A Gathering of Shadows

20764879A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V. E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab)

5 Stars

AGoS picks up months after where ADSoM left us– on a boat with Lila and her new fellow shipmates aboard the Night Spire. Kell meanwhile is not adjusting to life that is tied to the royal prince. Essentially under house arrest, Kell is getting restless living day to day under constant supervision and without anything to distract him from the one person who manages to find their way back into his thoughts; Delilah Bard. While the rest of Red London is preparing for the Element Games, Prince Rhy devises a scheme to allow Kell to release some steam. Caught up in their own lives, Black, White, & Grey London seem to be flourishing in their own ways.

The Story-This book was so much better than the first one! In fact, it made me appreciate the first one even more! The first book felt more like character development and world development – the background story that brings our characters together, I mean sure there is a lot that does actually happen, but for some reason I feel like the adventure really started here.

The World Building-AGoS really brought in a deeper understanding into the magic that Kell uses. Introducing rules and consequences to the magic, how magic is used combatively, and even how the other countries surrounding Red London view magic. Aside from that we didn’t get much more world building, as we really are returning to our beloved London’s.

The Characters-I feel like the characters really came to life in this book – especially Delilah. Her mannerisms and actions really helped drive her character as she had to prove to herself as well as the world that she is no ordinary girl.

In aGoS we get extra points of views as well. So all those who were going gaga over Rhy in the first book, be happy because you got what you asked for. Unfortunately, Rhy isn’t the charming prince that he comes off to be, and as we delve into her POV we get an understanding of how he feels in the aftermath of Kell linking their lives together.

 

If you haven’t already seen, there is quite a bit of awesome fanart out there for the SoM series.

Kell by Merwild

Delilah Bard by Freiheit

One of my favorites is Merwild. (Kell) The other is Freiheit. (Delilah Bard)

As always, I would be careful scouring the internet for any fan art, as it might unintentionally give away spoilers.

 

 

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Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab

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Wonder Woman : Warbringer

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo

 

“As I breath, your enemies will know no sanctuary. While I live, your cause is mine.” 

 

4 Stars
If you’re new to superhero stories, you should know this, there are lots of different versions to each hero’s story. As a new writer or director brings the story around, they keep the simple elements, but renew the story each time. With that being said, if you recently watched the movie starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, please don’t expect this book to follow the same story line.

Warbringer tells the story of Diana who was born an Amazon, and didn’t earn it. She is steadfast in finding a way to prove that she is worthy of living on the island with her sister Amazons. When Diana makes the mistake of saving a drowning girl, Alia, she goes through great lengths in atoning for the law she broke despite the risk of being banished from the island. Alia is a Warbringer, a descendent of Helen of Troy, and well…a bringer of war. It’s up to Diana and Alia to find a way to break the Warbringer curse or risk starting WW3.

The Story– Told from alternating POV, this action packed book brings the punches over and over as Diana learns to maneuver in the mortal world while trying to protect Alia and save the world from a massive war. While the book was exciting, it did take place over just a few days, making it also fast paced. Therefore there really wasn’t room for a very in depth story. After the origins portion of the book, the reader is sent on a mission to get from point A to point B alive – meaning, a lot of stuff happens in quick spurts to deter them from their mission.

The World Building-The world building for Themyscira was wonderful. You get a real sense of peace and a bonded sisterhood among the Amazons. Getting the background on the culture of the Amazons really helps a reader to get into the conscious of Diana and why she is so motivated to prove herself. Being set apart all she really wants is to belong and be worthy of being called an Amazon.

The Characters-All the characters had their own unique personalities, and even though Diana is the main character, it was a relief to experience a wide variety of attitudes; the fierceness of the Amazons, Alia’s need for freedom, the controlling aspect of Jason (Alia’s brother), the whitty Nim (Alia’s best friend), and the nerdiness of Theo. All of their personalities combined give a little bit for everyone. My favorite part for Diana, however, is her cluelessness to modern idioms despite her knowledge of the mortal world.

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Unspoken Rules

35424123Unspoken Rules by Lora Inak

ARC provided by Netgalley for a fair review.

Publish date: September 17, 2017

2 Stars

“She wasn’t like the other kids at school. She didn’t have the same freedoms. She had to live the life decided for her. Tread the same terrain trodden on by her mother, her grandmother, no doubt her sister and countless other girls and women from her community. Her road was set – long straight, even, the scenery black and white.” 

