Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Published by: McElderry Books

Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Page Count: 701

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

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Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?

And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.


“We fear things because we value them. We fear losing people because we love them. We fear dying because we value being alive. Don’t wish you didn’t fear anything. All that would mean is that you didn’t feel anything.”

I went into this book thinking that the storyline will eventually go dark. And it does. But what I expected does not compare to what I got. The second instalment in the Dark Artifices, Lord of Shadows will shatter your expectations, divide the already fractured Shadowhunter world, make you ugly cry, and change the Downworld forever.

Even though Emma Carstairs has slain her parents’ murderer, she faces a more troubling situation: the love she has for her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn. A love that’s forbidden to all parabatais. But as she dates Mark so she can convince Julian she doesn’t love him, the faerie courts stir up trouble. Mark, Julian, Emma, Christina, and the rest of the Blackthorn family race to find a way to protect their own and hope to prevent a war among all Shadowhunters and Downworlders.

I raged, I yelled, and I cried once I finished this book. I saw the heartache weave through each page and path these characters take, and yet I’m so conflicted! And I have a hard time rating Lord of Shadows because it has obvious flaws in it, but it took me on an emotional ride I haven’t felt in awhile. I warn you now that Lord of Shadow is a tear-jerker. It will demand all your emotions and tears.

Shadowhunter lovers will know where I stand. Like I said before, Cassie’s work is like a Russian roulette for me. I don’t know if I’ll like her next piece. While I enjoyed the book, some storylines were drawn out too long, long chapters were draining, and some scenes were questionable.

But Cassie’s writing has improved over the years, and I appreciate her attention to detail to the expanded faerie world, the Julian-and-Emma arc, the adorable Kit-and-Ty relationship, and the overall tension the Downworld faces. This hostility among the Council, the Cohorts, and the Centurions heavily reflects our current political environment. And what I love most of YA books and authors is how they show our flaws in our society and aren’t afraid to speak up. I have to give thanks to Cassie for standing up.

I find writing this review without tears challenging. Cassie knows how to rip out your heart. And the characters’ progression throughout this sequel is hard to read, yet each one captivates me. That endearing Mark will always bring a smile to my face. I personally want him to separate from his potential love interests. I want him to find himself, but the love triangle with Mark, Christina, and Kieran prevents him from doing so. I see a new side to Kieran, and while I still hate what he has done, I received a better perspective of him.

Besides Mark and Emma being my favourite characters, Christina shines above them all. But I hope to see a forceful side to her in the next book. She may just be the Shadowhunter who gets rid of the Cold Peace, but if she wants something, fight for it. I was waiting for her to do so. The one trio that surprises me the most is Livvy, Ty, and Kit. I loved reading their scenes, and their dynamic plays off the page rather well. Finally, finally, we see the backstory to Diana and her possible love story. You have no idea how much I squeed. And Julian and Emma come last, as always. I’m still hesitant with them. Their arc worries me, and I don’t see happiness in their future, which I find disheartening because they deserve it the most.

Surprisingly, Lord of Shadows represents many pieces in our society, from sexuality, mental illnesses and conditions, and diversity. I haven’t seen this much representation in one book alone, and I love how it naturally flows through the story.

If you honestly think Cassie’s first and second series are heartbreaking, prepare for this book. Stock up on your Kleenex and hope you don’t break down. I can’t wait to see what Cassie has in store in the finale.

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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

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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.

Book Blitz and $25 Amazon Giveaway: The Lunam Deception by Nicole Loufas

 

The Lunam Deception  (The Lunam Series #2)
Nicole Loufas
Publication date: June 20, 2017
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy

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Kalysia has lived her life according to others – a fate she will not pass on to her child. When a conspiracy to bring down the pack threatens to uncover her darkest secrets; Kalysia must fight to protect the truth about the man she wants, at the expense of the man she was fated to love.

Jase has fought his entire life. For his honor, his freedom, and his family. Nothing in his past could’ve prepare him for her. Kalyisa is everything he never knew he always wanted. Is he willing to risk his life, her honor, and Dillan’s pride to win her heart?


Excerpt

“In here,” I call to him and try not to laugh. I don’t know why I always get giggly when I’m trying to be sexy.

Dillan appears in the doorway.

“Oh baby, you have no idea how hot you look right now.”

He steps into the room and pulls his shirt off. “I’m one lucky bastard.”

“Yes, you are,” I agree.

