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Posts Tagged: Magic

Monday, August 10, 2015

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review1 Comment

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic,
Published by Tor Books on 24 February 2015
Genres: Abduction, Adult, Death & Dying, Dystopian, Epic Fantasy, Espionage, Friendship, Historical, Mystery & Detective, Parallel World, Politics & Intrigue, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Witches & Wizards
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To:
Red London: Arnes
Grey London // Windsor // Eton: England
White London: Makt

First Line(s): Kell wore a very peculiar coat.

Not long ago my Twitter was all a buzz with VE Schwab’s A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC and even now, months after its release, there is still a lot of chatter about it. Since I love a good fantasy I decided to give this one a shot and was immediately intrigued by the blend of magic and parallel worlds. On its surface, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC, seems like the perfect book for me but I found it incredibly easy to put down and difficult to pick back up again. When I was reading it I was absorbed but it was fleeting and when I had time to think about it something about the story just fell flat for me.

While I get that this world is new(ish) and so there is a lot of set up to be done I found it to be very repetitive with its content. There was no reason for all to be resaid over and over and over it again. It got old and frustrating and I would find myself skipping some paragraphs just to get things moving along in the hopes that new facts would appear. Only not much happened for most of this book. Again I know that there is a lot of set up to be had to set the rules of these worlds that Kell finds himself traveling through but it was slow and boring and suffered from too many POVs. That’s right, there was that dreaded headjumping that I really can’t stand in a book. I don’t mind when perspective shifts in a book but I do take exception when its for a paragraph or two and into random heads on a one off basis just to make it easier to move the story along. This just frustrates me to know end and I know it made me roll my eyes and sigh with every new instance.

Darker Shade of Magic Quote

There was also a mystery element to A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC that I found to be really predictable and while I don’t always dislike a story for its predictableness it does make things more interesting when things aren’t so in your face obvious. Especially when the characters seem to actively turn a blind eye to things that are crystal clear to the reader. The characters themselves were all a bit two-dimenstional. There was noting super special about any of them and I often found myself wondering why I should care about what they were doing or the trouble they were getting themselves in. Not to mention the forced love interest between Kell and Lila and what could be a potential love triangle forming for the next book. #blergh

Despite all of this though I really didn’t dislike A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC but I didn’t love it either. I’m in no rush to see what happens next and am on the fence on if I’ll read that book or not. For me, this story is forgettable and there is nothing that really sets it apart from other stories. Though I do think that with a little fine tuning it could be a story with a most excellent premise. I think that maybe this read was just another instance where I let myself get pulled into the hype and as such had higher expectations for it than I should have. As such, I found A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC to be more of a mediocre read and didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

irishdarkblue

 

 

IR - Darker Shade of Magic

 

Add A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris to Goodreads.

three-stars
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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Audio Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Audio Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund HodgeCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Narrator: Elizabeth Knowelden
Series: Cruel Beauty,
Also in this series: Gilded Ashes
Published by Harper Audio on 28 January 2014
Genres: Abduction, Adaptation, Assassins, Demons, Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales, Folklore, & Legends, Fantasy, Greek, Love & Romance, Magic, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Length: 10 hours 17 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Free Download
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Gilded Ashes

Place(s) Traveled To: Arcadia

First Line(s): I was raised to marry a monster.

Beauty and the Beast has never been my favorite fairy tale and when I received an advanced copy of Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge I was intrigued but never seemed to find the time to pick it up. Recently though a few people began to recommend this book to me and I had also downloaded the audio via Audiobook Sync’s annual program of 2014. I was having trouble settling on a new audiobook recently and was looking through the titles I had received from Audiobook Sync and thought I’d listen to a small clip of each of the titles I’d downloaded last year and then choose one. Only when I started the audio of Cruel Beauty I found that I couldn’t turn it off. The narrator, Elizabeth Knowelden, was enthralling. And while she sometimes mixed up her voices I found that I didn’t mind overmuch as I just loved the way that she told this story and brought it to life.

