Air Awakens – Review

A Library Apprentice, a Sorcerer Prince, and an Unbreakable Magic Bond…

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful this cover art is?

 

I just picked up and finished “Air Awakens” by Elise Kova in three days. Oh, how I’ve longed for a book like this! I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve read a book that really engaged me, and that all the books between books like this are just fillers. Mediocre, barely decent fillers.

Air Awakens is set in a fantasy fiction world complete with magic and princes. Now before you start thinking that this is a fairy tale story, stop. I won’t deny that I rolled my eyes at the idea of it too. “Plain ordinary girl discovers she has rare magical powers, meets a prince, and is swept up into the war of her kingdom.” Excuse me? Is this a Disney movie?

The answer is a resounding no.

I implore you to ignore your knee-jerk reaction to what seems to be a bland repeat of an overused story. Air Awakens is so much more.

Let’s start with the setting. It does have a typical fantasy world with swords and magic. We have the kingdom of Solaris that is full of royalty, warriors, and sorcerers; some of which aren’t exclusive. Solaris is made up of the southern, eastern, and western regions. The northern region is the last that Solaris is attempting to conquer, and so they remain at war. The different regions also have different opinions on its sorcerers. Some are fearful while others are reverent.

I’m the latter. The sorcerers within this series are of the elemental variety. Each sorcerer has an elemental affinity that affects what type of magic they use. There are Firebearers, Windwalkers, Waterrunners,  and Groundbreakers; fire, air, water, and earth. Magic is not inherent in everyone, and it isn’t genetic. Magic chooses the person. Once it has, your powers remain dormant until they begin to “awaken”. I am really drawn to the way Kova’s magic works in this series.

Vhalla, our heroine, has been a library apprentice in the Imperial Library nearly her entire life until her powers begin to awaken. I really like Vhalla. She is intelligent, hungry for knowledge, and simply refuses to be ignorant. At the same time, she isn’t without her faults. The author did a very good job of making sure that her main character was balanced. Her development is also very well written, and you never reach a point where Vhalla abruptly becomes mature, all-knowing, and powerful. I can really appreciate that Vhalla’s personality stayed true to character throughout this first book. She struggles, and as a reader it made her all the more believable.

And then there’s the crown prince, Aldrik. Oh, he’s not the Prince Charming that fairy-tales have painted in all of our heads. He’s quite the opposite, although he is charming in his own unique way. Aldrik was the character that had me raising and furrowing my eyebrows all throughout the book. For me, he was the curve-ball that threw this story off of its dangerously close path to mediocre fantasy fiction. He was enigmatic, dark, unpredictably delicious. Ahem. I refuse to elaborate on him too much, but I will tell all the ladies that he is far more swoon-worthy than any other prince I’ve read about in the most untypical ways.

It is very special to me when I find an author that knows how to write and develop a romantic relationship properly. What I mean by properly is that the relationship develops at an appropriate pace while the character’s personalities remain true to themselves. Elise Kova has done just that. Vhalla wasn’t mindlessly falling head over heels for the prince, and Aldrik wasn’t immediately and inexplicably attracted to her. We don’t have two perfect characters falling perfectly in love with each other and riding off into a perfect sunset. Too many perfects? Exactly. These two have their faults, but they learn to appreciate each other’s good points and that eventually develops into feelings. Who would’ve thought?

I also have to commend Kava for even breathing life into her side characters. For once, I didn’t feel like they were just added (annoying) fluff. They had enough substance to them that you actually did care for them a bit, at least.

For an introduction to a new world, kingdom, magic, characters, ect., Kava does a great job of informing the reader of everything without dumping vast amounts of information at once. Because of that, the pace of the story isn’t dreadfully slow and it isn’t rushed either. There just the right amount of drama and intrigue to keep you turning the pages. I actually ended up reading this in the morning before work, during lunch, and in the evening before bed. I finished it three days, and immediately purchased the next book, Falling Fire.

I’m giving this book:

 5/5

I enjoyed it immensely! If you are looking for a new series that has pieces of fantasy, adventure, and romance all mixed in quite well, then I suggest you read Air Awakens.

Also, I’m crossing my fingers that someone else will read it because I really need to discuss this book with someone! 

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

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Akatsuki no Yona: Yona of the Dawn – Review

Anime has and will always been on my radar. I’ll admit that I haven’t watched any in a long time, but then I’ve always had a hard time finding anything of quality. Finally, I found one!

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Akatsuki no Yona follows the story of Princess Yona, a sheltered princess raised by her pacifist father within the safe walls of the castle and protected by her bodyguard and childhood friend, Hak. Her second childhood friend, Soo-won, comes to visit for her birthday at the start of it. Yona plans to use this opportunity to reveal her romantic feelings for Soo-Won, but that never comes to pass since Soo-Won betrays her and her family. Hak intervenes, saves Yona, and they escape the castle. After visiting an oracle, Yona is advised to seek out the power of the reincarnated four dragons.

