Blogmas Book Review: Blood Magick by Nora Roberts

fullsizeoutput_238b

GoodReads Summary:
County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna O’Dwyer fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna’s special touch.
Branna’s strength and selflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family—along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound. But there’s a single missing link in the chain of her life: love…
She had it once—for a moment—with Finbar Burke, but a shared future is forbidden by history and blood. Which is why Fin has spent his life traveling the world to fill the abyss left in him by Branna, focusing on work rather than passion.
Branna and Fin’s relationship offers them both comfort and torment. And though they succumb to the heat between them, there can be no promises for tomorrow. A storm of shadows threatens everything that their circle holds dear. It will be Fin’s power, loyalty, and heart that will make all the difference in an age-old battle between the bonds that hold their friends together and the evil that has haunted their families for centuries.
Blood Magick (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #3)Review:
The final book in this trilogy, Blood Magick, is the one I’ve been most excited for. In this third book, we follow Branna and Finbar. The sparks between them are flying right from the first book. I was dying to get into this finale.
Branna is the responsibile one of the fated three that make up the Dark Witch. She has a strong sense of duty and takes on the role of the leader in the family. I really admire Branna. She takes her duty seriously and teaches the others anything they need to know. I also loved seeing her in her workshop and in the kitchen. In the first two books, we’re told she does the cooking and sort of what she does for her shop in town. But I adored getting to see her thoughts while making new candles, body lotions, or soap scents. I thought it was a great part of this book.
Let’s talk about Finbar Burke. I would die for him. He is the blood of Cabhan but has fought it his entire life. He is as honorable as they get but still doesn’t hide his feelings for Branna. His love for animals, horse, hound, and hawk alike, was one of my favorite things about him. He’s so full of love, for animals, for Branna, and for the rest of their circle.
Seeing these two put aside the past and come together again made me so happy. It truly displayed the growth of each member of the circle. The history the two share, really made this couple what they were. Overcoming that history and coming back to one another was the highlight of this book.
Overall, this was my favorite book in the series. I love Branna and I would die for Fin. I loved seeing the circle come together, with the past and all of the connections they learned, to defeat a great evil.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

GoodReads Summary:
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.
Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)Review:
What to say about Ninth House? I absolutely loved this. I don’t understand why so many people didn’t like it. Many said the beginning was slow and boring, but II completely disagree. I was invested in the story almost immediately. I think for me, I can relate to Alex because of our shared history of substance abuse. So, that makes me connect with her in a way many people probably don’t.
I absolutely adored the setting and atmosphere of Ninth House. I grew up a few hours away from Connecticut, I could totally feel the biting winter cold and the old, historical feel of the town. I thought it was so well done, and obviously done by someone who had lived in the area. I know Bardugo went to Yale and clearly spent tons of time researching.
I really enjoyed the societies. They were dark and magical and infuriating. I think this story is told by Alex, an outsider, gave the whole story an interesting perspective. She wasn’t just another rich kid being a Yale legacy. She was working for her place there. I also thought it was great that Alex worried about her classes, her non-society friends, and things outside of her ‘job’ there.
Darlington, my dear Darlington. I spent most of the book wondering what happened to him and then being pissed when I found out. I liked that we got to see him teaching Alex all of the Lethe ways. I liked that we got his backstory too and learn that he’s more than the persona he presents to the world.
Let’s talk about the darker elements of this book. There have been many conversations about the content warnings provided. I don’t really find myself having too much trouble reading about horrible things very often, and this was no different. I actually got to a certain part of the book and remembered one of the content warnings. Then I thought about all the other ones I knew of and actually thought to myself “oh, I already passed the kid eating shit and didn’t really even think about.” I know this is not the case with everyone, but I thought all of the darker aspects of the story were well written, well thought out, and were not included just for any sort of shock value. I though Bardugo handled them all very well.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I didn’t know it was going to be a series, so I am HYPED for the next book. I cannot wait to see where these characters are going to go. I had so much fun reading this one and I highly recommend it for those that enjoy darker books.

Quotes:

“Mors irrumat omnia. Death fucks us all.”

“All you children playing with fire, looking surprised when the house burns down”

“Peace was like any high. It couldn’t last. It was an illusion, something that could be interrupted in a moment and lost forever.”

“That was what magic did. It revealed the heart of who you’d been before life took away your belief in the possible. It gave back the world all lonely children longed for.”

“Alex didn’t have money. But she did have power. She’d been afraid of it, afraid of staring directly at that blood-soaked night. Afraid she’d feel regret or shame, of saying goodbye to Hellie all over again. But when she’d finally looked? Let herself remember? Well, maybe there was something broken and shriveled in her, because she felt only a deep calm in knowing what she was capable of.”

