A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwa

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Ok, so this review has been a LONG time coming for me.  I finished this a while back, and have read a few other books since but I have not had the time to write any of my reviews, so without further ado….

This book was so captivating that I simply COULD NOT put it down, and after finishing it, it moved up in to my top 10, quite possibly top 5 favorite books.  V.E. Schwab has a way with weaving magic through words.  I really enjoyed the idea of layering the world into parallels of the same place.  Schwab writes about 4 different Londons; Grey London which has no magic, White London which has a dark chaotic magic about it, Red London which is powerful and has magic in balance, and Black London which has been consumed by magic. Only the Antari, a powerful type of magician, can travel between these Londons, though there are only 2 Antari left in the world at this time.  As you can see, the idea is intricate and above all fascinating.

To keep in fashion of not giving away spoilers in my reviews, I will not say much more other than the fact that EVERYONE needs to read this book.  I immediately purchased book 2, A Gathering of Shadows, which I have also read.  I now am in dire need of the final book to come out, but have read that it is not being released until February.  So do yourself a favor and pick up a Darker Shade of Magic today and thank me later.

Over the next few days I will be working on catching up on all the books I have read through the past couple of months as well as posting my Lit Cube and Stars Hollow unboxing.  I hope everyone had an AMAZING 4th of July!!!

Shadow and Bone

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Shadow and Bone was sooooooo GOOD!  I’m actually getting ready to start book 2, Siege and Storm!  I loved the idea of the Grisha and the way their magic works.  I also really loved the main character Alina and her childhood friend Mal.  The storyline is also set in Russia, which I thought was pretty cool as well, as I haven’t read anything set in Russia.  There is a great back story to Alina and Mal, as well as the Darkling, and there is also an awesome plot line to what the Grisha are and how Alina finds herself in their world.

I was slightly hesitant to start the book at first, as there were a lot of mixed reviews, but I’m glad that I just jumped in and did it.  It was one of those books that was just a page turner that kept me on the edge of my seat and kept me reading late into the night.  I read it in just a few short sittings, and couldn’t wait to find out what was next for Alina and Mal.  I actually went out the next day and bought book 2, that I’m start tonight! Who’s read this book, or the series itself?  What were your thoughts?

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

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Ok….Can we just take a second to talk about how adorable this book is???  Jenny Han is brilliant.  I’m not usually one to read sappy love type stories, but this one was one that I couldn’t put down!  I can honestly say that, for a love story, I loved this story.  The Song sisters were easy to fall in love with, as were Peter and Josh.  This book really has it all!  You have a single dad that is honestly trying his best, 3 sisters that show us what it means to put your family first, and 2 guys that are caught in the whirlwind that is Laura Jean!

A bonus to this book, cookie recipes!!!  When I got to the end of the book, there were several of Laura Jean’s cookie recipes listed in the back!  I have yet to try them, but I definitely plan to.  It ties into the book in that the sisters have several traditions, one of them being baking Christmas cookies together every year!  I definitely recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.  I plan to read the second one (I’ve already purchased it and added it to my ever growing pile) as well.  If you’ve read it, I’d love to know what your thoughts were!  =)

The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three by: Stephen King

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Ok, so I actually finished this a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve just been SUPER busy.  Most of you know that I am obsessed with Stephen King books, and the Dark Tower Series is very QUICKLY crawling to the TOP of my favorite series list.  I flew through The Gunslinger, which is the first book in the series, and I loved it.  This book was even better, and I didn’t think that possible.  With this series, Stephen King pulls away from the typical horror genre that he’s known for, though he has written outside of the genre often (The Green Mile, Delores Clairborne, Eyes of the Dragon, 11/22/63, etc.), and shows his readers a ski-fi/fantasy side that is captivating.  The characters are so well developed that you feel like you know them, or at least want to, and the story line is definitely one that draws you in and makes you want to know more.  I also have to add that I had the illustrated copy of this, and the illustrations are amazing!

