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

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Review by: Dancingonrain

I wasn’t sure about this book when I first started reading it.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, it was more that I was still trying decide what I thought of it.  Normally when I start a book, I can tell if I think I’m going to enjoy it or not, but with this book, I wasn’t sure until a few pages in.

There were parts in the beginning that I enjoyed, but there were also parts where I wasn’t as invested in as the rest of the parts.

But after reading the whole book, I can say that I rather enjoyed this book.  I thought it was a little different than some of the other fantasy books out there.  That being said, the only other books where the protagonists are traveling from world to world that I have read before have only really been Harry Potter.  I have watched a few television shows and movies that travel from world to world, but not as many books so, for me, I enjoyed that this was a little bit different than some of the stuff I’ve read in the past.

And the ending was definitely worth the entire rest of the book.  I think my favorite part of the book was Masquerade and on.  I still enjoyed the earlier parts, but from that point on was my favorite.

There was definitely a dark component to this book, but I thought the author did well with balancing it with a few comical and happy moment here and there.  I loved both the comical/happy and dark parts of this book.

One thing that bugs me is when the female protagonist is hard headed and ignores what a guy says just because he’s a guy and she thinks the only reason he’s telling her not to do something is because she thinks he thinks she’s a girl and therefore cannot and/or should not do something, but when she goes through with ignoring him, she gets in trouble.  That’s not a strong female protagonist; that’s a stupid protagonist.  You see this all the time in tv shows.  The female protagonist says something along the lines of: I can protect myself or I can handle it.  And then in the next scene she’s either getting kidnapped, losing, or dying.  That has always bothered and annoyed me how writers do that.  For once I’d like a character who says: I can take care of myself and have it actually be true.

Although Schwab’s main female protagonist did that many times, it was just who her character was and it was apparent from the start that she was stubborn.  I think it also helped when even though that was her character, in the end, she always came back around and did something to redeem herself.

I also enjoyed reading about a close relationship between two male characters.  So many times you see stories about two men who are close to one another and then the audience automatically wants them to be a couple.  While, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with gay couples, I don’t think there’s enough stories out there where there are two men or boys who have a close relationship to one another and it’s completely platonic.  Men can show they care about one another without it being because of some ulterior sexual motive.  I appreciated that aspect of this book too.

Although I wasn’t sure about this book 100% going into it, by then end I was definitely satisfied.  So satisfied that I bought the second book in the series.  I would recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy where the characters travel between different worlds to try and accomplish something much bigger than themselves.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Book Review

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Review by: Dancingonrain

When I first started reading this book, I wasn’t sure about it.  I felt like he introduced too many characters at once within the first few pages too quickly for me to be invested in one of them, but because I have read most of his other books and was already a fan of his work, I kept reading.

And it was worth it.

Kaladin was by far my favorite character in the story.  By the end of the book, things look like they’ll only become more interesting for him.

I liked Shallan’s arc, more or less, and I understood her motivations, but I also thought it wasn’t as strong of an arc as Kaladin’s.  I thought Shallan’s overall arc was a little predictable, but I still enjoyed it.  I think I found Jasnah a little more interesting though.

I had a harder time getting into Dalinar’s story until around the last few parts.  I’m not saying that I didn’t like his story earlier on at all, I just wasn’t personally as invested in it as much as Kaladin’s arc.

I thought Kabsul was an ass, but I could also tell his true intentions pretty early on even if the character he interacted with didn’t notice.

Sadeas and Gaz were bigger asses, which seemed to be their whole purpose in life, so that was well done.

I honestly didn’t really care about Alodin that much.  Not sure why.  I just didn’t.

Overall, I liked how things started to tie up in the end and how Dalinar and Kaladin’s stories came together.  I feel it was a good set up for a great second book.

I enjoyed most of the fight scenes, but found the very first one in the beginning harder to get into just because I hadn’t gotten a chance to get to know the characters, but I was thrown into the heat of battle at the very start of it all.  Kaladin grew to be my favorite character though anyway.

If you’re a fan of Brandon Sanderson’s works already, you should definitely read this book.

If you’re living under a rock and have never heard of Brandon Sanderson, then I would suggest reading on of his “shorter” books or series (Mistborn Trilogy) to decide what you want to do.

I would definitely recommend this book.

 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins Book Review

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Review by: Dancingonrain.

Rachel takes the train to and from work every day, but then, one day she sees something from her seat while the train is passing a neighborhood. Something that is not normal.

This book lived up to its hype. I usually don’t read that many literary novels because I can never really get into them, at least not in the same way that I can a fantasy/action novel.  I’ve always found literary works dry, but that was not the case with this book.

The characterizations was good. It was done so well that I barely noticed it while I was reading it, and by the end you’re like, “Of course that’s who it was,” or, “Of course that’s what would happen,” or something along those lines.

And when I finally started to realize the direction things were headed and who the culprit was, I got “chills” that were shortly followed by me humming in my head, “I know who did it. I know who did it!” 😀

I loved the book and while I don’t want to talk about it in depth in fear that I’ll give too much away, I would recommend it if you like darker material, give this book a shot.  I would have finished it in one-sitting if I didn’t have other commitments.  It is a murder mystery.

 

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Review by: dancingonrain.

Kubo had his eye taken from him when he was a baby.  Now, a few years older, his mother’s sisters come to claim Kubo’s other eye for their father.  Only after Kubo finds the legendary armor his mother once spoke of will he be strong enough to withstand his enemies and defeat them.  Along the way Kubo befriends a monkey and a beetle who join his quest to help him.  Kubo must not only find this legendary armor, but learn to hone his magical abilities as well–one ability which involves bringing origami to life.  Despite all the hardship Kubo has endured over the years, he’s also only ever wanted to have a complete family and  by the end of the movie, you hope that he can have it all too.

