How to capture readers’ hearts A Darker Shades of Magic style

A Conjuring of Light is OUT!! Ahhhhh so many people have already started reading it, and I am DYING to read it, guys. UGH. I’m currently in the middle of my re-read of the the second book, A Gathering of Shadows, which is the only reason I haven’t picked up ACOL yet. #bookwormstruggles And I absolutely LOVE IT but I am so ready for the third book. I can’t wait to read it so I can do a joint review (… more like fangirling post, probably…) of books 2 and 3!

THAT ASIDE. I wanted to do something V.E. Schwab/Shades of Magic series related, which is why we’re here, as you can tell from the title of the post. I recently finished re-reading the first book of the series (and I loved it so much akskjfjkgnjchskkkansr) which is what this post is based on, essentially. Reading A Darker Shade of Magic was absolutely amazing, I loved it even more than I already did if that’s even possible. Pretty much none of my feelings changed except I loved Lila a lot more than I did the first time haha.

But I digress! I’m terrible at staying on track, oh my god. I suppose you can call this a review of sorts–although I already wrote one the first time I read this–but simply put: A Darker Shades of Magic is a lovely, torturous device of a book designed to crush and capture your hearts. I’m warning you. But also pushing you to read it immediately if you haven’t already because what bookworm doesn’t want their heart crushed? Psh, brb as I try to repair my fragile heart…

So alas, finally, let’s get into how to capture readers’ hearts A Darker Shade of Magic style! And don’t worry, this is fully SPOILER-FREE. You’re welcome, to the belated readers who have not read this yet. 😉

how-to-capture-readers-hearts-adsom-style

1. Create multiple worlds with vivid descriptions and magic.

It is an absolute given, if a book has multiple worlds and magic that you have captured at least one poor bookworm heart. (Mine, obviously.) Not to mention having vivid descriptions that make me feel as if I’m IN the book without having any threat of dying and other mild inconveniences?? SOLD. Who wouldn’t love that, honestly.

ADSOM reference: MULTIPLE LONDONS. Is that genius or what? Okay, so Grey London (‘Dull London’), White London (‘Creepy London’) and Black London (‘Dead London’) are not exactly tourist destinations* but Red London is to die for (!!) and nonetheless, they’re all the sign of amazing world-building.

adsom-londons-map

Even at night, the river shone red. As Kell stepped from the bank of one London onto the bank of another, the black slick of the Thames was replaced by the warm, steady glow of the Isle. It glittered like a jewel, lit from within, a ribbon of constant light unraveling through Red London. A source. A vein of power.

LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTION.

*I mean, if I could just stop by them all as some kind of invisible side character for a while and be able to escape at a moment’s notice, I would totally do it just because they sound so EPIC, albeit very very dangerous.

2. A subtle, but swoon-worthy ship, YES.

Slow-burn romances are one of my absolute FAVOURITES. The feeling you get, reading a book and that warm feeling you get when you know two characters like eachother but they’re dancing around their feelings and also the banter and the sweet moments that slowly develop the relationship… so many emotions ahhhh.

ADSOM reference: Not even a spoiler because everyone can see this from a mile away: Kell and Lila are such an OTP. Their banter is adorable and the fact that they both have each other’s backs and are constantly saving each other is just so awesome and they just work so well together and agh no words. Such a perfect ship. What’s even better is that it doesn’t overshadow the main story at all, and instead is the perfect addition to the rest of the story.

“He would see her again. He knew he would. Magic bent the world. Pulled it into shape. There were fixed points. Most of the time they were places. But sometimes, rarely, they were people. For someone who never stood still, Lila felt like a pin in Kell’s world. One he was sure to snag on.”

SHIP. My heart is SO attached to this.

3. Have the characters stab all the things?!

Disclaimer: I am not crazy or sadistic when I say this! LOL. It will: a) Create awesome action scenes, b) show off your character’s fighting skills, c) be lots of fun to read (aka very very stressful because your character will most likely get hurt) and d) create much tension and suspense.

ADSOM reference: Now I can’t give away too much because #spoilers but let me just say, there was A LOT OF STABBING. And magicking with the aim to kill. So. I mentioned this in my first review, but A Darker Shade of Magic is not for the squeamish people! But if you enjoy fantasy and don’t mind stabbing and fight scenes, you know how EPIC a story can be with the right battle scenes. Omg. This book had so much stabbing and fighting and aghhhhh it totally made my heart race but it was SO GOOD.

Pretty accurate depiction of my own heart tbh when I'm reading...
Pretty accurate depiction of my own heart tbh when I’m reading…

4. Much sass and banter!

This may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but trust me when I say that sass and banter can be one of the BEST things ever. Besides, it can also: a) develop character (sassy pirates and princes, yes please) b) create a deep fondness in the reader for the characters because banter = fun amidst pain and c) make Analee very very happy.

ADSOM reference: There are so many little quips from the characters that I loved and made the reading experience so much fun! I lived for the quips and lines from Rhy, Kell and Lila omg. So perfect.

“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. “I like this one,” he said to Kell. “Can I borrow her?”
“You can try,” said Lila, raising a brow. “But you’ll be a prince without his fingers.”

GO LILA!

5. Have an epic bromance.

Bromances are very very important. *nods* They can make you either a) fall in love with the characters in said bromance or b) make you love said characters even more. In both situations, a beautifully written bromance = powerful emotions rivaled only by chocolate (of course) and perhaps a romantic ship. 😉

ADSOM reference: Kell and Rhy are one of the most amazing bromances everrrrrrr!! There is just something so beautiful and so adorable and so heartwarming about brotherly ties, and theirs was no exception.

