1st 2015
Finished reading: September 18th 2015
Pages: 648
Rating 4,5qqq

“She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.”

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It seems like everybody was reading Queen Of Shadows last month! So many posts about the latest installment of the Throne Of Glass series appeared during September that I was afraid to even look at my WordPress feed because of possible spoilers… The only solution being giving in and reading this Sarah J. Maas novel ASAP. Which is just what I did! I started reading it almost as soon as I got my copy, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Queen Of Shadows is full of action, magical and just as good as the previous sequels… I had some minor problems with some of the things that happened and the Blackbeak chapters weren’t my favorite, but all in all this fourth book proved to me this series still belongs to my list of favorite YA fantasy reads. The prose is as good as ever and both the fast pace and the plot twists made me almost angry every time I was forced to stop reading. Some of the romantical love ‘geometry‘ was a bit annoying and I was sad to let the Celaena character go, but I was more than satisfied by it anyway. A mayor bonus: the story doesn’t end with a noticeable cliffhanger, making the wait for the fifth book a whole lot less painful!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first three books yet. I’ll keep the summary short but it’s almost impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Everything Celeana loves has been taken from her, but now she is back in the King’s empire to seek revenge. She wants to rescue her kingdom and save magic, but before she can reclaim her throne in Terrasen she will have to fight and embrace her identity as Aelin Galathynius. Her warrior cousin is currently being held prisoner by the King and Prince Dorian is under his influence as well. Her people are suffering because of the actions of the brutal King and she wants to free them as well… But things aren’t going to be easy, since her powers are not working in the country she has to confront her enemies.

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While I had some problems with the first book, I have loved all three sequels so far. Queen Of Shadows is just as good as the second and third book and while I did have some small problems with it, I wasn’t disappointed at all. The Blackbeak storyline still wasn’t my favorite, but it was better developed than in the previous book. I also think I prefer Celaena over Aelin as a character… But I like the fact that magic is playing an increasing role in the story. I won’t say much more because of spoilers, but what I can say is that I was more than satisfied and I will be waiting (im)patiently for the still untitled fifth book.

BOOK REVIEW: Seriously Wicked – by Tina Connolly

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Title: Seriously Wicked
Author: Tina Connolly
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: May 5th 2015
Finished reading: August 7th 2015
Pages: 208
Rating 2

“When you’re enslaved to a wicked witch, you end up thinking fast to keep all the weird witchy things a secret. Not always good fast, but fast.”

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I decided to pick up Seriously Wicked mostly because I was in the mood for a light and easy read. The blurb sounded promising, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to expectations. I was expecting a witty fantasy read, but the characters were quite bland and almost cartoon-like. It was very hard to relate to them and I didn’t really care what was happening to them either… The plot was both uninspiring and not credible and I wasn’t a fan of the prose. I guess this novel by Tina Connolly was quite a quick read, but unfortunately that is about the only good thing I can say about it. A girl growing up with a witch and having to do as she pleases; it has a lot of potential, but I didn’t like the execution. Such a shame, because I was looking forward to this read!

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Camellia has been adopted when she was little and her mother wants her to grow up to be just like her. The problem: her mother is a terrible witch. Cam doesn’t want to be a witch, but she is forced to run errands for the witch anyway. She is used to her adopted mother trying to take over the world, but this time it’s about to get out of hand… The witch tries to summon a demon, and things start to go terribly wrong. The demon takes control over the new kid at school named Devon, who suddenly turns into an overconfident teenager. Will Cam be able to stop the demon and save Devon’s soul on time?

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When I first read the blurb, I thought Seriously Wicked sounded really promising. I ended up being mostly disappointed by it. It is quite a short read, but I didn’t enjoy the prose, plot OR characters and it took me longer than necessary to finish this novel. I think the main problem is that the plot and characters are not exactly credible and lacked dept. The prose was mostly mediocre as well, although the general story idea did show some potential… Still, I wouldn’t recommend reading this one.

BOOK REVIEW: The Witch Must Burn – by Danielle Paige

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Title: The Witch Must Burn
(Dorothy Must Die #0.2)
Author: Danielle Paige
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: November 11th 2014
Finished reading: June 7th 2015
Pages: 100
Rating 3

“You can’t choose who you are. But you can choose what you’ll become.”

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This second prequel novella of the Dorothy Must Die series is slightly better than the first one, although I still wasn’t too impressed by it. The writing style is about the same as the actual series, but I cannot say I’m a big fan of the characters she decided to focus on in the novellas. I can’t deny Jellia is an interesting character, but she is actually quite similar to the Amy Gunn of the actual series and I really can’t stand Glinda and her pink castle. I wish Danielle Paige would have chosen something a bit more original for her novellas, because the ‘big secret’ Jellia has isn’t exactly that shocking. The Witch Must Burn was more of a very long description of both the Emerald City where Dorothy lives and Glinda’s cotton candy pink castle… Not exactly something exciting or a novella you have to read to really understand the actual series. It’s a quick read though, so if you like pink descriptions and want to learn a bit about Jellia’s history I guess it’s still an ok read.

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Dorothy is quickly turning into the newest wicked witch in Oz, power and magic hungry and slowly destroying the Oz as it is known. And she is not the only one in control. Glinda still has a big influence on Dorothy and she didn’t bring back Dorothy without having her own secret agenda. The supposedly good witch of the North is searching for a way to mine the magic of the land of Oz, and Dorothy and the Scarecrow play a big role in it. When Glinda pays a visit to Emerald City, she decides that the head maid Jellia has something special about her… And demands Dorothy to lend her Jellia for a few months. They travel back to the pink castle that Glinda calls her home, and Jellia soon discovers GIinda is planning something wicked.

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I’m glad I’ve read Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise first, because I don’t think I would have continued the series after reading the novellas. They just aren’t as good so far as the actual series, and the characters Danielle Paige focuses on are quite annoying. I admit I like Jellia, but Glinda plays a big role in The Witch Must Burn as well and I really can’t stand her and her pink world. Only imagening her castle already gives me a headache! The writing is quite entertaining and it’s a short read, but still it cannot compare to the actual series.