Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Published by: Tor Books

Publication Date: February 23, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Adult

Page Count: 512

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


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.


 

“Magic and magician must between them balance. Magic itself is chaos. The magician must be calm. The fractured self must be a pure vessel for power, spilling power without focus measure from every crack.”

I never thought I’d love this series this much when I first picked up A Darker Shade of Magic. But as I write this review, I know Shades of Magic will be one series I’ll cherish over others. The magic, the thrill, and the friendship will always bring me back. And I want more time to revel in Red London.

Victoria is an author to marvel at. She creates these complex and highly detailed magical worlds and systems. She unravels an intricate and layered story that makes you love storytelling all over again. And her characters stand on their own yet complement each other beautifully. I adore how each character has developed from the aftermath of the first book.

Kell must live with the actions of saving his brother, Rhy, and bringing a deadly magic to their world. Both the king and queen have lost their trust in Kell, and he feels that loss and resentment when they force more restrictions on him. Rhy and Kell’s bond though is what anchors the both of them, and I loved their interactions together. I also enjoyed how Kell’s entire perspective of his life changes. He struggles with his choices that bound his life with Rhy’s. And that internal battle builds depth to his character.

Lila, the stab-happy and would-be pirate, adapts well to Red London. She is one character who I loved reading in the ADSOM. And even though I want to rant about how her stubbornness gets in the way of growth, I can’t help but admire her badassery. Alucard Emery, the captain of Night Spire, just adds a little flare to everyone’s life. I thought I’d hate him, but he’s such an exciting addition.

The worldbuilding expands in this sequel. As the Essen Tacsh begins, magicians compete against each other. Over five days, thirty-six contenders must battle each other out until a competitor is crowned the winner. I absolutely loved seeing different magicians from other regions of Red London. You see how each country wields magic. But while people are enchanted by the Element Games, an old threat reappears.

What stands out the most is Victoria’s writing. She ensares your love of magic and shows you how beautiful yet dangerous it is. I was entranced the entire time, and I knew I need more from this world. Victoria doesn’t rely on romance to tell her story. She allows the magic to envelop her readers, and I’ll forever respect her series.

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Review | Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Magic

Page Count: 352

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.


Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back.


“This is a love story. At least, it was, before my sister sent me to hell.”

Magic, lost love, tragic deaths, consequences, and one spell that changes everything, Bruja Born enchants readers who weren’t entranced by Labyrinth Lost. Going into this sequel, I had no expectations, but I can’t imagine skipping it now. I cried. I laughed. And I wanted more. Please, Zoraida, never let it end.

I wanted to love Labyrinth Lost, but it never hooked me like I wanted it to. With the sequel though, I finally understand why people love her work. I’ve been counting down the days when I find a witch story I love. And when it’s here, I am screaming for the final book.

Lula Mortiz tries to heal from the traumatic events that took place in Los Lagos, the in-between dimension her sister, Alex, sent her and their entire family to. I admit that I didn’t like her in Alex’s book. However, her vulnerabilities and her pain are what draws me to her now. And I love her character development. Losing her boyfriend, Maks, overpowers her every thought and self-control though. And the consequences to bring him back are more than she can handle.

The Latina magic system has always intrigued me. And Zoraida reveals more of this intricate world, which is what I’ve been hoping to see, and she raises the stakes. I loved travelling to Los Lagos. And seeing the universe she has created pulls me deeper into this richly layered series. What makes me love this book is how the author effortlessly crafts a believable world and family structure. Even though magic is a strong theme throughout her writing, the Mortiz family is the core. And sisterhood means more than anything to the Mortiz girls.

This fast-paced sequel is what I needed to convince me to stick with Brooklyn Brujas. The mythology wraps around you and sucks you in, and the diversity just makes the story that more compelling. Characters keep the storyline flowing, and I cannot remember the last time I’ve laughed at all the one-liners in a book. The sisterly bond makes my heart swell, but the fantasy finishes off a spellbinding novel.

Bruja Born may start off with a love story, but it ends with the strength of three sisters who defy the gods themselves. If Labyrinth Lost didn’t persuade you to take a chance on Brooklyn Brujas, reconsider. I want to read it again so I can step back into this magical place.

