Feb 112013

Blud & Magick

Author: Preston Norton

Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.

Published Date: January 2013

Softcover; 256 pages

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

ISBN# 978-1462110889

Reviewed by: Shanda

FTC FYI: received a free digital PDF in exchange for an honest review


Born from the ashes of the most fierce and powerful entity in all of Trivaesia, Darla was sent to grow up in the outside world with no knowledge of where she came from. When she finds herself wielding new power, she must decide which part of her will rule her heart—the evil from which she was born or the good by which she was raised.


The first chapter of Blud and Magick pulled me in with great imagery and I enjoyed watching the Sages interact at the meeting that sets the stage for the rest of the story. Their different personalities provided contrast and interest that made me want to learn more about them and their world.

The next chapter jumps forward to just after Darla’s 14th birthday. She is about to start yet another first day at a new school and we get a glimpse into her character before everything in her world changes. The rest of the story, told in Darla’s point-of-view, tells of her struggle to understand the life-changing revelation about who she really is and what her future holds.

After a great start with some intense action, the middle of the book slowed down significantly for me. There were a few inconsistencies in the plot line that had me scratching my head. One is a bit spoilerish so if you want to read it you will need to highlight the following text: Edward tells Cirrus when Darla is eavesdropping that at the Blud and Magick school he will have to act as if he doesn’t know Darla so people will not think Cirrus is “in league” with her because of what they both are. Then, after passing through a portal into the magical world of Trivaesia City in order to shop for magic school–in a familiar Harry Potteresque way–Darla and Cirrus are seen together in public again and again by future schoolmates and townsfolk alike. Wouldn’t the two of them being seen together in the city be just as bad as being seen interacting at the school? Maybe even worse?

In Trivaesia, there are magical creatures of all varieties. One of my favorite characters was a satyr named Azezal Baphomet. I liked his personality, and his unexpected, conflicted history gave him a depth I didn’t quite find in the other characters. I’m not sure if this is the beginning of a series or not. There is some great set up for more fully developing Darla’s potential in the next book, especially with the last minute twist at the end. I had hoped to get at least a few hints about a certain character’s motivations, but there were no answers for me at the end. I’m not sure what point Cirrus and Ash serve in the story so far and I’m assuming their roles will be explained and developed in later installments.

The last part of the book picked up for me again. I appreciated the conflict Darla faced at the end and the suspense as I turned pages. Would she or wouldn’t she? What would happen to her if she did? There were a few unexpected events near the end that mostly made up for the slow middle. I did find myself wishing that several characters and plot points had been a bit more developed. I think this author has a lot to offer the fantasy genre and I hope he continues to grow his writing skills. If this is the first in a series, I would most likely read the next one with the hope that my questions about certain characters will be answered.

I think that readers who enjoy magical adventures in different worlds will like Blud and Magick. The tone felt directed more to an older MG/younger YA audience, and there was very little romance so boys who don’t like “kissing books” might appreciate that aspect of the story.


Violence- a high school student is killed (no details), small amount of gore during a battle

Sex- none; a kiss on a cheek; short commentary on if someone was looking at a boy’s butt

Language- no swearing; the word “piss” is used at least once

Find Blud and Magick:   GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Visit Preston Norton:  WEBSITE | GOODREADS


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Nov 262012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)

Author: Rae Carson

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Published Date: September 2011

Hardcover; 424 pages

Genre: YA Fantasy

ISBN# 978-0-06-202648-4

Reviewed by: Shanda

FTC FYI: borrowed from my local library


Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.


The Girl of Fire and Thorns was not quite what I expected. It was even better. I soon found myself swept up in the story of Elisa, the second daughter, princess, and Godstone-bearer who was coddled and ate as many honeyed pastries as she wanted.

The book opens as Elisa is getting ready to be married to King Alejandro from a neighboring kingdom. They have never met and she is nervous about leaving all she has ever known to travel to a strange land. Elisa isn’t sure why she was chosen and not her older, prettier sister. She is self-conscious about her appearance, knows she is inexperienced about what it takes to rule a kingdom and doubts her ability and worthiness to be the first Godstone bearer from her country in over a hundred years.

