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A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. SchwabA Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Series: Darker Shade of Magic #3
Published by Tor Books on February 21st, 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 624
Goodreads

Witness the fate of beloved heroes - and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED...
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell - once assumed to be the last surviving Antari - begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace - but never common - thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

5 Stars

Writing reviews for your favourite books is difficult, which is why I have a hard time accurately expressing my feelings for A Conjuring of Light. One one hand, A Conjuring of Light was a masterpiece of action, magic, and romance. On the other hand, I feel incredibly biased towards this book, because I justify my 5 stars largely due to 1) feels and 2) having liked A Conjuring of Light better than A Gathering of Shadows which I awared 4.5 stars. Do you see my problem? Technically, A Conjuring of Light would’ve been a 4.5-star read, but by giving it 5 stars, I’d like to acknowledge that the issues I had with A Gathering of Shadows have disappeared into thin air in the final instalment. So now, let me introduce you to my feels.

Magic ran between them like a current, a cord, and he wondered who she would have been if she’d stayed in Grey London. If she’d never picked his pocket, never held the contents ransom for adventure.
Maybe she would never have discovered magic.
Or maybe she would have simply changed her world instead of his.

Well, I can tell you something for sure: I’d have missed out on a unique, epic, and swoon-worthy adventure if I hadn’t picked up A Darker Shade of Magic a couple of years ago. And it all started with my fascination for Kell’s coat. I enjoyed the first book, but was missing some more character depth and background. I enjoyed the second book, which improved in character-building, but at the expense of the plot. I enjoyed the third book, which got both of those right.

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Naondel by Maria Turtschaninoff

Naondel by Maria TurtschaninoffNaondel by Maria Turtschaninoff
Series: The Red Abbey Chronicles #2
Published by Pushkin Press on April 6th, 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 480
Goodreads

In the opulent palace of Ohaddin, women have one purpose - to obey. Some were brought here as girls, captured and enslaved; some as servants; some as wives. All of them must do what the Master tells them, for he wields a deadly and secret power. But the women have powers too. One is a healer. One can control dreams. One is a warrior. One can see everything that is coming. In their golden prison, the women wait. They plan. They write down their stories. They dream of a refuge, a safe place where girls can be free. And, finally, when the moon glows red, they will have their revenge.

3.5 Stars

Naondel reads like a mesh-up of A Thousand Nights and Memoirs of a Geisha. Like the former, it is a feminist testimony to the outward weakness but inward strength of women. Like the latter, it is filled with hardship, and struggles, and pain, which – balanced by the beautiful setting and writing – made this a bittersweet kind of read, both beautiful and dreadful.

Whilst marketed in the Teens & YA section on NetGalley, the content is brutal and devastating in both a psychological and physical way, and therefore unfit for a teen audience, in my opinion. Furthermore, this is a founding story, but in my estimation, the predecessor does not need to be read in order to understand the plot in this book.

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The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker

The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay BurokerThe Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker
Series: The Emperor's Edge #1
on December 22nd, 2010
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 324
Goodreads

Don't miss out on the best-selling Emperor's Edge series (2013 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee).

The adventure starts here...

Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.

Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin, is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills... or someone wants her dead.

3 Stars

The Emperor’s Edge had been on my Kindle for almost a year, patiently waiting to be read. I bought it on a whim and because it was cheap. Don’t judge me. It turned out to be a nice, quick read, but nothing more than that unfortunately.

With The Emperor’s Edge, Buroker has written an entertaining fantasy novel with an enjoyable squad of outlaws at its centre, weaving a solid plot of mystery and court intrigue with a feminist touch. It would have, however, needed a polish to stand out amongst other fantasy works. Its biggest flaw was its utter mediocrity. There was nothing special to distinguish Buroker’s work from your average fantasy. Nonetheless, I had a good time with this book, even if a forgettable one. 

