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?

Review: Wolf-Speaker

Wolf-Speaker by Tamora Pierce7123950

Series: Immortals #2

Published: January 1, 1993

Rating:★★★★ (4 Stars)

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When Daine is summoned by the wolf pack that saved her life a year earlier, she knows she has to go. She and Numair travel to Dunlath Valley to answer the call. But when they arrive, Daine realizes with a shock that it’s not just the animals whose lives are threatened; people are in danger too. Dunlath’s rulers have discovered black opals in their valley and are dead set on mining the magic these stones embody. Daine learns that Dunlath’s lord and lady plan to use this power to overthrow King Jonathan — even if it means irreversibly damaging the land and killing their workers.

On a mission to save both her animal friends and her human ones, Daine has to master her wild magic in order to fight for the kingdom and triumph over the would-be usurpers.

I didn’t enjoy Book 2 in the Immortals series as much as I enjoyed Book 1, although in general Pierce’s writing is un-put-downable. There was a lot less action in Wolf-Speaker than in Wild Magic (review HERE), with more of the focus being on family structure and Daine discovering more about her powers.

I missed having Numair around interacting with Daine; however, his absence meant there was more focus on Daine’s personal growth. She was able to learn more about her animal control powers as well as shape shifting, which are things her mentor likely couldn’t have taught her much about anyway. These powers open up so much opportunity for what she can do in the future!

Wolves are some of my favorite animals, so exploring the pack structure from a “wolf’s” point of view was intriguing. With the level of detail, it was obvious that Pierce did her research on the topic. Even though Daine entering the minds of different animals was interesting, I’m excited for her to return to human civilization and use her powers to influence Tortallan history! I’ll definitely be picking up Book 3, The Emperor Mage, very soon.

Review: The Glass Spare

The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano29622131

Published: October 24, 2016 by Balzer + Bray

Series: The Glass Spare #1

Rating★★1/2  (3.5 stars)

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A banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.

Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

The Glass Spare was an enchanting story that I found absolutely addicting. I received this book in an OwlCrate last year, and it is probably one of the favorite books I have received from the box over the years.

I loved the world-building, although some of the different countries that were traveled to weren’t fleshed out very much, I always had an idea of the what the scenery was like. The blend of fantasy with technology and alchemy with science made for an interesting dichotomy.

I thought Wil was a strong female character who made decisions befitting her age and seemed to learn from her mistakes. Loom (the male lead) was an interesting side character, although I hope to learn more about his backstory and personality which seemed a little shallow. This may also be because he didn’t show up until a third of the way through the book. One of the issues I had with this story was Wil’s age. I kind of wish she was older because it was a little disorienting that this 15 year old girl was lusting after a married man whose wife had a child. This being said, 15 year old me probably would have found this kind of love story super romantic.

Overall, I thought this book was very strong until the last 100 pages, which is when so many overly-convenient things start to happen to further the plot. The reasons behind a few of the character’s positions and  were very hazy and didn’t make sense if you thought about them even a little bit. This really detracted from the book for me (if you’ve read my last few YA reviews, you know overly-convenient plot points have been getting on my nerves), which I was ready to rate higher up to this point.

I will definitely be reading the conclusion to this duology when it comes out later this year to see where Wil and Loom end up!

Have you read this book? What did you think about it?

ARC Review: The Raging Ones

The Raging Ones by K. B. Ritchie30301147

Published: August 14, 2018 by Wednesday Books

Series: The Raging Ones #1

Rating:★★★★★ (5 Stars)

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* I received a free copy of this ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.

I have NEVER read a book quite like this before!

Krista and Becca Ritchie are my favorite Adult romance authors, so I couldn’t wait to pick up their interpretation of a YA Sci-Fi. True to form, The Raging Ones has amazing character development, switching between the points of view of the three main characters: Franny, Mykal and, Court. I truly felt connected to the characters, and I enjoyed learning about their backstories (even if it takes a little bit to get the full picture). It is always so refreshing in a book to have male/female friendships that aren’t romantic! The romance present is also one of the things that made me fall in love with this book, but I won’t say any more on that topic because of potential spoilers.

