REVIEW | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (In Which We Discuss Plagiarism).

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Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 693
Published: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Goodreads Rating: 4.59/5
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Final Feeling: Angry

THIS FIRST SECTION CAN BE *LIGHTLY* SPOILERY.  I HAVE A LINE SEPARATING IT FROM THE EXTREMELY WORLD-DESTROYING SPOILERS.

See, I’m actually starting my review telling you, the reader, that I love Sarah J. Maas and her brilliant brain.  She is my top author, my only instant-buy author, my favorite go-to author.  So it really pisses me off and frustrates me beyond belief when I pick up a copy of her highly anticipated book only to reread parts of  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  

Do you know how frustrating that is?  How confusing and saddening it is?  This book was good but it wasn’t great.  It suffered second book syndrome even though it was the 5th book in the series.  Throughout the series we have followed Aelin through so much shit and then we get to this book, the fifth book, where Aelin is meant to take back Terrasen and be queen and defeat the evil forces.  Instead, we went on a really long road trip to find some TOG deathly hallows that could defeat the evil Lord.

Literally. What. The. Hell.

So my warning for all of you who still have yet to read my review, stop and go read the book and then come back.  It’s a really good book, her writing just keeps getting better.  But this review isn’t full of fangirling.


We start off pretty much right where Queen of Shadows ends.  The group arrives in Terrasen and they have to set up a meeting with a group of rebels who have been fighting the cause since forever ago.  Aelin is essentially rejected as Queen within the first few chapters, regardless of everything she’s gone through.  Darrow was a total piece of shit and I honestly got the vibe that we would be seeing his epic assassination somewhere in this storyline.  It didn’t happen.  In fact, a lot didn’t happen.  It’s like we were completely led to this point where Aelin was going to finally be home in Terrasen and then that direction of the plot just cluster-fucked and was totally scratched.  For the whole 693 pages of this book, that didn’t happen, we saw nothing of Terrasen because 98% of this book didn’t take place there.

Speaking of seeing nothing, where the hell was Aelin/Rowan in the first 40% of the book?  We got like two chapters from their POV in the first half of the book.  The focus of the series morphed into seeing EVERYBODY’S perspective and it became a lot of information to handle.  There are SO many different storylines happening all at once and it’s partly great because *holy crap she’s brilliant* but it’s also a little much.  I think the storyline would have been fine without some of these chapters.

Most of this book was an info-dump and I’m not sure it was in a good way.  I’ve seen this done in one of the books from Morgan Rhodes’ the Falling Kingdom’s series but it’s still a lot for an author ask of a reader in a high fantasy book.  Especially if the book is almost 700 pages, there’s almost no excuse for it.  I have read this series four times and I was still struggling to remember all the names, plot twists, and places.  This book seemed more like a lead up to the next book than a solid book in itself.  What I really didn’t like was that so many vital things happened BEHIND the scenes, and it would just randomly spring up that “Aelin did ______ ___ months ago” “Aelin told ______” “This is the result of Aelin doing ______ in _______ on ______”.  The results of all of these “secret” things Aelin did was just piled onto us at the very end of the book.  I would have much preferred to have actively been kept in the loop as to what Aelin was plotting instead of just hearing about how great she is.

The romance was kind of tacky.  I’m not sure why or when Raelin was morphed into this weirdly sweet “forever happy” pairing but it was a little cringe-worthy at some points.  I am completely on the Raelin ship but he’s like 500 years old and she’s 19 and their sex read like fan fiction.  What the hell happened to the 500 year old, pure blooded Fae who was a lethal killer? Why is he all laugh-y and chuckle-y and smile-y now?  Why was his character just reduced to a shitty stereotypical YA male?  Rowan is an excellent character with such depth, but it just seemed like something was missing in his character this book.  He’s been reduced to a basic male when he could have had such a bigger impact.

And speaking of things missing, where the fuck were Chaol and Nesryn?  You’re seriously telling me in 693 pages Cesryn couldn’t make a damn appearance?  Freaking ANSEL* was brought back into the storyline and the wispy desert people and we couldn’t get a glimpse of Cesryn?  They sailed to the south to get him healed and build up an Army and we got like two fleeting mentions of them in the book.

*who is that, you ask?  The chick who backstabbed Celaena in the desert in book 0.5. Yeah I had to look it up.

I’m not sure what else I’m missing, so let’s talk about plagiarism – the reason I’m really pissed with SJM and EOS.   Because I cannot be the only one in this gods-damn world who read chapters 64, 65, and 68 and DIDN’T see blatant copying from The Deathly Hallows.

Elena = Dumbledore / dead HP family knowing Harry Potter’s (Aelin’s) fate.

Nehemia = Weird Snape hybrid who was secretly helping Aelin always to save the world.
Manon = dead Voldemort horcux baby? (LOL)
Aelin = Harry Potter
Maeve/Erawan = Voldemort

Let’s start off the scene….

Aelin had a body that was not a body.

