I’m starting to really love science-fantasy books, and the first book in the “Eden East Series” helped build that love and appreciation even more. This is the story of Eden, a young woman with elemental magic, whose purpose is to bring Balance to the world, namely Earth. Her people do this by Binding themselves (think soulmates) and together, finding ways to bring peace and harmony to others. It’s a cute premise to be honest, and I loved how different families became essentially city states for each type of magic. There are Sirens who control emotion, Elementals who are pretty self-explanatory, Sorcerers who have legit wands that they use a-la Harry Potter style, Dryads who are healers (obviously), and Shifters who can—you guessed it—change into different animals. It’s honestly a really fun world and Black makes wonderful characters and has the building blocks for a really amazing YA series, but I wanted more.
“The Gates of Golorath” is one seriously epic fantasy. Garino has taken a page out of such ambitious story tellers as George R.R. Martin when it comes to crafting vast and complicated house lines and the ties that bind them, as well as the fragile balance that many hold for no other reason other than tradition. The book focuses mainly on Angus and Arielle, two “angels” (who felt like elves to be honest) who go to train at the Gates in order to keep the forces of evil from ever being unleashed upon the human realm (I’m paraphrasing). But Garino introduces the reader to A TON of other characters, sometimes even showing us the world through their perspective, thus crafting a world that was so rich and vibrant that sometimes my body ached in sympathy pains for all the trials that our “young” protagonists go through (I say young because even centuries old they are still considered children). We watch as Arielle and Angus essentially go through boot camp so they can better prepare to protect their world, all while the author explains just what they’re protecting against, and why. Most of the action and conflict in this book revolves around house politics and competition for the highest honor, but honestly, I loved it and didn’t mind that the bigger conflict was only hinted at in this first book.
“The Pariah Child and the Ever-Giving Stone” is the tale of young Sarafina (or Sarah to her friends) whose imaginary fairy friends aren’t all that imaginary, despite her strict mother’s best wishes. Threatened by her mother to abandon her fantasies of mythical talking friends or she’d be sent to an asylum, Sarah does her best to comply, until she is attacked by a not so ordinary pack of wolves. The “imaginary” friends she thought she banished have returned, begging for Sarah to help them save their world by returning something vital to it, or more nasty creatures will come to Sarah’s world, and destroy the magical place known as Lyrica. Sarah doesn’t fit in back home, and yet these magical creatures immediately offer her acceptance. Spurned by her small town, Sarah agrees to the task they have placed at her feet (she’s thirteen, it’s a lot of pressure for a young kid) and travels to Lyrica, not knowing anything about the place, its inhabitants, how it’s dying, or what she can do about it. She’s not entirely alone though, with the help of a few friends (not all magical), Sarah decides she’s not going to be afraid anymore, that she wants to help, at any cost. Oh man, there is so much in this book! Magical creatures of every kind, a dying world, a child of prophecy, a sweet coming-of-age story, an epic quest, and lots of action and adventure. This story was quite the roller-coaster, and I loved parts of it, but I think it was also trying to pack too much into just under 300 hundred pages of book.
“I’m Not A Stalker” found quick fame on Wattpad and I can see why: a quick story told through a series of emails and texts about what happens when a girl accidentally hits “reply all” and finds herself in the center of a torrent of gossip and (not so) secret admirers? Telling the whole story of Anissa, the main character, trying to figure out who the secret admirer is while dodging nosy classmates and a kind of douche ex-boyfriend through emails and texts works great in a blog / serial format, where the story is more of a guilty-pleasure popcorn munching tale. But when you put all of that in a traditional book format, the charm of it being such a unique format ran out rather quickly, at least for me. Plus, with the title, part of me was hoping for a little of a psycho-thriller aspect to it. I’ve hit “reply all” on important emails before, and the fear and anxiety that comes with that is nothing to laugh at! But none of that is in this story so… don’t worry?
“Soul In Ashes” was originally created as four short novellas, but what I read was the first four “seasons”, and I must say, it’s much better to read these stories together instead of as short one off episodes. But, given the structure of how this book was crafted from these stories all revolving around one character and her struggles with an evil magic and vengeful / ignorant populace, it makes it an instant page turner. The reader follows along as Alswyn attempts to rebuild her life. Crippled after renouncing her evil ash magic and exiled by her people, she seeks sanctuary with a group of peaceful healers who have forsaken all violence. Only in their protective embrace can Alswyn heal, but there are bigger forces at play, forces that draw Alswyn back to the magic she has forsaken, the people who abandoned her, and the king of the rival country she grew up hating. It’s a compelling story, one that doesn’t start out with the goal of saving the world, but instead healing one princess, but that one good deed sets up a fun adventure all the way through each episode.
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