Rhy sighed (…) [before he finally said] “There is nothing I would not give you.”
Kell’s chest ached. “I know.”
“You are my brother. My closest friend.”
“I know.”
“Then put an end to this foolishness, before I do.”
Kell managed a small, tired smile. “Careful, Rhy,” he said. “You’re beginning to sound like a king.”
Rhy’s mouth quirked. “One day I will be. And I need you there beside me.”
Kell smiled back. “Believe me. There’s no place I’d rather be.” It was the truth.

MY HEART. Captured and crushed by these two. ❤


So! That’s all I have for this post aha. Let me finish this off by saying: y’all should go read the Shades of Magic series IMMEDIATELY if you haven’t already. (#nopressure psh) And let me brb, need to go piece back my heart in preparation for ACOL to break it again. Ahem.
No, but really, I hope you enjoyed this post! ❤ A Darker Shade of Magic is an amazing book, and the series only gets better from there. If you’ve read this book; what do you think on my tips on how to capture a reader’s heart ADSOM style? Have you read the rest of the series? (No spoilers for ACOL please!) If you haven’t read the series, do you plan on it? (The right answer is yes, btw.) (Jk.) Let me know your thoughts!
Happy Friday!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

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Amazing characters, a hate-to-love romance, and war // Why I love The Winner’s Curse series by Marie Rutkoski

Hello everyone! 🙂 Disappeared for a few days from the blog, aha. So I had other plans for posts, but I haven’t done a book review in SUCH a long time! I have such a tremendous pile of them now I guess I’m scared to approach them. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it is a HUGE pile! Not TBR-huge (nothing’s going to beat that, probably) but huge when I think about my books-read vs books reviewed ration and when I see everyone else’s reviewing queue consisting of, like, max, 7-10 books. ANYWAY. Moving on! The point: I’m doing a review! On a series, in fact. I read the third book in this trilogy pretty recently, but the other two books were read quite a while ago and I thought it might be easier to just do a series review. I won’t be getting too much into the specifics of each book, though, so no spoilers! Let’s get into it!

Winner's Curse Series Review

Check out the books on Goodreads: The Winner’s Curse | The Winner’s Crime | The Winner’s Kiss

What I Loved

  • KESTREL KESTREL KESTREL omg. She is one of my absolute favourite book characters–with such good reason. She’s such a strong character, and not in the traditional fighting and battling department (as we see nowadays). No, the thing I loved about her was the fact that she relied on only her brains. She was not thoroughly trained in the art of sword-fighting and etc (in fact she was not good at all) but that did not mean she was not able to protect herself, nor was she a weaker person for it. Her strength was found in her brains, and in her resilience and determination. She did not give up, did not stop fighting, and her sass thoughhhhh. All around love her, honestly.
  • Can I get an IRL Arin, please??!!
  • Seriously, though. He’s so awesome, albeit the fact that he made terrible decisions sometimes. But don’t they all?? I may absolutely adore Kestrel but Arin is no less of an important character. His love towards his people, and what he does to save them is so sweet and his love towards Kestrel!! That brings me to my next point which is:
  • THE ROMANCE. Agh. So so cute. And amazing. And sweet. And heartbreaking. Did I praise it enough yet? Basically, it was one of the best things ever. The hate-to-love trope appears in this one, and it was so well done! You can see, through each of the characters’ thoughts, how they slowly go from hatred to genuinely care and concern for each other, and the uncertainty behind what those feelings entail (primarily in the first book). My heart suffered so so much because of this, with us being left with a will-they-won’t-they situation throughout the series.
  • The feelssssssss. Ahhhh there were so many. My heart was just a puddle, basically. It melted. (Rip)
  • The excitement! There was so much at stake here and I loved the thrill of reading all that happened. There wasn’t a single book in the series that didn’t have me sitting in anticipation of what happened next. The endings of the first two books always left me on such a cliffhanger, though!!
  • Oh but I LOVED THE ENDING SO SO MUCH. It was so so perfect.
  • But to finish the characters: Can I just say how much I adored Roshar??? We meet him first in the second book, I believe, but it’s really in the third book where I fell in love with his character. His and Arin’s relationship is just such an amazing bromance and ahhhhhh I love it.
  • But also the world is so fabulous! I loved how Marie Rutkoski made us really part of the world, and the politics, the description, the set up of everything made it a really great experience.
  • Her writing is also so great and I would totally read anything else she puts out. (Speaking of, when will she do it I NEED MORE)
  • But the amount of heartbreak it took to get there oh my lord.
  • Basically this series: Betrayal! Intrigue! Strategy! On how to kill people and make the life of the emperor miserable! All the good stuff. What are you waiting for?

