2018 Reading Challenge, Book 35 – A Darker Shade of Magic

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I have been putting off this review because when I think about this book I become acutely aware of the fact that I do not own the other books in this series and I want them. No, I need them.

This story remains very unfinished and I need to know what it is going to happen. However, for now I do not have them and so I just have to make my peace with that.

If it wasn’t obvious, I very much enjoyed this book.

I love anything that is set in London and this one had 4 (kinda) and they were layered. Literally.

And they were all so glorious and all had their own stakes and I am just very much in love with the whole world and the way that magic weaves throughout them all and how it’s stronger in some places than others and all that jazz. I loved the fact that Holland and Kell were a rare breed and how they were kind of against each other but because they were effectively kin they had to kind of orbit one another.

Their kind of friendship that wasn’t necessarily a friendship was one of my favourite things about this book. The relationship between them was so complicated and the way that they were kind of two halves of the same coin but one was taken in by the family and the other was bound to them. The way that they circled each other throughout trying to battle with this new element of magic that is just thrown into there.

Kell was a great character to live with for a little bit. He was so complex and had so much depth that has only just begun to be explored. I kind of wanted to know a bit more about his relationship with his ‘brother’ before Kell tethered himself because it just kind of didn’t feel like something that had a lot of roots in it before it happened. However I am excited to know how that will play out moving forward because there is no way it ain’t coming to bite him.

Delilah was such a great character. I loved her from the get go. She was such a badass and also hella mysterious which I loved. The relationship that she formed with Kell sure was something and the slow way that developed was great. I also loved getting to see the Londons through her eyes because she was seeing them for the first time too and that perspective was kind of lost when it was from Kell’s POV because he was just so used to them. I loved how she came into her own over the course and the narrative and the way that she interacted with magic. She was the perfect partner to Kell throughout this and it was such a well developed duo.

I liked how the story was so contained and yet also felt high stake. And also those Twins. Damn, those twins. They were such great villains especially because they were almost like the unseen shark for a lot of it and then they came out of the woodwork being so delightfully dark and twisted. It was brutal towards the end and it was everything that I could have hoped for and more.

I picked this book up because I had a feeling that it would be right up my street and it was and I am happy that it was. It was just the perfect combination of everything that I wanted it to be and more. And look, I really don’t know how long I’m gonna hold out with not buying the rest of the books…

4/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – Vicious

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These reviews are coming out of the order that I read them in, mainly because I cannot get my brain to form words when it comes to the other one, and also the more I think about it the harder it gets to convince myself that I don’t need the second book in the series.

This one is less hard to talk about because I know that the second one is on its way into my life at some point later this month.

The book I am talking about is Vicious.

I loved  this book. It was everything that I hoped it would be and more. Which is odd because I don’t really think I had any expectations when it came to this book because I had none. I bought it because the cover was pretty as fuck.

Then I read the blurb and was like ‘damn, it’s superhero-y’. But also it’s called the Villains series and so my interest was very much piqued.

The structure of this book gave me life. I love things that aren’t necessarily chronological. Don’t get me wrong, I love an A-B, but also give me a well written non-chronological timeline. This had that in abundance. I loved the contrasts that this created and how it weaved all together into the ending.

Which I am going to get to first (kind of, I guess structure was first). The ending. I am still low key kind of reeling from that ending. It was just so perfect. (Also, this applies to the actual ending pages of this book, but I’m mostly still reeling from the second to last chapter). You know throughout the whole narrative that you are dealing with two men who are very intelligent, like intelligent enough to know how to kill themselves and then bring themselves back to life (with the help of someone else), however there is a part of you that kind of doubts that Victor does have any idea what his plan actually is when it comes to Eli, especially when you throw into the equation Serena who basically has the whole town under her control and on Eli’s side. However, when that plan comes together, my God. I am obsessed. It was just so clever. Victor managed to hit him where it hurt and I lived for it.

Victor himself was great. The way that he almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy in his villain status because Eli had positioned himself as a ‘hero’. He was so complicated as a character because he wasn’t a nice guy. Like really, he wasn’t. The ego on him was insane and ultimately his downfall in the start. It was hard not to root for him and I like it so much when there is something so intrinsically not good about someone, but they are the better of two evils. Give me an anti-hero.

And give me a villain who thinks he a hero. Seriously. I didn’t even hate Eli, I found him fascinating. I found that God complex of his so fascinating. He was so complicated and I was just fascinated by the way that he worked and the fact that Victor could read him like a damn book. His ‘superhero’ origin story was just so deliciously twisted and I lived for it. His self righteousness and the position that he thought he deserved and had ‘earned’ and the hypocrisy on him was just so good I can’t quite put it into words how much I enjoyed. And his ending. My gosh his ending. The full circle moment of it all.

