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Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices #1

lady midnight -cassandra clareIn a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.


4 Drink Me Potions


Lady Midnight is basically all that you could ever ask for from Cassandra Clare. She never seems to do any wrong after all books she’s produced in this Shadowhunter world of hers.

What can I say about this novel that could possibly be different from all the other raving reviews out there?

I guess I will keep it simple.

1) Imaginative
This world continues to grow, drawing back old and familiar characters while developing new ones that may not have been all that well known. The characters are still so unique, particularly our main protagonist pairing, Julian and Emma. They’re not Jace and Clary, or Will and Tessa. They’re as real as they are, and getting to know them has been so much fun within these 700 pages.

2) Keeps-you-on-your-toes
Clare is amazing at bringing in all these plot elements together in such a beautiful manner that you can’t help but be enthralled as it all unravels and we discover the crazy things happening along with the protagonists. I honestly did not guess who the main “villain” was until quite near the end, and the minor red herrings deliciously threw me off for a bit.

3) Magical-with-a-hint-of-fairy
What’s a world without some magic? With warlocks and the return of Mark Blackthorn, there is no limits on the magical elements within this book.

4) Romantic
The gorgeous build up to a different kinda of relationship between parabatai Emma and Julian was amazing. I always feel like there are no words to describe them. It’s not some instalove, as they’ve known each other forever literally. But it’s also rediscovering each other in this sense as well. I’ve always been a lover of forbidden love stories (as long as no one dies – yes, I’m looking at you, Romeo & Juliet).

5) About-a-family
At the heart of this novel (and I’m sure the whole series) is the Blackthorn family. Whether you’re born by blood as a Blackthorn or not, Clare has demonstrated what the bonds of love would do (or rather, how far it would go for someone you consider family). It’s not some cheesy Vin Diesel voice saying “we’re family” kinda moments, but it’s implied in there, especially in all that Julian does.

There really isn’t much more I can say to sum this up. It’s been an experience reading this book – albeit slowly due to work – but it allowed me to savour it more. Cassandra Clare’s world honestly has attracted so many people all over the world for a reason. Join in if you haven’t already.

Overall Recommendation:
Well, whoop, what can I say that most people don’t feel already? 5 words. Imaginative, suspenseful, magical, romantic and family. That is what you get in any Cassandra Clare book, but particularly highlighted in Lady Midnight. Go out and get your copy if you haven’t already. As the back cover blurb keeps reminding me, “find out what 50 million readers are raving about”.


What’s your favourite Cassandra Clare book/series? Fan or foe of her works?

Review: Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

Series: Dividing Eden #1

dividing eden -joelle charbonneauFrom the author of the New York Times bestselling Testing trilogy comes a sweeping new fantasy series, perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sarah J. Maas.

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?


4 Drink Me Potions


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

**Dividing Eden comes out on June 6, 2017**

A game. A fight for the throne. Power plays behind the scenes by unknown third parties? That sounds just about up my alley.

But to be honest? This rating barely managed to ramp up to 4 stars if it weren’t for the last half of the book. Here’s why.

You know the whole Carys versus Andreus thing because the ones in line for the throne all suddenly died? Well, that doesn’t really start to come into play until 50% of the way into the novel. Talk about a slow start where none of this was surprising ’cause, hey, the synopsis RUINED it all for you.

Ok, so I sound a little bitter at that aspect. I was just impatient. But I get it. Charbonneau did a good job of setting the scene. Here’s a land that seemingly relies heavily on being well-lit in order to drive away the evil things that lurk in the darkness. The people truly believe in the work of the light, including setting up “engineers” known as Masters of Lights. But beyond all that, they believe in the power of the wind and the One who could command it. That person would be the seer, and in this book, the seer played a bigger role in the plot than I initially pegged her to do.

