Review: Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As usual, there will be some spoilers in this so don’t read if that bothers you.

Well, that was fantastic! I was shocked at how quickly I read this book. The chapters weren’t that long so I fell into the “just one more chapter” syndrome and next thing I knew I said “just one more chapter” six or seven times. I am really happy this is a series because, though the plot was AMAZING I really wanted to dive more into the characters themselves.

Like Kell was cool, and the book did a great job at the beginning establishing what his responsibilities were and how he has strayed from them for some time. I just, I wanted more! And obviously Schwab wanted to give us more since it’s a series, but, I don’t know maybe I’m just rambling, I just really wanted to see more brotherly moments in the kingdom, actually see the king and queen a bit, hear more about the revolutions in white London, I guess I just loved the world so much I never wanted to leave.

Obviously, Delilah stole the show. Every scene she was in she made it hers. It was impossible not to pay more attention to her than everyone else and I liked how Schwab blatantly wrote how much she changed at the end when she was fighting the Queen in White London.

I thought Rhy had SO much potential and I really hope to see him more in the next books cause that dynamic between him and Kell is fantastic. He is loved by his people and doesn’t realize how strong he is because he’s constantly comparing himself to Kell’s magic.

All in all I loved this book and cannot wait to continue the series.

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Review: The Rogue Queen

The Rogue Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #3)The Rogue Queen by Emily R. King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As usual my review will contain spoilers so stop reading if that bothers you.

As I think I mentioned in my review of the second book in this series, I am now hooked. Each book in this series has been better than the last. Kalinda has also gained respect, and power over her abilities in increments over the course of multiple books (not to mention her entire childhood dedicated to training) so at no point do I feel like she suddenly just became powerful for the sake of plot.

What I liked most about this book is the change in circumstance. We are no longer dealing with a tournament but the fate of the entire planet. It is no longer a story of individual survival and has become a full-on battle for the human race. The overwhelming power of the voider’s army, as well as his own power and his connection to the prince and Kalinda keep the tension high at every moment in the story.

What I like most about the author’s writing is she never seems to forget about the minor characters. It’s not to say each character is given substantial screen time (let’s be honest that would be weighty and unnecessary) but they do feel real, they do feel grounded with real motivations brought on by real backstories and the ones who change aren’t rapid changes for the sake of plot but actual development in the characters themselves.

Honestly, my only knock on the story now is that everyone seems to be described as attractive and whenever a woman sees a man (because all the men are attractive) they swoon. I understand this is probably to demonstrate how oppressed women are in this society that they rarely get to see, or freely talk to men so they see men as these mythological creatures of hotness but there was just something about the dynamic that took me out of the story.

Anyway, I really look forward to reading the fourth book!

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Summer Goals

By Tuesday I will be done with all my exams and final essays. Summer will finally be here and I will have more time to focus on writing and editing. My two main goals for the summer are release two novellas. Nothing substantial, each over 100 pages. Third Life is in its final edits and I’m hoping to publish it either the end of May or the start of June.

The second project I hope to publish this summer is a bit more whimsical. It’s a world where reapers create balance by not only guiding souls from one world to the next but also returning life to our world in the form of gardens.

This story is completely outlined and ready to go, I’ve just been waiting for exams to finish before I actually get started. I know it’s silly. In the time it takes me to write this blog I could’ve probably knocked out the first chapter, but for some reason, I enter full freakout mode if I start working on anything creative during finals week (and weekend). My time is divided between studying and recharging so I can get back to studying.

While my publishing plans are set I do have plans to continue editing The Absolute, however, I have changed the name to Skipping Over Sundays. I don’t know how a book that has gone through so many edits is a complete mess. Not even a mess, it’s just boring and I don’t think I explain the cool aspects of it at all so people who read it will end up being bored and confused, which is never a good combination. I really wanted the weight of his wife’s death to haunt him, and it’s just such a shitty representation of it. Also the ending drives me crazy cause it just all wraps up nicely and I dont think I–yeah doesn’t matter. I’ll just let it be for now. Probably send it off to a couple readers who can tell me exactly where the problems start. A fresh set of eyes will probably help.

I also plan on editing The Pathetic Tycoon especially now that I restructured it and deleted all the unnecessary points of view. It has become a cool rivalry between an old criminal and a young businessman.

My final project in the making is a MG series I plan on writing starring my new niece and all the adventures she is going to go on. I’m excited to take a crack at MG. I know there are a lot of amazing writers in the genre who produce phenomenal stories, and I’ll have my work cut out for me to find a voice in it, but I’m really excited because it’s a genre that’s more welcoming of the whimsical, and it’s something I really enjoy including in my writing because I don’t know, it just feels like a mason jar of happiness. Sorry this is such a bad ramble, I’ll end this post here, I just wanted to keep you all up to date on my upcoming plans.

Review: The Fire Queen

The Fire Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #2)The Fire Queen by Emily R. King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This review will contain spoilers, if that bothers you stop reading here.

I liked this book a lot more than the first. The first was all insta-love and angst between Kalinda and Deven, wanting to be together but unable to because of Raja Tarek. The tournament added drama but it felt secondary to their love and fighting tournaments have become such a staple in YA it just wasn’t exciting because it wasn’t anything new.

What made this book better was the love between Deven and Kalinda took a backseat and it was much more about Kalinda fighting for her kingdom and her throne. The tournament itself was a more interesting concept as well, though I thought all the challenges were a little rushed, I didn’t feel much tension build. Each had a moment that Kalinda was on the brink of failure then she of course turned it around and won, however the near defeat and the turnaround all happened pretty quickly.

All in all this was an interesting enough second book to make me continue on to the third, and as long as the fourth is available on KU I will most likely finish this series.