Over the next several months, Elisa sees and experiences things she could never have imagined. These series of events change her, physically and emotionally, into a young woman of strength, character and confidence. She discovers power within herself she never knew existed, not just in regard to the Godstone, but in her ability to lead others and overcome tragedy.

I really enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns. The characters were memorable, with depth and the ability to change and grow as the story progressed. The story dragged a bit for me in spots, but my interest in how Elisa was evolving and the relationships she was forming with those around her kept me reading.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is written in first-person present-tense, which I love, though some people have a hard time reading it. I was drawn into what was happening to Elisa, her new kingdom, the war, her discoveries about the Godstone, as well as her relationships with Ximena, Cosme, Humberto and King Alejandro. At one point I was floored by an unexpected event and felt all of the emotion that Elisa was experiencing in the story.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a bit of magic, romance, adventure, suspense, loss, and discovery all woven together to create a memorable story that I can easily recommend to others. I am anxious to read The Crown of Embers, book two in the Fire and Thorns series. If it’s as good as the first, I’ll be adding this series to the top of my shopping list.


Language: not that I can remember, though it’s been a couple of weeks since I finished it

Sex: a few kisses, no detail, no sex

Violence: some violence, it takes place during wartime

Drug Use: none that I recall

Visit Rae Carson online:


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Aug 152012

August Fortress

Author: Andrea Pearson

Publisher: Self

Published: June 2012

eBook: 381 pages


FTC FYI: Review Copy

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary: Jacob Clark’s most dangerous quest yet is just beginning. He and his friends must rescue the powerful Shiengols from August Fortress, where they’ve been held captive for nearly fifteen years. But deadly Lorkon traps are everywhere and affect all involved—even Jacob. To succeed, he’ll have to master more of his powers and put aside distractions from his ordinary life.

My Review

This is my favorite book of the series. I loved the adventure and surprises around every turn. The characters are creative and fun. I really enjoy the world that Andrea has created. The creatures are my favorite, I would not want to be hunted by a fish because I accidentally fell in it’s water. Jacob and his friends embark on their most dangerous quest, to request the Sheingols. All of their senses are effected, and there is danger around every turn. Jacob has some really cool abilities and is everyday learning about them. Andrea’s books are full of fun, suspense, adventure, heart, and have a great sense of family. From the humans to the Makalos, everyone is loved and appreciated. You will enjoy these books even as much as your kids will.

4 out of 5 stars. August Fortress is Book 3 of the Key of Kilenya series. Book 2 is The Ember Gods. Follow Andrea on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.


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Jul 182012

Witch Song

Author: Amber Argyle

Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing

Published: September 2011

Paperback: 305 pages

ISBN13: 9781936850167

FTC FYI: Purchased from Amazon

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary:  The world is changing. Once, Witch Song controlled everything from the winds to the shifting of the seasons-but not anymore. All the Witches are gone, taken captive by a traitor. All but Brusenna. As the echo of their songs fades, the traitor grows stronger. Now she is coming for Brusenna. Her guardian has sworn to protect her, but even he can’t stop the Dark Witch. Somehow, Brusenna has to succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find the traitor. Fight her. Defeat her. Because if Brusenna doesn’t, there won’t be anything left to save.

My Review

Shanda reviewed Witch Song last year when it came out. Check it out, here. Since the sequel, Witch Born, is coming out in September, I thought it would be fun to review it again, and remind readers about it.

Witch Song is a very enjoyable read.  Full of magic, romance, suspense, and heart.  The songs sung by the witches were my favorite. Beautifully written.  Each character is well written too.  I loved Joshen, Captain Parknel, even Senna’s faithful dog Bruke.  The villain Espen was intriguing, and I found myself wanting more from her.  The author did a great job of making me turn pages late into the night with all the cool spells, seed belts, and battles.

4 out 5 stars.  Look for the sequel to Witch Song, Witch Born coming out in September 2012. Follow Amber on FACEBOOK / TWITTER / BLOG.



