Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi {Mini-Review}

Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani ChokshiAru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi (Pandava Quartet #1)

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents (Disney Hyperion)

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Pages: 368

Summary: Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Aru Shah And The End Of Time is a beautifully written and magical tale! Filled with adventure, weaved in with Indian Mythology and folklore, and themes of family, and friendship, Chokshi’s middle grade novel is a must read!

Roshani Chokshi is easily one of my favorite authors! I adored her Star-Touched Queen duology and when I heard about her venture to middle grade, I put Aru Shah on my TBR right away!

This novel follows Aru Shah as she spends her break in the Museum Of Indian Art And Culture, which her mother runs.

Aru has a habit of telling tall tales, so when 3 of her classmates make an unexpected visit, she finds that the only thing she can do is prove her classmates wrong by showing them the Lamp Of Bharata.

Legend has it that if the lamp is lit, Sleeper (a demon) will be awoken and bring an end to time.

Aru’s mother has told her its to never be lit, but Aru believes that having it lit just once won’t bring any harm.

Aru then finds time itself is frozen and she’s now on a quest to reverse it, with the help of a new friend and a deity transformed as a pigeon named Boo.

Chokshi’s writing is superb! She blends fantasy and modern day in such a great way! I also loved the humor she weaved all throughout the book!

The 3rd person POV allows you to get an such expansive view at the magic, mythology, characters, and brilliant world that Chokshi has forged.

The characters are all wonderfully developed, you get so much about them from such few lines.

Aru is such a brave heroine and I loved her so much!!

Hindu mythology and folklore are at the heart of this novel and the magic finds its way into each page. There’s also a huge emphasis on friendship and family which is explored so incredibly well.

I also really loved how Chokshi explored the idea of fate and destiny through the quest Aru Shah undergoes as she tries to save the world!!

Its just so great to see diverse fantasy representation in middle grade! And through the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, its awesome there’ll be more series following various cultural mythologies!!

The novel not only features Aru Shah who is Indian-American, but also her friend Mini who is 1/2 Indian and Filipino.

Aru herself, goes through so much from the fear of what lighting the lamp has done to her world, to the tests she faces to prepare herself for the awakened Sleeper.

She is a determined, comical, and delightful character. I adored her so much and loved following her journey.

The story is just filled with action, adventure, mystery, and so much more!!

I suppose my only minor issue is that at points the plot did get a bit slow for me. 

When I reached the end of Aru Shah, I was so ready to read what happens next!! I can’t wait to read what happens next on her journey in: Aru Shah And The Song Of Death!

Aru Shah And The End Of Time takes you on a heroic fantasy  adventure that keeps you turning the page! Featuring Indian mythology, themes of fate, destiny, family, and friendship, through a dazzling writing style, Chokshi’s debut into middle grade is not one to miss!

Legendary Ladies: 50 Goddesses To Empower And Inspire You by Ann Shen Review

Legendary Ladies-50 Goddesses To Empower And Inspire You by Ann ShenLegendary Ladies: 50 Goddesses To Empower And Inspire You by Ann Shen

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Release Date: April 3, 2018

Pages: 128

Summary: From the beloved author and artist behind Bad Girls Throughout History comes this lushly illustrated book of goddesses from around the world. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess whose love overcame mortality. Mazu, the Chinese deity who safely guides travelers home. Lakshmi, the Hindu provider of fortune and prosperity. These powerful deities and many more are celebrated in gorgeous artwork and enlightening essays that explore the feminine divine and encourage readers to empower themselves. Ann Shen’s signature watercolors make Legendary Ladies a unique, gift-worthy homage to the mighty women within.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Legendary Ladies chronicles the heroic, inspiring, and empowering tales of goddesses from around the world! Through beautiful artwork, Shen illustrates these goddesses lives and what wisdom or guidance they can offer + inspire, if you choose to call upon them!

 If your looking to learn more about the origins and inspiring tales of goddesses from around the world, then I highly recommend checking out Ann Shen’s Legendary Ladies!

This was such a beautifully illustrated and inspiring read, that while chronicling numerous tales of heroic goddesses it also was very inspirational and moving.

Separated by sections: Creativity & Manifestation, Love, Power, Protection, and Reinvention, Shen recounts the legends behind goddesses from an array of cultures, while also explaining how each goddess can inspire or help you during certain moments in your life.

For example: If you are seeking good fortune, spiritual strength or inner strength, starting a new chapter in life, whatever the case may be, reading those inspirational messages with each goddess’s story, your left feeling hopeful and with a sense of guidance!

