Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Series Finale Where Light Defeats Darkness

Title: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 21st, 2017!

From Goodreads...
Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED...

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.



My Review!
*Spoilers abound, so be careful!

The night after I finished --> I should be sleeping. It’s almost 2:30 a.m. and I have to be up in less than 8 hours for work. But I can’t stop thinking about this book.

I can’t stop thinking about Holland.

I love ALL of these characters *so much* and almost equally, I swear, but I’ve always had such a soft spot for Holland, even during book one when he was mostly an antagonist who did a lot of bad shit that you hardly knew if you should root for him or not. But I did. Because yeah, he may be a terrible person, but there was so much more to Holland than any of us know. (This review may or may not end up being a love letter to him, idk, I just have a lot of feelings for this Antari and I need to let them out after that ending. I have Thoughts.).

Morally grey characters are MY WEAKNESS, so it’s no surprise that I’ve developed an incredible fondness for a guy who toed the line between good and bad so frequently, and with little regard for the consequences. I understood everyone’s anger and hatred toward him. He understood why almost every one of them tried to or thought about killing him. If there was one thing he was good at (okay there are SEVERAL but this is a big one), it was at reading people. He’d spent so much of his life being silent, making himself small in the presence of others. (Or trying to because you just KNOW he was one that stood out, even when he didn’t want to). We find out some pretty shitty stuff about his childhood and young adulthood. (I honestly had not pictured Holland as a late 20s, early 30s man, I always thought he was close to Kell’s age. WHOOPS). From the time he was little, he’d been nearly killed a few times and he’d already become a killer. But everything he did was to survive, to try to carve out a space for himself in a world that only saw him as a prize to be captured.

And where did that leave him? A slave to the brutal Dane twins for SEVEN YEARS OF HIS LIFE. They broke him. They beat out *almost* all of the good that was inside of him. He suffered so much abuse, so much heartache. He’d suffered. It doesn’t justify all he’d done, all he’d put the main characters through. But it does make you stop and think about him as a character. And as A Conjuring of Light brings you closer and closer to the end, it makes you hurt and ache for a guy who has been through so much and who is still trying. Maybe not for the best of reasons or intentions, but he gave up his power, what made him who he is, for them. It all makes you just cry for Holland and the way that his story ended.

Or maybe that was just me. *sobs* Honestly, I KNEW he was going to die. I had this awful feeling, and it made sense. Even after he woke up, alive, when they trapped Osaron, I had a feeling. And I really did want to see him get the peace he deserved so badly. But is it really peace when one dies alone after giving up who they are to save a world that isn’t theirs? All he’d ever wanted was to save White London, to help his people, to make them thrive. It was why he killed an old king and became a friend to a new one. It was why he fought the Dane twins at every turn he could. It was why he made the deal with Osaron, and then the other deal with Osaron. It was why he spent so much of his energy and life into bringing colors back into his world. Yet, YET he was relieved, and so bone-deep tired, that I know his death was as it should have been and that it was where his character arc had been going. I just wish he’d been able to get a bit of happiness after all he endured. Also idk I have this theory about those last line ("The last air left Holland's lungs. And then, at last, the world breathed in.") that JUST MAYBE his death did something good for his London. But it’s something I’ll never know.

Just as I’ll never know pieces of these characters’ pasts that I WANT TO SO BADLY KNOW, VICTORIA. Guys, I just wrote three long paragraphs about JUST THIS ONE CHARACTER AND I HAVE NOT EVEN GOTTEN TO THE REST so you know this series has earned a special place in my heart.

Anyway, onto the rest or I might never stop talking about my precious Holland. Like I said, I understood people’s anger toward him, especially Lila’s. Holland had killed the only person she had cared about in the world, the only person she’d even so much as LET herself care about. But when she pickpockets Kell and goes on an adventure, she not only chooses to risk her neck to save others but she finds out more about herself than she ever could have guessed at. She learns what it means to truly live. She falls in love. She awakens a dormant magic within, and she finds out that she’s actually an Antari. She sails the seas and returns to a London that isn’t hers, participates and almost wins a game when she’d hardly had any practice in the elements. She helped save a world only to have to save it again. But she’s still Delilah Bard, extraordinary thief -- snarky, reckless, dangerous Lila who loves knives and cross-dressing and surprising the hell out of Kell Maresh. She’s gone through some change, yes, but she’s always been who she is, never apologizing for it, and I love her so much. She’s one of my fave characters ever.