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Mar 262012


Author: C.J. Hill

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Published Date: September 2011

Hardcover; 373 pages

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

ISBN# 978-0-312-61414-0

Reviewed by: Shanda

FTC FYI: checked out from the library

Goodreads Summary:

Dragons exist. They’re ferocious. And they’re smart: Before they were killed off by slayer-knights, they rendered a select group of eggs dormant, so their offspring would survive. Only a handful of people know about this, let alone believe it – these “Slayers” are descended from the original knights, and are now a diverse group of teens that includes Tori, a smart but spoiled senator’s daughter who didn’t sign up to save the world.

The dragon eggs have fallen into the wrong hands. The Slayers must work together to stop the eggs from hatching. They will fight; they will fall in love. But will they survive?

My Review

I knew I was going to like this book, I just didn’t realize I would enjoy it even more than I expected. The characters, the history, the adventure– I liked it all.

Tori was a fascinating character to me for several reasons. She’s spoiled, yes, but not as bad as her sister and their rich friends. On the other hand, compared to the Slayers, she is as pampered as they come. Once Tori arrives at the summer camp for dragon lovers, everyone is questioning her place there, including Tori.

The story easily held my interest. My curiosity about the history of the slayer-knights and their particular talents, wondering what Tori’s talent would be, learning how they train, and then, of course, the climactic confrontation that nobody is quite ready for despite their training kept me turning pages.

There is a twist I suspected was coming, but it didn’t quite go the way I expected. There was emotion involved that pleasantly surprised me. I anxiously await Book 2. I can’t wait to read more about the Slayers, the dragons, and, of course, the romance.

I highly recommend Slayers and plan to purchase my own copy soon.


I don’t remember there being any bad language, there is no sex (a couple of kisses but no explicit descriptions), and some violence (nothing graphic).


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Nov 172011

Bound (The Crystor #1)

Author: C.K. Bryant

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Published Date: October 2011

Paperback/Kindle/E-book; 398 pages

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

Reviewed by: Shanda

FTC FYI: I received a free e-book copy in exchange for an honest review

Back cover:

When a photo shoot ends in tragedy, Kira discovers her best friend, Lydia, has been keeping a secret. Knowing the truth, and accepting it, will change Kira’s life forever and thrust her into a world of ancient curses, magical objects, and savage enemies. What happens next will challenge everything Kira knows about her world, herself and the shape-shifting warrior she’s falling in love with. No longer the timid mouse her mother accused her of being, but a woman who finds the mental and physical strength to endure and survive.

BOUND is a heroic tale of true friendship, infinite sacrifice and untamed love.

Find out how you can enter to win prizes galore during the Dark C.A.R.M.A. Blog Tour below.

BOUND begins with Kira and Lydia in gym class on a seemingly ordinary day. By the weekend, though, everything has changed and the reader is swept quickly into a fast-moving tale that involves characters who aren’t what they seem and a history that belongs to another world.

I was pulled quickly into the story and it held my attention easily. I was interested in the history of Lydia and Octavion and I’m looking forward to learning more about their world. It looks like book two will take place on Ophira so readers will have the opportunity to learn more about Lydia and Octavion’s home world.

I liked seeing the growth of Kira throughout the book from an unwanted, unloved and abandoned child to a strong young woman who won’t give up without a fight. Lydia was fascinating with her own internal struggle balancing two spirits. Octavion was a little frustrating for me, at least at first. As the dangerous, even ferocious, young prince of another world at times he felt a little cliche, but by the end of the story he was really growing on me.

I know I’m invested in a story if I get to the end and keep flipping pages as if more story will magically appear. BROKEN, book two in The Crystor series, is scheduled to be released in Spring of 2012.

BOUND is an interesting story that left me wanting more. Readers who like to read YA Fantasy and YA Paranormal will enjoy BOUND.

Content: A few incidents of swearing limited to “he–” and one occurrence of “a–“; kissing but nothing too graphic; a bad guy attacks a main character and touches her breast but is stopped.


To purchase an autographed copy of BOUND by C.K. Bryant visit the author’s website here.

The Kindle version of BOUND can be purchased here.

To enter to win one of several prizes, including a grand prize, visit the Dark C.A.R.M.A. website.

Have you read BOUND? Tell me what you think of the hunky hero Octavion!

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