As I listened I also learned that Cruel Beauty wasn’t just a Beauty and the Beast retelling. There were also hints of other fairy tales mixed in Bluebeard, Rumpelstiltskin, and East of the Sun West of the Moon to name just a few. Cruel Beauty also contained not just fairy tales but Greek mythology and this mix of stories added depth and uniqueness to the story. I enjoyed this story and loved Nyx’s struggle as she dealt with her internal struggles over what she was raised to do and what she wants to do. I enjoyed Nyx’s interactions with Ignafex and was intrigued by there relationship. While her relationship with Shade and her sister just annoyed me. Oh how her sister annoyed me. For someone who was supposedly so good she harbored a lot of ill will in her heart.

Cruel Beauty Quote

 

For this one I am partial to the audiobook and I am not sure if I’d feel differently if I’d read this one in print instead. As I said above I found Elizabeth Knowelden’s narration to be enthralling and she’s the one who kept me listening and engaged in the story through that slow beginning. She’s the one who kept me listening when I got really annoyed with Nyx’s sister and with Shade. Knowelden is definitely a narrator that I am going to be looking into more because I’d love to see how she narrates other stories.

For me, Cruel Beauty had a slow start and was a little repetitive at times but repetition is something that is becoming more and more common in books these days so I think its something that I have to learn to deal with and accept. What I really liked about Cruel Beauty was how it ended. The ending wasn’t something that I was expecting and yet at the same time it was fitting for the story that Hodge was telling. Things were wrapped up nicely and I like knowing that this is a standalone book. I love me a good fantasy story and it can be so hard to find a standalone fantasy. I like that Hodge has a companion story to Cruel Beauty in her novella, Gilded Ashes (my review), but do think that it is a story that should be read before this one.

If you like Greek mythology and fairy tale retellings then you should really give Cruel Beauty a try. Its a beautifully written story and one that I enjoyed. The mystery aspect of it is a little simplistic and easy to figure out but I didn’t mind that as I enjoyed the time that I sent in this world. Its a world that I wouldn’t mind revisiting and a book that I will most likely re-read at some point. This one wasn’t quite what I expected and I enjoyed it more than I thought. Its a story that I’d recommend especially for those that listen to audiobooks.

irishdarkblue

IR - Cruel Beauty

Add Entwined by Heather Dixon to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

Add A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

four-stars
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Friday, May 8, 2015

Review: Night of the Soul Stealer by Joseph Delaney

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Night of the Soul Stealer by Joseph DelaneyNight of the Soul Stealer by Joseph Delaney
Series: The Last Apprentice,
Also in this series: Revenge of the Witch, Curse of the Bane
Published by Greenwillow Books on 28 August 2007
Genres: Abduction, Adolescence, Epic Fantasy, Friendship, Ghosts & the Undead, Magic, Middle Grade, Mystery & Detective, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Pages: 489
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Revenge of the Witch, Curse of the Bane

Place(s) Traveled To: Chipenden // Anglezarke // Adlington // Blackrod

First line(s): It was a cold, dark November night, and Alice and I were sitting by the kitchen fire with my master, the Spook.

I had high hopes for Night of the Soul Stealer after reading the previous installment in the series, Curse of the Bane (my review) and was filled with action and suspense. Sadly though, Night of the Soul Stealer, did not live up to my expectations and felt more like a second novel while Curse of the Bane felt like it should have been later in the series. Night of the Soul Stealer sees Tom, Alice and the Spook retiring to the Spook’s winter house in Anglezarke. Which is a cold and desolate place and also where the Spook keeps Meg, a witch and also his love. Theirs is a complex relationship and one that made me really uncomfortable since the Spook keeps Meg drugged and when he’s not in Anglezarke he keeps her in an induced sleep until he returns. That is just no ok on so many levels and it really squicked me out.

