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Review – Magic Study (Study #2) by Maria V. Snyder

 

Magic Study (Study #2)

by Maria V. Snyder

SummaryA lesson in loyalty, a master class in intrigue

So far, I’ve managed to survive. You would think after being kidnapped as a child, imprisoned in my teens and released to become a poison taster, I would have endured enough. But no. The discovery of my magical abilities, powers forbidden in Ixia, has resulted in an execution order. My only chance is to flee to Sitia, my long-lost birthplace.

But Sitia is unfamiliar. I’m treated like an enemy, even by my own brother. Plus I can’t control my powers. I want to learn about my magic, but there isn’t time. A rogue magician has emerged and I’m targeted as his next victim.

Will my magical abilities save me…or be my downfall?

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

Magic Study has some mixed reviews and I think it’s primarily due the abrupt setting change and lack of familiar characters with no plan to return to the original setting. Yelena was no longer allowed to remain alive in Ixia at the end of Poison Study and she left with Irys to the south to find her family and learn more about her magic. It is rightly titled Magic Study in the same way that the first book was named Poison Study. It was a bit disappointing to not have Valek front and center, but I was curious enough to continue. 

(For anyone put off by Valek’s absence, I will say that he does make an appearance at some point, so it’s not without it’s moments between Yelena and Valek. I think, especially since Yelena is so similar to Celaena in Throne of Glass, people may have worried about a love interest shift. No need to worry!)

I enjoyed Magic Study, although Yelena’s I-Can-Tackle-Anything attitude was becoming more reckless than helpful, but I think she had/has to fail in order to teach herself to be patient and also she needed/needs to push herself to show others that she is more than capable. She came into the magic game late and was behind, so very few people seemed to grasp that she was more than capable of helping, even if she didn’t know how to formally do whatever it is with her magic that needed to be done.

Some reviewers have mentioned the fact that all of the villains seem obsessed with rape and torture and it’s excessive, but I feel like it fits in a fantasy setting and with Yelena being so outspoken and powerful, she draws unwanted attention from villains who would be of that type. It fits for me and doesn’t seem like it’s over the top. And I love that Yelena has learned how to overcome her past and help others heal and realize that they aren’t responsible. There are some great messages there and I think it fits and is relevant to the setting, the characters, and the growth that Yelena has experienced from the beginning of the story. 

I also love that Yelena’s homecoming was nothing like I assumed it would be. I’m glad that her clan and family welcomed her because I was afraid they wouldn’t, but I’m glad that there was a bit of a complication with Yelena’s brother. I like when things aren’t neat and tidy and a homecoming that brought everyone together would seem just a little too neat to me. I like the messiness of the guilt and hatred and shame that Lief seemed to have towards her because it seemed a bit realistic to me. 

Magic Study felt different from Poison Study in many ways, so I understand why there are many mixed reviews. It’s not really more of the same, which is what people normally expect from sequels. But I like the change in scenery and characters. I liked seeing Yelena discover her past and her abilities. It seems like the series will expand on her character throughout each book and I’m enjoying the journey. 

Star 4

Throwback Review – Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder

 

Poison Study (Study #1)

By Maria V. Snyder

REREAD

SummaryMurder, mayhem and magic…
Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman’s noose.
But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia’s food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander’s food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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Review:

**** Originally posted Mar 2016****

Poison Study was great! I absolutely loved the story. In some ways, it was similar to Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which is great because I’m constantly on the lookout for books of that caliber. Yelena was a prisoner and was to be executed for murder. Under the military regime, things were even, yet not necessarily fair in the way that we understand fairness. Murder was wrong, regardless of why you did it, even if you had a good reason. It was the same for everything. Punishment was to be exacted for every infraction, even not wearing your uniform to work, regardless of why. However, the next prisoner on the chopping block was meant to have the opportunity to be a food taster for the Commander. Luckily, Yelena was next in line and was given a shot at life, with restraints.

Yelena was a likable character. She was fierce, but good at heart. She learned poisons under Valek, who taught her what to look for and what the effects were to various types of poison so that she could effectively do her job. The Commander was always under some threat of murder and poison, so Yelena had to taste everything. Her position was, of course, one with a very high mortality rate.

The book was full of magic and mayhem, with lovable characters. I cared about each of Yelena’s friends and people who attempted to help her. While I disliked the way the regime was set up, I understood why it was so drastic after the way magicians ran the kingdom previously. I also respected Commander Ambrose. He was soft when he needed to be and seemed to trust Valek, who extended that trust onto Yelena.

I enjoyed the slow romance in the book as well and I liked that it wasn’t all front and center, but kind of played out in the background.

I definitely recommend Poison Study and I will read the sequels. It was a beautifully written and enchanting YA fantasy and I can’t wait to find out what will happen to Yelena next.

 

REREAD 2017 Updates: I decided to reread the book so I could recap before starting the sequel and I still loved it just as much as the first time! It’s kind of a nice story to read if you’re looking for something like Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas because Yelena and Celaena have some similar traits and backgrounds. 

