Book Review: For the Clan

I really enjoyed this book. For the Clan had so many different surprises that I consider this to be one of the most memorable books I have read so far this year! I am so thankful to Xpresso Book Tours for the chance to review this novel by Archer Kay Leah.


29470767For the Clan
by Archer Kay Leah
Release Date: May 2016
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Summary from Goodreads:

Canada, 2165 AD. The Water Wars and a decimated economy have taken their toll. Anyone who doesn’t live in a military-patrolled metropolis lives in a clan. But being in a clan doesn’t mean safety.

And for a Ven like Roan Lee, it doesn’t matter where he lives. Safety is a luxury. So is freedom.

Roan is desperate to escape the governtary’s exploitation and torture. He is nothing to them but 54σK1, an artifact born from a genetic mishap. When the chance to escape arises, he makes a run for it—and encounters the lover from his past, twisting his future into a second chance he never expected.

As leaders of Clan Teach, Jace Ama and his wife, Cayra Diega, have enough difficulty keeping their people safe. When Roan is thrown to their feet as a prisoner, their marriage becomes an additional challenge. Jace still loves Roan, but where does that leave Cayra?

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When I requested to review For the Clan, I wanted to read it because it was a dystopian novel that was set in Canada. (Yay, Canadian here!) And what’s more awesome is that my home down of Windsor got a shout out! 😀

I loved the dystopian world that Archer Kay Leah created. It has been written in such a way that it could actually seem plausible for it to happen in the near future, except for the magic using Ven people. I don’t want to leave any spoilers, but the action was AWESOME!

The bulk of this story focuses on a polyamorous romance between Jace, Roan and Cayra. (MMF) I wasn’t expecting this to happen, because the blurb does not really hint to it, but I was pleasantly surprised. The romance felt natural (maybe a little too fast, but still good) and the sex was pretty darn hot. I was a little worried for the author, considering that the romance was only briefly mentioned in the blurb, but it was categorized properly in Amazon, so I guess we’re all good.

The two aspects of the book that I feel needed work were the lack of back story and the “easiness” of it all. I feel like this novel could have easily filled 300+ pages instead of less than 200, and I would have been happy to read every single word. Though the Water Wars were mentioned, I would have appreciated a bit more back story. The rest of the plot moves quick, and their obstacles seem to be over come with little effort (relatively speaking of course).

I love, love, loved the cover. The feel of it is so dystopian, military-action, video-gamy goodness. (I really can’t think of any other way to explain it.)

In closing, I found For the Clan to be a quick, fun read. I hope that the author continues to use their skills and write more dystopian stories in the future.

A free copy of this book was provided for an honest review. Thank you Xpresso Book Tours!

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Book Review: Daughter of the Sun

A book about Egyptian Gods, cats and magic (and it’s released on my birthday?) … I think Daughter of the Sun was meant for me! I am so thankful to Xpresso Book Tours for the chance to review this debut novel by Zoe Kalo.

28934536Daughter of the Sun
by Zoe Kalo
Release Date: May 2016
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Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Trinity was born during a solar eclipse and left at the doorsteps of a convent along with a torn piece of papyrus covered with ancient symbols. Raised by nuns in the English countryside, she leads a quiet life until she’s whisked away to the Island of Cats and a grandmother she never knew.
But before they can get to know each other, her grandmother dies. All that Trinity has left is a mysterious eye-shaped ring. And a thousand grieving cats. As Trinity tries to solve the enigma of the torn papyrus, she discovers a world of bloody sacrifices and evil curses, and a prophecy that points to her and her new feline abilities.
Unwilling to believe that any of the Egyptian gods could still be alive, Trinity turns to eighteen-year-old Seth and is instantly pulled into a vortex of sensations that forces her to confront her true self—and a horrifying destiny.

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As a self identifying egyptophile, I get so excited when authors choose Ancient Egyptian mythology / culture / history / religion as a base for a new book. As a practicing Pagan, I’m always a little leery about books involving the Gods of Egypt. Of course there were some artistic license when it came to facts about the Gods (eg, Apep is technically not a God and Ammit did not work for him.) However, Daughter of the Sun was a pleasing read on all accounts.

I’ll admit that it took me a while to get “into” Trinity, our heroine. After around the 30% mark I was completely won over and couldn’t put the book down. I loved her chemistry with Seth, and while there was some teenage crushing and hormones flying, I was happy that this book is insta-love free!