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All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrAll The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Published by Scribner on May 6th 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Pages: 530
Goodreads

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

5 Stars

“When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”

What a gorgeous creature of a book.

I knew I needed to write a review for this book because I want to convince everyone to read it, but at the same time, it was such a struggle. Some books you just can’t describe, putting your finger on what you loved about them is difficult. But I will do my best.

All The Light We Cannot See is, simply put, beautiful. It’s a historical fiction novel set during World War II told from two perspectives. Marie-Laure is a blind French girl who has to flee her home of Paris with her father; the other is Werner, a German orphan who joins the Hitler youth and becomes a Nazi soldier. We also get some other perspectives interspersed throughout, but the focus is on the story of these two children and later on, young adults. It is told in a non-linear fashion and jumps between timelines so that we end up experiencing life before, after and during the war. This book is about the smaller players, the stories that usually go untold, that get forgotten in the turmoil of history.

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The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott LynchThe Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Series: Gentlemen Bastards #1
Published by Gollancz on February 1st 2007
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 531
Goodreads

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean's Eleven, and entirely enthralling.

An orphan's life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected "family" of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld's most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi's most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr's underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying...

4 Stars

Did you read Lord of the Thieves when you were a child and have been searching for a book with a similar feel but for an adult audience ever since? Do you have a soft spot for Robin Hood? Well, look no further, because The Lies of Locke Lamora wraps up both with a dark and gritty story in a Venice-inspired world with foul-mouthed thieves, who steal from the rich, who you cannot but fiercely adore.

Not going to lie, this book was hard to get into at first. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a hardcore fantasy, and when I say hardcore, I mean complex and densely packed writing with an overflow of descriptions. I’m also not going to lie about getting the occasional headache from the information-loaded descriptions. And if you know anything about me, you know I usually loathe page-long descriptions without a single dialogue being exchanged for the obvious reason. It seems one can get used to it, after all. Against all odds, Lynch managed to completely captivate me with an enthralling and suspense-packed fantasy with a gang of the most daring badasses of thieves I’ve ever seen.

“Chains used to claim that there’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated,” said Locke.
“Gods, yes.” Calo rolled his eyes and stuck out his tongue. “If we were any freer we’d float away into the sky and fly like birds.”

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The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

The Hero of Ages by Brandon SandersonThe Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn #3
Published by Gollancz on February 11th 2010
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Goodreads

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world. This adventure brings the Mistborn epic fantasy trilogy to a dramatic and surprising climax as Sanderson's saga offers complex characters and a compelling plot, asking hard questions about loyalty, faith, and responsibility.

4.5 Stars

I saw one of my friends on Goodreads compare Brandon Sanderson to Ruin because he’s a God and has ruined her life. I’d rather say, he ruins you for any other epic fantasy sagas because the Mistborn series is simply incomparable, so beware of this when you start these books. If you have already commenced the series, your emotional ruin awaits.

Of all three books – The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages – I liked this one the least. When it comes to plots, I love heists most, so it’s no wonder I adored the first instalment. The sequel differed from the first one, focusing on building a government rather than destroying one, but I loved the tension of an approaching war, political intrigue, and an increasing number of enemies. And the third one? The characters grow, questions are answered, and my heart was ripped out twice within a book, and yet it cannot quite reach the awesomeness of the previous instalments.

As always, be aware that this review contains massive spoilers for the previous books in the Mistborn series.

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The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension by Brandon SandersonThe Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn #2
Published by Gollancz on December 10th 2009
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 763
Goodreads

The impossible has been accomplished. The Lord Ruler – the man who claimed to be god incarnate and brutally ruled the world for a thousand years – has been vanquished. But Kelsier, the hero who masterminded that triumph, is dead too, and now the awesome task of building a new world has been left to his young protégé, Vin, the former street urchin who is now the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and to the idealistic young nobleman she loves.