What do you look for in a series that contains witches? Which ones are your favourites? Let’s chat!

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Rise by Sierra Cross

 

Rise by Sierra Cross

Published by: Enigmatic Books

Publication Date: June 15, 2017

Genre: New Adult, Urban Fantasy

Page Count: 258

Rating: 4/5

Source: eARC from Xpress Book Tours

Goodreads | Amazon CAN | Amazon US


I closed the door on magic long ago…the day it made me an orphan.

Ten years ago, the Coven of Fire sacrificed their lives—my mother among them—to hold off an overwhelming demonic force. Now it’s back.

As a poorly-paid bartender, how can any of this be my problem? But Callie, another orphan of that battle, swears I’m the key to reviving the coven. And there’s an incredibly sexy guardian stranded on my couch who’s promising to help me stop the demons and keep the veil between the realms standing.

One problem: I’ve never been able to use magic. Our local bad boy warlock assures me I have the talent, but even if I did, we don’t have enough witches to complete a coven. The only way to survive is to pull together this pack of magicborn misfits, who have more secrets than spells, into a makeshift coven.

Can we—three untrained witches, a sarcastic warlock, and an overly intense guardian—take back the city…before the demongate falls and the forces that killed my mother destroy us too?


I’ve received an eARC for an unbiased and honest review. Thank you Xpresso Book Tours and the author/publisher for providing the eARC.

 

With a touch of a budding romance, lots of forbidden love, and a fast-paced storyline, Rise will make you remember why you love witches. This high-risk fantasy will hook you back into the witch’s spell.

Alix Hill lost everything when her coven and family gave up their lives to thwart a demon from taking control. Years later, she discovers it’s back, and she must revive the coven in order to defeat it. However, she can’t use magic. Except a guardian from her past believes she can. Together, with the help of two witches and a sarcastic warlock, they are the only ones who may finally stop the demon that killed everyone they loved.

I’m always down for a good witch novel. I have moved away from that section in fantasy that I’m starting to miss it. And Sierra introduces enough sexual tension that you’re just dying to see how a certain witch and her guardian will fight off their attraction. And the author injects the right amount of action to keep the urban fantasy lovers interested.

I would have liked to have seen more POVs. Alix hasn’t been in the magic scene since her mother, father, and coven died. And with most situations, she doesn’t know how to process or how to deal with certain issues. She’s naive. However, that innocence adds to the story though. For years, she believes she’s a Wont, a non-magical person. But you see how she evolves as the story progresses. That evolution is a trademark I love about New Adult novels. You grow along with the characters.

Rise is a solid beginning to this new series. Even though there were some scenes that were predictable, I loved reading it. I wasn’t expecting this amount of world building in a debut series. But Sierra excelled in doing just that. So expect everything and more in Coven of Fire. The characters stand out among themselves, yet the bond they develop while forming the coven is what hooked me in.

Alix, an orphan, is the quintessential adult who doesn’t know where she’s heading. Haunted by her past, she feels she’s failed her family. And with a little angst and self-doubt, she’s one character you can easily relate to. Matt, the guardian, feels that same pull. He, too, lost everything and is determined to protect Alix, even if doing so may just kill him. Their chemistry is strong, and it affects everything they do. And the forbidden love between this witch and guardian amplifies the tension in the story. The secondary characters also add a flare, which I loved.

I’m glad I took a risk in signing up for this book tour. Rise gives you that magic-filled action with just a taste of romance and satisfies your need for fantasy. I may have just found a new series to follow.

 


Author’s Bio

Spells and skyscrapers. Warriors and warlocks. Coven secrets and forbidden romances. Sierra Cross lives for urban fantasy, for modern magic and the bold supernatural beings who stalk our contemporary world. Her Spelldrift universe stars kickass witches and their heroic guardians, as well as vampires, shifters, mages, Fidei, and the dark demonic forces that threaten them all.

Author’s Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

 


Giveaway

Interested in Coven of Fire? You can win a $50 Amazon gift card and a set of paperbacks of the series. ENTER HERE to win.

 


Tour Schedule

 

Don’t miss out on the tour. Go check out the other reviews and posts!

