Thursday, October 3, 2019

Exam Center Finds: Caster by Elsie Chapman


Elsie Chapman

Scholastic Press

Date of Pub:
Sept 3, 2019

found at the local library in the red exam center for reviews.
hardcover; 336 pages

urban fantasy, magic, YA


Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Fight Club in this action-packed fantasy about a secret, underground magic fighting tournament.
If the magic doesn't kill her, the truth just might.

Aza Wu knows that real magic is dangerous and illegal. After all, casting killed her sister, Shire. As with all magic, everything comes at a price. For Aza, it feels like everything in her life has some kind of cost attached to it. Her sister had been casting for money to pay off Saint Willow, the gang leader that oversees her sector of Lotusland. If you want to operate a business there, you have to pay your tribute. And now with Shire dead, Aza must step in to save the legacy of Wu Teas, the teahouse that has been in her family for centuries.

When Aza comes across a secret invitation, she decides she doesn't have much else to lose. She quickly realizes that she's entered herself into an underground casting tournament, and the stakes couldn't be higher. Real magic, real consequences. As she competes, Aza fights for her life against some very strong and devious competitors.

When the facts about Shire's death don't add up, the police start to investigate. When the tributes to Saint Willow aren't paid, the gang comes to collect. When Aza is caught sneaking around with fresh casting wounds, her parents are alarmed. As Aza's dangerous web of lies continues to grow, she is caught between trying to find a way out and trapping herself permanently.

My Thoughts:
Dude!  Look at that cover, though!!?!?!  I love it!  I love it when covers can essentially give us everything we need to know about the book {although we don't know that until we read the book} and Caster does just this. 
Lotusland is a complicated land where full magic casters are shunned because of the damage they have caused to Earth.  They are illegal and hunted down by enforcers called Scouts. 
And Aza is just that -a full magic-user

The world-building in Caster is very descriptive.  As Chapman described each sector, all of your senses are used to imagine each Sector.  The tea sector, where Aza and her family reside, seemed to make crave all my favorite teas as I read the descriptions.  The spice sector made me hungry for curry and all my favorite spicy foods. 
I was thoroughly impressed with how our author could insert into the story with her use of storytelling.

I found myself relating to Aza in more ways the longer the story went on.  I understood her grief and felt her pain, trying to keep her family in their home and legacy.  Most of all, I mourned for her and the loneliness that she seemed to exude out to everyone.   I loved that Aza was a kick-ass heroine who knew she had flaws but also learned to adapt and learn from them. 

Aza was quick-witted and had loads of street smarts to get by with the gang that followed her around trying to collect " honor marks" in exchange for protection from them. 

The magical tournament makes me think of Mortal Kombat.  And of course, Fight Club as well.  But Mortal Kombat is what really popped in my head every night she fought in the different sections of the tournament.  

Caster is a wonderful read!!  You will be second guessing every clue you get and you will still be shocked a few times as well.  I freaking love that there isn't a love interest in this story.  It was refreshing to read a YA story that wasn't about falling in love and the plot following that arc of the story.  Not that I don't enjoy the YA romance; but I just really liked that Aza was the main focus of the story.   

Caster was a gritty fantasy about the magic that isn't all rainbows and wands.  It shows us that magic hurts.  It can be painful and it can destroy even when it is trying to save.  What a great way to incorporate how we treat the Earth now into a fantasy story with magic!!  I can't wait to read more from Elsie Chapman and I do believe we may see more of Aza and Lotusland.  
I can't wait!  


Connect with Elsie Chapman:

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Been Reading but I have been Living to My Heart's Content

Wow!  Just wow!  It has been forever since I have posted anything to this blog. 

It almost seems like I had given up on ever getting back to blogging about anything, really. 

And then:

I found myself. 

My real self.  Through learning what I love, who I love, and where I am the happiest at. 

And now I am ready to get back to blogging.

It isn't just going to be a book blog. No,  this is going to be so much more than that. 
If I have found just the most amazing yarn I have ever knitted with and I want to scream it from the rooftops...

Can't I just do it here?

If I get so excited about some pour paintings I have created and I just want to share my love with all of you
Wouldn't this be the place to do it?

So I am keeping the title of the blog for now { until I figure out how to change it} but I will be adding more than just reading to my heart's content. 

But books will always be my first love. 