Meg may be a witch but the Spook has ways of dealing with witches and he should have used one of those methods. So I couldn’t feel too bad for the Spook when certain events happened as they did. I also got frustrated with Tom, a lot. There where times when he was crazy and over the top smart and then there were many other moments when he just seemed to be deliberately obtuse. This makes for a frustrating read since he never seems to learn from his mistakes. Granted, Night of the Soul Stealer, is set only a few months after the series starts but still when you make the same mistakes over and over you should start to learn from them.

Night of the Soul Stealer Quote

Plot wise, Night of the Soul Stealer, was well paced and it was a fairly quick and easy read. The mystery wasn’t a huge mystery and the suspense really wasn’t as great as that in the previous book but overall it wasn’t a bad story. I like Alice and how her character continues to develop as she struggles with being a witch and all that it entails. I like her friendship with Tom and think that they could work well together if only the Spook didn’t keep getting in the way. The Spook is sometimes his own worst enemy and he does himself and Tom no favors by letting his prejudices get in the way. Especially when the Spook is a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to his actions.

As I said above, the things with Meg really bothered me and as a result I’ve stalled in this series. I’m not sure if I want to continue as there are just things about the Spook that I do not like. He tries to come across as morally above everyone else but what he thinks is right isn’t always the case. I’m also not entirely sure if Tom will ever grow up and change. While I expect to suspend a certain level of belief when it comes to a fantasy novel this series just has moments that it can be hard to wrap my head around. Tom can’t be both a wunderkind as well as a clumsy apprentice. He can’t always be the one to save the day while his mentor is incapacitated in some way. Its a formula that has seen itself play out over the course of three books. While it happening once, I can believe it as a fluke or beginners luck or something but not in every book. It just strains belief too much. So I think I’m going to put this series on hold for a bit and reevaluate at a later date.

 

irishdarkblue

IR - Revenge of the Witch

Add Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda to Goodreads. (Click here to read my review.)

Add The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan to Goodreads. (Click here to read my review.)

three-stars
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mini Review: Half Lies by Sally Green

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Review, Young Adult2 Comments

Mini Review: Half Lies by Sally GreenHalf Lies by Sally Green
Series: Half Bad,
Also in this series: Half Bad, Half Wild
Published by Viking Juvenile on 13 November 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Paranormal, Short Story / Novella, Social Issues, Urban Fantasy, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Pages: 72
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Half Bad, Half Wild

Place(s) Traveled To: Bradenton, Florida // Tampa, Florida

First Line(s): We’ve been in the USA for five days now.

Half Lies by Sally Green is a short novella that takes place before Nathan meets Gabriel in Half Bad (my review). The novella is told in epistolary format from Michele, the sister of Gabriel, and is set in Florida where the family lived for a time. Its a sweet and heart breaking story that just makes you love Gabriel even more. In Half Bad you know that Gabriel has had a rough life and in Half Lies you learn a little of his origins and also how he became stuck.

Half Lies is a quick read and for a novella there is a lot of depth to it. There is so much story contained within its 72 pages and it will make your heart ache. Michele is a wonderful character and I loved reading her journal. This is a great introduction to the character of Gabriel and I am so glad that I read it before reading Half Wild (my review) as I feel like I understand him a bit more now. It was beautifully written and the voice so different and yet similar to that of the main books in the series. A must read for fans of the Half Bad Trilogy.

 irishdarkblue

 Half Lies Quote

three-stars
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review: Half Wild by Sally Green

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Half Wild by Sally GreenHalf Wild by Sally Green
Series: Half Bad, Book 2
Also in this series: Half Bad, Half Lies
Published by Viking Juvenile on 24 March 2015
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, Magic, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also by this author: Half Bad, Half Lies

Place(s) Traveled To: Verdon, France // Unnamed, France // Black Forest, Germany // Veltarlin, Norway // Unnamed, Slovakia // Barecelona, Spain // Etxalar, Spain // Basle, Switzerland // Geneva, Switzerland // Unnamed Wales

First Line(s): a crossbill calls

I read Half Bad by Sally Green last year and it was an unexpected good read. It was a book that I didn’t know much about and one that I instantly connected with. When I finished Half Bad, I immediately wanted to dive into the sequel and that is exactly what I did when I received an ARC for review. I did have more expectations for Half Wild than I did with Half Bad and there were some things that I really liked with this book and others that I didn’t care for as much. As with the first book I read Half Wild pretty quickly. Its a fun read and I just love this world but there is a lot about this story that makes it very much a transition novel as when I look back on it not a ton actually happens.