She knew only because in this void, this foggy twilight, Manon had a body. A nearly transparent, wraithlike body, but… a form nonetheless.

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“What is this place?”

The mirror had transported them to… wherever this was.

“Your guess is as good as mine, witch”

Had time stopped beyond the mists? Had Maeve held her fire upon learning she was not present- or attacked anyway? Aelin had no doubt Rowan would hold the lines for as long as possible. Had no doubt he and Aedion would lead them. But…

Whether the witch mirror was the Lock she’d sought, she’d expected it to have some immediate reaction to the two Wyrdkeys she’d snuck into her jacket.

Not… this. Not absolutely nothing.

So the Wyrdkeys are the Deathly Hallows.

The mirror of Elena is basically showing them all these collected memories. Something like the penseive in Dumbledore’s office.

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“I think.” Aelin breathed, “we have been been deliberately misled about what we must retrieve.”

“Why?” Manon said with equal quiet.

“I suppose we’re about to find out.”

A memory- that’s what this was. But what was so vital that they had been sent to retrieve it when the whole damn world was falling apart around them?

Aelin and Manon stood in silence as the scene unfolded. As the truth, at last the truth, now wove together.

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(start reading pg. 603)

“Please” Elena breathed.

The three-faced one said, “Tell Brannon of the Wildfire what occurred here, tell him the price his bloodline shall one day pay. Tell him to ready for it.”

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The one with three faces studied her. “Mala’s bloodline shall bleed again to forge the Lock anew. And you will lead them, a lamb to slaughter, to pay the price of this choice you made to waste its power here, for this petty battle.  You will show this future scion how to forge a new Lock with Mala’s gifts, how to then use it to wield the keys and send us home.  Our original bargain still holds: we will take the Dark King with us. Tear him apart in our own world, where he will be but dust and memory. When we are gone- you will show this scion how to seal the gate behind us, the Lock holding it intact eternally. By yielding every last drop of their life force.

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(memory of Nehemia and Elena talking, long long ago)

“It is Mala’s bloodline that will pay, not your own.”

Her back stiffened. “You have not answered my question.”

Elena wished she could hold back the words, keep them locked up. But this was the price, for her kingdom, her people. The price for these people, this kingdom. And others.

“In the North, two branches flow from Mala. One to the Havilliard House, where its prince with my mate’s eye possesses my raw magic- and her brute power. The other branch flows through the Galathynius House, where it bred true: flame and embers and ashes.”

“Aelin Galathynius is dead,” Nehemia said.

“Not dead.”

So Dorian Havilliard is basically Neville Longbottom.  Compliments though, mature Neville is likely as good looking.

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The words hit her like stones. “The Queen Who Was Promised” Aelin said. “But not to this world. To the Gods-to the keys.”

To pay the price.  To be their sacrifice in order to seal the keys in the gate at last.

Aelin has to die to save everyone.

“The witch mirror’s power is fading: it will not hold you here for much longer. Please- let me show you what must be done. How to end it. You won’t be able to see me after, but… I will be with you. Until the very end, every step of the way, I will be with you.”

Manon only put a hand on her sword as Aelin swallowed and said, “Show us, then”

So Elena did. And when she was done, Aelin was silent. Manon was pacing, snarling softly.

But Aelin did not fight it as Elena leaned in to kiss her brow, where that damning mark had been her whole life. A bit of cattle, branded for the slaughterhouse.

Oh. Oh!  You mean like the lightning bolt scar? The cursed life?  The pig prepped for slaughter?

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Nameless is my price. To buy them a future, she’d pay it.

She’d done as much as she could to set things in motion to ensure that once she was gone, help would still come.  It was the only thing she could give them, her last gift to Terrasen.

Elena stroked her cheek. Then the ancient queen and the mists were gone.

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So… this is where I pause.  Because as much as I love SJM, I don’t approve of this.  There are blatant resemblances to the Deathly Hallows and I really don’t think it’s possible to look away from it.  Believe me, I tried.  I expect this from other authors, I’ve even seen this before.  But from Sarah?  She’s brilliant and creative and twisty, why do this?  This kind of blew EoS for me.  What do you think of the resemblances?  Do you think it’s plagiarism? Heavy inspiration? Nothing at all like Deathly Hallows?  I’m a huge SJM fangirl (seriously, no joke) but I’m not okay with it.  It seemed like a really weak cop out.

I had a lot of problems with this storyline.  Only one thing I predicted happened and it wasn’t really in a good way, like everything else wasn’t.  The ending for me wasn’t that gut wrenching.  The whole time I was just wondering, where the fuck is Rowan?  His mate was being whipped to SHREDS and he couldn’t sense it? He couldn’t hear it? He couldn’t see it?  She was whipped like 900 times, how did he not get there in time?! How did he not freak the fuck out the moment he landed? How did his Fae senses not answer all of his questions and more the instant he was in range?  How did he not see her being dragged to the ships?  

