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

Series:
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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Bookstops…and then some..

So we have been having wonderful weather in our neck of the woods… or town w/e, lately, and so I have been running train on some audio’s that fit our Goodreads group challenge “Gimme a V” for this month, all the while I knock out my seemingly never ending honey “do this or else” list. I’ve become aware of multiple things…

1. My beloved huskies Jake and Jax are sick and tired of winter, it being too cold to get in our “long” walks, as evidenced by the multiple holes dug in the back yard and the several successful escape attempts over the past week or two.

2. The search for audios on KU when I need a quick fix is getting harder and harder.

Therefor in light of these discoveries, I have started a list of KU audio’s that I super enjoyed and hope that I can con some of you guys to into pointing me in the direction of more, and also we over the last couple days have gotten in some good long walks with the boys, and I got pictures…

Jake and Jax my beautiful fur babies!

I also got some pictures of my husband and his idea of “walking the dogs.” I can see now why one of the wagon wheels are bent….

Either way with the walks and the chores I got in some audio and snuck in some reading time (hiding in the bathroom). Here are a couple new reviews:

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Published: June 4th 2013

Series: The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #2Grishaverse

Genres: Fantasy, YA, Romance

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Really I’m thinking 3.5 for this continuation because I was on the cusp of loving it, honestly, I’m just ready for some end game here. I’m a little discouraged at the end of this book, we need something good for morale. I will say that the addition of certain quirky, sarcastic and charming princely characters really was necessary for some intermittent humor and the occasional pick me up. Though it did turn a little darker, I don’t necessarily agree with others that it was all Alina, honestly I feel like we take a turn after the first book and we are left with almost no hope for a while. Alina spends a lot of this book coming to grips with herself basically, she is still on that “I want a normal life” train for a lot of this book. Despite the Darkling and Nikolai and so many other people really needing her to step up she is clinging to Mal and her old life so hard it gave the book kind of a depressing feel as she battles through that.

In this second book of the GrishaVerse series. Alina and Mal don’t last long on their own. Alina suppressing her power once again begins to turn her back into the sickly wafe she was before she discovered it, and Alina is having a really hard time dealing with some self inflicted guilt over the occurrences in the last book. Recaptured by the Darkling, they soon discover that he has plans to make Alina even more powerful, maybe even into something else, and he has a whole new bag of intimidating tricks. While fighting for the next amplifier, they escape with the help of my new favorite character in this series. The dashing, clever, charming, and entirely ridiculous privateer Sturmhond and his crew of misfits turn the tide on the darkling and help Alina escape, to be taken to his “client.” Agreeing to head back to the kingdom in order to save Ravka, Alina and Mal are shocked and dismayed to find out the Privateers actual identity, Nikolai Lantsov, yadda yadda, etc etc. AKA big fat lying sack of…. ahem. Alina and Nikolai ally up, and the king agrees to let Alina command what is left of the Grisha.. which is a whole lotta headache in itself. They await the Darkling’s next move, while they uncover the identity of a third amplifier and come closer and closer to Alina’s true purpose… albeit maybe too late…..

Though I can’t say we are left on a cliffhanger, truthfully we are left with some shocking information from Alina, and a super uncertain future. Who knows where this adventure is headed next. I do hope Alina comes into some self confidence before the next book and goes ape crap all over some Darkling…. but we shall see…



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The Vanishing Girl by Laura Thalassa

Publisher: Skyscape

Published: August 19th 2014

Series: The Vanishing Girl #1

Genres: NA, Romance, Fantasy, Scifi, YA

The Vanishing Girl by Laura Thalassa

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I need to start off by saying I listened to the audio, which was available on KU, while knocking things off my honey do list. I thought the narrator Rachel Vivette did a great job. She has one of those voices where I spent most of the book trying to figure out what other books I’ve listened to her narrate but couldn’t figure it out lol. I’m not sure if its the story line itself that kept me from loving this or the intense unfairness of this whole situation. I liked the book, it was interesting, had a kind of syfy feel, and was unique, I just couldn’t seem to reconcile the fact that there was some genetic tampering to increase defiance in our FMC, and yet we are just being played like a pawn.

