Review: Lord of Shadows

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Published: May 23, 2017

Series: The Dark Artifices #2

Rating: ★★★★★

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WARNING: SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1 – LADY MIDNIGHT REVIEW

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.


The relationship between Emma and Julian was as angsty as ever – and most of the angst probably could’ve been eliminated with a candid conversation between the two. This kind of tension is one of my favorites when done well, and I do believe that Clare pulls it off in this series. 

Seeing Cristina’s relationships with both Kieran and Mark develop was intriguing and has me questioning what will happen to the three of them over time. Likewise, I’m really looking forward to seeing some more Ty and Kit interactions. It’s safe to say that Ty and Kit are my favorite “non-main” characters. I was constantly hoping to catch glimpses of them throughout. 

I enjoyed getting to explore faerie a bit more than in the previous installment, although again I wish there was more time spent Under the Hill. My obvious personal preference is for anything faerie and I’m sooo curious about how Clare’s measures up to other popular interpretations. 

The end of this book was devastating and I would have been sobbing if it hadn’t been spoiled for me, and that’s all that will be said on that. (I somehow managed to avoid all spoilers until a week before I finished it so I’m just a little bitter.)

This book includes more hints at the end game of the series, and I’m so excited to see how all the different threads wrap up in Queen of Air and Darkness.

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices #1

Published: March 8, 2016 by Margaret K. McElderry

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

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In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

Shadowhunters have been with me since middle school, and while a lot of people say it’s time for the series to end, I’m glad new spin-offs keep coming. I waited so long to read The Dark Artifices series because I know how heavy Clare’s cliffhangers can be. I may have waited a bit too long because now that the final book – A Queen of Air and Darkness – is out, I’m still reading Lord of Shadows

I absolutely love any world with faeries in it, which is part of the reason I was so excited to start Lady Midnight. While faeries did feature in it, we didn’t actually get to go into faerie which I was a little sad about (but I have it on good authority characters make the journey in the second installment). 

I loved seeing the Blackthorn children all grown up after seeing them briefly in City of Heavenly Angels and Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy. Ty is undoubtedly one of my favorite characters from the Shadowhunterverse. The new characters of Kit Herondale and Cristina Rosales are also quite loveable and I’m intrigued to see how their storylines play out in the series. 

Teenage love angst is one of my favorite types of angst. The romance in this book is torturous and I shamelessly love it. Emma is the strong warrior, with Julian as the artistic family man. Their trials and tribulations – some of which would undoubtedly be resolved with communication – provided the real driving force behind the book to me. 

While the true “mystery”-based plot was intriguing the story did seem a bit like one that I’ve read before in the series – ultimately while I docked half a star. There were also a few instances that had me questioning the situations validity (SPOILER: i.e. a faerie horse-turned-motorcycle that can’t/doesn’t defend itself when other faerie steeds seem to be able to).

I’m very excited to dive into Lord of Shadows and I believe this book set up what may become my favorite Shadowhunter series! Have you read any of the Shadowhunter books? What did you think?

TTT: Cozy/Wintry Reads

Top ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana over at That Artsy Reader. The prompt this week is: Cozy/Wintry Reads. I’m going to take this prompt and combine it with my Winter TBR! 

1.The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – This book inspired my medieval Russia seems to have some pretty divided reviews, but I’m excited to pick it up this Winter. 

2. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – I’ve been putting off reading this book because I didn’t enjoy Shadow and Bone as much as the spin-off series, Six of Crows. I really need to finish this series before King of Scars comes out and the Russian-esque landscape is perfect for winter reads!

3. Deathless by Katherine M. Valente – Seeing a Russian themed TBR yet? This book has been pretty highly recommended on Instagram so I’m going to give it a try!

4. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand – A Scrooge retelling right in time for Christmas? Count me in.

5. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett – I haven’t read anything by the late and great Sir Pratchett, and based on the time of year I feel like Hogfather may be the perfect place to start. 

