Posted in 2016 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: The Onyx Vial

Title: The Onyx Vial

Series: Shadows of the Nine #1

Publication Date: January 31st, 2016

Publisher: Self Published

Author: Alexis Lampley

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads page

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Ariana Emory hides a rare and forbidden talent: she creates portals between worlds in the pages of books. These portal books are dangerous. But to Ariana, they are freedom. Her world is one of several ruled by a tyrant king. The books are banned and burned, their creators along with them. She wants nothing more than to keep creating them, so that her fellow countrymen can have means of escape and, if she succeeds, rebellion. Driven by that desire, Ariana disregards the dangers and entangles herself in a rebel society’s plot to regain freedom. Along the way, her fate collides with Hunter Woodworth and Killian Fyrenn, identical twin sons of the king.

The king and the rebels are after a deadly weapon, known as the Onyx Vial. The king wants to use it, the rebels want to destroy it. The rebels’ success depends on Ariana partnering with the boys, but they are worlds apart and she is convinced their motives aren’t pure. With the king closing in on the location of the vial, time is running out. Ariana must trust them or uncover their true intentions before it’s too late. The fate of the worlds rest in her hands.

My Thoughts:
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Ariana, Killian,
Needed BROTP: Ariana & Killian

Actual Review: The Onyx Vial is a great story that takes a new spin on Magic and how elemental powers work. I love the idea that it used to be someone had all 4 elements, water, earth, fire, air but everything changed when the fire nation attacked….err…bad fangirl, stop making references.

Its been a few weeks since i read the book,so bear with me. Something happened in the past that caused magic to alter within the people and split. Now most people if they have magic can alter just one element, but there are the rare people out within the nine worlds who can manipulate two elements and they are called Tieren. The three main characters are all various forms of Tieren, there is Killian (not Jones unfortunately, and he’s not as sexy to me. unless Alexis says he has an irish accent. then he is as hot as Killian ‘Hook’ Jones. but i digress). There is also Ariana who has a proclivity for portal books and Elder Script, which is the old language of magic to keep the secrets well..secret. And if you order the one-time box through NerdyPost/NErdy Store, Alexis even writes a little message in Elder Script on the first day and you get a key to figure out the message. Finally there is Hunter who is kinda meh compared to Ariana. He’s a very typical teenage boy where he meets a pretty girl and she basically occupies his thoughts throughout the rest of the book, like really dude you’ve got so much other shit to worry about than a pretty girl.

The plot is hard to explain without giving away big spoilers but the story is absolutely breathtaking and I loved exploring this world that Lampley has created. LEarning all about how the different elements come together in different types of Tierens and the other 9 Realms/worlds. I love how the FIrebird has an opposite counterpart that is Ice/water related.

I can’t wait to see where the series goes, and hopefully the sequel comes out sooner rather than later.

Posted in 2016 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: Rebel Magsiters

30530741Title: Rebel Magisters

Series: Rebel Mechanics #2

Publication Date: July 12th, 2016

Publisher: NLA Digital

Author: Shanna Swendson

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads page
Barnes & Noble

Summary: Tea, Love … and Revolution!

The Rebel Mechanics aren’t the only group plotting revolution against the magical British Empire. There are rebel magisters, as well, and Verity Newton and her magister employer, Lord Henry, know that the only way for the revolution to succeed is if both groups work together. A diplomatic mission seems like the perfect opportunity for them to meet with rebels in other colonies and gather support—right under the governor’s nose.

From drawing rooms, ballrooms, and the harbor in Boston to the streets of Charleston, Verity and Henry find themselves up against stubborn factions of both magisters and Mechanics and increasingly aware that they can only really count on each other as their relationship deepens. It may take a real crisis to unite the rebel movements and rally them to the cause—but could such a crisis also tear them apart?

