Tag Archives: magic

Undine and Breathe by Penni Russon

Undine and Breathe have been sitting forgotten in the purgatory that is my Amazon wish list for god knows how many years. I’m sure my teenage self was intrigued by the vaporous mystical quality to the front jacket flap.

Undine is a teen girl just discovering her innate hidden magic. She lives with her free-spirited mother and baby half-brother. Trout, her best friend/next door neighbor is madly in love with her. Awkwardddd. And lately she’s had a strange urge to be seaside–not to mention the mysterious voice in her head tell her to “come home.”

undine-penni-russon-hardcover-cover-artThis is totally not an E.T. sequel!

I’m not sure what I was really expecting out of Undine and Breathe, but this wasn’t it. I guess I thought she was going to end up as a mermaid or something. This series seemed more like an existential angsty teen crisis than anything. It was a fairly entertaining and easy read, but I wasn’t captivated by it. There seemed to be a lot more thinking than doing in both books and it gave the whole story a hazy quality–like something half-remembered from a dream.

The whole thing would’ve made a very peaceful and dreamy music video, if you catch my drift.

I didn’t particularly care for Undine and I certainly didn’t like the way she treated Trout. He was so nice and he was so horribly friend-zoned that I felt bad for him. I much preferred Max in Breathe, but then again I was disappointed on how she turned out too. n229924

Apparently there is a third book to the Undine trilogy called Drift, but for some weird reason it’s out of print and pretty much only available as an audiobook. I don’t know if I really care enough to track it down…

3 dead fish of 5


Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

anna dressed in blood

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a baby back bitch when it comes to scary movies. I can watch one heinous thing and it haunts me for years. Scary books on the other hand… I love. I guess it’s because I feel more in control. Nothing can jump and go RAWWWWRRR in my face, so I feel better about it. On the other hand, since books and words and stories are played out in your mind… they can have a much more all-encompassing effect when they’re creeptastic.

Hence why I was interested in Anna Dressed in Blood and its sequel, Girl of Nightmares. Our protagonist Theseus Cassio Lowood (or “Cas” for short) is a ghost hunter. And no, not the Discovery-Channel-night-vision-camera-*bump*-AHHHWHATWASTHAT?? kind either. After his ghost-hunting father’s untimely demise, Cas is handed the power and responsibility of the athame–a dagger that can “kill” the dead. Or at least send them back to wherever they came from.

Loner Cas gets more than he bargains for when he moves to Canada with his mom to find “Anna Dressed in Blood”–a 50 years slain girl who haunts her old house and has a very high body count. It’s up to him and his new pals to stop Anna before she goes too far. But Anna is not what she seems. And strange signs start to lead Cas to believe that his father’s murderer is somewhere nearby… OOooooOOOoooOOOooo

Girl of Nightmares brings us back to Cas and company, and this time his mission is to help save Anna. Hmm…

These were very disappointing books. You’d think that when a book cover says “Stephen King better start looking over his shoulder” it would mean something. I hear that statement and start gleefully rubbing my hands together. Nope. If you are looking for a wise-cracking and very trendy narrator (very similar to a teenage version of the Dresden Files but without the likeability) then look no further.

I’m not saying I hated Cas, but it’s strange to see Facebook and “pwned” referenced in a book. I think Blake’s attempt at casual teen speak was a little too casual, and it made me dislike the characters. Cas was too cocky. And (OF COURSE) there has got to be some love interest crap going on. I didn’t like how out-of-left-field and instantaneous Cas’ feelings were. I didn’t understand it at all. Blegh. The whole thing was just blegh.

Do you guys know of any good books that will actually scare me?

2 bloodstains of 5


Quote of the Day: Roald Dahl



“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

-Roald Dahl

Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

“An assassin’s first murder is himself. He kills the man he was.”

I have to admit that out of all the YA fiction I’ve read recently, Witchlanders has the most original concept. (I keep wanting to call it The Witchlanders, I don’t know why).

The story’s perspective switches back and forth between two very different young men. Ryder is a simple farmer. A Witchlander. His mother is an outcast boneshaker who thinks she can foretell the future. Too bad she’s addicted to a mind-altering flower, so when she predicts disaster befalling the village… Ryder and his two sisters have a hard time believing her.

Falpian is the lone surviving wealthy son of a Baen lord. His twin brother, supposedly his magically “soul mate” is dead. Not that they could ever produce songs or magic together anyway. 9917925

The two young men are enemies by birth. Witchlanders are the sworn adversaries of the Baen, and neither side trusts the other. So, it’s pretty crazy when they chance upon each other and find that their minds are connected in… mysterious ways.

