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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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King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

King’s Cage by Victoria AveyardKing's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #3
Published by HarperTeen on February 7th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 528
Goodreads

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl's spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

3 Stars

In comparison to Glass Sword, the third instalment King’s Cage is an improvement. The atmosphere of this book is darker, more twisted, and far more electrifying than that of the previous two instalments, which sat well with me. Though far from being an amazing read, credit shall be given where credit is due.

The infamous, hitherto insufferable Mare Barrow has somehow re-entered my life, even though I had sworn to myself that I had written this series off for the eternity of time. Well, damn.

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie GarberCaraval by Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 407
Goodreads

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

2.5 Stars

Caraval could’ve made for an outstanding read, for the general storyline creates tension and the setting is enchanting. But the characters are neither memorable nor fleshed out and therefore cannot pull their weight. Considering how Garber throws around with colours in her prose, the characters remain astonishingly colourless.

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world.

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Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn HamiltonTraitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #2
Published by Faber & Faber on February 2nd, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 512
Goodreads

This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.

Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince's message has spread across the desert - and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible.

Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl's instinct for survival. For the Sultan's palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper's nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive... But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani's past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.

3.5 Stars

Traitor to the Throne is the highly anticipated sequel in the Rebel of the Sands trilogy. I cannot in all honesty say that I enjoyed the sequel less than the first book, even though Traitor to the Throne received a slightly lower rating from me. I have, however, become more critical of the literature I read. Traitor to the Throne was gripping, action-packed, and spun an intriguing plot, which was somewhat overshadowed by a rocky start of info-dumps and issues I had with the characters and world-building.

Idealists make great leaders, but they never make good rulers.

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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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Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Windwitch by Susan DennardWindwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #2
Published by Tor Teen on January 12th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 382
Goodreads

Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

After an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

3 Stars

Second Book Syndrome, I spot you.

I feel so conflicted about Windwitch. It was one of my most anticipated sequels but it just didn’t live up to my expectations, albeit not being a bad book per se.

The first book had me hooked for several reasons. Those, however, disappeared in the sequel. A fast-paced plot? Negative. Safi and Iseult kicking ass together? Negative. Safi and Merik banter? Negative. Albeit offering an entertaining storyline and some extras like an LGBTQ+ character, Windwitch was clearly a filler, which definitely caused damage to my interest in this series as a whole. If you assume that the 3 stars are largely due to Aeduan and Iseult, then you are (sadly) correct.

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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song by Victoria SchwabThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity, #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on July 5th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Goodreads

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from 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.

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.

3 Stars

If you know anything about my reading tastes you know I love Victoria Schwab. I have now read five of her books and have loved all of them with the exception of This Savage Song. Considering it was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016, I can clearly say: I am disappointed.

As is usual with Victoria Schwab, the story concept is magnificent. A dystopian world in which monsters are bred by acts of human violence. How great is that? And then we also have the musical element and the promise of no romance. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? But with this book something happened that I’ve experienced countless times with other authors, but never with Schwab. The book doesn’t deliver on its promise.

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The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica KhouryThe Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Series: The Forbidden Wish #1
Published by Razorbill on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Goodreads

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury

3 Stars

The Forbidden Wish is a cute, romantic Aladdin retelling wherein the Jinni is a girl and she and her lamp-holder fall in love. It was entertaining and well-written but didn’t strike me as particularly intriguing or overly exciting. Still, I generally enjoyed the fresh take on an old story even if I was left a bit underwhelmed after all the raving reviews.

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on September 27th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 536
Goodreads

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

4 Stars

“Where do you think the money went?” he insisted.
“Guns?” asked Jesper.
“Ships?” queried Inej.
“Bombs?” suggested Wylan.
“Political bribes?” offered Nina. They all looked at Matthias. “This is where you tell us how awful we are,” she whispered.
He shrugged. “They all seem like practical choices.”

It goes without saying that the sequel to Six of Crows was one of my most anticipated releases this year. Crooked Kingdom performed well as a sequel, being the suspenseful and action-packed book I hoped it would be, but unlike with Six of Crows, I experienced issues. Naturally, I adored being back in this world, reuinted with the Dregs, and seeing them cornered but somehow wiggling themselves out of traps. But I could not ignore certain things, which I will address in this review.

Please be aware that this review may contain massive spoilers for Six of Crows and also some minor spoilers for Crooked Kingdom.

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