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: Nevernight

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff26114463

Published: August 9, 2016 by St. Martin’s Press

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #1

Rating:★★★★★ (5 Stars)

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In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

It took me so long to finish Nevernight, in part because I didn’t like to read it before bed due to the mindset necessary for this marvelously bloody book.

This is 100% an adult book, no matter the age of the main character. There is lots of murder and blood and sex, which contribute to a delicious and addicting story. I am a sucker for a good assassin story, and this book definitely delivers. Mia is a girl driven to violence based on vengeance. She is perfectly vicious with a merciful twist that makes her all the more interesting. One of my other favorite characters was Tric, who I thought was such a strong character with a story that had my heart aching.

I absolutely adored the narrative style. It’s written in third person, as a narrator tells the reader the story in a meandering prose that was absolutely enchanting. The use of footnotes to expand upon the history of the world was so inventive and made me feel as if I was a part of the world. So many areas were fleshed out and explained, with mini stories about famous historical figures and events happening in Godsgrave. I felt that the world in this book was more developed than some series I’ve read because of the mini asides.  It was a bit slow during the center with the training descriptions, but the beginning and the end were absolutely marvelous (especially the last 100 pages!).  I can’t wait to sink into Godsgrave—hopefully soon even though I have so many other books to read!

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

26795341Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Published: June 7, 2016

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

What started as beginning this book before bed and reading a few chapters quickly turned into devouring it in one sitting.

The adorable romance absolutely captivated me, and I loved the air of mystery to it as Simon tries to figure out who Blue is (and I’ll admit, it wasn’t all that obvious to me until a scene about halfway through). I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was so happy when they finally get together. I just wanted the book to keep going so I could see them grow and develop even more.

All of the drama throughout is typically high-schoolerish and was so refreshing because of how well done it was. I feel like a lot of YA often overdo the drama, but this added to the story without taking anything away. Going along with this, I could totally see myself in the situations described which contributed to the realism of the story.

Overall an absolutely wonderful story and quick read that I will be recommending to all of my YA-loving friends. Now, I can’t wait to see the movie adaptation this year!

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Warcross Review

29385546Warcross by Marie Lu

Published September 12, 2017

Series: Warcross #1

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

I just accidentally read this entire book when I picked it up for quick study-break release D:. This book was everything I could ever want as a gamer and a lover of dystopian fiction. I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT ONE TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS.

I was really worried about this book being a YA rip-off of Ready Player One, which is a threat I saw in some other reviews. However, other than the virtual reality gaming aspect, I didn’t see many similarities. I can’t believe I didn’t pick this book up for so long because of these fears. The YA feel of Warcross was really enjoyable to me (although I still enjoyed the gaming part the most), because I love a good romance mixed in with my worldwide drama.

Emika is an amazing and strong and awesome heroine that I want to be best friends with. She has overcome so much in her life, and I just want to give her a big hug (even though she doesn’t need it because she’s a bada$$ person).

And HIDEO. Ugh, I love him so much, and I’m so angry right now, but I still love him…and that’s about all I can say without spoiling anything.

In summary – GO READ THIS BOOK. Or, you know, wait until the next one comes out so you don’t need to WAIT IN AGONY for a year +. AND THEN READ IT.

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Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Vicious by V. E. Schwab13638125

Published September 23, 2013

Series Villains #1

Rating   5 / 5

Goodreads

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?

I am a sucker for morally ambiguous characters, and this book introduces many poster children for the term. Victor Vale is a horrendous excuse for a human being. In fact, almost all characters in this book are.

Previously, all my favorite characters have been thieves with an agenda or assassins with a purpose, but one thing they all had in common was they faced an obvious foe with a somewhat malicious agenda. I love this story because there is no obvious line in the sand. EVERYONE is horrible and…VISCOUS, trying to advance their own agenda at whatever cost. The question of allegiance lies with the reader’s decision on who is the most “justified” (if anything these characters do is truly justifiable).

As a bit of a science nerd, the veneer of scientific reasoning surrounding the ExtraOrdinary’s “origin story” provided a major bonus. In the word’s of Victor Vale:

“Science, even completely fiction, [holds] sway.”

The time-skipping in this book was also flawlessly executed. Rather than laying all the characters’ beef out in chronological order, the quick flips to the past and the present made Vicious a true page turner. I was up until about 1 AM yesterday because I HAD TO KNOW why Eli and Victor hated each other so much (and what would happen to Sydney and Dol, two of my favorites).