Wow.  Just wow.  This movie is breath taking and definitely a step up from Laika’s other movie, The Boxtrolls.  This movie definitely has a little bit more mature content (and some fight scenes), but it’s also told and shown in a way where children could probably understand it as well.  They might be a little creeped out by Kubo’s mother’s sisters, who are two of the main antagonists, but I was creeped out by them too and I’m an adult.  Haha.

Laika’s animation has always been amazing to begin with, but in this movie, even more so.  I put off seeing this movie because I was afraid I might be a little disappointed (for whatever reason that was I have no idea), but I was far from disappointed.  It exceeded my expectations.  It’s one of those movies where you really do have to listen and watch and pay attention to every little thing that is shown or said in order to understand every little thing that is happening, but at the same time, if your attention darts away for a second, you’ll still be able to put the pieces together eventually anyway.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone interested.  It’s almost two hours long, but it’s totally worth it.  This movie is worth your time to see.  It’ll definitely be worth your money.

The Secret Life of Pets Movie Review

Review by: dancingonrain.

A dog, Max, has his life turned upside down when his owner adopts a new stray.  He does not like him, but then their antics to make each other look bad ends up taking them on an unexpected adventure where they actually bond and learn to live with each other.

Okay, first off, I’m aware that these movies are meant for kids, but I’ve always found most animated G features enjoyable even though I’m older, however, I found this movie lacking something… the usual spark.

There were so many characters to keep track of, that I don’t think I remembered all of their names and when I normally watch an animated film, it’s usually playing back in my head for a couple days after my first watch, but that didn’t happen for this movie.  I watched the movie and then forgot the majority about it only a few years after I watched it.

And while I didn’t mind the animated violence in this movie, it’s supposed to be a kids movie so I’m not sure if some parents or children would enjoy it.  There’s no blood or gore, but it’s there.  It probably depends on what adults are okay with their children seeing or not.  I wouldn’t have minded it as a child, but I’m sure some families are different.

I felt like I didn’t always understand some of the character motivations and relationships to one another other than they lived in the same apartment complex.

I liked Despicable Me 2, but I found this movie kind of lack luster.  Still, children will probably enjoy it, which is the targeted demographic anyway.  If you’re an adult, don’t have children, and are still interested in seeing this movie, I wouldn’t spend a lot of money to see it.

A Dog’s Purpose (Audible) by Bruce Cameron and Narrated by George K. Wilson

Review by: dancingonrain.

 

This was an adorable, creative, but also sad book from a dog’s point of view.  Every time he died, he was reborn as a puppy with a new story, life, and sometimes owner.  He had many names and was reborn as both a male dog and a female dog so for the sake of the review, I’m going to choose one of his names and stick with it, Bailey.  In one life he was a simple household dog and in another life he was a police dog, etc.

It was quite interesting to go through the hardships people and the relationships they have with one another and face on a daily basis or even a yearly basis through a set of our loving, furry friend’s point of view.

While I don’t think it’s the best book I’ve ever read, I still thought it was well done, especially for being in a dog’s point of view.  I never once questioned during the entire book that I was in a dog’s mind.

This book was written in a very simplistic way and yet I still found myself still entertained about it.  Despite the simplicity of the prose and point of view, there were still some dark parts throughout the book that would probably keep most people intrigued.

If you love dogs, their ability to love unconditionally no matter what, and you’re looking for a different kind of book, than I would give this book a shot.  It was a quick listen for audible and it would probably be a quick read too.

 

The Midnight Star by Marie Lu Book Review

Review by: dancingonrain.

 

Adelina Amouteru’s quest for world domination and revenge against the people and the world who hurt her comes to an end in this final book in Lu’s The Young Elites trilogy.  The story begins with Adelina and her group, “The Rose Society,” continuing her conquest of the world and “The Daggers,” but soon it comes to light that there is a bigger threat that will effect the entire world.  After Raffaele sends word to Adelina in regards to her dying sister Violetta Amouteru, Adelina and her Rose Society find themselves teaming up with The Daggers again along with her prisoner, Teren.  Adelina and her Rose Society must work together with them even with the friction from the previous book that pitted the two groups against one another.  It’s the only way the world is to survive this new catastrophe.

Overall I enjoyed this book and I thought it was a good way to end the trilogy.  More of a bitter-sweet ending rather than a happy one, which I thought fit the character well too.  Although I would’ve liked it if there had been a happier ending, I still thought the ending Lu chose fit.

I honestly think I prefer Marie Lu’s Legend Trilogy more, but I still enjoyed this series as a whole too.  Sometimes I wasn’t always 100% sure of some of the characters’ motivations.  I was able to overlook it, but I thought her Legend series did much better with the motivation.  Still, I love dark worlds and magical abilities so that kept me intrigued.

When I was about half-way through the book, I thought I may have known how everything was going to end and in the end I was half-right.  It was one of those things where it was obvious and I should have seen it coming, but for whatever reason, I didn’t.

I enjoyed the little Midnight Star excerpt after the “epilogue” the most.  This is not to say it was the only thing I enjoyed about the series, but the Midnight Star epilogue-epilogue was my favorite part.

If you like young adult dark fantasy stories, then I’d recommend this series.  You could probably sit down at a bookstore or a library to read it before deciding if you want to purchase it, however, if you like dystopian novels, you should just buy her Legend series right off the bat.

Anyway, enough of my bias.  Happy reading.  😀