5 star, YA

Review: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Series: The Last Magician #1

the last magician -lisa maxwellStop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

5 Drink Me Potions

If you want action, excitement, mystery, intrigue and plot twists, then The Last Magician is completely for you!

First off, I need to say that Lisa Maxwell is absolutely phenomenal in her storytelling. I fell in love with this 1900s version of New York and I never wanted to leave it. It’s so very hard to write a good historical fantasy that stays true to the time and location that was chosen. I absolutely loved this, and felt completely immersed in this land as much as Esta did.

Mystery and intrigue are high up there as we follow Esta back to the past to stop this elusive man known only as The Magician from destroying a book of magic that held secrets to protecting all those born with magical abilities in the future. What a tall order that was, but this girl was courageous – if not a bit too reckless at times. She was an amazing protagonist to follow as she navigated a world that wasn’t completely her own yet felt somewhat familiar at the same time.

If that wasn’t enough, the pacing of the book always felt just right. Yes, it could get a little slower in some places, but this gave room for introducing new characters and building relationships. Although a good romance is always forefront on my mind whenever I read a book, I enjoyed the friendships made along the way in this past time. And the book wasn’t completely devoid of romance!

The Magician, as it turns out, was no other than Harte Darrigan, an intriguing guy to follow in the book as well. Although it wasn’t always clear what his intentions and plans were, he’s a character that you can totally put your faith in and support no matter how sketchy others may have viewed him at times. And his chemistry with Esta was tangible, especially when they were at odds with each other. No matter that she’s supposedly his enemy and would have to betray him at some point to get the book, there was so much anticipation for what could be between them. And let me just say, it was enough to satisfy, although I honestly can’t wait for book 2 to come out already.

Even if none of the above has gotten your heart pumping by now, how about this? At the heart of the story, it’s a complicated con and heist that the crew Esta joins would need to pull off in order to steal from the horrendous Order that is hunting all magical people. Who doesn’t love a good villain, first of all? What’s better than some elusive and secretive group chasing the good guys? Honestly, this book HAS IT ALL.

Whether you’re looking for romance, action, suspense, plot twists, good world building or character development, The Last Magician really does have it all . It’s been a long time since I felt this way for a new author, but this feeling Lisa Maxwell induced in me is akin to reading some of Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling and Julie Kagawa’s books. No matter what you love more, or if you aren’t the biggest fan of historical books, trust me, you have GOT to give this a try.

It just may change your entire perspective. Or engulf a good portion of your time as you escape into New York, 1902.

Overall Recommendation:
Words are no match to the strong feelings that The Last Magician has invoked in me. Full of intrigue, suspense, action, character development and romance, Esta’s mission into the past to steal back a book that could save other magical people is both daring and more complex than it initially seems. Along the way, you’ll fall in love with the people she meets there, from a magical crew who becomes like family and a certain Magician who is more than meets the eye. And if not the people, you’ll come to love New York as it was in 1902, with magic as normal as your average person. Lisa Maxwell has created a world that I fell completely into and never wanted to leave. Book 2 is on my most anticipated list for 2018!

5 star, YA

Review: Love, Life and the List by Kasie West

love, life and the list -kasie westSeventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

5 Drink Me Potions

**Love, Life, and the List comes out December 26, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

Kasie West is honestly a GODDESS when it comes to her contemporary romances! It renders me speechless at how well she can capture such poignant emotions of your average heart in her words. Can we just sit here and bask for a moment how she continually astonishes me?

Okay, moment over. Now, where do I even BEGIN with this book?

Love, Life, and the List is a book basically about character development in our protagonist, Abby. She’s just your typical high schooler but with a love for creating art. Having been surprisingly rejected from being a part of the only museum in town’s art show, she’s told that she needs more emotional depth to translate into her paintings.

And thus the list was born.

I normally adore any cute story that centres on a list or some sort (ex. Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone), and this list is short but doable. Listen to a stranger’s story, try some new things, face a fear. All sound great for character development right?

And it does. Abby grows from experiencing things that she’s never had in her few years of life so far. Yet the true beauty in this story is the underlying romantic tensions with her best friend Cooper. Ah, the heartache of unrequited love. And with a bestie. You can tell I was immediately hooked on this story formula.

Needless to say, the progression of Abby’s ups and downs with Cooper over the summer they spend together alone from their normal group of four was realistic and so very sweet. She’s not so far gone that she’s senseless in her love for him, but you can tell it’s also not something so easily to be shaken away. Of course, the darn guy either is completely oblivious to her feelings or doesn’t return them – which had me on the edge of my seat the WHOLE time.

I will reiterate that Kasie West brought out another couple with their own challenges and created a beautiful story of self-discovery and love. It’s pure gold. I read this in one sitting (which I shouldn’t have but I have no regrets at all). No matter that it’s winter now, it’s an amazing read for this time of the year or in the summer for which this book definitely emanates that kind of appeal.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, even if you’re not a normal contemporary reader. It’s a definite must-read!

Overall Recommendation:
Love, Life, and the List may seem to have a simple formula: a girl with a list for the summer and her heart set on her best friend who may not feel exactly the same way. However simple the synopsis seems, Kasie West delivers yet another gorgeous story that features the complex nature of a close friendship that yearns to be a little bit more and the kinds of experiences that shape us and our characters. With a heavy focus on friendship, family and love, what reader cannot relate to such things? Contemporary lover or not, I know you need to read this when it comes out!