Calendar Girls November: Best End of a Series

I gave basically zero thought to this post because I figured it would be so easy. Then I went to look at my bookshelf and realized that I had no idea what book to pick. Turns out I don’t read all that many series. And the first book is almost always the best one! The only two good answers were both a little obvious.

So, get ready for not the most interesting choice for Best End of a Series, but a good, solid choice nonetheless! Continue reading “Calendar Girls November: Best End of a Series”

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

22055262A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic
Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. 

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Let me start by saying that not only was I very excited to read this book, I was convinced I was going to be in love with it. I wouldn’t say it was hyped up, but everyone loves it and everyone loves Schwab, and it is just in every way my thing, so I was expecting magic.

Continue reading “Review: A Darker Shade of Magic”

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale

25489134The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Series: Winternight Trilogy
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

I loved reading a Russian fairy tale! It’s such a unique flavor and cast of characters, definitely different than anything I have ever read before.

Continue reading “Review: The Bear and the Nightingale”

Review: Landline

18081809Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Genres: Fiction, Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

When I signed up for Goodreads, Landline was the first book I added to my To-Read shelf that I didn’t have a physical copy of. And then it just sat there for several years at the top of my shelf. I just never got around to it. Honestly, I didn’t even realize it was a Rainbow Rowell book until I followed her on Twitter and saw it in her bio.

Why did I put it off for so long? I was really really missing out!

Continue reading “Review: Landline”

Review: Queen of Shadows

Queen-of-shadowsQueen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass
Genres: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

Inconsistencies. This was a giant book full of inconsistencies.

Continue reading “Review: Queen of Shadows”

Review: Uprooted

22544764Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Wow. Save a space on your bookshelf next to the Grimm brothers for Uprooted. It is everything an adult fairy tale should be.

Agnieszka lives in a world dominated by the threat of an evil Wood, an evil threat held back only by the work of the Dragon, a powerful wizard who takes a new girl every ten years to live in his castle with him as a servant. When Agnieszka is chosen her entire world changes as she learns she is a powerful witch who might just have the understanding to stop the evil in the wood from spreading. A beautiful story with breathtaking construction, Uprooted is at times dark and at times whimsical. Novik creates her own style of magic that is refreshing in its simplicity, yet still beyond the understanding of the characters. The story begins lightly enough, but grows into an epic tale of good against evil that even Tolkien would be proud of. I strongly recommend Uprooted to anyone who loves magic.

Throwback Thursday: Eragon

IMG_20170615_073317_366Ahhh, high school.

I know so many people look back on high school with anger or unhappiness, but not me. I was the world’s biggest band nerd, and my high school band was the most accepting and caring group of human beings I have ever been a part of. I had friends, so many friends, good friends, and encountered very little of the cattiness, cliques, and bullying that dominate so many high schools. I was a part of something, and I felt like I mattered. That’s special, and I treasure it.

So unlike most people, I look back on my high school experience fondly.

But honestly, I’ve been thinking about it all day, and I can’t remember what books I used to read.

I mean, I remember a few of them, but I know I was an avid reader, and I just genuinely can’t think of enough books to account for all of that time. One of the few books I definitely remember, however, is Eragon. 

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Eragon”

Review: Heir of Fire

51F2ipZuhlL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass
Genres:  Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Maturity Level: 3.5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak―but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life―and her future―forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

Finally, something in this series I can get behind! DRAGONS!

Continue reading “Review: Heir of Fire”

Review: A Discovery of Witches

519HBWFqfyL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Series: All Souls Trilogy
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Fiction
Maturity Level: 4.5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

The first hundred pages of “A Discovery of Witches” had me saying things like “the best book I’ve read this year,” and “FINALLY! A fantasy novel that isn’t in love with vampires!” I loved the beginning, which was mostly about Diana doing research in a library and wishing she wasn’t a witch. I know several people who love libraries and love scholarly research, so all the stuff about manuscripts and Oxford had me nearly drooling. I was fascinated with the idea of Diana being born with power, but choosing to live without it because she wanted her work (and life) to have meaning. She didn’t want everything in life handed to her just because she was a Bishop and just because she knew magic. Some things, Diana knows, aren’t worth anything unless you’ve put in the work to earn them. When Diana first met Matthew, the mysterious vampire, and she was frightened of him nearly to panic, I breathed a sigh of relief knowing there would be no wishy washy, lovey dovey, GOOD vampires in this book.

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Review: Throne of Glass

TOG-NYT-CoverThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass
Genres: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Maturity Level: 3.5
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

I’m of two minds about this book. On the one hand, it was pretty good. On the other hand, it was kind of terrible. I know that a lot of people are like, obsessed with Sarah J. Maas, but this just didn’t do it for me the way, say, The Hunger Games did. Continue reading “Review: Throne of Glass”