I loved the world, and felt fully immersed in it with the rich descriptions of the environment. Even though the environment was well described, I will say I was a little hazy on what the characters looked like but that’s not a huge issue. There is still so much of this universe to explore, which is something I’m really looking forward to in future installments.

Pacing wise, the first third of the book is really dedicated to building the relationship between the main characters—which is SO important. However, because of this most of the action takes place in the last two thirds. When the pace of the book picks up, YOU DON’T WANT TO PUT IT DOWN. I can’t believe that I have to wait at least a year and a half before getting the sequel after that cliffhanger!

Overall a wholly original Young Adult science fiction novel that you should definitely put on your TBR!

Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi34728667

Published: March 6, 2018

Series: Legacy of Orïsha #1

Rating: 3.5/5

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Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy. 

An absolutely marvelous debut from Tomi Adeyemi. The world of magic  is so cinematic, it was easy to see why the book was optioned for film before it was even published.

However, this book was a major let down for me with the plethora of tropes and a writing style that wasn’t really my jam. This review was so hard to write, because to be honest, I probably would have rated it a solid 4 stars if not for the romance. Because I’m in the unpopular opinion crowd and so many people love this book, I thought it was necessary to focus more on explaining the things I didn’t enjoy and why. There may be some spoilers throughout, but I have tried to mark them.

The Writing

There are a lot of “older” YA themes in the beginning of this book (trigger warning: attempted rape happens in the first chapter). Because of this and the general bloodiness of the entire thing, I was expecting a more mature writing style; however, I kept thinking “this reminds me of a middle grade” throughout with the dialogue and character expression mirroring things I would expect in Percy Jackson. There were times where I was getting into the story and felt physically jolted out when this “younger” writing style switched to a bloody scene.

Some minor plot issues I had (a little SPOILERY): stopping to play in a river when you know that an entire army is coming after you. Screaming at someone (it’s even suggested others probably heard) when there is a super defended fortress you’re trying to breach down the hill from you. Stopping for a party when you’re on the deadline to “save the world.”  The consequences of some of these actions had me rolling my eyes because they were just SO obvious, and you’d think the characters would learn from their mistakes the first one or two times.

The World Building

Many themes in this book are based off of mythology and other aspects of Nigeria, which makes it unique in its own right. However, because the author drew so much from a real world place, the fantasy world suffered for it. While the magic system was explained, I never felt truly immersed in the scenery which I think is necessary to be truly engrossed in a fantasy novel. I did love the magic system, and really hope it gets explored more in future installments! It’s so interesting and complex and I feel like only the surface has been scratched.

A large part of the book is attributed to the god’s favors and meddling, but there were a few instances where I found myself raising my eyebrows at how easy/convenient something turned out for the characters. A lot of these were things I believe will be a lot more forgiving in a movie format than in a book, so I can’t wait to see how it’s interpreted on the big screen.

The Characters

The book often switches points of view, and I enjoyed Amari’s the best. Amari and Tzain were my two favorite characters, and seemed to be the only two that exercised common sense.

I loved the fearlessness and toughness of Zélie, but so much of her narrative was fueled by hatred and vengeance I had a hard time connecting with her while she was constantly projecting it onto others. If you’re going to learn a particular weapon so you don’t have to kill people, and preach about peace, you should practice it. (view spoiler) She doesn’t seem to learn or evolve this view throughout the book despite my hopes.

And Inan. He is one of the most indecisive MC’s I’ve ever encountered. It was very frustrating how his opinons changed drastically throughout the book, sometimes over the course of a single night.

The Romance

My least favorite part of this book by far, and spoilers can not be avoided, although I will try to keep it vague. (view spoiler) The entire thing skeeved me out because of the abruptness of the switch from violence to love.