I loved Sydney and Serena. The way that they circled around each other. The way that they were somehow intrinsically entwined with one another throughout. They were crucial and they were the perfect representation of what happens depending on the people who surround you. I also loved the relationship that Sydney and Victor had and how it completely contrasted the Eli and Serena one.

Special shout out to Mitch for apparently owning a large part of my soul because when Serena started working her magic and I almost thought it was going to end badly I felt some kind of way. Which I should have seen coming because when I thought he died the first time I also felt some kind of way. Mitch was such a tragic backstory in the end and I also liked how loyal he was to Victor. I thought it would be to his detriment but it turned out not to be.

I could keep going on about all the layers to this books. Rewriting narratives, going more into the God complex, the notion of EOs in general, Schwab’s slight fascination with what could be in reach beyond death (I only thought about that as I was writing the City of Ghosts review when I remembered that Cassie kind of died and then came back seeing ghosts). The list goes on and on. I just have a lot of feelings about it all because I loved it so much.

I am so happy that I don’t have to wait too long for the next book because I am so fascinated by these characters and where the story is going.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is the best kind of story, with the best kind of storytelling and it’s just so good. So good. I love.

4/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review -City of Ghosts

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This book right here signals the start of my obsession with V.E/Victoria Schwab.

This was the last book of hers to enter my life, but I started with this one because it’s the shortest and yeah I’m back to being just behind schedule for this damn reading challenge of mine.

The first thing about this book that hit me was the fact that the moment I started reading it I started getting all these autumnal feelings. It probably has something to do with the fact that there was talk about ghosts and in theory Halloween is fast approaching (not even in theory, this is actually almost imminent) and so all things autumn are acoming. I am not mad about it, this is really my time to shine (I just get to unearth all my jumpers, which behind my sportswear takes up the most amount of space…).

Given the age range that this book is aimed at it is not super challenging to read or anything (again, I needed that because this girl has a reading challenge to think about at the back of her mind) but it is super readable. Schwab has a writing style that I knew instantly I was going to get on board with for her other books.

I really liked this book as a whole, mostly because I really liked the concept of it. There was a perfect amount of confusion and intrigue that came with Cassidy’s gift (if that’s what you want to call it). This confusion came into play perfectly when she met someone who was similar to her and also seems to know what she is doing with it. And I liked the interaction between them and how there was always a slight tension between them that existed but was forgotten when help was needed.

I really loved the setting of this book. Like so much. It had that slightly gothic feel to it and that really added to narrative of the story as a whole. Also I love the fact that the set up of this series means that it is going to dot around to different cities and you can get a feel for the  supernatural in other countries. But back to this one, which is set in Scotland and therefore is kind of gothic. It led nicely to all things spooky, especially when they were underground in the catacombs and shit went down. I just really enjoy it when story and setting marry together perfectly.

Moving on to characters. Firstly, I liked Jacob. I liked the reveal that he was a ghost. I liked the fact that he was just tethered to Cassidy in some way and the way that they interacted with one another. It felt like such a great friendship even though there were still secrets that needed to be revealed to one another. I am also interested to see how it develops and I knew that I was invested in this friendship when I worried that Jacob as a ghost would not be able to do Trans-Atlantic travel.

Cassidy herself was great. I mean she had some annoying traits, but they can be expected when the main character is a child who is still finding her way in the world. Also, I don’t know if it’s the adult in me but every time she ran off and away from her parents I found myself just getting stressed for the parents wondering where the hell their daughter got to. I found the relationship that she had with her parents interesting just because you could sense the element of frustration that she would have when it comes to almost following in her parents shadow.

I really enjoyed watching Cassidy become more confident in herself and her surroundings and her ability. I also loved the fact that she lived her life with a camera and how that was a saviour.

One thing about Little Miss Red, the supposed Big Bad, she was kind of better in theory. But she was still a good villain for this first book.

I enjoyed this book. I am excited to see what the second one might bring and the adventures of Cassidy and her ghost best friend. I’m interested to see how she develops and also what crazy new stories her parents manage to discover.

3/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 34 – The Alchemist

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The irony of this damn book review taking me so damn long to write is that reading this book actually left me feeling kind of inspired.

This is one of those books that people always seem to put hype on and as such sometimes it is easy to be a little wary of it. What if it doesn’t live up to the hype and then you just have to awkwardly pretend that it does otherwise you risk ridiculing? Lucky for me this was not one of those books.

First of all the opening of this book is kind of genius and to be honest with you I am always going to be a fan of something that throws in a little bit of Greek mythology and then also kind of turn it on its head. I was in.

This book felt both big scale and then also just about people and the way that they interact with their life and the things that they want to achieve.

I tore through this book pretty quickly and it left me feeling so inspired afterwards. It was really a tale of working towards something that you want and was basically some kind of fable. Which to be honest at this moment in time I kind of needed.