There is a lot of running around in this story as Nathan searches for Annalise and while I did like Annalise in the first book I just didn’t get her draw in this one. Especially with some of the things that happened with Gabriel. Because WOW that was some amazing story development and to be honest those were some of my favorite moments in the book. I get Nathan’s nostalgia for his past and his childhood and how Annalise was one of his bright moments in an otherwise bleak life but I really did not like her. And her inclusion in the story and Nathan’s subsequent treatment of Gabriel really took me out of the story.

Half Wild Quote

Another, aspect of the story that I really liked was getting to know Nathan’s father more. I enjoyed those scenes and found them important to the development of Nathan’s character. However, there could have been more depth to them and it just seemed as though Marcus was underutilized as a character. There was so much potential in Half Wild but it just seemed to miss the mark every time an arrow was shot at the target.

Despite that though I am hopeful for how this series will end as most second books in a series are just filler material for the big climax at the end. Although I do have some concerns with what the big climactic moment of Half Lost might be as the focus of this story seemed to veer away from Black Witches vs. White into something else over the course of this book. I do think that Half Wild is worth the read just for the Nathan and Gabriel scenes alone but the rest of it? Well, the rest of the story I could probably do without.

irishdarkblue

 IR - Half Wild

Add Storm Front by Jim Butcher to Goodreads.

Add Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

three-half-stars
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Audio Review: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Audiobook, Middle Grade, Review0 Comments

Audio Review: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph DelaneyRevenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney
Narrator: Christopher Evan Welch
Series: The Last Apprentice,
Also in this series: Curse of the Bane, Night of the Soul Stealer
Published by Harper Audio on 09 September 2005
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Death & Dying, Fantasy, Friendship, Ghosts & the Undead, Magic, Middle Grade, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Survival Stories, Witches & Wizards
Length: 5 hours 14 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Curse of the Bane, Night of the Soul Stealer

Place(s) Traveled To: The County – Horshaw // Chipenden

First Line(s): When the Spook arrived, the light was already beginning to fail.

I first became interested in Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney when I learned that there was going to be a movie released based on the series. Looking for a new audio I downloaded this from audible and quite enjoyed the narrator for the most part though he doesn’t do the best job with the female voices. The story is quick moving and while Revenge of the Witch is filled with a ton of set up there is a lot of promise for the series.

I enjoyed this book but felt it dragged a lot in portions and didn’t seem as action filled as movie previews appeared. The movie previews also look like nothing in this book so I wonder how many books that the movie pulls from to make up its story. For the most part, I liked the character of Tomas Ward but he does annoy me at the same time. He does some very stupid things and yet is also really smart and despite being a new apprentice often manages to save the day. The two sides of himself just don’t seem to mesh and I hope that he becomes more cohesive as the series progresses.

Revenge of the Witch Quote

The story is also told mostly in first person present but every once in awhile there is this foreshadowing/flashback-eske comment that just really took me out of the story. Tom would be talking about something and then make a statement along the lines of ‘this would come back to haunt me later’ or ‘by the time I did this it was already too late.’ I’m fine with the bulk of a book being mostly a flashback, heck that’s mostly how Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss is told. I just want these things to be more clear from the get go and not mentioned in random, cryptic comments.