All that being said, this novel is not for the faint of heart. Murders and blood and gore galore grace these glorious pages as Victor Vale searches for revenge on his once-friend. Despite his utter awfulness, Victor Vale is definitely one of my favorite characters for-EVER. I’m super excited that Schwab recently announced this previously stand-alone novel will now be a trilogy!!! Even though Vengeful (Villains #2) isn’t fully written yet, it’s definitely on my to-read list. I can’t wait to read more about these ExtraOrdinary individuals and whatever troubles they get up to.

Thanks for reading!

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A Darker Shade of Magic

22055262A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Series A Darker Shade of Magic #1

Published February 24, 2015

Rating 5/5

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

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand 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 can’t believe it took me so long to read this book! I actually recommended this series to two people I knew would enjoy it, and they ended up reading all three books before I picked the first one up myself! The world of the four Londons is enrapturing. Schwab’s exploration of the differences between the planes of existence is seamless and leaves the reader feeling as if they’ve lived in the world for years.

Kell is the perfect morally ambiguous hero, with his straight-laced job and dangerous compulsion to break the rules, which makes him the perfect partner for Lila (or is the partnership supposed to be the other way around?). Lila’s desire for adventures is a lure that pulls at the soul of the reader, urging them to embark on adventures with her. While Kell is my magical ginger baby, Lila is the knife’s edge that draws the attention. I probably love her so much because she reminds me of another one of my favorite characters, Aelin from the Throne of Glass series, with her sassy remarks and take-no-prisoners attitude.

The magic system is unlike any I’ve read about before. The way the different cultures perceive magic was very interesting, and left me with many questions I hope to find answers to in the later books. And I will definitely be reading those soon! I already own the next two thanks to luck at a used bookstore and Bookcon sale 😉 and they’ve rocketed to the top of my TBR pile. Definitely check these books out if you haven’t already! I can’t wait to read all of Schwab’s other books.

Thank you for reading!

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A Court of Wings and Ruin Review

31451174A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Published: May 2, 2017

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3

Rating: 5/5

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.

Sarah J. Maas’  does it again with A Court of Wings and Ruin. I was wary going into this book, because this is the first Maas “ending” that readers have experienced. Ending is in quotation marks because, without giving anything away, it doesn’t wrap up all the storylines. Yes, the major plot that has been building for the past three books has been completed, but so many other characters have stories that are left hanging.

Don’t get me wrong, this story was an absolutely wonderful conclusion to an amazing trilogy about Feyre Archeron. I absolutely loved this book and all the action, adventure, and friendships that are jam-packed into it. But…all the other characters we have grown to love throughout the series are kind of left out to dry. I can’t wait for the already announced spin-off series (which will hopefully wrap up those loose ends about all those other characters I have become emotionally invested in).

In short, READ THIS SERIES. IT IS LIFE CHANGING, AND I LOVE IT. But don’t expect to be satisfied by this book if you care about any character other than Feyre. Can I ever be satisfied at the end of a Maas book though? I always want more!

 

*****SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK AHEAD*****

 

I was so excited to see more of Elain Archeron, who is one of the characters I find most intriguing. As a hardcore shipper of Elucien, the lack of coupling of the two throughout the book was disappointing, especially because they seem to misunderstand each other so much. I feel like there was a lot of hinting at Lucien getting his own book in the spin-offs however, which I hope and pray for. In my eyes, Lucien is one of the most misunderstood characters in the series, and I’m excited to see more of his journey. The new human queen, Vassa, is also very intriguing and seems like she will play a big role in the stories to come.

My next favorite pairing, Nesta Archeron and Cassian did not get any sort of conclusion either.From watching previous interviews, I know that this couple is also one of Maas’ favorites, so likely a book or two (or three?) will be dedicated to their story. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT FOR ALL THESE DIFFERENT BOOKS?

I was excited to learn more about Mor, but again I feel like another book needs to be written about her story; both a backstory and a some kind of resolution for her future. Going into ACOWAR, I really thought that Moren was going to happen, it seems Amren and Varian are going to get a happy ending. Amren and Varian were cute together throughout, and they both deserve their happy endings.

And while this may sound a little strange, because I didn’t want ANYONE to die, the fact that no major character did really surprised me. *SPOILER FOR CROOKED KINGDOM* Maybe Leigh Bardugo crushed all my hopes and dreams of everyone making it out alive.

While Feyre and Rhys’ stories did wrap up well, Sarah still has a LOT of writing to do for me to be satisfied with the characters in this series. I’m looking forward to seeing Feyrhys as cameos in future stories (and their children?), but EVERYONE ELSE needs their own endings!

Still a 5/5 stars, as I believe all Maas books are. I can’t wait to reread to analyze all the characters more!

In other news…

I will be seeing Sarah J. Maas in Baltimore on Thursday and will hopefully be posting a summary of her Q&A session for this interested, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading,

emily