#BookReview : Esme's Gift (Esme Series #2) by Elizabeth Foster @e_foster3 @OdysseyBooks

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Esme’s Gift (Esme Series #2) by Elizabeth Foster
Publication Date: November 30th 2019
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy
Pages: 266
Stars: ★★★★★

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver is faced with her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift – the power to observe the past – and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends – old and new – travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must confront their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places. Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is an enthralling fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

*** Note: I received this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Elizabeth Foster. ***

Previous Book in Series:

Esme’s Gift was fantastic middle grade fantasy, set in the parallel magical world and revolved around Esme’s efforts in saving her mother. It was about resilience, righteousness, good vs evil, friendship, greed of power, and using gift wisely.

I loved this book more than first one. Writing was better, fabulous, gripping and as magical as its setting. Book was written in third person narrative from Esme’s perspective. It felt so good to read Esme and her adventure in Aeolia once again.

Book started with Esme returning back to her home in Picton Island to let her dad know about her mom and convince him to come with her to Aeolia. But that didn’t turn out well, he didn’t believe a word she said and forced her to run off to Aeolia once again. She wanted to be beside her mother who needed her more. Meanwhile she joined school at Aeolia, made new friends, met mysterious boy and found a lot about Aeolian history and myth.

Through her history project she found out important thing related to her mother. She knew what could save her and rouse her from her comma, a magical elixir. But its recipe was incomplete and ingredients were rare and illegal. For that she needed to master her gift first and travel far and dangerous places to get ingredients.

It was interesting to find out if Esme will succeed in helping her mother or get in trouble once again, what will happen to her and her mother if she failed and if her father will try to believe her and come to Aeolia.

Esme was great throughout the book. Her enthusiasm, optimism and curiosity was infectious. She dug deep to get all the answers, to find out the truth with her history project and her mother’s condition. She was developed character, kind, and compassionate with conscience mind. She knew how to fight unfairness and voice her opinion whenever necessary. What I like about her most was she wasn’t week, or reckless or grumpy teenage. She cared for her friends, helped them when needed and understood the gravity of danger.

Both Daniel and Lillian were amazing friends. They never retreated or hesitated from danger or left Esme alone. Their gift were amazing. This time Lillian’s gift surfaced and she could sing song-spell well. One time it did went wrong and it was fun to read.

New characters Vince, Meera and Seth were interesting and so were their gifts. Seth was mysterious one. I had my doubts like Esme but I couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t guess who he was and what he did in the book.

What I loved most about the book was world and adventure. There was hell lot of things in this world. Aeolia and its history was well described. Its origin, some history, and people of Aeolia was covered in first book but here there was a small part of it that helped to get the idea as there was 2 years gap between this and first book. I loved the history part and stories of ghosts.

Most of the people in this picturesque world had gift- fire breather and fire repellent, Songstress (like sirens), enchanters, healing, muting (I love that one, I wish I could mute people), Ice animation, and water walker, creating portals through painting, passing though solid objects… you name it. Esme’s gift was rare and fascinating. She could time travel in history by touch of water. I liked the concept behind it which was well explained. I usually don’t like time travel but in here with a touch of magic and gift, it sounded good and interesting. Adventure was exciting and dangerous. There were dragons and all sort of creatures, oracle and her cruel truth, annoying ghost, and deadly curse.

I loved Esme’s experience in school of Aeolia, ongoing political campaign and the part when Esme interacted with dragon. I liked the way author represented horrors human can create and its consequences through political scheming, abusive parents, madness of scientist, greed for power and misuse of gifts.

Mystery was well written. I couldn’t guess how Esme will save her mother or find ingredients and what was to come next. Climax was uncertain and nail biting. I was holding my breath in that scene at hospital after the climax. End was great. I still wanted to know the result of political campaign. But I’m sure it will be revealed in next book. There might be a love story or love triangle in next book, I hope not love triangle.

Overall, it was fun and wonderful fantasy with lots of adventure and magical gifts, interesting characters and broad world. I definitely recommend this book to all middle grade readers and fantasy lovers, but read it in order.

Book Links: Goodreads
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Have you read this books or any book by the same author?
Are you going to add it to TBR?
Which is your favorite book that was set in parallel world?