ALSO, HOW THE FUCK DOES SJM HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MARRY AELIN AND ROWAN AND NOT SHOW US??? SHE LEGIT PULLED AN ______ AGAIN AND I CANNOT COMPREHEND.  *flips table* #allbowtoKingRowan #myGrace #bowing

Sigh.

How?!!?!?!?

I’m raising my fists to the literary Gods just wondering how this even happened.  This glorious book just… wrong… somehow.  I don’t know.  Did you read Empire of Storms? How did you like it?  The writing was excellent, and you see her growth as a writer, but this book was almost sloppy in a really non-sloppy way.  Aelin and the Deathly Hallows should not have happened.

4/5 angry stars.

 

 

 

 

BOOK BLOGGER BLIND DATE | Featuring Beth from ReadingEveryNight!

Hi everyone, happy Tuesday!  Many moons ago, the lovely Jillian @ Rant And Rave About Books created a fun bookish meme where we were “set up” with another book blogger who had similar tastes and were in different countries (see original post here).  I was fortunate enough to get paired with the absolutely charming Beth from Reading Every Night.  Since she’s across the pond in England, we did have some time difference delays but it all worked out remarkably well!

Beth is a book blogger that I’ve admired for quite awhile.  She is such active, kind, and supportive member in this book blogging community.  In fact, several months ago I made a Blogger Appreciation post and she was one of the bloggers I had included and many people agreed with me in the comments.  She’s an absolute treasure and it was such a privilege and an amazing experience getting to know her.

We decided to play “Would You Rather“, which consisted of us going back and forth with multiple scenarios – both book and non book related.  She definitely made me laugh multiple times and cringe at some of her tough questions.  In my post, the focus is all on her answers.  So if you’d like to see how it went, read on!

(PS SORRY WEIRD FORMATTING GUYS, MY WORDPRESS IS EXPLODING, I’LL REVISE WHEN IT’S NOT)

QUESTION 1:  Would you prefer an epic romance with your favorite fictional character or an epic adventure?  IF you choose a character, who?

Beth: Oh my god asking me to choose my favourite character! How to even begin?!

Well OK, it would definitely be the Rampion crew from The Lunar Chronicles, and if I had to choose only one it would be Carswell Thorne.

I’d definitely say epic adventure as well. Thorne has a spaceship and he’ll always have some kind of wild scheme up his sleeve so it would be so much fun to be part of one of those. I’d probably end up getting arrested or something when it all goes wrong but I’d hope Thorne would have some kind of escape plan in place! 😀

QUESTION 2: Would you rather read 100 extremely cringeworthy/tacky romance scenes in a row or 100 extremely sad scenes?  (A scene can be from a paragraph to an entire chapter).

Beth: This question really made me think, because if sad scenes are written well they can be really amazing to read, but I think 100 is a little too many, I’d just be a mess of tears by the end. So I’m gonna go with the tacky romance scenes, after all I am a romantic person at heart 🙂

QUESTION 3:  I feel like you’ve read Maria V Snyder’s Poison Study series, so choose which scenario you’d rather participate in:

You’re Yelena and Janco tells you he has started his own brewing company and wants you to try out several “tested” brews.  How do you think it’s go?  Do you trust him?  Remember, he could totally be pranking you and you could very well end up with a hairy chest or something.
OR
Celaena from (Throne of Glass series) just stormed back to her apartment, angry, and has decided to use you for knife throwing practice.  She’ll likely tie you up on one of those medieval spinning circle things and see how close she can get the knives to your body.  Oh, she’s also drunk. Oh, she also just had a big fight with Rowan.  
Beth: I have read the Poison Study series, it’s one of my favourites as well (I feel like I say that about a lot of books but in reality I do have a LOT of favourite series!)

I’d also definitely have to choose the Janco situation as well. As hairy as his potions may be hopefully they won’t kill me. And I wouldn’t want to cross Celaena on a good day, let alone one where she’s drunk, angry and pissed off at Ronan. I wouldn’t last five seconds against her. The way I see it I’ve got more chance surviving Janco than I have Celaena.
QUESTION 4: Non-book related: would you rather sponge bath an old man (who you didn’t know) or clean up horse poop in a stable.  
Beth: Definitely the horse poop (and there’a sentance I never though I’d say in my lifetime!) I used to ride horses when I was youjnger so I feel cleaning horse poop from the stables would be something I’d have had to do anyway if I’d have carried on. Plus I’m a bit wary of touching people I don’t know really well.
QUESTION 5: Would you rather find out magic is real (and you can use it!) or have a super power?
Beth: Definitely that magic was real. In my mind magic being real opens up so many more possiblities; are dragons real also, and all the fairytale creatures that you think of when you think magic, I don’t know byt that possibility would be there. Also there’s so much more you could do with magic than with a superpower. Peter Parker has the abilities of a spider but in comparison Harry Potter can do so much more.
QUESTION 6: Would you rather live somewhere you didn’t speak the language forever (but could visit anywhere) or be completely banned from being in the UK?
Beth:  Ohh, this is a tough one, but I think I’m gonna have to go with live somewhere you didn’t speak the language forever (but could visit anywhere). My love of travelling is too deep-set and I think there are definite ways around the language barrier I could work with. Plus my family could come and visit me so it’s not like I’d never see them by leaving the UK either. Win, win situation! 😀
QUESTION 7: Would you rather have an hour long talk with V Schwab or get free books by her for the rest of your life?
Beth: I’m gonna say an hour talk with V.E. Schwab. I think that would be amazing because I’d have so many questions I’d want to ask about her writing and her books; and, well, I’d still be able to buy her books wouldn’t I?

