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Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I had put off reading A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC for a while now, for a couple of different reasons. I had some personal reasons involved, some worries that it might be too much like NEVERWHERE, and I actually wanted to let some of the craze die down because hype really kills a book for me and I didn’t want to be caught up in it. I started A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC on audio because I really wanted to listen to Michael Kramer narrate the 2nd and 3rd books (along with Kate Reading) because he’s one of my all-time favorite narrators. It was funny though — I actually preferred the 1st books narrator on a lot of things so that was a surprise! I think he just got those voices all set up in my head and then I couldn’t shake them.

Anyway… I binge read all three books on audio and decided to review them all together instead of one-by-one!

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 24, 2015 by Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 24, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1)

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

This was really good! I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect because I had really enjoyed VICIOUS and didn’t like THE NEAR WITCH (I never finished it) and I also had some personal qualms about starting this book… but I’m really glad that I did because it was actually really enjoyable! I actually enjoyed that some things were set up in book one that weren’t resolved. They weren’t cliffhangers but things that will be important to the plot in future books (I’m pretty sure I know what’s up with Lila) and I like that it wasn’t all resolved in ADSOM so it keeps me pulled to keep reading (even though I would anyway).

That being said…

This was a fantasy world that just totally came together as my kind of book. I LOVE anything with parallel worlds and I really liked how it was incorporated into fantasy instead of just sci-fi. The magic system is really interesting too. It’s not just magic and non-magic… there really are shades of magic and each world has varying degrees of how magic is incorporated and affects its citizens. I am still suuuuper curious about Black London and I kind of hope we journey there in a future book. I just have to know!!

ADSOM wraps up nicely and closes out a story line which is nice not to be left on a cliffhanger! There’s a lot more to discover so I’m sure the next book will get into that and also dip into what spiraled into play here so I thought it was nice on world-building side. There was a solid foundation but there’s still so much more to discover, and everything was nicely built into the story and I didn’t feel any infodumps about this world-system.

I also liked that the romance was slow and steady. Obviously there’s something building between Lila and Kell but it wasn’t instalove and their relationship is built on a friendship — that almost isn’t even a friendship! They butt heads, Lila is stubborn, Kell is kind of a loner (minus his affection for his brother), and yet their sparring and jabs totally work. I do love banter in my book relationships and although this was less flirting and romantic banter, it was just perfect for these two.

I’m actually surprised how much I enjoyed this because I really hadn’t expected to. I listened to the book on audio, having purchased it in an Audible sale, and mostly wanted to listen to the audio because Michael Kramer narrates the second and third books and he is one of my all-time favorite narrators! (Okay, and Kate Reading but Michael is most important.) I actually did like the narrator of this book so I’m not sure how the switch will go, even though I love the narrators of the next books! Steven Crossley is British so it was perfect for a book about Londons and I really enjoyed his narration and will actually go seek out more books that he voices. I didn’t like how he voiced the spell casting (it was much too formal because it wasn’t described as “said”, not anything that had to be so formally announced and pompous) but really that was the only thing I didn’t like about it.

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 23, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 31, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1)

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift--back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games--an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries--a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

Wow, I am so sorry for anyone who read this book when it first came out and had to wait for the third book. That ending was EVIL.

A GATHERING OF SHADOWS was very enjoyable! The beginning was good but the first half sort of felt like a book one instead of a book two. SO much happened in ADSOM that when things slowed down to this pace again instead of continuing on and escalating, it felt a bit like a step back.

The games/competition was really fun, but also felt like a book one thing that could have set up the magic system, worlds, and characters so it didn’t really feel necessary at all for this book. Unless it plays a big part in the third book, I don’t really think it pushed the plot forward much at all. The characters from the neighboring lands don’t seem to directly play an important part in the book and actually, Kell even said it himself that there was a totally different way this could have all played out (that’s vague, I know, but if I say more, it’s definitely a spoiler).

I did LOVE Alucard, who is my new favorite. (I think I just love all privateers. They’re so sassy and are always involved in banter.) And I also loved where Lila and Kell’s relationship went in this book. We had a bit of book-two-forces-the-lovebirds-apart syndrome here but it actually resolved nicely which is better than a lot of books!

Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: February 21, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 6, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1)

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.

And so I say anoshe to this series.

The ending to this book was just beautiful and a wonderful way to wrap things up. I loved the finality of everything and yet the openness to allow the characters to go off and pursue other things. The series was complete and yet there could totally be more books or a spin-off series with more things to come.

I will say, though, that the thing that struck me the most about this book was HOW MUCH happened. It’s the last book in the series so of course things will escalate but there were so many things that could have been put in the second book — like backstories, more world-building, explanations, etc — that felt a little too crammed into the final book when this would have been more suited for the action and not building things up at the same time. I would have loved to have learned more about Holland in AGOS instead of ACOL, as a specific example, and some of the revelations could have been developed in AGOS with a final reveal in ACOL instead of it all happening at once. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the length of the book but it just did feel like a whole lot was flung at me at once, especially in the beginning. It’s not that it was hard to follow but it was a lot to constantly take in.

Definite (mild) spoilers for the series in the rest of the review below so skim to the bottom if you want to avoid them! 

I also still have some questions that weren’t really answered… I understand the unspoken concept of the one black eye for Antari but I also wish that was more directly addressed. I wish we had known who Kell’s parents were and what his name was before he came to the royal family but I understand leaving that one open because who he was is not who he is and he chooses to be present instead of dwelling in the past. I also wanted to know more about Lila’s past, how she lost her eye (it was said to be an accident but I always wondered if it was more to cover up her true nature), and what led her to where she was. There were so many hints that Lila was so much MORE than basically everything but it was never said that she was more than an Antari… so was she more or was she just Antari? Or an exceptional Antari? Or am I just looking for too many answers that I should attain for myself? I figured out that she was Antari pretty much immediately once it was revealed that she was missing an eye but then the actual reveal wasn’t even an event. It just kind of… happened. Like oh yeah, Lila is doing magic now and she’s doing crazy stuff so I guess she’s an Antari and everyone else was just like, okay, guess so. Maybe because Lila does whatever she wants so people weren’t surprised when she broke all the rules anyway, but still. Again, I understand not wanting to go fully into each character’s past and reveal every little thing but just a few words of wrap-up could have left things more final, I think.

Then there were the THINGS with the magic system. I’m a huuuuge magic-system geek and I love learning about all of the rules and what a magician/wizard/whoever can and cannot do. It felt a little inconsistent to me with new abilities popping up where they were convenient. I did like that average citizens of Red London were able to wield magic and how differently it was accessible to the “common” people and also how its accessibility was different from world to world. I did love that Antari were next-level magic users and the only ones who were able to use blood magic to perform extraordinary feats and that they could use every element and not just one or two or three. Does the black eye signify black magic? It seemed like it should due to the story line here but that really wasn’t addressed. Was it a piece of black magic within them or was it just magic and the essence of Black London had just turned bad? Was it a coincidence that the three Antari were from the three different Londons? Was there a Black London Antari and there is only allowed one from each London? Was it a coincidence that the three Antari had three different colored eyes (Lila: brown, Kell: blue, Holland: green)? Was this all planned and the rules of magic or was it all just randomly coincidental? Maybe I’m just naturally too curious but it seemed like these things were rules but never talked about. Maybe the characters don’t even know themselves. I’m just a total sucker for learning as much as I can about a magic system so that really felt incomplete to me. Maybe I’m just spoiled with Brandon Sanderson books that detail everything so much that I’ve eaten it all up and come to expect it in other books. (The Antari reminded me of Mistborn in a way, with their ability to use all types of magic so there was a minor association for me there.)

I also for some reason didn’t totally love the Osaron concept… maybe because I didn’t love the concept of magic taking a human form? I’m not sure. There was just something about it that I didn’t love and something just felt “off” there for some reason. Maybe because it seemed like some sort of a turn in the concepts and I was expecting a different direction regarding the escalation of the black magic. I was also hoping for more time in Black London because I’m just TOO DARN CURIOUS. So I guess most of my disappointments were just hopes and my curious brain demanding more answers!

