The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty | Book Review

27045366_1660962330636327_735198237_nBook: The City of Brass
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Series: The Daevabad Trilogy, #1
Genre: Historical Adult Fantasy
My Rating: 4.25/5 Stars

“A warrior. Oh, by the Most High… He was looking for her. Nahri was the one who had called him.”

It’s books like this that remind me why I love fantasy so much…

The City of Brass takes us through a journey from the points of view of Nahri and Prince Alizayd al Qahtani. In eighteenth-century Cairo, Nahri struggles to survive. With no family and her desire to acquire enough money to move away and pursue ambitions to further develop her healing skills, her only source of income is obtained by the other skill she possesses, being a con artist. Her belief in magic is nonexistent, yet her whole life unexplainable abilities, such as the power of healing instantly and speaking a language that no one else knows, left Nahri constantly wanting answers regarding her origin. Though such a wish gets accidently granted when she unintentionally calls a mysterious djinn warrior named Dara who may know more about Nahri than she ever imagined. This begins their journey to Daevabad, also known as The City of Brass, where tribes of different magical abilities exist, where Alizayd is a prince, and where Nahri has the opportunity to learn more about where her life was supposed to be lived.

I have to say, I was absolutely in love with the Middle Eastern setting that this story took place in, especially since my background is from the Middle East. It’s sad to say that in the past I haven’t read a book with such a setting, and since finishing this book, I am definitely craving more. The experience of coming across Middle Eastern words that I recognized made reading the book so much more exciting.

With the story itself, I found a lack of balance between the first half and the second half. This means that, surprisingly, the first half held my interest more. It was a whirlwind of adventure, traveling, and encountering an endless cycle of trouble that had me invested in every aspect of the characters and the plot. Then Nahri and Dara arrive in The City of Brass and it really ends up being anticlimactic as Nahri beings an average day to day life in the palace. She learns her trade and Dara is nearly nonexistent, only showing up in Nahri’s life at random times. Though it did not entirely turn me off from finishing the rest of the book, it was still a little disappointing when the intensity and potential of the first half of the book ended up not being consistent.

It was definitely hard to read about certain aspects involved in this world. The discrimination against the shafit being one of them. I felt as helpless as Ali when such horrible actions and words were thrown towards these people. But it’s hard because no one is entirely good or entirely bad in this story. This is apparent with Ali, Nahri, and Dara. The main characters may have good intentions, may be fighting to survive, but I think it’s interesting that it does not necessarily mean they are solely pure and good. They have their flaws. Ali’s plea for no discrimination against the shafit was a mistake in the eyes of his family, but his intentions for equality are good, yet it pins him as breaking the law. Nahri’s need for survival caused her to become a con artist, to trick and steal. It was never really clear what Dara was and wasn’t. His past was barely revealed yet rumors of the horrible crimes he committed circled around. I honestly had a love hate relationship with Dara because his actions, words, and the claims of his past consistently had my feelings toward him all over the place.

As for the characters and their relationships, I adored the growing friendship between Nahri and Ali. It took me awhile to enjoy reading from Ali’s point of view, but I think once his friendship with Nahri took off I became more invested in his character. Romance in this book definitely existed though it wasn’t the focal point of the story and the characters. Even though romance is the main element of a story that I look for, I wasn’t disappointed with the amount this book had to offer.

Overall, I loved the setting and I cared about the characters, but it did not entirely meet my expectations. The ending left me more confused than reassured about certain aspects of the plot and I felt as if it was dancing around a huge reveal instead of giving it to us straight. Now I have to wait for the sequel to answer my questions.

Advertisements

Melody’s Key by Dallas Coryell | Book Review

25630326_1632040703528490_1299693702_nBook: Melody’s Key
Author: Dallas Coryell
Series: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release date: June 24th 2016
Publisher: AsherRain Publications
Page count: 334
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

*Melody’s Key was sent to me by the author for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

“You can make it stop. You literally tell yourself ‘it will be ok’, as many times as it takes throughout the day. You do your damnedest to put the stuff you can’t control out of your mind…and you hope. You refuse to let anything take that away from you.”