And Kell is one of my faves of ever, too. (Okay all of these characters are, BUT SHHH I AM TALKING ABOUT KELL NOW). This Antari has taken a lot of blame over the whole Osaron mess, and yeah he is partly at fault. He brought that stone into the other Londons and set off this chain of events. But he is doing his damndest to make it right, to save everyone, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes, even sacrifice his own life, to do it. Kell is steadfastly loyal and incredibly gifted, and he’s kind of the anchor in the series, the one holding everything together. But he’s still unraveling a little bit, still fighting what had happened after he’d fought with the black stone, still balancing being the jewel of Arnes with the bitter realization that he’s been more of a weapon than a family member for the Maresh family (even if they tried to tell him otherwise). With Lila, he relaxes a little, falls in love, steals small bites of happiness throughout the book. But he is still damn stoic and fierce, and such a martyr sometimes, ugh. Gah, I love him. He may not have been as powerful as Holland, but he was just as needed, and incredibly selfless, and so, so good. MY HEART. <3

And then there are Alucard and Rhy, playful and charming and a little bit reckless. They both grew on me throughout the rereads and the events of A Conjuring of Light. Not that I hadn’t loved them before, but I’d always focused more on Kell and Lila and Holland, because their stories had been at the forefront. But these two. OH MAN. They both have a light that shines brightly, and they stole the show so many times. They had a lot to work through, a past that made for achingly sweet and tender moments but also with a lot of heartbreak between them. Precious cinnamon roll prince of Arnes, and pirate magician with a talent for reading people. They fit so well together, and I loved their interactions. I’m also so happy with their character developments; they both went through A LOT in this finale, but they persevered and clawed their way out of the darkness to give it all they had. Rhy grew into such a proud young man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he bore it well. And Alucard proved over and over again that he’s not the same person he was a few years ago, and that he’s worthy of second chances. I freaking love them and their beautiful souls.

SUCH MAGICAL AND LOVELY SHIPS. AND PIRATE SHIPS SETTING SAIL. SUCH SHIPPY GOODNESS. While there is so much going on in this story, and while there’s a dangerous threat hanging over the characters’ heads, Victoria does not let that stop her from giving romances a spark and from forming relationships that you’d never have expected. Kell and Alucard put aside their differences to save the world, even though the red-haired prince is still stubbornly protective of his brother (who can fight his own battles, thank you very much). Lila decided against killing Holland for a few reasons (mostly because of logic from others, but also because I think she sensed the parts of him he’d buried, and maybe even a glimpse of herself in him). But it was a good thing because he, and her, and Kell found within them the power to banish the darkness from Red London. TOGETHER. I loved, loved, loved the teamwork. #squadgoals But I knew it wouldn’t be happy endings for all, though. *cries forever about Holland* It was such a powerfully packed and emotional finale. 600+ pages is nothing when you don’t even notice because you’re in so deep.

It’s very hard to say goodbye, honestly. I’m so, so in love with with this series, and with these characters. I don’t want to let go, so I’ll just say anoshe, because this is one series I’ll be rereading for years to come.

RATING:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

(79) Top Ten Best Books I've Read in 2017 So Far

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: Top Ten Best Books I've Read in 2017 So Far.

*****

1. Wild Beauty
This book was simply AMAZING. I loved the writing, the beautiful love story, the relationship between the Nomeolvides women, the friendship between the cousins especially and how they love with their whole hearts.

2. A Conjuring of Light
This is one of my favorite series enders ever. It was emotional and intense and sob-worthy but I just freaking loved it. These books and these characters have a piece of my heart forever now.

3. Saving Francesca
Another hit from Melina Marchetta. She's quickly become one of my all-time favorite authors. I rushed through this one, which I wish I wouldn't have done, but I loved it so much. It's definitely reread-worthy.