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#BookReview : The Celestial Assignment by Theresa Braun @tbraun_author

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The Celestial Assignment by Theresa Braun
Publication Date:  February 14th 2020
Publisher: Gorgon Blood Press
Genre: Fantasy / Supernatural
Pages: 28
Stars: ★★★★★

After a sudden death, Will, a misguided angel, is tasked with protecting a baby girl. Watching over her as she grows up and navigates the world appears a harsh punishment for his past failings. Can he redeem himself, or will he fall further from grace?

*** Note: I received this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Theresa Braun. ***

The Celestial Assignment was a supernatural fantasy short, only 28 pages story. It was about understanding what true love is, respecting the love you find in life, not treating it selfishly but mainly it was about redemption.

Writing great, enjoyable and was filled with humor. Story was written from Will’s perspective. His voice was witty and refreshing. Book started with Will was given assignment to watch over Celeste as a guardian angel. If he read and followed manual, learned what true love is from this assignment, he would be promoted to be an angel. At first he didn’t care about any of it, not manual nor Celeste and even less love. I was curious to know how watching over Celeste throughout her life can change his perspective towards love and women.

Will was selfish worthless person, not someone I would like to watch over me. He cared nothing in life he lived or any of his incarnated life and not even after his death as a guardian angel. He didn’t even had a clue why he was given the assignment not until Celeste tasted betrayal and when he met fellow guardian angel. Dawn of realization was fantastic part in the book. I loved how he gradually developed throughout the book, the way he understood to respect love and women and what he lost by being selfish and running away from commitments. At the end yes, I rooted for him. He was not perfect but definitely interesting and entertaining angel.

I even enjoyed reading Celeste’s life through his eyes. It made me wonder if there’s my own guardian angel or if I could get the message he/she said that helped me in life. (I hope there is! I can hold that guardian angel accountable for things going wrong.)

Loved the message of redemption. End was great. I wouldn’t want to do anything wrong in this life and then was assigned to any such crazy assignments.

Overall, it was quick, interesting and intriguing short story.

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Have you read this books or any book by the same author?
Are you going to add it to TBR?
Which is your favorite book featuring angels?

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#BookReview : Has Anyone Seen My Sex Life? by Kristen Bailey

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Has Anyone Seen My Sex Life? by Kristen Bailey
Publication Date: February 14th 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Pages:363
Stars: ★★★★★ [4.5]

It’s normal for your washing machine to get more action than you, right?

I wake up, bleary-eyed.

It’s been two years, six months and three hours since I last shaved my legs, and the llama-patterned knickers I’m wearing have seen better days.

We have seven minutes before the kids wake up, and my husband shuffles closer. ‘Ouch,’ he says, a piece of Lego sticking into his back.

Then, a light comes on in the landing. Small footsteps creep down the stairs. A little voice screams, ‘IS SOMEONE COMING TO MAKE BREAKFAST?!’

All hopes of having some ‘alone time’ is replaced with wondering if we’ve run out of Cheerios, thinking about the overflowing laundry, and remembering that I forgot to take out the recycling. Again.

Just a typical Monday morning for the Morton family…

Except today, when I go downstairs in my dressing gown, I find something. Something belonging to my husband. Something that definitely wasn’t mentioned in the wedding vows. And it’s either going to make us… or break us.

An utterly hilarious and unmissable novel for anyone who has ever felt like they spend more time washing the dishes than getting lucky. Fans of Why Mummy Drinks and The Unmumsy Mum, and rom-coms by Sophie Ranald and Sophie Kinsella, will ugly laugh at this gloriously funny and relatable read.

*** Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and publisher. ***

Has Anyone Seen My Sex Life was quirky Women’s fiction that revolved around Meg and Danny’s married sex life and lot of sex related things but definitely not erotica or a pure romance. It was about uncertainty and questions related to sex life after marriage and kids, rekindling sex life, professional unhappiness, and honest portrayal of sex and how it’s different for everybody.

Now I’m really scratching my head how I should say and how much I should say. There was lot of things in this book. At first I thought it might be a chick-lit or about betrayal or rekindling love but it was much more than that.

It started with Meg receiving a shock in the morning when something arrived in the post that belonged to her husband that changed her life and views. What was it and if her doubt was right or not, was revealed pretty quickly, within first 30% of the book. I’m pretty sure you cannot figure out what was in the box and what was the truth behind it or what Meg will do about it and what happens in the end.There was hilarity in every single chapter. This book defines what laugh-out-loud is, from the very beginning.