I was extremely ecstatic to receive a request to read and review Melody’s Key, my first ever request for review might I add. Due to the fact that it is a contemporary romance book, one of my favourite genres. I found myself having both positive and negative feelings towards aspects of the writing style and story that I will go into more detail below.

Tegan Lockwood has ambitions she forces herself to suppress because her need to assist her family is her top priority. Her family business, which involves an ancient home that once belonged to her ancestors, is what they rely on for their financial needs. Though times are difficult, and Tegan’s family barely gets by with paying the bills. So it’s no surprise that the Lockwood’s not only welcome groups of vacationers into their large home to entertain them with the stunning sights the place has to offer. But they also agree to host Mason Keane, a famous American pop star who needs a quiet retreat from his crazy life, to Tegan’s utter dismay. Tegan’s harsh judgment toward Mason slowly alters as she realizes that not all the rumors are true. The two begin to bond over their shared love of music and song writing as a trust develops between them. They confide in each other about their pasts, and as time goes on, their friendship becomes something more.

I want to start out by saying that the setting of this story completely enchanted me. The descriptions of this house, the dunes, the gardens, and the sea all surrounded me as I was happy to visit this unique setting through Tegan’s experience but also wished that I could escape there myself. There was a historical aspect to the story that was interesting, which also tied in with the ancient house. Tegan discovered love letters between her ancestors in the attic of her home, a secret possession that we were able to read to see the source of how Tegan was able to regain her hope for love. The letters contained the dramatic story of a romance separated by class and war. I found the wording of parts of the letters to be cheesy and over the top, but I assume that makes sense given the time they were supposed to be written. We only read from one side, the mysterious man that signed off every letter with Lost without you. The attic was a trove of history that I was begging Tegan to uncover. I was intrigued by this connection of history to the setting, which gave the story much more depth than I was expecting.34449524

As for the writing style in general, there were a lot of cliché phrases and descriptions that I had trouble taking seriously. I was even disappointed when I realized that Mason was a “troubled” pop star who needed an escape to re-evaluate his life. I would definitely say that this is a trope I am not extremely fond of, hence my reaction. Though I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Mason’s character as I got to know him better. Since he was in refuge, seeing him in action as a pop star wasn’t heavily highlighted. Certain parts of the story accentuated how much of a big deal he was, but his initial laid-back demeanor and casualness  around Tegan and her family allowed me to like him a lot.

Something specific that I didn’t understand was why Tegan was talented as an artist. Her specialty is song writing and music, but then her artistic skill got thrown into the mix. It didn’t seem to do anything for her as she developed throughout the story. It was mentioned in passing with not much to show for it.

As for the relationship development between Tegan and Mason, it was not instalove, which I really appreciated. Their back and forth was hilarious and adorable at times and I loved the backdrop of Teagan’s family being involved. Such as her sister’s enthusiasm at matching the two together.

With reading the book in general, the further progress I made, the more my enjoyment of the story grew. Especially the last forty pages where I couldn’t stop reading as I anticipated the results of Tegan’s ambition. There was even a point where I couldn’t stop grinning at the adorableness of what was going on. Another unique aspect of the story were the songs. The author wrote and sung the songs included in the story, which I enjoyed listening to when the songs came up in the book. As I flipped to the last page, I was so focused on the story that I didn’t realize I had reached the end. I would definitely say I’m interested in reading more about Tegan and Mason’s story in the future.

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

23201647_1584530964946131_1083387079_nBook: Tower of Dawn
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass, #6
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5

“I will cherish it always.
No matter what may befall the world.
No matter the oceans, or mountains, or forests in the way.”
  