6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – I have never finished this classic, and I think that December is the perfect time to pick it up with the beginning being set around Christmas.  

7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Another classic that I have not yet gotten to. I know part of this book is set in the winter, so even though it’s going to be sad I’m hoping to pick it up soon.

8. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – A classic that I’ve been slowly chipping away at. I think this one will be perfect to read on snowy nights.

9. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson – I love to curl up with a warm cup of tea and a new fantasy world. I’ve been looking forward to reading Sanderson’s first published book for a while now. 

10. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – I feel like this book is a combination of a thriller, a mystery, and a fantasy novel. I can tell this one will keep me up late at night snuggled beneath the covers!

Review: The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley29520965

Series: Damar #1

Published: 1982

Rating:★★★★ (4 Stars)

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Harry Crewe grew up a tomboy in forests, until her brother joined the Homelanders guarding the far desert reaches. Now an orphan, she joins him. Only a few months later, asking for military aid against advancing Northeners, comes Corlath, the Hillfolk King. After exchanging a single glance, his inner magic compels him to kidnap her, without knowing why. She does not know the Hillfolk language or why she has been chosen.

Renamed Hari, she sees visions, and brings one to all, of the Golden Age legendary Dragon-Killer Queen Aerin, who smiles upon her. Hari is trained in the arts of war until she is a match for any of the elite royal guard, and carries Aerin’s famed Blue Sword. Does she have the courage to accept her true fate?

Robin McKinley is one of the writers that I consistently am somewhat confused on the first read through, and during the second or third I can’t stop thinking how absolutely brilliant the story is. Admittedly, the only books by her I’ve read are Beauty, Rose Daughter, and Sunshine (all of which are Beauty and the Beast retellings of some kind – yes I include Sunshine in this). Doubtless, I will be drawn back to this story in the near future because McKinley’s prose does that to me. However, I do acknowledge that her style of writing is not for everyone.

Harry’s story would probably seem a little dull and over-used if published today. However, considering the book was published in 1982 I can see how this may have been new and fresh at the time.

The magic system was interesting even if it did need a little fleshing out – in fact a lot of the world could have used some further explanation.

Overall an enjoyable story that I probably would have enjoyed even more if I was a tad younger. If you enjoyed this book I would recommend Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series (although I do believe Pierce’s series is better – especially in the world-building aspects).

Why Do You Buy Books? Make Every Copy Count

Why do I buy books? The answer to this question seems obvious. Because I love them! Because books have changed my life and make every day more enjoyable (or stressful depending on the scene). But in this world where it seems each big new release has three different exclusive editions, the rush to catch collect them all can cost a lot of money.

My most recent experience of this was purchasing of three different editions of Kingdom of Ash – Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million editions (for the ease of reading in the former and exclusive fanart in the latter two). After trying to reorganize my shelves to find some nonexistent space for these stunning books, I questioned why I felt the need collect multiples in the first place?

Recently someone I follow on Instagram shared that they check out library copies of books they own so they don’t crack the spines of their personal copies (something I’ll admit I’ve done in the past as well). Another person confessed to spilling coffee over a stack of books while trying to take a picture. They declared that they were okay with it because it just makes them one of a kind – and they can do what they want with THEIR books!

I’ll admit to being more in the previous category for at least the last three years – coinciding with my start in the bookstagram community – but my lack of shelf space has made me reconsider my “collector” mentality. Going through the stacks of books under my bed, I found multiple extra copies of books. There were two or three editions of some books I haven’t even read!

Looking at these different copies and editions made me wonder: Which copy means more, the one with the pretty cover, or the one where I experienced the story for the first time? The nostalgia of picking up an original copy of a childhood favorite means more to me than owning all the newly released covers. While I treasure my signed copies I know that I will never sell many of them, so does a dent in the cover from toting it around really matter? An inked on signature in a favorite book doesn’t make it more fragile than any others and why do I own it if I’m not going to read it?!