Writing was fabulous, gripping and so lovely with varied characters, couples and gossips. Setting of Kendal, Lake District in northern part of the UK made it more entertaining with its close-knit community where everybody knows everybody’s business. I loved characters, family dynamics and even school moms. I rooted for Meg and Danny pretty quickly. I loved Meg more and her voice had a charm that made me to stick with her story and thoughts throughout the book.

Meg was amazing partner and mom. Her sacrifices and love for her family were great to read. When she did her research and found about many other things that might question if she even know her husband, I really felt sad for her. No wife deserves that but oh my, that scene later in bedroom and hospital made me forget all that. Her reaction to the truth was so natural and real. I could feel her insecurity, self-doubt and vacillation. It was not easy for her to clear her mind and see it from Danny’s perspective and when she heard opinions of her sister, best friend and cleared the fog with Danny, she was back to herself. She found a new knowledge and new spark.

Danny was such a nice and well written character. I had my doubts like Meg, but he turned out really amazing. He was a great father, son, brother and husband, I get what he did and why and still I feel he shouldn’t keep it secret and for that I was holding back my likeness. I like how he explained things, his hobby and all the things he did. He didn’t voice it earlier out loud but one can see and feel unhappiness in his professional life. His worry, anxiousness, and love was realistic. I had trouble understanding at first but I loved what he decided at the end and I agreed with Meg.

Stu, Danny’s brother was not easy to like but he surprised me at the end. And I have to say he took the entertainment to upper level. School moms and their gossips was hilarious. Some were friends while some were always at each other’s neck, bitching about other moms and that cat fight in the end was so funny. It all says a lot about how people let out their suppressed feelings and unhappiness on other, finding fault in other person and their life.

I loved Danny and Meg’s girls. They were charming. I can see my girl turn out like Eve! 😅 Emotions and feelings of the characters were well written. Even serious and sad moments were given the touch of humor.

There was lot of sex talk so if you are prim and prudish, just be prepared. You will see lot of sex trinkets, different sex life of different couple, threesome, toesome, wild and adventurous, hook ups… and many sex terminology and synonyms of body parts. To be honest it was all so informative.

I loved the message in the book. It say a lot about people’s mentality towards erotica and art related to it, how people jump to assumptions and think the worst about the person behind any sex related act. It told what love is, what sex is and how it can be different for everybody. It showed a difference between sexual exploration and perverseness.

Climax was uncertain. I was not sure what they will do about this Danny’s secret. I guessed it a little and I was only 20% right about it but anyway it was good to see how they all solved their problems and doubts.

Why 4.5-

I have to say I had little difficulty in understanding some terms and British phrases that slowed the pace, as I was doing lot of googling. Of course it wasn’t difficult to get the idea.

Overall, it was hilarious, entertaining, and enjoyable women’s fiction with a unique and quirky topic. I recommend to all readers of this genre.

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Have you read this books or any book by the same author?
Are you going to add it to TBR?
Have you read a book which has lot of sex talk? Are you prudish to read such books or open-minded?

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#BookReview : You Are Mine by Miranda Rijks

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You Are Mine by Miranda Rijks
Publication Date: November 25th 2019
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Pages: 270
Stars: ★★★★★

Rupert has spent years searching for his perfect wife. Now he’s found her.

Her name is Charlotte Aldridge and she’s wonderful. A talented artist, modest and beautiful, she’s everything he ever dreamed of. Her hair, her eyes, her mouth – every little detail is perfect.

Rupert is confident that when they meet, she’ll fall in love with him just as he has with her. After all, he’s a wealthy British aristocrat. And he’s handsome – the relentless gym workouts and extensive plastic surgery have seen to that.

But what if Charlotte can’t see that they’re a perfect fit, that they’re meant for each other? Well, Rupert can be very persuasive. His father taught him certain methods which are extremely effective. Methods that can turn the most determined, ‘I don’t’ into a meek and submissive, ‘I do’….

A chilling, up-all-night psychological thriller, You Are Mine is perfect for fans of Mark Edwards and K. L. Slater 

*** Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to NetGalley and publisher. ***

Other book I read by the same author:

You Are Mine was creepy psychological thriller that had creepiest villain I ever read. It was about loveless and emotionless upbringing and its psychological effect, how it shapes a person, mindset of psychopath and mainly about limerence- extreme love obsession.  

