Review: Amari and the Great Game (Supernatural Investigations #2) by B.B. Alston

Amari and the Great Game (Supernatural Investigations, #2)Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amari and the Great Game is the 2nd-book in B.B. Alston’s Middle Grade Fantasy series, Supernatural Investigations.

The 1st-book in the series, Amari and the Night Brothers, completely stole my heart when I read it in 2021. It was one of those spectacular cases where the story meets the hype. It was just as great as I had anticipated.

It was one of the most engaging Middle Grade stories I had read in a while and I was excited for more!

Amari and the Great Game released in August of 2022 and because I had listened to, and enjoyed, the audiobook for the 1st-book, I wanted to continue with that format moving forward with the series.

Y’all, the library loan wait was real. She was long.

It finally came through at a time when I could utilize it; my annual Thanksgiving solo-road trip. Perfection.

The well-narrated audio was a great way to pass the hours, and the miles. I was swept up again into this world and loved the new aspects and feel that Alston delivered.

This story follows Amari after the tumultuous events of the 1st-book. Her life has completely changed and she finds all sorts of new responsibilities and worries on her plate.

We deal a lot in this one with magicians and the sort of negative associations many in the Bureau have of them. We also get treated to the Great Game, a magical competition, that puts all competitors at risk.

I will say, for me, this did have a different feel than the first book. I think mainly because of the nature of the story. Amari has grown up so much since the 1st-book and she’s now a fairly confident and astute young practitioner, who knows how to fight the good fight. It’s bittersweet.

In the 1st-book, her character was more the kind that you want to shelter and protect. She was like a baby bird, who has now grown so much, she’s ready to leave the nest.

Because of that, I don’t think I was able to form the same emotional attachment to the story. Hence the 4-star rating here, versus the glowing 5-stars of that 1st-book.

Also, middle book syndrome being what it is, this did feel like we were building a lot towards something. With this being said, I am really looking forward to the 3rd-book, which I expect to be absolutely epic.

Regardless of my slight, and I do mean very slight, diminished enjoyment, this is still hands-down one of the best Middle Grade Fantasy series on the market currently. If you haven’t started it yet, and love this genre, you need to.

Alston knows how to bring the action and the world-building is so well done. This is sure to have you at the edge of your seat, cheering for the heroes and wishing you were there alongside them.

I can’t wait to see where Amari’s story goes from here. She’s an absolute forced to be reckoned with and I know at the end of the day, she’s going to make me, and her family, proud!

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Review: The Atlas Six (The Atlas #1) by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Six (The Atlas, #1)The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Atlas Six is one of those books that got so hyped up that it made me avoid it. I can’t recall precisely when the time period was, but I couldn’t go anywhere in the bookish social media world without having it pop up consistently.

Then, as happens many, many times with me, the cover got me. I’ll admit it. I wanted to own it because of the redesigned cover released by Tor. It’s stunning.

I finally decided to read it when a group I am a part of here on Goodreads chose it as a book of the month selection. I’m happy to finally know what all the fuss is about and I gotta say, this was wayyyyy better than I expected.

Since this is so hyped, and I think I am one of the last people left to read it, I won’t bother going too far into what it’s about. As a general description, I would say that it’s got the whole dark academia, secret society, magic-wielding multi-perspective thing down pat.

I was into this from the very start. The first two characters we meet, Libby and Nico, actually ended up being my two favorites of the entire book.

They’re academic rivals, which is something I tend to adore. Additionally, their backgrounds, plus the low-simmering constant vein of animosity running between them was giving me the Hermione-Draco fanfic vibes of my dreams.

We follow them as they are recruited by the mysterious, Atlas Blakely, to potentially join the ranks of the Alexandrian Society, a secret society composed of the most powerful magical academicians in the world.

I loved following along with Libby and Nico as they met the other recruits and began to learn more about what their participation with the process would actually entail.

Meeting the other individuals involved, Tristan, Parisa, Reina and Callum, was equally as fascinating and the dynamic amongst the group was ripe with tension.

This did remind me a lot of The Magicians. They share similar elements and I can’t say if this book handled those ideas any better or worse than that book did.

I sort of feel the same about them. I enjoyed it very much when I was reading it, but I’m not sure how long all the details are going to stick around in my brain.

There were some sections that were very dialogue heavy amongst the characters, as they waxed and waned about their powers and the overall magic system. I’ll admit to my eyes glazing over a bit during some of those sections.

For example, they would discuss in great lengths the parameters of their magic, what they would choose to do with it, the morality of certain choices, etc.

Personally, I just wanted to return to the action, but I can understand why those discussions may be important to the long-term growth of the story.

With this being said, the majority of this was intriguing. I found particular scenes, especially towards the end quite exciting and revealing. I absolutely will be continuing on with this series.

Overall, I’m so glad I finally took the time to read this one. I think this is a great base for the continuation of a series. I’m looking forward to it!

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Review: Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) by B.B. Alston

Amari and the Night BrothersAmari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes, yes, yes!!! Middle Grade Fantasy at its best!!!

I love Amari. I love the world. I love the magic system and humbly request at least ten volumes for this series.

Is that too much to ask? I think if you pick it up, you’d agree.

13-year old, Amari Peters, lives with her Mom in the Rosewood housing project. She had an older brother, Quinton, who was smart, fun and brave. He meant a lot to Amari. He was her best friend.

Quinton has gone missing and Amari doesn’t understand why it isn’t a bigger deal. Why isn’t it on the news? Why do the police act like if something happened to him, it was probably because he was up to no good?

Amari knows better. She doesn’t care what they insinuate about him, Quinton is the best person she knows and she is going to find out what happened to him, whether others believe her, or not.

Upon arriving home after an especially trying day, Amari is surprised by a visitor who gives her a clue that may help; the answer to which lies in a briefcase hidden in her missing brother’s closet.

She can’t believe what she finds. The Bureau of Supernatural Affairs? Is this for real?

Quinton has nominated her for a try-out? The prospect is sort of scary, but Amari knows this may be her best, perhaps only chance, of getting to the bottom of her brother’s disappearance. She’s got to go.

Thus begins Amari’s introduction to the hidden supernatural world around her. She also discovers the power within herself.

Under the guise of attending a ‘leadership camp’, Amari is able to stay at the Vanderbilt Hotel with the other Bureau trainees. There she is fully immersed in learning, training and competing. Did you hear that? Learning, training and competing.

It’s a MAGIC SCHOOL trope! I know, it’s called ‘camp’, but it’s a magic school, only one of the best tropes ever created.

The Reader learns along with Amari the ins-and-outs of the world and magic system. The good guys, the bad guys, the history. It’s all beautifully constructed and paced out.

I was totally engrossed in this while reading it. As first books in a series go, this is top notch. It definitely left me wanting more and I can’t wait to see how Amari grows in future books.

If you are looking for that good old-fashioned, kid discovering they are actually part of a magical world, then learns about it, competes within it, and fights evil forces, kind of book, you NEED to pick this up. There’s not even an option.

You can thank me later.

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