Cliché storyline aside, this anime surprised me! I am very wary of anime where characters go from ignorant to highly skilled in two episodes.  Sure, I found myself annoyed by the naïve nature of the princess at the start of things, but this is a story of self-discovery and identity. You watch this innocent young girl, through the hardships she encounters, grow into a brave woman.

Of course, she doesn’t do this alone. The princess goes on a journey to locate the reincarnations of the four dragons as expected. They each take on guardian type roles, but that doesn’t render her a helpless figure in the show. I guess you can say that’s my favorite aspect of this anime and of the character. I love that she is surrounded by those that wish to protect her, but she is so adamant about being strong herself that you can’t help but admire her.

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As the anime progresses, you are introduced to new characters and their stories.

Warning: You will become attached to many characters.

They each have unique upbringings and pasts, but they are damn endearing. Of course, they all have different personalities and abilities as well. Being the reincarnations of powerful dragons, they are strong fighters.

Yay, fight scenes!

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Fighting aside, there is a lot of relationship development that occurs between each of the guys and Princess Yona. They each have their own connection with her, but you have to know that there is a romantic interest there!  Luckily it isn’t over the top nor is it nonexistent. It’s sweet and their relationship develops slowly just as it should. There’s no magical “Omg, I’m so in love”- Goo-goo eyes after one episode.

Comedy isn’t missing either, mind you! Most of this is the banter between particular characters. The dynamic between all them is more than entertaining.

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Be prepared to want and need a Season 2 after this first one, however.  I very much appreciate the time they take to let you get to know the characters, their pasts, and their journey both physical and emotional, but it does take time; a whole season’s worth.

I hope that this anime does go over well in Japan since that’s usually the deciding factor in additional seasons. Until then, I recommend that you check this anime out and see if you like it for yourself!

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Sense8 – A Netflix Original Series: Review

There a few new shows that I watched during my unemployment period, and Sense8 was easily the most fascinating of them all.

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Sense8 is about a science fiction (woot!) drama about eight strangers from different parts of the world that suddenly become mentally and emotionally linked to each other. This is referred to them as being “reborn” as Sensates, or rather humans with more access and control over the regions of our brains that are normally dormant. This gives them the ability to sense one another emotionally and mentally; making them able to communicate telepathically, sense, and use each other’s language and overall knowledge.

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C’mon, isn’t that coolest shit ever?

I have to admit one little fact. I started and finished this series in one day. That’s right. I spent the whole day watching this show on Netflix. And it easily could’ve been because of Netflix’s nasty little habit of just starting up the next episode, but it wasn’t. I was hooked. I was so fascinated by the concept of this show.

So these eight strangers are all vastly different. It’s not just that they live on various corners of the world, but they all come from different cultures, backgrounds, and have greatly contrasting personalities. Take eight different personalities and connect them and you have one dynamic linked group.

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On top of being able to access each other’s knowledge, the characters of this story slowly but surely learn from each other and their differences.They are able to see life’s troubles and lessons from a completely different perspective through their link. Certain characters become closer than others, but in the end they all help each other in some form or fashion. Imagine having a family that was readily accessible for help mentally, emotionally, or physically no matter where they were. That’s right, people. They are able to put their consciousness into each others bodies and take control temporarily to help one another. Some of my favorite scenes are those where they “jump” bodies. Greatness.

The plot of this show dips into a lot of sensitive issues like politics, identity, religion, sexuality, gender, and religion that are either left on the back burner by most science fiction shows or not present at all. I have to give them props for that. Not only is it balls-y, but it really allows the viewer to connect with one if not more than one of the eight main characters. It makes them all incredibly relatable. They’re not perfect. They struggle with a lot of the same things that a lot us do.

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Now you may be thinking that eight main characters is too many. How could you smoothly switch from one to another especially when they live in different parts of the world? I guess that’s where this mental link comes into play. It really does feel as though they shift from point of views rather seamlessly because they’re linked. You don’t ever feel as though one is getting more attention than the others.

I should also mention that while this show is a drama, it contains a little bit of every genre. Again, I believe we have the differences in the characters to thank for this. We have drama, action, adventure, romance, suspense, and even kung fu. It really has something for everyone!

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I would definitely recommend that everyone give this show a chance. I will say that the first episode or two runs a little slow. They’re the introductory episodes, and they put more emphasis on their awakening mental capabilities. However, after that it does pick up. You get more fast paced scenes the further you get, and everything gets pretty intense toward the finale.

So go watch Sense8! Seriously. If you don’t like it, then I give you every right to come back and complain. If you do like, come back and tell me why. I’d love to hear other opinions on this show since I have yet to meet anyone who has watched it!

I realize that not everyone has an entire day to watch an entire series. Don’t be a bum like me. 😉

PS: Sense8 has some pretty graphic scenes (nudity, sex, violence, blood, hooray!) so I wouldn’t watch it with young folk around!

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