 Tower of Dawn, the 6th installment in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, turned out to have so much more depth and growth than I was expecting in terms of world building, character development, as well as one of the most interesting and well thought out Empires I have ever read about. It took me nearly two months to read it, which had nothing to do with the book itself. A busy schedule and the daunting length of the book really took a toll on my reading speed. Though, I enjoyed Tower of Dawn’s constant presence as I dragged it everywhere I went.

Tower of Dawn follows the events of Queen of Shadows and has a parallel timeline with Empire of Storms. Instead of seeing Aelin and her crew, we are sent to a journey to the Southern Continent with Chaol as he seeks out the best healers to cure him from an injury that has changed his life. We learn so much fascinating history about the Southern Continent, the Khagan’s family dynamic, as well as vital information that can change the course of the war. Nesryn accompanies Chaol on this journey to her homeland, and they both have set plans for themselves and each other. But the more they’re informed about the events taking place back in the Northern Continent, and as new and old characters get introduced into the narrative, such as Yrene Towers, they find that their paths don’t turn out the way they imagined.

In terms of the overall pacing of the book, I definitely found the beginning to be a bit slow as a lot of information about the Khagan’s Empire, his children, and the Southern Continent were thrown at us. As I mentioned before, though, I found all this world building that Maas thought out and executed to be so fascinating to learn about, that I truly just embraced the info dump.

*Spoilers Ahead*

Well am I ever overwhelmed at the prospect of the amount of point of views there will be in the final Throne of Glass book. Not to mention the amount of ships…

Having read the bonus scene with Nesryn and Chaol on the ship to the Southern Continent, as well as remembering the events that took place between them at the end of Queen of Shadows, you could imagine how ready I was to see this ship set sail in Tower of Dawn. While considering any previous Sarah J. Maas book, it’s not that surprising that the paths of romance consistently change. I have to say though, the main two ships in this book had me hooked to the story.

With Chaol being my favourite character from the beginning of this series, I was so excited that he was getting his own book, especially since I missed his presence in Empire of Storms. Chaol goes through an emotional journey throughout this book. His injury was a huge part of it, but he was also dealing with self hatred as his past actions were constantly haunting him. Yrene Towers is of course appointed to heal him. Though their relationship starts off bumpy, I found their banter to be hilarious. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of Chaol’s healing process, and whether or not by the end he was going to fully recover. I didn’t know what I wanted the outcome to be. There were so many twists and turns, with him recovering fully and then getting injured again. By the end I think what was most important was Chaol healing emotionally and mentally and accepting his injury for what it is, not believing that he was any less because of it.

“Using the chair is not a punishment. It is not a prison,’ he said softly. ‘It never was. And I am as much of a man in that chair, or with that cane, as I am standing on my feet.”

I knew nothing about Yrene going into this book since I haven’t read The Assassin’s Blade yet. This resulted in not being too excited when I was introduced to Yrene, but that first impression was quickly forgotten as her character really made a huge impact to the depth of the story. There isn’t a shortage of badass women in any Sarah J. Maas book, and I found it heartwarming that Yrene Towers was a badass herself, but in a different way. She wasn’t skilled with swords and she didn’t partake in ending lives, but she was one of the most caring, nurturing, and selfless characters I had the pleasure of getting to know.

“He didn’t understand-how she could be so delicate, so small, when she had overturned his life entirely. Worked miracles with those hands and that soul, this woman who had crossed mountains and seas.”   

I knew where Chaol and Yrene’s relationship was headed early on because I got spoiled, but that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy their development any less. In fact, knowing that they were going to get married made me curious, excited, and invested in every interaction they had together. Now that they’re married and now that they have a physical bond to each other, I’m eager to read more about them in the final book.

“Will you marry me, Yrene? Will you be my wife?”

We were introduced to so many new and intriguing characters throughout this book, but I would say Sartaq was by far my favourite. I knew from this moment:

“Nesryn dragged her attention away from the prince, even as she felt Sartaq’s keen stare lingering like some phantom touch.”