 

Star 4

Review – Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Till Death

By Jennifer L. Armentrout

SummaryIn New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout’s gripping new novel, a young woman comes home to reclaim her life—even as a murderer plots to end it. . . 

 It’s been ten years since Sasha Keaton left her West Virginia hometown . . . since she escaped the twisted serial killer known as the Groom. Returning to help run her family inn means being whole again, except for one missing piece. The piece that falls into place when Sasha’s threatened—and FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade ago.

 First one woman disappears; then another, and all the while, disturbing calling cards are left for the sole survivor of the Groom’s reign of terror. Cole’s never forgiven himself for not being there when Sasha was taken, but he intends to make up for it now . . . because under the quirky sexiness Cole first fell for is a steely strength that only makes him love Sasha more.

But someone is watching. Waiting. And Sasha’s first mistake could be her last.

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Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

Review:

This is going to be an unpopular opinion and one that I hate to give considering how much I typically love JLA books, but Till Death was awful. Maybe it’s just that I do enjoy mysteries and thrillers and have a pretty high expectation for the writing, but the book was seriously lacking in just about every way. 

The writing felt very juvenile, which I never really notice in her YA books or NA romances. I typically like the quirky and funny characters and writing, but it was out of place in romantic suspense. It felt like in order to tone the quirkiness down, the author decided to make the main character very soft spoken and similar to a doormat to convey the serious nature and the fact that she was damaged. But seeing “…” in literally every line of her dialogue just made me want to throw the book.

I figured out who the killer was at the very beginning because, unlike the main character, I wasn’t completely naive or blind to the world around me.

The romance was perhaps the best part because that’s what JLA is good at, but I was already over the main character to appreciate any of it. I would expect an FBI agent to have a higher bar set for his love interest and just don’t understand what the appeal of a cowering and stammering girl could possibly be. I just feel like she reminded me of a deer caught in headlights, all wide eyed and unable to figure out how to move in life. 

I can’t say I’d recommend the book at all. I think there other New Adult and romance authors who tackle mystery and suspense much better. As a lover of thrillers, this book just made me roll my eyes. It wasn’t suspenseful or thrilling at all, but perhaps if you’re used to reading nothing but new adult romances, then it might seem better.

Star 2

 

Review – The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

 

The Sun is Also a Star

By Nicola Yoon

SummaryNatasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Source: I received a signed hardcover in an Uppercase.

Uppercase_November_Unboxing.jpeg

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Review:

The Sun is Also a Star was a beautiful story. It was about love, chance, science, poetry, and those little moments that turn into big ones. It’s been on my shelf for months because I just didn’t know if it was the kind of contemporary for me since I’m so picky, but I’m glad I read it.

The Sun is Also a Star was what I wanted The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith to be. Natasha and Daniel met in this weird twist of fate one afternoon in New York City and somehow ended up spending the day together while they both worried about their futures. In one day, so much changed for both characters.

Natasha was a Jamaican immigrant and her family was being deported the following day. She was the kind of person who used to be full of dreams and turned away from them in favor of cold hard science. She was being deported because her dad, who never made it big as an actor, got a DUI and drew attention to his illegal status. Daniel was a Korean-American getting ready for his college admission interview. He loved poetry, but his family was extremely focused on his career path. He had to become a doctor and he had to go to a good college. The two characters were as opposite as they could possibly be, but they somehow met and crossed paths throughout the day, mostly due to Daniel’s persistence. 

I loved the format of the book. It bounced from Natasha’s point of view to Daniel’s, but also included brief POVs from other people, like their parents, a person they just crossed paths with, or a brief description about a word or a scientific process that was relevant to the story. It worked really well and made the story more of an experience for me. I feel like I learned a lot about both the Korean and Jamaican cultures and some of that was because the story stepped out of Natasha and Daniel’s shoes for a minute to describe something or go on a tangent about a cultural thing. 

I teared up multiple times because I felt so connected to the characters. I felt very invested in their story. The whole time I was reading, I just kept thinking that this was a story I wanted, the reason I bought The Geography of You and Me, and I had it sitting on my shelf this whole time! The only reason I didn’t rate it five stars was because of the abruptness of the ending. We spent all this time with the characters and then it just sort of glossed over everything after the day they spent together and didn’t explore what happened next quite as much as I’d hoped. But I kind of liked the way it ended at the same time. My conflicted feelings just lead me to rate it 4 stars for now. 

Star 4

Review – Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1) by Rachel L Demeter

 

Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1)

By Rachel L Demeter

SummaryExperience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

* * *

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy

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Review:

Despite reading a Beauty and the Beast retelling recently and deciding that they really just aren’t for me, something about this synopsis made me pick the book up. I am drawn to the themes of Beauty and the Beast, so I figured I’d try another retelling. I loved that it also included some Phantom of the Opera themes, promising a haunted Beast, but one that was still human.

Beauty of the Beast was not YA, but it also wasn’t incredibly sexual, either. There were some moments, especially towards the end, but it wasn’t like a smut filled Beauty and the Beast retelling, either. I liked that the story felt like it had some mature characters and less magic involved, especially since Adam was human. 

