Review | A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V. E. Schwab

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A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V. E. Schwab
Published by Macmillan | Tor Books on February 21, 2017
Genre : Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages : 624

The Blurb

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

My Thoughts

ANOSHE! (Wipes Tears)

What can I say, book? Where do I start? I just… I bow down to your greatness! Because here’s a book that left me in a puddle of emotions, that built me a world that’s highly worth losing myself into, and gave me characters that are so complex and completely relatable they felt real. This series was never short of epic. So if you haven’t started reading this—go, start now! This is a series done right and is definitely worth binge reading!

A Conjuring of Light is the third and final installment in the Shades of Magic trilogy. I usually don’t find second and third books as riveting as the first, but this one made my heart sing! Once again V.E. Schwab graced us with her exquisite writing style. Schwab is known for her seamless world-building, balanced characterization, sinister themes, and I must say that in this book her talent is in full display. I mean, she always delivers in her books but this one just shines in a way that was unforgettable. I think this author can do no wrong when it comes to writing and telling a story. She entertains, she surprises, keeps me on edge, and at the end all of her characters claimed a spot in my memory and they stay there for a long time. Please teach me your ways, Schwab.Read More »

Review | Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

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Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge
Published by HarperCollins on September 27, 2016
Genre : Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages : 437

THE BLURB

Sabriel meets Romeo and Juliet in this stunning and atmospheric novel—the first in a duology—from the author of Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound.

When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.

The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.

Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.

Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.

Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . .

MY THOUGHTS

Once upon a time, she believed she was only a sword. Now she fears she is only a girl.

When you say retelling, Rosamund Hodge is the first author that comes to my mind. Being a huge fan of Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound, I’d read anything with her name on the cover. Hodge’s worlds were always very complex and intricate that it has the tendency to become a bit confusing at a point. That’s how it goes with her first two books and I ended up loving them anyway. But such was not the case with Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. Reading this felt like being in a maze and I found myself lost a lot of times.

Yes, this is a retelling! Of Romeo and Juliet! And it comes with necromancers! And zombies! And magic! I thought I was hitting a lot of birds with one stone. With Romeo’s and Juliet’s name on the blurb this book screams romance, which is what I’m so into lately. Also I was just really curious as to what this classic couple’s chemistry would be like under Hodge’s imagination. And seeing how Hodge can expertly weave an addicting romantic fantasy and develop extremely unforgettable characters in her previous works (Hello, Ignifex!), I thought now is the time to start reading this book. Read More »

Review | A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V. E. Schwab

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A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V. E. Schwab
Published by Macmillan on February 23, 2016
Genre : Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages : 512

THE BLURB

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It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

MY THOUGHTS

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I loved A Darker Shade of Magic so much that I didn’t even bother reading the synopsis of this book before diving back into Kell’s world of multiple Londons. I was just so sure I’d love this too. Plus, I want to go into this completely blind and just relish everything as the story unfolds. But I’ll be completely honest—the first half of this book felt like a filler and I found myself struggling with that part. It was so slow in the beginning and the plot doesn’t seem to have a clear direction so I was kind of just wondering where the story was heading. But Sanct! The second half of this book? It. Was. Glorious! Everything that I loved in A Darker Shade of Magic immerged and the book started to demand my full attention. I didn’t have enough will power to put it down after that.

Perhaps power had to be tended, like Tieren said, but not all things grew in gardens.
Plenty of plants grew wild.

A Gathering of Shadows picks off four months after Kell and Lila parted ways in the first book. Lila was aboard a ship, living her dreams of having adventures and being a pirate. We’re immediately introduced to a whole bunch of new characters as Lila made “friends” with the ship’s crew including its Captain, Alucard Emery, who later became Lila’s teacher. Kell and Rhy were both having a hard time adjusting to their situation. Kell, who is now sharing his life with Rhy, has become someone who walks on eggshells for fear of hurting his brother. He had long stopped smuggling things from other Londons but he’s still plagued with guilt about the lives lost during the Black Night. And then there’s the sting of the crown’s distrust. All of that weight in his shoulders made him long to escape, go somewhere else, and just live a life of his own. Rhy on the other hand busied himself with the preparation of the annual Essen Tasch—an Elements Game meant to strengthen the peaceful relationship between Red London’s neighboring kingdoms—to keep his nightmares at bay. There were huge changes to his character in this book as he became more than just the cheerful crowned prince we used to know. Meanwhile, color is coming back in White London. It’s magic begun to flourish but with a dangerous cost. Read More »

Review | A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V. E. Schwab

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A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V. E. Schwab
Published by Macmillan on February 24, 2015
Genre : Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages : 400

THE BLURB

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Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

MY THOUGHTS

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Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of awesome reviews about the Shades of Magic’s third installment and I thought, damn I’ve ignored this series for too long. It’s time to pick it up. Well, now I can definitely see what all the hype is about and where it’s coming from. Everything about this book is marvelous—the plot, the intrigue, the characters, the world-building, the magic system—you name it. It’s all perfect and will no doubt leave you thoroughly impressed by its spectacularity. This book really lived up to its hype!