Despite all of the thoughts I’ve just expressed, I did enjoy the series. I actually think the first book was the strongest in terms of plot and structure and it still remains my favorite. If things hadn’t gotten derailed with the games in AGOS and had continued with strong plot development, I think the series could have been even stronger and more cohesive. All of the books were entertaining and the characters were really just wonderful. I really loved the character dynamics, the personalities, and the wonderful relationships. As a series, I think AGOS just really killed the plot momentum and while it was still highly entertaining, it could have pushed things so much further and more time could have been dedicated in ACOL to tying things up along with the action instead of jamming everything into a final book. I loved every character and the ways that they all interacted with each other and I did think that was so well done. I really connected with each one and just loved the feelings that I got from their relationships. The ending of the series was bittersweet and just the perfect way to say goodbye, or rather, anoshe.

SERIES THOUGHTS

The first book in this series was definitely my favorite. I thought it was the most solid in terms of setting up the book’s overall plot and kicking off the series. I was disappointed with the lack of series development in A GATHERING OF SHADOWS (book two) because of the games involved and that really ended up taking the spotlight. It was still very entertaining but I’m such a world-building nerd that I can’t get enough of it and I don’t feel like things kept developing until the end of the book. A CONJURING OF LIGHT was also still very entertaining but things took a biiiiit of a weird turn for me and mostly, I just wanted more answers about this world. I feel like some were implied, some we could infer, and others were maybe coincidental? I thought things could have shaken out just a bit more to really settle all those burning questions, although the overall wrap up was very nice!

Now I just need to own the series in print so I can put them with my As Travars candle…

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

To my surprise, I really enjoyed this series. I had no idea what I was going to find within these pages (or I guess… audio files in my case) and I think it’s a solid series that could benefit from a little more plot and world-building.

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BOOKS LIKE SHADES OF MAGIC

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) – Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: August 31, 2010 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 7, 2017
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), Snapshot

Speak again the ancient oaths,
Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.
And return to men the Shards they once bore.
The Knights Radiant must stand again.
Roshar is a world of stone swept by tempests that shape ecology and civilization. Animals and plants retract; cities are built in shelter. In centuries since ten orders of Knights fell, their Shardblade swords and Shardplate armor still transform men into near-invincible warriors. Wars are fought for them, and won by them.
In one such war on the ruined Shattered Plains, slave Kaladin struggles to save his men and fathom leaders who deem them expendable, in senseless wars where ten armies fight separately against one foe.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Fascinated by the ancient text namedThe Way of Kings and troubled by visions of ancient times, he doubts his sanity.
Across the ocean, Shallan trains under eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece Jasnah. Though Shallan genuinely loves learning, she plans a daring theft. Her research hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

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I listened to the audiobook of THE WAY OF KINGS and it was quite the long journey (I think it was literally 48 hours, give or take), but I am all about Michael Kramer so it’s totally worth it! It took me over a month to read between audio and print but I did it! My reading time has just been far too short and reviewing time apparently even shorter because it’s taken me three months to put this review together, but here it is!

THE WAY OF KINGS was enjoyable from start to finish but it still doesn’t top MISTBORN as my favorite Sanderson book/series. The beginning was maybe a little slower, the tone more serious, and things really did take some time to develop and get moving. I think I had an unfair preconceived notion about the book because Brandon Sanderson did a reading from book two (a part with no spoilers) at one of his events and so I was picturing a totally different time and place for these characters. I kept waiting for that to come into place and that was not a part of this book so it was hard to get the hang of!

I think my one… “let down” so to speak (I’m not really let down but I can’t come up with a better word right now) of the book is that ALL of the reveals were in the end. So much happened in the last few chapters that it was excitement overload and I would have loved a bit more of that throughout the whole book to keep excitement levels high, but that seems to be an evolution that happens in Sanderson’s later works rather than his earlier ones.

My Sanderson theory that the theme of pretty much everyone of his books (which I can’t share because it’s possible spoiler for pretty much any Sanderson book) seems to hold realtively true so far for THE WAY OF KINGS too! I figured it was coming, especially considering a lot of the world-building from other series but I really like it though! I’m catching on to it so it’s not as much of a shock or twist to see that coming in the ending of THE WAY OF KINGS (well, I guess it kiiiiind of started that way too) but I’m so, so, so anxious to learn more about it!