FMC, Ember, discovered at puberty that she is different from everyone else. As soon as she goes to sleep for brief intervals she teleports somewhere else. Starting off in the story, this was a tad confusing and a little jarring because there really isn’t alot of information about this or any backstory really but we slowly get more and more answers as well as uncover all kinds secrets as the plot progresses. Lately during her teleportation episodes she has wound up in strange places with strange and sometimes disturbing written instructions on her person. During one of her more strange episodes she breaks into a safe, and just knows she is going to be busted for it. However, the next day to her astonishment just when she thinks she is going to jail, her mother breaks down and tells her she has been apart of a government program since conception, in fact this program is what caused her conception to even be possible, and now she has to pay for it via military service. Immediately she thinks to run but has no shot against this caliber of military and she finds herself in a group home, military school, type setting with almost no hope of escape, but she has finally found others with abilities like hers. Apparently she has been genetically engineered to be a weapon and now its time to do her thing. As she becomes more oriented to her tasks, she slowly discovers more and more about this program and the people who run it and becomes horrified by some of the things she finds, while at the same time she becomes closer and closer to her “pair” Caden…/sigh. Ember begins playing a dangerous game of discover and expose all the while trying to keep her and Caden from becoming one more file in a growing list of teleporters dead due to “splicing,” and each mission gets more and more dangerous but maybe not as dangerous as home base….

Character wise, though Ember did start to grown on me, I really wasn’t a huge fan of her for a lot of the story. She’s very hostile and negative for most of the story and it comes across as immature at times. Caden on the other hand… comes across as almost too perfect with his super human everything and soft sensitive side… Give the dude some flaws already… geez. Secrets and reveals come a little slow here which had me at the “omg I’mma pull my hair out” stage frequently lol. The story line also didn’t give very much time to really know and develop the characters and relationships due to missions and sleuthing etc. I think I personally, would have been more invested if maybe I had more of that.

All in all, I felt it was an interesting, and pretty entertaining read but it was just missing a little something that really captivated my heart so, to speak. I would, however, like to see where its headed so I’ll probably eventually pick up book 2… but I’m not beating down the book store door.. yet.

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Creeptastic Book Stop – Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Published: January 31st 2017

Series: Caraval #1

Genres: Fantasy, YA, Romance

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Thrillingly creeptastic read, but not in a horror way. Have you ever read something and it just weighed on your mind for the rest of the day not just the characters and the story but the hint of a deeper meaning that might have been hidden underneath the tale? I felt like this book was riding on the line of profound in its lessons. As I watched the FMC, Scarlet, throw away some of her inhibitions in order to actually not just be alive but experience life even though it was not quite pretty… Whew this was an intense ride! I debated for a few whether or not to give this 5 stars… that’s how much it messed me up lol. I decided on 4 ish + stars because the romance aspect didn’t quite wow me, in fact if I were to break this up, this particular area might have only gotten like a 2 or 3 from me personally. This book was quite the emotional roller coaster with its intense twists and turns, ups and downs, and even upside downs. The illusion factor, very “Twighlight Zone”, and being right with the character not knowing what is really real was mind blowing and made for a really riveting read.

Scarlet our FMC has never left her home island. Having grown up with an extremely overbearing, controlling, and abusive father, her sister, Tella, and her have dreamed about running away. Hearing stories of the Caraval from her grandmother made her yearn to see the magic, and for many years of her childhood she wrote to the master, Master Legend, and begged him to bring his players to her island. In one last later she tells him she is due to be married, and tells him not to come. To her amazement she receives a response along with tickets for her to visit the games. But how can they leave, her father will ruin her hope of freedom through marriage if she disobeys him now… In a crazy scheme her sister takes the decision from her and has Julian kidnap Scar and abscond with her to the island for the games. Unfortunately in the process they lose Tella. Now, Scarlet is in a desperate rush to find Tella, all the while participating in these games where anything could be real or unreal. Scarlet must face her fears, solve the clues to save Tella, and maybe even give up everything or she may lose everything to the game.

This book had a real “life lessons” feel at times with the facing of the fears, and I was given pause multiple times to contemplate the profound message hidden underneath some of the comments and banter.


“You’re too quick to dive into fear,” Nigel said. “What you think of as fate only applies to the past. Our futures are only predictable because as creatures of this world we are predictable.”

World building wise I really thought the author did an amazing job of dragging us through this world of illusion. In my mind I can’t quite work out if it would be harder to create something realistic or something the reader knows is not to be taken as real and yet feels so real. plays Twilight Zone theme song in the background One of the more interesting things the author incorporates in her games is the asking of questions as payment… to buy something you must tell your biggest fear, or biggest desire. In a way this forces a character to be honest with themselves and allows you as the reader to get to truly know a character despite what they are telling themselves via inner monologues. Very clever and more personal in some ways.

“I think I’ve made a mistake.”…. “Then make it into something better.”

As for the romance factor, though Scarlet is undeniably and annoyingly drawn to Julian, she also has some childhood fantasies she is clinging to. The relationship interest between Scarlet and Julian is mostly them attempting to annoy one another. It lacked chemistry for me, and maybe even intensity in emotion.. other than their annoyance for one another. I just wasn’t honestly feeling them.

I can’t wait to dive into the rest of this series and see what is next. It seems as though we have closed a door on Scarlet’s story and are on to greener pastures.. maybe.. I really look forward to the next game… I’m onto you Mr. Legend…. I got your number now!







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