 

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads Summary:

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.91shyghsqsl

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

 

Once again I couldn’t wait to start this book after the suspense-filled ending of Siege and Storm (you can read my review of it here). The Darkling finally made his move; the Second Army has been destroyed, the palace taken over, the king, queen, and prince are possibly dead, and Alina is hiding underground without her powers.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this book. At the beginning, it felt like there was no hope for Alina and her friends to be able to defeat the Darkling. He simply has too much power and experience for the ragtag group of rebels to make much difference. To change this, Alina and her friends go on a nearly impossible quest to try to find the firebird. The third of Morozova’s amplifiers could make Alina powerful enough to face the Darkling once and for all but the firebird is a legend they’re not sure even exists. I really enjoyed this quest; the interactions between this group of misfits were fun and it was nice to get away from the politics of the second book. The twist involving the firebird, the third amplifier, and Mal wasn’t much of a plot twist for me. Usually I like little subtle hints in books that make you go “Ohh” when you eventually figure it out but I thought these ones were pretty obvious. I’d guessed this outcome back in the second book but it wasn’t revealed until two-thirds of the way through this one.
Alina is still my favorite character. She’s strong and brave but also very flawed. Despite everything though, she always tries to be a good leader first and foremost. I loved watching her continue to grow throughout this book.
I’m also glad I started to like Mal again. My opinion of him has sort of been a rollercoaster throughout the series but he managed to redeem himself by the end. He hasn’t always been there for Alina the way he should but he stepped up when it mattered and I ended up admiring the person he becomes.
Nikolai is also one of my favorites. He’s still the dashing, witty pirate we met in the last book but behind that he’s intelligent and kind. I was more devastated by what happens to him than by any other event from these books so that should tell you how much I love him.
I don’t have much to say about the Darkling that I haven’t already said in my previous reviews because his part in this book is mostly from a distance. His unpredictability makes him an exceptional villain and I liked the way Bardugo ended things for his character.
Overall this way an amazing conclusion to the series and I highly recommend it to everyone who likes YA and fantasy. As always, thanks for reading and I’d love to know what you think in the comments.

-Antonia

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads Summary: Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.91wvknclkul

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

 

After almost a year, I finally got around to finishing this series. I did reread the first book but, since my thoughts on it remain the same, I won’t write another review for it. You can read my review of Shadow and Bone here.

I loved this book. After the whirlwind ending of the first book, it seemed like this one might start slow, but it picked up almost immediately and the whirlwind started again. That’s one of the things I love about this series; it’s so fast paced that I read each book in only a day or two. Even during slower moments there’s so much underlying suspense that you can’t wait to see what happens next.

The setting is amazing. As I said in my review of the first book, I struggle a lot with visualizing settings, especially fantasy settings. Bardugo describes the places and people in her books so well though that I found it easy to see everything. Even with the war, this is a world I think I could live in.

Alina is a character I continue to admire. She’s gone through so much in her life and the events of the last book have left her shaken. Terrible things have happened to her and she’s done terrible things as well. She barely knows who she is anymore and she’s fighting so hard to separate her actions from those of the Darkling. No matter what she does she always keeps fighting to be a good person and I love that about her. I think she really stepped up in this book to try to be a good leader even if she still makes mistakes sometimes.

Mal started to annoy me again in this book. He annoyed me in the beginning, then I loved him by the end of the first book and the beginning of this one, then he started to annoy me again, but I feel like it wasn’t so much his fault. Mal and Alina start this book in a really good place in their relationship. Sure, they’ve got problems, but most of them stem from the war and their terror of the Darkling. Then, suddenly, the relationship’s broken and Mal’s acting like a jerk and Alina won’t just talk to him. It didn’t feel like a natural progression to the relationship. It felt like Bardugo just created problems in the relationship to add more tension to the plot and not because that’s where the relationship was going. It’s the only serious problem I had with this book. I would have understood them having a little trouble because their entire lives are made up of stressful situations and that would wear on any relationship, but the complete 180 seemed forced to me.

I absolutely love Sturmhond. It seemed like every time I turned a page there was a new facet to his personality that made me love him more. Even the negative traits just made him more interesting. I won’t give away too much about him but he’s definitely one of the more unique characters I’ve read about recently.

The Darkling is still an awesome villain even though we don’t see him quite as much in this book. The affects the end of the first book had on him have somehow made him more twisted and it was difficult to figure out what he might do next. Also, (sorry everyone) I still don’t love him.

Overall this was an amazing sequel that I highly recommend to everyone who enjoys YA and fantasy. It has the romance and magic that you expect from this genre with a heavy dose of darkness and what people are capable of under pressure thrown in. I’d love to hear your own thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!

-Antonia

Earth’s End by Elise Kova

Summary: A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.

Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.

Review: I think this book is my favorite of the series so far. It was really fast paced for one; the first book had all the character and world-building necessary to lead up to all the conflict, and the second mostly consisted of the Imperial Army marching across the world for the first half. In this book, the war is here. The characters’ relationships have formed and you know how the world works so this book was mainly conflict of one type or another.
There’s tons of action; a combination of magical and traditional fighting (my favorite kind). There’s emotional conflict; Vhalla and Aldrik trying to figure out where their relationship is going while simultaneously keeping it a secret, Vhalla trying to come to terms with all the things she’s done and the loss of her close friend, Aldrik fighting his inner demons. And there’s political conflict. This is the type that I usually hate. I find politics so tedious and backhanded. Give me an honest fight any day. However I didn’t hate it as much in this book. Maybe because it was politics specific to the war; they’re in an army camp, there weren’t any courtiers, so it was a very basic form of politics rather than full-blown court intrigue.
Still, I hate the Emperor. Without him, none of this would have happened. He’s the reason the politics are necessary, he’s the reason Vhalla’s considered property of the crown, he’s the reason she and Aldrik have to hide their relationship. He’s the reason for the war. The more I learn about him the more I think he’s a horrible, irredeemable person. I don’t think I could forgive his actions at the end which resulted in something I know most readers are devastated about. (Sorry, no spoilers.)
Vhalla continues to amaze me with her strength. She’s grown so much since the first book. Part of her is twisted and dark, she kills and lies because she’s told to and to try to earn her freedom but she still tries to do the right thing when she can. I found myself sympathizing with her more than I have a character in awhile. I found some parts a little hard to read because her feelings paralleled some of my own recently. It gave this book a really personal connection for me.
Aldrik is amazing. Except when he’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I still love him but I found him frustrating at times too. He tries so hard to be a good prince and to do right by Vhalla but he doesn’t always make good choices. Sometimes his plans backfire and he doesn’t handle negative emotions well. His alcoholism gets brought up in this book as his coping mechanism and I particularly liked seeing it from Vhalla’s perspective. First off it takes her two and a half books to realize it’s a problem. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s not just alcoholics who deny they have a problem but their loved ones do as well. They also try to justify it and make excuses because no one wants to believe someone they love is hurting so much they feel the need to self-medicate.
I still want Vhalla and Aldrik to have a happy ever after by the end of the series but there’s definitely some stuff they need to work on first, both individually and as a couple.
Overall I loved this book. I have no idea where the next book will lead because this ending of this one was crazy but I’m so excited for it. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA and fantasy. Please tell me what you think in the comments and thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Fire Falling by Elise Kova