As Kelsier’s protégé and slayer of the Lord Ruler she is now venerated by a budding new religion, a distinction that makes her intensely uncomfortable. Even more worrying, the mists have begun behaving strangely since the Lord Ruler died, and seem to harbor a strange vaporous entity that haunts her.

Stopping assassins may keep Vin’s Mistborn skills sharp, but it’s the least of her problems. Luthadel, the largest city of the former empire, doesn’t run itself, and Vin and the other members of Kelsier’s crew, who lead the revolution, must learn a whole new set of practical and political skills to help. It certainly won’t get easier with three armies – one of them composed of ferocious giants – now vying to conquer the city, and no sign of the Lord Ruler’s hidden cache of atium, the rarest and most powerful allomantic metal.

As the siege of Luthadel tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

5 Stars

Lord Ruler, I love this squad!

If you haven’t read The Final Empire, do not read on. This review contains massive spoilers for the first book. If you’ve read it, whether you loved or hated it, just  sit back and relish in the awesomeness of this crew. Because though I love Sanderson’s intense plots and his detailed world-building, I would love the Mistborn series only half as much without the addition of engaging, fleshed out characters which I can root for, laugh and cry with, suffer with, and fear and hope for. So, beware: This review is going to be a swoonfest.

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The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

The Final Empire by Brandon SandersonThe Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn #1
Published by Gollancz on October 1st, 2009
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Goodreads

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with color once more?

In Brandon Sanderson's intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage — Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

(First published by Tor Books in 2006)

5 Stars

I AM NOT OKAY.

I had initially rated The Final Empire 4 stars right after reading it. Forget about those. These beautiful characters have stuck with me ever since, and the book left an overall lasting impression. Hence, this absolute masterpiece of an epic fantasy deserves no less than 5 stars. The Final Empire was a little slow in pulling me in, but once I was caught up in this dark world of falling ashes, magic of metals, oppression, and power struggles, I was in. For any fantasy lover out there, this is a definite must-read.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Series: Millennium #1
Published by Quercus on June 14th 2008
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 533
Goodreads

A murder mystery, family saga, love story, and a tale of financial intrigue wrapped into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families, disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

3 Stars

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was probably one of the most hyped thrillers in the last decade. All in all, it was a good book but it wasn’t mind-blowing, and most of all, it was gross. Please be aware that this thriller features graphic rape, violence, and gory scenes. And I think my brain might have just gotten an overdose (this calls for a herbal tea and a warm bath). Stieg Larsson is not an author for the faint-hearted, let me tell you that.

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Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

Love Anthony by Lisa GenovaLove Anthony by Lisa Genova
Published by Gallery Books on September 25th 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Mental health
Pages: 309
Goodreads

From the award-winning New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Left Neglected, comes a heartfelt novel about an accidental friendship that gives a grieving mother a priceless gift: the ability to understand the thoughts of her eight-year-old autistic son and make sense of his brief life.

Two women, each cast adrift by unforseen events in their lives, meet by accident on a Nantucket beach and are drawn into a friendship.
Olivia is a young mother whose eight-year-old severely autistic son has recently died. Her marriage badly frayed by years of stress, she comes to the island in a trial separation to try and make sense of the tragedy of her Anthony’s short life.
Beth, a stay-at-home mother of three, is also recently separated after discovering her husband’s long-term infidelity. In an attempt to recapture a sense of her pre-married life, she rekindles her passion for writing, determined to find her own voice again. But surprisingly, as she does so, Beth also find herself channeling the voice of an unknown boy, exuberant in his perceptions of the world around him if autistic in his expression—a voice she can share with Olivia—(is it Anthony?)—that brings comfort and meaning to them both.

2 Stars

After having read and loved Still Alice and Left Neglected, I thought Lisa Genova was going to be one of those authors who can do no wrong. Well, I sort of abandoned that fantasy after the confusing borefest that was Love Anthony.  I appreciate that Genova is trying to introduce readers to the fields of clinical psychology and neuroscience, but a complex disorder alone just won’t do for an interesting read.

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