I enjoyed the writing style. It was easy to read and had some great prose in it. Yes, sometimes it was a bit faux deep, but it felt in keeping with the book as a whole. And also some of the sentence themselves did kind of settle into some part of my psyche. I really needed to read some of these things it really put a fire under my ass.

It’s ultimately about getting to know yourself. It’s something that I think everyone should read at least once. It’s not life changing or anything (and sometimes people make it sound like it might be), but it does kind of make you feel some kind of way. It does remind of you of a few things and it does highlight that sometimes you just need to work really hard to get what you want and not be afraid of it.

Which is something I needed reminding of (which I know I have already implied, but there we go).

3/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 33 – When the Curtain Falls

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Back at it with the book reviews. For a book that I was supposed to review last week, but then YouTube took a hold of me and so I didn’t really create any new blog content. But I cannot put it off for any longer and so here we are.

This is the second book of Fletcher’s that I’ve read this year and as you may or may not have gathered from my previous reviews of her books I still don’t really know where I stand with her as an author.

Let’s just get straight to it.

Olive low key kind of drove me insane because she just came across really judgy a lot of the time. That was kind of all she had as a character. That and doubt. There wasn’t really much depth there. To either her or Oscar to be honest. And it was for that reason that it was really hard to be invested in their relationship at all. It felt a little like they just built up to them having sex and then the ‘relationship’ went tits up.

They had some cute moments don’t get me wrong, but then suddenly I was just supposed to care about them trying to make their relationship work and the fact that Oscar is kind of an idiot and was always going to kiss the one that was throwing herself him and not doing much else. I saw that one coming from a mile off and thought it would kind of maybe lead to something, but no. It did exactly what I thought it would and then didn’t do much else and ultimately I really did not care.

My main issue with this book was fact that the plot to it decided to kick in in the last fifty or so pages just caused me to care even less. I was not invested. It went from 0 to 100 real quick. And what the hell even happened to Doug? It’s like a light (or something) fell on him and then nothing ever really came of it? Also Doug was hardly in it, the impact felt was lacking. Because there was no real motive there…I’m somehow supposed to believe that olive got to know Walter quite well? They hardly spoke.

The other section of this story was better developed. I got an actual sense of who those characters were and I could actually get to grips with the stakes of their relationship. Hamish was a great villain because he was routed in something real and that was easy to get on board with. That whole arc actually felt fleshed out. The fact that  Fawn would feel like she was stuck and just needed a way out made sense and it made the ending of her story all the more tragic, even though you know it’s going to happen from the start. You felt her frustration and her anger at being trapped in this place and to be honest you can kind of see why she would view that as her only way out.

What didn’t make sense was how that affected the present. Them all haunting that theatre just kind of made no sense to me. It was never really explained at all. Especially every one outside of Fawn

Did they die there too or…?

I could rather sadly go on with all the things that I wasn’t a huge fan of but I’m gonna cycle around to some positives.

This was actually probably her best written book. I liked her writing style more than I have in the past. I think that’s because it was more of a ghost story than anything else and it felt less far fetched for some reason as a consequence, which I know sounds weird, but there you go.

I guess I should talk about the ending. I mean, it was an ending. It felt weirdly graphic and not at all in keeping with the rest of the book. And also I feel like the impact that would have psychologically on them was immense (can I just say I don’t expect her to address that, because that would make no sense, but that thought did cross my mind as I was reading it, my brain is an odd place to be what can I say). To be honest I felt like it could have kind of ended there. The epilogue didn’t really serve any kind of purpose other than to make it apparent that they stuck it out for the long haul. I mean I could have inferred that…?

I read this book quickly, like I said Fletcher’s writing style is easy to read and has developed over her books, but I couldn’t say I liked it all that much. I didn’t hate it. To be honest it might be my favourite of her’s thus far. But also I’ve come to accept that as much as I want to, I just cannot get on board with her novels. I kinda knew that earlier this year, but this just confirmed it to me. And I’m kinda sad about it. I wanted to love her, but she’s just not my kind of author.

3/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 32 – Lost Boy

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This book almost sent me into a reading slump, it was the book that prompted all the bonus books that you have seen the past few days. Something about this book just felt really slow and I just couldn’t get on board with it. Maybe it was because they were a group of boys who didn’t have to follow any rules, it felt very Lord of the Flies and we all know how I felt about that one.

Eventually I found the dynamic between Peter and Jamie fascinating, especially as the book progressed and the relationship between them got tested and strained. What I liked about the group of boys was that there were clear roles that each one had. Jamie was very clearly the mother of the group and that ended up being to his detriment in the end.

This book really started to pick up during the Sally part to be honest. Which was kind of far into the book all things considered. But once it picked up it really hit the ground running. And so I avoided falling into the reading slump.

