AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS by B. B. Alston officially ranks as one of my fav middlegrade books. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent reading it and when I finished, I wanted more—so glad it’s the first book in a series. Its title is listed by HarperCollins as Amari and the Night Brothers: Supernatural Investigations: Volume Number 1.
There was much to like about the book, so here’s a bit of the what’s-what:
Amari Peters isn’t from a posh neighborhood and is on scholarship to her private school, a place where she’s bullied. Her older brother Quinton has gone missing, and now she’s in trouble at school for standing up to the bullies. Things are a mess. But when she receives a strange briefcase from her missing brother and a nomination for a place in the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, Amari goes on the hunt for Quinton.
At the Bureau, she’s enrolled in the summer tryouts for Junior Agent and learning all about the supernatural and magical world that’s filled with magicians, dragons, fairies, sasquatches, and even talking elevators with their own distinct personalities. She’ll compete for a spot in the program against kids who’ve grown up in this fantastical world, while dodging enemies, and learning who she can and can’t trust. Not everything or everyone is as they seem.
Amari worries she won’t have what it takes to make it through the Junior Agent trials, stand up to the bullies in her training class, learn how to use her own magic, and find her missing brother.
So why did I like the book so much?
As I’ve said in my social media posts, I think AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS is immersive, imaginative, and thoroughly engaging to read. I was drawn in from the opening pages and had to read more. Amari is a kid I would have loved to have had as a friend when I was a kid. She’s smart, brave, compassionate, and fun.
The magical elements in the book were fun and unique. I particularly fell in love with the elevators and I love Amari’s roommate’s inventions, especially the sneakandle.
I most definitely recommend reading AMARI AND THE NIGHT BROTHERS by B.B. Alston. You can read more about the book here.
“She took Julian’s hand, and they stepped through.”
(Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare: chapter 33, page 835)
The Blackthorns are back in the third book of The Dark Artifices that’s titled The Queen of Air and Darkness. Cassandra Clare’s epic tale opens solemnly, which is fitting after the ending of Lord of Shadows (book two) ripped my heart out. If you haven’t read Lady Midnight or Lord of Shadows, books one and two respectively, you may want to skip this review as there are spoilers for those books. I won’t reveal spoilers for The Queen of Air and Darkness, though.
The Dark Artifices spans three books (so far?) and is a sequel series to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. It begins in Los Angeles, five years since the concluding events in the Mortal Instruments and the story follows Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn family, characters introduced in the Mortal Instruments.
If you missed it, catch up on my thoughts about Lady Midnight (book one) and Lord of Shadows (book two) before reading the rest of this review.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, all 880 pages. Yes, it’s crazy long and there’s a LOT going on, but I have discovered that Emma Carstairs is hands-down my favorite Shadowhunter. Because I love the character of Emma, I’ve flown through this series, even during a few of the draggy parts (of which I feel there were only a few.)
The story picks up after Livvy’s death at the hands of Annabel Blackthorn and Emma’s shattering of the Mortal Sword. The Blackthorn’s, Emma, Cristina, and the Lightwoods are all as shattered as the Mortal Sword, suffering huge losses and caught in the middle of another war with shifting alliances.
At the core of Queen of Air and Darkness is the fight for true love—even if it’s forbidden between two parabatai. Emma and Julian still are struggling with their feelings as their worlds continue to fall apart. There’s also the ongoing fight against bigotry and hatred, on many levels, and it’s woven throughout this series.
While the rest of the Blackthorn family returns to California, the parabatai embark on a mission into Faerie to bring back the Black Volume of the Dead. Their journey is arduous and ultimately, Emma and Julian will find themselves fully entrenched in the parabatai curse and unwilling participants in destruction that can destroy everyone and everything they love.
I enjoyed Emma and Julian’s story, but there are many others throughout this series that kept me turning pages.
Kit and Ty: I love the evolution of the relationship between Kit and Ty. Ty has been one of my favorite Blackthorn’s from the beginning and Kit has evolved into a very likable and interesting character. He fascinates me and by midpoint of this book, I had an idea about his lineage and I can’t wait to see more about him in another series.
Mark, Cristina, and Kieran: I love the three of them together and watching their journey through to the end of the book was fun, although at times frustrating. Definitely, intense in some moments.
Diana Wrayburn: She’s developed into a character I’d love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with and just talk. About everything and anything. I really like her and love the relationship she has with Gynn.
It’s also been a lot of fun to watch young Dru develop and mature. She’s definitely one you can’t ignore and hoping for more of her story in future series.
There also was a nice balance of Mortal Instruments characters interspersed, the tie-ins worked for me. I will say I could have had more Magnus, but then again, who doesn’t want more Magnus?
