Book Review: A Deadly Education

Summary From Goodreads:

Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly.

A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.

There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.

El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students. 

My Review:

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik is adult fantasy, with a unique story plot, featuring a girl named Galadriel and a boy named Orion Lake. I wanted to really like this more than I did, but I wound up dnf’ing the book at around 200 pages. Galadriel was rather harsh towards Orion, and the plot wasn’t keeping my attention.

The magic system was good. I liked the whole school set up. But otherwise? I hated how the students treated one another, as though each of them were nothing more than cannon fodder to the other. It seemed rather callous between the students. I understand the whole ‘fight to survive’ element going on, but it seemed as though they could have banded together to accomplish more.

The pacing for the story was well structured, and I did like how the characters all felt real. The magic system was slow to be explained as were the monsters within and without the school. I generally was overall? Not a huge fan, but still liked it enough to make it past the halfway point. I’d recommend this to those looking for another fun fantasy setting set at an educational school.

Final Rating: 3/5 stars

Book Review: Winterwood

Summary From Goodreads:

Be careful of the dark, dark wood…

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

For as long as there have been fairy tales, we have been warned to fear what lies within the dark, dark woods and in Winterwood, New York Times bestselling author Shea Ernshaw, shows us why.

From New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance perfect for fans of Practical Magic,where dark fairy tales and enchanted folklore collide after a boy, believed to be missing, emerges from the magical woods—and falls in love with the witch determined to unravel his secrets.

My Review:

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw is a fantasy novel that’s beautiful, lyrical, atmospheric, and mysterious. It involves a witch, a dead boy, and a missing boy found. It blends magical realism with witchcraft, history with enchanting tales of witches throughout the Walker family, that live near the Wicker Woods. It tells about Oliver-the missing boy found in those woods, and Nora Walker-the witch who found him. It has a hint of romance, that’s barely there within the pages. It was perfect for the winter season in terms of when this book should be read.

It’s lyrical prose was enchanting throughout the whole book. It reminded me of why I adore witches in small towns, of haunted forests, of magical spells and enchantments. I was reminded quite strongly of Alice in Wonderland, before she went off to her adventures, eager to see what lay beyond the fantastical. There’s an all boy’s school, there’s a mystery to the story, of what happened to the lost boy, as well as the dead boy. The writing was beautiful, and perfectly captured the atmosphere of the small town setting, back when things were mysterious and wild.

Its easily one of my new favorites of the year (though we’re early in the year, I know, lol) and I’m hopeful to snag The Wicked Deep by the author soon as well since I missed out on that one as well. I’m going to go ahead and rank this one five out of five stars. I really loved this book and hope to buy a copy to add to my collection because the binding of it is beautiful as well.

Final Rating: 5/5 stars!

Netgalley Review + Novella: Chili Cauldron Curse

ChiliNovella

Hello friends,

Chili Cauldron Curse by Lynn Cahoon is a delightful novella of witchiness, cozy murder mystery, and cooking all wrapped up in one. I don’t believe that I’ve read anything by this author before, but a short mystery from Kensington Publishers sounded like just the thing to read.

The story takes place with a chili cook off. Mia, our main character, runs the event in terms of cleaning up a food bank for her grandmother, whose a practicing Wiccan. Magic runs in the family, however Mia’s not near as powerful as her grams, though she tries. When she volunteers to assist in running the food bank to help feed the poor, with the chili cook off upcoming as an event, she doesn’t bargain on finding a dead body right before the event’s set to take place…the body belonging to Dorian Alexander, who happens to be her grandmother’s boyfriend.

Threats abound, magic occurs, and cats get inhabited by ghosts in this delightful cozy mystery. This was a fun paranormal mystery, with a spark of potential romance sideplot that was interesting to me as well. With a recipe in back for chili that I’m intrigued in trying one day during the winter holidays, I highly recommend this novella for those in the mood for a fun, light hearted read. I’m pleased to give this five stars, and I’m definitely going to keep reading more from this author in the future.

Until next time,

Pass Me That Book

Book Review: The Court of Miracles

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Hello friends,

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant is a retelling of Les Miserable with magical elements, an enormous cast of characters, and a revolution. There are many different courts one can attend within this gorgeously filled, world building fast paced plot. The characters are each unique and intriguing. There are nods towards Les Miserable, but it’s been so long since I read Les Mes that I’ve likely missed even more appreciative nods towards the work.