Summary: Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Review: I CAN’T HANDLE THAT ENDING. I need to start the next book so badly but I’m making myself review this one first – under protest!
First off, I’m seriously beginning to love Vhalla. She is so broken in this book, traumatized by the events from the first. I’ve mentioned this in many reviews, but I love when authors accurately portray characters with PTSD. So often they show a little to further the story line but then the character is magically cured; Trauma isn’t like that, it’s continuous and debilitating. You don’t know when or what might trigger an episode and it usually gets worse before it gets better. Vhalla has nightmares almost every night which results in her being sleep deprived constantly. She’s never had much of an appetite but now she barely eats. When something happens that reminds her of The Night of Fire and Wind or her imprisonment, she freezes. None of these things further the story line, if anything they’re tedious and redundant; but they’re realistic. This woman is traumatized and having friends who support her or falling in love don’t suddenly make it okay.
That being said, Vhalla is also an extremely strong character. Even when she breaks down she picks herself up again. By the end, I had so much admiration for her determination and growth.

“She had to survive if for no other reason than to spite the world.”

Aldrik. I don’t even know where to start. He’s broken too but in different ways. For him, he started breaking so long ago that he’s more resigned to it than anything. He doesn’t feel worthy because of it and especially feels like he doesn’t deserve Vhalla. He absolutely does. I loved getting to see the real him, the side he shows Vhalla, behind the mask he needs in order to be the Crown Prince. That contrast made it feel like I really got to know him in this book and I love all of it. He’s unapologetically badass, sweet, and cruelly apathetic when he needs to be. I particularly adored the flashbacks of his life we got to see. It helped me to understand some of the mysterious aspects that surrounded him throughout the first book.
I loved Larel. She’s an exceptional friend to Vhalla. She’s the one always picking Vhalla up when she breaks, holding her when she wakes up screaming from her nightmares. She’s simply an amazing human and I loved getting to know her better.
Daniel was a really fun character as well. He was the first person Vhalla meets after her trauma that she feels comfortable with. They both grew up in the East and visited the same places as children which sparks an instant friendship. I was worried for awhile that this was going to turn into a love triangle but luckily it didn’t. They gain that sort of intimate affection that comes from leaning on someone for comfort but they remain just close friends. I’m happy about this because I don’t think we see enough male/female friendships in books that don’t turn into romances.
The Emperor increasingly pissed me off. I expect it’ll only get worse over the rest of the series.
I really enjoyed the plot of this book. I’ve read quite a few reviews from people who didn’t like it, saying it’s just a filler book and nothing happens; and honestly that’s mostly true. But that’s why I liked it. Most of the book the army is just travelling from the capitol to the war in the North. This gave Vhalla a chance to learn who she is now and begin to come to terms with everything that’s happened. It gave her a chance to make new friends. It gave her and Aldrik a chance to actually form a relationship. We always hate when characters fall in love too fast, well this book gave them a chance to do it slowly. By the time they kiss for the first time, it’s months since they first met. That’s practically unheard of in YA world.
Overall I freaking adored this book. I thought it was a significant improvement over the first (and I liked that one too). I’d recommend it to any YA and fantasy readers. I’d love to hear your own thoughts on these books. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia

Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Summary: A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