Unspoken Rules is about a Syrian girl, Natalie, living in Australia desperately trying to balance life at home within the Syrian Christian Orthodox community and her secular life at school.

The Story-What I liked about this story was that it instilled quite a bit of culture around Natalie’s choices. It’s a lot more than just strict parents with lots of rules – it has to do with the background of why there are rules. So when she went around trying to hide her choices from her family it was understandable. Here she was trying to live a life as a modern teenager in Australia, when her life was shrouded by religion, tradition, and expectation. Her life at home at school was so drastically different that it was just so much easier to separate the two rather than merge them as one life – her life.

The Characters-Natalie could be the biggest hypocrite. Like here she was complaining about how traditional her family was, and then flip out and unfriend her best friend because of a modern choice she made, that frankly didn’t actually affect Natalie in any shape or form.
I did however adore how unsuperficial she was when it came to her judging people, especially when it came to including one of the unpopular girls at her church.

The Connection-I was raised in a fairly strict household, so I definitely get how she would feel when it comes to not being allowed to do a lot of things. I honestly got a little annoyed at how much she was complaining about her different lives. Like, dang girl, you’re the one who made it that way. At least she admitted she needed to grow up. I also found it a little weird how open she was to changes in her life once a boy was involved. It was a big relief to see that at some point in their relationship she realized the choices she was making was drastically different than how she was raised. Now while I do not agree with some of the way the orthodox religion is, I do not agree with someone just flip flopping without a thought – and I was incredibly happy that she didn’t just get carried away with the moment.

All in all, I thought the book was okay, but nothing to really grab my friend and rave about to.

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The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

1 star

“Beyond the reach of human range
A drop of hell, a touch of strang
e” 

I cannot review this book because I have no idea what I just read. HOWEVER, I have heard good things about the series as a whole…so I might give t

he next book another try…like when I feel an itch to read something pretty obscure.

Feel free to inform me on anything that I missed, but here’s a rough summary, Some spoilers may be included:

The gunslinger is on this mission to find the Man in Black to find some Dark Tower. He’s traveling in a desert following his trail, he finds a boy they keep going over the desert and they go through a mountain. There’s a shooting in a town and some weird mountain creatures that make the book almost exciting. There are some flashbacks that give some semblance to who the gunslinger is. This is what I got from that. 1. he was raised to be a gunslinger, 2. his dad was royalty? 3. girls want his wiener a lot.

I’m not going to cover what actually happens at the end, because I don’t understand what even happened at the end–some sort of reenactment of the first verses of Genesis? “Let there be light”

I am truly so confused.

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Boomerang Boyfriend

36054598Boomerang Boyfriend by Chris Cannon

1 Star

ARC from Netgalley for an honest review…So, I normally like to get my ARC reviews out before the release…but oops >_<

Delia has been best friends with Zoe for forever. With both parents constantly working odd hours she has practically grown up at Zoe’s house, making Zoe’s family basically her family. That is, until suddenly, Zoe’s jerky older brother Jack isn’t so jerky. Boomerang Boyfriend uses the I-like-my-best-friend’s-brother trope…and beats it with a stick. That’s it, that’s literally the story.

The Story-So I usually am okay with cliche story lines, as long as they are done well. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough going on in this story to bring in some stars on my rating. The story bounced between both Delia & Jack’s POV, and even that didn’t add much depth to the story.

“My life would be so much easier if I liked someone who wasn’t my best friend’s brother. Or if he didn’t like me. And who knows? Maybe he didn’t.”

“Holding her like this felt oddly comfortable. I realized if I leaned down just a little bit, I’d be in the perfect position to kiss her. Wait. Where is that thought coming from? I needed to snap back to reality.

Now rewrite this a few different times, alternate the points of view, throw in a lot of doggy scenes & MINOR just-a-friend drama and you have the book.

In between all that there was a lot of inconsequential filler such as

The Characters– All the characters seemed fairly believable and it was nice to just have normal characters. Everyone had their own issues going on, however, it wasn’t used as a major driving factor as a character trait. Unfortunately, no one had any memorable personalities either. What I came out of thinking was that Jack’s best friend Trevor’s family are really irresponsible dog owners (they constantly left out food when the dog was notorious for getting into, eating, then pooping/vomiting snacks)

The Connection-I think this book would have been a lot better if it was told from just one point of view. For me with a YA romance the biggest factor besides actual plot/characters is the part that makes my heart feel like its being wrung out. Reading about how rational both characters were with dealing with their feelings sadly ruined it for me. There were no moments of miscommunication or confusion that I didn’t instantly know the other side, letting me know that it will probably get worked out.