Prince Adam was a captivating character. He watched his family suffer during a massacre that he survived, but he let the world thing he was dead. His castle was crumbling and cold, as was what was left of his humanity after the event. I could tell he was suffering and wanted to know more. Isabelle was much like the Belle most of us are all familiar with, but her “Gaston” was a much bigger nightmare for her. Her imprisonment in the castle wasn’t necessarily the worst option for her, even when she assumed Adam was the villain. 

I thought both characters came together well and realized how much they had in common. Some of my favorite aspects and scenes from the original tale have a place in the book, but it was different and intriguing because I honestly wasn’t sure what would happen since the book changed the relationship between Belle and her family in many ways. 

I loved that the story kind of did what Beastly did, but in a better way to get the message across. In Beastly, it was a form of magic and punishment disfiguring the “beast” and it was about learning to see past beauty (which was cool, but somehow ruined the message when the guy gets to be hot again after learning a lesson). But in this one, the beast truly was scarred by the massacre of his childhood, marring much of his body. He didn’t think he was worthy of being in society or love, giving into baser instincts. Isabelle found beauty within him and truly saw him as beautiful in the end because of who he was. There was no magic “ta-da” suddenly he’s super hunky with no scars and I LOVED that aspect. It felt more real.

If you are a fan of Beauty and the Beast retellings, I definitely recommend this one. It was one of the few I actually enjoyed more than I thought I would.

Star 4

Review – A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

By Sarah J Maas

SummaryLooming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

I absolutely love this series. And Sarah J. Maas. This was another brilliant five star book that had me twisted into a ball of emotions the whole time. I was on the edge of my seat with so much hanging in the balance. There were alliances, court scheming, plots, betrayals, quests, romance, adventure. I think ACOWAR is even more complex than the second book with the political plots and bargains and favors. 

I love how Maas creates characters that end up growing and changing. Comparing ANY of the characters in ACOTAR to the ones in ACOWAR would show just how much they’ve all been affected by the events of the world. Feyre did a lot of her growth in ACOMAF, but in ACOWAR, we got to see her strut her stuff as High Lady of the Night Court and truly flaunt her power. I will always love the romance between her and Rhys because they just believe in each other, lean on each other in times of need, and never let their worry stop them from letting each other do what needs to be done. I love villainous and terrifying love interests, but I melt even more when they treat their romantic leads as equals and believe in them. And it really doesn’t happen as often as it should in romance, so I can’t get enough of Rhys and Feyre. They are both so full of compassion and yet rippling with terrifying power. 

But while ACOMAF was more focused on the romantic tension between Rhys and Feyre to some degree, ACOWAR was definitely more about introducing more of the rest of the characters and their stories along with the threat of war, and so there was a lot going on. For anyone who was sticking through it just to get more romance, while I think ACOWAR has a lot of great romantic moments, it definitely wasn’t quite the same kind of story. This book wasn’t just the two of them soaring through the night and stealing moments, but of them covered in blood and sweat and leaning on each other because they just couldn’t stomach the battle without each other. Which was better to me, but might not satisfy people who crave romantic tension. 

I don’t know what to say without spoiling the many twists and turns in the plot. The story started in such a different place than it ended, with a host of various schemes and problems along the way. But I LOVE this series so much. It brings real fantasy elements and real character growth to YA that I just don’t see often enough in other books. It is rare that books touch upon the strength it takes to recover from traumatic events, the love that is real and makes us better people, the friendship between people who are good to each other, and the complexities of the Fae world. There are layers upon layers to everything in the series and none of it feels contrived or lazy or predictable. The characters are amazing and I just loved every second. 

I can’t wait to see where the series will go after this, but I’m also glad to get some closure, too, which is what I have not yet gotten from the Throne of Glass series. 

I highly recommend the series and this book was as good, if not better, than the second in the series, so it did not disappoint. I truly cannot comprehend anyone not loving this series if they are into fantasy and Fae lore at all, unless it has to do with the more mature violence and romance being off putting for people who stick to YA for the cleanliness. This series is definitely mature, but not quite as graphic as adult romance. I highly recommend it.

Star 5

Series Reread, Book Tour, Etc: A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Sarah J Maas

 

With the release of A Court of War and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J Maas in early May, I was so excited to reread the existing books. I was also able to attend a book signing for the ACOWAR Tour in Connecticut before I moved across the country. 

My original reviews of book 1 and book 2 are still exactly how I feel, so I didn’t bother writing any reread thoughts. 

I think reading A Court of Thorns and Roses was a bit different because I knew what would happen in book two for the first time, but I still found myself drawn in the parallels to Beauty and the Beast, even if I knew the Beast wouldn’t be right for the Beauty in the story. I still loved watching it all unfold, but I did pay extra attention to the section of the story that took place Under the Mountain in preparation for the book two reread. 

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR #1) Review

 

A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR #2) Review

 

 

 

A Court of War and Ruin (ACOTAR #3) Book Tour!