Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shades of Magic Series by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (Book 1)

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.

3 Star Rating - Recommended Age:  14+
Each time I went to the bookstore I would see this book and think...hmmm...not liking the cover...might not be good.  Glad I finally decided to read this series.  And I read all 3 BACK to BACK!

As far as main characters go, Kell is intriguing and mysterious enough in the first few pages, that you won't stop reading.  Delilah is brash, violent, sassy and unapologetic about it.  But she's not like the regular smart mouthed leading female character that you quickly grow bored of.  She's unpredictable in some ways and not so smitten with Kell that she loses her sense of self or what she wants by the end of the first or second book.  Which is VERY refreshing.  Prince Rhy on the other hand is typical in his personality until the second book where he gains some dimension.  And he is bi!  How sexy does that play out in the book!!  

There's a whole host of secondary characters that grow on you.  V E Schwab's writing makes you connect to each one in some way, so they don't just fade in the background.

The 3 London world is o..k...  It's not developed in a way where you think "Ooohh, this is cool" and get caught up in the imagery, but I don't think it really needs to be for this story.  It gives a clear line for where things are happening, but I was always wondering what about Red Asia or Grey America?  Did all of the Black world go to hell or just London?  And what about Black London...I would have liked a little more suspense from that dimension since it was the only one to go dark.  The excitement grows with each book and the storyline becomes more intense.  NOT so engrossing that you can't put it down but I liked the characters so much I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  Who has secrets, who's going to betray who, will love win?  And there are secrets and endings we get hints of, but never full disclosure.  Some of the secondary character lines could have been developed more or ended properly.  All in all, I give this series a solid 3 because I enjoyed the characters and the plot was interesting.   

Monday, March 27, 2017

Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop

After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung. And the people within them now know to fear the no-man’s-land beyond their borders—and the darkness…

As some communities struggle to rebuild, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace. But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery’s shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.

With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack. But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end—with her standing beside a grave.

3.5 Star Rating - Recommended Age:  16+
I sooooo wanted to keep to my normal 4-5 star reviews of Anne Bishop books, but while I liked this book, I didn't really love it.  The story is progressing well and I did love the attention to other characters.  Ms. Twyla is now my favorite secondary character!  But it was more of the same.  Vague prophecy, cards and humans no real help, danger, whew - we barely saved everyone.  The saving grace for the repetition is that not all of the danger was directed at Meg.  The story also delved more deeply into the human side of the Courtyard and I really got into the Montgomery's family complexities.  Somebody PLEEEAAASSE slap the shiznit out of Sierra!

The romance is heating up..well, not really...between Meg and Simon, but something is going on!  FINALLY!  I like how the author gives you clues in the story about what's coming up in the next book.  That's what keeps you hooked. A part of me would have liked more interaction between Meg and the Elders, and I would like to get some backstory on Grandfather Erebus.  The seemingly friendly but deadly characters are always the most interesting.

Most emotional part of the book
Skippy!!!!  No spoilers, but can I just say the potluck dinner!!!  Skiiiipppyyyy!!!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder

Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond and a family that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.

Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person's resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.

With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surrounding the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.

5 Star Review - Recommended Age:  16+, no, no, no!  Uhn uhhhh!  I'm not ready.  I'm just not ready for it to end.  I have NEVER stopped loving this story.  I have not stopped enjoying the romance between Valek and Yelena (soooogoooood).  The sarcasm from Janco never gets old.  The way the author creates a tale that pulls you in so COMPLETELY that you cannot stop reading when it's WAAAY past the time you should have been asleep.  Like "Dammit, I gots to get up early for work, but just one more page" type of writing!

I read the last page and I do believe I started to grieve.  Just the idea that there won't be another book next year....

This series is going down as one of my all time favorites!  This book, as all of the others, is well worth the read.  I can't honestly say if I gave this review a 5 because of the story in this book alone or the series as a whole; but they truly go together.  At this point in the story, there is a relationship with the characters.  There is an investment in the outcome.  This final book brought all of those things to a very satisfying, yet unwelcome conclusion.  I can not get enough of Yelena and Valek's love story.  It never got old or boring.  In this book, their relationship is mature and settled, but no less exciting.  It seems more "Man, I wish I had that" in this book.  The adoration and obsession that Valek has for Yelena is jealousy-inducing.  The author has created secondary characters whose personalities steal the show from the main characters at times.  In my 17 year-old girl dream mind, Fisk is my boyfriend and Janco is my crazy uncle. 

The storyline wraps up nicely, with a finality to the conflicts that have built up in all of the books.  No relationship closure is left hanging between the characters, but there is still an option with the younger characters for further books.  Please....please, let there be more books.

Finally, the epilogue!
Ok, Ok, you got me....I cried

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The King's Traitor by Jeff Wheeler

Against all odds, Owen Kiskaddon grew from frightened boy to confident youth to trusted officer in the court of Kingfountain—and watched its regent, Severn Argentine, grow ever more ruthless and power-mad. Robbed of his beloved protector, his noble mentor, and his true love, Owen has anticipated the day when the king he fears and reviles, yet loyally serves, will be toppled. Now, as Severn plots a campaign of conquest, the time has come to take action…and Owen’s destiny demands that he lead the strike.

Ordered to incite war with a neighboring kingdom, Owen discovers its beautiful, reclusive ruler, whose powerful magic might even exceed his own. Together they mount a daring plot to overthrow the corrupt monarch, crown the rightful heir, and defeat the prophesied curse threatening Kingfountain with wintry death. But Severn’s evil is as bottomless as the fabled Deep Fathoms. To keep his ill-gotten throne, he’ll gladly spill the blood of enemies and innocents alike.

4 Star Rating - Recommended Age 14+
So satisfying!! And it's not the end - Whaaat?!!!! Some things did not go the way I expected. I felt some disappointments, frustrations and pettiness. Yes...pettiness! (Those who've pined for love will agree). 

But in the end it wrapped up beautifully. What good writing where a reader heavily invested in a certain fairy tale ending still enjoys the unexpected!  

This story deepened my attachment to the characters.  Owen has become such a complicated character in this book.  Warring with his loyalty and his moral compass; his undying love and the possibilities of letting go; greed and selflessness.  There were twists and turns in the plot, which kept the story from being too predictable.  But you always know in the end that good will win.  This is YA level intrigue, very low on the romance scale, but mid-level romantic tension.  Even at the 3rd book in the series, it is still a story I find hard to put down.  I want to keep reading to see what is going to happen next.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Dreamblood Duology by NK Jemisin

The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers -- the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh's great temple, Ehiru -- the most famous of the city's Gatherers -- must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess' name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh's alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill -- or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.

3 Star Rating - Recommended Age:  16+

This was a satisfying read.  It took quite a while for me to get into the story though.  It's not that the story wasn't a good one, but building up the momentum took about half of each book.  It was an emotional storyline where you really start to feel for the characters.  I really liked the unique concept of how delivering death is dealt with in this society, and the opposing views from outside of Gujaareh.  It's very thought provoking and provides a grey area on what is considered morally right or wrong.

The story was definitely not non-stop excitement, though I didn't feel the need to skip pages to get to the good part.  I got caught up in the characters and I found myself a little attached to Nijiri.  Why can't he be happy!  Why can't he have love!!!  Halfway into each book, it starts to move in a more fast paced manner and I couldn't put it down.  As always the world building is on point in a Jemisin book and the characters are well developed.  I found myself tearing up a little bit on some that's good writing.

Definitely not the best Jemisin book I've read, but a solid "It didn't waste my time".