A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

3 stars 

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” 

A Darker Shade of Magic is a book I’ve seen around a lot, and now that the third book is out I thought I would give it a shot. The fantasy genre is my first love, even though I review more romance and YA now. I found myself homesick for a wonderful fantasy novel and decided to give this one a chance. I enjoyed it, but something in it just didn’t quite click with me and I cannot put my finger on what it is.

In this book, there are 4 Londons. Grey, Red, White and Black. Kell has the ability to travel to 3 of them, since Black London has been forever cut off. Grey is closest to our real one, but 200 years ago. the other ones are more magically influenced. Kell is an ambassador of sorts, but what he also is, is a smuggler. One day, Kell gets himself into something way bigger than himself, and he’s the only one who can set it right.

“Sure I do,” countered Lila cheerfully. “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,” she recited, ticking them off on her fingers. “See? I’m a fast learner.” 

This book is a fast and easy read, the writing flows really well. For some reason tho, I really didn’t connect with it and I don’t know why. I liked the characters, and the setting. But the plot seemed like one long exposition, setting things up for a future book and not really focusing on this one. I don’t know if that makes any sense.

I can see why readers love this book, it’s definitely a unique and original story and a great contribution to the fantasy genre. I just failed to connect personally to this book and probably won’t read the others in the series.

“You know so little of war. Battles may be fought from the outside in, but wars are won from the inside out.” 

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A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

4.5 stars!! 

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.” 

This was my favorite book as a child, in fact I devoured the entire quintet throughout my tween awkward years. I remembered I had loved the book, but aside from a few random details, I found I barely remembered what happened. In fact, I read it so long ago, this was my copy:

Okay, so I’m not THAT old, my mom just bought a lot of books from the local used book store. I read too fast for her to keep up with me, normally it was just library books growing up. Anyways, I digress.

A Wrinkle in Time is about a young girl named Meg, she’s very awkward, has many faults (according to herself) and feels like an outcast. The only people she really finds a comfort with are her scientist mother, and her odd brother Charles Wallace. Meg’s father had also gone missing about two years ago, and while the town suspects he ran off with another woman, Meg and her family know this not to be true.

On a stormy evening, Meg and Charles Wallace receive a visitor, the peculiar Mrs. Whatsit. From there, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with a boy named Calvin, get whisked away in a journey to rescue their father. But they must travel through time and space to do so, and face a terrifying darkness to get him back.

“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.” 

First off, I have to say, with the few exceptions this book really stands the test of time. It’s not dated at all, and except for the mention of a typewriter, this book could take place during any decade. It’s so rare to read a book written in the 1960’s that’s like that, so a solid kudos to the author.

One thing I’ve always loved about the story is Meg, and the idea that she’s not a perfect heroine, and that’s what makes her the hero of the story. It portrays that even though we have faults, sometimes our faults can be our advantage, and that fitting in with everyone else isn’t always the best thing for a society. I love that we have an “ordinary” heroine, who is expected to do extraordinary things, even though she’s not the smartest of the bunch.

It’s a bit obvious, being when this book is written, there are some subtext about the dangers of communism. The evil IT and how it makes everyone and everything the same, or else. I think with this subtext, it also portrays how important it is to be an individual and to make up one’s own mind. In a way, this book is very relevant even present day. To fight against what’s wrong and not succumb to forces who want their definition of perfection.

Once I was able to put my mind to it, I was able to devour this book in a matter of hours. It’s a very fast read and one I believe all ages can and will enjoy.

“Like and equal are not the same thing at all.” 

A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

4 stars! 

“When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.” 

Wow what a novel!!! I bought my paperback copy of this book years ago, just before the series aired for the first time. I always intended to read it, but in about seven years my reading tastes veered away from fantasy and swayed into romance for a good six years. Now I’m back! And I finally read this darn book. And it only took me four and a half days! That’s a miracle in itself.

Anyways, I apologize in advance because my review might be a bit of a comparison to the tv series, but as I watched those first my brain cannot help but compare. I will say first off, their adaptation of the book, at least for the first season, is completely spot on. I also want to note, I feel if I hadn’t watched the show I might have given up on this book because there were some slow bits that if I didn’t know added up to something else later, I would have been sitting there reading and cursing the author for extraneous details (that turned out to be important).

All that being said, A Game of Thrones takes place in a land where some global phenomenon changes the seasons, making them last longer than usual. They are coming out of a nine year summer, hence everyone saying “Winter is coming” all the time. Lord Eddard Stark is approached by the King, a friend from the past, to become is right hand man or officially The Hand of the King. Despite being wary, Ned takes it mostly from the urging of his wife, and gets sucked into a world of deceit and murder.