That something was going to happen between Nesryn and Sartaq, and I was ready for it. I absolutely loved reading about the ruks and Nesryn adapting to Sartaq’s true home; the environment that made him who he was.

In terms of their romance, can I just say that Sartaq is so smooth at flirting it’s not even funny. I mean:

“And I’m relieved to see that the reality lives up to the legend.”
“You had doubts?”
“The reports left out some key information. It made me doubt their accuracy.”
“What, exactly, did they fail to mention?”
“They didn’t mention that you’re beautiful.”  

One of my favourite scenes in general had to be Sartaq and Nesryn fighting the kharankui when they trapped them, even though those demon spiders gave me the creeps. It was horrifying and yet… we got a declaration of love out of it, and I’m a sucker for those in near death experiences.

“I loved you before I ever set eyes on you.”

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the dynamic between the royal siblings in the Southern Continent’s empire, yet some parts of it were confusing to me. Such as the siblings genuinely mourning their little sister’s death but also claiming they were willing to murder each other if one of them was pronounced heir and another tried to get between them and the throne. Of course by the end it’s resolved as Sartaq is named heir and a sort of peace falls over the siblings. This makes me wonder if it all was an act considering every generation before them practised in this tradition.

Tower of Dawn is definitely not a book to skip as so many shocking revelations about the war were revealed that will be important in the final book. This is yet another Sarah J. Maas book that has not disappointed me. I’m so grateful that I decided to pick up Throne of Glass a few years ago and I’m so excited to pick up any future book by this talented author.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia | Book Review

22773318_1573407309391830_1355000906_nBook: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: Standalone
My Rating: 4.75/5 Stars

“There are monsters in the sea.”   

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia was truly a gift. One that was able to relieve me from a two month drought from reading. I really didn’t know what type of book was going to be able to help me overcome a reading slump, but it turns out an adorable, relatable, emotional, and fandom based read was able to do the trick.

We follow Eliza Mirk, an 18 year old high school senior who loves her online life and despises the other life she is forced to live, the offline one. In her online life she is Ladyconstellation, the creator of the popular Web Comic, Monstrous Sea. No one knows anything about her, save for her username. Her anonymity allows her to be someone separate from Eliza Mirk, someone who is able to interact with people, who is able to have friends. Her family doesn’t understand the concept of the online world and online friends. Nobody in school wants to go near her because of her reputation of being “weird”. Then she meets the new kid, Wallace Warland, the most famous fanfiction writer for Monstrous Sea. The two bond over their shared interests and their understanding of each other. And despite Eliza pushing some of her boundaries as she gets to know Wallace better, she isn’t ready to reveal her famous identity to him just yet.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a protagonist like Eliza, and because of that I don’t think I’ve ever related to a character as much as I did with Eliza. I saw a lot of the way she thought, described, and reacted in social situations similar to my own experiences, and it was honestly refreshing to read. I understood Eliza, I’ve heard those constant doubts winning battles in my mind the way she described. And despite her situations being different from mine, it still felt familiar.

This book was so close to 5 stars for me, but there was a certain point where I wasn’t a fan of the way Wallace handled a certain situation, causing his wants coming before Eliza’s health and well-being. The rest of the book I loved, though.

I loved how comic samples and drawings were included throughout the book as well as little mentions of the plot, settings, and characters from Eliza herself, slowly weaving together a balance of sci-fi in an otherwise mundane story.

There was a lot of fandom involvement, which I had a lot of fun reading about and reminiscing on my own fandom experiences. There were also some important concepts that were brought up that I really appreciated. Such as being pressured to take a career path that will make you lots of money vs. a career path that will make you happy. I understood Wallace’s struggle with wanting to be a creative writing major but getting disapproval for it. Another concept that was brought up was self worth. Specifically in Eliza’s case, where the state of something you create does not determine your self worth. This definitely made me think.

And of course I need to talk about the adorable moments that had me smiling from ear to ear. Eliza and Wallace’s relationship developed beautifully. Their friendship slowly turned into something more, and the cute, shy moments they had to get them to that point was giving me all the feels. I was loving every minute of it.