4. The Names They Gave Us
This was full of so many things I love: strong friendships, a swoony romance, an MC who is imperfect but trying, summer magic. It was trademark Emery Lord, but my FAVORITE of her books so far. It means a lot to me personally. <3

5. Under a Painted Sky
This book was just FANTASTIC. I loved it so, so much. The characters, the setting, the journey that is dangerous and terrifying but that brings hope of bright futures for Annamae and Samantha, and love.

6. Strange the Dreamer
Although this wasn't a 5-star read for me (had to do with how I felt on the actual plot), I fell deeply in love with it. A fantasy with a bookworm MC who is the most Hufflepuff of Hufflepuffs? YES, PLEASE SO GOOD.

7. Letters to the Lost
I've read all of Brigid's previous works, but this was my favorite of hers. Hands down. It was so emotional and personally relatable for me that it's hard to put into words how it made me feel. JUST READ IT, GUYS.

8. Daughter of the Pirate King
This was nowhere near perfect or the best fantasy I've ever read, but I loved it so. much. It was a fun, banterific read that was all about that hate-to-love ship. I honestly cannot wait to read the sequel. 

9. Infini
I really loved Amour Amour, but this one was even better. I fucking adored Luka and Bailey and their relationship with one another. Their love was so infused in these pages that I could not help but root for them all the way. SO BEAUTIFUL.

10. Every Breath
I loved this whole series, but I have a soft spot for the first book. I was so freaking obsessed, I finished it within a day because I couldn't stop reading.THE SHIP WAS JUST SO SHIPPY AND I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT IT.


honorable mentions: The Upside of Unrequited, When Dimple Met Rishi, and The Hate U Give. I loved all three as well, but I wanted to stick to 10 here. But I highly recommend they make your TBR! :D


What books made YOUR best list? Did we have any in common? Let's talk! :)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Cover Reveal: No Limits by Ellie Marney

I just recently read and absolutely LOVED the Every series by Ellie, so I had to participate in this cover reveal. Harris' character is one who has more depth than you initially think, and I'm so excited that he's got his own book now. So, without further ado, here's the cover! AND READ THE EVERY SERIES IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY.

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New Australian YA romantic crime from the author of the award-winning Every series…
Boozer, brawler, ladies’ man – nineteen-year-old Harris Derwent is not a good guy.
His one attempt to play the hero – helping out his old flame, Rachel Watts – has landed him in hospital. Now injured, broke, and unemployed, he’s stuck back in the country, at his father’s mercy. Harris needs to pay off his dad’s debts, and fast. But working as a runner for a drug cartel is a dangerous path – especially if Harris agrees to narc…

Eighteen-year-old Amita Blunt is the perfect police sergeant’s daughter – practical, trustworthy, and oh-so responsible. Getting involved in Harris’s case was never part of the plan. But working at the hospital, she’s invisible – which makes her the ideal contact for a boy feeding information back to the police…

Harris and Amie’s connection is sizzling hot – but if the cartel finds out about them, things could get downright explosive. Backed into a corner, with everything at stake, it’s time for Harris and Amie to find out if love really has no limits…


“A novel of bruising empathy and excitable romance…This is modern Australia for so many growing up on the periphery right now, picked apart with exquisite and smart insight from one of Australia's best crime and YA writers.” – Danielle Binks, Begin End Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology

The book is a standalone (although if you’ve read some of Harris’s story in Every Move – nice one!), and is pitched towards older YA readers.

The release date is 14 August 2017. Pre-orders will be available from 1 August.

The book will be released on ebook and print on demand on Amazon – readers can order their copies (including print copies) there. More platforms to follow.

Folks can get updates by signing up to my newsletter at my website: www.elliemarney.com.

*****

BOOKS
2014 shortlisted Gold Inky Award, Ned Kelly Award, Davitt Award
2015 ALIA listed Top Ten most-borrowed YA books in Australian libraries

2015 Davitt Award YA Winner

2016 shortlisted Davitt Award

Newest release

Website - Twitter - Facebook - Instagram

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

(78) Top Ten Series I Haven't Read Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't.
 