Conclusions

Even though this book wasn’t for me, a lot of people will enjoy it. I feel like I may have focused so much on the negatives in this book because I went into it with such high hopes of a fresh and unique YA fantasy. So many tropes are regurgitated here that I found myself guessing what would happen in advance 99% of the time. If anything, this book has convinced me I may be outgrowing YA fantasy because so many things the main character does got on my nerves.

While I didn’t enjoy the book, it’s important to recognize the importance of a strong woman of color lead – a demographic that is severely lacking in fantasy books for all ages. I’m waiting for the day where I can recommend other books with similar themes as examples of novels I did enjoy. For the time being, this book is truly in a league of its own with the messages and representation it sets out to convey in a fantasy format.

I’ll definitely be watching the movie adaptation, and may check out future books in the series to see how the conflict is resolved.

 

Eliza and Her Monsters Review

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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Published: May 30, 2017

Rating: 5/5

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Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

I picked up this book originally because it was all over instagram (before release) due to it being the Owlcrate monthly pick. I am sooo glad I took the time to preorder it because of all the awesome goodies the author gave out, because it is wonderful!

Eliza is a character I felt I related to, much like Cath in Fangirl (even though I am a perpetual reader, not a borderline-famous web writer). The struggles Eliza goes through with her family and her friends are ones that any young adult can relate to.

The romance is an interesting one because both parties are scarred or damaged in their own ways. The ability of Eliza and Wallace to simultaneously heal each other was a lovely thing to watch (or rather, read about).

The pictures of the web comic Eliza writes throughout the book (as well as snippets of the novel based on them) provides an intriguing background into the characters’ lives, and made me want to read the story! In fact, Zappia has made a teaser of it on Watt Pad in the hopes if enough viewers see it a publisher will pick it up (see it HERE)! It was also really cool that Eliza’s favorite book, Children of Hypnos, is actually a book that Zappia wrote and has on Watt Pad (see it HERE). I will definitely be checking that out soon.

If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, or just like cute summer reads, go pickup this book!

Thank you for reading!

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Ready Player One

9969571Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Genre: Science Fiction

Published: August 16, 2011

Rating: 5/5

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In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

I was given this book during Big-Little week by my wonderful Little, and it took me a while afterward to finally pick it up. I cannot believe it took me so long! This book combined my love of digital stories with their paper brethren in a wonderful ride that brought into question what will happen to the world when computers become the main sensory experience.

Wade Watts proves to be the super hero he was named to be, representing the dream of gamers across the world; to become famous and rich by playing video games. He also represents a self-taught computer genius who is a programmer and tech guy in one. In short, I am incredibly jealous of his innate computer literacy, and now consider him one of my multitude of book boyfriends.

This isn’t just a story about a quest for money and fame, it is a wonderful exploration of how the world can change when you can look however you want. The ability to work and play all occurs in the same web for (nearly) free. A world completely digitized still has “castes” of a sort; only the wealthy can move freely and have the best equipment. This facet of the world brings to mind current issues such as net neutrality, as Wade battles the evil corporation hell bent on privatizing entry into this magical universe of binary.

Do you really know your friends if you’ve never met them face-to-face? In a world now full of social media, and sharing sites, it can be harder than ever to tell your real friends from those just hiding behind a screen. The evolution of Wade and his friendships with those online made me evaluate how I view online friendships (I really don’t have any friends as awesome as Ach).

The classics will always come back. I’ll admit a few of the 80’s references in this book went over my head (I’m a 90’s kid), but I found the nostalgia present throughout the book charming and interesting. After finishing, I did go searching out a few of the movies referenced to get a little more context, and I will likely reread again soon so I can experience the book with a bit more background.

In summary, Ready Player One is an action packed sci-fi thriller and is high on my list of favorite books ever. I absolutely love and felt connected to all the characters, and can’t wait to see them adapted on the big screen next year (please, Steven Spielberg, don’t mess them up). I highly recommend it to anyone who loves 80’s references, classic video games, and explorations of what is to come in all of our futures.

Check out my Etsy for a Ready Player One inspired bracelet!

Thank you all for reading!

emily