January 22nd
Shooting Stars Reviews
Reckless Readers
knjigoljubka
Jenea’s Book Obsession
I Smell Sheep
Am Kinda Busy Reading
3 degrees of fiction book blog

January 23rd
Rolling with the Moments
YA & NA Bookshelf
Storyteller-skgregory
Moohnshine’s Corner
Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf
Book Briefs

January 24th
Abooktropolis
The Bewitched Reader
T’s Stuff
Indie Wish List
Don’t Judge, Read
Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!

January 25th
So Few Books
Novelties
FANNA
Ctrl, Alt, Books!
Booker T’s Farm: Books & Nails & Puppy Dog Tales
Aconite Cafe

January 26th
Smut Book Junkie Book Reviews
Smada’s Book Smack
Novels & Necklaces
books are love
Book Lovers Hangout

January 27th
Cranky TBC
Words Phrases imagination
Reading, Willing & Able
Mypassionforbooks
Magi Romance
CBY Book Club
Brooke Blogs
Books a Plenty Book Reviews

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

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Published by: Tor Books

Publication Date: February 24, 2015

Genre: Science Fiction, Adult, Fantasy

Page Count: 400

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

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.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then 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.


“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

You know, not often do I find a book that reminds me why I love reading. And now I’m in this dilemma where I have no clue how I’ll get back to normal life. A Darker Shade of Magic is a rare treat for readers who hope to go back to their roots and find a book that truly surprises them.

Kell is a dying breed of Antari, a magician who travels through parallel Londons. He’s currently a messenger for Red London, one of four Londons, and a smuggler. Smuggling is forbidden though. Now it may come back to haunt him. When a deal goes amiss, he flees to Grey London where he meets Delilah Bard, a cross-dressing, aspiring pirate, and inadvertently sets off a deadly ripple effect that that may just threaten not only their lives but all the worlds.

I let a glorious book just sit on my TBR and not read it until the series ends. Why? I don’t know. Maybe life got in the way, and I underestimated my growing list. I regret not reading this book until now. I just want to pass this book onto the next reader and say, “Stop what you’re doing and read it. Now.”

I’ve only read Victoria’s Monsters of Verity series but have heard a lot of this one. And it is unlike any other book I’ve read. There were times where I had to convince myself not to burst out laughing, only to fail and scare my cat. I’m a full-fledged fan of her work now. ADSOM is a beautifully executed story that shows another side to magic.

 

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”

I cannot gush more about these characters. Kell is stubbornly loyal and protective to the end. That boy with those powers has a story to tell. He’s squeezed his way into my favourites list. The one character who sticks out is Delilah, or Lila. The quirky, clever, and dangerous pirate will capture anyone’s heart, then break it within a second. Her backstory intrigues me the most, and I was rooting for her from the start. I adore her. Both Kell and Lila blend seamlessly together, and I love how their chemistry carries the story. And finally an author writes a bisexual character who is realistic. I love Rhy, the devious prince from Red London and brother to Kell. You sense how much he cherishes Kell.

The four Londons take a life of their own. Victoria makes them into characters in their own right. Grey London possesses no magic. Red London strikes the right balance of it. White London is overrun with it. And Black London no longer exists because of it. She take world building to a new extreme, and I appreciate that she took the time to develop them. Don’t expect this book to be fast paced. It’s a slow burn, which she excels well in. I want the story to open up in an organic way, not rushed.

Don’t do yourself a disservice. Read this book, then proceed with the sequels. I know I will. I want to travel back to the Londons and see what these worlds have to offer.

Review and Giveaway: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Published by: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Extent: 720 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.


“But for my home, for Prythian and the human territory and so many others … I would clean my blades, and wash the blood from my skin. And I would do it again and again and again.”

Have you ever avoided writing a review simply because you know the series has come to an end? I’m facing that problem right now. Sure, Sarah is continuing with more stories in the ACOTAR world, but I want more from Feyre. Her future is still playing out. But with this instalment, Sarah creates a powerful and captivating finale that will break your heart, make it swell, and emotionally destroy you. I don’t expect anything less from her. I’m drained to the point where I need a year to heal before I read the next instalment.

