Tag Archive | magic

Review: Everything All At Once by Katrina Leno

everything all at once -katrina lenoFrom the author of The Half Life of Molly Pierce and The Lost & Found comes a magical new YA novel about 24 dares, 3 weeks, and taking a leap into the unknown.

Lottie Reeves has always struggled with anxiety, and when her beloved Aunt Helen dies, Lottie begins to fear that her own unexpected death might be waiting around every corner.

Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the best–selling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers.

In her will, she leaves one last writing project—just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone. Soon, Lottie’s trying some writing of her own, leaping off cliffs, and even falling for a boy she’s only just met. Then the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series. Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fear once and for all.

This gorgeous novel is perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, with the scavenger hunt feel of Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, and a dash of magic that evokes Tuck Everlasting.


3 Drink Me Potions


Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Everything All At Once came out July 25, 2017**

[Books] help with everything. Books can make you live a thousand lifetimes, a thousand different lives. Books make you immortal.

Everything All At Once was a poignant novel that took a deep look at life, or rather, how short one’s life can be. Lottie’s aunt whom she was really close to had passed away, leaving her with 24 letters instructing her on different tasks to carry out after she was gone. This was a unique concept that really drew me in. The voice of Aunt Helen was so real, it didn’t matter that she had technically never breathed a single breath during the time span of this novel. Her fears and hopes for Lottie were made clear and her love for those she left behind was written everywhere, both explicitly and implicitly.

Besides that wonderful fact, Aunt Helen was a novel writer, a famous one akin to J.K. Rowling in this world. The little snippets and excerpts from her children novels at the end of each chapter was so cute and the story of Alvin and Margo Hatter drew e in as much as the main story did. In fact, sometimes I looked forward to those little paragraphs more than the book itself.

Now, I absolutely adored Katrina Leno’s writing and prose. It was heartfelt but simple. The characters came to life. From Lottie’s funny but smart brother who had the most realistic sibling relationship I’ve read in a long while, to the family dynamic with the parents, I came to know this family. Not only that, but I bled for Lottie as she struggled with her anxieties, what made her different from the rest of her immediate family aside from her aunt, and the aftermath of the loss of a loved one.

Panic attacks and anxiety wasn’t made the forefront of this story, but its presence was still just as crucial as Lottie learned to take a risk occasionally, to be brave, and to seek help when needed. This was powerful. Especially with the way it ended.

And what an ending. I did not really see that strange aspect coming. The big secret Aunt Helen had kept from everyone. And likewise, how this interesting boy who came into Lottie’s life would also be more meaningful than just a love interest to check off for the protagonist. That brought up my excitement for sure.

That being said, I felt the book dragged a lot. I loved the idea of the 24 letters, and there’s one chapter for each task that Lottie embarked on for that specific letter. Occasionally, I just wished it went by faster so we could get to the exciting parts. At the end of the day, this book was 100% heartfelt but 20% suspenseful in carrying you through all of Lottie’s pain. It just needed something more in the beginning and middle to really get readers excited.

To close, I did enjoy this book no matter the crazy slow pace. It made me think a lot. About life and death. Big themes like immortality and what we leave behind when it’s our time. I think they’re important to discuss and this book did it beautifully.

The possibilities [of death] were endless, and it didn’t matter if you played it safe or not. Here one minute, gone the next.

Overall Recommendation:

Everything All At Once is one of those books that just seems to have a little bit of everything that may attract different audiences. It was heartfelt and real about loss, while also being a little bit explorative and fun with the letters Aunt Helen had left behind for our protagonist, Lottie, to carry out. With a cast of down-to-earth and genuinely real characters, this book would’ve had it all if not for the EXTREMELY slow pace it was set at. While I encourage you read this book for its overall big themes such as death and life, it may not be the easiest book to get through. But the little book within a book element may just be the thing to keep you going.

Note: all quotes are subject to change when published

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Series: Flame in the Mist #1

flame in the mist -renee ahdiehThe only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.


4 Drink Me Potions


Flame in the Mist was steeped in gorgeous Japanese lore that made the story both unique and enticing. While it wasn’t always moving at a fast pace, I can see why this book has been raved about. Because it’s very very true.