Review: I’m so glad I finally listened to Amanda and picked up this book. It starts off pretty quickly, with enough mystery to keep me turning the pages. The world-building was gradual enough to seem natural without being tedious. There were a few things I was confused about in the beginning but they were explained shortly after.
This world is one I find extremely intriguing. I’m not sure what time period to try to relate it to; it’s certainly old-fashioned, with the society rules, sword-fighting, and a pre-industrial feel to it but there’s also some aspects that seem more modern, mentions of plumbing and a generally more feminist society.
The magical side of things is what really got me though. I’ve always adored elemental magic especially. In this world, different regions tend to produce sorcerers of each individual element; countries toward the East have Windwalkers, the South have Firebearers, etc. The Windwalkers were eradicated decades ago until Vhalla suddenly manifests as one. (Note: Yes, I saw the parallel to Avatar: The Last Airbender but I assure you the similarities end there.) I just love all the things you can do with elemental magic and Kova executed it really well. I also really enjoyed her showing a more negative side to the magic (nothing’s perfect right?), particularly the way sorcerers are treated in this society. To the point where Vhalla simply doing research on sorcerers and their history was enough to earn the judgement of her peers.
The storyline itself also had a darker side, especially at the end, and I’m really looking forward to more of that later in the series. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy lighthearted, happy reads when I’m in the mood for them, but when I’m reading about war I want to see traumatized, broken characters because war isn’t pretty and I don’t think it should be portrayed that way in media.
I liked Vhalla quite a bit and it seems like she headed for some really great character growth. She makes mistakes and her indecisiveness could be a bit annoying; I think if she’d just accepted her magic and took steps to join the other sorcerers, none of her problems would have occured. Even when she was annoying though it was understandable. She’s thrown into an entirely new world, kidnapped, thrown off a roof, and told she’s something that everyone treats basically like lepers. I totally don’t blame her for trying to crawl back into her old life and pretend none of it’s happening.
I want to hate Aldrik, I really do, but I can’t seem to make myself do it. He can be an asshole, he’s arrogant, and keeps tons of secrets but then he turns around and says something sweet and I’m like, “awwww”. Since he’s so mysterious, I didn’t get to know him as well as I’d like but I’m very excited to learn more about him in the next books.
One thing I noticed were some typos and the occasional sentence that was worded a bit oddly; this might just be on the Kindle version, I’m not sure, but it’s definitely something that caught my attention. After I got into the story I didn’t notice them much or was able to ignore them in order to continue reading but if you’re someone who gets easily annoyed with things like that, you might have trouble getting into this one.
Overall, this book was amazing. It was fast-paced, with complex characters and a crazy plot. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA, fantasy, and magic. I can’t wait to read the next book and would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Summary: Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Review: This book was a little hard for me to get into. Mostly I think it’s because I started it on audiobook and didn’t much like the narrator. The voices she gave the characters were weird and hard to differentiate between. Several times, I thought one character was speaking and it turned out it was someone else. It was almost as if the narrator forgot which voice she assigned to who and kept mixing them up.
Luckily I decided to switch over to Kindle and liked the story much better after that.
Ceony annoyed me a little at first. It seemed like she was alternately very intelligent or very naive, whichever was convenient to the story at the time. For instance, she worked crazy hard to finish years of schooling in just one year but then when Thane gives her a few books to read for “homework”, she complains about all the work. I found this ridiculous. If she managed to finish what’s basically a college degree in one year, then she would have no qualms about a little reading. It seemed to me that, because she’s supposed to hate her apprenticeship, Holmberg just made her complain about everything whether it was realistic or not. After a while she got better about it though and Ceony became I character I actually liked.
Emery Thane was fun. Unfortunately we didn’t get to know him as much as we normally would. For the better part of the book, Ceony’s basically walking through his memories but we don’t see him for real. It sort of gave us random glimpses of his character but it made it awkward for me to form real opinions about him.
Also the (potential) romance between them felt extremely forced to me, especially because everything happens in such a short amount of time. I’m hoping that gets better in the next book.
Despite not necessarily wanting the characters to be my best friends, I would like this book solely for the magic. In this world, magicians can control man-made substances; they bond to one substance in particular and that’s the only one they can ever work with. Ceony and Thane are paper magicians. She doesn’t want to be a Folder, they’re looked down on by other magicians because it’s not considered very useful. I loved watching Ceony slowly learn all of the amazing things she can do with paper. It’s an extremely unique magic system that I loved reading about.
Then Holmberg also made a dark side to the magic. Someone once figured out that since humans are technically man-made, they could be controlled by magic and Excision was created. These evil magicians use blood and flesh to control and torture people. It added a seriously dark aspect to an otherwise fun storyline.
Overall this was a very interesting read. I wouldn’t call it a favorite but I am excited to see where the rest of the series takes me. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys stories about magic. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Summary: Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