Feyre, High Lady of the Night Court, returns to the Spring Court so she will bring down Tamlin and collect any information she can find to end this looming war. But as this High Lady-turned-spy plays this deadly game to discover how the Hybern King will destroy Prythian, she tests herself and her people while they race to track down allies and find ones in unexpected places.

Sarah incorporates more history of Prythian, the other courts, characters, and mythology. She teases you with just the right amount of backstory. Power plays, fae politics, and complex character developments just dance off the pages. I find writing this review difficult because I am emotionally wrecked. I laughed. I snorted. I bloody cackled (and you know the exact scene I’m talking about). And I bawled more than I care to admit. I’m just getting into Sarah’s books, but I’m impressed with how she puts in these many arcs in a single story and juggles these many characters with ease. She was thrashing me from one chapter to the next, and I had moments where I had to put down the book so I could catch my breath.

 

“The great joy and honour of my life has been to know you. To call you my family. And I am grateful—more than I can possibly say—that I was given this time with you all.”

I don’t know how much more I can marvel at the Court of Dreams or the Inner Circle. But I do. And I swear my bat babies broke my damn soul. If I were to scream to the world of how proud I am of this family, I couldn’t properly show my love for it.

 

“But for my home, for Prythian and the human territory and so many others…I would clean my blades, and wash the blood from my skin. And I would do it again and again and again.”

Feyre slays in this book. She transforms from a human who gives up her life for the beast and is then turned into broken fae who possesses a human heart to the Queen of the Night, who bows down to no one. She grows into a character who I admire and never want to forget. She has carved a piece into my heart, but she isn’t the only one.

 

“I would have waited five hundred more years for you. A thousand years. And if this was all the time we were allowed to have…The wait was worth it.”

Rhysand gives more than he has in his past. He’s willing to sacrifice himself to protect his his family and people. He nearly stopped my heart at his sacrifice. I can’t write without tearing up about it. I thought I cherished him before, but this book completely shatters my love I have for him.

 

I don’t know how, but I love Cassian more than I had at the end of ACOMAF. This glorious Illyrian almost rivals Rhys. Almost. I need more of him. I cannot wait to read more of his journey after this war. Mor, and her revelation, just seals my heartache for this book. Her history is riddled in pain, and yet she still fights for a country that may shun her. I swear I held my breath when she broke down. That little firedrake, Amren, is a hellion, and the friendship budding between her and Nesta keeps you on your toes. And do you know how long I’ve waited for more Azriel? Finally! But I just hope he finds his happiness in future books. I truly do. And here comes Nesta. My second queen may just burn down this world and not blink an eye. I can’t help but mention the friendship Az has with Elain. I squee every time I think of it. Both Nesta and Elain are characters I wonder what they have to offer. You get glimpses, but I hope I get more of their POVs. And my little fox, Lucien, REDEEMS himself. Yes!

War breaks people, their souls, and their bodies. Sometimes, though, it unearths their greatest strengths: hope, family, love, and redemption. Sarah shows the brutality of war. She doesn’t shy away from illustrating the consequences of people’s actions and choices they make. She doesn’t sensationalize it, doesn’t glorify it. And in doing so she cements herself as an author who I look up to.

And I love how she also includes more LGBTQ storylines into ACOWAR. But my one complaint is with how she wrote one in particular. She hints to a ship that may or may not exist, even though she throws you clues to it in ACOMAF. So my problem is with Sarah, not that storyline. Even if her characters hide their sexuality, these arcs should flow organically, not just be throw in to the mix like an afterthought. But I’m happy she includes the character’s development. But her representation of certain LGBTQ characters is a little hinkey.

I own only a few books that have stuck with me over the years. I can list them on my right hand. And this series takes a spot there. Sometimes it’s hard to find a book that challenges me, makes me question my worth. But A Court of Wings and Ruin forces me to think of what I’d do in Feyre’s situation. And I don’t think I’d change a thing for her. More importantly, ACOWAR shows you that, even in the darkness, even in your bleakest time, you find yourself, redeem yourself, and never bow down to anyone. I wonder what Sarah has in store for the next books.