My Thoughts:
 Verity & Henry
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Verity, Henry
Needed BROTP: Verity & Flora

Actual Review: Rebel Magisters is the sequel to Shanna Swendson’s Steampunk HIstorical YA alternate reality, Rebel Mechanics. RM and it’s sequel R Magisters is how she percieves the American REvolution and subsequent history would have been if the British have magic.

Verity and her employer, Magister Lord Henry have already met the Rebel Mechanics and helped them escape out of the city with their machines to avoid being captured by the British Government so they can keep working towards an eventual revolution. RMagisters finds Verity and Henry beginning to entertain the idea of how can they manage a revolution that could win. They undesrstand that it would most likely need to be a combination of the Rebel Mechanics and Magisters that are more positively inclined to a revolution. All the while keeping Verity’s magic hidden and any budding feelings at bay.

We get to see a whole new side to quite a few of the beloved characters which is quite fun as well as meet some new characters as well who will be vital to the plot. Flora gets some much needed character growth and is set up to have even more in book 3 which is delightful.

Another surpise is that we get to see other cities within the world Shanna has created and how some of their magisters see the world. It’s setting up to be quite the revolution if it pans out properly.

Rebel Magisters has some major plot twists come up and makes me eager to read book 3 and hopefully there is even more in this world because i love it all.

Posted in 2016 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: Timekeeper

25760792Title: Timekeeper

Series: Timekeeper #1

Publication Date: November 8th, 2016

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Author: Tara Sim

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Goodreads page
Barnes & Noble

Summary: Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

My Thoughts:
 Danny x Colton
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Colton, Cass
Needed BROTP:  Colton & Evaline
Fave Quote: “There comes a moment when time seems to slip faster, running long then short, shadows shrinking as the sun climbs. It’s the moment, he decided, when you’re no longer a child. When the concept of time and the need for more of it come together and make you powerless. Make you yearn for the longer days, the lazy days, before you knew what time passing actually meant.”

Actual Review: 
While I would rate the overall story only 3.5 stars, Tara Sim’s writing is positively out of this world beautiful. She takes the concept of time and just throws what we know out the window and paints her own definition, and then some, with her words throughout the story.

We are given an alteration of Greek Mythology to accompany this steampunk, slightly advance technology, but in 1800’s time frame London. There are little mini chapters sprinkled without that even tell the tale of Aetas and the Gaian Gods that I would love more of. I’m a giant Mythology nut so there’s that.

The story revolves around a young teenager that is a skilled Clock Mechanic and the small town Enfield that has a moody teenager of a Clock. Literally, Colton was getting ‘hurt’ for attention. But Colton’s teenagerness is nothing compared to Danny’s. Danny Hart has major idiotic teenage moments that just make you want to pull your hair out and scream “Stop Being Stupid!”.

Their Love story is great but at times made the story drag just a tad. There were points where you felt like it was a little too much, but maybe it’s a metaphor for how love can be. All encompassing that you forget everything else around you….. where did that philisophical shit come from.

I really liked the whole mechanics side of this story and plot. I would love to get so much more depth in the workings of Clock Spirits & time and i have high hopes for the next two of this series.

While Timekeeper does not end on a cliffhanger, it is open ended enough you want to continue with Chainbreaker, which i will definitely be doing. Hopefully Danny can do some growing up throughout the stories.

Posted in 2016 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: Sleeping Giants

25733990Title: Sleeping Giants

Series: Themis Files #1

Publication Date: April 6th, 2016

Publisher: Del Rey

Author: Sylvain Neuvel

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Goodreads page
Barnes & Noble

Summary: A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

My Thoughts:
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Rose, Kara
Needed BROTP: Rose & Kara

Actual Review: Well this book is just one twist after another and it all starts in the first chapter/prologue when Rose falls down a hole and lands in a giant metal hand.