Unbeknownst to the twins at first, there are far darker things present in their kingdom that have no need to hide in the dark but rather walk boldly in the light. It’s frustrating to be the third person, omnipotent viewer sometimes as there’s pieces of information found out by each twin but the other doesn’t know. This all funnels into one giant snowball of miscommunication that ultimately pits the two against each other.

No longer sure they could trust each other, the game FINALLY commences and really picks up. Carys is honestly my favoured twin. She’s always been the one to protect her brother from the others as he has a secret that couldn’t be found out by any one. A previous seer predicted one of them would be cursed before they were born, and their mother always believed it was Andreus. But is it really? That’s one of the wonderful things that’s hard to know for sure, and definitely an element that kept me rapidly flipping through the pages.

Anyway, with Carys always taking the blame for Andreus in order to draw less attention to him, this whole twin against twin thing was both interesting from the competition standpoint but it was also heartbreaking to see Andreus truly turn on Carys due to misunderstandings that he wouldn’t allow her to explain away.

The action ramps up by like 110% in like the last 30% of the book. Not only is there a physical game being played by the twins in order to win the throne and keep the tumultuous times in Eden at a low, but there are other invisible strings being pulled in the background with unknown players pulling them. The mystery hasn’t been fully solved, so that’ll be intriguing to see carry on to book 2. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, per se, but it definitely leaves things unresolved as it would look like those invisible players had won by fixing the game in order to control the kingdom better. Then there’s also the matter of the cursed twin and what exactly that entails. Many great things are introduced in Dividing Eden and it was definitely a different kind of read. Overall enjoyable but the first half may need to be skimmed a little to get to the truly good stuff.

And before I forget, I didn’t mention romance at all so far in this review, but fear not romance lovers. There’s a smidge of romance going on in this novel, with a love interest for both twins (albeit one relationship I despised more than the other – I’ll let you guess which one that would be). But heavy romance honestly wasn’t necessary here. At the heart of it all, this was a book about a sibling relationship and what was worth risking all for the sake of a crown.

Overall Recommendation:
Dividing Eden may have started off a little slow with its world building, but it amped it up to be well worth the wait. Pitting twins Carys and Andreus, who always had each other’s backs, for a chance at the throne of Eden was more than just an exciting competition. The stakes were so much higher than that with behind the scenes power plays being made by mysterious figures, and a greater destiny for one twin who may indeed have been born with a curse. This book was ultimately about family and what it would take to save each other, even if the cost was their kingdom.

Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Series: Carve the Mark #1

carve the mark -veronica rothIn a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?

Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.


 

3.5 Drink Me Potions


Carve the Mark is one of those books that’s left me with a variety of emotions upon completion. Like a rollercoaster ride, the slow ascend into the unknown drove me crazy, but the quick drop left me breathless trying to catch up with everything that’s happened.

I get that some reviewers think the beginning was ridiculously hard to understand. I will say that Roth isn’t the type of author who wastes time explaining bit by bit of the complex world that she’s created. You just gotta slowly go over what she has said in the context that she put it in and try to piece together an image of the scene. I found knowing beforehand that the world could be confusing, lasting approximately the first 100 pages, really helped me take it slow in the beginning so that it would make better sense as I went along. And frankly, I didn’t find the first 100 pages all that bad with that mindset in place.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to this novel. It’s very different from Roth’s previous works, which hardly anyone cannot know at this point with her works being made into major movies. But I felt it still had the makings of a good read. I will try to dissect my feelings into what was positive and what was…less than positive.

Positives on the novel:

– The world building was absolutely stunning. Even if it can get confusing for some, you can’t argue that she thought a lot about how things worked amongst the different cultures and the different planets in this little solar system. With the main story focusing on the planet Thuvhe, there are 2 groups of people fighting for this land throughout history. Technically this planet as seen by the governing body ruling this solar system to belong to the Thuvhesites (hence the official name of the planet), but Shotet nation wants to gain recognition and get this land too. Each group, and even each culture from the other planets in this galaxy, have different views on spirituality and religion. But at the centre of this world is something called a currentstream, which apparently gives life to everything.