Giveaway

Here’s your chance to win a copy of the Indigo exclusive edition of A Court of Wings and Ruin, which has the special endpapers with Charlie Bowater’s illustrations! ENTER HERE.

 

The giveaway runs from May 18 to June 6 at 12 am (EST).

 

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Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: September 20, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic

Page Count: 398

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.


Three dark queens are born in a glen, sweet little triplets will never be friends. There dark sisters all fair to be seen, two to devour and one to be Queen.

Magically gifted sisters who must kill each other, a matriarchy that rules the lands, ruthless political power plays, and intriguing world building? Now I am impressed.

Separated at a young age, magical triplets are born to compete for the crown, but only one will win. They live in a land where magic reigns supreme, and the stronger theirs is, the more control they have over their people. But laying claim to a crown steeped in pain and blood will test even the most powerful sister.

I’m conflicted. I like and hate this book. But in a good way though. It gave me chest pain (actual chest pain, people). And a part of me didn’t want to finish the book because of two certain characters. But I warn you now: this book is dark. Fennbirn survives off the murder of countless triplets. Death saturates this land. For some chapters I had to wrap my head around that thought. Why not have the triplets overthrow tradition and simply rule together? No, the Goddess demands payment. And only one queen will rule.

The whole book’s premise revolves around the sisters’ journey to the Ascension Year, where the triplets display their power and plan how they’ll kill their siblings within the following year. Interesting, yes? Three Dark Crowns grows into its own realm. Kendare immerses you in her story, and her world building will hook you (or at least, it did with me). You see, I haven’t read any of her previous work, but I’m impressed with this one. But I understand why some readers never finished it. The book slowly builds up, and while others didn’t like that feel, I loved it. Kendare gradually shows you her world, and every chapter opens up new storylines and avenues to explore. And my mind is swimming with possible theories for the sequel (I’m dying to talk about them).

Now let’s move on to the sisters:

Arsinoe, the naturalist queen, hasn’t quite grown in to her powers yet. And her friend, Jules, may just outshine her, when her people claim Jules is the strongest naturalist in the last six decades. I adore this queen. She’s sweet and caring. And she sees no reason to compete with anyone, even Jules. Her potential love interest, Billy, a boy from the mainland, makes her shine. And I thought their budding relationship cute. But Arsinoe plays with powers she doesn’t understand, and in doing so, she may have doomed more than just herself.

Katharine, oh, I pity her. She’s the poisoner queen. I can’t help but want to protect her from the Arrons, the family who trains her. How many times she’s had to to ingest poison after poison just to satisfy this family is beyond me. This queen isn’t meant for this power, yet she continues on. Her love interest, Pietyr, is an interesting character. But that plot twist took me for a loop, I swear.

I have zero respect for Mirabella, the elemental queen. From the start, I was rooting for her, and she was my favourite character, until, well, she just messes everything up. I won’t spoil the book, but I hope her sisters completely annihilate this harlot. And her love interest can simply fall off a cliff and drown, like he should have the first time. Can you tell I’m angry?

I loved the secondary characters, and Kendare just throws them at you (so make notes, or you’ll get lost quickly). Jules may be the most favourite character out of this series. She emits a strength that just draws you in. And I have many theories about this one, and I hope some come true, because if they do, this sequel will amaze me.

One of the book’s aspect that astonishes me is the matriarchy. YES. The matriarchy rules. Who would have imagined it would work in this environment? But it does. Women control the land of Fennbirn. This book screams women’s empowerment. Unfortunately, this power has warped these women.

Don’t be scared over the DNFs posts on Goodreads. I was worried too, but I gave the book a chance, and I glad I did. The politics in this book will attract any YA reader. I know I’m counting down the days to read the final book.

What are your theories on Three Dark Crowns? What do you think of it? Are you waiting for the sequel? Let me know in the comments.

