Review: The Burning Shadow

The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Series: Origin #2

Published: October 8, 2019

Summary: When Evelyn Dasher crossed paths with Luc, she was thrown headfirst into the world of the Lux—only to discover that she was already far more involved in their world than she ever suspected…

I’m a huge fan of the Lux series, so it should be no surprise that love has transferred to the spin-off.

The Burning Shadow picks up right where The Darkest Star left off, with Evie still processing the attack by an origin and the shake up of her world. The beginning of this one was a little slow for me. It picks up right where The Darkest Star left off, and the first 40% is mainly spent with Evie ruminating in self doubt about her identity. It’s not until this mark that the main “conflict” of this book is revealed, but after it is it’s nearly impossible to put down!

This books is pretty graphic and bloody and I loved every second of it. I feel like Armentrout knew that many of the readers would be original readers of the Lux series and aged up the content to match more of a New Adult audience. There were some pretty shocking deaths and revelations (hello, massive cliff hanger!) and I’m excited to see how the story will change because of them. I read somewhere that this series is projected to go on for about five books and I’m not entirely sure how thats going to happen with the current storyline – unless we get a Lux series 2.0 situation with the end of the world.

Definitely a book and series that I recommend – although some of the reunions and world-building will be better understood if you read the Lux series first! I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next installment!

Rating: 4/5 Dark Stars ****

May Classic: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

A few days late, but here is my review of the classic for May, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare!

Shakespeare’s famous historical play tells of the events leading up to the assassination of Roman leader and dictator, Julius Caesar, and its immediate aftermath, with Rome plunged into civil war.

It’s so hard to review classics, especially classic plays. On the one had, this play is called classic for a reason and has had a profound impact on people and the world. On the other hand, I didn’t really derive any lasting enjoyment from reading it. This may be because I already knew about the events and how they supposedly occurred because I learned about it in Latin class.

One of the reasons that I wanted to read this is because I’m currently playing Assassins Creed: Origins which is set in Egypt during the time preceding the play (Cleopatra is one of the characters!). I thought this interpretation of historical events might help me brush up on what was happening in the time period and it certainly did that!

It was a relatively short read that fit into my busy schedule for this month. It was also the first book that I successfully completed on the app Serial Reader which delivers a little snippet of a classic book to your device every day (I’ve found this is an excellent way to chip away at daunting classics). Although this play did have some funny points, I feel like it would have been altogether more entertaining in the format it was meant to be enjoyed in. I hope that I’ll be able to see it performed at some point in the near future.

Review: Burn Bright

Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs35839437

Series: Alpha and Omega #5; Mercy Thompson Universe #15

Published March 2018

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Goodreads

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…

Patricia Briggs remains one of my favorite Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance writers of all time. This installment had a bit of a darker and introspective tone than previous ones, and rightfully so given everything the author has gone through the past year.

Burn Bright sets up the ball for future drama in the series and expanded universe, while remaining a strong installment in its own right. The tension is constant, and the dash of mystery thrown in just sweetens the deal. While the action was great, what made this book a real hard-hitter was the focus on relationships between mates and pack members. Some significant deaths happen throughout the book, and the way that the others must deal with it and survive is focused on.

I truly hated the character Leah before diving into this installment, but she has truly grown on me. So much more is learned about her and her inner workings in this book, and she has become a much more sympathetic character in my eyes. I’m *almost* (who am I kidding, I totally am) looking forward to finding out more about her and her relationship in the future!

All of the turmoil really helps Anna figure out who she wants to be and what she wants to try to do in the future; I can’t wait to see how she develops further in future books! The change apparent in Charles already over the course of 5 books is so heartwarming as well. I have a really hard time trying to decide if Alpha and Omega or Mercy Thompson is my favorite series, and this book only makes it harder! Briggs’ last two novels are some of my favorite in either series!

I can’t wait to read more from this incredible universe, and am in denial that I will have to wait another whole year. I realized reading through this book that I have forgotten a lot of the other things that have happened in this 15 book mega series because there is just SO MUCH, so a reread may be in order!