Review: As much as I loved the first book, I loved this one more. I read it in about a day even though it’s over 600 pages long and I was a little overwhelmed when I was done. Not necessarily in a bad way, it’s just that so much happened and I had so many feelings that I was a bit lost when it was over.
In my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses, I talked about how I liked the fact that Feyre isn’t your typical hero; she does what she has to to protect those she loves even if it’s not “the right thing”. Some of these actions from the first book have resulted in her having PTSD. Partly because of the awful things that were done to her or that she saw in Amarantha’s court Under The Mountain, but a huge part of it is the things she herself did Under The Mountain. Even if we completely ignore the fact she’s been turned into High Fae (she’s literally not even human anymore and that’s an insane adjustment for anyone), everything that’s happened since the beginning of ACOTAR has been traumatizing. She’s trying, and failing, to cope as she comes to terms with who she’s become. This book had some of the best character development for her, particularly because it doesn’t happen overnight. Throughout this entire book she’s changing, growing, learning who she is and who she wants to be. A huge part of that growth is influence by Tamlin and Rhysand in vastly different ways but I’ll go into more detail about that later.
I slowly hated Tamlin more and more throughout this book. This seems to be the source of some contention for fans. Readers seem to either think his personality in ACOMAF is completely different from ACOTAR and that Maas forced it that way to make room for Rhys to be with Feyre; OR readers think it’s simply an extension of Tamlin’s personality that we didn’t see in ACOTAR but that was sort of amplified by the trauma of Under The Mountain. Honestly, I’m not sure what I think but it seems to fall somewhere in the middle for me. His change in ACOMAF definitely felt just a little forced but I’m also not surprised by it. As much as I loved him in ACOTAR, I definitely got that sense that he was a little controlling, a little possessive. Part of the problem might be that in the first book, that’s what Feyre wanted. She wanted to feel protected for once in her life, not have to do the protecting but after Under The Mountain she needed some semblance of control of her own life and Tamlin wouldn’t let her have that. I understand he watched her die and doesn’t know how to deal with that but even months later after Feyre’s tried telling him what she needs, after he’s promised to be better about it, he only gets more and more controlling. All that said, I still felt a little sorry for him right up until that last scene. I won’t spoil it for anyone but his actions at the end were the final straw for me. In my mind, there’s no excuse for what he did and I won’t forgive him for it.
Rhysand. Is. Perfect. Not that he doesn’t have flaws; of course he does. His flaws just made me love him more. Everything about Rhys’s story gave me all the emotions. It’s tragic and beautiful and funny. For me though, the main reason he’s my new favorite book boyfriend is for the way he interacts with Feyre. He works so hard to give her what she needs to deal with her trauma and he listens to her and respects what she says whether he agrees with her or not. He never tries to control her and actively gives her the freedom to act for herself to the point where, if there’s danger, he lets her handle it; he might step in when necessary but he never tries to fight her battles for her. This more than anything helps Feyre grow because she finally has the freedom to do what she needs to do for her own well-being. Rhys never treats Feyre as anything less than his equal and I absolutely adore that.
Rhys’s Inner Circle was one of my favorite parts of this book. Mor, Cassian, Azriel, and Amren are such unique, complex, lovable characters. I love that they, including Rhys and later Feyre, are a family first and the Night Court second. I’m beyond excited to see more of them in the next book.
Overall, this is one of my new favorite books. It had everything I want from a story; romance, friendship, complex character development, action, heart-wrenching moments, laugh-out-loud scenes, and an ending that just about killed me. I recommend this to everyone. Seriously. Just read this book.
I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Summary: Imagine it were possible to bring the characters from a book to life. Not like when someone reads a book with such enchantment that the characters seem to jump off the pages and into your bedroom…but for real. Imagine they could actually climb out of the pages and into our world.
Then, imagine if those characters brought their world into ours.
One cruel night, young Meggie’s father, Mo, reads aloud from Inkheart and an evil ruler named Capricorn escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie is smack in the middle of the kind of adventure she has only read about in books.
Somehow, Meggie and Mo must learn to harness the magic that conjured this nightmare. Somehow they must change the course of the story that has changed their lives forever.
This is Inkheart, a timeless tale about books, about imagination, about life.
Dare to read it aloud.

Review: This is a book that I can honestly say I liked every part of. The plot was well-rounded and fast-paced; even slower parts kept my attention so I was never bored. The characters were complex and even the villains were enjoyable to read about. I also didn’t really feel like I was reading a children’s book. Certainly some darker topics were skirted around and parts that were more from Meggie’s POV had a more child-like tone but she is a child and that’s to be expected.
One of my favorite things about this book were the quotes at the beginning of each chapter from all sorts of different books, mostly classics, some that I knew and some I’d never heard of. It just added to everything else that makes this the perfect book for bookworms.
Another thing I loved is simply the way the characters talk about books. I’ve quoted this book before in a Top Ten Tuesday from years ago and even highlighted some of my favorite ones in the book itself. Here are just a few:

“Stacks of books were piled high all over the house – not just arranged in neat rows on bookshelves, the way other people kept them, oh no! The books in Mo and Meggie’s house were stacked under tables, on chairs, in the corners of the rooms. There were books in the kitchen and books in the lavatory. Books on the TV set and books in the closet, small piles of books, tall piles of books, books thick and thin, books old and new. They welcomed Meggie down to breakfast with invitingly opened pages; they kept boredom at bay when the weather was bad. And sometimes you fell over them.” Inkheart, Chapter 1- A Stranger in the Night

“They were her home when she was somewhere strange. They were familiar voices, friends that never quarreled with her, clever, powerful, friends – daring and knowledgeable, tried and tested adventurers who had travelled far and wide.” Inkheart, Chapter 2- Secrets

“Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn’t ask anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly.” Inkheart, Chapter 47- Alone

Now to the plot itself. The idea of characters literally coming out of their books to interact with us is a thought that every bookworm has had. We wish desperately to have adventures with our favorite characters, to become best friends with the protagonists, to defeat the villains and become heroes. This is what happens to Meggie and her father, Mo, but they realize quickly that adventures aren’t as fun in real life as they are to read about. Villains are wonderful on paper but being face-to-face with them is terrifying. I loved the storyline overall. It was relatively realistic (excluding the fantasy aspects, obviously) and had excellent detail without the tediously long descriptions I hate.
The characters were wonderful. Meggie is strong-willed and kind. Thanks to her father, she’s already an avid reader at the age of twelve and I loved all her little bookish quirks. I really admired the way she handled all the traumatic events throughout the story. She’s young and terrified but kept pushing past her fear to try to get through each situation. I also loved her relationship with Mo. They’re friends as well as parent/child and it’s always been just the two of them so they’re constantly looking after one another.
Mo was great, too. He lost his wife when Meggie was just three and has had to cope with that while raising Meggie by herself. He’s compassionate and always tries to do the right thing for everyone.
Dustfinger has always been my favorite. He’s so lost in the real world even after nine years and only ever wants to get back home. He does some less than admirable things to try to get there but I think he steps up enough when it counts. I can’t wait to read more about him in the next books because I just want him to get a happy ending.
Overall this book was amazing. It’s fast-paced, fun, suspenseful, and even a little sad at times. I’d recommend it to all bookworms who love getting lost in the adventures they read about. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Dragon’s Gift: The Valkyrie by Linsey Hall

Summary: From Book 1: I’ve got two choices. Join the Undercover Protectorate. Or die.