Thanks to everyone that stood behind me and waited patiently on me to get my butt in gear.  I appreciate every one of you so much.  Thank you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

eARC Review: Scorched Souls by Jeff Altabef and Erynn Altabef {Book 3 in Chosen Series}

Title: Scorched Souls
Author(s): Jeff Altabef; Erynn Altabef
Series: Chosen, book 3
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Genre: Scifi, YA thriller, paranormal, action
Source: received from authors, Novel Publicity, ebook, 13+

Fate and destiny clash in the explosive, heart-pounding conclusion to the award-winning Chosen series.~~~~~Survival is not enough.Alliances will be formed.Loyalties tested.A choice made.My name is Juliet Wildfire Stone and I’m not just a Chosen, I’m the Alpha… and the fate of Earth rests in my hands.When I finally met the Prime Elector, he wasn’t anything like I expected. He was supposed to be our mortal enemy, a monster I needed to destroy to fulfill my destiny, yet he was nothing like that—he’s young, brilliant, and looks like an angel.Caught in the middle of a conflict between two ancient foes, which threatens to rip Earth apart, I must do what is right at all costs. To choose my fate, and Earth’s future, I will need to navigate a new path, form unlikely alliances, and solve ancient mysteries forgotten for centuries.Yet I cannot do it alone. Will the other Chosen follow me? Do I have the strength to make the right choice, or will the people of Earth be enslaved for all time?

My Thoughts:

It's finally here! The last book in the series, Chosen, by Jeff and Erynn Altabeff, a father daughter author team!! Scorched Souls is such a perfect title to this story.  It is literally the embodiment of how the characters feel; how I feel after reading this! 
I want to thank the authors for sending me the e-book, and also a huge shout out to Novel Publicity for thinking of me too. You guys rock!!

Now, I need you to remember that this is the last book in the series.  I try my best not to reveal spoilers, but sometimes when you are discussing the last book, that is impossible to do.  So if you haven't read the other two books then please run and grab those books before you even read this.  

Scorched Souls picks up around about where Brink of Dawn leaves off.  All of the Chosen are together, having survived a battle and losing their mentor, Stuart.  They are all a little shaken, but Juliet, our main protagonist, seems to be feeling the effects of her choices.  She still feels guilty for killing and she worries more and more about the other Chosen.  
There is also  a budding relationship between Juliet and Connor that seems to give her strength when she needs it most.  
I am grateful the authors did not make this into a love triangle with Troy.  I love Troy and I believe what he and Juliet shares transcends any physical love.  Troy is her best friend, her brother, maybe even her Jimny Cricket, or her conscience.  Their relationship is magical and I appreciate the fact that it wasn't lessened by turning it into a love triangle.  Thank you!

I believe this book is a literary masterpiece because of the utmost care that is put into creating characters that are believable, realistic, and lovable.  Yes, our main characters have powers and abilities that most of us don't, but that doesn't take away from us being able to relate to them.  It just shows us more of how human they become when they are forced to bear such responsibility.  
These people are wracked by fear, anxiety, guilt, and self-doubt; yet they overcome all of this to protect each other every day.  They also show us love, respect, honor, intelligence and bravery in every choice they make.  I honestly believe lots of teens today could learn from Juliet and her friends.
I know I have, even being a lot older than these characters.  

There is a quote that Juliet's grandfather tells her and I absolutely love it:

"The Wind Spirit isn't always good, and Coyote isn't always bad." 

Honestly, I believe that  sums up life perfectly.  Every person has both inside them.  You have to look at their actions and try to find their soul to see the "goodness" that you need to find.  Wonderful quote!
There are lots of concepts discussed through the book, including the American Indian culture, as well as the essence of souls, and forgiveness.  I think an important concept that gets addressed is death.  There are different aspects and beliefs out there and I like that the book caters to other beliefs as well.  And of course, I love how there are many common similarities to the Spirit World in different beliefs.  Great job!

There  is non-stop action in Scorched Souls, and we are traveling to England this time, Connor's hometown.  So we get to explore a little more about our resident good bad boy's past. 
I have always wanted to visit England and through the beautiful and detailed descriptions, I feel like I was right there with everyone.  

I feel like a great way to sum up Juliet and her progression is a quote from our friendly neighborhood hero, Spiderman:

"With great power, comes great responsbility."

Juliet continues to get stronger and stronger and struggles with controlling the power as it flows through her body.  She is faced with a difficult decision that could destroy everything she holds dear.  Even throughout all of this, though, she doesn't lose sight of her humanity.  She continues to grasp what it means to be human, to contain a soul.  

And of course as well as being introduced to some new characters, we are allowed a reunion with some returning characters from the other two books.   
I will warn you that the ending is a hard one.  We do lose people and you will shed some tears.  But I also understand the need for this ending and I think you will too.  

The Takeaway:
Scorched Souls is a fantastic ending to a wonderful series that combines aliens, faith, American Indian culture, and secret societies to give us a story that is wholly satisfying and soul embracing. 

Don't forget to check out the sponsored giveaway posted here. And remember to grab your own copy at:


Connect with our Authors:
Jeff Altabef:

Erynn Altabef:
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