What I Disliked (very very briefly because the list is minimal)

  • The pacing did feel off for me in certain books. I can’t pinpoint what it was exactly, but although the books were very concise and everything and the pacing were generally very fast and fit well, there was just something… off, sometimes. But honestly not a big deal at all.
  • That is literally it.
  • There may have been more things but they’re so insignificant I can’t remember them…

Final thoughts

Basically this trilogy is one of the best of ever and you MUST read it if you haven’t already! Go. Do it. The world is amazing, the writing is so good, you will (most probably) love the characters, and the story is just so interesting. And, also, just in case you were curious for the individual ratings:

AKA I LOVED THIS SERIES. ❤ ❤


So that’s it for this (kind of short) series review! Have you read this series? Are you a fan of the hate-to-love trope or no? Let me know your thoughts! 🙂

Until the Next Meal, Analee

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab | Book Review

Hi everyone! Does anyone happen to have some chocolate on hand? Because we must celebrate!! Why, you ask? THIS BOOK, is why. (!!!!!!!!!—yes, let us put ALL the exclamation points) This book is so amazingly amazing and I’m asking myself why I waited so long to read it??! So many people have been screeching in my ear to read this, and I’m so thankful I finally did!! If I had missed out on this book… I don’t even want to think about that because it would be too terrible.

Alright, for further rambling fangirling nonsense detail, read on!

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

5 Stars

Publication Date: February 24th 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adult
Series Status: Shades of Magic #1
Page Count: 398
Source & Format: Owned, ebook + Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

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Erm, I might have to warn you here; I probably will not make any sense whatsoever—but then again, what else is new, right?? I don’t even know how to form proper words right now, ahem. So I’m going to be a list-but-not-really-type review–and hope it makes sense. Here we go!

A Darker Shade of Magic book review

Reasons why you should read ADSOM

  • So much blood. And stabbing! And many near-deaths, might I add. (Notice how this is the first thing I mention, aha I’m totally not crazy or psychotic, psh.) Though, I must say. It. Was. AWESOME. I mean, tension! Conflict! Danger! So much was going on, and then in the midst of it, of course you had to have some blood and, of course, stabbing (omg so much stabbing). I don’t think the descriptions were too graphic, though, so if you’re easily squeamish about these things, you should probably be fine.. then again, I read all of this so quickly I probably didn’t bat and eye so I guess I’m not the best consultant for that. But still. You should be fine. Point is: there was no holding back on the pain in this book! If that’s something you don’t mind, well, this is perfect.
  • The world is made of ALTERNATE LONDONS. That is Analee-approved right there. If you didn’t know already, I’m kind of mildly obsessed with London?? Or England in general, but LONDON. ❤ And so a book where we have alternate Londons is.. simply perfect? (Though tbh it could’ve been ANY country that isn’t in North America and I would’ve been fine–erm, I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of different countries so.)
  • Which brings me to how the world-building was so perfectly perfect. Or maybe that’s just me blinded by how amazing this book was, but really, apart from the few parts where I was kind of lost as to how it all worked (which was mostly my fault for being slow at grasping things, I think), the world in this book was so intricate and so finely done. Eep, my praise is endless. It was just so easy to fall into this world V.E. Schwab created, and I loved it.
  • KELL. My love. Not to mention HIS COAT, omg it’s so fabulous. XD I want one! Ah, yes, right, we were talking about Kell. Right. Kell is just as fabulous, of course! Such a great mix of the tragic, gloomy hero-yet-not, as well as very flawed, but so lovable. Oh, and his comebacks were just on point? Three cheers for sass, guys! It was so easy for me to love his character, eep.
  • Lila will most probably become one of your favourite characters? Maybe. I mean, I can’t say this was the case for me exactly (I did like her, don’t get me wrong, but it took me some time to warm up to her? More on that below.) but she had so many of the characteristics I (and most other people) love, so yay! (Erm, I doubt I’ve ever came across a thief with aspirations of being a pirate, sooo.)
  • Rhy: Charming. dashing and sassy, all in one! I loved Rhy, really. I only wish he appeared more in the story! I loved his and Kell’s brotherly relationship and his character. ❤
  • Holland was just such a well-written character! He did such terrible things and I hated him, but at the same time I found myself sympathizing with him? Ah, the conflict. Morally ambiguous characters are the best aha.
  • SO MUCH SASS. From Kell and Lila, but also from other characters too—and it was amazing. 😀 I had so much fun reading the banter and all the snarky comebacks tossed back and forth!
  • The magical coat (with lots of sides and pockets) is soo perfect. It was literally making me jealous. I want ittttttt (yes, I know I already said that before). And yes, that’s a valid reason as to why you should read this book. Because of a magical coat, yep. Why are you questioning this?
  • The writing was SO PERFECT. Concise and specific yet detailed—and not info-dumpy whatsoever (or if it was, it sure didn’t feel like it).  The descriptions, the world, everything seemed to come alive due to the fantastic writing, so I LOVE IT. Definitely making me want to pick up more of Victoria Schwab’s novels! ❤

The itty-bitty-little things you might want to be aware of

  • It takes a while to really get the story in motion. I don’t blame it, and truthfully it didn’t bother me that much because I hardly noticed, but depending on the type of reader you are, you might get impatient with the pace of the story! I assure you, it’s totally worth it to keep going with the novel, because it progresses really quickly once you get into the story.
  • Lila, although a good character, wasn’t someone I loved right away. I wasn’t the biggest fan of her at first? I mean, she’s totally a character I tend to enjoy (sass? check. stubborn? check. rebel?–well, thief, actually–check.) but it actually took me some time to actually like her? At best I tolerated her during the first few parts. The thing is, I can’t even pinpoint what made me feel this way? Argh. But like I mentioned above, I warmed up to her well enough by the end of the book. So that’s good!
  • Rhy doesn’t get as much spotlight as I wished. 😦 I loved his character and he did appear many times, but it didn’t feel like that much? Or at least not as much as I would’ve liked. I dunno. Maybe that’s just me. I just wouldn’t have minded seeing more of him, haha.