36675235

In a world of controlled magic, I’m an Unknown. Deadly power, little control. I’m only alive because I pay a Blood Sorcerer to keep me hidden. But when he comes to collect on the debt I can’t pay, one of his goons slams me with a deadly curse. Suddenly, I’m out of options and out of time.

When I’m given a rare chance to join the elite Undercover Protectorate and train at their academy to become an investigator, I have a way to hunt the cure for the curse. They have resources I don’t. Easy, since I’m broke.

Seems like a good plan, right? At least, until they tell me Cade will be joining me on my hunt for the Blood Sorcerer. He’s an actual Celtic war god–and the hottest guy I’ve ever seen. The catch? I can’t let him know that I’m an Unknown, or I’m out on my ass and deader than Hades.

Undercover Magic is a fast-paced urban fantasy with a kick-butt heroine, a tough hero, and magic that will knock your socks off.

Review:
Amanda got me into Linsey Hall’s books on Kindle and I’m so glad she did. This is the fourth Dragon’s Gift series, each consisting of five books. It sounds like a lot but they’re very quick reads; I could read one in a day. Each series follows a different women as she tries to master her magic and defeat the evil she’s tasked with getting rid of.
Let’s start with the basics. I really enjoyed these books. They’re quick, funny, suspenseful and have some kickass heroines. I also really liked the world Hall created. It’s mostly based on our world but with a magical twist. Magical creatures of all kinds exist in secret; hiding among us or in hidden magical cities. This allowed Hall to do all sorts of fun stuff with history and myth. (Fun fact: Since Hall was an archeologist before she started writing, her books have a lot of historical accuracy and she includes a section at the end of the books where she explains the different connections to history and what she may have changed for creative reasons.)
Let’s start with Bree. I LOVED her and her sister Ana when they appeared in a previous series. They’ve basically been hiding on the outskirts of society their entire lives and because of this they’re a little awkward, a little crazy and completely badass. Ever since their older sister Rowan disappeared five years ago, they’ve been trying to keep it together while spending all their resources to find her. Unfortunately the series starts with them being deeply in debt to a bad guy because of it. Cue the Undercover Protectorate; a secret, magical organization that fights for the little guy and protects the world from magical threats. They find the girls to recruit them and end up helping them with all the problems that keep popping up in their lives, including finding Rowan.
Bree is awesome. She’s a fighter through and through, proven by the fact her fear response is to dive head first into everything. She works on this impulse control throughout the series which actually proves to be a VERY good thing during an especially surprising plot twist. She also starts to get past her (understandable) trust issues until she’s able to make a home with people she cares about. Bree had some really amazing character development.
Now I’ll talk about Cade, Bree’s love interest. Very swoonworthy. He’s an earth walking god; basically a mortal who inherits godly powers. At first I was a little annoyed. One thing I noticed throughout all the series was that we got these really powerful women who suddenly meet the one man who’s more powerful than them… I’m sorry, why can’t the women be more powerful and not have it be an issue? The one saving grace was that most of them either gain powers or come into their own more strongly until they’re at least level with the male MC. Once that started to happen, I liked Cade a lot more. He has his own trust issues and together he and Bree help each other to start working through them. He’s a tough guy and wants to protect Bree but understands that she’s her own person and has to fight her own battles. While he certainly saves her a few times, he never tries to stop her from going into danger which I thought was a refreshing change from what you frequently see in male MC’s.
Overall I loved this series. I really enjoyed all the mythology throughout it. Mostly Norse since that’s where Bree gets her powers but you get bits from several other pantheons as well. I’d recommend this series to anyone who likes mythology, urban fantasy, or the paranormal. I suggest starting with the first Dragon’s Gift series. You don’t have to read them in order but there’s enough crossover that some of it will definitely make more sense if you do.
As always, thanks for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
-Antonia

Beheld by Alex Flinn

Summary:Featuring retellings of favorite fairy tales such as “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” and “The Ugly Duckling,” Kendra’s adventures in Beheld are filled with fresh fairy-tale fun from beginning to end.

Since she first beheld James over three hundred years ago, Kendra has tangled with witch hunters and wolves, helped a miller’s daughter spin straw into gold, cowered in London as German bombs fell, and lived through who knows how many shipwrecks.

But her powers have limits, and immortality can be lonely. Kendra isn’t ready to stop searching for the warlock she met centuries ago.

With the help of her magic mirror, Kendra will travel the world to reconnect with her lost love—and, of course, she can’t help but play a hand in a few more stories along the way.

Review:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I love Alex Flinn’s books.
They can be quirky, funny, sad, frustrating but mostly they’re just really unique twists on fairytales. This book (like her previous book titled Bewitching) mostly consist of a few different stories narrated by the immortal witch, Kendra. In this case it’s Little Red Riding Hood, Rumplestiltskin, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and The Ugly Duckling. Between these stories, you see Kendra’s struggles over the course of three centuries to reconnect with her lost love James (also immortal).

First, let me talk about Kendra. She first appeared in the book Beastly (one of my all-time favorites) and I immediately loved her character. Beheld is the fourth book she’s appeared in and I only love her more. Yes, she’s a badass witch and completely unapologetic about it, but I think what I like about her most is that she’s also deeply flawed. You see it most in some of the stories in Bewitching but one of the main points throughout these books is that Kendra tries to use her magic to help but magic rarely works the way you want it to. She’s failed- alot. She’s vain and a little impulsive and things don’t always go the way she plans. I just really love seeing a character, especially an immortal one, who’s allowed to have flaws and it’s not the end of the world. No one’s perfect and she’s not trying to be. I was also really excited that after seeing her helping others find happy endings for so long that she finally got her own love story.

