Book Stop: YA Review Rampage!

I can’t decide whether to post Reviews one at a time.. Which adds up to about 2 blog posts a day or to combine them into one post.. I figure if its an ARC, I should do the author and the publisher the favor of separating it into its own post but if its me reading because that’s what I do.. then it shouldn’t hurt to combine them from time to time. With that being said here are some new reviews lol.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Publisher: Tor Books

Published: February 24th 2015

Shades of Magic #1
The Shades of Magic Universe

Genre: YA, Fantasy

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this is a potential 5 star but…. Deep Breath I borrowed this audio book from Libby, which for those that aren’t aware is a companion to Overdrive, an app allowing you to check out ebooks using your library card. I am not in the habit of grabbing the “just” audio versions of books because I have problems focusing sometimes, and in those instances I usually just switch over to reading myself. This audio book was one of the hardest audio’s that I have ever tried to listen to, and with no “read myself” option, I found myself constantly going back to re listen to a certain chapter or area because I had no clue where I was or what was happening. Honestly, the narrator seemed pretty talented with the different characters etc, but the narrator combined with the writing style.. it sent my ADD into hyper drive or something. I did finally speed up the audio to around 1.35 and was able to start to focus much better after that but daaannnggg I thought I was going to have to put this down and come back when I could get a physical copy. I’ve heard such wonderful things about this series and have seen a ton of my friends reviews of this and I was getting pretty anxious, thinking I was going to have to DNF till later, but I made it through and look forward to reading a physical copy so I would like to retain the right to change my mind on certain aspects at that time.

Now for the important stuff.. lol. This book had an interesting, amazing, very intricate and unique take on the magic world. Alternate dimensions, each a kingdom containing different types of magic, grey being the “human” dimension where magic has faded, Red being a kingdom with a great balance of magic, the White kingdom starving for magic, and the Black kingdom which was lost and closed off from the other kingdoms centuries ago due to magic taking over the kingdom. The only people that can travel between all the kingdoms seem to a race of blood magicians called the Antari, of which our MMC Kell is one of the last 2 remaining. Kell raised in the Red kingdom by the king and queen themselves travels between the kingdoms “smuggling” on the DL despite his adoptive brother Rye’s warnings against it. The other Antari, Holland, acts as a messenger between the kingdoms. During one of Kell’s smuggling attempts between kingdoms he ends up possessing a black stone, that ends up snowballing into a death defying adventure. Along the way he picks up a sidekick, Lyla from the grey side. That Lyla though lol. She is ridiculous, doesn’t put up with Kell’s stuffy crap, NEVER listens, and somehow always manages to save the day lol. Girl is a hot mess but its working I guess. I am super interested to see what is ahead for these characters, Lyla in particular since she has a particular talent of hitching rides across colors… lol.

I’m super interested on seeing where this is headed but I would definitely like to do a quick reread with a physical copy before I move forward in the series. I feel like there are parts I’m still missing… just small holes here and there, but I like being able to make small connections here and there and not having the info would keep me from my fullest potential enjoyment! I’ll be back for this series for sure!!

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Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Published: April 24th 2018

Series: Ash Princess Trilogy #1

Genre: Fantasy, YA, Romance

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars. Fantastic start to the series! This book completely captivated me right from the start, and I had no problems sinking right into the story and staying there cover to cover. I really debated on giving this book 5 stars because it was so enjoyable for me, however, I would like to leave some room to completely wow me as the series continues. I feel like our FMC Theo has a ways to go development wise, as she learns how to deal with her new role, and works through the horrors of her past, and grows into herself really.

Surviving as a prisoner/whipping post, in a conquered land to a ruthless Kaiser, after watching her mother brutally murdered before her eyes, our FMC Theo, has learned to wear her masks well, or else suffer or watch others suffer the consequences in her place. Constantly aware of the games being played with her and around her she has learned to never trust, never let her guard down, and always play along. Growing up as the “Ash Princess” in this ruthless and unforgiving court, her only “friend” the daughter of the man who murdered her mother, Theo is to frightened to even dream of a different life, one of freedom. That is until, a notorious rebel is captured and his life.. yet another game for the Kaiser to play, is put in her hands.. This rebel however, comes with a host of memories long since buried in Theo’s mind, and triggers a domino effect of decisions made by Theo to not only save herself, but maybe even plan to save what is left of her torn kingdom, even if she has to betray all the “friends” she has made along the way.