****
1. Percy Jackson
Man, this has been on my TBR FOREVER. And I still haven't read the series yet, but I want to. I have watched the movies, but I've heard they aren't really like the books? And I quite enjoyed them, so I'm sure I'd feel the same when I read them! Haha.

2. The Darkest Minds
I really loved Alexandra's Passenger/Wayfarer duology, and I've heard such good things about this trilogy, so I'm excited to get to it. Hopefully this summer!

3. The Winner's Trilogy
I honestly cannot believe I haven't read this series yet! It's been such a popular one, and I have always been interested in it, and now that I have all the books, I will definitely be reading it this year.

4. Jenna Fox Chronicles
I fell deeply in love with Mary's Remnant Chronicles, so I want to read this series and hope that I love it. Because if it wasn't written by this author, I probably would just skip it, tbh.

5. Scarlet
Any story that's a retelling/reimagining of Robin Hood, and I need to read it. I've heard mixed things, but I have a feeling I'll enjoy the books.

6. Precious Stone Trilogy

This is one of those, like Jenna Fox, where I'm not 100% interested. Like I want to read these series, but I don't know if I'll enjoy them? So it's gonna be a toss-up whether or not I'll like them. But I want to give Ruby Red a try for sure! 

7. Storm Siren Trilogy

This might have passed me by if I hadn't heard from friends how good it is, and I'm really looking forward to starting it. It's not a priority for me, so I don't know when that'll happen, but it'll definitely happen.

8. The Wolves of Mercy Falls

After absolutely LOVING The Raven Cycle, I can't wait to dive into another one of her series. I think the reason I've put it off is because it's about werewolves, and I'm not really a fan of thse supernatural creatures. But it's Maggie Stiefvater, so OF COURSE, I will read it.

9. Graceling Realm

I only have the first book, but the other two are at the library, so will most likely be getting to this series this year. I've heard AMAZING things about it, and I really can't wait. I also can't believe I've waited on this one too, given how much I've wanted to read the books, but SOOOOON. I HOPE.
10. Fate

This is another one of those series I feel like I've had forever but have kept putting off. I've read a few of Heather Lyons' books before, and I'm a fan. But it's a long series (5 books!) and I just need to be in the right mood for that.


Have you guys read any of these series yet? If so, what did you think of them? Did any of these make your list? Let's talk! :)

Monday, June 19, 2017

May Mini Reviews

I didn't read as many May releases as I'd hoped, but the three I did get to were really good, and I enjoyed them all immensely!

*****

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 30th, 2017!
*I picked up a copy of this from ALA. 

 My Review!
*Minor spoiler, so proceed with caution!

This was so freaking ADORABLE and full of shippy goodness that I just. can’t. Dimple was a lovely MC, and had a lot to work through. She has always wanted to make a name for herself, go after a career, instead of settling down with a guy when she’s fresh out of high school. But it’s what her parents kind of really want for her (except they just want her to be happy too), and part of her Indian culture. And here is Rishi, who is traditional but wonderful and who doesn’t quite understand her but who wants to try because she’s worth it. Dimple doesn’t want anything from him, but she decides to make the best of the situation, even when she knows it won’t go anywhere. Theirs wasn’t supposed to be a story of love, but they become friends and end up something more. It scares Dimple, and I definitely understood her choices in this book, and I wish people would see where’s she coming from too. I’ve seen a little anger turned toward her already, but Dimple was not an impulsive person who put her feelings above all else. She was logical, and she wanted the chance to figure out who she is first. So like I was totally expecting this to not have an HEA, but was pleasantly surprised when it did. The development of their romance was so cute and sex-positive (which is always a plus in YA!!), and I utterly fell in love with it. GET THIS BOOK, GUYS. READ IT AND THEN YELL AT EVERYONE TO DO THE SAME.
RATING: 4.5 Paw Prints! 


Title: That Thing We Call a Heart
Author: Sheba Karim
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 9th, 2017!
*I picked up an ARC of this from ALA.