Overall…

This book is completely worth your time and commitment, I tell you. The hype around this one most definitely did not disappoint (for me, at least) and I’m 98% sure that most people would agree with me when I say this book is amazing. Great writing, great world, lots of stabbing, amazing characters and lots of sass–what more could you ask for, am I right? So better go gobble this up soon if you haven’t already! 😉


Umm, I think that’s it?? Basically, I loved this book. It was just so good. (Again, we must get chocolate to celebrate this amazing novel!) It had so many amazing components to it that I loved, and I definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a fantasy novel with great world-building and amazing writing (and everything else, really)!

I’m kind of sad I didn’t read this sooner, but I’m kind of glad because now I have the chance to go straight away to A Gathering of Shadows! I would’ve started it already, but I wanted to write up my review of the first book before I read it, so now that I’ve done that, I will most definitely be continuing with AGOS. So excited!

Alright, now tell me what YOU think! Have you read this book? What did you love? What did you dislike? Am I the only one who liked the stabbing? XD And I sure hope I’m not the only one who took time warming up to Lila, aha. Oh, and would anyone like to give me a magical multi-sided coat? Seriously, someone needs to make this happen. I’d totally buy one. If you haven’t read this book yet, let me know what you think! Do you plan on reading it? What are you looking forward to the most? Is there other London-obsessed people out there? (If so, you should definitely read this book. Just sayin’.) Leave your thoughts below, I’d love to chat! ❤
Until the Next Meal, Analee

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard | Book Review

Red QueenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard

4 stars - Entertainment Rating

Publication Date: February 10th 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young-Adult
Series Status: Red Queen #1
Page Count: 383
Source & Format: Owned, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart …

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Hype, hype, and MORE hype, galore!! If you guys haven’t heard of this book yet, you must’ve been living under a rock, for this book has been EVERYWHERE since it’s release. No joke. So naturally, my interest was piqued! I had meant to read this when it was released, but somehow never got around to it until September last year. Oops! Better late than never, right? The sequel to this is being released this February, so I figured I should probably do my review on the first book before I read it. 😉 So without further ado, my review on Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard!

Red Queen book review

Okay, so, I’m going to be trying out a kind of mixed reviewing style for this one: a list and my rambles, all in one! If you’re looking for the lowdown, and most general form of the things I liked/disliked, just reading the list below should suit you. I have a lot of thoughts on this—both positive and negative, so just bear with me! Feel free to skip to the overall part if you want—I won’t mind, LOL. Even I can admit this review is really long! XD

Red Queen Review Pros and Cons List

Plot

Two words; déja vue. Because yes, I won’t lie, there are indeed several elements in this book which have been seen and used before in other books. If you’ve read The Hunger Games or The Selection, when reading this book, you could probably notice the similarities. I’ve also seen comparisons to Red Rising, but as I have not read that yet, I can’t really judge.

BUT I DIGRESS.

Did the familiar tropes used in this book bother ME, personally? Well, I still enjoyed the book, but I must admit that I had been hoping RQ would manage to stand out on its own, be unique under the mesh of common tropes. From that perspective, my expectations weren’t completely fulfilled.

Having said that, I did still thoroughly enjoy the world of Red Queen. Although perhaps not fully unique in terms of themes and messages (a battle between social standings of rich and poor, tension, threat of rebellion, etc.) Red Queen had a premise/concept that I loved; the idea of Reds and Silvers. I do wish there was more backstory included about them, but for now, I’m hoping some unanswered questions will be answered in the next book.

As for the world-building, it isn’t in-your-face obvious, I’ll give you that. It does go at more of slower pace, and through various descriptions and events, you get the gist of it. I really enjoyed it! In addition to that, the plot as a whole was great to read. Plot twists, suspense, intrigue. Even though the pacing can be slow at times (especially the beginning), it really built up the to final moments of the story.

Anyone can betray anyone.

Speaking of plot twists and final moments, I must mention this: The final plot twist was mind-blowing—even though now looking back I can see the signs. It’s funny, because while reading, there was this part where I was thinking “What if the bad guy ends up being [name of bad guy which I will not write for sake of no spoilers]?” And I dismissed it–probably ’cause I didn’t want to believe it. But then I got to the end and I was kind of in a state of shock! Like noooooooo…!

Okay, NOW I’m definitely rambling. You get what I’m saying here though, right? Moving on to…

Characters

I’m a Red girl in a sea of Silvers and I can’t afford to feel sorry for anyone, least of all the son of a snake.

In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever smile again.

The characters are definitely one of the hit or miss parts of Red Queen. You either like the characters, or you don’t. I, for one, have to say that I liked them well enough, for the most part. 

Let’s start with the good, shall we? I know several readers complained about Mare, but I must say that I found her to be a pretty good character. She has the typical characteristics of most female protagonists these days; strong, reckless and sassy, yes, but she still managed to be a bit realistic and someone I could root for. She made some terrible decisions at times, and her emotions were all over the place in several spots, but at the end of the day, she was a good character.

BUT. She didn’t really go through any major development by the end of the novel… so don’t go in expecting some major changes! I also wasn’t a huge fan of her flitting and bipolar-like feelings over the love interests in this book. One minute she’s trying to convince herself the guy is good, the other minute she’s 100% sure he’s evil. Make up your mind!! It’s what caused me the most trouble, trying to figure out what MY opinion was. Lol.