He unhooks his belt with one hand and kneels on the bed. He bends down, and kisses my knee as his hand rubs up my leg; then stops short. He crawls up the bed toward my face.

“My hands are dirty.”

I run my fingers through his hair.

“Really? Where have your hands been?” I tease.

“I drove the Jeep from the brew-house. Who knows what kind of germs are on that steering wheel.”

He kisses my neck and presses his hips against me. The thin material of his boxers can’t contain his excitement.

“Thank you for not contaminating my lady parts.”

I pull his mouth to mine and taste today’s batch on his tongue.

“I care deeply about your lady parts.”

He licks my breast, and chills cover every inch of my body.

“My kid is cooking in there.”

He moves his hand to my belly as his tongue circles my nipple.

“I want his environment to be as germ-free as possible.”

“His?” I tease.

“Did I say his?” Dillan gives me a coy smile.

I know he’s hoping for a boy. All the guys are.

Dillan rolls me over, so I’m on top of him in all my naked and bloated glory. My swollen belly doesn’t affect his arousal. I moan so loud when he slips inside me; I’m sure Leah will comment on it later. I’m never more certain of my feelings for Dillan than when we’re having sex.

I look at him from across the lodge and sometimes as he sleeps. My heart still stammers when he kisses me or takes my hand when we’re walking. But there is always a sliver of doubt that crosses my mind. A certain way he smiles at Cassie or the sadness that creeps into his eyes when he thinks nobody is looking. I wonder if he feels it too. The only moments of peace come when we’re tangled up naked in our bed. Only then does the world feel right.

Dillan and I lie in bed afterward, watching the light in the room fade into night.

He kisses my head. “I needed that.”

“Hard day at the brew-house, dear?”

Dillan tightens his grip on me. “I got a call from my father.”

“It wasn’t good news, I assume.”

It never is where Lowell is concerned.

“He called to congratulate me on becoming a father.” He smirks. “I asked him which baby he was congratulating me on.”

“What did he say?” I try to sit up so I can see his face, but he won’t let me.

“He’s honoring his promise to Conall.” Dillan pauses. “I’m sorry, babe. I tried to reason with him, but he wouldn’t listen.”

“It isn’t your fault.” I don’t sound very convincing.

If we both just accepted our roles, none of this would be happening. Dillan sits up and turns on the lamp beside the bed. He runs his hands over his face and groans.

“What am I supposed to do?”

I assume his question is rhetorical.

If Dillan supports Lowell and claims Cassie’s child as his trueborn heir, he maintains his place in the pack, inherits Sierra-Duke, and his family’s fortune. Sometimes I believe this is a good thing; our child won’t be obligated to the pack the same way we were. Call it ego or pride, but the thought of Cassie’s child ruling over mine, makes me want to break things. When I say things, I mean Cassie.

“Do what’s right,” I tell him.

Unlike Lowell, I refuse to bully Dillan to my side. I don’t have to. Dillan loves me; therefore, he loves our child. He would never dishonor either of us.

“I will lose everything when I claim our child as my heir.” He turns around to look at me. “I’ll just be another employee of Sierra-Duke. I get nothing.”

Dillan doesn’t just lose his inheritance; he also loses status. Each leader must have a Lunam child that is accepted by the council. If Lowell gives his support to Cassie’s child, the council will honor his request. It isn’t a matter of screwing me over—these things have been done for hundreds of years.

Dillan may lose his title as future leader, but I’ll still maintain power. As long as we’re together, nothing else matters.

“You get me.” I reach up and touch his face. “Forever.”

Dillan climbs on top of me and pulls the sheets from between us. He examines my naked body and says, “I think I can live with this for the next fifty years.”

We miss the dinner bell.

We miss breakfast too.

 

 


Author Bio

Nicole was born and raised in California. She claims to be a San Francisco native, however she’s lived in both Northern and Southern California. She credits her creativity to the fact that she attended 12 schools between kindergarten and her senior year in high school. Her nomadic childhood allowed her to reinvent herself often. Some might say she was a liar. While others see the stories she told as a coping mechanism. Twelve schools, in six cities, in twelve years – give her a break. Today she channels her storytelling ability into writing novels. Long story short – kids that lie become writers.

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Giveaway

Do you want to win a $25 Amazon gift card? ENTER HERE for your chance to win! Rafflecopter contest ends June 29.

 

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Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication Date: March 8, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Page Count: 698

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?


Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.