Writing was fantastic, gripping and fast paced. Setting of old mansion in Sussex with its vast property, hall of pictures, ball room and punishment room made the book even more unnerving. Book was mainly set in present narrated both from Rupert and Charlotte’s POV, alternatively. There were intermittent chapters from the past that gave the picture of Rupert’s childhood, his family and upbringing and how the characters in this chapters were directly or indirectly responsible for what was happening in present.

Book started with Charlotte’s art exhibition, pictures she created six month before the tragedy in her life, but she was distant far away from happiness. She was still grieving for her fiancé. Her inspiration died with him, she struggled to paint and maintain economical condition. Surprisingly, on the first day of exhibition she met aristocratic man, Sir Rupert, who offered her huge amount for painting his portrait staying at his mansion. Charlotte had to accept the offer to pay her debts even though she had her doubts and felt uncomfortable. But she couldn’t have guessed what she was getting into by accepting the offer.

I was curious to see when and how Charlotte will see through Rupert and his intentions, why he chose Charlotte and what methods he was going to use that was mentioned in that synopsis, If Charlotte will escape this psychopath or succumb to his persuasion.

First half of the book outlined the characters. Charlotte was decent character. She was physically week mentally broken because of her fiancé- Matthew’s death. She was normal girl with good looks, simple life and great talent, she couldn’t get into any sort of trouble until Rupert stepped on her life. I was glad for her sixth sense, I just wish she would have reacted to it earlier but I know that wouldn’t have stopped Rupert, would it? Her resilience and determination to fight Rupert was great but she was not strong enough. Of course she had a chance but she was too polite and wasted to grab it. And that dragged her into nightmare.

I loved Charlotte’s sister Jodi and their sisterly bond, the role she played. She was utterly brave and strong person.

Author has knack for creating hell of twisted and demented psychopath. Rupert was one horrible character. He was self-centered, materialistic, typical aristocrat who thought he could buy everything with his money, even love. His character showed how far a person monster can stoop to get what he want. I had to agree he had troubled childhood, I didn’t approve the way he was treated at school or at home. He clearly needed guidance with love and care and of course a psychiatrist. No matter how sorry I felt for 15-yr-old Rupert, I hated him as much. He never understood no or what true meaning of love was.

I definitely held all the characters in his life (his father, even that cook, and partly Simone – she might be a bitch but she was clear from the very beginning and I agreed with her views) responsible for creating this psycho and letting him roam free. He didn’t deserve pity or a chance or the impression people had in their mind. Oh hell he didn’t deserve to breathe one molecule of oxygen. You see he made me so angry. I was so shocked, horrified and disgusted reading his POV. But I must say he was smart and brilliant in the book.

Now I could predict what he did to get Charlotte and why, some in the beginning and some within first half. There was no big suspense and still I couldn’t have guessed what happened in the second half. I thought first half was scary but my goodness, the second was epitome of scary. I lost the count how many times I cursed while reading it. The methods he used and what he did to her was dreadful.

Climax was tense and tragic. I wish I could change it. End was great. After reading this book I so wished I can cast some magic on my daughter that can ward off psychos of the world.

Overall, it was dark twisted, riveting psychological thriller. I highly recommend this to fans of this genre.

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#BookReview: The Queen's Assassin (Queen's Secret #1) by Melissa de la Cruz

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The Queen’s Assassin (Queen’s Secret #1) by Melissa de la Cruz
Publication Date: February 4th 2020
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Fantasy / YA
Pages: 384
★★★★☆

Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Red Queen, this is the first novel in a sweeping YA fantasy-romance duet about a deadly assassin, his mysterious apprentice, and the country they are sworn to protect from #1 NYT bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.

Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia’s deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he’s the Guild’s most dangerous member and the Queen’s one and only assassin. He’s also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow–to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.

Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts–to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she’ll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.

When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they’re forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they’ll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they’ll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen’s Secret series.

*** Note: I received this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to @PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

The Queen’s Assassin was YA Fantasy that revolved around Queen’s secret and her assassin. It was about forbidden magic, romance, royal politics and saving kingdom from incursion and evil mages.