The characters in this book were fantastic! I LOVED Kaladin and for some reason I was surprised to see what his role was throughout this whole book. I was expecting a Kelsier sort of situation where his history involved a hardship and he ended up with that as a shadow of his past, but really Kaladin’s present ends up being one of his greatest hardships and he’s not on anyone’s favorable side throughout the book (until he takes matters into his own hands and starts to work on those leadership skills). I basically fell a little bit in love with him and I can’t wait to see what his future holds because it looks… bright *snicker*

I also love noble and wise and apparently super important Dalinar. Obviously he’s important as a main character but I loved what his fate ended up being and naturally, I can’t wait to see what happens to him in the second book and where things go from here. Readers are able to guess at what is happening to him throughout the book but I’m not quite sure what it REALLY means yet and why it’s happening to Dalinar.

I wasn’t the BIGGEST fan of Shallan but that’s also because I didn’t really care for her narrator in the audio (not that I have issues with Kate Reading (also how is THAT for an audiobook narrator’s last name!?) but meh. Female narrator. And I love Michael Kramer. A lot.) so I didn’t get into her character as much. I actually find myself not really liking a lot of Sanderson’s female characters except for Vin. I don’t dislike them but I just find the male characters much more interesting and apparently prefer their story lines much better, which is unfortunate because they are strong characters but not ones I seem to connect with. I think part of it is because the women are figuring things out (you go, gals!) and the men are in the action so there’s just a bit more draw to some of those action-based scenes.

I’m also enjoying the new world of Roshar and exploring everything that is has to offer! The cultures/races/people are interesting (especially with some recent reveals) and I love learning about all of the different people and places in Brandon Sanderson’s worlds. Book two looks like it’ll explore that history and creation even more which is totally my fantasy addiction and the reason I can’t put Sanderson books down! I haven’t felt as connected to a world since Scadrial but they’re all quite interesting and I have a feeling I’ll be learning much more about Roshar soon!

I don’t know why I thought this series was only three books so there goes my plan to binge read them all this year……. Well, I guess I can still binge read them (as long as Oathbringer is still on track for later 2017) but I just won’t be finishing the series when I do. Why do I do this to myself??? I’m in the middle of too many Sanderson series. Or rather, he seems to trap us in his series (okay, I’m not really that upset about being in the middle of all of his books) and won’t let us go! Just the waaaaait though. I’m so glad I was able to binge Mistborn because this is going to be a long journey with The Starlight Archive!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Loooong books. I have a hard time picking up chunkers lately because they just take so much time that I don’t have. I’ll do anything for a Sanderson book though!
Left Me Wanting More: Reveals earlier on. I would have loved to get a little more hooked from the start instead of SO many things happening in the end!

Addiction Rating
Add it to your TBR!

Okay, I can’t tell you to read it because not only is the book itself long, but so is the series… so instead I advise you to add it to your reading list!

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BOOKS LIKE THE WAY OF KINGS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

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Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) – Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: June 9, 2009 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 26, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn't like his job, and the immortal who's still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.
Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.
By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.

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I’ve been on a Brandon Sanderson kick for… well, I guess for a few years ever since I read MISTBORN! I’ve slowly but surely been making my way through his entire collection and I picked up WARBREAKER when I was in the mood for some more delicious fantasy! By now, I’ve read a LOT of his books (almost all of them except for The Stormlight Archives) and I actually think this is my least favorite full-length novel that I’ve read from Sanderson so far… but that’s not really saying much since I thoroughly enjoy them all! It’s like saying you have a least favorite Harry Potter book (*cough Chamber of Secrets cough*) even though you rate them all highly.

Even though I was warned that ELANTRIS was slow to set up, I think I felt that more in WARBREAKER. It wasn’t that the book was slow but the majority of the real action is in the last literally 10% is when everything HAPPENS. I knew things were coming since it’s Sanderson (although this is one of his earlier novels… I read them all out of “order”) but I was preparing for some typical twists and surprises that were really right under our noses all along. I still LOVE how there’s a twist and you’re like “Oh, the twist! I’m surprised!” and then SOMETHING ELSE happens that you just totally didn’t see coming because you were so focused on looking for the first twist. I just love when surprises like that and authors keep readers on their toes!

