Tag Archive | novel

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.     

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

 

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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. 

The Goal by Elle Kennedy | Book Review

Image result for the goal elle kennedyBook: The Goal

Author: Elle Kennedy

Series: Off-Campus, #4

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

“We all hurt. We all love. We’re the same. And your past, who you live with, where you came from, it doesn’t have to matter. You’re creating your own future, and I want to see where the road forward takes you.”

This book took me by surprise in a good way. I found it to be so different from the previous books in the series because of the maturity and seriousness of the situations the main characters had to go through. The Goal follows Tucker and Sabrina. Tucker, despite having multiple hookups of his own, is this sweet, charming, chivalrous, and quiet guy. Sabrina is an ambitious, hardworking woman who people label as bitchy because of these attributes. These two characters were different from the characters we were introduced to before but that doesn’t mean that Kennedy wasn’t able to get me attached to them.

From the end of the third book, The Score, we learn the situation Tucker has found himself in after he reveals it to his friends. For some reason I thought that The Goal was going to start off from that point in Tucker’s life, but it made more sense when I realized that we were going back to around the time The Score first took place. Throughout The Score, Dean questioned Tucker’s whereabouts and whether or not he was hiding something and The Goal reveals exactly what was going on with him.

These were new characters, it was a new story, but it also meant we had to relive certain heartbreaking events that occurred in the previous book. I just didn’t want to have to go through these emotions or read about these characters going through these emotions all over again.

The Goal follows Tucker and Sabrina through their last year of college. They meet at a bar and end up having a connection that predictably leads to a hookup. Sabrina doesn’t mind a good hookup but she could never have anything beyond that. Her plans are to go to law school, which means working two jobs to afford tuition as well as being completely focused on her current studies to maintain good grades. Tucker doesn’t believe that whatever happened between them that one night was just a one-time thing. As much as he wants to be with Sabrina again, he gives her the space she needs in order to figure it out. He never wants to push her too far. He puts her needs before his desire and allows whatever relationship they have to be on her terms. But life gives both of them difficult decisions to make when they are forced to go down a path that was never in their agenda. They both learn the hard way that life doesn’t always follow a plan.

This book felt so long to me. It had nothing to do with the actual length of the book but with the fact that these characters went through so much in the span of a year. It felt as if I read about multiple years of their lives. I’m in no means saying this was a bad thing, I actually really appreciated the journey they went through and by the end of the book I was wishing that I could continue to read more about their story.

I thoroughly enjoyed not just this book but this series as a whole. It was fast paced, addicting, funny, and I ended up loving all the main characters we got introduced to and all the relationships that got developed.

The Score by Elle Kennedy | Book Review

Image result for the score by elle kennedyAuthor: Elle Kennedy

Book: The Score

Series: Off-Campus, #3

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

My Rating: 4.8 Stars

“Dean Di Laurentis is in my blood now. I didn’t expect the intense sexual chemistry between us, but it’s here, and it’s addictive, and I don’t know how I can ever give it up.”

I knew it. I knew I was going to love this book and I hate that it’s over! My high level of enjoyment for The Score was the same as my enjoyment for The Deal. There were many factors that prompted me to quickly get hooked into the story. I was addicted to the characters, to the plot, and to the writing style. All of this combined resulted in a fast paced read that I couldn’t put down.

The Score is the third book in the off-campus series by Elle Kennedy and it follows the story of Dean Di-Laurentis and Allie Hayes.

Dean is of course an attractive, rich hockey player who isn’t just a player on the ice. He has a number of hookups under his belt and doesn’t envision himself ever stopping until a drunken hookup with Allie Hayes. Allie is newly single after a long committed relationship and her former boyfriend is far from giving up to win her back. This steers Allie to desperately hide away from him in her best friend’s boyfriend’s house. Dean also happens to live there and despite her efforts to ignore him, the night doesn’t quite turn out the way she planned. Allie seems to think that whatever happened between them should remain a one-time thing but Dean can’t get her out of his mind, which results in multiple determined attempts to change her mind.

There was just something about these two that had me rooting for them to be together from the moment I read the synopsis of the book.

I personally think that this was the steamiest but also the most heartbreaking book in the series. It definitely played with my emotions given all the unexpected events that took place in both the character’s lives.

I loved reading about how Dean and Allie’s worlds collided. They were such an unlikely pair and yet there was no mistaking the chemistry and passion they had towards one another. This book, without a doubt, has become one of my favourites in the Off-campus series and it left me wanting to know more about Dean and Allie’s story when I finished reading it.

The Mistake by Elle Kennedy | BOOK REVIEW

Image result for the mistake by elle

Book: The Mistake

Author: Elle Kennedy

Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

“And just in case my reaction to your idiocy didn’t make it clear where I stand with us, then let me spell it out for you.” I whirl around to scowl at him. “I love you, you stupid jackass.”