First of all that cover is awesome and so apt. Writing was gripping and addictive from the very beginning. I finished this book in 2 sitting and couldn’t put it down until the end. I loved author’s storytelling ability. World, characters and plot was great. It was narrated from Shadow and Calendon’s perspective. That synopsis says it all.

Worldbuilding was fantastic. Initial chapter gave the overview of world. It told about the history of kingdom Avantine, its rulers, how it was broken into four kingdoms, Renovia, how the sect of evil mages called Aphrasians and secret guild who fought against Aphrasians beside Renovian throne was formed, what was Deian scroll and how it was lost to Aphrasians, how all this lead to the current situation of Renovia, and how important it was to get the Deian scroll to save the kingdom and restore the magic and peace.

I thought it was all I would need to know about the world but as I read more I got to know more about political unrest, rise of Aphrasians, and rumors of incursion by assault on princess Lilac- the sole heir of Renovia. I loved excerpts from the Diean Scroll before beginning of all three sections. It that told the history and origin of magic, how magic came to Avantine and story of Queen Lilliana, regent queen of Renovia. Those were the best characters in the book.

Story was divided in three parts- Renovia, Montrice (Renovia’s neighbouring kingdom) and Assassin and Queen.

First part introduced characters. Queen Lilliana, her assassin- Calendon Holt and Shadow. As soon as I read epilogue I knew who Shadow was. Now that is not really strong for book but I tell you, the scenes were well written it mislead me and made me question what I was so sure about. I was curious to see how much she knew or if she doesn’t when and how she will know.

Shadow was a farm girl living with her aunts who were part of guild and trained her well to be part of guild. It was her dream to be part of guild and to be Caledon’s apprentice. But her mother who was courtier and on higher rank in guild had other plans. When a sudden attack brought her and Caledon together, she was adamant to thwart her mother’s plan, impress Caledon by rescuing him and convince him to take her on his mission. The way she carried out her plan was both reckless and impressive. Most of the time she was headstrong girl who acted like she knew more, eager to prove herself but that put her and Caledon in lot of danger. She wanted to be his apprentice but always took lead defied and argued whatever he said. That made me both laugh and irritated. It’s not like she wasn’t skilled or smart but what’s the meaning of apprentice if you don’t listen to a person you’re supposed to work under? Anyway, her development was good. As she worked with Caledon, she knew being assassin and part of guild is not easy, it required sacrifices and understood its seriousness.

Caledon was great. He was my favorite in the book. Now that might be unpopular as all reviews I read, reader didn’t like Cal and loved Shadow more. He was ruthless, merciless assassin. He obviously was not used to work with somebody and it made him look like arrogant but at the same time he was gentleman, man of word and restraint. Even though he was frustrated by working with Shadow and her suggestion he went along with her whims. I loved his story about his father and mother. He faced lot of pain and grief. His work left him alone and loveless but working with Shadow he experienced friendship, love and companionship.

Second part was about Montrice, its people and tradition, finding out if the nation was involved with Aphrasians. It also showed growing friendship and chemistry between Shadow and Caledon. I loved narration of aristocratic life style, gown and balls in this part.

I liked romance between Shadow and Caledon. They didn’t get along well initially but as they got to know each other, it blossomed into a beautiful flower. I was curious to see how they were going to voice their feelings and if they could commit to a relationship.

This unexpected love and all the feeling came along with it distracted them from their main plan. I was so glad for the turning point and what a turn it was. Many things happened from here till the end of this part. When they finally found about the evil Aphrasian, there was little action and some unexpected revelation.

I knew Shadow was hiding things from Caledon but oh boy, what was revealed in third part was a bit more than what I guessed. Queen’s play and secret was shocking. I liked Shadow’s confession and the way story ended. I definitely sided with Caledon and admired him for his decision but at the same time loved Shadow and how she grew with her responsibility. I can’t wait to see what is to come next in this series.

Why 4 Stars-

Now I haven’t read Sarah J Maas books but I have read stories that have somewhat similar outline. The world was original. I love mages and magic and blood vow, but rest of things was not fresh. Characters, queen’s secret and the end was a tad too predictable.

Overall, it was fast paced, interesting fantasy with addictive writing and refreshing world. It gave same vibes as Children of Blood and Bone while reading this, so if you liked that book, you’ll enjoy this.

Book Links: Goodreads
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Have you read this books or any book by the same author?
Is there a character or book that most readers disliked but you liked/loved?

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