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Spellslinger

25181955Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell

3 stars

“There’s no amount of magic in the world that’s worth the price of a man’s conscience” 

Kellen is about to turn 16, the age when Jan’Tep prove their magical abilities or become a Sha’Tep for the remainder of their lives, serving those who are true mages. As each day gets closer to his birthday, he seems to be loosing more and more magic. It isn’t until Ferius Parfax shows up that Kellen starts to realize that a life of servitude isn’t the only option.

The Story-Spellslinger was unique enough to keep my interest. Here we have a story of a guy who sucks at magic, and despite the goodness of his heart, life really doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Everything Kellen does pretty much comes to the last ditch effort. He really does endure a lot despite the knowledge that no matter what, best case scenario he ends up as a servant for his uber powerful sister, worst case scenario..he’s dead and he drags his family’s name through shame.

The book ended at a point to where you could read it as a stand a lone or continue the series on. I for one, am curious to see where Kellen’s journey continues.

The World Building-How in the world did De Castell manage to make a hand working-magical-monk-esque world blend in with an outlaw-wild-west feel? When you think of both parts of this story separately you would not have guessed that combined they work. It wasn’t anything as epic as peanut butter & jelly (or whatever your favorite combo is) but, it still flowed well.

Basically were in a world where each family raises their kids to learn their magic. They’ve got these band tattoos on their arms so that when they are able to control a certain element the band “sparks”. These kids practice their magic standing around near the oasis, which is the source of their magic I guess. They move their hands in somatic formations, mumble a phrase, and blam magic.

Then you get this character, Ferius, who is like a card wielding Billy the Kid like character. Everyone is wearing of the outsider with her deck of cards. Suddenly, this magical story is a western. I know, odd right? But it somehow didn’t bother me!

There was a lot of thought that went into some of the details too. Such as, since they grow up having all these servants and really just standing around making magical spells, they are all rather out of shape, to the point that Kellen is a little weakling & hardly has any stamina.

The Characters
Kellen -Somehow by the end of the story you are rooting for this whiny kid. As an outsider, I just thought that I just wanted to punch him and yell and him to quit being such a selfish cry baby. Then there is this obsession with this girl. A girl he doesn’t seem to really interact with but is still crazy about. I had to remind myself that he’s 15, and well I mean his priorities are obviously all kinds of screwed up when he only cares about the fact that he hadn’t kissed a girl when his life is in imminent danger

Ferius Parfax -What a badass. I mean really, all she does throughout the book is speak obscurely in riddles, deal some cards and smoke her pipe. But somehow I idolize her as…well super cool. I think it’s the way she breaks the mold in such a mundane world.

Reichis -A squirrel cat with a serious attitude and an appetite for eyeballs. Let’s just say that I would want him on my side. Despite the fact that his attitude was a little annoying sometimes, he still made a compelling sidekick.

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Gemina

29236299Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

The Illuminae Files #2

5 Stars

“Patience and Silence had one beautiful daughter. And her name was Vengeance.”

THIS BOOK WAS PERFECTION!!

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Gemina continues the epic story that Illuminae started. From Jump Station Heimdall we meet a whole new crew of ass-kicking and hacking characters to continue the prosecution against BeiTech.

The Story– I didn’t quite believe people when they told me Gemina was better than Illuminae. But OH. MY. GOSH. It truly was so much better. It did NOT suffer from that second book syndrome we know as “this sucks”. I don’t even need to say much about how awesome the story is, if you loved the first one, you will most definitely love this one, if not even more like I did (and obviously so many other people). I don’t know how the story was able to come up a notch, but it did and I cannot wait to see what happens in the next one!

The World Building– How do you expand the world on a space ship? Kaufman and Kristoff have introduced some elements that, frankly, scared the shit out of me. I’m not going to say what said element was, but let’s just say that my (irrational) fear of air vents has been rekindled. Yes. Freaking. Air. Vents.

Even though we the story is in a futuristic multiuniverse there are still some familiar attributes to be found in this book. Annoying double entendre pop songs that are way over played, culture (such as Russian), drug dealers, instant messaging. It’s all stuff that isn’t too crazy sci fi for the average person to get behind. So even if you aren’t really into sci fi, you can still enjoy the non stop action this book provides.

The Characters-Kady & Grant << Hanna & Nik << AIDEN.