She’s actually going to be at YALC next weekend which I am going to, and she has a couple of panels which I am definitely going to go to so this question is pretty much a real life scenario! I’m going to go to an hours talk with V.E. Schwab and obviously I’m going to buy all her books for the rest of my life 😀
QUESTION 8: Would you rather bring back a character from “book death” or kill off your most hated character.  If you choose to bring someone back, who and why? (SPOILER WARNING: RAVEN CYCLE SERIES) 
Beth: I would definitely choose to bring a character back from the death, as to who there are so so many I would want to pick, so much death in YA fantasy/dystopian books, but I’d have to go with…

Fair warning; if you haven’t read The Raven Cycle series and plan to this will contain spoilers!!!
…Noah from The Raven Cycle series. His death was just so tragic and after being trapped in a loop as a ghost I think he’d really make the most of a second chance. He definitely deserves one, and deserves much more than he got in the book. There are two other characters; one from Cinder and one from Nevernight who would be my second and third picks if I got them 🙂
QUESTION 9: Would you rather enter a dark cave to slay a dragon or fight an evil witch who eats children. 🙂
Beth: Given that I’m not a child anymore I would definitely choose to fight a witch who eats children rather than the dragon in a dark cave. I feel I’d have a much better chance at survival that way!
QUESTION 10: Would you rather walk through the desert for two days without water or fly to Mars?
Beth: I’d be able to return if I flew to Mars right? Either way I think my answer has to be fly to Mars, my inner adventurer cannot be turned from biggest adventure of the two!
QUESTION 11: Would you rather live in an area where it only had daylight or in a place where it was only night?
Beth: I am a massive night owl so I’m going to have to say somewhere it’s always night. There’s just something about nighttime that so peaceful you know! Plus I always get too hot and uncomfortable in the summer so let’s get rid of that altogether! 😀
QUESTION 12: Would you rather never need sleep or never have to drink water? 😉
Beth: Never have to drink water. As you can probably tell I’m not a massive fan of water, I already don’t drink enough of it, and I don’t think there’s any way I would ever give up sleep!
QUESTION 13: Would you rather have 10 kids or 10 cats? 🙂
Beth: I don’t ever see myself having kids so I’m going to go with 10 cats. They’ve got to be easier to take care of, and I have a bad habit of killing even potted plants so cats would have a much better chance of surviving under my care.
QUESTION 14: (Since I’ve begun to read ADSOM by Schwab), would you rather: face Holland while he’s trying to extract information from you (that you don’t have, by the way) OR would you rather face the twins of the White Castle after disrespecting them and not bowing? (SEMI-SPOILERY)
Beth: I would have to go with facing Holland while he’s trying to extract information I don’t have. Granted Holland is a very scary person but the White Twins are even more terrifying. Also I’m 99% sure that what they did to the person who disrespected them in the book by not bowing (I think you must have gotten to that part at least) is way worse than anything Holland could do to me!
QUESTION 15: Would you rather read only reviews of popular books or only reviews of unknown arcs? 
Beth: I think only reviews of popular books. I tend to use my own opinions for unknown ARCs – based on the cover or the blurb – whether I’m going to enjoy or not but for popular books I like to read a variety of reviews, both good and bad, for popular books just because I feel I can sometimes get too blinded by the hype or the famous author if I don’t.
QUESTION 16: Would you rather have a retreat and meet all your blogger friends or keep the friendships strictly online?
Beth: I’d say I’d love to meet everyone in real life, as fun as it is talking to people online and through the comments on WordPress it can’t compare to sitting down with someone and having a real life, back-and-forth conversation you know.
LAST QUESTION: You’ve recently found out your favorite author has lost all of their senses (GOD FORBID) while they’re just starting to write the final book of an epic series that you and many others LOVE (muahahahahahaha).  

One night, you wake up hearing their thoughts in your head, asking you to help them finish the story.  As a twist, the only way you can finish the story is if you actually go INTO the fantasy world and live it as the MC.  The story will write itself into their magical journal as you go along the epic adventure (similar to Tom Riddle’s diary in HP2).
Would you rather get up and leave everything behind forever to complete this quest, or would you rather let the story never be published?
Beth: I feel like you left the hardest question for last as well! See the leave everything behind forever part has me a little stumped, as much as I love travelling I love coming back home again and seeing my family, plus there’s less chance of my dying at home as well. However I think when it comes down to it I’d have to say go into the fantasy world and finish the quest. Honestly I don’t think I’d be able to resist the adventure and, well, I’d hope that as the final book in whatever series I was going into I’d survive whatever the author dreamt up! Plus I wouldn’t be able to leave my favourite series unfinished either! 🙂

Whew, That’s it everybody!  Isn’t she a doll?  I hope you thoroughly enjoyed reading Beth’s answers!  Be sure to send some love her way either on her blog or in the comments down below!