Wrap-up: March 2017

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Faeries, a Beauty and the Beast retelling, beautiful storytelling, and political plays? I’m set. This series has been on my TBR list for almost a year, and I regret not reading it sooner. I’d definitely recommend it, but hold out on your opinions on the book until you read the sequel! You’ll be surprised at the turnaround.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book De

 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

How many times do I say the sequel is better than the first book? RARELY. But A Court of Mist and Fury destroys every expectation you may have. Sarah masters foreshadowing. Perhaps some people didn’t like the pacing in the book, but I enjoyed it a lot. This sequel is definitely on my reread list. I can’t wait to get my hands on A Court of Wings and Ruin.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository

 

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was a huge surprise for me. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but surprisingly, I do. I may have liked it better if I weren’t in such a reading slump, when I read it. Labyrinth Lost is a unique, diverse find. Zoraida incorporates many Latin American traditions. The culture in this book makes it shine and stands out against many YA novels. And I’m a sucker for beautifully designed books.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository

 

MOM by Collin Piprell

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

MOM has taken me on a psychedelic trip, and I’m still trying to land on my feet. Picture a futuristic world where the remaining human population lives in malls. And MOM goes from protecting people to becoming self-aware. But their world is turned upside down when they realize MOM may have lied all this time.

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Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: September 6, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Extent: 336 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland.


“It’s my turn to shape the galaxies.”

Are you looking for a story with brujas, brujos, magic, love, and betrayal? Well come here. I have a book to tell you about.

Labyrinth Lost, the first book in the Brooklyn Brujas series, takes you a magic-filled journey that will thrill you from the first to last chapter. Alejandra, also known as Alex, lives in world where magic rules and may take away everything you’ve ever loved. She doesn’t want to claim her powers, yet refusing them is simply unheard of. But when she decides to give them up, her world is torn apart when she inadvertently sends her entire family, living and dead, to Los Lagos.

I’ve been dying to finally crack open this book. Just look at it. It’s gorgeous. I’ve fallen in love with the design already. Sourcebooks Fire, you’ve done great! More importantly the author weaves together a colourful and diverse story where a teenage girl learns of self-acceptance, falls in love, and rises above her former self.

One quality that sets this book apart from other YA fantasy books is Alex’s family structure. It’s paramount in this book. And it’s something I’ve been waiting to read for a long time. How many books do I know of, where the family’s bond is positive? I can’t count on my left hand. She and her sisters share a typical sibling relationship, one I’ve been craving to read. And their mother gives up everything to ensure they’re safe. But the story doesn’t stop there.

Labyrinth Lost is rich in Latin American history. Zoraida incorporates many Latin-inspired traditions and mythology (some she’s created her own). A great aspect to this book is the level of detail in culture and lore. It keeps me turning the page and wanting to explore this world more. When Alex uses magic, it comes with a steep price (when doesn’t it?). A price that all brujas and brujos pay. And given she is a novice bruja, she doesn’t understand the consequences. Alex and Nova, a guide who conveniently knows the way, must travel to the centre of Los Lagos, an Underworld-type dimension. But magic isn’t as it seems in this other world.

 

“We all get scared and want to turn away, but it isn’t always strength that makes you stay. Strength is also making the decision to change your destiny.”

Alex, the leading lady, is a strong protagonist. She’s spunky, lively, reserved, and guarded. Instead of being afraid of her sexuality, she fears her powers, which she cannot control. She even believes that they chased her father away. Throughout the story, she faces many tests so she can save her family. But in doing so, she needs to learn how to trust in who she is, what she can do, and why she owns this power.

Nova is your typical badass. He’s cocky and sometimes self-absorbed. Yet I find his history intriguing. I’m sorry, but not sorry. I’ll always look for a broken character who has a deeper and more caring soul than any other. Rishi is a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting her to be included in Alex and Nova’s journey, because she doesn’t know Alex’s secret. But she offers an airy and uplifting side to this trio. And I love her unwavering faith in Alex.

I think the only negative I have with Labyrinth Lost is Alex’s relationships with the secondary characters. I’m thrilled to read a LGBTQ book. I want to find more strong and positive gay stories. Yet I find the relationship Alex has with Rishi is slightly strained. Rishi, in my opinion, almost worships her, and sometimes I wonder if the relationship Alex has with Nova holds a stronger flame against Rishi. I feel that Alex has more attraction toward him. Even with that negative though, I love Alex’s sexuality. She’s free and not afraid to show who she is. And I adore these parts in the book. Her sexuality doesn’t hold her back, certainly isn’t a struggle she must overcome, and is a natural extension of her. Zoraida beautifully represents the LGBTQ community, and I’m proud she’s done so.

