Saturday, April 18, 2015

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

Title/ Author: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars
Synopsis: Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. 

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: In short, AMAZING. In fact, it's the best book I have read so far this year, and I've read a lot of good ones.

Cover--Yea or Nay: To be honest, the cover does nothing more me, in fact it's not the kind of thing I would pick up unless I took time to look at it, but it's not eye-grabbing, the title would do more to spark my interest, but the cover is rather bland.

Characters: I loved Kell, he was a great hero, because he's kind of quiet, he takes time to think but he also has a lot of little human quirks and insecurities that make him a relatable character. Sometimes he seemed older than he was and sometimes younger, but he fast became a very likable character to me. I also really liked Lila. Like most of Victoria Schwab's leading ladies, she was smart and practical, without having that 'I'm a kick butt female heroine with an attitude' vibe. She easily fits the profile of my favorite female characters, and her spunk and snark only made it better. I don't always like female thieves, but Lila was awesome and actually reminded me a bit of Parker from the show Leverage which is a huge plus as it's one of my favorite shows. I also liked Rhy, even if he is sort of a playboy, he's also a decent prince; even more I LOVED the brotherly relationship between him and Kell. Even though they are only foster brothers, they acted like real blood brothers, and the brother feels were love in this book. They made me very happy.

As for the villains...amazing. Holland was cold and creepy, but yet, I also ended up feeling sorry for him having to serve the twins, and being pretty much owned by them. He was actually a character I wished we had gotten to see more of in the story, I think he had a lot of layers and I was a bit sad that we didn't spend more time with him. Astrid and Athos on the other hand were just plain creepy. Seriously, they sent shivers up my spine, and that's why I loved them. They were bloody good villains, because you knew they would carry out their threats, and they did, and I was on the edge of my seat by the end of this book, just wondering how it would all turn out.

The Romance: Hardly any to report, though there's a little bit of attraction between Kell and Lila and a couple kisses. Apart from that, nothing.

Writing Style: Okay, so I warn you this will be a long section. Victoria Schwab is one of my favorite authors. I have loved every book of hers a read, and I think I've mostly read them all. Her YA books are really good, but her 'adult' books are amazing. Even now,Vicious is on the list of best books I have read and this one is going there too. There's just something about the way she puts characters you can care about and relate to into these amazing worlds that are so different from anything else that honestly blows my mind, and that doesn't happen a lot at all. Her books are so unique that they will always stand out because you'll probably never find anything like them. The whole multiple dimensions of London thing? Strange on paper, but it works, and it's awesome. My favorite kinds of fantasy novels are the ones that go away from the norm and this one did that very well. It was interesting, it worked, the magic made sense, and on top of that, the writing style itself was beautiful as usual. The characters were great, the storyline was engaging and unpredictable, I honestly wasn't sure how it was going to end for a while and that's what I love most in books.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not applicable.

Problems/What bothered me: Nothing really, it was kind of one of those books you go along for the ride with.

Conclusion: 5 of 5 stars. Loved it! Loved it a lot. And seriously, where can I get a coat like Kell's? I need one.

Recommended Audience: If you have enjoyed Victoria Schwab's books and have not read this one, read it. You're missing out. Gril or guy read, ages 18 and up due to some dark themes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Review: The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters

Title/Author: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
Genre: YA, historical, supernatural
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I usually avoid suffragist books like the plague, but this one was actually enjoyable, and Cat Winters gives us another interesting supernatural sort of read that was not disappointing in the least.

Cover--Yea or Nay: I love the cover, I think it's really cool, the font is beautiful, and it's just the kind of things that makes me want to pick up a book, as the time period is obvious.