Not to mention, Ryder’s skepticism about the witches who live in the mountains above them. He thinks they’re lazy con artists. But he may have more in common with them than he once believed…

I don’t really know how to feel about this book… It had some major good points and had some major… “eh” moments. I liked that Coakley used a more original form of magic–song. I also liked that she focuses on the (platonic) relationship between these two boys and the whole story wasn’t bogged down with some hopeless teeny-bopper romance. It’s nice to have someone steer away from that.

(Boys aren’t everything, young readers!)

I also liked the drug addiction of Ryder’s mother. That made it extra hard on him since his father was dead. I really liked Falpian’s dog Bo.

I don’t generally like high fantasy, so I won’t really delve into that, but this book was kind of a shrug to me. The idea of the song magic was cool, but it seemed strange coming from two guys. I could picture them breaking out into some Disney-esque power ballad, and that’s just awkward. There was never a moment where I felt really invested in the characters, and I think the witches’ culture could’ve been explained in more detail.

I also hated that Falpian’s twin brother was named Falbian. Kinda cheesy. Plus Falpian just sounds like a new anti-depressant. (Feeling tired? Sad? Like you just don’t care? Ask your doctor about NEW 10mg Falpian!)

The ending just kinda left me hanging. It seemed like there should be a sequel because of the stopping point, but when I researched it, turns out Coakley is not under contract for a sequel and is currently working on a different story. Hmmm…

I’m also not sure why the cover has a girl or a sword on it, because this book didn’t focus on either of these things.

I could take it or leave it.

2 maiden’s woe of 5

Eona by Alison Goodman

Remember when I told you guys a couple months ago that I had a total Mulan fantasy growing up? (Ok, I still have it, but thats beside the point). Eon fed it, and the sequel Eona totally fanned the flames. Who doesn’t want to have amazing sword-fighting skills and dragon magic? Not to mention a handsome prince vying for your affection…

Far from being some cheesy Yu-gi-oh or Dragonball Z crap, Goodman blends ancient Japan and China into one mythical empire sustained by dragon energy. The Dragoneyes are the sacred liaisons between the creatures and the kingdom. Now that Eona has revealed her untraditional femininity, danger faces her from multiple directions. With all of the other Dragoneyes massacred except the evil Lord Ido, it is up to her alone to save the empire from Sethon’s army. EONA_jktmech-3.indd

But an ancestor’s ancient rage looms over Eona–fueling her violent urges–and Kygo’s feelings for her may only be putting his life in danger.

Will love or the quest for power win this epic battle?

Can’t you just see the movie trailer already??

I loved this book, and despite it being more than 600 pages and having a horribly tacky cover. (Seriously, don’t judge it. It looks like something for anime fans, but it isn’t). I thought Eona had great character development, and this book lacked the slow-moving scenes of the first book. I thought it was a success on Goodman’s part to install a love triangle in the saga–and it was so well executed that I found myself going back and forth between which man I was rooting for. Dela the she-male advisor to Eona was by far my favorite character. I really admired her strength in the face of adversity and how she balanced the two aspects of her personality.

5 hua of 5

Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Oh, Ms. Stohl and Ms. Garcia. You totally pulled a fast one on me last year. I thought for sure that Beautiful Chaos was going to complete the Caster Chronicles trilogy, but–color me surprised–you instead left me with one hell of a cliffhanger.

And thankfully, a long-awaited forth book. BeautifulRedemption


Beautiful Redemption follows Ethan Wate into the afterlife–after his fateful jump off the water tower, that is. Yep. He’s dead. Again. But you know… like, for real this time.

Brokenhearted, Lena and Amma look for ways to bring Ethan back, but this time he might be too far out of their reach. But Ethan has the gut feeling that something went wrong, that he wasn’t supposed to die the way he did. Maybe Fate made a mistake, just this once.

And–wouldn’t you know it?–those bastards at the Far Keep DID have something to do with it and now Ethan must face dangers untold to fight his way back to the girl he loves.

Sheesh… You’d think once you’d died you wouldn’t have much left to worry about…

I really did enjoy BR, it was a nice cherry on top of the cake that is the Caster Chronicles. Yet, for some reason I just didn’t feel the same urgency of the situation as I did with the other books. Maybe it was because the die had already been cast. Maybe it was because I’m not in love with Lena-the-girlfriend as a character. Or because my favorite character Ridley barely had any “on screen” time. Who knows?