“There was beauty in the idea of freedom, but it was an illusion. Every human heart was chained by love.”

Lady Midnight is a poignant story with a forbidden love at its core. Cassie shows the darker side of her unforgiving and sometimes cruel world and opens up new arcs that, I’m sure, will attract Shadowhunter lovers who have been dying to see what happens to Julian, his family, and Emma.

Five years have past since the Dark War, where the Downworld was severed in two, and Shadowhunters suffered major losses after Clary’s brother, Jonathan (Sebastian) Morgenstern, waged war with them. Emma Carstairs, who lost her parents in that war, looks for retribution, and when she finds similar deaths matching her parents’, and the Fair Folk presents her and Julian, who hopes to find a way to save his brother Mark, with an offer to find the killer, she can’t turn it down. The only problem is that she may be falling for her parabatai.

Cassie’s earlier series have always been my guilty pleasure. And while I enjoyed some of her past work, Lady Midnight, the first instalment in Dark Artifices, has a stronger potential than the others. Cassie injects darker tones and arcs that have kept me on the edge.

But what I enjoy the most is how Cassie explores the faerie world in more depth, builds her characters, represents the LGBTQ community, and makes this book a character-driven piece. Because of the alliance with Jonathan, the Fair Folk lost its seat on the Council and has no protection or lands. And all Shadowhunters and the Downworlders must follow this new treaty, the Cold Peace. The Council, especially the Shadowhunters, ostracizes these people. And while the war is over, tension is now rising and causing more havoc. Cassie plays off and mirrors current political tensions in our own society.

What shines in this novel is the Blackthorn family (and in extension Emma). In City of Heavenly Fire, the Blackthorns face a devastating lost when they discover that the Wild Hunt took possession of Mark after the Seelie Queen and Jonathan gave him up to Gwyn, the leader of the Hunt. And once the treaty was enacted, their sister Helen, who is also half-fae, is banished to Wrangel Island.

 

“These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.”

For the past five years, Julian—with the help from his parabatai, Emma—has been holding his family together. I cannot express how much I enjoy reading about this broken yet determined character. That poor boy just breaks my heart. And his struggle and secrets will break yours. I love both his and Emma’s character developments. And Tiberius, who also has autism, snags what’s left of my heart.

Mark has always stuck out to me. I’ve been waiting to read his story when I last read COHF. Since the Wild Hunt took control of him, pain riddles his past. Sometimes reading his scenes was difficult to get through. But Cassie captures PTSD quite well. His love interest comes from his years in the Hunt. Unfortunately, I cannot stand Kieran, son of the Unseelie King. Fight me on my opinion, but their connection seems controlling. I felt as if Kieran owns Mark, and I hated this arc. If that love interest was written in a different way, I’d support it. Mark’s other potential love interest is with Cristina Mendoza Rosales, who I think is a breath of fresh air.

Emma stands out from the rest. Even though she lives with the Blackthorns, she survives off her vengeance alone. It fuels her need to avenge her family. She reminds me a little of Jace. Fans of the Shadowhunter world haven’t seen the disastrous consequences of parabatais falling in love. Obviously, Emma and Julian travel down this road, which has a chance to split their family apart.

With this new Shadowhunter series, Cassie gives you a dark and gritty storyline, a forbidden love, intriguing plot twists, and characters who will surely melt your heart. I’m curious to see what she has next in Lord of Shadows.

Review: Lost Souls by Kelley Armstrong

Lost Souls by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Subterranean Press

Publication Date: March 31, 2017

Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Modern Gothic, Fantasy

Extent: 192 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

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The disappearing hitchhiker is one of the hoariest urban legends, and no one knows that better than Gabriel Walsh, a lawyer who grew up on folklore and myth. When author of books on the supernatural Patrick brings Gabriel a case of a hitchhiking woman in white who vanished on a country road after accepting a ride from a businessman, Gabriel knows the Cainsville elder is just trying to wheedle into his good graces. But Gabriel is a man in need of a mystery, one that will get him back into someone else’s good graces. His investigator, Olivia Taylor-Jones, has blown town supposedly on a simple vacation. But when she left there was a rift between them and…he misses her.

Gabriel is well aware the only thing Olivia loves more than a good mystery is a weird one, and this hitchhiker case more than fits the bill. As Gabriel digs into the story, he’s forced to face ghosts of his own and admit that the woman in white isn’t the only one who has lost her way.

With Lost Souls, New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong weaves an unmissable novella-length tale connected to her fan-favorite Cainsville series.


