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.

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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.

 

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.  😀

 

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson Book Review

Review by: dancingonrain

 

The main story begins with two Idrian Princesses, Vivenna and Siri.  Originally Vivenna was supposed to travel to Hallandren and wed the God King as a peace treaty between their two nations, but their father sent Siri instead.  Siri is supposed to produce an heir for Hallandren as part of that treaty, but how can she when she’s not allowed to speak or look at the God King?  And he seems to want to do nothing but sit in the same room with her and just watch her?

Vivenna travels to Hallandren in hopes to rescue her sister from that fate.  Along the way she meets the mercenaries Denth, Tonk-Fah, and Jewels and her Lifeless, Clod.

But things do not appear to be what they seem.  For both girls.  When Vivenna meets a mysterious man known currently as Vasher, (he’s used many names in the past) she begins to question everything she once knew.

And as for Siri, things change for her in a big way when she discovers a secret about the God King that not only a select few know and that is also something she was never supposed to find out.

This book was great!  While it did start off a little slow for me, once the story picked up, it really picked up.  There was lots of action.  This is not to say that there were non-stop battles, but more that there was always something happening to move the plot/story forward.  While you may not have been aware of it in the earlier parts, as the story progressed closer to the end, everything started to fall in place .  At some parts you told yourself that “that makes sense and why didn’t I realized that sooner.”  You always had a feeling that something was off, but you couldn’t quite put your tongue on it.  This is especially true when we discover something tragic about the God King and it changes our perception of him.

I love the stories where you head into them thinking you’re going to enjoy one point of view character the most and be annoyed with another, but then as you progress through the book, the opinions you originally thought you were going to have ended up being the exact opposite.  I went into this story thinking I wasn’t going to be all that invested in Siri and much more invested in Vivenna, which, in the end, was not true.  I definitely enjoyed reading about Siri more than Vivenna.  This is not to say that I didn’t like Vivenna, just that I liked Siri more.  And, of course, I liked Vasher from the beginning.  From the first scene he’s presented in, I wanted to know more about him, the kind of world this was, this interesting thing known as Breaths, and his mysterious talking sword, Nightblood.

I would have to say that overall I enjoyed this book.  I liked this one, Warbreaker, more than Elantris, but less than the Mistborn series.

Either way, if you’re looking for a stand alone novel and like epic fantasy, try this book.  😀

Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers Book Review

Review by: dancingonrain.

Ismae, a seventeen year old girl, escapes her arranged marriage to an abusive man by seeking shelter at the convent of St. Mortian.  Here, the sisters serve the Death God and are trained in his secrets to become assassins, handmaidens of Death.  In order for her to live at the convent, she must learn to destroy the lives of others marked by death.

This leads to her most important assignment at the high court of Brittany, a mission she is heavily under prepared and under experienced for, especially when the convent orders her to deliver Death’s vengeance against the man who has stolen her heart.

Even after I finished reading this book, I still haven’t made my mind up about it.  While there where some entertaining scenes, I also found myself bored at other parts.   This book had been recommended to me by a friend who wanted to know what I thought about it and now that we’ve discussed it, she was in the same boat as me.

While this book was fairly predictable and I think had too much of a happy-esque ending that didn’t seem all that realistic, it still did have its suspenseful moments.  But despite that, some of the prose brought me out of the story, especially some of the dialogue.  I realize this is set in an earlier time, but while I was reading, I couldn’t help but feel like normal people wouldn’t talk like that.  It wouldn’t have been as big of a deal if the older dialogue and prose had been consistent, but it wasn’t, which made it feel choppy whenever it used dialogue that didn’t seem realistic.

While this book wasn’t particularly my cup of tea, I’m sure there is someone out there who would enjoy it.  My advice would be to sit down and read it at a store or library before you decide to purchase it.  I’m not sure if I’d buy the second book in this series, but I may read it at a library or a store if I had free time, but it probably wouldn’t be any time soon.