Fast-forward a bunch of years and Rose is now a Physicist with a PhD and is about to start heading a project that involves the giant hand and potential other body pieces that could appear all over the world. Soon Rose is joined by Military Pilots, a French-Canadian Linguist and a Geneticist as they all push forward to figure out just what exactly it is they found and what it means for their world. Of course the first conclusion is

And of course the US Government wants to keep it all hush hush, so the team is off in no man’s land in a bunker with this random body part robot pieces and each other. And this is just the first 20% of it. The book goes in so many different directions that you just don’t see coming but aren’t like punch in gut twists but more of a brain-bending twist that really is a head scratcher. I think it really adds to the story.

Reasons i really liked this book:

1) SCIENCE. Like so much science. There’s weird alien math and big metal things and just SO MUCH FOR SCIENCE NERDS LIKE I AM VERY HAPPY NERD OKAY!
2) Mythology. They bring in mythology into this in a very cool and unique way that’s just AWESOME. I won’t say more because it is spoilerish.
3) Quotes. This book is amazingly descriptive and has some great quotes that really just add to the book.
4) Format. The format is slightly reminiscent of Illuminae except on a toned down scales. It’s lots of interview logs all taken but an anonymous , potentially unreliable, narrator. This does help the story to read quickly plus it’s a fresh way to structure a story.

I am pleasantly intrigued for the rest of the series and grateful that Instagram caused me to pick this up. But it is the case of buying without seeing the cover BECAUSE BUY THE HARDBACK BECAUSE IT HAS A GORGEOUS NAKED COVER I DIN’T KNOW ABOUT.

Posted in 2016 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: Immortal Writers

30423330Title: Immortal Writers

Publication Date: November 5th, 2016

Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers

Author: Jill Bowers

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Goodreads page
Barnes & Noble

Summary: Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her. Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

My Thoughts:
 Liz x Curtis
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Healer
Needed BROTP: Liz & Healer

Actual Review: 3.5 Stars at best.

You ever read a book and want to know more about other characters than the main character? That’s this book for me. The premise of Immortal Writers is that if an author creates a story that is so great and awe-inspiring and will probably go down for along time, the story somehow truly comes to life and the author is then immortal(literally).

The story focuses on Liz McKinnen, who is probably in her mid 20’s and is a fantasy writer( like created types of dragons fantasy). She is just home from a book tour when suddenly she is abducted by some men and is thrown into this new world where Shakespeare is still alive and has read her books, and some of her characters have come to life. Part of Immortal Writer’s induction is defeating the villain of their story that has come to life. Which Liz must now prepare to do.

While the romance is cliche and kinda dumb, it’s very obvious that it’s giong to happen. I just didn’t find myself truly connecting with Liz and her characters. Maybe it’s because my life and upbringing is so vastly different from Liz but i just kind felt like story wasn’t as great as it could have been.

Personally i’d rather read about these other authors that i already know about. Give me Tolkein’s story about defeating Smaug, let me read what Jane Austen had to do. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LET ME KNOW IF ROWLING IS PART OF THIS GROUP!!!

While i thought the different dragons were cool, and the fact that Shakespeare & Tolkein want in on the action, the story itself just left me with a feeling of meh at the end.

The ebook has a sneak peek at a sequel(spinoff?) but I will probably not be picking it up.

Posted in 2016 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: Heartless

18584855Title: Heartless

Publication Date: November 8th, 2016

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Author: Marissa Meyer

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Goodreads page
Barnes & Noble

Summary: Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

My Thoughts:
 Jest x Cath
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Cheshire, Cath
Needed BROTP: Cath & Cheshire
Fave Quote:“Now mine eyes see the heart that once we did search for, and I fear this heart shall be mended, nevermore.”

Actual Review: “Why is a Raven like a Writing Desk?”

Heartless is probably a solid 4.5 stars. It is better than just a 4 star but there’s something that it didn’t quite have that makes it a full 5 stars.

As many people know, Heartless is the latest retelling by Marissa Meyer. Only this is not focused on a Disney princess.No this story, is an origin story for the mad and manical, Queen of Hearts of Alice and Wonderland. And let me tell you, this story takes the cake.