I know, right? Yay for more Kady, Grant, & AIDEN!!! I am so glad that they did have a come back, at first I was slightly worried since we were on a completely different location in space.

Hanna-Such a bad ass! I love that even though she was all prim & proper spoiled could still live a little. She had a journal to draw out her feelings. Her dad had her in combat training. And above all else, she still had a little sense of adventure or a spark for the wild side. Despite all that, she still had her moments where she was a broken girl, and it was such a relief to see a hero still be able to feel despair, failure, and anger.

Nik-Can I have one please? I love that Nik is not who you expect him to be. His character has such excellent development from what Hanna’s preconceived opinion of him. There’s never a moment where I wasn’t cheering him on. I always have been a rooter for the underdog. & I am love a story with the most unlikely companions.

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Song of the Current

Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1)Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

3 stars

In an attempt to keep her dad out of jail, Caro a wherry(wo)man, must transport a crate and deliver it to Valonikos. Unfortunately, it isn’t just any crate, and there are pirates searching the rivers for it. Caro must rely on her friends and her own skill to complete her task – all the while hoping the god of the river will finally call out to her like all the other good wherryman have been called.

The Story-I love me a pirate story. This is my second one this year, and while it wasn’t as good, it was still mostly enjoyable. I loved that instead of your typical high seas type of pirates, we had wherrymen – which are essentially on river barges. Unfortunately for me, there were a few elements that were sort of lacking. The only other thing I thought was odd about this story was that if there was this boat chasing after them on water…why didn’t they just travel by land? I am sure there could be a million reasons why…but not one was mentioned…like going by wherry boat was the only way to their destination.

The World Building-Even though a majority of this book is spent on a boat, there was a little bit extra going on. Since the story was mostly set on the waters of a river, there were marshes and other boats for the story to take place in. I loved the culture of the river that was different from people of the sea/ocean. There was definitely a lot of boat jargon that I had to keep up with, some went a little over my head, but a little knowledge and imagination goes a long way when it comes to inferring what the heck the people were doing on their boats.

There were some magical elements that was included in the book that wasn’t really explained – shadowmen, frogmen & gods that speak to whatever you were called to….but not everyone can speak to the gods (of the sea, river, mountain etc). It didn’t feel forced on the story, but I wish a little bit of the culture surrounding it all was better explained – alas, that’s what second books are for! I hope that not only do they explain these elements a little further, but also introduce more. More drakons please. Let’s face it, I am a sucker for dragons, put one in the water, still just as cool to me.

The Characters-Sometimes when I am reading a book I feel really connected with the characters. I felt that this book wasn’t one of those books. Maybe it’s just me. The characters themselves were still fun. Caro was a little feisty girl – both headstrong and loyal. She’s happy with her life and doesn’t want anything besides making her father happy and finally hearing the river god call her. She really doesn’t take any crap from anyone.

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The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

5 Stars

Much to my friend’s amazement, I knew pretty much nothing about the Percy Jackson series before starting this book. I think I enjoyed it a lot more because I didn’t really know any of the little factoids that a lot of other people know, heck, I hardly even knew the synopsis before opening the book. I knew that my 11 year old nephew was reading the series, and that I wanted to read it with him. I really wish that I was his age reading the book for the first time. The thing about Percy Jackson that would probably make it so appealing to as young as a 5th grader is that they probably have a lot of recent education on Greek mythology in school. At least, I think I learned about that stuff around the 4th or 5th grade, to be honest it was so long ago it mostly mashes together. Regardless, it should be taking a lot of information that they would be familiar with.

TLT tells the story about Percy Jackson a modern day kid who finds out that his dad is Poseidon (HA! I didn’t even know this going into the book, but apparently it’s in the synopsis so I don’t count this as a spoiler). There is trouble with the Greek gods as someone seems to have stolen Zeus’ thunder lightning bolt. Someone, Percy to be precise, must find the lightning bolt before the wrath of the gods starts WWIII.

The Story-Obviously, kids like to have stories where ordinary people find out they are destined for greater things. When we are young we like to let our imaginations get away with us (heck, I still do). TLT delivers what is familiar and makes it into something exciting. Throughout the book, I am reminded of familiar mythology as it is reincorporated into Percy’s quest.
The writing style in the book is so easy and flows well enough that any young reader will enjoy the book because it reads like someone telling a story. A story full of twists and turns and never a dull moment.

