Review | Legendary

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Title: Legendary
Series Details: Caraval #2
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Flatiron Books
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 451

Blurb from Goodreads:

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

My Thoughts-01

When you enter the world of Caraval you’re signing up for magic, deception, and romance that would sweep you off your feet. I’m pleased to announce that Legendary didn’t fail to deliver all that. It took a while to build up the magic and the mystery around the whole new setting of Caraval. I, too, was bored during the first half of the book. But soon as Tella got into the thick of things, the story proceeded in a faster pace, the magic bloomed, the villains grew more and more threatening, and my curiosity won’t stop banging my brain willing it to read more.

“Every good story needs a villain.”
“But the best villains are the ones you secretly like.”

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Review | Jar of Hearts

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Title: Jar of Hearts
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Minotaur Books
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Pages: 311

Blurb from Goodreads:

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

My Thoughts-01

Murder, concealment, and secrecy are the main ingredients of Jennifer Hillier’s suspense novel, Jar of Hearts. Topped with tastefully complicated relationships between characters, this book is a recipe for one great read. This is solidly entertaining, chilling, and wonderfully twisted, page-turner! But be warned—aside from the murders described in gruesome details, this book also contains other unsettling things like violence, abusive relationship, and graphic rape scenes which could be extremely uncomfortable to read.

In every story, there’s a hero and villain.
Sometimes one person can be both.

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Review | I Believe in a Thing Called Love

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Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maurene Goo
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Series Details: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 336

Blurb from Goodreads:

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

My Thoughts-01

I’ll be honest and go straight to saying I wasn’t thoroughly shipping Desi and Luca. I wasn’t rooting for them. Nor was I convinced by the romance. But damn if this book wasn’t funny! It’s light-hearted and hilarious like most K-drama series I’ve watched. This is actually the first book I’ve read that involves K-drama and so I find this unique in that way. It reminds me of those days when I would stay awake binge-watching these Korean series while everyone else in the house is snoring. That was before I became a full-on bookworm.

Desi Lee is an over-achiever. She is quite successful in everything she puts her mind into but there’s one thing she fails terribly at—getting a boyfriend. It’s kind of cute watching Desi try to put an end to her “flailures” by making a K-Drama based guideline on how to get the boy. But I hated how she took it very seriously to the point that she became controlling and manipulative. I understand that in most Korean dramas the heroines were always put in extreme situations, does extreme measures to survive, which leads to the heroes taking notice of them. But does Desi really have to put her life and someone else’s life in harm’s way for the sake of romance? Not once but three times! If I was Desi’s love interest, the things she did would have sent me in the opposite direction and never come back. Because that was just sick.

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Review | Children of Blood and Bone

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Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Series: Legacy of Orïsha #1
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: March 06, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 537

Blurb from Goodreads:

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

My Thoughts-01

For a debut novel, this one is spectacularly good. Children of Blood and Bone is one of those books surrounded by so much hype and I dare say that the hype is legit. This book absolutely lived up to its reputation. I was considerably impressed! There wasn’t a page I didn’t enjoy. Everything was polished—the worldbuilding, the characters, the history, the action, the mythology and the magic system. And here’s the wonderful thing—all the characters are proudly black. How cool is that?

“As long as we don’t have magic, they will never treat us with respect. They need to know we can hit them back. If they burn our homes, we burn theirs, too.”

Knowing that this is the first book of a series, I’ve readied myself for some info dump because that’s often a case with series starters. But such was not the case with this book. Tomi Adeyemi built her world with brief yet exquisite descriptions. There was just the right amount of attention to details to make a superb worldbuilding without sacrificing the smooth flaw of the plot and without loosing the thrill as our characters embarked on a journey to save magic. Read More »

Review | Daughter of the Pirate King

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Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Series: Daughter of the Pirate King #1
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 311

Blurb from Goodreads:

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

My Thoughts-01

Pirate fans, rejoice! Tricia Levenseller’s debut novel is a wild, perilous, pirate-filled adventure served with snark and wit—plenty of it. There’s a lot of humor to be found in this book so it’s really easy to fly through its pages. I can’t say it was fantastically written but damn if I didn’t enjoy the treasure hunt. Also, it was a bit slow in pace, but it was captivating nonetheless.

I am power and strength. I am death and destruction. I am not someone to be trifled with.

The story kicks off with action as Alosa—daughter of the pirate king, Kalligan—and her crew, staged their capture to one of the most notorious pirates in the sea, for a mission that could easily go wrong and cost them their lives. Alosa is quite a refreshing character to me. There are a lot of feisty, witty, and headstrong protagonists in YA. But I haven’t met a character as cold as Alosa in so long. Even Celaena Sardothien who called herself an assassin wasn’t half as brutal as her right from the very first page of the book. Under her father’s tutelage, Alosa was inured to violence which explains why she has no qualms in killing. The girl could kill an entire pirate crew—if the mission demands—without flinching. But despite being hardened, there’s also a part of her that cares deeply for her crew and those that she loves. Read More »

Review | The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

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Title: The Lovely Reckless
Author: Kami Garcia
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Imprint
Release Date: October 04, 2016
Type: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 374

Blurb from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

My Thoughts-01

Last year I remember this book flooding my Goodreads feed and attached to it were amazing five star ratings. So I promised myself not to let this just pass me by. This is the first time I’m reading anything from Kami Garcia. Maybe I should have picked her other works first before picking this up. Because this, I didn’t fully enjoyed. There was nothing special in this book, sadly. If anything, this felt like a collection of all clichés known to this kind of genre.

The street racing idea was a refreshing touch though. It’s something I don’t usually see in YA books and I enjoyed reading about it. But the rest of the book was so average for me. The storyline was pretty common and basic. I’ve seen it used a hundred times in a hundred different books. It simply lacked the substance that could make it stand-out. Read More »

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

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Title: A Conjuring of Light
Series: Shades of Magic #3
Author:  V. E. Schwab
Publisher:  Macmillan
Imprint: Tor Books
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Genre:  Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 624

Blurb from Goodreads:

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-01

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 | 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 »