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I have to say that I absolutely LOVE Roland as the main character of this series.  He’s harsh, but for good reasons, he’s righteous, and cruel, but he’s also kind and caring.  He’s everything you do and don’t want in a mentor, and I think that’s what makes him perfect! His quest to find the Dark Tower is one that keeps the audience engaged, and the continuance of the quest doesn’t disappoint in book 2.  Though the series is not within the horror realm, I do want to include that the creatures known as “lobstrosities” are definitely nightmare fuel!  Those things definitely gave me the creeps any and every time they are mentioned in the book.  I couldn’t imagine running into one of those and their questions.  I read this book literally every chance I got, usually with a cup of coffee close by in the late afternoon! =)

So in Book 2, Roland is alone on a beach continuing his quest, when he comes across a door.  The door propels him into the mind of another person in another time/dimension, and Roland soon becomes aware that he will need the people he comes across to complete his quest to the Dark Tower.  I don’t want to say too much more, because I HATE when things are ruined for me and would not want to ruin the book for those that have not read it.  All I can say is that if you haven’t read it, give the series a chance.  I couldn’t put this book down because it was just that good!   Try it out, I promise that it won’t disappoint! =)

If you’ve already read this book, or series even, I’d love to know what you think/thought.  Though I’m only going into book 3, it’s easily in my top 5 series, and pretty high on my Stephen King list.

Review for Landline by Rainbow Rowell

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So I recently finished reading Landline by Rainbow Rowell and I have to say that I’m officially a fan!  I could not put this book down!  Landline was my first RR book and I’ve since purchased several of RR’s books to add to my TBR list that I can’t wait to read.  This book was funny, heart wrenching, enlightening, magical, and so much more.  Georgie was such a relatable character in that she wasn’t perfect.  She was a hot mess and she knew it.  She couldn’t function in life without Neal, who really did complete her.  I also LOVED Georgie and Neal’s relationship in the way that it was perfectly imperfect.  To top it all off, the magical phone just really made this story!

I liked that this book gave a different view on the average household.  Georgie was a full time working mom, while Neal was a full time stay at home dad.  Though Georgie wanted children, she wasn’t nurturing or good at doing motherly things.  She was good for hugs and laughs and play time, while Neal cooked, cleaned, taught, and nurtured them.  At one point she tells someone that when Neal isn’t home and the kids are hungry, she gives them Yogurt to tie them over until Neal is home to cook for them.  Though all of this seems to make Georgie and Neal’s relationship perfect, it’s far from.  Neal, Alice, and Noomie always take a backseat to Georgie’s best friend Seth and their Career as comedy writers for television and Neal has reached his breaking point, which is where the story really begins!

If you enjoy Adult Contemporary, you definitely need to check out Rainbow Rowell’s Landline.  Contemporary is not my typical go to read, but this one rates in my top 10 reads for sure.  The characters are all relatable, the story is adorable, and it’s such a great read!!! If you’ve already read it, I would love to know what you thought about it!

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

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Little Nike really enjoys reading time!

So This book was not originally part of my March TBR, but since I heard the movie was coming out I decided I  really wanted to read it this month, and I can say that I was not at all disappointed.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs was cute, heartbreaking, terrifying, and all in all awesome.  I read the entire book in just 3 short sittings, and had the hardest time just putting it down.

First things first!  I absolutely LOVED the photograph aspect that the author used for the book.  The antique photos really made the story come to life and brought to light what the author was envisioning as he wrote the story.  Old photographs have always completely creeped me out too, so I feel that the parts of the story that were meant to be a little scary were really amplified when they were coupled with an old creepy photo.  I also felt that this was a new concept (though I could be wrong), as I have never seen this done in a book before.  The copy of the book that I have also includes an interview with the author at the end and he talks about the thousands of photos that he went through to find the ones he used in the book.  Apparently people actually collect old photos like this (creepy!) and you can get them from flea markets or garage sales.  The author stated that some of the photographs were from his own personal collection, while authors were used from other collectors.  It’s sort of weird to think that the photographs in the book are real people from another time.  After reading that part of the interview, it really made me stop and think.  I went back through the book looking through all of the pictures and imagining what the scenario of the picture really was, vs what it is in the book’s story.