JULY 2016

Can you believe it will be August tomorrow? Sigh, this year is really flying by.  I think my TBR lately has gotten so freaking exciting, so I’m super excited to get started!  Anyways, this monthly summary has all the goodies in it.  Enjoy!


Book I’ve Read

  1. The Harry Potter series.  Well at least books 1 and 2.  It’s absolutely fascinating seeing just how different the books are to the movies.  There’s so much that was left out and it’s awesome experiencing it all over again.
  2. A Darker Shade of Magic (review) and A Gathering of Shadows (review) by V. E. Schwab from her Shadow World series. SOOOO GOOOOOD.
  3. Poison Princess by Kresley Cole.  I just finished this book today and give it 2.5/5 stars.  No idea how this book is rated like 4.3/5 on Goodreads. ~hisses~.  Since my review slay probably wouldn’t be nice, I don’t think I’m going to review this.  If you want me to let me know.

Posts This Month

THIS MONTH IN YA | July Releases (HP OBVS + others)

TAG | The Secret Life of a Book Blogger

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Ten Facts About Me

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY | Books I Want Sequels For

THIS OR THAT THURSDAY | Do You Lend Out Your Books?

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Ten Books I Enjoyed Set Outside of the US

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY | Most Recent Additions To My TBR

Do You Have a Twitter?

REVIEW | A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

REVIEW | A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab


August is hopefully going to be a great book month for me!  I’m really looking forward to my TBR (I’ll post it tomorrow).  How was your July? Send me over your monthly summary! My evil WordPress is glitching like crazy so apologies for the extra janky post today.

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REVIEW | A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

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A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Pages: 512
Publisher: 
Tor Books
Published: February 23rd 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.38/5
My Rating: 4.5/5

I’m a little embarrassed, you see.  Why? Because I finished A Gathering of Shadows less than 48 hours after I finished A Darker Shade of Magic.  I just couldn’t not read it, you know?  After I wrote my review for ADSOM (check it here) I quickly realized how much I wanted to continue on with the series. So I did. It was REALLY good.

In fact,

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AGOS summed up: angsty | magic everywhere | holy crap | WOW PLOT TWIST | WOW ROMANCE HAS BLOOMED | is that a dress? | CLIFFHANGERRRRRR!!?!

That’s all for non spoilers everybody, get outta here if you haven’t read this book yet.

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What I Enjoyed

  • There is still fantastic dialogue! I think it was even better than last time.  The storyline and characters were so much more interesting because we got past most of the slow world building in the first book.  Schwab really gets into the characters and we see sides of them of them that we didn’t see in the first book.

“What are you supposed to be?” he asked.

There was a glint of mischief in Rhy’s eyes as he bowed with a flourish. “A commoner, of course.”

Kell shook his head. It was a superficial ruse. Despite the clothing, Rhy’s black hair was glossy and combed, his fingers dotted with rings, his emerald coat clasped with pearlescent buttons. Everything about his registered as royal. “You still look like a prince.”

“Well, obviously,” replied Rhy. “Just because I’m in disguise, doesn’t mean I don’t want to be recognized.”

  • I absolutely LOVED the conversation Kell and King George the IV had about religion.  It’s not often you see this type of conversation in fiction and it’s not often it’s done well.  I’m not sure why this hit home for me, but I feel like there was an underlying message here.

“I didn’t say that,” answered Kell. “I suppose you could say we worship magic. That is our higher power.”

“That’s heresy.”

Kell raised a brow, his hand slipping from the tomb’s lid. “Your Majesty, you worship a thing you can neither see nor touch, whereas I worship something I engage with every moment of every day. Which is the more logical path?”

George scowled. “It isn’t a matter of logic. It is a matter of faith.”

Faith. It seemed a shallow substitution, but Kell supposed he couldn’t blame the Grey-worlders. Everyone needed to believe in something, and without magic, they had settled for a lesser god. One full of holes and mystery and made up rules.

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  • I also loved the pirate privateer/thief adventure Lila was on at the beginning of the book.  I especially loved our hunky Captain Alucard Emery.  I totally envisioned him to be EXACTLY like my favorite character from Once Upon a Time, Caption Hook*.  Not only is this man captain of a ship, magical as hell, AND a Royal…

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*UGGGGHHHHHH, yes please. Just look at the GIF, he’s perfect. @_@

..He’s also a past lover of Rhy Maresh (feel the fangirling below)

“You’ve come for the tournament,” said Rhy, making small talk.

Alucard pursed his lips at the attempt. “Among other things.”