Another one of my favorite aspects of the novel was, with the more you read through each goddess’s tale, the more you see how threads between each of the stories, and across a variety of cultures as well, interconnect.

You see across differing eras and cultures how these inspiring ladies and their stories have such universal truths. Additionally, how their tales set up many integral and essential foundations for numerous cultures across eras!

It was great to see such diversity among each section! While many are familiar with the gods/goddesses of Greek Mythology, I loved seeing numerous cultures represented throughout the entire novel!

From Hindu, Chinese, Native American, Yoruba, Hawaiian, Egyptian, Shinto, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mayan, Aztec, and so many more, it was amazing to see such diversity throughout the sections!

It saddens me that there were quite a few goddesses I’d never even heard of before, but its so great a book like this exists because each of these goddesses has such an inspiring story to tell!

One of the most memorable goddesses that I read about (& who’d I’d never heard of before) was Nüwa, a goddess of Chinese origin. Half human & half dragon, her legend states that she molded people from clay and when crisis came, she created 5 stones (of differing colors) to create water, air, earth & wind.

Her’s was probably the story I re-read the most! And I especially loved the “Call” for the end of her story:

“Call on Nüwa when you want to create something beautiful out of the raw material of your life” (25).

+ It was so great to see rep. of Mayan and Aztec goddesses in this book too! I’m pretty familiar with the legend of Ixchel (Mayan goddess of fertility & healing) and overall it was just so great to see that representation in this beautifully illustrated book! I loved it!! ❤❤

The artwork is absolutely stunning! Each illustration beautifully captured each goddess and accentuated, I felt, each of their stories even more!

Shen masterfully highlights the stories of each goddess and the origins of their legacy.

I can’t speak highly enough about this book! The art is beautiful and each story is just inspiring!

Honestly, I just wish this book was longer! 50 seemed like far too little for me. I would read hundreds of Shen’s books about even more Legendary Ladies!!

Legendary Ladies is colorful, vibrant and has spectacular illustrations that brilliantly capture the triumphant and empowering spirit of each goddess! While allowing each story to stand on its own, Shen also manages to weave in common threads that link each of the stories so beautifully! If your looking for a bit of guidance, inspirational words, or just want to read about empowering goddesses, I highly recommend this book!

The Girl From The Other Side: Siúil A Rún Vol. 1 {Manga Review}

The Girl From the Other Side-Siúil, A Rún Vol. 1The Girl From The Other Side: Siúil A Rún Vol. 1 {TGFTOS #1}

Publisher: Seven Seas

Release Date: January 24, 2017

Pages: 180

Summary: In a world split between the Inside and the Outside, those living in both realms are told never to cross over to the other side, lest they be cursed. A young girl named Shiva lives on the other side, in a vacant village with a demonic guardian known only as “Teacher.” Although the two are forbidden to touch, they seem to share a bond that transcends their disparate appearances. But when Shiva leaves Teacher’s care to seek out her aunt, the secret behind her mysterious living arrangement comes to light.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: As though it were a fairy tale, The Girl From The Other Side is both dark and enchanting!

This manga was utterly fantastic!! I found this one while scrolling through Goodreads and it was the cover that originally had me sold! However, once I read the summary I knew I would adore it!

The story unfolds as we come to learn about the rules that govern the world for the Outsiders, who are still human to some degree, but are creatures of darkness that can turn men to monsters with a single touch.

A dark and mysterious plot drives this manga forward, with such in-depth characters and themes of family, and the shades in between light + darkness!

Shiva, a young girl, lives on the Outside w/ Teacher who is her guardian (+ an Outsider himself) in a quiet little cottage and watches over her as she waits for her aunt to return.

Shiva is a very optimistic child and is eager to explore what’s in the forest beyond the small cottage where they both live.

However, Teacher wants to ensure her safety and keep an eye on her at all times, because he doesn’t want her to become an Outsider as well!

Teacher is a very kind and understanding, however when its discovered he has a secret which is vitally linked to Shiva, he is unsure of what to do because he wants to ensure her happiness.

Regardless, he does all he can to keep Shiva safe, even when she finds herself deep in the forest and runs into guards from a near by town.

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the Outsiders and how they came to be, yet the guards from a near by town suspect it was neighboring town, however no one knows for certain.

There’s a big discussion on how we view those who are different (w/ the Outsiders vs. Insiders for instance) when guards search the woods of the Outside to ensure the safety of their town as they continue their search to rid themselves of Outsiders.

The sophisticated, yet subtle artwork is masterfully done. Teacher, for instance, being an Outsider is a hybrid sorts (donning a shadowed animal-head, mouthless face and piercing eyes). However through the art his expressions are carried through mostly his eyes, yet also in the elegant way he carries himself.