I’ve always kind of thought that the idea of Peter Pan was a little weird and kinda sad and this book really capitalised on that. Especially in the last 50 or so pages, the reveal of his part in getting Jamie to the Other Place (which made the opening pages made sense, it was a long game though) and the way that he managed to maintain his eternal youth. It really compounded the twisted nature of Peter and come the end I came to like that. He became this completely complex character that was a contrast between childish and being completely in control. The more the book progressed the more evident that contrast became.

This book inverted the idea of believe and what it means. Usually Tinkerbell needs it to live but in this the boys need to believe in Peter in order to stay boys. I loved that fact. And I also liked the way that the boys realised that as they prepared for their showdown with Peter. I also found the affects that their lack of belief in Peter and the way that it ages them a really interesting element of the book.

I just really loved how delightfully twisted Peter was in the end. It just felt like the kind of thing that someone so young who had all that power would do. It came from a place of truth and I liked that although the reader always kinda knew that Peter was hella shady the extent of it was only truly realised as it was revealed to Jamie. The way that Peter twisted things that were kind of specific to Jamie, using his trade mark against him. Making Jamie watch on a loop as Peter finally decides to let people leave which was the very thing that Jamie kind of desperately craved for others (specifically Charlie). The way that it all led to that final line which was just so definitive and so brilliant.

This book is brutal. It’s violent and at times it’s a lot. There were some aspects that didn’t necessarily seem to make much sense to me (the thing with all the Many-Eyed, I’m still not really sure what the hell they are supposed to be). And yeah, I found it kind of slow for a while but once it got going it really had me hooked and I turned out to quite like this book. Also, for some reason I didn’t see the ending coming, but as it started to happen I realised that it was the only way that this story could end.

3/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – Always and Forever, Lara Jean

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If you follow me on Twitter then you will have noticed that over the weekend I basically tweeted about almost nothing but To All the Boys I Loved Before because I watched it almost the moment I had got my dinner for the night (after my workout, which I no word of a lie nearly cancelled so I could get home earlier…). I loved it so much and these stories have really managed to worm their way into my heart and just take up residence there.

And it literally all started with a trailer.

Now I have watched the film and also finished the books. Well, the books thing came first and I am still, even now at nearly 2 weeks later, sad that I don’t have a book to go because I’ve finished them all. But my goodness what a trilogy it has been.

I have honestly never, and may never be, so invested in the happiness of two fictional teenagers than I have been with Lara Jean and Peter. I just wanted them to be happy together. That was it. But obviously there was a lot of drama that came with that. Like a lot. It felt somehow like the most drama filled of the 3 books. But it was all like real life drama. It was dealing with the ending of school and where to go for college. It was assessing what you really wanted as opposed to what other people want for you. For a little bit it felt like there was no way to root for both Peter and Lara Jean’s happiness because they were just never going to align with one another and ultimately because it’s Lara Jean’s POV you just want her to be happy.

And she was coming to terms to not getting into the college that she wanted and then falling in love with a college that she was also simultaneously deeming as ‘impractical’ as well as trying to think ‘What Would Margot Do?’ as the reader you kind of know what she should do and when she comes to those conclusions of her own accord the happiness that floods over the reader as well felt intense. I also like the way that the rejection from her dream college was handled, she was allowed to be upset about it as she came to terms with it all.

I liked how the college ‘issue’ was dealt with between them. Also I couldn’t help but be hella endeared by the fact that Peter had just complete and total unending faith in his relationship with Lara Jean and it only really waived once at a time that felt perfectly valid to be honest (actually I think it was twice because Kavinsky remains the MOST jealous sometimes). I liked the way it ultimately initially went even though it broke my heart into a million pieces.

Although seriously their break up hurt. I kind of knew that it would but it still kind of left me floored like it was something that actually happened to me. And as it was happening and we were moving along with Lara Jean’s narrative it didn’t look that way, but then when Peter started defending himself I totally got where he was coming from. I remain hella impressed by the fact that Han always seems to manage to convey how another person is feeling even though it is from Lara Jean’s perspective. I felt Peter’s pain. As well as Lara Jean’s.

I felt like I related more to Lara Jean than I ever have in the previous 2 books. The way that she focused so incessantly on planning the wedding to avoid her real drama. The way that she kind of grappled with what people wanted around her and what she wanted. The fear of actually moving away to somewhere new. She was just so relatable and I loved her so much. Especially come the end when she finally made her decision.

Couple of other things I loved, Margot and her unease about her dad getting remarried because she’s just not been there for them falling in love and Kitty, as always.

This felt like a really good ending to the whole trilogy. It made me feel some kind of way a lot. It was well written and it gave me the happy ending that I so desperately craved. I love this series so much and I will always be a little bit sad that I have finished it now.

4/5 stars

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