YA contemporary is a genre that I have been avoiding for a while so that’s why I was hesitant to pick up Eliza and Her Monsters, but this book was so different from what I was expecting and I’m glad I decided to give it a try. I can’t wait to pick up more books by this author as well as try out YA contemporary again.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

acowar

Book: A Court of Wings and Ruin

 Author: Sarah J. Maas

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3

Genre: High Fantasy

 My Rating: 4.5 Stars

“Night Triumphant – and the Stars Eternal. If he was the sweet, terrifying darkness, I was the glittering light that only his shadows could make clear.”

 A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, my most highly anticipated book of the year, is the third instalment in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. It’s the last book in Feyre’s point of view but not the last book in this series/world. My thoughts and feelings are all over the place so I’m going to try to explain everything in coherent sentences.

It was such a surreal moment when I got this beauty in my possession. I am glad that it took me a few weeks to finish reading because I wanted to savour every moment considering the wait for its release lasted a year.

A Court of Wings and Ruin follows the events of the previous book and Feyre is surrounded by enemies in order to discover their plans and break them apart from the inside out. She soon reunites with the wonderful inner circle and her sisters. There is a lot to prepare for the upcoming war and because of this we are introduced to so many new characters, such as all the high lords, as they are essential allies.

I loved this book, I love these characters with everything I am, and this series will always be special to me, but despite loving ACOWAR I wasn’t as in love with it as I was with ACOMAF. I am fiercely protective and fiercely in love with ACOMAF and it’s just one of those books that has touched my soul and given me hope. I know that the two books have different purposes but I think the problem was all the plotting and planning for the inevitable war. I understand that every single part of the war talk were puzzle pieces slowly coming together to lead up to a hopeful victory, but as a result I found the pacing of the book to be hard to get through at times. The last couple hundred pages actually helped with the pacing because I was so invested in what was going on, but alas my rating for ACOWAR is 4.5 Stars.

*Spoilers Ahead*

 I think something that really surprised me is that the first 120 pages, where Feyre was not yet reunited with her family, were not as boring as I was expecting. I didn’t exactly enjoy reading it because of the circumstances but what really saved it for me was Lucien. I obviously wasn’t a fan of Lucien in the previous book but I did believe that he was going to change and have that redemption arc. Throughout the first 120 pages his efforts to be that friend that Feyre desperately needed in book two was finally shining through. The friendship from Feyre’s side was unclear though because we knew she was undercover, pretending to have good intentions and feelings toward Tamlin and his court, so there were definitely times where I was confused about how genuine she was with Lucien. For example when Feyre pretended to have a nightmare and went to Lucien for comfort and Tamlin caught them, she knew about Tamlin’s wrath and how he was going to take it out on Lucien yet she still involved him. I mean what she did in order to prevent Tamlin from going to her room was clever. I just didn’t like how she put Lucien in that situation.

My heart broke when Lucien explained what he had to go through in terms of being forced to be with Ianthe and I was cheering Feyre on when she decided to stay and help Lucien from another one of Ianthe’s unwanted pursuits. Feyre didn’t think twice about all the precise plans and actions she thought out and executed on the people who hurt and threatened her family. We later see that Feyre genuinely is Lucien’s friend and I love how Feyre pulled a Rhys and took him to Velaris. Where he was expecting torture, suffering, and death, he was just as surprised as Feyre was that the reality was in fact the complete opposite from what he was expecting.

 “There are children laughing in the street. … He said it with such… quiet surprise. As if he hadn’t heard the sound in a long, long time.”

I don’t think I’ve ever fangirled as hard as I did when Feyre was reunited with the inner circle. Cassian and Azriel swooped in and saved Feyre and Lucien in the Winter Court and immediately I was relieved that Cassian’s wings were intact and Azriel was healed from his injuries. I had to stop reading to regain my ability to take deep breaths and settle my emotions when Rhys walked on the page. When Feyre fell to her knees when she first saw him my first thought was: Did she just faint? Because same.