This book was long. It was complex. It had plot, it had depth, and it had characters that I fell hard for. It took a solid week to read this book, and that was only because I lingered over it for days, relishing in the excellent fantasy retelling. Most retellings don’t impress me these days, with a few rare exceptions thrown in. This is an exception. I adored this book. I wish to own this book. I’ll probably buy a hardcover of this book.

“Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.”
~As quoted from Goodreads

Now, while I’ve yet to read Six of Crows, I have read Leigh Bardugo, and this is a safe comparison to make, as I also adore Leigh Bardugo’s crafting into world building. One would be pleased at the historical elements flung into this book, along with the epic fantasy twists and turns, the thieves, the murderers, the magic that revolves around the various courts. I’d love to dive into the courts, but I barely recall most of them, and I desperately need to do a re-read, take notes, and keep up with characters of whose alive and whose not. I warn readers, do not get attached. That could prove fatal to you, should you do so.

There’s a spark of romance within the pages as well, along with myths thrown in I think, if I recall correctly. It’s admittedly been a bit since I’ve read the book, and as stated above, I need a reread. However, the story is still fresh in my mind enough that I feel safe in giving it 5/5 stars. I highly recommend for all fans of retellings, and that of historical fiction, or classics in general. Please read this. You won’t regret it.

Until next time,
Pass Me That Book

Arc Review: The Kingdom of Liars

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell was a fast paced political fantasy with rebellion, a unique magic set up, and plenty of intrigue. Yet though the writing was strong, I didn’t connect with the characters despite finding Michael Kingman an interesting character.

This six hundred page fantasy epic had both magic and guns, explosions and betrayal, and a large cast of characters each with their own unique history. There was a political system and a magic system.

And yet, I found myself struggling by 55% through. No fault to the book, or writing but I could not seem to care overmuch about the characters in general. I may give this book another go in the future but for now, I’m leaving as is.

Rating: 3/5 🌟

Until next time,

Pass Me That Book.

Book Review: Daggerspell

Daggerspell

Title: Daggerspell
Author: Katherine Kurr
Series: Book 1
Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Spectra
Page Count: 600
Type of Book: Paperback
Who Recommended it: My mother
Received: bought secondhand
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 4/5 stars
Notes: It didn’t end on a cliffhanger!

Daggerspell was an interesting fantasy novel. I loved the start of it; Jill’s character seemed to really develop as she lost her mother, and then met her silver dagger father who is labeled one of the most dangerous men in the country. Jill leaves her little village with her father after her mother dies, and winds up traveling across country, helping his father stopping family fueds, finding coin, and so forth. Jill has her own secrets too though, much as her father doesn’t like it-she can see and speak to the Wildfolk, Fae creatures. He forbids her from attempting to do so again, even as he explains that were people to see her doing such strange actions, they would consider her a witch.

This was a fun fantasy, and I wish I’d read it when I was years younger, back in my teens would have been preferable, because it definitely felt a bit dated at times. There’s some neat battle scenes, some love interest, a prophecy of sorts revolving around Jill, and lots of history and magic explained throughout the book but not wordy and never in the boring fantasy way that some books seem to have.

For those who were wondering if this book was worth it? I feel as though it is. It’s entertaining, though not wholly gripping it’s definitely got potential as a series, and though I’ve heard it from many people that book two is easily the worst in the series? I’m still willing to press on and see where the story goes.

4/5 stars for a unique and fun read, though not quite as powerfully fantastical as some other classic fantasy I could name, still definitely worth giving it a try.

Until next time,
Pass Me That Book

Book Review: Brief Cases

Brief Cases

Title: Brief Cases
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: #15
Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Ace
Page Count: 400
Type of Book: Arc, Physical Copy, Paperback
Received: Publisher
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 5/5 stars
Notes: Still deserving of the 5 star rating, very nice!

As Sarah J Maas fans say about their author; I’m trash for Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s quick light reading for hot summer days. The world building is great, the magic system is easy enough to understand (even if you don’t always agree with it, let alone like it) and the characters are so realistic you almost feel as though you’re there with them in the story.

This is book number 15, though it’s a collection of short stories, so of course I read it anyway. I think there was only one story referencing a book that I hadn’t read that I skipped (though I don’t recall which one, unfortunately), as I’m only on book six of the Dresden Files series.