How many more of Kelley’s books can I read? Meh. All of them. Kelley takes you on a mystery-packed adventure that will surely satisfy her Cainsville fans.

After his disastrous reaction of finding out he’s the reincarnation of Gwyn ap Nudd, the king of the faries, Gabriel Walsh tries to find a way to get onto Olivia’s good side. So when Patrick, a Cainsville elder and Gabriel’s father, comes to him with an intriguing case of a woman who disappears after accepting a ride from a man, Gabriel takes it. But this case is more than it appears to be, and he must come to terms with his past and his ghosts. Set between Deceptions and Betrayals, Lost Souls blends together urban fantasy with lore to create a fascinating novella.

I admit I’m a huge Cainsville lover. Kelley thrives in her mystery and modern gothic series. For the last several years, I’ve been giddily awaiting to jump back into Olivia’s world. You get mix of fae and Welsh lore, huge dose of mystery, and––come on, you know I am leading up to this point––steamy male characters. So when I found out the book is split between Gabriel’s and Patrick’s POVs, I couldn’t wait to pick it up, even though my bank account said otherwise.

Kelley takes inspiration from lore and urban legends, but she twists them to make them her own. Her stories often turn into character-driven pieces. The Cainsville series itself has captivated me since Omens. I cannot get enough of it. So having a continuation of Cainsville just adds more layers to an already complex series. With Lost Souls, you get a better understanding of Gabriel and his inability to have people in his life. I’ll always be on the fence about him, because I feel that Gwyn holds more sway on him than Arawn has with Ricky. Obviously Gabriel’s past continues to control his present and future, but there’s no excuse for his behaviour toward the people he loves. But with this new insight, at least I feel that I can see why he acts this way and maybe acknowledge his reasoning behind his coldness.

Subterranean Press books are a luxury I’m willing to pay for. So expect gorgeous design, beautiful interior illustrations, and an engaging storyline. My hat is off to Xavière. She possesses an uncanny talent to capture any scene in Kelley’s work. And finally I can see what Liv, Ricky, Gabriel, Patrick, and Rose look like!

So if you’re a Kelley Armstrong and Cainsville fan, Lost Souls will be a treat for you. It opens up Gabriel’s world, shows you, for once, Patrick’s guilt of not being there for his son, and lets you watch Liv and Gabriel’s friendship grow.

Book Haul: October 2016

Well, you see, this month I’ve gone through a bit of a buying splurge. I don’t know why. No, I do, but I’m trying to cushion the blow. I still have books waiting on my shelf, but alas, once I see a great deal, I kind of destroy my bank account. Or my savings, to be exact.

I can’t wait to get my hands on these pretties! BUT WHY DID I BLOODY AGREE TO HAVE THE LAST TWO BOOKS BE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS?! What was I thinking? I am a masochist. Through and through. Ahem. Now cue the regularly scheduled squee moment. 😂

16096824.jpgA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I’ve been hearing pretty good reviews of this series, particularly the sequel, so I had to buy the first book. I haven’t gotten into fairy tale retellings, though. I’m a little late on this band wagon, but I can’t pass up on a book that retells Beauty and the Beast and also has faeries in it. I hope it’s great!

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17927395.jpgA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Why would I start a series and just not buy the sequel? That excuse is what I’m going with. I’m not that much of a masochistic. Screw that. I still am. But I need more faeries in my life, and I’ll be damned if I’ll wait for an already released sequel.

Some of my blogger friends (oh, hi darlings!) have told me that this instalment makes up for a few issues in the first book.

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23299512.jpgThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Don’t hate me, but This Savage Song will be the first Schwab book I’ve ever read. But her Shades of Magic series has been sitting on my TBR list for a year. I love that there are ZERO love stories in this book. ZERO. ZILCH. But tons of monsters. What more can a woman ask for? MONSTERS. Give me monsters.

…And I’m more twisted than my Mom thinks I am. Wonderful. PHEER ME.

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27969081.jpgLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Ah mah gerd. It’s here. Besides Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, Labyrinth Lost is one of the most gorgeous books I’ve seen this year. And FINALLY I get to see more diversity and LGBTG storylines in books (I have to give Sabaa Tahir more credit here, though).

I also adore how Zoriada has incorporated brujas/brujos and Latin American themes into her book.

A fellow blogger’s post pushed me to buy it. Yeah, I’m talking about you, Danya @ Fine Print!

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