“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” 

Based on my knowledge of the show (and yes I am all caught up), I saw hints that Martin dropped in this book that came true soooooooooooooooo much later in the series. So bravo to a brilliantly thought out plot. The beginning of the book was a tad slow, with a middle I devoured rapidly, and then around 600 pages in it slowed down again. There were so many character names thrown around I found myself googling who they were and once seeing the actors who played them, I understood what was happening. I also saw lots of DNF reviews around pages 600 or so and I totally understand where those readers come from, that was a slow 100 pages in the book.

My least favorite POV chapters were Eddard, Catelyn and Bran. They fell a bit flat for me which is sad, but I still like them as characters. My favorite POV’s were Tyrion, Jon and Arya. Basically the characters I love most on the show. Tyrion I absolutely adore and know why the readers love him, knowing his inner thoughts and how friggin smart he is, I just wanted to hug him all the time. I felt a bit more for Sansa when reading from her perspective, she truly was a young girl who believed the best in the wrong people and paid for it. A horrible life lesson, but one that was going to happen no matter what.

Anyways, I am very glad I finally sat my butt down and read this book, from what most readers have told me they only get better in books 2 and 3, so I look forward to reading those. I am going to take a break before charging on, but that doesn’t really matter because I am sure I could take years to read these books and Winds of Winter will still have not been released. Maybe Brandon Sanderson could finish the series? KIDDING. Kind of.

“Fear cuts deeper than swords.” 

Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

4.5 stars! 

“Going outside is highly overrated.” 

Ready Player One is one of the best and most unique books I have a read in a long time! The year is 2044, and our world has been torn to shreds by environmental problems. Most people are logged into a virtual reality called the OASIS, a whole universe better than our own. The creator of OASIS left an Easter egg in it when he died, and whoever finds it gets his entire fortune.

Wade Watts is an 18 year old gunter, someone who devotes their time to finding the hidden egg that Halliday left. It’s been five years since Halliday died and the world has become obsessed with 80’s culture, as it was Halliday’s favorite. One day, Wade stumbles upon the first clue, and everything changes from there. Now it’s a race to find the egg, and some competitors aren’t play fair.

“No one in the world gets what they want and that is beautiful.” 

First things first, I have to admit that between some of the gamer talk and the 1980’s talk, a little bit of this book went over my head.

Yeah, I know I know. But, when you are born literally at the very end of 1989, it’s a bit hard to let go of your 90’s upbringing. And yes, I know I just made a bunch of you feel old. SORRY NOT SORRY! Hahaha.
Anyways, I ramble.

This book started off slow for me, but really picked up the more I read. There were times when I devoured whole chunks of it, and then would put it down and walk away for a while. There were bits I needed to skim for my sanity, because I know I will never be smart enough or have the attention span to know what Cline was talking about, technology wise and gaming wise. But this was a really solid book and a solid story.

The past few years I have been reading mostly books from the indie romance community. As of lately I have been distancing myself from that because quality has been lacking. This book proved to me why traditionally published books still work, and that’s the amount of time, editing, and research that goes into a book. Ready Player One was so well thought out, I can’t even imagine how long it took to write this book and this universe. It was simply, mind blowing.

I’ve seen this compared to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and aside from the addictive writing style and the competition, this book stands on its own and does not need comparison. It should be setting the standard for comparisons. I think as new as it is, it’s a classic. Or at least a classic in the making. By the end, I found myself wanting to do nothing but read more science fiction and fantasy, and that’s the mark of an amazing book!

This book will having you rooting for the characters and dancing with joy!!!

“For a bunch of hairless apes, we’ve actually managed to invent some pretty incredible things.” 

Caraval

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

4 stars!

“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”

Scarlett and her sister Tella have dreamed of leaving their tiny island and oppressive father for years. As a child, Scarlett would write letters to Legend, the man who runs Caraval, a once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show. Finally, when Scarlett is days away from her wedding, a marriage arranged by her father, Legend sends her an invitation to participate in this year’s Caraval.

With the help of a sailor, Scarlett and Tella make it to the island where Caraval takes place. But right away, Tella goes missing, and this year’s game revolves around finding her. Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of Caraval are over, or she will lose her sister forever.

“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”

I loved getting swept away in this book, it’s such a vibrant and fascinating story. Garber is an imaginative author, I fell in love with her words and was eager to see what she would do next. I thought this book was inventive, and very reminiscent of Venice, Italy of the past. The plot and pacing weren’t always perfect, but I very much enjoyed this book all the same.