The character development is quite gradual as well. I think Siri grows the fastest since she’s the freest spirit and allows herself to change, but I’d say my favorite transformation is Vivenna. I didn’t really expect a journey from her when the book started (I truly had no idea what the book was even about when I started. I go in blind or mostly blind on a lot of my books for a true experience), so I was surprised to see how big of a role she had in the book and how she really started to figure herself out by the end and discover what she truly wanted and not what everyone else expected of her. I think Vivenna went through the most lows in this book and so many unexpected turns and I really enjoyed getting to know her!

I love the bad guys and the good guys and in typical Sanderson fashion, the question of WHICH IS WHICH had me guessing all throughout the book. Some of the characters are quite naive which leads them to believe the bad guys are one group, and then the book leads you to believe the bad guys are the good guys, and then other things lead you to question everything. I really appreciate how well-crafted WARBREAKER was in this sense! There was some serious plotting to set everything up for so many twists and reveals in the end!

Truthfully, I would have loved for a bit more knowledge on the magic system, how Breaths work, and the history of Idris and Hallendren more throughout the book. It’s not an infodump, not at all, but there is a lot of explanation of everything towards the end and I think I would have loved more historical info throughout the book. I just always appreciate world-building that’s scattered throughout a novel so I really get to know the world as we go. I know some things need to be kept until the ending because it would ruin a twist but my biggest wish is that we had more historical knowledge and more about the magic system. I didn’t realize this was a series when I started it since this book came out over a decade ago, but it looks like Sanderson has plans for more books so I hope that this is something that will be touched upon in future books!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Alyssa Bresnahan
Performance: Very good

I don’t listen to a lot of female narrators outside of my favorites but this one went okay! I don’t know what it is but I just prefer male voices for audiobook narrators. I think the deepness and strength is just more pleasant to listen to than a soft voice or a high-pitched one so I’ve passed on a lot of female narrators. Alyssa Bresnahan did a really good job with this one, though! I was unsure at first but after I while, like any good narrator, I barely noticed her voice because I was so into the character voices and the book itself. I’m not going to actively seek out anything narrated by her but if I happen upon one and it’s a book I want to read, I know I’ll be in good hands!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique magic systems. Seriously, how does Sanderson do this? There are so many different magic systems in his books and it’s SO COOL how he develops each of them. Like, Breaths? How do you even think of something like that? It’s really quite impressive.
Left Me Wanting More: World-building. Sanderon’s books aren’t usually lacking world-building but I did want a BIT more history of the worlds and the magic itself. Since it was so unique, I couldn’t just throw assumptions together and I really wanted more detail!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Gosh, all of Sanderson’s books are great. This is probably my least favorite but still very, very good and I’m excited to continue the series!

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BOOKS LIKE WARBREAKER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

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The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) – Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: May 14, 2013 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 8, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.
As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

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I’ve slowly but surely been making my way through Brandon Sanderson’s entire published works and next up on my list was THE RITHMATIST! For some reason for the longest time, I thought this book was Middle Grade but it’s actually Young Adult, though I see some great potential crossover for those two age ranges, along with the ever-present crossover to Adult since Sanderson’s books are always so clever and well-put together. THE RITHMATIST reads a little younger than Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy (which is also YA) and actually really reminded me of Harry Potter! It was just something about the characters, the structure of the book, and possibly the presence at school that reminded me of Harry Potter and all of the mischief he manages to get into, not to mention the distrust of a teacher and some other secret happenings that really reminded me of Hogwarts in the best way. It is definitely the youngest-feeling book I’ve read from Sanderson (since I haven’t read the Alcatraz series yet) and that is quite notable but I wasn’t put off by it at all since that’s really what I was expecting!

loved the characters in this book. Joel is the main character in THE RITHMATIST and I love his thirst for knowledge, especially when it comes to the Rithmatists. Not being a Rithmatist himself, he has to try to find information in secret since non-Rithmatists are not allowed to learn all of the theory, strategy, and history, but that is Joel’s true passion. As usual, Sanderson creates an excellent core group of characters who are all a little bit misfits. Joel, the wannabe Rithmatist;  Melody, the Rithmatist who couldn’t care less; and Professor Fitch, the pleasant yet out-dated professor make up the main part of this group and it’s so special to watch all of these personalities and strengths balance each other. They work so well together because their relationships are so mutually beneficial… and of course there’s some great banter in their with some clashing personalities that kept me delighted and maintained a lighter tone!

