Review: Song of Blood & Stone

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Title: Song of Blood & Stone
Author: L. Penelope
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers. 

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

Review:

This is a great YA fantasy story.

I loved how quickly the action began in this story! I was immediately thrown into Jasminda’s life and problems. And right after she was introduced, Jack and some soldiers appeared on her doorstep. The only problem with this was that there wasn’t any background given about this world, so when things started happening in the world around Jasminda and Jack, I was a little confused.

Once I figured out what was happening in the wider world of the story, I really enjoyed it. The pacing was great. It all moved very quickly, so I flew through the book.

I’m curious to see where this series goes. I can’t wait to read the next story.

Review: Vicious

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Title: Vicious
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Source: Purchased
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

Review:

V.E. Schwab is one of my favourite authors. She is an amazing writer. This book is a fabulous example.

Throughout the story, the setting switches between the present, two nights ago, ten years ago, and other time periods in between. In many stories, this is confusing, but it made sense in this book. In each chapter, the main character was introduced quickly, so I knew exactly where we were in the storyline.

The information in the story is unraveled slowly, but it made it so addicting to read. I had lots of questions right from the beginning, and the answers were slowly given. It was enough to keep me intrigued but I also didn’t have any idea where the story was going.

I loved the way that the disinction between good and evil are blurred in this story. It isn’t clear who is a villain or a hero, or even if there isn’t a hero or villain. Victor and Eli both have reasons for hunting out people, and they both think they’re right, but who are they to decide who lives or dies? I loved this philosophical layer to the story. 

I’m glad I read this story now, because the long awaited sequel is coming out later this year. I loved this book!

Review: Glass Sword

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Title: Glass Sword
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Purchased
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Review:

I enjoyed this book much more than Red Queen.

The characters were much more developed in this book, since we already know them from Red Queen. It was sometimes hard to know who to trust in this story, between the two princes, but it made the story more exciting.

The plot was very dramatic and unpredictable. It was a real journey, both literally and figuratively from beginning to end. Plus there was always the threat of Maven coming after them.

I think Victoria Aveyard’s writing is improving with each book. (She’s also hilarious on Twitter!) I look forward to reading the King’s Cage next!

You can check out my review for Red Queen here.

Review: Red Queen

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Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Purchased
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart

Review:

This story is a lot like other contemporary YA Fantasy novels. Mare is a low class girl who finds herself at the palace where she discovers she is special, and she is valuable to the kingdom. This plot is like the Throne of Glass series or the Selection series. I was disappointed that it had an unoriginal beginning.

I did like the dynamic of the Reds and Silvers. Though I wasn’t happy that the story began in a predictable way, I was shocked at Mare’s powers. She’s a unique character. I liked her strength, though her bravery often got her into trouble.

Though I was initially disappointed by how this story began, I am going to continue with the series. It’s very popular, and I hope the rest of it heads in a different direction from other similar series.

 

Review: How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days

Title: How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days
Author: Megan O’Russell
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy8
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ever wanted to grow a five-story tall flower in central park? How about fight a deadly battle under the subway tunnels of Manhattan?

Don’t worry. I never wanted to either. But if you’re ever being chased by ladies made of mist and you have to save the girl with the sparkly eyes you’ve never had the guts to say actual words to, there’s an app for that.

I found a magic cell phone, opened an app I shouldn’t have, burned down the set shop for my high school’s theatre, and it was all downhill from there. A drag queen seer who lives under a bridge is my only hope for keeping my mom alive, and I think the cops might be after me for destroying my dad’s penthouse.

But it gets better! Now I’m stuck being the sidekick to the guy who got me into this mess in the first place. It’ll be a miracle if I survive until Monday.

Review:

I loved this story.

It’s very fast paced. As the title says, it all happens in four days. There’s so much that happens.

The dynamics of the characters were really good. Bryant had the help of two friends, Devon and Elizabeth. This trio reminded me of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

The setting of New York City was great too. Since I could picture it clearly, it made the crazy things that happen stand out so much more, such as an enormous flower growing out of Central Park.

Though the story had hints of Harry Potter, it really reminded me of the Percy Jackson series. Bryant is unique, just like Percy. He lives with his mother and there is a mystery surrounding his father. Also, they both get swept up in mysterious things happening to them at school in NYC.

This is a great story, that I recommend for fans of middle grade fantasy.

Review: Practical Magic


Title: Practical Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased
Release Date: June 13, 1995
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman.

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back–almost as if by magic…

Review:

I picked up this book because I received an ARC of the prequel that just came out, called The Rules of Magic. 

I enjoyed this story. It was very character driven. I usually don’t like stories that are character driven, but a strong plot emerged in the latter half of this book that brought all the characters together. 

I really liked the duos that are in the book. There are three sets of two sisters. There are also dueling kinds of magic. The Owens have a natural kind of magic, while Ben likes doing magic tricks. Ben is also the science teacher, and science is kind of a magic in itself. 

I loved the ending of this story. It felt complete. I like it when all (or most) of the loose ends are tied up by the end. 

Now, I’ll have to watch the movie adaptation!

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic



Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Source: Purchased
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Review:

I was hooked from the first page. This is the first book I’ve read from Victoria Schwab and she’s so amazing. I love her voice. It is very natural and easy to read.

The characters are very interesting. I loved Kell. He is conflicted at times, and it’s hard to know what he’s going to choose to do. I also loved Lila. She changes throughout the story and becomes a deeper character. The villains were also perfectly evil. Holland, Astrid, and Athos show up when you least expect it.

The setting of the story is amazingly detailed. I loved the different Londons. It’s a fantastic world, but also similar to the real London, so I could picture where things were. At the same time, there were so many unusual things in the world, that I had to imagine them for myself. This story would make a great movie!

I loved this book! I have no idea where the next book is going to go, so I’m excited to read it.