Book Review: Darker Shade of Magic

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Author: V.E. Schwab

Pages: 400

Shades of Magic #1

Goodreads Synopsis: “Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.”

Review: I have been wanting to read this series forever. I see it posted on instagram all the time but for some reason, I just never got around to reading it. I finally had an Amazon gift card and decided it was time to buy it. I am so happy I did. This was such a fun and awesome read (though I did find two typos), I finished it in 3 days, I devoured it and I can’t wait for next my gift card to go out and buy the next one! Here’s all the reasons why I loved this story.

I loved Kell and Lila. They were so fun and lovable characters. Both were intricate to the story but neither felt forced. I also loved how easily everything flowed together, I loved that even when I wasn’t reading about Kell and Lila for a chapter, I was bored. It was the opposite, the supporting story lines were just enough. There weren’t too many of them, and they were short and to the point so I never felt like it was for nothing.

I also loved the segments, like it was an Act with different sections on top of the chapters. I partly loved this because it helped me determine what I was going to read, instead of two chapters, I would just read to the next act. The story was also so fast paced that it was easy to get lost in the action.

Speaking of action, that’s another thing I loved. There was never a dull moment in this story, I never found chapters boring, or misused. Instead of found every word important, every detail was concise (I want to be an Antari, or at least meet Kell!) and it all moved so smoothly. I loved the magic world with some people that didn’t have magic, I loved the loyalty, strength shown by the characters. It somewhat reminded me of Harry Potter at times, which is probably why I liked it so much.

I can’t wait to read the next adventure in Kell and Lila’s story.

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

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Book Review: Sarah’s Key

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Author: Tatiana de Rosney

Pages: 294

Synopsis: Sarah’s Key follows two very different story lines. We start by following Sarah, a young 10-year old living in Paris, France during WWII with her parents and her little brother. In July of 1942, her along with her parents (she locked her brother in a cupboard for safety) and all other Jewish members of Paris are arrested by French police in what is known as the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup.

Move forward to 2005, where Julia, a 45 year old journalist is tasked with writing a story about the Vel’ d’Hiv’ and what happened near the anniversary of the roundup. Through her research, Julia learns about Sarah’s story and the connection it has with her French family. A story that will change Julia’s life and her family’s life forever.

Review: If you follow my blog, you know I read a lot about WWI and WWII. In fact, this is the 7th book this year alone that follows different stories as it relates to WWII. I’ve read about Italy, Russia, Poland, Germany and now France. Each with a totally different perspective on the war, but all with the same outcome — pain.

I read a lot on WWII because it’s always about an event that I didn’t read about in school and I feel like I can’t fully grasp everything that happened without reading these stories. This is a significant plot in Sarah’s Key. People have forgotten or they just don’t know about events that took place in France. That story line never leaves this book, it follows to the very end and becomes an important reminder to never forget.

This story reminded me a lot Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah and Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum in the sense that we follow two different stor ylines and see them diverge together. If you’ve read them and enjoyed them, I bet this would be another one you would enjoy. But that’s where the similarities end.

De Rosney finds a way to break your heart in more pieces than you thought imaginable. I have read a lot of stories on WWII, I thought I’ve read it all (how very wrong was I). This story doesn’t falter in it’s detail of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup and the events that followed, it shows the inhumanity and the goodness all on one page. It speaks of the heroes and survivors. It reminds us that even after the War, the people who lived throughout it will never be the same, and for some it’s easier to forget than remember what happened. What was so interesting in this story was the beginning about Sarah, for most of her chapters you were never told her name (obviously we knew by the title), she was just known as “the girl”, which for many of Jewish descent was how they were viewed during WWII. For some reason this resonated more to me than anything else. It was a sad reminder of what people had to endure.

For more information on the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, you can go to the link: https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10008213

Then you have Julia, who is determined to not let the past be forgotten. Who, once she knows the story of the roundup and the French police involvement, she can’t stop thinking about the children and adults who perished. This is no longer a story for a journalist but a story for Julia and Julia alone, a story she must find the ending to, without she feels hollow. She is determined to find a way to let people who are still suffering from the aftereffects that there are people in this world that have not forgotten, who won’t forget. Her determination is one that is admirable. She doesn’t see these events as just that, she sees it for what it was.

My only critique of this story was all the involvement of Julia’s family. I actually enjoyed the family mystery and how it connected back to Sarah, it was interesting, it was a mystery and there were twists and turns I didn’t see coming. What I didn’t like was what I felt as an unnecessary story line (I’m sure others disagree). I won’t spoil what I mean by this, it also didn’t ruin the story for me, I could have just lived without it. In fact, I’m happy I read it, I’m happy I now know yet another tragedy from the War that I did not know before, because we should never forget.

Have you read Sarah’s Key? Or any of the other stories listed above? If so, comment below!

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

Favorite Quotes of May

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May reading went by pretty quickly. Unfortunately I didn’t get as many books in as I would have liked, to be honest, I think the reading might start to slow down a bit which is really unfortunate. Anyway, here are the best quotes from the books I read.

“I am different from what my world demands I be. And I am not worse for it.”
Victoria Aveyard, War Storm

 

 

“It is strange, I thought, how we always recognize our best memories in hindsight.”
Tanaz Bhathena, A Girl Like That
 
“ I think my heart knew you were mine long before I ever realized it.”
Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Frost and Starlight

 

“Nothing is ever quite right, is it, after a parent dies? No matter how well things go, something always feels slightly off…”
Jenna Blum, Those Who Save Us

War Storm

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Author: Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen Series #4

Pages: 662

Goodreads Synopsis: War Storm Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.
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But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power… for all will be tested, but not all will survive.

Review:

I was devastated at the end of King’s Cage. I felt betrayed by Cal just like Mare did. Luckily Aveyard leaves off literally hours after Cal’s betrayal so there is no time jump between stories which I appreciated a lot of.

For Farley, for my family. And still, always, for him.

Speaking of stories, this one is in the perspective of Mare, Mahan, Cal, Iris and Evangeline. I love that Aveyard does this, it really makes the story more impactful for me. Not only is there this character development, but you get a glimpse into each of these characters perspectives instead of only one character thinking they understand the other.

“But we all still have the ability to choose, in the end.”

Oh did I mention character development? There’s a lot of that, and each character in this story has some part to play, I can honestly say that this is the first YA fantasy story where I didn’t find any of the characters annoying (okay, Mare at one point but really not enough to point out). These kids are trying to figure out who they are, what’s important to them and fight a war, it’s a lot to take in and they are acting more like adults than the adults.

Speaking of war, Aveyard finds this perfect blend to connect the two wars we’ve been reading about in this conclusion. Props to her for doing so.

But here’s the thing. I need more, the ending left me unsatisfied. I didn’t get the closure that I wanted which really stinks. I needed just one more chapter. However there is a rumor of novellas in the future that I hope is true.

Overall Rating: 4/5 stars