I enjoyed reading The Deal, the first book in the off-campus series. It was a great break from continuously reading fantasy and emotionally draining books. The Mistake was no different. I laughed and cried. Picking this second book in the series up had always been in the back of my mind, and I’m so glad that I decided to give it a chance despite never wanting to read companion novels in the past. What I love about these books is that they are fast paced, steamy romances. They obviously have their fair share of angst and cringy descriptions thrown in there, but they’re highly enjoyable reads to dive into when you’re experiencing a reading slump or need a fun and quick read.

The Mistake follows John Logan in his third and fourth year of college. He’s on the school’s hockey team and he and his teammates are well known and idolized around campus. Logan hasn’t been in a relationship in a while and doesn’t really plan on getting into one until he meets a freshman named Grace when he accidently shows up at her dorm. They start hanging out, and though Logan is usually just into hook-ups, he finds that it’s more than that when it comes to Grace. He genuinely likes her and reality sinks in when he makes a mistake that drives her away. This whole dispute leads to his senior year of college and he’s far from giving up. He’s determined to not only get her to forgive him but to agree to date him.

I loved Grace’s character more than I was expecting to. She didn’t have the most outgoing personality, which I could usually relate to, but that didn’t stop her from taking matters into her own hands by not allowing anyone to make decisions for her. Logan’s character was great too. He is obviously an attractive guy who used to sleep around, but as the book continued we really got to see what’s under the surface, what demons he’s battling, and what a caring and loyal person he is to his friends and family. I gave The Mistake a 4.5 star rating, which is slightly lower than my rating for The Deal. Even though I enjoyed this book a lot, The Deal still remains my favourite in the series so far.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir | Book Review

Book: A Torch Against the Night

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

“Most people are nothing but glimmers in the great darkness of time. But you are no swift-burning spark. You are a Torch Against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.”

When I read An Ember in the Ashes last year I was taken by surprise because I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. Fast forward a year and I was skeptical to start the sequel, despite anticipating it’s release for a long time. But again I was surprised at how much I underestimated the book. I found it to be even better than the first.

The long wait for its release did leave me forgetting bits and pieces from the previous book, so I had to reintroduce myself to a lot of the world’s magical elements and society, which included the structure and conflict regarding the Scholars and the Martial soldiers, in order to understand what was going on.

I gave this book a 4.5/5 stars. Though it’s not a “perfect” rating, my thoughts and feelings toward A Torch Against the Night are mostly positive. One of the reasons behind my enjoyment of this book was because the experience of switching back and forth between reading the book myself and following along with the amazing audiobook was one of the best reading experiences I’ve ever had. It had a level of intensity and enjoyment that held my attention from the very first page. The POV alternated between Elias, Laia, and Helene throughout the book. I wasn’t too sure about it at first because I didn’t really like Helene in An Ember in the Ashes, which goes back to being one of the reasons I was skeptical about starting the sequel since I wasn’t looking forward to reading her chapters. I just remember feeling frustrated at her loyalty to the Empire as she didn’t understand why Elias felt differently than her about Blackcliff Academy and how they drilled ruthless, murderous soldiers into all their students. I actually started listening to the audiobook when Helene’s chapters came up because I wanted to get through them faster, but eventually her character and her story became really interesting to me.

There were many twists and turns for all the characters; many things that completely took me off guard, but that’s what made the book fast paced. It barely had a dull moment and I couldn’t stop flipping the pages to find out what was going to happen next.

The book starts off right where An Ember in the Ashes left off and there’s literally no room to relax because the action starts off right away.

*Spoilers Ahead*

Elias and Laia are on the path to Kauf prison; their mission is to save Darin, Laia’s brother. Even though Elias has never met her brother he agrees to help Laia save him because the crucial knowledge that Darin possess could save the Scholars from being completely wiped out by the Martial soldiers and the Empire. One thing that I wasn’t expecting to remain a huge obstacle throughout the whole book was the poisoning of Elias thanks to his villainous mother. I thought the cure to save him was going to get in the way of their journey for a short period of time, but Elias unfortunately suffered throughout the entirety of the book, which lead to that huge sacrifice at the end that I still have mixed feelings about.

As they made their journey, the world expanded as we saw many places and got introduced to new characters, such as Shaeva, Afya, Harper, Mamie Rila, and the creepy Warden.

Regarding Keenan: That was quite the twist… and I totally saw it coming. I actually shipped him with Laia in the first book because there wasn’t anything really happening between Laia and Elias for me to be onboard with. Even in A Torch Against the Night, when Keenan got re-introduced, I was okay with either of them being with Laia (even though I slightly changed my mind and liked Elias better). Then little hints were being dropped here and there, and even though it seemed far-fetched to think that Keenan could be some kind of enemy, when it was revealed I wasn’t really surprised. I found the whole thing to be rather creepy actually, especially with the fact that he and Laia slept together. He manipulated her in order for her to give the armlet from her mother to him out of love. Something that was mentioned that I found interesting was that he wouldn’t have been able to take it from her if he didn’t love her in return. I’m wondering if this will be an important factor that will make an appearance in the future books.    