The World Building– There isn’t a lot of new world building as this is set in a modern day setting. However, Riordan does a spectacular job of modernizing the Greek gods into Western civilization.

The Characters-Percy really is such a lucky boy. I mean, yeah, his life leading up to his quest was pretty awful, however, he should pretty much be dead. There were so many opportunities where he could have easily died, the end. It really was right place & right time plus a little dash of help form his friends (and dad).

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I’m not going to go too in depth into all the people and friends Percy meets. But I will say that I love how the gods are depicted in this story. They are supposed to be this revered being, but they’re just a bunch of selfish, snotty brats. It’s funny how entitled they are because of their power.

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Ready Player One

9969571Ready Player One by Erenst Cline

5 Stars

Set in the future where the world has essentially gone to crap, people spend most of their time in a virtual reality world called Oasis – chock full of pretty much every form of entertainment, ways to spend money, educate, work, and essentially live (minus actual eating & drinking for sustenance) . When the creator of Oasis dies without an heir, his will, in a form of a YouTube video, announces that he has placed three Easter Eggs (hidden keys) and that the first player to complete all three will inherit his shares of the company and his fortune. Five years later, no one has even found the first Egg, and only avid gunters (egg hunters) like our hero Wade are still searching.

 

Ready Player One is the biggest nerdgasm I have ever experienced! 

 

 

 

The Story-There was a time in my life where I spent a lot of time playing video games. As a kid I grew up on Gameboys, Playstations, computer games, and X-box. As someone born in the 80’s I consider myself a secondary 80’s kid, as a lot of the stuff that came out then was still prominently popular in the 90’s, or at least re-done. As kids do these days with 90’s reincarnation, thus my age group did to the 80’s. So when I say that this book was totally relatable, I mean. This. Book. Was. Totally. Relatable. At least, to me that is. Now, if you don’t know a thing about video games, 80’s movies/music or a variety of other “geeky” things such as any major sci-fi movie/tv series (Star Trek/Wars, Firefly, etc) or Japanese hero shows/anime, then you definitely would not really know 99% of the references stated in this book. With that being said, I still think this book might be enjoyable to you, except you might have to google a music video or even take a break to watch a movie here and there. Which, they are “classics” for a reason, so educate yourself.

The World Building-Thankfully there is a pretense as to why we spend almost an entire book in a digital world manifested of…made up worlds. Cline gives us a futuristic scenario that is pretty plausible and slightly daunting. The true magic is how he ties in all the different “geeky” aspects. Even though we have key elements from multiple eras in gaming to different countries, we have a world that literally has multiple worlds incorporated into it. Even though most of the elements are borrowed, I still feel like my mind was brought into a whole new experience that cohesively brought all these wonderful elements together. The real kicker is how to make it more than just a game and more than just a nod to cult classics.

The Characters-Aside from the epic amount of references throughout the book that is like reminiscence bound into a book, the characters and their interactions are what really drive the story. The crazy thing about this is that since most of the book takes place in a game, we don’t really know who Wade meets. Wade is our classic underdog, but the sidekicks of the story are really strangers. Just people that he has spent a third of his life interacting in non-real-life scenarios. But because Oasis is basically what Wade’s life revolves around, these other players/gunters are really his best friends and vice versa. Their relationships are tested throughout the book as the game progresses as they all want to win, and they all want to have the upper hand. The real kicker to the characters and where the book plays you is that you don’t really know who these people are. As Wade continuously points out, his friend could be a hot enigmatic teenage girl, or she can be some middle aged fat man named Chuck.

Despite the character interactions being within a game, they are hardly plain 2D characters. They have depth. They each challenge and help Wade in their own ways. And most importantly they each bring their own flavor and personality to the book.

Side Notes-I knew there was a little lot of hype to the book due to the fact that they are making a movie of it. About halfway through, I caved and decided to watch the trailer. Now while the beginning of the trailer gives you a little idea about the book, the second half is wildly misleading. Let me just point out, that (and this isn’t really a spoiler) there are no races depicted in the novel. I mean, I am sure that it is expected that there are worlds within Oasis that have some racing, BUT, let me just say that if you’re expecting some epic race scene in the book….don’t. It has nothing to do with the book.

The other thing about the movie that I am curious about is if there will be any licensing issues with the film adaptation. I don’t know what the rules are for writing/filming with all these major references in them, so I am curious to see how certain elements will be shown in the book, and if some would be completely omitted due to some sort of copyright issues.

 nerd anna kendrick pitch perfect love you awesome nerds GIF

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