Photograph’s aside, I enjoyed the story itself.  The idea that those that come across as a little different, or odd even, could be special.  The book’s Peculiar Children are all special and different in their own way with their own special abilities.  It can be superhuman strength, the ability to make plants grow rapidly with a thought, the ability to give life to something with the correct parts, etc.  Instead of calling them weird or freaks, they are simply peculiar and have their own roles to play in their day-to-day lives.  Some abilities are huge and very different, while others are minor, but each of them are awesome!  I don’t want to give too much of the story away, for those of you that haven’t read the book yet!

I definitely recommend this book, and I plan to finish reading this series at some point.  I’m really excited to see Tim Burton’s film adaptation of the book as well.  I noticed a few minor differences in the movie trailer from the book (as is usual for Tim Burton) but the trailer still looked awesome.  I also read a response from Ransom Riggs regarding the changes, and the author stated that he agrees with the changes and feels that they only bettered the story.  I gave the book 4/5 stars.

  • Who else has read the book?
  • What were your thoughts?  Did you like/love/hate it?
  • Are you going to watch the movie?

I would love to know what everyone else is thinking! =)

 

Review: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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 Ok, so I want to start this review off by saying that I have been putting off reading this book for a VERY long time!  Now that I read it…I’m mad that I have waited so long to pick it up.  Patrick Rothfuss is a genius, and this feels like his 100th book and not his first.  This book was one that my husband chose for me to read, as we each choose 1 book a month for each other, and man am I glad that this is what he picked!

The Name of the Wind is the first book to the Kingkiller Chronicles.  It reads mostly as an autobiography of Kvothe, a once widely famous musician, arcanist, hero, and adventurer rolled into one.  It also occasionally springs into a narrative style story telling (starting and definitely finishing in this way, with the narrative weaved throughout).  The reader gets to learn about Kvothe’s life all the way from his childhood to present day.  His family, tragedies, pain and loss, triumph, and power, you learn it all.

Rothfuss does an amazing job at creating a new fantasy setting.  Though we’ve seen magic before, we’ve NEVER seen it like this.  It’s very intricate and carries such a high amount of depth to it, that it takes time to understand fully what is occurring.  Being that the stories date back to when Kvothe himself is learning about the magic, you get his first hand knowledge and experience with things like bone-tar, sympathy, and calling the names of things like the wind.  Much of the story is told while Kvothe is attending the University, and the education he receives is spilled out very well throughout the pages.

Kvothe’s story is told in sections as the book builds.  You get to see his early years with his family, a traveling performance group known as the Edema Ruh.  They travelled like gypsies from town to town performing plays, songs, and whatever the audience enjoyed.  Being part of the Edema Ruh was like being part of the best of the best of performers.  They were well-known for traveling troupes.  But like any good fantasy story, there has to be tragedy to build on.  Kvothe returns from the woods one day to learn that a group known as the Chandrian has killed his entire troupe, his parents included.  He escapes and is forced to live on he streets begging for money/food/scraps and whatever he can get to survive, until he decides to travel to the University and attempt to enroll.  This is when the story changes!

There are a handful of amazing characters throughout the story that you just simply love, and like any story there are the few that you just hate.  My favorite is of course Kvothe.  His character is one that you just can’t help but root for, even when all of the odds are stacked against him.  And unlike most stories…he doesn’t always win, though he does when it counts most.  My 2 most hated characters are Ambrose, a snobby little rich kid who things he can get away with anything because he just buys his way out of situations, and Denna, the girl who Kvothe loves but aside from EVERYTHING he does for her, she just drags him along when it’s convenient for her.

 

Though we are given stories that tell us how Kvothe has gotten each of his nicknames, we have yet to learn why he is known as the Kingkiller.  One is to assume that he killed a king at some point and time, but it is never confirmed or discussed as to which king he killed. You learn that he is called Kvothe the Bloodless because he was publicly whipped and did not bleed.  Kvothe the Arcane because he is an arcanist who has used arcane magic to bring down his enemies. But what king did he kill???  Hopefully it comes out in a later book as part of his story.

This is definitely a series that I plan to continue reading.  If you haven’t already read it, pick up a copy of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  Again, this is the first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles.  I’m going to have to pick up the rest of this series (The Wise Man’s Fear, Doors of Stone, and The Slow Regard for Silent Things).  I gave this book 5/5 stars!!!