With any Shadowhunters book, author Cassandra Clare weaves stories for multiple characters across multiple landscapes. Despite the length of the book and many story lines, I never found it difficult to keep track of the different characters. I think this mainly is because each character is distinct with a specific purpose. I particularly liked the way she quick-shifted scenes to give the reader the feeling that certain moments were happen simultaneously.
Overall, I definitely recommend Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare, but highly advise you to read books one and two first. You can find additional information about The Dark Artifices series and Clare’s other books at her website: www.cassandraclare.com.
Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts is book two in the series: Chronicles of The One, which began with the book Year One. If you haven’t read it or my review, please check it out here.
This was a book I waited anxiously to receive and when it arrived, I dived in and quickly became immersed into the harsh yet entrancing world author Nora Roberts has created in this series. Of Blood and Bone picks up 12 years after the birth of Fallon Swift, who is The One. She’s lived her childhood on a peaceful farm with her mother, father, and brothers, mostly sheltered from the ruined world decimated by the Doom and now ravaged by Raiders and vicious Purity Warriors.
Like her mother and birth father, Fallon has gifts and it’s these gifts that make her a target for those who despise an Uncanny—witch, faery, shifter, elf, or other magical being. And as The One, she is destined to be so much more. Fallon will have to leave her family to train and fully come into her essence as The One in order to mobilize and lead an army to battle the dangerous, deadly evil forces that threaten all that is good. She’ll learn to be a healer, student, teacher, and warrior, all before her fifteenth birthday.
Once fully trained and reunited with her family, Fallon and her people return to New Hope. New Hope is the town where her parents lived, loved, and had many friends. It’s also the town where her birth father was murdered by his brother.
Of Blood and Bone tells the epic tale of Fallon Swift’s journey into becoming The One, from her childhood days on the farm to studies with the ancient Mallick and the journey and reconnection with New Hope. In book one, author Roberts gave readers a sense of the magicks and their impact for this story. Book two takes it to another level and it kept me turning pages. I really like Fallon and watching her learning process. She’s intelligent, strong, independent, and yet there’s still just a hint of vulnerability.
It made me happy to see some of my favorite characters from Year One thriving in this book, in particular sweet Fred and the lovable Eddie as well as Arlys, Chuck, Katie, and Flynn. We get to know Katie’s three kids better, all teens now. Duncan and Tonia have developed their gifts and together with Fallon, this trio is formidable. I’m looking forward to seeing how they evolve further in book three.
I really liked Of Blood and Bone and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy and dystopian stories. Definitely read Year One first, but then grab Of Blood and Bone and enjoy!
“Her writing was witty and entertaining but carefully neutral in describing camp workings and routines, which would give no enemy significant information if it was intercepted.”
(THE TRAITOR’S RUIN by Erin Beaty, Chapter 28, page 108)
The Traitor’s Ruin by Erin Beaty is the second in a trilogy that begins with The Traitor’s Kiss and will conclude with the The Traitor’s Kingdom releasing in July 2019.
The young adult fantasy continues the story of Sage Fowler, former apprentice to the matchmaker Darnessa, current tutor to the children of the Demoran royal family, and betrothed of Captain Alex Quinn. I like Sage because she’s intelligent, fiercely independent, and kindhearted. This story has her back in the thick of things, this time even more fully entrenched as a spy and definitely with higher stakes.
At the bequest of the Queen, Sage sets off with the newly formed Norsari, an elite group of soldiers led by her Captain Quinn. While Alex is not happy to have Sage along, there’s no denying her skill for languages and critical thinking that may play an important role in the mission. And it does. Unfortunately, when Sage’s student, the young prince Nicholas, is the target of a kidnapping, the two become separated from the Alex and the Nosari during the fighting. Sage and Nicholas find themselves with the Casumi, soldiers from a far-off land who also are at odds with Kimisar.
Like the first book, author Beaty takes the reader through a world filled with political intrigue, a specific social hierarchy, and cultural customs specific to each of the different lands. There’s a lot going on in this book and at times, in particular in the first half, it was a challenge to keep it all straight due to the unique names and language. However, I enjoy a spy story and Sage is a character that keeps me turning pages. In The Traitor’s Ruin we get to see her relationship with Alex evolve and how she handles keeping secrets from him, much in the same manner he kept secrets from her in the first book.
I don’t do spoilers, but I will reveal that both Sage and Alex find themselves in mortal danger and that not all characters from book one survive book two. There are many action-packed fight scenes plus just the right amount of romance and levity in the right spots. Overall, I enjoyed The Traitor’s Ruin by Erin Beaty and look forward to reading book three when it’s released in 2019.
If you want to check out this trilogy and author Erin Beaty, this is her website: www. erinbeaty.com