Revenge of the Witch was an enjoyable audio and I will be reading other books in the series but as they are short, quick reads I will probably be switching over to print. I do plan on seeing the movie at some point but may way until DVD to do so as I can hopefully get most, if not all of the books read before then. That way I won’t be spoiled in the books if the movie pulls from the full series. This is a series I’d recommend if you are looking for a quick read and its a world that I look forward to getting to know better.

irishdarkblue

IR - Revenge of the Witch

Add Ash Mistry and the Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda to Goodreads. (Click here to read my review.)

Add The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan to Goodreads. (Click here to read my review.)

three-stars
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: The Perilous Sea by Sherry ThomasThe Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas
Series: Elemental Trilogy, Book 2
Also in this series: The Burning Sky, The Immortal Heights
Published by Balzer + Bray on 16 September 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Assassins, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Love & Romance, Magic, Mystery & Detective, Politics & Intrigue, Romance, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 414
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Burning Sky, The Immortal Heights

Place(s) Traveled To: The Sahara Desert // Windsor, England (1883)

First Line(s): The girl came to with a start.

After finishing my listen of The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas I knew that I had to immediately jump into the sequel, The Perilous Sea. As with the first book I initially started this one on audio but quickly found that it was taking too long and so I dug out my ARC and sat down to devour all the words! The Perilous Sea picks up a few months after The Burning Sky ends and it quickly jumps into the action. Its a fast paced, edge of your seat read with an ending that has you wanting to toss the book across the room because there is such a long wait to see what happens next. Unlike the first book this one is told in an then and now style alternating with the chapters. The now progresses with each chapter and the then tells the reader all that happened to lead up to the start of the story. This helped add to the suspense of the story though every time I entered a new chapter I was also frustrated as I didn’t want to leave where I was.

One thing that I really liked in this book was how we learned more about Prince Titus and Iolanthe’s friend Kashkari. I enjoyed his scenes in the first book and was always curious about him so loved learning more of his background. I hope that this trend also continues in the third and final book to come. A thing that I didn’t like was how The Perilous Sea became a bit Harry Potter like in that there was more than one potential person to be “the one” in the prophecy. This just added some unnecessary torture for Titus and Iolanthe as they began to question ALL THE THINGS just because one thing may or may not be true. In truth, my heart broke over and over for these two as they pushed each other away and I just wanted to reach into the story and shake them both until they came to their scenes!

The Perilous Sea Quote

 

I was so glad though that The Perilous Sea was more than just a filler book in a series, a transition story where not much happens as the author sets things up for the big grand finale of the final book in the series. While there isn’t a ton of information revealed in The Perilous Sea it was enough to wheat my appetite and make me yearn for the final book. For this waiting is sheer torture!   If you like a good fantasy and you are looking for something in the vein of Cinda Williams Chima and her Seven Realms series then you need to pick up this series. There is action and adventure, romance and intrigue and just so much heart achy goodness for ever readers tastes. This book makes me all bouncy with excitement and I just love every bit of it. There is also just so much that I want to say here but I can’t because The Perilous Sea is the second book in a series and I don’t want to risk giving out any spoilers. Just know that if you liked the first book than you are going to love this one as this is one of those series that just keeps getting better. Now can someone please hand me book 3 because I don’t know how much longer I can wait!!

My thoughts summed up in a gif:

Blew My Mind

 

irishdarkblue

 

Irish Recommends - Burning Sky
four-stars
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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Audio Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Audiobook, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Audio Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry ThomasThe Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Narrator: Philip Battley
Series: Elemental Trilogy,
Also in this series: The Perilous Sea, The Immortal Heights
Published by Harper Audio on 25 September 2013
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adolescence, Assassins, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Epic Fantasy, Espionage, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Historical, Love & Romance, Magic, Mystery & Detective, People & Places, Politics & Intrigue, Romance, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Witches & Wizards, Young Adult
Length: 11 hours and 40 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible.com
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Perilous Sea, The Immortal Heights

Place(s) Traveled To:

Domain: Little Grind-on-Woe // Delamer
England: London // Windsor // Slough // Kent (1883)

First Line(s): Just before the start of Summer Half, in April 1883, a very minor event took place at Eton College, that venerable and illustrious English public school for boys.