Next I’ll talk about each of the stories individually. I can honestly say the first is probably the most unique version of Little Red Riding Hood I’ve ever read. One, it takes place during the Salem Witch Trials. Wait, what? Yeah. Growing up in Massachusetts I’ve heard A LOT about the witch trials but have never seen them tied to a fairy tale. Flinn managed to keep a lot of the historical accuracy while twisting it with Little Red Riding Hood in a way that I thought worked very well.

Rumplestiltskin was always a story that intrigued me though I can’t say this version was my absolute favorite. Don’t get me wrong it was still enjoyable to read, I simply didn’t love all the characters. The prince Cornelia falls in love with pretty much just fit that stereotypical playboy-noble-messing-around-with-farmgirls mold. I liked Cornelia except where it concerned the prince. I mostly just sat here the whole time like “You know he’s a jerk right?”. Rumplestiltskin I DID like. He was sweet and had a cute little backstory that I enjoyed learning about. Overall this story was good but fell fairly close to the original fairytale.

East of the Sun and West of the Moon is one of my favorite fairytales. Maybe because it’s not one I ever heard growing up so it always feels so different to me. I really liked the way Flinn went about this one, tying the setting into World War II. I liked the story and the characters; my only complaint would be that I would’ve liked to have seen more of them as this story seemed a bit shorter than the rest.

Finally we have The Ugly Duckling. I would have been happy with a book just about this one. It’s about Chris and Amanda, two awkward kids who become friends in kindergarten and eventually fall in love. I know, it’s been done a thousand times. Usually I’m really sick of this trope and I was even a little annoyed when I thought that’s where it might be going; until I wasn’t. For once I didn’t feel like I’d read this story before. The characters and their friendship were so fun and unique to me that this ended up being my favorite part of this entire book. It wasn’t just this weird foreshadowing to the romantic side of things, it was an actual, healthy, well-rounded friendship that you get to see evolve over the years.

Overall, this book was an entertaining, quick read that I’d recommend to anyone who likes fairytale retellings or YA in general.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Flamecaster – Cinda Willaims Chima

Summary:
A burning vengeance.
Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic-and a thirst for revenge. The son of the queen of the Fells, Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers now to save a life, but to take it?
A blood-based curse.
Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would one day make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.
Destiny’s fiery hand.
Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, Ash and Jenna will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.
Se in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series, a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.
Review:
So if you read my last review you all know that I absolutely loved the Seven Realms series. Flamecaster is the next series based in the same world, only it’s a generation later. I also very much loved this book. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that the next three books aren’t out and there aren’t even any expected publication dates, which I guess it understandable seeing as this book just came out in April. But still, I don’t care if I’m being unreasonable! I need to know what’s going to happen next!
Cinda Williams Chima is an amazing writer. The way she sets up the plot for what going to come next and the setting, ugh, I wish this world was a real place. From the way she describes it, it’s beautiful even after twenty-five years of war with Arden. She explains everything in such good detail I feel like I’m there with Ash when he’s at Oden’s Ford, or right alongside Jenna in Delphi. I just really enjoy the way the story is written. It’s an extremely action-packed story; pretty much right from the start of the book, but there’s also a bit of romance and quite a few devastating parts as well as surprise after surprise. Chima seems to know exactly how to make it straight to my heart and get me way too involved in the story and beyond in love with the characters. She also does one of my favorite things, she tells the story from more than one perspective. From this, I knew as soon as I started to read the story that our two main characters, Ash and Jenna, would eventually meet. I love that I get more than just one part of the story. I get to see what’s going on in other parts of the world all at the same time.
The beginning of Flamecaster threw me off a little bit. At the start of the book, Ash is thirteen and Jenna is twelve. We read a few chapters of their lives at this age while they both experience something traumatic and life-changing. Then the story fast forwards four years. I took me by surprise and had me confused for a few pages until I realized what had happened. It’s not that I didn’t like the time jump, because I totally understand why the author did it, I just think she should have done it a little more clearly. Maybe she could have labeled underneath the chapter title “four years later” or something like that.
As always the characters are my favorite part to talk about. In Flamecaster I feel like there are so many more characters I’d like to talk about compared to the Seven Realms series. I think maybe there are just more characters that I’ve started to love. So I’ll start with our favorite prince, Adrian sul’Han also called Ash. He’s so his father’s son it’s ridiculous. He keeps secrets just like his father did, though his secrets didn’t blow up in his face like they did for his father, thankfully. He’s a smart and brave young man throughout all of these pages. Though, not everything he does is terribly intelligent. He gets it into his head that he needs to kill the king of Arden, which is why most of this story takes place in Arden. I thought that was cool because the last series took place mostly in the Fells and I really enjoyed getting to read about one of the other kingdoms in the Seven Realms. I understood why Ash felt that he needed to kill the king, but at the same time, I don’t think he really needed to. I think it would have happened without his help and he should have gone back home instead of going to Arden. Part of me is glad he went because then he never would have met Jenna and we wouldn’t have gotten to learn more about his sort of friend Lila either. Thankfully, at the end of the story, Ash decides it’s time for him to go home. At this point, he’s grown up a great deal and I really enjoyed following him on his adventures to get to this point.
Jenna Bandelow was a very interesting character. I wasn’t totally sure where her part in the story was going to take us, except obviously towards Ash. Even after finishing this book I only have a slightly better understanding of what part she’s going to play in the Shattered Realms series, though I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a big one. I loved Jenna from the very start. She really cares about the people in her life and does her absolute best to protect them at any cost, even when doing so could cost her her life. Because of one of these moments she has to change her identity and starts her life over as a boy. She’s passionate about what she believes in and knows exactly what she wants. She actually reminds me a little bit of Queen Raisa. She consistently takes risks to try to make her town a better place and she never stops trying to do the right thing. I’m very excited to see where the rest of this series takes Jenna.
While Ash is studying at Oden’s Ford at the beginning of this story we meet Lila, who isn’t someone that I would call his friend, but they get closer to that by the end of this book. Lila was a very confusing character. I knew that I liked her, but I couldn’t always tell whose side she was on. She was a spy for the Arden kingdom but never seemed to really agree with what she was doing and always seemed to have another goal in mind. When we finally find out who she really is, I liked her even more. I knew there was something about her that I liked and as soon as that surprise was revealed I was very glad. I’m sure she’ll be a big part of the next three books and I’m excited to see more of her.
Flamecaster, the first book in the Shattered Realms series, was amazing. I’m glad I decided to buy it and even gladder I finally got around to reading it. I am going to try to patiently wait for the next three books to come out, but it will probably be more anxiously waiting than patiently. If you like action-packed books with tons of plot twists with a bit of romance in the middle this is definitely the book for you.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Beach Reads