I am glad that the authors took the time to make this an extra book, and not just a rushed few chapters at the end of the third novel. For that reason I am rating it as highly as I am, NOT as a stand alone book. I think this was a nice ending to a long series, but it was pretty predictable.

4 lemon meringue pies of 5

Harry Potter Studio Tour, London :)

So, over the weekend Jason drove me almost two hours to go beneath London to a little town called Watford. An otherwise innocuous area, Watford is home to one of the coolest things in the history of time. That’s right. I’m talking about the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour. It is a really popular tour, and to book our trip on the 6th, we had to schedule it mid-September!

But, boy was it worth it! 

I absolutely ADORED everything about it. I couldn’t stop smiling. After we got past the queue (taking us past the cupboard under the stairs) and into the first section of the tour, they sat us down and played a small movie about how the Harry Potter films came to be. Then, when it was over, they rolled up the giant screen and we were all directly in front of the ENORMOUS doors that lead into the great hall. Seriously, we walked through the same exact doors Harry, Ron, and Hermione did and straight into the hall. It was amazing.

We got to see the door to the Chamber of Secrets, the Mirror of Erised, the Sorcerer’s Stone and a million other important objects for the wizarding world. It was honestly like a childhood dream come true. I would’ve easily lived in there, slept in the Griffyndor boy’s dormitory, cooked in the Weasley’s kitchen, and lounged in the common room.

I took about a zillion pictures, but none of them really do it justice:


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Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

I’m going to start by saying I LOVED this book. Meow. I mean, Rawr. GRR. Whatever. Loved it. My dear friend/ex-boss/covert concert alcohol partner in crime Monica recommended it to me on the very first day we met. I knew I loved that girl. 

Let’s just say Colleen Houck’s Tiger’s Curse is one part Aladdin, a healthy dose Twilight love triangle, two parts Indiana Jones, a dash of Indian mythology, and a pinch of fur.


TC got off to a bit of a slow start building up to the action. Senior Kelsey Hayes lives in Oregon and has an average life with her vegan-food-eating foster family. After applying for a summer job as an assistant tiger caretaker at the local circus, Kelsey unknowingly becomes an integral part of unlocking an ancient Indian curse that traps two devastatingly handsome AND rich (*cough cough*)  Indian princes in tiger bodies for 23.5 hours of the day. So she’s swept off on a harrowing adventure to India to bargain with goddesses, battle demons, overcome obstacles, retrieve magical objects, and do all sorts of cool stuff.

Why can’t interesting things happen to me? (I’m still waiting for my superpowers to develop…)

I immensely enjoyed this book and I can’t believe so many publishers turned Houck down. (How do you say her name? I just do a back of the throat hawwrrrking sound…) I like it when love and adventure are thrown together along with some exotic settings.


Kelsey did annoy me at times, because she is extremely naive in the beginning and also makes some very poor hot man choices along the way. We all do, but come on! Who wouldn’t want a hot rich boyfriend that turned into a cute tiger? Dhiren is the nicest guy ever! (My boyfriend’s hot, but his cuddling skills can’t compete with a 600 lb cat…)

This is a page-turner, my dears. Even for those of you who are allergic to cats. I’m reading the second of the series as we speak.

5 pink tiger noses of 5

Quote of the Day: Stephen King

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Liesl & Po was a really cute book by Lauren Oliver. The author’s voice greatly reminded me of Kate DiCamillo’s in The Tale of Despereaux. Perfidy. Ineffable. Tee hee.

L&P told the story of Liesl, a recently orphaned little girl who had spent the last couple of years locked in the attic by her evil stepmother after her father’s untimely (and suspicious) demise. A ghost named Po and it’s (ghosts have no gender) ghost pet a cat/dog (animals forget what they were too), Bundle appear to Liesl one night. They help her escape the attic and embark on an incredible journey, involving an alchemist, a foreign princess, a thief, a dim-witted guard, her father’s ashes, and the greatest magic in the whole world. Not to mention her new friend Will (the alchemist’s much abused young apprentice), who has been admiring her from afar for months. 

This story was really adorable, and Oliver’s language was crisp and concise. She said that she wrote this book as a personal catharsis after the death of a close friend. I enjoyed her portrayal of the afterlife–how things seemed to just blur together, and how trivial tidbits, like one’s gender and species, are soon forgotten. This book, like Holes by Louis Sachar, introduce many different elements and characters, yet somehow ties them all together in the end.

I would recommend this book for any child dealing with the loss of a parent, or even as a teaching tool to give them a gentle perspective on death. Liesl & Po reminds us that death is nothing but a horizon, and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.

3.5 of 5 stars