Romance is obviously not a focal point in this series, and usually I would want it to be more present in any book I read, but I found this story captivating enough that I didn’t really mind its small presence. But the funny thing is, despite its small presence, this book literally had a love square. There was Elias and Keenan who were both into Laia, and then there was Helene who was jealous of Laia being with Elias because she was in love with Elias.

I also think that Helene and Harper have the potential to become a romantic thing in the future, but I think I need more convincing if that’s the path that will be taken because of the fact that he literally tortured her in an interrogation at the beginning of the book. Obviously he was taking orders but that still doesn’t sit well with me.

All the twists and turns in this book left the potential for an amazing third book in the series. Such as Darin and Laia finally catching up, Darin healing and later begin making weapons for the Scholars, Elias’s new situation, his and Laia’s relationship, Keenan maybe coming back, and the fact that Elias and Harper are brothers! I’m really looking forward to the next book but unfortunately there will be another long wait for its release.

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder | Book Review

touch-of-power

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Book: Touch of Power

Author: Maria V. Snyder

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Sorry. An overdeveloped nurturing instinct comes with being a healer.”

Touch of Power follows Avry, a twenty year old healer who has been on her own for 3 years; hiding from people who blame her kind for being responsible for the outbreak of the plague. This lead to angry mobs executing them because of it, which resulted in our protagonist, Avry, being the only healer left. Right before Avry gets executed herself, because her powers were discovered after she healed a little girl, a group of men rescue her. They have been searching for a healer for two years to heal their friend, who has the pledge and is put in a temporal stasis so he wouldn’t die while they searched. But is being forced to travel with these men against her will any better than being thrown in prison to await execution? Many adventures and encounters with different groups of people out to get Avry occur, which leads her to believe that perhaps she is in safe company with these men, especially once she starts to consider a few of them as her friend.

I knew right when I read the summery of Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder, that it was the kind of book I was going to enjoy. My expectations were definitely met, but that didn’t necessarily mean I didn’t have some problems with it. I never read a book by this author before, but I’ve heard numerous times that “Poison Study” is really good! I have every intention of reading Poison Study now that I have read Touch of Power and enjoyed her writing and story. Touch of Power drew me in from the first line and didn’t let go until the end. It was addicting and I gave up hours of sleep just so I could read “one more chapter…” (As any good book has persuaded an avid reader to do.)

For about the first quarter of the book I completely despised Kerrick, with good reason too. He was a complete jerk; hitting Avry and acting all cold and emotionless towards her. I was actually a full on Avry and Belen shipper at the beginning, (am I the only one?) He genuinely liked her a lot from the very start, this doesn’t mean he romantically liked her or vise versa, but I just thought that kind of relationship between them might have worked out. But that idea quickly changed in my mind when Kerrick eventually warmed up to me, but I was still a little hesitant about him. Usually I’m all about the angsty male lead with a haunting past who has never had someone break through the cold ice shielding his heart, until he meets that one pain-in-the-ass individual that he begins to care about and doesn’t know why. Although this book was for the most part following this trope, I feel like the transition between the “I hate you,” to the “I love you,” was a very fast and weird one. Don’t get me wrong, it was a slow burn relationship development for sure and I was excited about it, but there was a point where I thought the development that was building up immediately jumped into a “being in a relationship” status. Maybe I’m the only one who thought this?

But that’s not the only reason I didn’t give this book a solid 5 stars. A part of the story that completely turned me off was something that bothered me a lot: The main character was influenced and manipulated by a crazy man who kissed/touched her without consent. It was absolutely disgusting and I have no sympathy for the guy. If he acted like a decent human being, maybe his tragic backstory would have been more heartbreaking. But he’s the antagonist of the story and he’s done a list of horrific stuff, but his enjoyment of manipulating girls with his magic so they couldn’t fight back from his pursuits is at the top of the list for me.

But putting these couple of negative opinions aside, for the most part there was many things I enjoyed. Avry was a great protagonist. She didn’t allow anyone to boss her around, her healing power was interesting to read about, and her stubbornness made her extremely determined to do whatever she wanted. What I loved most about the book was that around 95% of it consisted of Avry and the group of men traveling to their destination. It took months! One thing I’ve always loved is road trip books and Touch of Power is the fantasy version of it.

Overall, I got really invested in this book so I’m happy that I decided to pick it up. It was such a relief because it helped me get out of a really long reading slump. The main characters were fun to get to know and the whole magical & political aspect of it was really interesting. I highly recommend it if my summary of the book sparked an interest in you. I know for sure that I’ll be picking up more of Maria V. Snyder’s books in the future.