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It is also worth noting that Zoe Kalo is presumably a great lover of cats (and if you doubt me feel free to check out all the adorable kitten photos on her twitter). She way she writes cats into the book is astounding. Every little quirk, mew and lick is incredibly authentic. I love it when a writer is skilled at writing about the animals in the character’s story, it makes it more warm and fuzzy, no pun intended.

However, Daughter of the Sun was not without its faults. The plot moved along a bit too quickly for my liking, falling into the “telling not showing” trap that I as a reader and a writer am all to familiar with. I would have like to see things slowed down a bit so I could get to know Trinity better before her life was turned upside down. As the story went on the narration of pacing did improved a lot.

I hope as the series goes on, Trinity stops being afraid of witchcraft and magic and accepts her powers for what they are. It bums me out when magic doers are instantly labeled bad or cast as villains.

Wrapping up, this was a quick read by a new author who shows much promise. The story was wonderfully imaginative and I hope to see more authors taking inspiration from Ancient Egypt. I can’t wait to read the second installment in the trilogy – but sadly there is no indication on the author’s Goodreads page when that will be.

A free copy of this book was provided for an honest review. Thank you Xpresso Book Tours!

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Book Review: Return Once More

Return Once More (The Historians #1)
by Trisha Leigh
Release Date: June 2015
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Summary from Goodreads:

If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even though you will never meet— would you?
Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually settling a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting your one true love.
If you could save your one true love from an untimely death, would you be able to resist?
Sixteen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and she can’t resist a peek at her long-dead soul mate in Ancient Egypt. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could destroy more than just her new romance.
Or would you have the strength to watch him die?
But when Kaia notices a fellow classmate snooping around in a time where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers could threaten the entire universe. If her experience has taught her anything, to changing history means facing the consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it— in a race across time to save her only chance at a future.

I’ve never had a thing for time travel, but I have always had a thing for Ancient Egypt, so that’s what drew me into Return Once More. I believe that the author did a good job of describing the futuristic world and the technology that was used within it. I find that some books have to little explanation while others have far too much – Trisha Leigh got this one just right. Some of it did require a willing suspension of disbelief, but that’s why we read fantasy!

The entire premise of being about travel back in time but not forward it time made sense to me. The past is already done but the future possibilities are infinite. As long as you don’t screw up the past and make sure we have a future to return to. The other plot device used was the ability to find someone’s “One True Love” throughout all time and space. For some reason, they can predict someone’s True in the future… but not go there… hm. That felt undeveloped for me. I played along with that, because hey, I love History so the thought of being able to go back and observe was awesome!

Kaia is a great heroine, I enjoyed reading from her point of view. She is a realistic teenager who breaks all the rules when it suits her, but still has a strong sense of what is right and wrong. The supporting characters could have used a bit more fleshing out, as sometimes I was confused about who Kaia was interacting with.

While the book moved and read quickly, some of the pacing felt off to me. I found myself bored every so often and then suddenly it would pick up like a roller-coaster. I really loved the cover for this book. I like the juxtaposition of the modern clothing with the (fantasy inspired) Ancient Egyptian setting.

As I was approaching the end of the book, I knew that there was no way that it was all going to wrap up nicely in the last 10%. I went into this book thinking it was a standalone, so I was left wondering wtf was going on at the end. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was a series! I can’t wait to read what happens next.

In the end, I really enjoyed this book by Trisha Leigh and I look forward to reading the next installment in the series. She does have another series completed with CreateSpace named The Last Year, which I will also be adding to my to-read list. The first installment, Whispers in Autumn is free on Amazon!

*disclaimer* – I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. 
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Series Review: Once a Witch / Always a Witch

I added Once a Witch to my to-read list over a year and a half ago, when I first started using Goodreads to track my reading / to-read progress. I seriously cannot get enough of that site, I have discovered so many amazing authors through Goodreads, including Carolyn MacCullough.

#1 Once a Witch
# 2 Always a Witch
by Carolyn MacCullough
Release Date: 2009 / 2011
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Summary from Goodreads:

“Your daughter will be one of the most powerful we have ever seen in this family. She will be a beacon for us all.”