So say your cantos, jump through the portal, and take a trip to Los Lagos. Labyrinth Lost won’t disappoint, and I’m sure you’ll be wanting more when you finish the book. I know I do.

 

“We all get scared and want to turn away, but it isn’t always strength that makes you stay. Strength is also making the decision to change your destiny.”

 

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Review: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

27840861.jpegCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Published by: Henry Holt

Publication Date: September 27, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Mystery, Crime

Extent: 546 pages

Rating: 5/5


When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.


“When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.”

I finished this book back in December. But writing this review took even longer. I adore this series and absolutely fell in love with both books. But the both of them stuck with me long after I finished. Not many books have that effect on me.

Instead of revelling in the spoils from the greatest heist ever pulled off, this badass, chaotic gang Katterdam dredges up from the ruthless Barrel looks for retribution. Double-crossed, Kaz and his group race against impossible odds to save one of their own, pull off another job, and prevent jurda parem, a highly addictive drug that changes Grisha powers, from slipping into the wrong hands.

The stakes touch on insanity. Leigh blends together power plays, masterful arcs, heartbreaking pasts, and unattainable love in this ingenious sequel. I don’t know how I can possibly express how much respect I have for her. I’m still picking up the fragments of my shattered little organ I once called a heart.

Leigh masterminds a well-thought-out story that kept me thinking and picking over every little detail, and yet she fools me every bloody time. Crooked Kingdom is one of my favourite reads in the last few years. She combines an intricate storyline, engaging characters and antagonists, and arcs I hadn’t seen coming. The character development just completes the book and series. These characters bring more vibrancy to this world. You don’t fall in love with the world; you fall for them, who keep calling you back.

 

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

The diverse team currently deals with the aftermath of its heist gone wrong. In Six of Crows, Jan Van Eck tricked Kaz, the cleverest mastermind in Katterdam. And I think you all know what happens when people cross the Bastard of the Barrel. Scheming face? Scheming face. He matures into the most cunning and well-written character out of the gang (out of any series really), yet I didn’t see enough of him. However, the moments Leigh offers you make up for his absence. I haven’t wanted a character to succeed, break the bonds that bind him, and win than I have with Kaz. You can’t imagine how happy I was when witnessing his growth. Kaz’ disability, psychical and mental, isn’t his shield. It grows into his strength.

That girl Inej has more balls than, I dare say, Kaz does. She kills it in this book. Leigh reveals her weaknesses and her insecurities, then somehow gives her a life she isn’t hoping for but keeps fighting to get. Kaz and Inej’s relationship slowly unveils. The littlest actions show how much he loves her. They’re a smouldering chaos that would bring Katterdam to its knees.

Jesper is one cocky bastard, I’ll tell you that. His past, his powers, and his growth just add to the book. I wanted to smack him in the last one, but now, I’ve fallen in love with getting to know him more. And Wylan, that little devil, may just break every heart imaginable. He somehow brings semblance to these delinquents.

Nina and Matthias grow into the brightest flame of the book. I consumed every passage, conversation, and slightest touch between the two. He transforms into the character I wanted him to be. And bless Nina, this woman owns my heart.

My love for these crazy characters has transitioned into the fanatical zone I’ve never thought I’d cross.

Crooked Kingdom lives up to the claims. It’ll make you cry, rage, scream, cheer, and otherwise obsess over Leigh’s beautifully crafted world. Each characters’ personal battles will break your heart but keep demanding more from you. I want back in to Katterdam. I want to know how Kaz will fleece another pigeon, and I just want to live in this pandemonium.

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Review: King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

91519King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopian

Extent: 528 pages

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchase


Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.


“He’s terrified.

For a second, it makes me happy. Then I remember―monsters are most dangerous when they’re afraid.”

YES. Finally, yes. King’s Cage is the book I’ve been hoping for in this series! But be warned. You’ll need a good supply of Kleenex, a support group at the ready, and strong liquor. I had nothing, and this book has gutted me.