I’m not really big on “beach reads” For me a beach read is usually just whatever I’m currently reading (as long as it’s not super depressing because I don’t need to cry in public). So I’m just going to try to direct my list more towards lighthearted reads that go well with beautiful summer days.

4b6b0-toptentuesday

  1. Anything by Julia Quinn- Forget her story lines. Forget her strong, witty characters. What I love most about Quinn is how funny her books are. Like laugh-out-loud-and-make-strangers-stare-at-you funny. It’s fantastic.
  2. Beastly by Alex Flinn- This one isn’t the most lighthearted book but it’s a pretty fast read that you could probably finish in one sitting. And it’s my favorite so I always recommend it.
  3. The Bride Quartet series by Nora Roberts- This is one of her series’ that revolves a great deal around the friendships between her main characters. I just love how Nora can take romance novels and make them more about badass women being badasses together than about love.
  4. The Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts- This is the second book in her Guardians Trilogy which comes out June 14. This series has a little bit of everything; magic, a treasure hunt, even a mermaid. To me it’s a perfect beach read.
  5. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson- I read this one years ago and would love to read it again. It’s a great coming of age, summer adventure story.
  6. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson- I didn’t even know this book existed until about an hour ago and I would absolutely love to see where the story goes next.
  7. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer- These aren’t lighthearted or beachy in any way. They’re just amazing books and I highly recommend them.
  8. The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh- This is another book I learned about very recently but immediately decided I want to read. It’s not often you find books based on A Thousand and One Nights.
  9. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss– I’m not really sure this fits into what people normally consider a beach read but I’ve recently had several people recommend it to me and I’d like to finally get around to reading it.

Sorry there’s only nine this week. I managed to delete my entire post after I’d already written most of it out so I lost a lot of my motivation the second time around. Anyway, these are some of the books I plan to read this summer or just think you should read. Thanks for reading and let me know what your top ten are in the comments.

-Antonia

 

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Summary: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the world between humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets-and human lives.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney an Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him…
Their worst fears now a chilling reality Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

Oh. My. God. I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK.
First of all, Adrian and Sydney are apart for most of the book and it pretty much just made me want to cry the entire time. (I settled for really weird, pathetic noises that Amanda got sick of fast.) The good thing about them being separated was that I was able to follow two completely separate storylines that kept the pace fairly steady even when nothing serious was happening.
But trust me, a LOT was happening. I started this book at around ten-thirty last night, and finished it around three this morning. There was no way for me to put it down; between the awesome characters, amazing writing, and the absolutely crazy plot, I was hooked.
As always, I adore Sydney and Adrian, both individually and as a couple. Though they both have somewhat extreme personalities, I’m able to relate to them while I read. I almost always love the characters in the books I read but in the Bloodlines series, I connect to them more than usual. I would absolutely love to have Sydney as my best friend and, much as I love her, I would totally date Adrian (you know, if I didn’t have a boyfriend…Love you, honey!). Mead gives such depth to her characters that it’s impossible not to care about them.
This book was much darker than the previous ones in the series mainly because Sydney’s in re-education, which is basically the Alchemists nice way of saying brainwash and torture. Even though Mead kept it from being terribly gruesome, some of the scenes with Sydney were harder to read emotionally.
It was the same way with Adrian. He might not have been tortured and starved but the love of his life was missing and he had no way to contact her. I’d loved watching the progress he’d made in previous books to overcome his addictions and the effects of Spirit so it was that much harder to watch him spiral back downward without Sydney to help hold him up.
The ending took so many twists and turns that I could barely keep up with what was happening and even when I thought everything would be okay, the last page threw another curveball and I no longer know what’s going to happen with the last book. All I know is that it really needs to come out RIGHT NOW. Next February is way too long to wait for The Ruby Circle.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my review or this book. Amanda hasn’t read it so I can’t talk to her about it yet. Did you see the end coming? Because I sure as hell didn’t.
-Antonia

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!