2 stars · 3 stars · book review

book review: A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab

2.5 stars | Goodreads

I can’t believe this book was about a powerful rock. And yes this took me more than a year to finish.

First thoughts:

– This works better as a movie.
– Lila is insufferable.
– Kell is a male Ariel
– Holland and Astrid deserved better than cheesy villain dialogue.
– I don’t get the 4 London hype. I can give you 4 alternate versions of a whitelandia suburb with more creativity than this (as a resident of one, I say small town life is romanticized and boring BUT I could make it work with the same premise but a middle of nowhere suburb).

Mild spoilers below.

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2 stars · 3 stars · book review

book review: And I Darken + Now I Rise by Kiersten White

I just came back from vacation in Netherlands and Iceland and I felt like updating my blog here because I have a backlog of books I never posted reviews for here.

This is a joint review of And I Darken and Now I Rise by Kiersten White, books 1 and 2 of the Conquerer’s Saga. I preface this with saying that I’m in no way a Romanian + Ottoman history buff. I’m basing this review off of what I thought about the storytelling + writing. I will also say I love Kiersten White’s writing style and I don’t know the woman, but she seems pleasant and I enjoy her twitter account. What I think of the book and her characters doesn’t reflect how I feel about her. I don’t even know why I’m prefacing a review post with this because it’s been done before. In this particular instance I’m really disappointed with the work even though I love the author’s writing style. I think it’s entertaining, but I didn’t find the story itself to be like that.

And I Darken: 2.5 out of 5 stars | GR review

Now I Rise:  2 out of 5 stars | GR mini review

And I Darken booktube review

Now I Rise booktube review

And since I’ve gotten this far in the series, of course I’m going to read Bright We Burn. I do love poegranates and the cover has got me in its clutches.

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3 stars · 4 stars · book review

book review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

3.5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads review

Well I’ll be damned. This was pretty good!

To be more specific, I had abysmally low expectations for Ash Princess. The first 30 pages or so told me this was full of all the princess YA tropes we love to hate and hate to love. And you know… I’m all for that shit. I love princesses and the ragtag rise to power formula. Rarely is it done with 1) good writing and 2) a novel and compelling way. Ash Princess at least nails the 1st part with pretty decent writing. I did have to wait until page 400 for things to get rolling, but I’ll definitely pick up the sequel, Lady Smoke.
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2 stars · 3 stars · book review

book review: Ash by Malinda Lo

I’m about 10 years late to the party on this book!

Ash by Malinda Lo –  2.5/5 stars | Goodreads Review

Plot – I think the story progression suffers from trying to follow the traditional Cinderella plot points. To be honest, not much happens in this book. I would not be against reading Huntress to find out if anything happens beyond this, but I’m disappointed that Lo took all the time and effort to craft an interesting first act, but didn’t follow up with anything substantial or novel when she closes the story. I am glad that this was a relatively quick and easy read, but this wasn’t much beyond a retelling with a new coat of paint on the original most people are acquainted with.

Characters – Ash was like ash… very meh and grey. The only character I found slightly interesting was the younger step-sister, Clara (+ half a star!). There wasn’t any chemistry between Ash and Kaisa. And again, I was disappointed that since this is a retelling, you can take artistic liberty and do pretty much anything you want with the Cinderella template. But alas, there was a failure to deliver a compelling romance on top of these very bland characters.

World – Lo does a good job of setting up the atmosphere of Ash, with the history of the conflict between the greenwitches and the scholar monks, but there seemed to be no follow up to that in the end. Ultimately I liked the greenwitch and monk conflict enough to give it 2 stars for the world-buidling effort.

On a side note, I will confess I didn’t really understand what was going on with the whole Sidhean and love curse thing. If anyone gets it, please let me know… Explain. I understood that Sidhean played the role of a fairy godfather, but the ending was abrupt and I feel like there was a dearth of answers given to the reader.

I’ve heard great things about Malinda Lo’s writing, so I’m willing to pick up another book by her. I just don’t feel like this was the right book for me to start with. So, there you have it.

3 stars · 4 stars · book review

book review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Not entirely spoiler free, but I let you know when to look away.

EDIT: I realize I don’t even bother to write or provide a synopsis for these books lol. But that’s ok bc that’s what Goodreads is for, right?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

1) Characters – Lia is the YA protag we deserve, the love interests aren’t so bad after the reveal, side characters are great complimentary additions to the cast

I loved Lia from the start. I was afraid she’d be written as this cliché runaway princess, and in a way she does fit the trope. Pearson dissects the runaway princess trope well, so the applying the trope itself really did work in Lia’s favor. She’s got spunk, she’s got smarts, and she makes mistakes, which makes sense. I can’t believe I’m praising something so little like our main female protag having her own motivations and fears because that really says about the quality of the bulk of female protags I’ve seein in YA, BUT when you do it, you gotta do it well and that’s what Pearson brings to the table with Lia. Lia isn’t traditionally strong, but she isn’t a pushover either. This girl fights back but chooses her battles.

Side characters – The inclusion of side characters was a wise choice because it actually feels like Lia is interacting with REAL people. The environment feels real, and this makes Lia feel all the more real.

The Assassin – lol while I was reading this I was like this guy really sucks at his job

The Prince – somehow the voices for the prince and the assassin felt oddly similar.

The thing with the prince and the assassin characters is that while yes, the intrigue is who’s who, not giving these character more solid voices dampens the strength of the romance to up the strenght of the intrigue. This only made me more confused because it was hard to tell Rafe and Kaden apart. Four way confusion with two characters.

*SPOILER SPOILER SKIP SKIP DONT READ IF YOU DONT WANT SPOILERS*

Kaden – MAN IDK I LOVED KADEN A LOT MORE THAN I THOUGHT I WOULD after the reveal. Yeah, he sucks at his job, but there’s an endearing quality to him. What a moe assassin.

Rafe – I was kinda eh before the reveal because I had a hunch on who was who and I was right. I only really started liking him at the very end when he pretended to be the Prince’s emissary

Also worth mentioning after Lia gets kidnapped, I LOVED LOVED LOVED that scene where she had to bury Walther. My god. This is character writing at its finest. FOINEST.

*SPOILERS ARE OVER, WELCOME BACK*

2) Writing and World – fucking great i loved it all

The writing is very lyrical. It starts strong and end strong because not only is the narrative cohesive and the tone consistent, but the extra tidbits from the Morrighan and Vendan holy texts were an excellent touch you don’t see too often in YA fantasy these days (or so I’ve seen lol). The world feels very complete even though I myself couldn’t figure out what the cryptic texts meant.

3) Romo – weakened by the fact we didn’t know who the heckie was who but at least the triangle is a line now.

I already mentioned how we sacrificed concrete character for intrigue until we figured out who was who. This was what pulled the book down for me, but it didn’t dampen my overall enjoyment of the book.