Rhy hesitated, unsure what to say next. With anyone else, he would have had a flirtatious retort, but standing there, a mere stride away from Alucard, he felt short of breath, let alone words.  He turned away, fidgeting with his cuffs. He heard the shine of silver and a moment later, Alucard snaked an arm possessively around his shoulders and brought his lips to the prince’s neck, just below his ear. Rhy actually shivered.

“You are far too familiar with your prince,” he warned.

“So you confess it, then?” He brushed his lips against Rhy’s throat. “That you are mine.”

HOLY GOD THIS WAS SO UNEXPECTED AND I’M FLAILING AND THIS SCENE WAS PERFECT.  I WAS SO DONE WHEN I READ THIS AND MY SHIP HAS OFFICIALLY CHANGED. SCREW RHYLA, ALRHY FOR LIFE.*

*PS this is now high competition for my highest rated SS couple, Malec.

Other Thoughts

  • KELL + LILA THOUGHHHHH. Why did it have to take so long for them to finally face each other? Also, DRESS?! LILA PUT ON A DRESS TO SEE KELL. It was so sweet and yet Kell had to have a tantrum and get all angry.
  • KELL WAS ARRESTED BY ORDER OF HIS “FATHER”. Holy fuck!  I’m not really surprised, but it added a huge nail in the Maresh+Kell family coffin. He grew up with these people and now they suddenly treat him like an outsider.  He SAVED their son from death and yet the King and Queen are PISSED about it.  It will be so interesting to see what happens in the next book.

What I Didn’t Really Like

Only one thing, but I didn’t like how Lila decided to enter the tournament with other experienced wizards.  She literally came into Red London four months ago and suddenly has all these magical abilities that were on par with experienced wizards.  Delilah is great but does she really have to be that great?  I guess it would have been worse if Schwab had her actually win the tournament*.

*thank freaking god she didn’t

So I figured instead of doing a formal review for sequels, I would just talk about things I liked/disliked.  This book was really awesome, I very much preferred it over the second. .

What did you think of AGOS?

review

REVIEW | A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

(This is probably the 207475th review you’ve seen of this book but that’s ok).

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Pages: 384
Published:
February 27th 2015
Publisher:
Titan Books
Genre:
Fantasy
Goodreads Rating:
4.04/5
My Rating: 
4/5

*Avoid the quotes if you really don’t want ANYTHING revealed because they’re a little spoiler-y, otherwise you are safe, friend. You are safe. They make me laugh though, so if you want to maybe giggle, read on*

Synopsis:

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

After turning down reading V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, I finally decided to broaden my horizon and delve into her work.  I won’t lie, it was pretty good.  And YES YES, I know, I should have read it earlier. What can I say? I’m a procrastinator.

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Anyways, I guess I should start off by telling you I really do recommend this book.  In fact, if you’re like me and choose books based off the cover* and don’t like this cover**, still go ahead and read this book.

*Ahem
**Confession: I really don’t like the covers and that’s why I didn’t read this series until now

Quick reasons why you should read it (if you haven’t):

  1. The plot was pretty awesome
  2. Alternate universes
  3. PIRATES, MAGIC, ADVENTURE!
  4. Perfect dialogue that ISN’T awkward and weird.

The plot was rich and well thought out.  Instead of a single world, A Darker Shade of Magic takes place throughout multiple London’s.  Kell, our main character, describes each London as having a color – grey, red, white, and black – as a way to separate them*.  Grey London is our version of London and is run by King George, completely bare of magic and extremely dull.  Red London is a place where magic exists and is ruled by the Maresh family, this is where Kell is from.  White London is a place of tyranny and violence, where civilians fight and kill for power over magic.  The last London, Black London, fell.

*This is literally the easiest way to remember, because I was kind of confused at first as to what was what

“You don’t know anything about these worlds,” [Kell] said, but the fight was bleeding out of his voice.

“Sure I do,” countered Lila cheerfully. “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,” she recited, ticking them off on her fingers. “See? I’m a fast learner.”

I really loved the characters.  Instead of doing my typical BLAH BLAH *this is them*,  I decided to broaden my sweet horizons and also show you how I pictured each character (because BAES).  Schwab did an excellent job not making each character super tacky and her dialogue was on point.

Delilah Bard is now one of my favorite female characters because she isn’t one of those WOE-IS-ME weak characters*. Lila is hard.  Lila is a fighter. Lila is a thief. Lila is a woman who relies on herself and survives.  Lila seeks a great adventure in Grey London, and finds it with the help of Kell.  She’s also pretty hilarious.  She’s also gender fluid (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and chooses to dress in male clothes and have cropped hair.

*thank freaking God

She poked at the skin under her eyes, tugged at her cheeks, ran a finger along her lips.  It had been a long time since anyone had called her pretty.

Not that Lila wanted to be pretty. Pretty wouldn’t serve her well. And lord knew she didn’t envy the ladies with their cinched corsets and abundant skirts, their falsetto laughs and the ridiculous way they used them. The way they swooned and leaned on men, feigning weakness to save their strength.

