Tag Archive | reading

Renegades by Marissa Meyer | Book Review


Book: Renegades
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Renegades, #1
Genre: Sci-fi
My Rating: 3.25/5 Stars

“One cannot be brave who has no fear.”

Nova is an Anarchist. Adrian is a Renegade. A villain and a hero shouldn’t get along, but with the help of secret identities, such a thing is possible. Nova has spent the majority of her life as an Anarchist, seeking revenge on the heroes who failed to save her family. Adrian has dedicated his life to be a Renegade, a difficult title to avoid when his dads are part of the Renegade’s council, and he wants to be more than just a patrol. When Adrian adds Nova to his Renegades group he has no idea her true identity is the villain he desperately wants to find. This allows Nova to enter Renegade Headquarters, learn about their system, and plot their demise.

It’s difficult to go into a book by one of your favourite authors, anticipate the best, and come out feeling let down. The superhero trope is not something I enjoy to begin with, but of course I put that aside because of my love for Marissa Meyer books. It’s disappointing to realize that it’s not possible to love every book by your favourite author.

What threw me off was the amount of cheesy dialogue. That typical back and forth between a superhero and a villain.

“Your days of villainy are over, Nightmare.”

And their alias were on another level of cringe, to the point where I couldn’t take them seriously. It was hard to believe that they were set out to actually kill each other when all I was picturing were kids playing make-believe.

What I appreciated from the story though was how we got the perspective from both the heroes and the villains. This way it didn’t allow the readers to automatically pick the hero side. Going further than that, it also revealed how both sides were corrupt. I can say a lot about the Anarchists and their questionable morals, but somehow my heart was warmed when I learned about their family dynamic. Nova cared about her family, they raised her and took care of her when she had no one left. Even evil Winston gave me feels when he recalled the shows he would put on for Nova when she was little.

As for the Renegades, as a whole they weren’t the side I was rooting for or enjoyed reading about, what with the council never showing up when needed and being completely useless. Though I did adore both Adrian and Max. They were honestly adorable characters and I loved seeing how their relationships developed with Nova. I kept imagining what it would be like if we only read from Adrian’s perspective, not knowing Nova’s true identity, and how much of an intense plot twist that would create. Nova’s perspective held my interest more so I can’t imagine getting through the book without her. Though this would have significantly cut down the length of the book, which should have been considered when so many pages had nothing happening. 

Overall, I’m intrigued to continue this story in Archenemies and I hope my disappointment from Renegades does not make its way to the sequel.


Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

28380993_1690784727654087_1052668646_nBook: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grishaverse, #2
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating: 4.25/5 Stars

“Watch yourself, Nikolai,” Mal said softly. “Princes bleed just like other men.”
Nikolai plucked an invisible piece of dust from his sleeve. “Yes,” he said. “They just do it in better clothes.”

Going into Siege and Storm, the sequel in the Grishaverse trilogy, I had expectations that had me craving for every word, phrase, and chapter laid out on the pages. I was far from disappointed, in fact I was overjoyed to discover that Shadow and Bone wasn’t alone in making me fly through the book. It seems Leigh Bardugo has the talent to keep this characteristic consistent in her sequel as well. Of course it wasn’t entirely perfect, I had some problems with it that I will talk about below. Though I’m excited that I finally found a series I can obsess over, especially when it comes to the variety of characters who are both intriguing and complex.

Right at the beginning this book plunges into a new world for both Alina and Mal as they fight for as much normalcy as possible. They are eager to leave everything behind and begin anew, but that dream is short-lived when they find themselves in the hands of their enemy once again. Losing hope to ever be free, Alina and Mal are unexpectedly rescued by a privateer who leads them right back where everything began. Alina is left with a choice; run away to lead the normal life she fought so hard to maintain or fully embrace her role as the Sun Summoner and save the world.