Through the artwork, Nagabe also brings an eeriness to the world itself, but transports the reader in an instant.

The Girl From The Other Side is a dark, mysterious and magical tale that has so much depth from its characters to plot, you will be hooked from page 1!

A Conjuring Of Light by V.E. Schwab Review

A Conjuring Of LightA Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (Shades Of Magic #3)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Pages: 624

Summary: The battle between four magical Londons comes to a head in this stunning finale to the New York Times bestselling Shades of Magic trilogy by rising star V. E. Schwab.

Londons fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Shades Of Magic Series comes to an end in this spectacular + marvelous third and final book, A Conjuring Of Light!

I do not know where to start, but… I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! ❤ ❤

As always Victoria is a master at characters/character-development and this final book felt bitter-sweet, but I adored it all the same!

*I will try my best to leave out major spoilers, however I will mention minor one’s here & there! (Be aware)*

Schwab’s writing as with previous novels is rich + detailed and even in this final novel she continues to build on her fantastical parallel Londons!

She crafts scenes and character struggles with such emotion and gravity, you feel for each and everyone as you turn the page!

Another aspect which made this novel a well-rounded and overall epic conclusion was the immense development + inclusion to a number of characters we’ve seen/read about in previous installments!

Osaron has conjured up a devious plan to conquer Red London for himself however Kell & the crew, while they have their clashes, are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their world safe.

While reading this novel, I couldn’t help but realize with each + every page Schwab continued to build the world to the very end! Her world-building is a huge foundation to this series and she truly approaches it with finesse & subtlety because while not every aspect of her worlds can be explained, the mysteries and secrets make it that much more magical!

Adding to the character development, Schwab gives each of the main/prominent characters the perfect amount of space/time throughout the story to follow their internal struggles and triumphs as darkness looms close.

Schwab perfectly balances the grave dark fragments of this world, with hopeful shards of light and its done in an absolutely flawless way!

The core characters, Kell, Lila, Rhy, Holland & Alucard are like a family and this novel truly highlights those important friendships/bonds they have with each other!

Kell and Rhy’s deep bond is also tested as darkness continues to spread and they risk everything to bring peace to their world.

My only minor issue was the slow pacing/dragging of scenes in some parts!

Schwab masterfully concludes her Shades Of Magic Series with A Conjuring Of Light! A truly unforgettable journey to bring an end to an absolutely brilliant and wondrous world!

 

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston Review

the-valiant-by-lesley-livingston-book-reviewThe Valiant by Lesley Livingston (The Valiant #1)

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Pages: 384

Summary: Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in her father’s war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

*Received a finished copy through a giveaway*

My Thoughts: Livingston delivers a character-driven tale about a Celtic princess turned gladiator!

Recently announced, The Valiant will b getting a sequel!! I can definitely see how the ending would be nice to it conclude it as a standalone, but I truly fell in love with this world + characters and I’m so happy there’ll be a second book!

The first few chapters alone, really pull you into the story and wastes no time showing the complexity and depth of the main character Fallon.

While this novel does have action, it is definitely more of a character-driven story and the gladiator aspects do appear throughout the novel, but a really featured more at the end!

Fallon truly changes over the course of this story, but above all changes for herself and is an independent and determined heroine! I loved reading from her POV!

On the evening she is hopeful her father will add her to her to the warband, she gets captured and is forced to become a gladiator for Rome. Once there, she is determined to get her freedom, however along the she learns more about herself and her family, but mostly the enemy territory that invaded her home years ago.

While forced to train as a gladiator, she learns more about the people who brought her to Rome and what the costs truly are if she is to find a way back home.

The other side/main characters were also very well written and developed. Through Livingston’s writing, you really get to understand these characters, even with just a few passages! (Cai & Elka were my favorites!)

There’s so much girl power + amazing female characters. Over the course of this novel, Fallon finds friendship between her gladiatrix companions (especially Elka) even the Achillea  and its clear while they may not always get along, they are there to look after each other!

They were very much like sisters and overall I loved how the females were given a central role in this world/story!

Reading about these female gladiators was truly fascinating and it sucks there isn’t much historical record of them, but it was definitely wonderful to get a chance to read about them from this novel!

Fallon struggles with the loss of her sister and it’s clear that both her sister Scorcha & the loss of her, pushes her and has molded Fallon into the person she is.

I felt it had the perfect amount of romance! Wonderfully done! It never felt too forced and it never felt like it took over the plot or changed Fallon’s motivations in any way! Through out the novel she really focuses on earning her freedom on her own personal development, with out help from Cai and it showed just how determined she was to prove herself.