Apart from her, there’s of course, the two princes; Cal and Maven. I have to say I wasn’t the biggest fan of Cal for a pretty long time throughout the story… although I’m not sure whether that’s because of his character, Mare’s feelings or just MY feelings on Maven clouding my opinion. 😉 I don’t know, I respect him and he was fine and everything, but he just didn’t sit right with me for a good chunk of the story.

Maven, on the other hand, I found to be so interesting! I suppose I liked him more than Cal for a lot of the story, but that’s not just it. His character just seems so layered and complex! I could empathize with him, yet I could… gah, it’s hard to express how I feel without giving away spoilers. XD Let’s just leave it at the fact that he’s layered and a very intriguing character!

A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they’ve written a tragedy.

Also, an important fact you might want to note before entering the realm of this book; There IS a love triangle—though it’s more of a love rectangle or a everyone-loves-Mare thing. To be honest it’s not that aspect of it that bothered me the most; it’s more the fact that Mare’s feelings were so inconsistent sometimes, it just didn’t feel like there was enough depth to all the relationships. But maybe that’s just me. One good thing though, is that the romance didn’t FULLY dominate the plot. Yes, it did take up a good part of it, but it’s not the extent of what this book’s all about! (To me, anyway. I know some people feel differently.)

Writing Style

The sparks are gone, replaced by fierce, ugly tears that track down my face. Thunder rumbles somewhere far off and the air is warm. But the humid temperature is gone. The heat has broken and summer will soon be over. Time is passing. My life is moving on, no matter how much I want it to stay the same.

Despite being simple and straight-forward, Victoria Aveyard’s writing managed to really hook me in. I loved how vivid and descriptive the style was, without being too over-the-top. Sometimes simplicity beats flowery prose, you know? The narration, everything, was suited to the mood of the story and was super easy to read.

However, there is a little thing that perhaps won’t bother everyone, but did occasionally get on my nerves. At times, there was a bit too much repetition. I understand now that it’s to emphasize and foreshadow, in a way, of what was to come, but it still was a tad bothersome. I don’t know. Personal preference, I guess.

Overall

Red Queen, although not without flaws, is still an entertaining novel. Depending on your taste, if you like fantasy and/or dystopian novels, this one is a good pick for you! Here’s a little recap of what you should know and how I felt about this book:

  • This book won’t be the most original one out there. Readers of The Hunger Games, The Selection and/or (supposedly) Red Rising might enjoy this book for the similarities—or might dislike this book because of the similarities. It kind of depends on your personal taste!
  • The plot is relatively entertaining (though it is unnecessarily dragged out at times). Despite having similar elements to other storylines, the plot in Red Queen is quite intriguing and suspenseful to read! The world of Red and Silver was interesting and a cool concept to read about—though don’t expect the best backstory for it.
  • Characters like Mare, Cal and/or Maven are subjected to personal preference, but I liked them okay. Mare is a strong, albeit reckless and naive at times, female character who I was able to root for despite the reasons why I might’ve been tempted not to.
  • The writing style is simple but engaging and descriptive. I had no problem with the writing in this book! It was easy to read and suited the story. There was a bit too much repetition of words and expressions sometimes, but I credit that problem more to my own self and the plot.

Funny, how all that rambling that I did before the overall part was summed up so easily here! LOL.

So, the real question here that I’m sure you’re all wondering: Should you read it? From a critical view, I’ll admit this isn’t the best book, but from an entertainment perspective, it definitely isn’t the worst book out there–it’s quite good, actually! If you’ve taken into account all the above info, and think it’s a good fit for you, I don’t see why you shouldn’t read Red Queen! If you go in with lowered expectations, you should be fine. (Or so I hope!) I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on Glass Sword, the sequel, if only to see what will happen next! ❤


Now, it’s time to talk! What did you think of Red Queen? What parts did you like/dislike the most? Also; how do you feel about having themes and tropes from other books being included in another book? Are you planning on continuing the series, or are you quitting? Do you want to read this book? Let me know whatever thoughts you may have below!

Thank you for reading (even if you didn’t read the whole thing :P) and Happy Monday!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan | Book Review

The Sword of SummerThe Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

4 stars

Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: Disney – Hyperion Books
Genre(s): Fantasy, Humor, Young-Adult
Series Status: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1
Page Count: 491
Source & Format: Owned, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

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Hello bookworms! In an attempt to stay on top of my reviews for this year (not going so good right now, but oh well) I’m here today with a review on the first book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan, which I completed not too long ago. 🙂

Rick Riordan has been one of my favourite authors since I was very young. I read his whole Percy Jackson series as well as his Heroes of Olympus series AND the Kane Chronicles, and have been eagerly anticipating whichever book he publishes next. For 2015, The Sword of Summer became the book I anticipated, and I finally got around to reading it.

In a sentence, the best way to describe The Sword of Summer is to say it’s filled with humour, action and mythology; a great start to a brand new Riordan series. Truthfully I’m finding it kind of hard to think of a way to describe this book in my usual reviewing fashion, so I’ll make it easier on myself and you guys by giving you guys 4 reasons why you should read this book! (And a few things to keep in mind before/while you do.)