Packed with ruthless political plays, heartache, and trickery, King’s Cage brings you back to Maven’s playground. Mare is now his prisoner. As Maven strips away her lightning ability, he prepares to annihilate the Scarlet Guard and his brother, Cal. As they watch, the resistance braces for war and recruits Reds and New Bloods, while Cal will sacrifice anything to get Mare back. But Norta barely holds itself together when Silvers turn against their own.

Victoria touches on the political landscape in Red Queen and Glass Sword, but it explodes in the third instalment. I’ve been waiting to see more politics in King’s Cage, and Victoria doesn’t let me down. Throughout each chapter, you see how much dedication she puts in to her work. She meticulously details every passage, scene, and conversation. They are well thought out. The storyline hooks you from the first chapter. And while several readers hate the pace of King’s Cage, I love it. I don’t expect a war to start off fast. It’s slow yet brutal. But when that speed is needed, Victoria just punches you in the gut with it.

She also presents new POVs, which I enjoyed reading and were wholly needed. This world unleashes itself onto you. Victoria jumps from Norta, to Piedmont, to the Lakelands, then to Montfort. Her world building expands greatly. She then throws in some fantastic battle scenes and introduces new characters who, I know, will probably just add to the ever-growing list of people who I’ll mourn.

 

“I live in a shrinking world where the only thing I can trust is Maven’s obsession. Like the manacles, it is a shield and a slow, smothering death.”

Maven uses Mare to taunt the Scarlet Guard and Cal. He turns her into his own tortured pet. And under his control, she loses her lightning power by Silent Stone and Silence guards, who neutralize abilities. I found her character development inspiring. She refuses to let him break her. She still owns her spark he can’t touch. And honestly, I’m proud of her. Through betrayal, pain, and a heartbreaking revelation, Mare emerges from the ashes of her former self and steps up to be ther leader her people deserve. The book realistically illustrates Mare’s grief, loneliness, and PTSD. And these elements adds new layers onto an already complex story.

I’m no Team Brothers. I’m Team Mare. When I read the epilogue, I wanted to punch both of these boys. I don’t understand Team Maven. No, he didn’t shield her from his world in King’s Cage, and he certainly didn’t protect her from torture either.

 

“You are only a shadow, and who looks at shadows when they have flame? Who would ever choose a monster over a god?”

The Queen may be dead, but she has destroyed Maven. What she has done to him unsettles me. Her ghost chills me every time Maven explains his upbringing. It still doesn’t excuse him though. I thought his obsession with Mare in Glass Sword is disturbing, but it does not compare to what he does to her now. Now seeing their relationship, if a twisted connection is what you call it, makes the story more complex. She witnesses who Maven was, what he could have been, and what he is now. Is that outlook a form of empathy? I don’t know. Their relationship borders on frightening. But he is one character who completely surprises me. Victoria pushes him down a path I wasn’t expecting. I thought I could anticipate his moves. But no, she shuts me down every time.

 

“The crown is in the heart, and the heart do not change.”

Sometimes I love Cal, and sometimes I want to throttle him. Pick a side! Choose her! She is right there. I predicted that his arc may take him a direction I won’t support. He’s the heir who hasn’t made a choice yet. He fights for Reds, he enlists the help of New Bloods and other countries, yet he does not choose a side. I don’t like where he’s going. All I see is pain, blood, and heartbreak.

One salvageable quality he has is loving Mare. We get to see their love story. Three books in, I was getting worried Victoria might not show it. But my God, she does. But come on! That epilogue still haunts me.

 

“An all-too-familiar ache rises in my chest as I settle onto my throne. I do my best to keep composed, quiet, and dutiful. Loyal to my blood. It’s all I know.”

I do not believe I can type these words, but I feel for Evangeline. I still don’t. Even a month after reading this book, I can’t wrap my head around my turnaround. Let’s just say you get perspective of this merciless character. And a part of me is rooting for her.

King’s Cage steps up and becomes the story I’ve been looking for. I cried. I laughed. I seethed. And I cried some more. I’m not ready for the final book.

 

What are your thoughts on the progression of the Red Queen series? Can’t get enough of it? Let’s talk!

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