I was holding on to every single interaction between the inner circle, Feyre and Rhys, and even Elain and Nesta. It was just so exciting to be able to read canon plots, dialogues, and interactions because I waited so long for their story to continue. Of course when it comes to Sarah J. Maas’s main group of characters, they are written so well that’s it’s hard not to fall in love with all of them. The back and forth between the inner circle (including Nesta) was my favourite thing ever. All the banter was hilarious.

“Scared?”

“Why should I be scared of an oversized bat who likes to throw temper tantrums?”

I need to talk about Feyre and Rhys because obviously they are my favorites and the ultimate ship of this series. In ACOMAF I lived for their relationship development, how they weren’t technically together but it was the best slow burn romance I have ever read. Reading about them falling in love will never cease to make me emotional and give me all the feels. In ACOWAR however, they are together, they are a power couple, they are in love, and despite loving this I wasn’t feeling that enthralled in their relationship as I was in the previous book. But don’t get me wrong, they are still my favourite ship and there were still a lot of steamy, beautiful, and heartbreaking moments. My honest thoughts were “I love them, they’re together. Now I want Nesta and Cassian together.”

First of all I need to establish that Nesta is one my favourite characters from ACOWAR. I loved how present Nesta and Elain were in this book, Nesta especially. Of course there were moments in the beginning where Nesta was being vicious, and I don’t think she will ever lose that about her, but her development throughout this book made me want to sob. She agreed to work with Amren to mend the wall, her relationship with Feyre began to improve, and she became the emissary to the human world for Rhys. When Nesta agreed to attend that meeting with the High Lords and tell her story, something she vowed to never do at the beginning of the book, was really the turning point in which I knew she was my favourite. I kept predicting that she was going to change her mind, and she did.

And of course there was the tension filled relationship between Nesta and Cassian that I was rooting for. I was living for the small mentions of Feyre observing the looks and body language between Nesta and Cassian. We didn’t get a chance to get their point of view, but Feyre kindly informed the readers what was going on. Nesta is a closed off person, she always puts on this uncaring mask, but anytime Cassian was in any sort of trouble, specifically when he was fighting in all the battles, Nesta’s mask came right off and her genuine fear of Cassian’s safety was displayed. But what absolutely broke me, despite it being one of the highlights of the book for me, was when Nesta couldn’t leave Cassian’s side when he was badly wounded and was about to be killed by the King of Hybern so instead she shielded his body with her own and was prepared to die with him.

“I have no regrets in my life, but this. That we did not have time. That I did not have time with you, Nesta. I will find you in the next world – the next life. And we will have that time. I promise.”

“Together. They’d go together.”

So how could I not be absolutely devoted to these two after that scene?

As for Elain, I was expecting her to end up with Lucien before I started reading the book and now having finished it, I can’t decide if I want her to end up with Azriel or Lucien. Honestly I wouldn’t mind either way but I find it interesting how a mating bond can be rejected. I’m not entirely convinced of either choice just yet but hopefully one of the next books will expand on their relationships.  

I’ve mentioned before that the pacing of this book was slow at times, mostly because of war talk, but with the war talk it allowed us to meet all the High Lords. I’ve taken the court quiz and I’m officially part of the Day Court, so being able to meet Helion was amazing. I didn’t have a high opinion of him during the meeting but we later find out that he was acting in a way that wasn’t truly him. We also find out that Helion is Lucien’s biological father, and being a big fan of Lucien throughout this book, I was really happy about this twist.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as stressed out when reading than when I was reading the last hundred pages of this book because I was convinced that either Azriel or Cassian was going to die. I was thankfully wrong, but of course Sarah J. Maas didn’t let her main characters go off easy because she decided to kill off Rhys… which truthfully I wasn’t really affected by because I just knew that there was going to be some way to bring him back. What really got me though was Feyre’s reaction to his death, it absolutely crushed my soul. Just how she described the bond going blank was really heartbreaking. All the High Lords, including Tamlin, and Feyre brought him back, which is really interesting because the most powerful High Lord in history now possesses even more power from every High Lord and High Lady.