I’ve decided to make a resolution for myself: make every copy count.

No more buying copies of books that aren’t favorites or continue to remain unread on my shelves, especially if the purchase is for aesthetics or having a “reading copy.”

In the end books are ink on pages making shapes that can create worlds. I spend my hard-earned money on them and I can do whatever I want with my purchases! And yes, that can also mean standing on them for pictures and cracking spines to make reading more easy. These things don’t devalue the books in my eyes – they make them well-loved. This doesn’t mean I will stop buying special editions of my special favorites, but hopefully I’ll see a decrease in multiple copies for books I don’t really care about.

While I wrote this post to help me work out my feelings on what books mean to me, everyone has their own feelings on this topic! I hope this post helps you think about what books mean to you! Feel free to drop your own thoughts in the comments.

Fall Book Tag

It’s been a while since I did my last book tag and they’re so fun I want to get back into them! The Fall Book Tag was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. 

CRISP FALL AIR – A BOOK THAT FELT FRESH AND NEW:

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I’m currently reading This Mortal Coil, and while there are a lot of common tropes from both YA and Science Fiction in it, they are presented in such a way that they feel so fresh! So far I’m loving the book and am thinking it might be on my top reads of 2018.

HOWLING WINDS – AN ENDING THAT BLEW YOU AWAY:

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Even though I read the Six of Crows Duology ages ago, the ending of Crooked Kingdom still haunts me every now and then. I’m so excited that we will get to see more of one of the characters in King of Scars this January!

COMFY SWEATERS – A BOOK THAT GAVE YOU THE WARM AND FUZZY’S:

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I really enjoyed the romance in The Kiss Quotient, and it’s the most recent book that gave me the warm and fuzzy’s. (There have been a lot I’ve read since then that have had great romances, but none as sweet.)

BRIGHT COLOURS – A COVER WITH RED, ORANGE, OR YELLOW:

The City of Brass has been on my TBR list for ages (I even got my copy signed at BookCon this year!) but I haven’t yet gotten to it. I definitely need to before the sequel releases this January!

LEAF FIGHT – A BOOK WITH NON STOP ACTION:

Kingdom of ash

A war is happening in Kingdom of Ash which leads to some non-stop action throughout (and that’s the only thing I’ll say about it 😉 )

PUMPKIN SPICE – YOUR MOST ANTICIPATED READ:

 

Review: Vengeful by V. E. Schwab

Vengeful by V. E. Schwab26856502

Series: Villains #2

Published: September 25, 2018

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2 (4.5 Stars)

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WARNING: Synopsis and review contain spoilers for the first book in the Villains series, Vicious.

The sequel to VICIOUS, V.E. Schwab’s first adult novel.

Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.

Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.

The storyline in Vengeful is one that I’ve been thirsting for since the end of Vicious.

The time switching is something that I adored in Vicious and is part of what made it so unique and intriguing. I feel like a bit of that magic was lost for me in Vengeful, particularly in “Part 1” (out of four parts). We are not only switching between Victor and Sydney, but we have two new and exciting characters to contend with. Don’t get me wrong, I loved June and Marcella’s points of views, but the time switch on top of 4 POV started to give me whiplash. Overall, this was one of two negatives I could find in a book that was otherwise flawless by my standards.

Marcella was a dynamic villain and character that, despite her utter evilness, has the reader rooting for her. June felt a little one dimensional at times. While she does experience change throughout the novel, her backstory is only vaguely hinted at and I feel like I never really got to know her as a character. At some points it seemed like she was just used as a convenient way to get out of a situation. I’d really like to learn more about her backstory, whether in a short story or *hopefully* a future installment.

The ending definitely leaves some things open which allows for the possibility of a third book. I believe that Schwab has joked about “maybe in another 5 years” (which is how long it took between Vicious and VengefulVicious was originally intended as a standalone with similar open possibilities that are left in this installment).