There are also currentgifts that each individual grows into as they age. I kinda think of them as some sort of magical abilities. But it’s through this current that lives in each person that determines how its power is uniquely molded by each wielder. In a way, this concept seems like something I’ve seen before, yet there is something still innately unique about it in my opinion.

– Aside from well-thought world building, which honestly sets the foundation of a whole series, the nature of the protagonists was right. We get to follow both Cyra and Akos’ POVs. Oddly enough, Cyra’s is in first person and Akos’ is always in 3rd. I don’t know why this was the way but it makes me feel closer to Cyra sometimes. Enemies by birth yet their circumstances draw them closer, as their fates have said. Maybe it sounds a bit like a Romeo/Juliet thing, but it’s really not. Cyra isn’t as bad as her preceding reputation makes her out to be. She didn’t ask for her currentgift to be pain, both for herself and for anyone who touches her. And Akos isn’t the pure little hero come to redeem the girl born in a tyrant’s family either. They both required redemption, and had to find their own way of achieving what they each wanted. Neither was necessarily better than the other. Everyone made choices they had to make in the moment and sometimes those that turned out to be mistakes haunted them long afterwards.

Anyway, there’s a lot that can be said about these two. There’s no one else we get to know as well as them. There may be plenty of secondary characters but it’s their hearts that we learn to understand. And before you get all twisted about it, yes, a romance blooms between them over time.

Now, what’d I FEEL exactly about this romance of theirs? Honestly? I felt the minor tidbits of romantic expressions were the right amount. Some people (me included) really love romance to be littered throughout a good fantasy. But sometimes, it shouldn’t be the focus, or even there at all. Roth did a great job with this. It wasn’t instalove. And it wasn’t exactly a slow-burn love either. It was formed through loyalty and a deep friendship. I wouldn’t have necessarily minded if there were even fewer mentions of how they felt for each other as there’s just so many OTHER things to focus on in this first book. Would it be right for Akos and Cyra to have some romantic interlude while they’re running for their lives or soldiers are coming for them? No. I sure hope not.

I believe Roth chose right and Carve the Mark had just the right balance of action and romance so the focus always stayed prioritized on moving forward the very complex plot she had in mind for these characters.

Less than positives:

– With such a strong focus on plot and her world that she created here, sometimes the plot felt long and dragged a little. It didn’t deter me from reading this straight through but sometimes there were more events that were solely meant for world building over furthering the build-up of the plot in this book. While I appreciated learning a bit more about how this world and the other surrounding planets worked, this story definitely was made longer by it. The suspense of what would happen next lulled and occasionally I wanted to just skip ahead to hurry it up.

– There may be many secondary characters, but I don’t always feel very close to them. Most barely spend time with either main character, so we don’t see them too often. It was hard to form any connection with anyone else, and sometimes that’s necessary too.

What’s the overall consensus?

While I enjoyed this ride (as long as it was to finish it), this novel just made me think a lot at the end of the day. It’s not what you would call a light read, and I’m still processing a ton of emotions about it. The world was described well, and I felt like I lived within these pages while I was there, but at the same time, I’m glad for whenever I had a little break from it all. All the scheming, all the mysteries that opened up even more questions at the very end. Care the Mark is one complicated book, but I think it was enjoyable for what it was.

Overall Recommendation:
Carve the Mark is nothing like what you may know of author Veronica Roth. This is both good and bad. With a completely new world that’s sometimes confusing but fully immersive to the readers, we take a journey with both Cyra and Akos as they navigate the politics and the fury between two nations vying over one planet. Dealing with big topics such as fighting your own fate and finding your own redemption, it’s one book that made me think more than anything else. Like an exhilarating rollercoaster ride, it may leave you with a mix of feelings both good and bad as you exit. Overall, I’d say it’s a worthwhile book to give a shot as it has plenty to offer and I do believe the sequel would only bring even more excitement.