Review: These Vicious Masks

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Goodreads Synopsis:

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

This is a light, entertaining read. . . and not much beyond that. The world building was severely lacking. If the synopsis didn’t give me a date, I wouldn’t know I was supposed to be in Victorian England. There were very vague descriptions of people, places, and apparel; and the social customs of the time were not ever much of a boundary for our protagonist’s adventures – until there were, if you get what I mean.

I also found the powers that they all had a bit unoriginal, and the comparison to X-Men that has been made is very evident. I did appreciate that the romance element wasn’t the main focus of this though. This first installment is centered more on sibling love, which I found refreshing. Though there are two beaus, Evelyn never spends too much time swooning over either, and I felt when those moments did happen there was clearly one she preferred over the other, which also helped dampen the cliche of the love triangle.

Overall, I was entertained and enjoyed the fast paced story. Can’t be certain that I will continue the series though.

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Review: This Savage Song

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Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

The general premise of this book, with how monsters are created by the evils of humans, is just so fascinating. And obviously makes a moral appeal to its readers, which I thought was subtle, but powerful.

The dynamic between our two main characters was also amazing. As you may have heard, there is no romance in this book, but the chemistry between August and Kate is undeniable and makes their interactions very powerful. They are also the only two individuals who they can truly be themselves around, which opens up their character traits so much once they start their escape and are constantly around each other.

I will say, I felt the start of this was a little slow in spots, but I feel that is pretty standard with Schwab, and it really allowed us to get the foundation of the world, understand the different monsters, and get a feel of the political climate – which is all very rich and important. So while the action doesn’t start up till about halfway through, there is still plenty of interesting material till then.

This was a beautiful, interesting, and original story, and I cannot wait till the second installment.

Coming This Week: 25 July

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While husbands are away, the reading is constant! I am really trying to catch up on my reading, I feel like I have been slacking lately, but that’s probably because my husband and I have been in a big binge watching phase. Well he’s gone for a few weeks, so I am reading, and watching all my period TV shows that he won’t watch with me – finishing up BBC’s War & Peace today!

So anyway, this week you can look for reviews on:

I have loved everything I have read by Schwab, and this latest installment didn’t let me down! If it’s not on your TBR yet, add it, especially since I saw that it’s being optioned for a movie!

Review: The King Slayer

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. He’s readying for a war against those who would resist his rule—namely Elizabeth and the witches and wizards she now calls her allies.

Having lost her stigma, a magical source of protection and healing, Elizabeth’s strength is tested both physically and emotionally. War always means sacrifice, and as the lines between good and evil blur once more, Elizabeth must decide just how far she’ll go to save those she loves.

Well, I could have skipped this.

So many of the issues I had with the first book remain in this installment/finale. The best way I can describe my overall feelings about this series is: immature. The writing, the characters, the pacing. The growth I had hoped for shown through in small moments, but was lacking in a broader sense. It was also too long. I was getting  more impressed with it in the middle, but then we reverted again, and the drawn out battles and captures/rescues just felt repetitive.

The same character inconsistencies were there, and my favorite character from the first book missing basically the whole time. I did find the extra time spent on John interesting, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the major issues I had with this.

Honestly, I skimmed huge sections of this, and unless I see some amazing reviews for Boeckers stuff in the future, I can’t say I’ll be revisiting her works.

Revisiting: The Witch Hunter

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Goodreads Summary:

The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.  

First, I will agree with everyone else who I have seen reviewing this, the comparisons to Graceling and GoT is a major stretch, and it’s certainly fantasy lite.

That said, I still enjoyed this. There were general issues, the characters weren’t as complex as I would have liked, I thought the budding romance was a bit flat, and it was pretty predictable. However, there were some great characters and dialogue, especially from George – my favorite. I also think there is a ton of potential for this series. We all know I’m a fan of sequels though so I am definitely planning to give this series another shot with the 2nd book.

Even with my re-read having me knock my initial Goodreads rating from 3 to 2 stars, I was entertained enough to go for the second book in hopes of general author growth that we often see within series. I had high hopes for the below issues to be resolved.

Though it was generally predictable, there were still enough twists to make it interesting, I guessed the big picture things, but there were plenty of little details and repercussions that played into the plot in a larger way that I think can play out in a very interesting way.

I also liked how open minded Elizabeth was, a lot of the reviews I read had issues with her turn around from being a witch hunter to being in league with witches. Well, I never got the sense that she hated witches from the beginning, she was doing her job, and it becomes very clear throughout that she had been pulled into the profession and that she adopted the animosity of those around her to fit in more. And she constantly talks about how confused she is now that she’s seeing more than one side of the idea behind the hatred for magic. That said, I was annoyed by the inconsistencies with her character. She is supposed to be this amazing witch hunter, but I feel like she’s having to be saved every other chapter. She’s played up to be so strong and powerful, but I never got that sense from her.

Hopefully we see improvement in the next one!

Coming This Week: July 18

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I’ve definitely been staying inside as much as possible lately. Admittingly though, my reading has been pretty slow. I’ve just been so exhausted of late that I either end up Netflixing, or taking a nap. I’ve got some really good books lined up for the next couple weeks though so hopefully that will help with my slump.

This week look for reviews on:

I know these two books probably appeal to actual teens way more than me – so they were just OK. Though I do have to give the author props for keeping this a duo.

I’m also going on some baking adventures this week, so I may share some of those results!

Review: Vicious

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers. Victor and Eli started out as college roommates?brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find?aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge?but who will be left alive at the end? In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

I can’t say I loved this as much as the ADSOM, or even the Archived series, but this was undeniably good. The lines between good and bad are so very foggy, and you find yourself justifying why you want this bad guy to win over this other bad guy. I love it when authors do that to you – it was a similar feeling to what Lu did in The Young Elites

I also liked that we got a break from these two broken adversaries through Sydney. An undeniably good person, who has been shoved into bad circumstances. Her perspective is what makes us sway towards one character over another, and shows us the redeeming qualities in all those characters who are some degree of bad.

The transitions through time really worked well in this story. I don’t usually like jumping back and forth, but the way Schwab planned this out it works how it should – revealing story lines and character traits slowly. This lets us form original opinions of our two ‘villains’ and really see how they have transformed and adapted to their abilities.

Overall, another masterful story by Schwab. But not as fun as the other series I have mentioned above.