I did take off 1/2 a star b/c I felt the pacing was slow at times & I wanted more action!

Regardless, this is a very character-driven novel with twists + turns and delivers a tale about honor, family and sisterhood + foreshadows an even more epic journey to come in the sequel!

Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia Review

uncaged-wallflower-by-jennae-cecelia-reviewUncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Release Date: October 6, 2016

Pages: 70

Summary: Uncaged Wallflower is for those who feel trapped in the thoughts their minds produce, unable to express them with the rest of the world out of fear of critique or disagreement. For the people who need an extra dose of positivity in their day. This is not a poetry book for you to read and relate to in a sorrow filled way. It is for you to read and say yes, I can be better, and I will.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: “Change for the better… Expand and learn something new. Don’t get wrapped up in your same old cocoon.”

Uncaged Wallflower was beyond inspiring! I know I’ve read quite a few books of poetry, but this one absolutely takes the No. 1 spot!

I loved this book so much! ❤️💖

Cecelia’s poems have a central theme of personal growth and I definitely saw that with each and every poem.

There were definitely a few poems that had me tearing up. Some revolve around the ideas of fearing change, the unknown, and not taking risks and I definitely remembered myself in many situations like that, however with many of the poems, they then went on to inspire the changes and growth in life and I adored that message!

There are so many positive messages in this short book of poetry which are very inspiring and relatable.

Out of all the messages I found in this wonderful book, one that will absolutely stay with me is that while things may not always come out perfect, above all our personal growth/happiness is what we should always strive for.

There was a poem titled “Resolutions” and after reading it, I not only found myself hopeful, but overall found it inspiring for the start of 2017! Definitely a perfect read to start off the new year!

Overall Cecelia delivers a collection of poetry with a number of positive messages to inspire change when you find yourself scared or unsure of whats to come!

Highly recommend, it will leave you inspired!✨✨

Ever The Hunted by Erin Summerill ARC Review

ever-the-hunted-book-reviewEver The Hunted by Erin Summerill (Clash Of Kingdoms #1)

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Pages: 400

Summary: Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ ½

My Thoughts: A fun murder-mystery/fantasy mashup! Summerill delivers wonderfully written characters, with the plot setting up for an epic conclusion in the sequel!

Overall I really enjoyed reading this book there were strong elements of this story that made it really good, yet there were some elements (that I didn’t like as much) that have me unsure of how to rate this still! (Though will most likely stay at 3.5!)

Summerill did a fantastic job with plotting and pacing. The plot went in directions I wasn’t expecting which kept me invested and with each chapter I found myself hooked on the murder-mystery of Britta’s father and wanted to figure out what happened!

While the pacing was slow, due to Summerill’s plotting and character development it never felt like it was dragging which is a plus!

Along with plotting and pacing another great element to this novel was the characters. Even the side characters I really enjoyed! Summerill wrote them with enough depth/mystery to have me wanting to know more about them, while also giving them enough depth to get the full picture even if they sporadically appear through out the story.

The writing itself was well done. Reading from Britta’s POV (1st person) really made me attached to the characters and world, even though there were some moments I wasn’t really a fan of Britta as much. And in general, I could picture the world/characters rather well.

However there were 2 issues that prevent this from being a full 5-stars!
1.World-Building
We are thrust into this world quickly and along with Britta we come to understand it, however because she is just learning about certain aspects (like the magic) it makes it very difficult to have a rich view of the kingdoms/politics. Much of it is told from other characters Britta encounters which makes the world itself feel rather underdeveloped and difficult to grasp.

Additionally there were moments where the side characters made things a little too convenient for the plot/world and while it did help it to keep the pace moving, I will admit that it didn’t do much in terms of developing to create a richer/fuller atmosphere.

Also I felt there were times when the descriptions of locations + setting were very surface level and didn’t go into much depth which could have really helped with the world building!

2.Romance
I do enjoy reading romance in books, however I felt it was given too much of a central role. With the novel in Britta’s POV, I felt taken out of the story because instead of developing the rules/magic of this fantasy world, I felt there were way too many passages about her feelings for Cohen.

While near the end I liked the relationship more, I definitely felt if it was focused on less, it could have helped expand the world and make the story run a little smoother.

Regardless of the minor issues, I will definitely be reading the sequel/finale to see how it wraps up!

Overall this was a solid YA Fantasy! If you’re looking for a fun murder-mystery/fantasy mash-up with twists and turns along the way I definitely recommend Ever The Hunted!

*Received ARC from a giveaway*