The Sword of Summer Book Review

1. It’s funny.

Okay, not like, thigh-slapping funny, but it’s funny. It’s just simply FUN to read. And fun is good. In classic Riordan style, there were sarcastic comments and sassy comebacks; what more could I ask for? I found myself smiling and chuckling at several points throughout the story, and it was great in between the bouts of action and everything. Magnus’ character was definitely one of story’s biggest providers of humor, which was great as he’s our protagonist. 😉 His snark and commentary, although not exactly refreshing, was familiar and fun to read!

OH, AND. I can’t forget to mention the chapter titles—definitely one of my favorite parts!! From things like Let’s play frisbee with bladed weapons to A Lovely Homicidal Sunset Cruise, the chapter titles always brought a smile. They are fabulous. Read the book and you will understand..!

2. Adventure and lots of near-death galore…

YOU MUST DIE. Just kidding, I love you. But that’s kind of how things went in The Sword of Summer (the ‘you must die part, that is)…only half joking, haha. Because again, in classic Riordan style, there was lots of adventure (OF COURSE.) and many, many, MANY near-death experiences. (And some may or may not have been a near-death, without the ‘near’, if you know what I mean.) So, basically it was almost non-stop action, and was terribly addicting. I finished this within a day of starting it! #sorrynotsorry

3. Yay for fun characters and diversity!

Magnus was fabulous. Of course, with a name like Magnus, how could he not be? 😛 Though I have to say Magnus’s voice DID remind me of Percy’s. A lot. I probably wouldn’t be able to discern the two if they both were to talk. :/ BUT when it comes down to it, they’re both pretty different—and it was a small factor because it didn’t really bother me AS much overall.

Samirah (the female MC) was great too, though she reminded me of Annabeth. AGH, I KNOW, it sucks, but I can’t help but compare, especially when their characters are so similar. Hot-headed? Check. Generally more smarter than Percy Magnus? Check. But despite these similarities, I enjoyed her character anyway.

A few things I appreciated about her : 1) she’s Muslim (though not sure yet how she could be Muslim and still serve Norse gods..) 2) she’s in love with the guy she’s arranged to marry: There’s this idea that all arranged marriages are terrible and everything, so three cheers for Rick in taking a step to change that—’cause it’s not always the case and 3) Snark! Samirah wasn’t a fan of Magnus from the start, and it was lots of fun seeing her be snarky towards him (and most other people too). *ALSO: NO ROMANCE between her and Magnus. Quite rare to see a platonic boy-girl relationship these days, so yay!

Apart from Magnus and Samirah, I had the pleasure of the company of Blitz and Hearth! They’re both absolutely hilarious, and I loved them! Hearth also happens to be deaf–another cheer for diversity! Although I have to admit the fact that he is able to read lips perfectly is kind of doubtful, he still was a great addition to the cast of the novel.

4. Yum, mythology..!

As with the Percy Jackson series, The Sword of Summer put a fun spin on ancient mythology, this time going with Norse instead of Greek. Quirky, modernized Norse gods meant more humor while still giving us a Norse Ed. course.. so yay! I do realize that there’s no way for me to be sure whether the information in the book is 100% accurate, but at least I know more than just the names of Thor, Odin and Loki. (Is it just me who never knew a god named Frey even existed?!)

Things to keep in mind:

  • The plot isn’t anything especially new. If you’ve read a lot of Rick Riordan’s books, you know that they generally follow similar plot lines; characters go on a quest, they kill monsters, almost die, and fulfill quests. Generally. This is how it goes. And basically it’s how it went for this one..? Truthfully this didn’t bother me much at all, but it’s something to keep in mind, is all.
  • There ARE similarities between it and Percy Jackson (but that’s not necessarily a bad thing). Although it can bother me when another series by the same author copies things from their other series (like Reawakened by Colleen Houck), in this situation it wasn’t that bad since there was so many other things that I enjoyed. It depends on the person, though. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😛
  • This book is marketed as YA, but I’m warning you: this book will probably seem more juvenile. This didn’t particularly bother me personally, but I did notice it and I know several readers complained about this, so I’m going to mention it here. Do try to remember that a lot of, or at least some of Magnus Chase’s readers will be readers who are coming from the Percy Jackson series, which means this book should be suitable for younger readers as well as more older readers. No matter what is the case, this book will probably be enjoyable either way! 😉
  • It’s REALLY LONG. This is the one thing that actually did kind of bother me, or, crossed my mind more than just 10 seconds. Some parts of the book just seemed unnecessary? That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy those parts; I did, but it just could’ve been shortened, that’s all.

Have you devoured this book yet?? If you have, tell me!! 🙂 I’m always looking to fangirl with someone, LOL. (If you want, you can even check out this book trailer of it too!) If you haven’t read this book yet, do you plan to? Let me know your expectations, your hopes! What are you looking forward to the most? Or on a bigger scale; how do you feel about books similar to other books? Does it taint your enjoyment of a novel? Let me know whatever thoughts you may have below!

Happy Monday, everyone! ❤

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch | Book Review

Snow Like AshesSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

4.5 Stars= Amazing

Publication Date: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young-Adult
Series Status: Snow Like Ashes #1
Page Count: 416
Source & Format: Bought, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

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Ahem. Before we start can I please just stare at this book’s cover? Seriously, I love it so much. 😛

Hello everyone! Today I have for you a review on a book I recently re-read; Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. I first read this book way back at the beginning of 2015, and with the release of the second book, I decided to re-read this book—and I don’t regret it one bit.