It’s always so interesting to see what kind of magic system Brandon Sanderson chooses for his books. In this case, it’s the power to bring chalk to life as an offensive and defensive course of action. Rithmatists have the power to draw chalk lines or figures and give them basic direction and of course, the way chalk lines are drawn and connected have a very systematic way of behaving. I’m always so impressed with how much thought and effort goes into creating a magic system and I really enjoyed how unique this one was! I’m not sure I loved the concept — I suppose bringing inanimate objects to life is hit or miss for me — so I wasn’t totally crazy about it, but the structure and rules really brought the ideas together and made it a somewhat realistic (albeit, fantastical) concept to follow and understand.

The geography and history were also incredibly interesting, as always! Sanderson chose to mix fantasy and history, creating a time period that felt a little steampunk but had an alternate history incorporating the origin of Rithmatists and how they shaped the world. The course of events changes history completely and even changes geography, breaking up what we know as North America into the United Isles, consisting of a broken apart continent of many islands with various Rithmatist schools throughout the country. There are also some real historical figures who make appearances and in the alt-history concept, affect the world in similar or entirely different ways. It’s quite fascinating and I really enjoyed what Sanderson did with the book! I always find it fun to see “what if”s and see an alternate geography based on a different history.

THE RITHMATIST was just plain fun and I loved its lighter tone. I really enjoy the deep Sanderson novels but this one felt like it was quite a bit lighter and did have a sort of Harry Potter feel — which is to say that it reads potentially younger but is still enjoyable for an audience of all ages. The ending left me just waiting for more and there is confirmation of another book but we might still be waiting a few years for it according to the most recent Sanderson news! Such is the life of a Sanderson fan. (And this is what I get for bingeing all of his works.)

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Michael Kramer
Performance: Excellent overall! One of my favorite narrators

I listened to the book on audio which was fantastic since Michael Kramer, who narrates the entire Mistborn series, also narrates THE RITHMATIST. It’s the first YA book I’ve heard him narrate (actually, the first book besides the Mistborn books) and I think he handled the younger voices really well! Sometimes the younger male and younger female voices weren’t as distinct as his adult voices but he’s just such an enjoyable narrator! I was lacking a few things with the audio, simply because there are diagrams within the book showing different chalk defenses and moves that obviously I couldn’t see since I was listening. They’re all described but obviously you  miss a little bit in that sort of experience! 
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Joel // Character obsessions: Learning, Rithmatic theory, family.
I keep wanting to call it “rithmancy” because of “arithmancy” in Harry Potter… But I don’t think that’s right. Rithmatic theory? I think?
Anyway! Joel was such a fun character. I love characters that are so knowledge-thirsty because they’re the ones always off to the library or hunting for clues to give readers all of the amazing answers and discoveries that I love so much! He was smart, clever, and maybe a little naive but that added to the gentleness of his character and he was so incredibly likable.
Melody // Character obsessions: Unicorns, frivolity, ice cream, the easy life.
Melody is so sassy! She’s an unlikely companion for Joel but they totally work together because they have very different strengths. They really help each other even though they butt heads a lot but I love their banter.
Nalazar // Character obsessions: Dominance, power, scowling.
Nalazar = Snape in the best possible ways and that’s all I’m going to say about that!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Alt-History. Alt-history is SO much fun. I love changing timelines and imagining “what if”, especially when it comes to new geography. This wasn’t my favorite imagination of the “former” North America but it’s always fun no matter what!
Left Me Wanting More: Realistic magic? That’s an oxymoron, I know, but I wasn’t toootally hooked on the chalk concept. I got along with it all right and structured rules always help but bringing chalk wasn’t my favorite magic system.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I’m a true fan of pretty much everything that Sanderson writes and there isn’t really a book of his I wouldn’t recommend. THE RITHMATIST was fun, easy to read, and quite clever.