Why anyone would pretend to be weak was beyond her.

Kell Maresh is our other MC who belongs to Red London and is an Antari, meaning he can travel between the London’s.  He is responsible for delivering messages between all the royalty, and we get a great insight as to how he does this in the beginning of the book*.  In each world he is considered royalty but seems to think of himself as an outsider in the Maresh family.  Regardless of his insecurity, he loves his family and will do anything for them.

*Fun fact: At first, I actually envisioned Kell as a younger version of Willy Wonka because of his magical coat of coats in coats.
**I also learned from Schwab’s wiki page on him that he’s also a cat person and would be sorted into Gryffindor.  SO FITTING.  Totally makes me love him even more.

Rhy Maresh isn’t necessarily a main character but we see bits and pieces of him throughout the storyline.  He is the Prince of Red London and also Kell’s brother.  He’s a womanizer and acts as a sort of comic relief.  He’s a looker, hence the Brazilian hunk.

“I don’t like the way the guards are looking at me,” she said before glancing up and seeing the prince’s gold eyes on her. “I’m sorry,” she added. “I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“Then what did you mean to do?” challenged Kell.

Rhy held up his hand. “You are surely not an intrusion,” he said, pushing himself up in the bed. “Though I fear you’ve met me rather out of my usual state of grace. Do you have a name?”

“Delilah Bard,” she said. “We’ve met before. And you looked worse.”

Rhy laughed silently. “I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”

“I apologize for shooting you in the leg,” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”

Rhy broke into his perfect smile.

*MY SHIP: RHY AND LILA. AKA RHYLA. TELL ME YOU SHIP THEM BECAUSE EEEEEEE.  

There is a fluttering of romance, barely a tickle, barely a whisper.  And I, the romance loving queen, have to say that it was PERFECTLY FINE.  IF YOU’RE READING THIS AND YOU JUST GOT TURNED AWAY BY THIS COME BACK.

Why should I? – says you

WELL, the main focus of this storyline is the adventure and romance would have really dampened everything. Even though our two main characters were male and female, they weren’t forced into a weirdly awkward couple-thing you would see in a typical YA book.  Delilah legitimately doesn’t need no man, and Kell was just… Kell.  Not every hero and heroine needs a significant other to accomplish something, and not every man and woman in REAL LIFE needs someone to complete them.  Characters can be perfectly capable without a significant other, and this storyline proves just that.

Schwab’s comment on Lila: “Lila is not a sidekick, she’s the hero of her own story. She’s not a love interest, and she’s not a plot device. Her purpose isn’t just to please the reader or Kell, it’s to be true to herself, and that self happens to be a total self-serving badass.

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I keep saying this, but I LOVED the dialogue!  This may seem pretty harsh, but some authors who write YA create pretty cringeworthy dialogue.  It’s almost as if they were trying too hard to relate to us* younger folk and don’t realize how tacky it comes off.  Schwab seems to grasp the idea that young people can be snarky, intelligent, diverse, well versed, and interesting.

*LOL I’m 23 but hey, young at heart.

WARNING WARNING SPOILER QUOTE BELOW BUT IT’S SO DAMN FUNNY

“How did you know?” she asked, looking down at the rubble of the queen. “How did you know she wasn’t me?”

Well managed an exhausted smile. “Because she said please.”

Lila stared at him, aghast. “Is that a joke?”

Kell shrugged slightly. It took a lot of effort. “I just knew,” he said.

“You just knew,” she echoed


So, my final thoughts? I really enjoyed it.  It wasn’t a 5/5, but a 4/5.  I was a little “meh” with the actual world building because I wanted to get into the good stuff.  I will absolutely be continuing on with the series and I hope you pick it up.

If you’ve read the book, how’d you like it? Do you ship anyone?  How’d you like my choices for the characters, or did you envision other people as a better fit?  I’m trying to open up my reviewing style (because god damn stagnant reviews bore me, and they probably bore you too).

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY | Most Recent Additions To My TBR

  1. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand.  To be honest, I’m most excited about Gifford.

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

2. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.  Doesn’t this synopsis sound awesome?  I really can’t wait to get my hands on this.

Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

3. Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder.  NO QUESTION I am so freaking excited for this book ~flailing forever~.

Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bondand a familythat 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 thralland 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 magicianand 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.

4. And I Darken by Kiersten White. Oh the woes of siblings becoming rivals.

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

5. The Scribe by Elizabeth Hunter. I enjoyed Elizabeth’s writing in her series Elemental Mysteries, so I was really excited to see that there was another series by her!

Hidden at the crossroads of the world, an ancient race battles to protect humanity, even as it dies from within.

Ava Matheson came to Istanbul looking for answers, but others came looking for her. A reckless warrior guards her steps, but will Malachi’s own past blind him to the truth of who Ava might be? While ancient forces gather around them, both Ava and Malachi search for answers.