We have some super interesting plot concepts playing out here, and we have really just barely touched the surface so far of the magic of this world and the consequences of these invaders defiling their gods areas with the mining of the gems etc. I think what kept me from smashing that 5 star was the fact that we have only barely touched on the magic so far in the series though it has been set up really well so far, and Theo herself as a character is still demonstrating the mindset of always pleasing others.. This has been beaten into her over the years, to be exactly what everyone wants and I’m waiting on her to climb her way out of that hole and take ownership of herself so to speak. We also have some intriguing mysteries surrounding some side characters, that I can’t wait to find some answers about! Super entertaining read, with just enough suspense and intrigue to keep a reader involved! Can’t wait to find out what is next!
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Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis

Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis

Publisher: Razorbill

Published: September 25th 2018

Series: Give the Dark My Love #1

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I need to “clear the air” so to speak to kick this review off. I had read the blurb.. and I felt it was a tad misleading. To me personally, the blurb gave the impression that there was going to be a bit of romance in here. What happened here was not that… This was for lack of a better description.. a very macabre read. The impression of a love interest possibly saving the FMC Nedra, was a false impression lol. In fact, I feel like if I hadn’t been waiting for the romance aspect to finally kick in and get serious the whole time I think that I could have weathered this out better.

That being said I really thought this had some great potential with very interesting concepts and a well thought out magical/scientific basis. The story line was easy for me to sink into right from the beginning. It really started off with a bang. If it weren’t for my confusion of an expectation vs reality nature here. I think that I could really have gotten behind it a little more. I feel like the main criticisms I have were the characters having really narrow personalities, and there being hardly any chemistry between characters, and the back story and world building felt a little like an after thought, thrown haphazardly in at times.

Our story starts with Nedra, our FMC, journeying from her poor northern village to the city of Yugen to attend an alchemy school (seemingly for only wealthy, prominent, and spoiled rotten young adults) on scholarship. Nedra, is an ambitious girl, with a true passion to heal the mysterious wasting plague that has been popping up all over their island causing people’s blood and limbs to turn black and eventually die. She goes to attend the school and finds its like nothing she has ever known before. Apprenticed under a very strict master. I feel like the “schooling” part of this story was super rushed over, almost a fact dumb but at the same time hardly giving us any information. Most of the students treat Nedra with disdain, all but Grey aka star pupil. Honestly, I almost felt like Grey was just a side character.. he mostly just walked through the scenes, acting bored, spouting opinions or feeling sorry for himself, he really had no purpose for this story. As Nedra furthers her studies she becomes more and more aware of the political turmoil her island is in, as well as the overwhelming increase in “plague” victims. People are dying left and right and Nedra is desperate for answers grasping at anything to save them… even forbidden Necromancy. Learning that the plague is probably caused by a Necromancer, Nedra turns toward the 4th alchemy once her parents die from the sickness and her sister is struck. The island is in chaos, revolting, government officials dead or in disposed. Her Master at school has been taken in for teaching her Necromancy… Taking up her new talent she storms toward the hidden Emperor to get some revenge and find some truth.. though that truth may not be what she thinks…

There were some hidden plot twists and turns though they weren’t super surprising really. Though we aren’t honestly left on a cliffhanger… we are left with things.. unfinished I guess, and with no knowledge of where things are headed for Nedra now that she is a Necromancer. In my opinion it was a little anticlimactic and kind of ended abruptly. I did have some issues with some aspects of the book but all in all it was an interesting read.. I think it really could have been epic but… maybe in the next book…
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Voice of Power by Melanie Cellier

Voice of Power by Melanie Cellier

Publisher: Luminant Publications

Published: December 26th 2018

Series: The Spoken Mage #1

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Voice of Power by Melanie Cellier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was very surprised by the start to this series. The concept was incredibly original, entertaining, and profound to me. The first book in this series had me actually contemplating “creation” from an authors standpoint as the characters in this book battle to “compose” their magic. Also, this book really brought reading into a different perspective for me, and made me realize how much I may take for granted the ability to read and even write and the gift it really is.

In this world, just the act of writing by someone not of mage blood can bring dire consequences, even mass destruction, because people without mage blood have no ability to control the power release by written word. What a profound concept really…and the truth of it even applies to real life without magic.. or maybe even its own form of magic. Therefor, “common born” people are not allowed to learn to read, because that will lead to writing. In fact they aren’t even allowed to gaze upon the written word. Mage born however, learn to read and then properly control what they write expending energy and power into written spells that can be used at any time. All but Elena, who in a fit of miraculous impossibility, with no training whatsoever, and having never read or written a thing speaks a word “STOP” into an unruly crowd and everyone freezes.. until a power blast is felt throughout her kingdom as the power breaks apart. Taken to the Academy for mages to be “studied” and to learn control Elena must not only learn all about her ability herself since she seems to be the first of her kind.. Spoken Mage, and she must also maneuver the political intrigues in this new mage born world, all the while attempting to thwart attempts at her life for being an “unknown.”

Though we had a lot of info thrown around in here as Elena learns, I had no trouble keeping up. I did however, feel like it took almost half the book before Elena finally gets some things figured out and starts learning how her “power” works. The end of the book wrapped up awesomely, with Elena really coming into herself and owning somethings, as well as deciding what she is.. and isn’t going to put up with! YOU ROCK ELENA! I really enjoyed the characters in this book even though for most of the book it seems we are doomed to wading through an episode of “Mean Girls” with grown ups included. SMH. I really can’t wait to see where this is headed, especially with a war with another kingdom in process…
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