For those of you who may not know, the infamous Queen of Hearts starts out as a young Catherine Pinkerton and she has many desires and dreams, and none of them include being the Queen. All she wants to do is open up a bakery and do what she does best, bake the best damn desserts in all of Hearts. But everything changed when Cheshire let’s slip that the King of Hearts wants to propose, the same night that she meets the new Court Joker, Jest and his magical bird companion, Raven. Raven is basically a book length easter egg to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. Jest and Raven turn Cath’s world into an even more impossible one than she already lived in. They dare her to dream move and to be more daring. If Only her fate wasn’t already set in stone.

The description is one of the best things about this story. Meyer does it again where she transport you into these amazing worlds with her vivid characters and stunning scenery. And don’t get me started on all the FOOD. Because Cath wants to be a baker, naturally there are mulitple times she bakes and we get to hear all about it. The only sad part is you can’t reach into the book and take out some of the baking.

The book was wonderous and twisty-turvy, just as any book involving Wonderland should be. I personally wasn’t overly affected by the last 50 pages but it definitely took on a turn I hadn’t seen coming. It does perfect homage to Lewis Carroll’s original story and keeps all the beloved characters perfectly in line with who they are.

Highly recommend this story.

Posted in 2016 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: Frost Like Night

Title: Frost Like Night

Series: Snow Like Ashes #3

Publication Date: September 20th, 2016

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Author: Sara Raasch

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads page
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Summary: Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe.

Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.

Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.

Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.

As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.

My Thoughts:
Ship: None (mine sank)

Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Meira, Ceridwen, Nessa, Rares
Needed BROTP:   Meira x Nessa; Meira x Rares
Fave Quote: “You are not what you’ve done. who you are right now, this moment, is who you choose to be.”

Actual Review: There is no odder feeling for me than finishing a series and putting it away, especially a series that has impacted me and put me on my path like Snow Like Ashes. For those of you who don’t know, about 14 months ago, I picked up a couple books that completely threw me off kilter and reignited the passion I had for reading. They were Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. These two books not only reignited my love of reading but pushed me to create a book tumblr which led to my Instagram & eventually my book blog on WordPress. And i have those two book series to thank for that. So to finish a book that marks the end of one of those series is a slightly surreal moment for me.

Frost Like Night is a GREAT ending for the Snow Like Ashes series. it will indeed rip your heart out, stomp it on the ground a few times and then give it back with some chocolate and flowers. Have tissues ready when you read FLN because you’re gonna need them; I know I did.

The story arc is finally coming to a head as Meira must decide to trust this man who saved her and the other Winterians that claims he is from Paisly & the Order of Lustrate. But to do so, she must leave the rest of her friends and kingdom behind to follow this man. All under the promise of being able to finally understand her magic and rid the world of Angra & his decay once and for all. FYI Rares is great, one of hte best side characters out there.

In the mean time, Ceridwen & Mather are left with the after math of Raelynn & Theron’s betrayals. They both now have POV Chapters (and thank god Mather’s are actually interesting after the boring angsty why wont she love me stupidity of ILF). Mather of course is terrible at following instruction and wants to follow Meira to Paisly while Ceridwen wants to avenge her brother and Kill either Angra or Raelynn or both ( i don’t think she cares).

I really enjoyed this story line much better than book 2. I thought all the different POV chapters were interesting and when some were left on cliff hangers it made me want to skip over the other POV chapters. This book stayed true to it’s theme of Plot twists I didn’t see coming and were just inline with how the book should go.

The romance you can see coming like 5 miles away and while it’s not the ship I PREFER, i will accept it and move on.

There is plenty of death and I think it almost is mentioned too often later on in the 6 months later epilogue because the whole epilogue felt down bc there’s just all this multiple reminders of who died. Like we get it , they died, I cried, moving on.

I really like how the other dynamics and relationships got fleshed out other than Meira/Mather and Meira/Ceridwen. We got to see Meira go through ALOT of amazing character growth that I really enjoyed reading. honestly would’ve preferred many more chapters with just Meira.

Highly recommend to fans of the earlier part of the series.