I loved Scarlett’s character, she was a girl just trying to save her sister and better their lives. At the very heart of this book is a story of two sisters, their strong bond, and what they are willing to do for the other. Oddly enough, the romance aspect did almost nothing for me, I liked Julian well enough, but I didn’t get those strong feels that normally come from a forbidden and unexpected romance.

This book is an imaginative tale, one that many people will love to read. I cannot wait for the next book!

“Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed.”

The Queen and the Cure

The Queen and the Cure by Amy Harmon

5 stars!

“Come to me, and I will try to love you. I will try to love you, if you but come back.”

The Queen and the Cure is the story of Kjell, brother of King Tiras, bastard son and soldier. He and his men have been traveling the lands hoping to hunt and kill the last of the Volgar, a bird creature hybrid that is dwindling in size. During his journey, they come upon a young woman named Sasha, who has the Sight and can see the future. Locals deemed her a witch and pushed her off of a cliff, leaving her bloodied and broken. Kjell, heals her and in return Sasha thinks she belongs to him.

As much as Kjell tries, he cannot keep Sasha away from him as she is determined to remain by her side. He decides to bring her back to his home city, and along the way Sasha begins to creep under his skin. But Kjell has lost his heart to the wrong woman before, and he has no wish to let anyone else in.

“He would not be able to let her go, he thought. He would never be free of her.”

Amy Harmon has such a beautiful way with words, she weaves them to what she wills, and spins beautiful tales and descriptive stories that will remain with you for a long time to come. The Bird and the Sword was one of my favorite books from last year, and to get a sequel set in the same verse was an unexpected and very welcome surprise.

For someone who is mostly successful for her contemporary works, I always find myself blown away at the depth and intricate world building Harmon has to deliver, as if she has always been writing fantasy and not anything else. Her fantasy rivals the greats, current and deceased.

I love the world created in this book, it’s one I want to get lost in. In my mind, this world is real and I don’t want to leave. The characters so tangible and genuine they could be real instead of fiction. I felt for them, my heart stretched for them and their love and their pain.

Basically I loved this book, and I hope you give it a chance and read it too. You won’t be disappointed. By the end, this book had me like:

“I fell in love with you in pieces. Layer by layer, day by day, inch by inch.”

Vassa in the Night

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

3.75 stars

This is quite possibly the most bizarre book I’ve ever read. But I actually ended up liking it a lot.

Vassa in the Night is a book I would have never picked out for myself, but I got it in one of my Owlcrate’s and decided to give it a shot. I’ve been needing a change of pace with my genre’s lately, so I picked up this one.

And my god, this book is weird. BUT the writing style sucked me into the story and I felt like I got lost in the pages of this peculiar story.

“Why did it take me so many years to understand that Night is something you can talk to, something that might even decide to watch over you or kiss you just when you’re about to crumple from loneliness?”

The story begins when one of Vassa’s stepsisters asks her to go to the local convenience store to get light bulbs for their apartment. But Vassa’s Brooklyn isn’t like our regular Brooklyn, it’s one under the curse of longer nights and sparse days. And the local convenience store isn’t convenient at all, it’s a place that beheads shoplifters and hooligans, run by Babs Yagg.

Vassa might be able to break the curse Babs Yagg has on the neighborhood, but she also might get herself killed.

“No matter who I couldn’t save before, no matter if I’m stuck being a random mess of a girl, I’m still going to save something.”

Like I said before, this book is just plain weird. But at the same time it’s enchanting. I went into this book expecting not to like it based on numerous negative reviews and a low average rating, so imagine my surprise when I just couldn’t put it down.

I have no clue who I would recommend this one to, it’s a hit or a miss for a lot of people. The only real negative thing I have to say about this book is the plot wasn’t very coherent. While I enjoyed reading this very much, there were lots of times where I thought to myself “what the heck is happening right now?”.

Sarah Porter is a brilliant writer, talented at what she does. I would be happy to read more by her in the future and see the world through her unique eyes again.

“You don’t have to be human to be a person. I mean you don’t have to be human to be somebody. I don’t know you that well, but you seem like way more of a somebody than lots of humans I know! Really.”

Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

1 star

Me giving out a 1 star rating to a book is so rare, and yet this book just fills me with ragey feelings. So be warned, whatever I say will be ragey and spoilery.

I was excited to read Three Dark Crowns, it was my second ever Owlcrate book, written by an author I like and had an interesting premise. But OH MY GOD this book was awful. I don’t understand how you can have almost 400 pages and still never manage to develop a single character. The first half of the book was boring and a tad but confusing, and it really didn’t pick up until the last half and that part of the book just made me angry.

And the romance.