Tamsin Greene comes from a long line of witches, and on the day she was born, her grandmother proclaimed she would be one of the most Talented among them.
But Tamsin’s magic never showed up.
Now, seventeen years later, she spends most of her time at boarding school in Manhattan, where she can at least pretend to be normal. But during the summers, she’s forced to return home and work at her family’s bookstore/magic shop.

One night a handsome young professor from New York University arrives in the shop and mistakes Tamsin for her extremely Talented older sister. For once, it’s Tamsin who’s being looked at with awe and admiration, and before she can stop herself, she agrees to find a family heirloom for him that was lost more than a century ago. But the search – and the stranger – prove to be more sinister than they first appeared, ultimately sending Tamsin on a treasure hunt through time that will unlock the secret of her true identity, unearth the past sins of her family, and unleash a power so strong and so vengeful that it could destroy them all.

In a spellbinding display of storytelling, Carolyn MacCullough interweaves witchcraft, romance, and time travel in a fantasy that will exhilarate, enthrall, and thoroughly enchant.

Once a Witch has been sitting on my to-read list for a while, but I’m glad that I’ve finally had the chance to read it. Put simply, I loved it! It’s fast-paced, well-written and has everything that I could have wanted in a modern fantasy novel. First published in 2009, I’m surprised that this book hasn’t gotten more mainstream attention, especially with an endorsement from Cassandra Clare.

At just under 300 pages, this story is a whirlwind of an adventure that includes witchcraft, sleuthing, time travel, sibling rivalry and a hint of romance.

I really enjoyed the characters. MacCullough knows how to write teens for a wider audience. The characters were all unique, avoiding major tropes but still providing the cast that we would expect from a book like this. Her tone and pacing hit every mark perfectly.

I honestly went into reading this book not knowing that there was a sequel already published. I was over the moon when there was a sample of Always a Witch in the back, and I immediately checked it out of the library and even put reading The Winner’s Crime on hold to read it.

So, let’s talk cover art. I love love love the cover for the 2009 edition of Once a Witch. It fits the mood of the story completely. The cover for Always a Witch, however, fell flat into a cliche cover of some goth girl brooding in a corset. Seeing how this is a trend in YA at the moment, it must help the books sell, but I prefer the Hermoine-esque cover of the first book, which I connected with on a more personal level.

Upon finishing the series, I am definitely interesting in reading more from this author.

 

Book Review: The Body Institute

Do you guys remember when I hosted a cover reveal for The Body Institute by Carol Riggs back in March? Well I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced copy to read and review!
The Body Institute
by Carol Riggs
Release Date: September 2015
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Summary from Goodreads:

Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute.
Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…
For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start…
Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul…

I was originally interested in the book because I thought it would be tackling issues like body shaming and discrimination, but that wasn’t really the case. There were a few moments hidden in between health lectures, but they seemed few and far between. I might have just been too sensitive about it, because of my own personal history – and I’ll admit there were parts in the beginning that were triggering to me and I had to put the book down. Therefore, I would recommend anyone living with an eating disorder or body-dismorphia to read with caution.

However, for all the personal challenges I had while reading this book, I’ve very glad I did. There is no doubt that Carol Riggs is an excellent writer and keeps the reader guessing. I’m normally that person that has everything figured out – not with The Body Institute! The story was slow (but engaging) until the 50% mark and just when I thought I knew what was going to happen I got hit with twist after twist. I read the last half of the book in a day because I just couldn’t put it down!

I like the world building, it was easy to imagine and the technology seemed plausible in the next 100 years or so. I don’t know much about tech or biology but to me, the tech described for switching minds didn’t seem all that impossible. That’s what marks a good sci-fi for me – books with tech that is realistic is way more unnerving that fantasy lands.

I love Morgan for her resliance and her detication to her family. She was a heroine that I could really get behind and not be annoyed by the 1st person perspective. After all she went though, and still carrying herself with pride really inspired me. The other characters were all great in their way, and the cast supported a very well thought out plot.

My favourite character was Morgans grandfather. I felt like I connected with him better because he was not a native of this intense technology, just as I would be if it were developed in my life time. I think his family (even Morgan in the beginning) writes him off as a grumpy old man, but he is very wise. There was something that he said that seems to be a cornerstone of the theme of this book, which I will leave here for everyone:

“Your looks are an important part of who you are. You wouldn’t be who you are, the same personality, if you’d grown up looking different. You’re a blend of your body and your soul.”

 

*disclaimer* – I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. 
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