I haven’t read any of Renee Ahdieh’s other works yet but I’m not surprised that I enjoyed this novel. There was a lot of background work, I’m sure, to set this novel in such a setting and time. Although I was a little wary, to be honest, about how well this kinda YA book could be executed, I was delightfully surprised.

Here’s why:

  1. It’s like stepping into the Japanese culture and the way of the samurai. It never felt like the author only briefly did her homework and called it a day. She sold me on the genuine authenticity feel to this book.
  2. Intriguing things being laid out in the story’s background (for the next novel). There were little tidbits throughout that made me wonder if such events would become relevant later and things were tied well together in the end, no matter the cliffhanger-ish ending.
  3. The ability to weave a story with 2 main guy characters and not have a love triangle to keep things interesting. Okashi, the Wolf, was by far Mariko’s preferred choice, no matter that Ranmaru was so much more likeable at first.
  4. Mariko. Just Mariko ❤

To elaborate a bit more beyond those brief points, Flame in the Mist had a cast of characters and plot events that genuinely seemed to portray the Japanese culture. From teahouses to geishas and the lay of the lands, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Japan like this in a YA novel.

The one negative thing I would note is that the beginning is rather slow. It takes time for Mariko to even find her way to the Black Clan camp, and then she’s stuck there for a while doing nothing exciting at all. Except for mundane tasks. But once you get past this bump, it will surprise you as things develop more quickly.

Overall Recommendation:

Flame in the Mist shouldn’t be a surprise to fans of Renee Ahdieh’s books. She has weaved a beautiful story steeped in Japanese culture that still fits so relevantly in YA fantasy. Although it was slow to start, Mariko as our protagonist and the two mysterious guys leading the Black Clan will capture you in their story until the very last pages.

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices #1

lady midnight -cassandra clareIn a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.


4 Drink Me Potions


Lady Midnight is basically all that you could ever ask for from Cassandra Clare. She never seems to do any wrong after all books she’s produced in this Shadowhunter world of hers.

What can I say about this novel that could possibly be different from all the other raving reviews out there?

I guess I will keep it simple.

1) Imaginative
This world continues to grow, drawing back old and familiar characters while developing new ones that may not have been all that well known. The characters are still so unique, particularly our main protagonist pairing, Julian and Emma. They’re not Jace and Clary, or Will and Tessa. They’re as real as they are, and getting to know them has been so much fun within these 700 pages.

2) Keeps-you-on-your-toes
Clare is amazing at bringing in all these plot elements together in such a beautiful manner that you can’t help but be enthralled as it all unravels and we discover the crazy things happening along with the protagonists. I honestly did not guess who the main “villain” was until quite near the end, and the minor red herrings deliciously threw me off for a bit.

3) Magical-with-a-hint-of-fairy
What’s a world without some magic? With warlocks and the return of Mark Blackthorn, there is no limits on the magical elements within this book.

4) Romantic
The gorgeous build up to a different kinda of relationship between parabatai Emma and Julian was amazing. I always feel like there are no words to describe them. It’s not some instalove, as they’ve known each other forever literally. But it’s also rediscovering each other in this sense as well. I’ve always been a lover of forbidden love stories (as long as no one dies – yes, I’m looking at you, Romeo & Juliet).

5) About-a-family
At the heart of this novel (and I’m sure the whole series) is the Blackthorn family. Whether you’re born by blood as a Blackthorn or not, Clare has demonstrated what the bonds of love would do (or rather, how far it would go for someone you consider family). It’s not some cheesy Vin Diesel voice saying “we’re family” kinda moments, but it’s implied in there, especially in all that Julian does.

There really isn’t much more I can say to sum this up. It’s been an experience reading this book – albeit slowly due to work – but it allowed me to savour it more. Cassandra Clare’s world honestly has attracted so many people all over the world for a reason. Join in if you haven’t already.

Overall Recommendation:
Well, whoop, what can I say that most people don’t feel already? 5 words. Imaginative, suspenseful, magical, romantic and family. That is what you get in any Cassandra Clare book, but particularly highlighted in Lady Midnight. Go out and get your copy if you haven’t already. As the back cover blurb keeps reminding me, “find out what 50 million readers are raving about”.


What’s your favourite Cassandra Clare book/series? Fan or foe of her works?