Whispering voices. Deadly touch. Their passion should be impossible… or it could be the only thing that will keep them alive.

THE SCRIBE is the first book in the Irin Chronicles, the new paranormal romance series from Elizabeth Hunter, author of the Elemental Mysteries.


I actually found 4/5 books from others here on WordPress, so I am too excited!  These books sound so gooooood.  What’s new on your TBR?  Do any of the books I listed appeal to you?

toptentuesday

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Ten Books I Enjoyed Set Outside of the US

Sup y’all.  I’m still reading HP but am TOO EXCITED because Cursed Child comes out next week and you best know I’ll be reviewing it ASAP.  My TBR list for August is so exciting and I cannot wait! 🙂


 

  1. Harry Potter by JK Rowling:  I promise guys, I won’t keep using HP but hello it’s probably the best fiction series of all time and it takes place in the UK…ish.
  2. Intertwine by Nichole Van: Perfect for all of you searching for some romantic historical fiction.  This takes place in the UK.
  3. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.  One of my all time favorite series!  This takes place in England and is SO GOOOOOD.  If you want a love triangle to end you this will do the job ;).
  4. The Rose & The Dagger (The Wrath & The Dawn) by Renee Abdieh:  This series definitely put me out of my comfort zone.  I had never read a book that took place in the Middle East.  Based off A Thousand and One Nights, this is a really great read!
  5. Saving Wishes by G. J. Walker-Smith: My favorite contemporary series!  It takes place in Tasmania primarily, but later on goes to different settings all around the world.  I really loved Charli and Adam.  I believe this book is free on iBooks!
  6. Soundless by Richelle Mead:  A quick and easy read that takes place in China.  I loved the setting (isolated village on a mountain), completely unique when compared to other books!
  7. Ruby Red by Kersten Gier: Taking place in Germany, this is an EXCELLENT fantasy read.  These were also adapted into movies, if you’re curious you can find the first one dubbed online.  #buydon’tsteal #notadvocatingstealing #justlettingyouknow
  8. Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren: Swoon, another historical romance.  This takes place in modern day Italy and medieval Italy (think around the Black Plague).  This is an awesome series that sounds really tacky in the synopsis.  Give it a chance if you’re curious.
  9. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.  Another lovely series taking place in Italy(?)… Europe? Something like that.  If you have not read this series you DEFINITELY need to.  Read the synopsis via the link provided, it’s fantastic.
  10. The Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor: This wasn’t my favorite storyline but I loved the setting – Prague!  It was so well done and interesting.

Hope you guys liked my list n_n.  Comment your link below I would love to see your versions! 🙂

THIS OR THAT THURSDAY | Do You Lend Out Your Books?

Hell no.

Guys, look.. If you’re considering lending your books to people, STOP AND REEVALUATE EVERYTHING.  I have lost some of my favorite books to close friends who never bothered giving them back.  I lost Hunger GamesPerks of Being a Wallflower, Harry Potter, Twilight (HEY IT MATTERED TO ME THEN), etc.  It’s the worst!

Then it’s this awkward limbo of,

Me: “Hey so you have my book from like 7 years ago”

Person: “Oh really?  I think it’s my book”

Me: “No… no.  It’s definitely mine.”

Person: “Oh right! I remember now, I guess it is”

Me: “…Yeah…. So…. I want it back….”

Person: “After all this time?”

Me: “Always

See what I did there? Yeah, never got the book back.  I do believe sharing is caring but when people keep your stuff? Ultimate regrets.

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY | Books I Want Sequels For

OH GOOD PUGS I LOVE THIS TOPIC.  I’ll make this short and sweet because I have so much to dooooooo ~flailing forever~.

  1. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling.  Is this even a question?  I feel like Rowling could have definitely pulled a Cassandra Clare or Maria V. Snyder and made the HP world a chronicle and just followed different characters throughout time.  I really think that she would have done an exquisite job, and that’s partially why I’m SO excited for the “American” wizarding world.
  2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.  Okay, this standalone book should have DEFINITELY had a sequel.  It was so. freaking. good.  At least teenage-me thought so.
  3. The Queen of All That Dies (+2 sequels) by Laura Thalassa.  I just wanted more.  I really loved the MC and King Montes and I really loved the progression of their love and the character development.
  4. Tiger’s Curse (book 5 in Tiger’s Curse series) by Colleen Houck.  Yes, hello, Ms. Houck?  WHERE THE F IS TIGER’S DREAM?  DO I HAVE TO TURN 30 BEFORE IT’S RELEASED? THIS THING HAS BEEN A “SECRET PROJECT” FOR 30947504973 YEARS.
  5. Saving Wishes by G. J. Walker-Smith. Truth be told, this contemporary book (YES, I actually read and loved a contemporary book) is already part of a series but I loved the characters and the world.  It truly was a romance that went through hell and it was just so well done to me.

And that’s it!  If you did a T5W send me over your link.  If you didn’t, what books would you like to see have a sequel/prequel?