Something that I wasn’t expecting was Amren’s return. After she turned into her true form and ended the war Rhys gave her the opportunity to come back, and she took it. Now her true form is officially Fae.

The ending was definitely satisfying, especially because everyone in the inner circle made it out alive, but there are still so many stories that were not concluded. I know they will be the topics of the next books though. Personally, I’m really hoping that the next book follows Nesta and Cassian because I’m absolutely obsessed.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab | Book Review

shade of magicBook: A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic, #1

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5 Stars

“You don’t know anything about these worlds,” he said.

“Sure I do. There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London.”

When I decided to pick up A Darker Shade of Magic, the first V.E Schwab book I was acquainted with, I never anticipated loving it as much as I did. Obviously I scolded myself for not picking it up sooner, but nevertheless I believe it was the right time to finally read it considering I sensed another reading slump creeping its way towards me. The book managed to draw me into its strange and unique world(s) from the very first line. It was hard to put down, especially when I needed to during exam season, but it helped me get lost and get through some stressful times.

The characters were a pleasure to get to know and the rules of magic, as well as the way the world(s) worked, developed in an informative yet not too overwhelming way throughout the book. This book also reminded me why I love fantasy so much. The little things, such as taverns, swords, magic, and the overall atmosphere of the book, were a part of why these familiar feelings came flooding in. A few parts definitely made me cringe though when the violence was described in vivid ways, and the amount of blood used and spilled in this book was constant, but it didn’t entirely falter my enjoyment of the book as I felt my rating should be a solid 5 stars.

A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell Maresh and Lila Bard. Kell is what is known as an Antari, one of two that exist, which means he possesses the power to use blood magic to travel between all the existing Londons. Red London, which thrives with magic, is where Kell is from. Grey London, which is very mundane. White London, which starves for magic. And Black London, which hasn’t existed for a long time. The determined, cunning, and brave female protagonist, Lila, is from the dull Grey London and her only wish is to be free. Of course freedom is hard to obtain, so Lila is determined to get what she wants by being a cross-dressing, cutthroat thief. Her goal of being a pirate is how she imagines her freedom to look like, but she can’t be a pirate without the perfect vessel, a scabbard, and a sword. These two characters meet each other in a dramatic and unpleasant circumstance, but perhaps having each other’s backs is the smart option if defeating and surviving the darkness and the danger, that is inevitable to come, is a possibility.

I loved the relationship that developed between Kell and Lila. The mix of Kell’s seriousness and Lila’s talent of finding trouble resulted in hilarious banter that was highly entertaining. The fact that they kept saving each other from danger never ceased to surprise me and yet I appreciated how it got them closer together. And boy was Kell’s constant solution to getting Lila out of trouble by telling her to run my favorite thing ever.

I’m excited to pick up and get through the next book in order to learn more about the world(s) and the characters. There is still so much to explore and I imagine more of how the different Londons and the magical elements are designed will come into play in the continuation of this series.     

Heartless by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

 

heart
Book: Heartless

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy/Retelling

My Rating: 4 Stars

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

 Having rarely been immersed in the classic world of Alice in Wonderland in the past, Heartless by Marissa Meyer threw me into this impossible, whimsical world and I fell in love. And falling in love can in fact lead to a broken heart, which is one of the many emotions I endured because of this tale of the Queen of Hearts before she was the Queen of Hearts. Throughout this book I felt joyful, flushed, in love, annoyed, heartbroken, and angry.