For those who don’t know what Dresden Files is: it’s about a detective who solves unusual cases in chicago. The twist? He’s a wizard. And he’s listed in the phone book. He’s a sarcastic guy that likes helping innocent people so long as they have the money with which to pay him. Hey being a wizard isn’t easy, after all. Especially when there’s dangerous bad guys out to get you…

These stories all revolve around Harry’s universe, some of them funny, some of them serious. I’m very much hoping there’s going to be another anthology, because I like reading short stories set in my favorite character universes.

5/5 stars, and highly recommended to urban fantasy fans.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Book Review: The Harp of Kings

The Harp of Kings

Title: The Harp of Kings
Author: Juliet Marillier
Series: Book 1
Genre: Fantasy, Adult Fiction
Publisher: DAW
Page Count: 500
Type of Book: Arc, Kindle Ebook
Received: Publisher
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 3/5 stars
Notes: Not my favorite Juliet Marillier, but not bad either.

This is one of my favorite authors, so when I was offered an arc of her new book, I immediately accepted. Not only is that cover absolutely gorgeous, but Juliet Marillier is a prolific, well known fantasy author that writes really well and does some interesting stuff.  I read her first book in the Sevenwaters series, and it’s easily one of my most favorite fantasy series though I haven’t read the rest of the series yet, it’s on my wishlist.

However, when I read this, it didn’t knock me into cloud nine. Instead, it was more like when I read Raymond E Feist for the first time; strange, unreal, and a little not what I expected from the amount of hype that I’d gotten from this book. It wasn’t bad, but I’m not a big fan of character pov changes. And both characters were not to my liking. At all.

It could be I didn’t know much about that world, which is said to be based on some of her other works? I’m unsure, as I’ve read very few of the authors books, but adore her writing style and world-building. I may need to re-read this book again, and see if it’s better the second time around.

3/5 stars for an interesting reading experience, and recommended for hardcore Juliet Marillier fans.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Arc Review: The Girl in Red

The Girl in Red

Title: The Girl in Red
Author: Christina Henry
Series: Standalone?
Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Page Count: 300
Publisher: Berkeley
Type of Book: Arc, Physical Copy, Paperback
Received: Publisher
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 4/5
Notes: Delightful!

I’ve been meaning to try Christina Henry for a while, since I first heard of her through CodiesBookCorner on Youtube. Codie talks about Christina Henry so highly, so I decided I had to jump on the bandwagon, and muck my way through her books. The Girl In Red was offered as an arc, so I politely asked for a copy, and was sent it almost at once. Thank you kind publishers! This shall remain a favorite on my Arcs shelf!

While I typically don’t read a whole lot of retellings, this-as I said-was recommended from a trusted BookTuber. So I went in tentatively, not knowing what to expect. What I found surprised me. While it was a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, the main heroine was not so weak, and was a strong female character (one of my favorite things to read of these days) and she was a battle ax warrior woman of the Amazons!

Not really, but it certainly seemed like it.

She goes on a quest, she has an evil enemy, she has a weapon of choice, and she doesn’t back down despite her fear of becoming a killer. The plot is intricately woven, the characters are strongly depicted throughout the book, and the story itself while based on the original Riding Hood tale, was uniquely done in that it didn’t feel like a tired repeat.

I very much enjoyed this book, enough to really want to read more Christina Henry novels. I’m not a fan of retellings, however, so it will all depend upon my mood, but I’m definitely willing to give this author another go in the near future. Perhaps I might read her Alice book for Halloween? Won’t that be fun?

Overall, a solid 4/5 stars, and a desire to see more from this author. This is definitely one that I recommend readers try, especially if they don’t generally read retellings.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

Arc Review: Priest of Lies

Priest of Lies

Title: Priest of Lies
Author: Peter McLean
Series: Book 2
Genre: Fantasy, Adult Fiction
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Ace
Type of Book: Arc, Physical Copy, Paperback
Received: Publisher
Review Word Count: 500
Rated: 4/5 stars
Notes: Ah, the build-up of anticipation! Now I just need the next book…

The sequel to the Priest of Bones was an excellent and much needed grimdark fantasy read at its finest. With a build up of plot, characters, and another look into the past of the world they’re in as well as what might come, I very much enjoyed this wonderful installment into the series, and thank the publisher for a copy which in no way or shape changes my review.

The characters were more fleshed out. We saw more action, more Tomas, and more war. I liked every part of this book, and it’s easily one of my most favorite grimdark fantasies that I’ve read to date. It ranks right up there with Anna Smith Spark, and Ed McDonald.

Overall, 4/5 stars, and I would very much like to have the next book in the series, ASAP.

Until next time,
-Pass Me That Book

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