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas is one of those books that I’ve heard about since it was released but just never got around to reading. Then one day I had some Audible credits to burn and decided to give The Burning Sky a shot. At first the use of a male narrator, Philip Battley, kind of threw me since the story was mostly told from Iolanthe’s POV and she was most definitely not a male. But as the story progresses it makes sense and really works for the story, so much so, that I can’t imagine what this story would have been like with a different narrator. Battley just really captured these characters and this world and it was partly because of him that I feel so deeply in love with this book. The Burning Sky is a fast paced story that kicks off from the first page. The prologue is intriguing and then the opening scenes set in The Domain really set the pace for whats to come.

The Burning Sky is one of those books where I found myself looking for reasons to drive around just so that I could spend more time in this world. I loved the mystery and the magic and the parallel worlds aspect of the story. Then there is the friendship between Iolanthe and Prince Titus….oh how these two made my heart ache! Their is a slow burn kind of story and one that starts off a bit rocky. Its one that is realistic and so well done. They are great friends and they are both so perfect for each other and yet there is also so much standing in the way that they might not ever be. Have I mentioned that they make my heart ache? Because oh the feels that they made me feel. And not just them but all of the other characters as well. I loved the supporting cast and just want to know more about each and every one of them. This is one of those rare times in which I wish there were novellas to help expand and flesh out the story even more.

Burning Sky Quote

For me, The Burning Sky, was a pleasant surprise of a book and I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. The audio was fantastic and if you like audiobooks then I highly recommend this one. Its almost 12 hours long and I managed to listen to it in just 4 days. This is one of my favorite fantasy reads of the year and I was so glad that the sequel, The Perilous Sea, was already out by the time I finished this one so that I could dive right into it. The Burning Sky is such a richly imagined world and I just loved the premise and its execution. There were a couple of things that happened that seemed a little too convenient and a few other quibbles that I had but they were mostly minor and didn’t take away my enjoyment of the series. If you haven’t read this one yet then you are really missing out and should head to your nearest bookstore or library and grab yourself a copy today.

irishdarkblue

Irish Recommends - Burning Sky

four-stars
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult1 Comment

Review: Half Bad by Sally GreenHalf Bad by Sally Green
Series: Half Bad,
Also in this series: Half Wild, Half Lies
Published by Viking Juvenile on 04 March 2014
Genres: Abduction, Action & Adventure, Emotions & Feelings, Fantasy, Magic, Mystery & Detective, Paranormal, People & Places, Politics & Intrigue, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Survival Stories, Suspense, Urban Fantasy, Witches & Wizards
Pages: 394
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Half Wild, Half Lies

Place(s) Traveled To: London, England // Liverpool, England // Cambridge, England // Geneva, Switzerland // Unnamed places in England, Scotland and Wales

First Line(s): There’s these two kids, boys, sitting close togehter, squished in by the big arms of an old chair.

I wasn’t sure about Half Bad by Sally Green when I first started it and even less sure when it opened in the second person. I’m not a fan of second person narration because whenever the text might say “You would do x” I’m always like…no, no I wouldn’t. Thankfully though the bulk of the book isn’t told this way and that makes when it is told in second person a bit more haunting and real. I’m really glad that I didn’t put Half Bad down when I first saw the second person narration because once Green moved past that I became totally engrossed in this story. I loved how Green wove in the rich history of this hidden magical world without long boring info dumps. In some ways, Half Bad, reminded me of Harry Potter, but a darker story and one where those who are labeled as good may not be as good as you think.

Half Bad is the story of Nathan who is a mixed breed witch. That is his mother is a white witch and his father is a black witch and as the two races don’t exactly get along this isn’t a common thing and people don’t know how to react. So people do what they do best when they fear the unknown. They judge actions before they can be done and they place sanctions and restrictions to further curb any potential wrong doing. In Nathan’s world its guilty until proven innocent and its near on impossible to prove ones innocence.