Giant middle finger to the romance. Too much time spent on cheating and deceiving than actually developing what was there. Too much self pity and too many doormats.

So obviously, I hated it. Can’t think of a single person I would recommend this too. I have zero desire to read the next book.

Thanks for reading my rambling ragey rant.

Breath of Fire

Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #2) by Amanda Bouchet

4 stars!

“You’re the shield, and I’m the sword.”

What an action packed and thrilling series!

Breath of Fire begins where A Promise of Fire left off, and with one of Cat’s big secrets revealed. It becomes clear that Griffin and the team need more to protect their city from outside. From there they go on a quest to a wizard to tell them what they need to achieve this, and the adventure begins from there…

“It’s time to be the person you were meant to be, Cat. You don’t just have to make decisions and stand by them now. You have to live with them.”

From the first page of this book I was enthralled with the story. We get a major overdose of angst right at the beginning (much to my delight) and then things smooth out from there. I love fantasy novels so mixing fantasy and romance together is like a dream come true. My favorite parts of this book included Cat and Kato in the labyrinth, a truly thrilling part of the book.

Cat definitely matured in this book, her annoying aspects have disappeared somewhat because lots of her internal fears were resolved. She’s still strong and sassy as ever, and she has the best man alongside her. I love Griffin, he’s an excellent mix of alpha male and partner, being dominant and yet letting Cat be herself and fight. He just fights alongside her.
A thrilling follow up novel filled with action, romance and mythology. I am so ready for the third book and I wish it was out right now.

“I will always come back to you.”
…I lean forward and kiss him because he’s my hunger and my food, my thirst and my water, my air and my every breath.”

Silence Fallen

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

4.5 stars!

“I only get weirder the longer you know me.”

Silence Fallen begins with Mercy being abducted by vampires and brought to Europe. She escapes her captors and ends up in the gothic city of Prague, where she has no clue if the people and supernatural creatures she comes across are friend or foe. As time goes by Mercy discovers there is more than one creature that has her in their sits, it’s just a matter of whether or not she can find a safe place to go.

“I looked like a victim. I was done, really done with being a victim.”

I love this series, it never ever fails to deliver a thrilling story and a smile to my face. Patricia Briggs writes hands down one of the best urban fantasy series ever. I love getting lost in the Tricities realm, the characters feel like friends and family as you read along. This is book ten and the series is still going strong, connecting the previous happenings of the books before while creating a new and unique story.

I was majorly geeking out when reading this book. Why? I studied abroad for a year in the city of Prague, and the majority of this book was based there! And it was all accurate! I felt as if I was walking the streets of that city again and it made me miss it. Briggs very obviously either knows the city well herself, or did some awesome research. Plus the addition of the Prague Golem to the plot? Genius! And amazingly well done.

Anyways, I gave it 4.5 instead of 5 because honestly, Adams bits were kinda boring to me with all the political stuff. But otherwise I LOVED this book. And that twist at the end? I never saw it coming, even though thinking back there were some clues. I just missed them.

This is a series you need to be reading, and if you already are, read this book immediately!

“Where is the glory if there is no one left to tell the story?”

ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

A Promise of Fire

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

4.5 stars!

“People talk about fight or flight? That’s nonsense. It’s fight and flight.”

I love fantasy romance, it always delivers such fun!

A Promise of Fire is a mythological fantasy romance about a woman who can detect lies, among other abilities. This makes Cat very valuable to the rulers of the world who want to use her for their own gain. When the brother of a Queen recognizes Cat as a Kingmaker, he and his warriors capture her to bring her to their Queen.

Griffin wants to use Cat for peace, but a lifetime of hardship has Cat convinced that is not possible. It’s up to Griffin to sway her.

“Now that that’s settled, you’re coming with me.”

“Never in a billion suns. Not even if Zeus showed up as a swan and tried to peck me in your direction. I wouldn’t go with you even if my other option was Hades dragging me to the Underworld for an eternal threesome with Persephone.”

After seeing this book on lots of Best of 2016 lists, I wanted to give it a shot. I’m glad I did because it was a fun and wild read. Lots of reviews have noted Cat as annoying, and I can see where people would think that, but to me she was feisty and fierce. Could she have made better decisions? Yes. But her life circumstances never really taught her the “right” way to live, she had to learn on her own.

Griffin….. oh my Griffin

I love a romance where the man has to convince the girl to love him. His courtship of Cat was fun, and it was frustrating at times, but he never wavered.

I loved the mix of mythology and fantasy, the mystery behind who Cat really was, the relationship of Cat with the warriors and the royals. Basically I really enjoyed this book. So much so, I ran to my local Barnes and Noble to pick up the next book before I was even done reading!!!