My Review!
Aw, I liked this one. It wasn’t always entertaining, but I really appreciated how it showed both the joys and pains of being a teenager. Shabnam was awkward and quiet, unsure of where she stood and not religious enough to feel like a Muslim girl, but who decided that it was okay for her to figure out who she is on her own terms. She wasn’t always easy to like, and she made mistakes, and she let her feelings for a boy take over her summer. But she was endearing, and I loved how this tackled first love and heartache and growing relationships and how scary and exciting changes can be. Also, sex positive for the win! And it was very feministic which made me go like YESSS GIRL GET IT. Plus the friendship between Farah and Shabnam was pretty great. They had things to work through, but they did it together, and it made their bond stronger. And I adored her relationship with her parents! Her socially inept and unself-aware dad and her attentive and kind mom; they let their daughter choose her own paths but were there for her in the ways that she needed and didn’t know she wanted. That Thing We Call a Heart was not only about romantic love, but about familial and friend love too. Because, after all, those loves matter just as much, if not more.  
RATING: 3.5 Paw Prints!


Title: The Seafarer's Kiss
Author: Julia Ember
Publisher: Duet Books
Release Date: May 4th, 2017!

My Review!
I really enjoyed this. I wasn't truly invested until over the halfway point, because the storyline before that was kind of meh. But once Loki came into the picture, I really wanted to see what would happen. I thought Julia's take on The Little Mermaid and Norse mythology was interesting, and the latter half of the book was fairly fast-paced and focused on the overarching theme of sacrifice and happiness and chasing after what you want even when people are trying to stop you. This could've been longer, though, with more time for relationships to develop and for me to get a better feel for the characters. But I quite liked it a lot anyway, and I will definitely read more of this author's stories.  
RATING: 3.5 Paw Prints!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Two Book Adaptations I Watched First

I generally *always* try to read a book first, because 10/10 of the time, it's better than the movie. However, sometimes I just don't want to wait, or I'm not very interested in the book. Or like in the second movie's place, I'm staying away from that particular genre for awhile. Or I get spoiled (aka Me Before You, which I haven't seen yet but will be doing so soon since I'm no longer going to read the book first). There have been cases, like the Percy Jackson movies and Hidden Figures where I either didn't realize they were book adaptations or forgot. But I don't think the fact that I watched them first is going to ruin my reading experiences (at least with PJ, since I've heard the movies aren't quite like the books??? Plus I've heard the HF book is terrible, so I'm going to stick with rewatching it over and over again because it's just that amazing). ANYWAY I should move on or I'm never going to stop talking about how much I love Hidden Figures. Here are two book adaptations that I watched without reading the books recently!

The Girl on the Train
I was so interested in this movie and I just couldn’t wait to read the book first. The wait at the library was SO LONG, and I didn’t want to buy it in case I didn’t like it, so I ended up just renting the movie after awhile. And I’m honestly glad I did that. Because while I enjoyed the story, I didn’t *need* to read it beforehand. It was almost like a straight-up thriller that I can find anywhere on the shelves. It did have a lot of wicked turns to it, and I wasn’t able to call some of the twists. It was highly entertaining, and I HAD to find out what happened. But it’s also something I won’t be watching again for the simple fact that the mystery is now solved.


The 5th Wave



I’m writing this as I’m sitting here watching this movie, and it’s actually what inspired this post. I had hoped to eventually read the book first, but that just wasn’t going to happen. For one thing, I’ve sworn off dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels for the immediate future. And to be frank, they don’t totally interest me anymore anyway. So yeah, I’ve gotten to the part where Cassie and her brother, Sammy, have been separated. I’m getting Zombieland vibes from this, but it’s not about zombies, thank goodness. But it’s about aliens, which isn’t completely better. However, I like the acting so far, and I’m very interested in seeing how goes. Also omg, they’re building an army of KIDS. WHAT???? This is such a weird movie. It’s a good one to have going while I work on my dark fantasy, at least. But. Meh. It was predictable and honestly really ridiculous. Thumbs down for this one.



Have any of you guys read or seen these movies yet? If so, what did you think of them? Do you always read the book first? Let's talk! :)