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Review: Killman Creek

Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake, #2)Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was back and forth with my review for this book while I was reading it. At times I thought it could even be a 4 and at its worst I thought giving it a 1 might be too generous. Obviously the good outweighed the bad and entertained me enough to give it a solid three.

This review will contain some spoilers so if those bug you I suggest you stop reading here.

I’m not sure if this review will have any rhyme or reason. I doubt it will have any order. I just finished this book not even two minutes ago and already I’m writing this review. What I enjoyed most about this book was the expansion of the criminal network. It was no longer a cat and mouse game with Gina/Gwen and her husband. It was an entire criminal organization standing between her and revenge. Caine handled the webs connecting those in the organization, those on the outskirts of it, those ignorant of it, and those tortured by it with delicate care. She was patient in building it up and created something terrifying. In the end she did give the means to be the boogeyman Gwen thought it to be.

What I didn’t like about this book was–well for one–okay I’m trying to word this right. Diversity in fiction is important, but it’s also important that it’s not just a checklist. Caine wrote a book where all the characters with depth, purpose, and every other synonym for real was white and straight. She then filled all these, what felt like quotas, with not even secondary characters, but the equivalent of film extras. Just little details on skin color or gender that let the reader know she included diversity in the book but that it didn’t matter. These characters were either plot devices (and not real humans) or posters. For example off the top of my head I can think of two black characters in this book. Mike, who we know served in the military, served in the FBI, and is Sam’s friend (nothing else) and a nameless paramedic who I don’t even think has a line but Caine made sure to tell us he’s black. There’s an Indian family that owns a nice bed and breakfast. There’s the transwoman who worked for Absalom, her daughter turns out to be gay, and then there’s Javier (who is by far the deepest, but even he only serves as a gun to protect Gina’s kids in this book).

If that paragraph is too bulky, the tl;dr is diversity is important and this book may have treated it like a checklist.

The other thing I wasn’t too big of a fan of were the multiple points of view. I know people have different opinions on this, but it held the story back, and made it longer than it had to be. Again, as I mentioned earlier this will contain spoilers so take this as a second warning. Gwen got caught by Absalom later on in a hotel room. Gina spent the whole book convinced law enforcement couldn’t help her but all she did was make the situation worse. The only thing she did to help catch Melvin was get caught so Sam and Mike could save the day (but she killed her husband to make it seem like she was proactive protagonist we were led to believe she is).

Okay, I feel like I’m rambling. I’ll try and sum it up all at once right here. Despite a lot of action, the protagonist was still reactionary and ultimately got lucky. What saves this book is the writing in some sections, the engaging twists, and the thoguhtfulness of the criminal enterprise.

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Review: Zenith

Zenith (The Androma Saga, #1)Zenith by Sasha Alsberg

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF 52%

I just don’t see myself finishing this book, at least not any time soon and I would rather focus on books I want to read. This was starting to put me into a bit of a reading slump; reading it felt more like a chore than something to do for pleasure. Once I started skimming massive amounts of text I knew there was no point in continuing.

As for my thoughts on specific aspects of this book. I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said already. I wasn’t a fan of all the points of view because they just felt unnecessary. The world building and the character development were underwhelming and relied on tropes. I didn’t feel much chemistry between Dex and Andi, but it was clear they were on a romantic collision course. Even the technology felt rushed, and the descriptions of characters didn’t serve much a purpose other than to make them sound cooler.

Alright, I guess I do have one thing to say. I don’t know how something could be so saturated with descriptions and still leave me feeling lost. It was clear the authors had a vivid imagination for the galaxy and wanted to share it with me, but they spent so much time describing inconsequential settings, physical character traits, and dialogue tone, that some of the more necessary descriptions (and for that matter world building) was overlooked.

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Review: Traitor Born

Traitor Born (Secondborn, #2)Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is probably a 2.5/5 too but it was better than the first so I rounded up instead of rounding down.

As I mentioned in one of my updates I feel awkward reviewing books like this because I know I couldn’t do any better, and I also know I’m not the target demographic. Still, it was free on KU and the plot has been compelling enough to keep me engaged.

This review will contain spoilers so stop reading now if that bothers you.

I’ll start with the things I didn’t like that way this review ends with the positives. At times the writing was a little repetitive, and what made the repetition even more noticeable was how it carried over from the first book. For example, the descriptions of muscles on all the men Roselle respects or is romantically involved with. You can tell who the good guys are because they’re hot and muscular. You can tell who the bad guys are because they’re pure evil, usually less attractive, and very immature. Also, most people are blonde. It’s not that big of a deal but it just catches my attention how even some throwaway characters who don’t even need a physical description “brush their blonde hair out of their face.”

I was also not a fan of the love interests (it’s now a long quadrangle). Clifton, Hawthorne, and Reykin are all practically the same character because the most important thing about them is their combat competence and their physical appearance.

The villains are flat (most of the characters are) but they are still just evil for the sake of being evil.

Roselle is too perfect. She is able to kill an entire hoard of enemies at a costume party and come out with only a couple fractured ribs. Then when Clifton gives her this special body armor she is bested by two guards but is miraculously saved because of the armor. There’s really no conflict because it’s clear if Roselle wanted to she could kill everyone at once with ease, and I dont understand the connection she feels with her mom because we never actually saw any relationship (or lack thereof) we were just told Roselle was ignored and her mom hates her. I just mean I feel nothing for her dilemma because I never shared the same hope she had that their family would be reunited.

The only thing that gets in Roselle’s way is her own naivety and it’s kind of annoying because it’s so out of character. She goes from this overpowered demi-god to a bumbling idiot when it’s convenient for the plot or the romantic sub-plot.

It is entertaining though and there were pockets of good writing. Again I feel like I shouldnt be saying that because Bartol produced something better than I could.

As long as the third book is available on KU I will finish the series.

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