This book was gripping from start to finish but I still had some problems with it throughout. Firstly, this happened in Shadow and Bone too, I’m growing tired of the slaughter of these beautiful, mythical creatures who don’t deserve to die so Alina can obtain more power. I imagine this will continue in Ruin and Rising with the Firebird, which I am already dreading. This leads me to another problem, Alina starving for more power. With the stag, I mean I can look past it because a lot of Grisha do get one amplifier. It makes sense that Alina would get one too. Then she claims the Sea Whip and continues to complain about the fact that she doesn’t have the Firebird. At this point I’m asking where is the limit here? When will it be enough? It made me nervous how power hungry she was and I was pleading with her not to turn into another Darkling, to not let this promise of unlimited power blind her. Then there’s Mal. Oh boy is he ever the definition of picking which parts of Alina to love and despising the rest. How is that healthy? How is their relationship going to last if this continues? I just need him to stop brooding, stop being selfish, accept, move on, and get a grip. Life is evolving, he needs to stop living in the past.

I know all that sounds like I’m giving this book a low rating, but that is far from the case. Moving past everything I just listed, I seriously enjoyed this book and I thought it was a great sequel to Shadow and Bone. It went beyond what the first book gave us in terms of world building and it introduced us to a new cast of characters that I’m so excited to talk about. The main ones being Nikolai, Tamar, and Tolya. Nikolai, the ever swoon-worthy privateer who had me laughing and hanging on to his extremely dramatic words and phrases but who also intrigued me because of the many layers to him that slowly were revealed throughout this book. As for Tamar and Tolya, they were just fun characters to get to know and I’m happy Alina and Mal have them as allies and friends now.

I have to say though, I wasn’t missing The Darkling’s absence one bit, which I imagine is an unpopular opinion. I guess I’m into the good guys in this case because once his sketchy motives were revealed my love for his character slowly ceased to exist. Though I am definitely anticipating the final book and how it will wrap up his and everyone else’s arcs.


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

27659049_1674034185995808_1552350821_nBook: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grishaverse, #1
Genre: High Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

“The Darkling slumped back in his chair.
“Fine,” he said with a weary shrug. “Make me your villain.”

After months of having trouble getting into Six of Crows, believing I could never get through a Leigh Bardugo book, an unexpected motivation inspired me to pick up Shadow and Bone. So here we are. I not only finished reading the first book in the Grishaverse trilogy, but I ended up absolutely loving it.

The task to cross the Shadow Fold, also known as the unsea, is not one for the faint of heart or for the one who wishes to see another day. Yet Alina Starkov, as well as the rest of the first army, which includes her best friend Mal, has no choice but to join in this impossible journey. Alina is just an orphan and a cartographer, nothing more. Then the volcra, the monstrosities that live in the Fold, attack and Alina finds herself protecting Mal with a power that nobody, not even herself, knew she possessed. Alina Starkov is a sun summoner, the only one of her kind and the answer The Darkling has been waiting for for years. After her reveal, Alina is whisked away to the world of Grisha where she will train to use her power and hopefully be the salvation that Ravka has waited too long for.

What threw me off at first was that the beginning of this book made me think I was reading a dystopian, for some unknown reason, which immediately turned me off from it. I knew this was a high fantasy, but I was uncertain whether or not the rest of the book was going to give me these same first impression vibes. It was soon after, to my relief, that such an impression no longer existed as I continued to read. Would I say this is the best YA fantasy book I’ve read in awhile? No. But did I love it? Yes. Honestly the Grisha were interesting to learn about, but there was nothing that blew me away when it came to the elements that made this a fantasy. The plot made me feel as if I read this book a hundred times before, but maybe that familiarity allowed me to enjoy this book more. I can’t give it credit for throwing me in a world I believed to be unique though.

I’m a sucker for romance, but not only that, I’m a sucker for handsome dark haired male characters that have questionable morals and a closet full of black clothes. So you can imagine what kind of affect someone named The Darkling had on me. The romance, for instance, was strange. A mild love triangle existed, and honestly, I may have been fanning myself when Alina and The Darkling had their moments. Though I found that whoever Alina was drawn to more was fine by me, especially after some revelations were revealed.

The events throughout this book were slow paced, yet the way I read it was anything but slowly. I actually flew through the book, which is one of the reasons why I appreciated the fact that I finally picked it up. The simple writing style allowed me to easily get invested. I’m excited to continue with the trilogy and I’m excited to find out more about The Darkling’s motives and ambitions.


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 begins 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.

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.

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


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.


“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.