Characters: Olivia is an enjoyable protagonist. Mostly, I liked how she was a strong female character, but even though she's into women's suffrage, she's still not a rampant man-hating harpy like so many of them are. She just wants to make her own way in the world, and I respect that. There were a few times I didn't totally agree with her, but for the most part, I didn't have any complaints on her character. Her father on the other hand, I enjoyed hating. At first I wasn't sure whether he was a more misunderstood character or not, but as the book progressed, I could not forgive him for what he did to his own daughter. There is no excuse for that, it's just disgusting. Then there was Percy, who I saw coming a mile away, but he wasn't so terrible that I spent a whole lot of time hating on him. I loved Henry, as is probably to be expected. He was just the kind of male characters I always fall in love with. And his devotion and the loving relationship he shared with his sister made me like him more. (view spoiler) As for supporting characters, I also liked Frannie and her family, and Percy's other friends were so fun to dislike.

The Romance: There's not a ton of romance here, and no love triangles, thankfully. As is pretty obvious, Olivia and Henry end up forming an attachment to each other, and there's kissing involved, but it never gets so mushy that it's annoying and takes over the plot. I was very invested in their relationship, and I thought it very sweet.

Writing Style: Cat Winters is a very good writer, what I love especially is how she is able to capture a time period so well that it really feels like you're in it. This was not nearly as dark as In the Shadow of Blackbirds but it was just as well written, and still had a strange supernatural twist to it, even though there were sadly no ghosts in this one. I really loved how she described the way Olivia was able to see things after her hypnotism, it was very vivid and it worked for me. You have to know going into this book that it's going to be a little strange, but that's part of the joy.

Accuracy/ Believability: Very accurate as far as the time period. I would have liked an author's or historical note in the back, but from what I know of the time period anyway, it seemed pretty much very well done. Of course the hypnotism stuff isn't exactly real to life, but it gives the story a cool twist.

Problems/What bothered me: I probably never would have read this book had it not been recommended to me by a friend I trust, because I do not read suffragist novels, but this one was the most if not the only, tasteful suffragist novel ever. Yes, there were still a couple parts that had my eyes rolling, but I think it captured the softer side, and through Olivia who just simply wanted to be able to make her own way in the world, it was bearable. It was certainly not a rampant man-hater novel, and I respect Cat Winters for that.

Conclusion: 4/5 stars. Enjoyable book. Not sure whether I liked this one or In the Shadow of Blackbirds better, but I am really looking forward to the next novel Cat Winters comes out with.

Recommended Audience: Girl read 16 and up. Fans of gothic supernatural historical novels would enjoy it. Definitely check this out if you also liked In the Shadow of Blackbirds

(Read this review with spoilers on Goodreads

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March 2015 Wrap Up

Hey everyone! This came a day late because I wasn't ready for it to be April today haha :P Anyway, here's my March wrap up. This was a super busy and stressful month for me, so I didn't get a whole lot of reading done, and nor have I even finished half of my reviews either. I've been working on other projects and beta-reading for people so I did as much as I could.

I finished six books in March and started a seventh but I did enjoy all the ones I read.

1. A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab (5/5 stars)
2. Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Neilson (4/5 stars)
3. The Shadow Cabinet (Shades of London #3) by Maureen Johnson (4/5 stars)
4. Prowlers (Prowlers #1) by Christopher Golden (3.5/5 stars)
5. Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (4/5 stars)
6. The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver (3/5 stars)

Favorite Reads of the Month

A Darker Shade of Magic
Beware the Wild

I did buy a few books this month because I made one trip to B&N and stumbled upon another used book store. Only acquired six books though so I was good, and one was actually given to me and another my mom bought me because she wanted to read it.

1. Dead Wake by Erik Larson 
2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (the beautiful B&N hardback addition)
3. Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #1.5) by Marissa Meyer
4. Half Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer
5. Pagan's Crusade (Pagan #1) by Catherine Jinks
6. Stargazer (Land of Elyon #4) by Patrick Carmen

What was everyone else's favorite reads/releases this month? Mine was definitely A Darker Shade of Magic it's the best book I've read this year so far. I'll have the review up before too long, or you can read it on Goodreads. I hope everyone has a good April!

Slainte, Hazel