This is my third Schwab book and I must say, she’s a crackerjack weaver of dark, intricate, magical, and exhilarating stories. Combining magic and darkness, I think, are Schwab’s trademark. You can’t have one without the other. Her ability to build a bitter and brutal world balanced by tough characters is impressively beautiful. Another thing is that her books are free of eye-roll worthy insta-love clichés and I absolutely love that! Instead, Schwab focuses on giving depth to her characters. If you want an amazing fantasy story without the usual love triangles and love at first sights that comes with it, then check out V. E. SchwabRead More »

Review | The Muse by Jessie Burton

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The Muse by Jessie Burton
Published by Pan Macmillan on June 30, 2016
Genre : Historical Fiction, Adult
Pages : 464

THE BLURB

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On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

Seductive, exhilarating and suspenseful, The Muse is an unforgettable novel about aspiration and identity, love and obsession, authenticity and deception – a masterpiece from Jessie Burton, the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist.

MY THOUGHTS

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: in the end, a piece of art only succeeds when its creator – to paraphrase Olive Schloss – possesses the belief that brings it into being.

Oh Saints! This book knows how to make me furious with its twists! The clues were there and I was confident I knew what’s going on and what’s coming. But when everything was laid bare in front of my eyes, this author still managed to draw some strong emotions out of me. There are novels wherein you dread the death of main characters. Here, I got so mad with the twist. Mad to the point that I wish for a painful death for a character or two.

The Muse is a riveting story about art and creativity, love and loss, oppression and resistance, loyalty and betrayals, and secrets… lots of them. I loved this book in a hundred different ways starting with that eye-catching cover that demands attention. And wonderfully, the beauty of it doesn’t end with the cover as it matches what is inside.  Read More »

Review | Yesternight by Cat Winters

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Yesternight by Cat Winters
Published by HarperCollins on October o4, 2016
Genre : Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Adult, Fantasy
Pages : 374

THE BLURB

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From the author of The Uninvited comes a haunting historical novel with a compelling mystery at its core. A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation.

In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.

Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.

MY THOUGHTS

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I’ve only read The Uninvited from Cat Winters and it was perfectly amazing—from the creepy plotlines to the carefully delineated characters. I instantly adored her and she became one of my favorite paranormal authors. Yesternight shares the same eerie concept as The Uninvited as well as Winters’ fluid writing style but it just wasn’t as captivating. The premise was good actually, but that ending left me unimpressed. For a story that started out solid and strong, this book had a rather sloppy and unsatisfying end to it. It was a good four star read until the final quarter of the book that felt like such a letdown. It gave me the feeling that the novel was ended in a rush. It’s as if the author built up all those nice things from an interesting foundation and just got lazy and want out.  Read More »

Review | This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

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This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab
Published by HarperCollins on July 15, 2016
Genre : Paranormal, Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages : 427

THE BLURB

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Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

MY THOUGHTS

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For the past few weeks, I’ve buried my face in a series of books about princes and princesses, castle politics, and scheming villains. This Savage Song has none of that which makes it a perfect breather. What it bears are Monsters!

“Monsters, monsters, big and small,
They’re gonna come and eat you all.
Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw.
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.”

I’ve heard countless stories about monsters as a child, but it’s never a common one with Victoria Schwab. Her stories were always deliciously unique and just the right amount of creepy. An engrossing supernatural tale is what this is. The moment I started reading, I was completely absorbed and it was just impossible to set down.  Read More »

Review | The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

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The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Published by Bloomsbury on February 01, 2017
Genre : Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages : 368

THE BLURB

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It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods—only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future.

MY THOUGHTS

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The Edge of Everything is a fun combination of contemporary and fantasy. For me, it was a mix of ingredients that tasted good and a few that tasted bland. It has some elements that I find typical in the YA world but at the same time it also contains some unique elements that made the story a little intriguing. Jeff Giles’ depiction of hell in this book is one of the unique ones, daring his readers to reimagine the image of hell that they have in their mind. He skillfully combined the real world with the dark netherworld feels of the Lowlands —his version of hell run by hundreds of powerful lords —where the souls of unrepentant criminals were held.

The supernatural aspect of the book came to me as a pleasant surprise and we have that beautiful cover to blame for looking so contemporary-like. Read More »

Review | Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by HarperCollins on January 24, 2017
Genre : Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery & Thriller
Pages : 387

THE BLURB

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Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

In this gritty and haunting debut, Tiffany D. Jackson explores the grey areas in our understanding of justice, family, and truth, and acknowledges the light and darkness alive in all of us.

MY THOUGHTS

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Tiffany D. Jackson presents a riveting thriller complete with family drama, complex relationships, deceit, and deeply buried truths, in her haunting debut novel, Allegedly. In nearly 400 pages, Jackson lets us into the life of Mary —an alleged baby killer —showed us the struggles she has to make to change her life for the better, and showed us just how messy life can be. She creates a realistic portrait of teenage life in its roughest form and it was painful to read. Allegedly is a disturbing story about how far a child could go to protect her mother, and later, what a mother is prepared to do to keep her child.  Read More »