Reading Snow Like Ashes the first time was a magical experience, one that I loved and fell in love with, and re-reading it didn’t diminish that at all, if anything, just reminded me how awesome this book is. Seriously, I haven’t talked about this book enough on my blog, and I’m here to remedy that right now by giving you a feel-filled review on it! Be warned that may be a lot of rambling and fangirling. Of course, you’re all used to that by now, right?

Let’s get on with it!

Plot

Oktuber was a maze of rickety barns and tents in maroon, azure, and sunshine orange, with the crystalline blue sky gleaming above, a sharp and beautiful contrast to the kingdom’s earth tones. But it was the Autumnians themselves who left me gaping—they were beautiful.

Ahhhh the plot! Where do I even start? Well, the basics of course; I really loved the plot. I’m deducting half a star because the story did have a couple iffy not-so-stellar parts, and had several bouts of info-dumping which kind of left me confused for a while, but overall it was so well-written, I hardly could stop reading—and I already knew what was going to happen!

I also have to mention the plot twists were spot-on, I remember the first time I read this book I was able to guess at a few, but there were some that completely blew me away. I was so invested in the story! Sara Raasch has a beautiful mix of romance, action and the whole theme of self-discovery thing going on, and it made for a wonderful adventure.

As a side note, may I just say that the world-building was on point? Snow Like Ashes is set in a world centered around the four seasons. Already I’m like, how cool is that? It’s not often I see something like this, and Sara Raasch handled it with style. Although sometimes I was a bit lost with the various bouts of info-dumping at the start as I mentioned above, I caught on pretty quickly as the story went on and I fell in love with this world! Magic, kingdoms, seasons; what more could you ask for?

Characters

This is where the fangirling really comes in, guys. Not only can the main character, Meira, completely kick-butt, there were so many other characters who interested me and brought out all the emotions.

“I wanted a life of my own, a life where I could feel myself being a part of Winter. And that, to me, came though fighting for it.”

You go, girl! Meira, as I said, can completely kick-butt. Not only that, she is simply so awesome. I empathized so much with her heartbreaking tale of wanting to be herself and have a place in Winter’s kingdom, to make an impact. I understood her struggle of fighting to get Sir’s approval, needing it yet not wanting to need it. I admired her perseverance in the face of challenges and the weight of others. She reminded me so much of Celaena from Throne of Glass… yet not. They’re both really similar but still both different. Of course, I love them both!

“No matter what happens, no matter who turns on me, no matter what pompous swine thinks he has power over me, I am still me. I will always be me.”

Although there is also romance in the novel, Meira’s goals came first. Her fight to stay true to herself is was what took dominance, and that was wonderfully portrayed. Fear not, of course, there is definitely romance, but I loved how it didn’t take up the whole thing.

Moving on to Mather, another one of our characters and one of Meira’s love interests. Yes, one of. There is a love triangle in this book, one that I will happily say I didn’t mind. Mather was a really interesting character, and I really liked Mather’s and Meira’s relationship. Kind of a forbidden love thing theme going on, except the love is not openly acknowledged. However, there is a certain someone I’m kind of leaning towards as well…

Theron is the name of our second love interest! It’s not insta-love, and it’s not even full-out love between him and Meira, but there are definitely sparks and I really love his character!! *Swoon* He understands Meira so well (not that Mather doesn’t, but you know what I mean) and his ambitions and dreams really made him into someone I love. Currently I’m loving both him and Mather so much; I just can’t wait to see more of them in the next book.

Last, but not least, a little insight on the other characters; Sara Raasch sure knows how to have your emotions in a twist! My thoughts on Sir must’ve changed a thousand times, from angry, to confused, to frustrated to understanding, and that’s without counting the other characters! There was a variety of people we meet throughout the course of this book, who make reading this book a thrilling experience.

Writing Style

“One flake falls, twisting down through the empty sky. One frozen speck of snow. Then another, and another, and before I know it the roads will be covered in dozens of distinct flakes. All these little pieces combining to create one giant, volatile snowstorm, something beautiful and dangerous and epic.”

The writing was simply fantabulous! It allowed the readers to create vivid and clear images in our heads of this world we’re in, and I simply fell in love. Reading it for the second time only re-introduced me to this beautiful writing! Even through the info-dumping I mentioned above, the writing made it so it wasn’t too confusing, even if a few things flew over my head. Also, there was no cliffhanger in this book, which in itself is pretty rare these days. (Not that I begrudge authors using cliffhangers—you have to admit, they’re pretty handy!) The ending was written perfectly, wrapped up enough to have me satisfied, but not too much so that I’m no longer interested in continuing the story. (And let’s be real here, given how much I loved this book, even if the ending was terrible, I would definitely not abandon this series!)

Overall…

Go read this. Now. Especially if you like fantasy! Or Sarah J. Maas‘s books! Or anything magical and amazing! I can almost 100% assure you that you will love this book. There are themes of being true to yourself and persevering in times of difficulty. There is a world full of magic and beautiful descriptions. There are characters you will fall in love with. All in all, a must-read! I can’t stress enough how much you should go pick this up. 🙂

A little wrap-up of everything I’ve said:

  • the story is addicting
  • the world-building is amazing
  • Meira is a wonderful character with spunk and personality
  • Mather and Theron are both great love interests and characters
  • the writing was engaging and full of beautiful descriptions

So, the final question. Do I recommend this? That’s a big YES from me!!


Discussion time! What do you think of this novel? Have you read it? Do you want to read it? What expectations do you have for it? Let me know in the comments below!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling | Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Published: June 12th 2015

Synopsis:

When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she’s magically transported into the world of Cinderella–as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she’ll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?