Review: City of Heavenly Fire

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare18629142

Series: The Mortal Instruments #6

Published: May 27, 2014

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads

Shadowhunters and demons square off for the final showdown in the spellbinding, seductive conclusion to the #1 New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary, Jace, Simon, and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian—but if they journey to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance…

Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world will change. Who will survive the explosive sixth and final installment of the Mortal Instruments series?

NOTE: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN PERIL.

Malec is the nearly 5 star rating on this book. I absolutely love those men. Their relationship and existence gives me life. I can’t wait to move on and read Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy as well as The Bane Chronicles, just to see more of them. I also love Maia and and Simon and Izzy, but the Magnus and Alec romance remains probably my all-time favorite Cassandra Clare romance (sorry Will and Tessa).

As always, Clary got on my nerves with some of her actions in this installment. While I love Clary and Jace as a couple, they really do act like dumb, angsty teenagers who seem to never learn from their mistakes. I mean, how many times can a fairy trick you before you figure out not to trust anything they say?

I originally read this series in middle school and was leery about how I would perceive the books when I binge reread them in preparation for reading The Dark Artifices. The Shadowhunter world remains one of my favorites *grumbles* even if The Mortal Instruments was a better trilogy. I really do love the epicness of the ending in City of Heavenly Fire, and can almost completely forgive the bleh-ness of City of Fallen Angels. I’m excited to read what Emma and the gang get up to in The Dark Artifices trilogy! I absolutely loved Emma and Julian and Mark and Tiberius and am excited I’ll be able to continue their story.

If you’re as much a Shadowhunter fan as I am, check out these bracelets I have listed in my Etsy Shop! (Or you can just admire this picture with the GORGEOUS 10th anniversary edition of City of Bones, originally posted on my insta @emiesnook.)

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Review: The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller36174638

Published: September 20, 2011

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

The Song of Achilles sets out to humanize the immortal hero Achilles, and accomplishes this as well as introduces a heart-wrenching romance to the classic story that had me sobbing in agony by the end.

I’m glad that I read The Iliad before picking this up because I was able to understand a few hints and analogies (such as when Achilles inadvertently cuts off his father when he’s telling a VERY IMPORTANT story) that would have gone over my head otherwise. I’ll admit that I was not very familiar with the non-Homeric Achilles myth, so some aspects of the plot were brand new to me.

Patroclus is a wonderful and caring character who I absolutely loved. Seeing him and Achilles grow together was an enchantingly beautiful experience, and was by far my favorite part. Being able to see the Trojan war through the eyes of a man rather than one of the gods was refreshing and added layers to the scene that the original text glossed over in the interest of contributing to the epic myth.

Achilles is pretty childish in The Iliad, and he remains so in this interpretation of the classic. However, Miller does an amazing job humanizing the immortalized hero, making him more than a spoiled child having a tantrum. By the end, I was crying at all of the pain the characters felt. This is definitely a book that I will pickup and reread, both because of the beauty of the relationship and the prose which I was enraptured by.

 

Review: Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake23207027

Published: September 20, 2016 by HarperTeen

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

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.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest … but she may be the darkest.

It’s been over a year since I first picked up this book, and after a LONG sitting half read on my shelf, I finally finished it as a part of the OwlCrate-a-thon challenge (you can read more about that in my post HERE)!

The dialogue throughout felt clunky because of the stiff way everyone talks. By this I mean the characters rarely ever abbreviate (It is good vs. it’s good) making the heavy dialogue scenes feel kind of robotic. It took me a bit to get into the book because of this, and I found it nearly impossible to be reading this book and others at the same time.

Overall I found the characters pretty likeable, and I’m still struggling to decide which queen to back! I personally like Katherine, the poisoner queen, but everyone else to seems to support either Mirabella or Arsinoe. My personal preference always seems to be for the “misunderstood” characters which may account for this decision.

The romance in this book left something to be desired. Yes, it’s nice to have less romance-heavy YA fantasy, but when it is included I like the men not to be pigs (illegal dark magic aside). Hopefully the next book expands upon the love interests already in place, I’d really like to know the motivations behind one of the scenes located almost at the end of the book (no spoilers!).

I’ll likely pick up the rest of the series because not knowing what happens to the queens would kill me. While the story was ultimately good and captured my interest, I just found the dialogue and some plot points a little too detracting for a four star rating.

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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