“I conquered a kingdom and found a treasure.” His voice turns gravelly, low. “I won’t let you go. Not now. Not ever.”

The Queen of All That Lives

The Queen of All That Lives by Laura Thalassa

4.5 stars!

^^^That’s what sums up this series for me!

“It’s easy to love the dream. It’s much harder to love the reality.”

What an epic series. I am floored by how quickly I read all three, I loved them all so much. I can’t think of much more to say other than what I have said in my reviews for book 1 and 2. Basically I loved this series, it’s unique and thrilling. The characters aren’t perfect but they are raw and they are real.

If you are intrigued, take a chance on something new. And for all you KU readers, all three books are on kindle unlimited!

“I didn’t marry you because you were a pretty thing. I married you because you were a wicked one.”

The Queen of Traitors

The Queen of Traitors (Fallen World #2) by Laura Thalassa

5 stars!

All I gotta say is I am so glad all the books in this series are done or I would be losing my shit right now.

I don’t want to get too spoilery, but this book picks up where we left off at the end of the first book. Some things are cleared up fairly quickly and we resume the everyday struggle it is for Serenity and Montes to survive. Serenity seems to be quite the target for attacks and I was completely riveted the entire time I was reading this book. A part of me wants to say “fuck it” and stay up until dawn finishing the last book but you know, life and stuff. And work. And sleep. Gosh darn those things.

It’s been a LONG time since I have found a series that sucked me in like this, and I can already tell that this book hangover coming up will possibly kill me once I finish the series. Hold me.

And to book 3, I am coming for you, SOON.

The Queen of All That Dies

The Queen of All That Dies by Laura Thalassa

5 stars!

“Once upon a time we were innocent, and then we were not.”

In the future the world is at war and America is losing the fight against the king. Serenity has only known fighting and horror since she was a kid, and is among the soldiers in the WUN army. Her country is losing the war, and Serenity is sent with her father to make peace agreements with the king. From there it becomes clear she is meant to be an offering to the king, and he likes what he sees.

“What you choose to do with all that anger is your business. But you can’t control the world; someone will always be there to wrong you. It’s your choice to let it go.”

This is a book I’ve been meaning to read forever (sorry I took so long Christine) and now finally did. I loved it! An incredibly compelling story, I fell in love with this book right away. It’s just so refreshing to read something different than everything else that’s out there. I had been in a huge book slump before reading this, and this wonderful book pulled me out of it!

It’s rare when you find a near future dystopian romance that completely sucks you into its world. I felt like I was really there, in the barracks, in the palace. Like a movie playing before my eyes. Giant high five to the author for world building, it’s not an easy feat and she completely nailed it.

And now I get to the man who makes me and Serenity question our morals and sanity. Montes. The King.

But like seriously, I do. Ruthless, cunning, evil. And yet the compassion he showed Serenity, the love he had for her. Damn I wish I could marry this crazy messed up dude LOL.

Anyways, this book was amazing and unlike anything else I have ever read. If you find yourself intrigued, take the plunge and read this book!

“It should never have been this way. My comrades turning on me, my enemies saving me. But worst of all, I should never have felt anything other than hatred for this man, the king, Definitely not this, this warmth that thaws my soul.
I stare into the king’s eyes. I am Isolde, I am Juliet, I am Guinevere.
I am every one of those idiots because I’ve fallen for the king.”

The Edge of Everything

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

3 stars!

“If you kill him, you’re as bad as he is,” Zoe said. “It’s not our job to punish people.”
X lowered his head.
“Perhaps it is not yours.”

The Edge of Everything is one of the more gruesome young adult novels I’ve ever come across. One of the more unique ones too. It’s the story of a creature named X who is a sort of supernatural bounty hunter who encounters a family one night when he is sent to claim a soul. X becomes attached to them and the teenage Zoe and it changes everything about the world he knows.

First off, I enjoyed this book, but it was a little bit too grim and dark for me. I do think it will be a gigantic hit amongst many of those who read in the YA genre. It’s very unique and very descriptive, Giles has a very cunning mind. There were moments when I actually felt nauseous from the descriptions and that’s the mark of a fantastic writer!

I loved the character of X and his story, the creepy and harsh world he was raised in. X was the best part about this book for me. Zoe, well. She’s a teenage girl and she was written like one, which means she grated my nerves a bit, but ultimately she was a very realistic teen character. I would have liked to see more growth from her throughout the progression of the story.

My other favorite parts were the characters Ripper and Banger, they were so much fun to read about and I kind of hope they get their own novellas and/or novels.

I do think a lot of people will love and embrace this book.

An ARC was provided