Heartless follows Catherine (Cath), a young girl who only wants to follow her dreams of opening up a bakery. She is the daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness and because of this, expectations weigh her down, ones she wishes she could defy but deep down knows it would be useless. So Cath went on dreaming of the impossibilities with her maid and best friend Mary Ann. Cath knew that the inevitability of the King of Heart’s proposal of marriage was to be bestowed upon her and that her rejection would follow the disappointment of her parents, who were so pleased at the notion of their only daughter becoming queen. Cath’s dreams of the bakery were soon met with the dreams of being with Jest, the new court joker, who she encounters unexpectedly after running away from an almost marriage proposal. Jest was enchanting, entertaining, romantic, and impossible and their forbidden fondness for each other grew rapidly and passionately.

Heartless was such a beautiful but oh so strange read that was hard to put down once the story took off. Almost like falling down a rabbit hole with no tether to stop you from reaching the end. My 4 star rating was the result of my love of the characters and the entertainment of the world’s magical elements, but I was pained by the fact that I felt heartless myself at a certain point in this story, so I couldn’t give it that perfect rating.

Spoilers Ahead

 

Talking animals, a romantic relationship between a pig and a human, enchanted pumpkins that can turn someone into the vilest creature, a vanishing cat, and so much more.

Wonderland is an odd place and despite expecting all this already, it definitely had me surprised more times than I could keep track of.

My love for the main characters, Cath, Jest, Mary Ann, Hatta and Raven, left me in complete shreds by the end because all I wanted was for my favourites to be happy.

Cath knew what would bring her joy for the rest of her life, opening up a bakery and being with Jest, but was restricted by her parent’s dream of her becoming queen. Unfortunately the world she lived in didn’t see it proper for a woman to own a business, especially one who already had a high title in society. Her reputation was on the line, one she didn’t care about tarnishing, but her parents obviously thought differently. I just wish Cath was able to stand up for herself, her future, her happiness from the beginning, to not allow anyone to restrain her wants and dreams.           

Jest. Jest!

This beautiful, spirited joker who only wanted a lifetime at Cath’s side! I just can’t. I knew from the moment we met Jest that something was going to happen. There needed to be a motivation, something to turn Cath into the one thing she never wanted to be. And of course I was preparing myself for the inevitable, but when it happened, it didn’t sting any less.

There were so many great moments between him and Cath though. I loved the angst when Jest had to help woo Cath on the King’s behalf and witness their courtship, wishing he was in the King’s place. I loved when they snuck away in the middle of the night to join Hatta’s tea party, which is also where he found out how much of a talented baker she was. Or that time she chooses him and he whisks her away from the King and kisses her passionately. There were too many beautiful moments and all I can say is that Jest deserved better.

It was all just multiple catastrophic events that lead to that fated outcome. If Hatta didn’t throw those pumpkin seeds in the patch, if Mary Ann wasn’t stupid enough to venture there by herself, if Cath didn’t decide to go through that door… maybe things would have turned out alright. But it’s exhausting to think about all the what ifs.

Like I’ve said before, that outcome was inevitable. Cath needed to be heartless, to seek vengeance, to be angry, and what better way to motivate her into becoming one of the most treacherous villains we have ever known then by taking away the one person she loved the most from her life in the most horrific way.

Despite feeling sad about this conclusion, I’m actually glad that Raven stayed with her. Even though he has now become her executioner and the whole thing is entirely messed up, at least she still has a part of Jest with her. I just hope between all that wickedness she realizes it too.

I’ve always found Marissa Meyer’s stories easy to stay absorbed in from the very first line. I love how she’s able to take these beloved and well-known characters, write a unique twist to their stories, and still include elements from the original. For example, Jest gave her white roses and the castle gardens were full of them, reminding her of the grief and pain she was enduring from losing him. So she demanded only red roses to be planted, which is a parallel to “painting the roses red.”

I believe where the story ended was pretty conclusive and it makes sense that Heartless is a standalone, but I’m not opposed to a sequel if Marissa Meyer ever wanted to tell more of Cath’s story. Regardless, I’m looking forward to reading more books by Marissa Meyer.