Half Bad is  a fast story and I whipped through the pages which isn’t normally a surprise with me when I love a book. But when I read this I was acting as Primary Minion to the Pig-Tailed Overlord (aka my 4 year old niece) and she wore me out! But I always found time to read this one because I needed to know how it ended. I needed to know how Nathan ended up in a cage and most importantly I needed to know if he escaped. Half Bad kept me on the edge of my seat as it moved from the past to the present and my heart broke over and over for all the Nathan experienced. And yet through out it all Nathan kept his humanity and his soul when it would have been so easy to just give up.

Half Bad has a lot of potential discussion elements to it about just how far humans can go and the power of big brother and the laws they create. How easy it is to give up something small, a little at a time, before realized that all those small things add up to something bigger and scarier than you imagined. Green is a talented story teller and weaves in the big issues that make you think all while not seeming like she’s educating you at all. My main issue with the story is that it took too long for certain things to happen so that when they did it felt rushed and left me a bit unsatisfied. I get that there was a lot of ground to cover with the world building but wish that the story was a little longer to flesh out certain details. Overall though, I really enjoyed this one and am eagerly awaiting its sequel, Half Wild, which is expected to be released in early 2015.

irishdarkblue
four-stars
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: Cinderella Stays Late by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Middle Grade, Review0 Comments

Review: Cinderella Stays Late by Joan Holub & Suzanne WilliamsCinderella Stays Late by Joan Holub, Suzanne Williams
Series: Grimmtastic Girls,
Also in this series: Red Riding Hood Gets Lost
Published by Scholastic on 25 March 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Adaptation, Adolescence, Fantasy, Friendship, Girls & Women, Middle Grade, Royalty, Social Issues
Pages: 192
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars
Also by this author: Red Riding Hood Gets Lost

Place(s) Traveled To: Grimm Academy, Grimmlandia

First Line(s): Twelve-year old Cinderella clutched her school supplies and cloak in one arm as she walked down the hall in Grimm Academy.

I’ve been trying to diversify my reading a bit and part of that is to explore the middle grade genre a bit more so when an opportunity arose to read Cinderella Stays Late by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams I took it. Cinderella Stays Late is the first book in a new series by Holub and Williams that re-tells the fairy tales that we know and love. This book, like The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, takes place in a land where the characters of those fairy tales attend a fairy tale boarding school. Each student has their part to play and they are also uniquely their own person separate from their story. Cinderella Stays Late focuses on Ella as she is finally able to attend the Grimm Academy and her first days are a bit rocky thanks to her stepsisters. Luckily for Ella she meets up with Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White and the four become fast friends.

Cinderella Stays Late is a quick read and definitely one for the younger middle grade audiences (The School of Good and Evil is more upper MG or young YA). Its a cute read though some of the names are a bit hard on an older reader as they are a bit ridiculous but I don’t think that younger readers will mind as much. Cinderella Stays Late is the start of a mystery about the rise of a secret society, an E.V.I.L group, that Ella and her friends stumble upon as Ella learns the ins and outs of the school. The girls take it upon themselves to try and determine just what this society is about and just as the mystery really starts the book ends. There isn’t a huge cliff hanger to the story but there isn’t a ton of resolution either. Fortunately for readers the next book in the series, Red Riding Hood Gets Lost, releases on the same day and so readers can easily dive into that book to see what happens next.

I enjoyed Cinderella Stays Late and liked Holub’s and William’s writing style. I thought that the setting and and the adaptation of the various fairy tales was well done making them unique to this world and yet recognizable at the same time. There are no great surprises in this book but I think it will appeal to younger audiences. The main group of friends all have their flaws but they learn that when they work together they are stronger and can turn those flaws into something positive. Cinderella Stays Late is a fun read and this is a series that I look forward to reading more about.

irishdarkblue

three-stars
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