The Ugly Stepsister_bookcover
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My Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5/5 (Amazing)

Book Information

Genre(s): Young-adult, fantasy, fairytale retelling

Page Count: 452

Format: e-book


Note: I received a free digital copy of this book thanks to Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Hello everyone! Today I have for you a review on The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling, an awesome Cinderella fairytale retelling. It is honestly one of the best and one of the most unique retellings I have ever read, and I loved it. After all those fairytale retellings out there, you’d think that there aren’t many new ideas out there, but this book definitely throws those notions out of the water.

Quick Summary

Kat is your resident bookworm who loves to read (obviously). One day, while cleaning her attic, she accidentally rips an old Cinderella fairytale book and is transported inside the story, where she is told that she is required to complete the story in order to get back home. Thing is, Kat isn’t Cinderella. Nope, she’s the ugly stepsister, named Katriona Bradshaw. She must get the prince to fall in love with Cinderella… but problems arise when she starts to fall in love with the prince herself.

Plot

Ahh this plot was simply wonderful! It was full of twists and turns that I loved and couldn’t get enough of. The pacing was fast, and I loved how everything fit together so nicely. There was the main plot (Kat trying to get the prince and Cinderella together so she could go home to where she belongs) and then there were various subplots, other things that happened along the way that made the storyline even stronger. The plot of the novel is just so unique in itself, it was double the fun in reading the book and trying to guess at what might happen.

The only thing I have to say is that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending. I totally understood why the author had to make it that way, but I couldn’t—still can’t—fully accept it. That being said, it’s a pretty bitter-sweet kind of ending and not exactly what I was hoping for, but the rest of the story still makes it worth reading. The journey more than the destination, you know? And it isn’t terrible ending, it’s quite subjective really. Overall, the plot was totally unique and an awesome adventure!

Characters

“Books open new worlds to me.”

Let’s move on to the characters. Kat, the protagonist, was amazing. Not only was she a totally awesome bookworm, she seemed realistic and it was just lots of fun seeing her attempt to adjust in a new world, and so easy to relate to her as she struggled to do so. I could also totally see a lot of my bookworm tendencies in her and that was a wonderful touch.

“Okay Kat. This is Story World, for heaven’s sake, so get a grip on yourself. You’ve no business drooling over storybook characters.”

Replace Kat with Analee and that’s basically what I have to tell myself whenever I’m transported into a wonderful story and fall in love with the characters. (AKA, all the time!) 😉

Apart from Kat’s general relatability and bookishness, I loved her development. From a shy but likeable and kind of awkward bibliophile, she becomes a strong, independant and confident female character who I not only liked, but admired. She becomes more outspoken, and more sure of herself, and I loved seeing that in her.

I also really liked the love interest, the prince, Edward. But, I won’t lie, not as much as I did Kat. But that didn’t make him a bad character. He liked to read and owned a huge library which he allowed Kat to use (which reminded me a lot of Dorian from Throne of Glass, lol.) He’s a really good person, but at first, I really had trouble getting the image of the Edward from Twilight out of my head. I mean, come on, I’m sure all of you reading this right now was thinking about it. I don’t hate Edward by any means, but I really didn’t want to associate this character with him, for which reason I’m glad that I was able to identify him as his own person later on in the book.

And although there are some similarities between the two (mainly the temper) I really liked seeing how the story wasn’t affected that much by it. He was caring and a really sweet guy, who I think I kind of fell for by the end of the book. 🙂 The romance between him and Kat was quite cute and well balanced; just enough of it to keep readers satisfied and wanting more at the same time. So, basically, I’m trying to say although there are similarities between this Edward and Twilight’s Edward, they’re not too many and overall I really liked him.

There are several secondary characters in this, but there isn’t much to say about them since we don’t get too much of them in-depth since the story is told mostly from Kat’s 1st person POV, which didn’t leave much space for other characters to be as developed as her and Edward. I did really like Henry and Elle (Cinderella) though, who both play important roles in the book and are quite nice.

Writing Style

The writing style is perfect for this story! The writing really reflected both Kat’s humor and personality, which was lots of fun to read. It was fast paced to reflect the pace of the story, but it wasn’t too rushed and was simple but still very significant and beautiful.

Overall…

This is a book you definitely can’t miss if you like fairytale retellings—and unique ones at that! I haven’t read all the Cinderella fairytale retellings out there, but this one is definitely unlike most of them out there, in a good way. I mean, how many times have you read a retelling told from the POV of the ugly stepsister? And although this book didn’t follow the original fairytale that much, it was totally able to pull off a fresh concept wonderfully. Though the ending is quite subjective, the plot itself is full of twists and turns and a great story with a cute romance. The main character Kat is relatable and a wonderful person who goes through a lot of development—which is great. Edward, the love interest, is quite sweet and likeable, and not a replica of Edward from Twilight, fortunately. (Although if you have a major hate thing going on with Edward, I suggest you proceed with caution.) The writing style is also spot-on for this story and I loved it! All in all, this book was fantastic and I really liked it. I imagine you would too if you like retellings and romance—but we’d never know if you don’t try! I definitely recommend you give this book a shot.

Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought! And even if you haven’t, I’d love to know what you think of this book; want to read or not interested? Have you read any retellings told from the POV of the stepsister? (‘Cause I honestly would love to know! :P)

A tasty meal for sure! Gobble it up. 

Analee 10