 

Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

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Ok, so first off I want to put it out there that this is the FIRST audio book that I have been able to actually sit through without getting distracted.  I absolutely LOVE that Aziz Ansari did the reading for the audio book and added little side notes and tid bits throughout the book.  It definitely made the book for me.  I have tried several audio books in the past while cleaning, taking a bath, cooking, laying in bed, etc and can never give my full attention to the book.  I always found my mind wandering.  Over the last couple of days we took a day trip to France and then a day trip to Belgium and finished the audio book in 2 days.  It was funny and interesting all at once.

I originally purchased this book thinking that it was a comedy book.  I didn’t bother reading the synopsis because, well… the author is Aziz Ansari.  My husband and I love his stand up and his TV series Master of None, so it was an impulse buy based on the author.  Once we started listening to it though, we were surprised to learn that Aziz Ansari was discussing a serious topic that he put a lot of time and effort into researching.  He traveled the world to research different cultures and their outlook and statistics and dating, romance, and simply the opposite sex.  The statistics covered in the book were shocking and even more so were people’s outlooks and thoughts on the way that relationships today should work.  It really makes me appreciate the fact that I found my husband early in life and that almost 11 years later we are still completely happy and going strong.  I couldn’t imagine this whole dating through social media/smart phones that seems to be the norm of today.

I would definitely recommend this book if todays dating scene and other cultures outlook on it interest you.  I honestly had no clue what I was getting into when I started the book, but was quickly sucked in when people’s outlooks on marriage, dating, and initial contact was being discussed.  I also recommend getting the audio book if you love Aziz Ansari as much as we do.  Him reading his own book really made this a whole new experience and I honestly don’t know that I would have liked the book as much if it would have been read by someone else.

I gave Modern Romance 4 Stars and I definitely recommend it (especially the audio book version of it) to all who love Aziz Ansari!!!

Ambrosia Volume 1: Baja, Mexico

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     Ok, so I read this book last week and have to admit that I absolutely LOVED it.  This book is for any traveler that’s also a foodie.  From what I understand, they plan on releasing a whole series of these, with Volume 2 being Denmark!  I plan on adding them all to our collection as they are visually beautiful, the interviews are so interesting, and as if that weren’t enough already, you get the bonus of the chef’s favorite recipes or recipes that are staples within their restaurants.  When I finished reading this, I simply wanted to buy a plane ticket to Mexico and travel to each of the restaurants and try the food they described.
     Ambrosia Volume 1: Baja, Mexico calls itself a new print magazine, and if this is true, this is one of the best quality magazines I’ve ever purchased.  The writer states that the best way to get to know a location is through it’s food, and this volume gives you all the best eateries in Baja, Mexico.  Ambrosia gives you a first look at each chef that is featured through a one on one interview discussing various topics like how they got started cooking, how they opened their restaurant, or their favorite menu item even.  Along with the chef interview, you also get 1-2 recipes from each chef.  I tried a shrimp taco recipe, substituting corn tortillas for the jicama tortillas used in the recipe, and it was phenomenal.  There are also beautiful and vibrant photos throughout the book showing pictures of the food, different areas within Mexico, the chefs, fish markets, the ocean, etc.  It’s simply a beautiful book that is well worth the read.
     The writing style is set mostly in a question/answer interview style.  Each section starts with a small paragraph about the next chef and their restaurant/area.  It then gives a 2-4 page interview of the chef, and then 1-2 recipes that are a specialty or favorite of the chef’s.  It’s a very quick and easy read, being only 141 pages in full and some of those pages being either recipes or pictures.  It’s very visually appealing as well.   After finishing this book, I was ready to hop on a plane to Mexico and start a trip traveling from restaurant to restaurant named within the book tasting the foods discussed because everything sounded amazing.  I highly recommend this book to any and all foodies, as well as to those with a passion for cooking.  I hope that there ends up being more than just a Volume 1, as I would LOVE to add the other Volumes to my own collection.
     I personally gave this book 5 stars and will continue to highly recommend it.  🙂