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BOOKS LIKE THE RITHMATIST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    PETER AND THE STARCATCHES

Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the Ants

MINI REVIEWS

I’ve somehow fallen extremely behind on book reviews (that’s life!) so I’m combining a few audiobook reviews into one post today! Life has been so busy that I’ve been finishing way more audiobooks lately than I have print copies — but I’m always a fan of audios! Here are a few thoughts on 738 DAYS by Stacey Kade, TRICKY TWENTY-TWO by Janet Evanovich, WE ARE THE ANTS by Shaun David Hutchinson.


Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: 738 Days by Stacey Kade
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 7, 2016

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.
Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.
Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he's sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.
To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

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I was in need of a new audiobook when I started 738 DAYS and it seemed the most appealing choice out of my current selection! I had heard a lot of good things about it and although I wasn’t feeling any of my options, this one seemed to be my best bet for my mood at the time. I hadn’t realized it was so realistic/contemporary (I thought it was going to be more thriller/action — ah, the curse of going in mostly blind) but I did enjoy the book! Since I wasn’t in the mood for a serious contemporary novel, I ended up getting a little eye-rolly at some of the mushy parts (it was my own fault!) but 738 DAYS was a really well put together novel.

I thought the characters were quite realistic. I liked the array of emotions from Amanda. I could easily see how the trauma of her past still affected her — and likely would affect her for a long time or even the rest of her life — and yet she was determined not to to get stuck from it and have that trauma hold her life back. I loved her strength and determination. It was nice to see that gusto and not have her be too gung-ho or the type that constantly refuses someone’s help just so she can do something herself. There was a great balance of growth and seeing that moving past this wasn’t easy. I also really liked Chase and that we met him in his days of redemption. I think it’s easier to like a character when the bad stuff is in their past versus watching them go through the periods of self-destruction. It’s easier to distance yourself from that negative side and it was really nice to see Chase already in the process of that change to be a better person. He and Amanda really just clicked together and I liked how easy that relationship felt. I’ll admit that since I was thinking it was a bit more thriller (oops) that I wasn’t really excited about the romance at first (I know, I know, that’s what the whole book was ABOUT) but the great thing is that it totally grew on me. To swing me from not thrilled to totally loving it says a lot!

I’d say this is more of a New Adult title (given age range and sexual content I wouldn’t say it’s YA) and if you’re hesitant about reading New Adult given some of the more cheesy titles that have previously given it a bad name, this is a great place to start! It’ll definitely be one of my New Adult recommendations for people looking to try some.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | 738 DAYS had dual narrators for the two main characters. Andrew Eiden voiced Chase and Shannon McManus voiced Amanda. I didn’t really like Shannon’s voice much but it wasn’t enough that I actively disliked it (which has happened in the past and I’ve turned an audiobook off). Her voice is high and clear, very feminine, but it has kind of that Valley Girl intonation that bothered me a little bit. I did like Andrew Eiden’s voice but I still wasn’t overly in love with his narration. I’d say a solid 3.75 – 4 stars for the narration on this one.


Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 17, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 19, 2016
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2)

Something big is brewing in Trenton, N.J., and it could blow at any minute.
Stephanie Plum might not be the world's greatest bounty hunter, but she knows when she's being played. Ken Globovic (aka Gobbles), hailed as the Supreme Exalted Zookeeper of the animal house known as Zeta fraternity, has been arrested for beating up the dean of students at Kiltman College. Gobbles has missed his court date and gone into hiding. People have seen him on campus, but no one will talk. Things just aren't adding up, and Stephanie can't shake the feeling that something funny is going on at the college - and it's not just Zeta fraternity pranks.
As much as people love Gobbles, they hate Doug Linken. When Linken is gunned down in his backyard it's good riddance, and the list of possible murder suspects is long. The only people who care about finding Linken's killer are Trenton cop Joe Morelli, who has been assigned the case, security expert Ranger, who was hired to protect Linken, and Stephanie, who has her eye on a cash prize and hopefully has some tricks up her sleeve.


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I am loving that the Stephanie Plum books are coming back around to being actual stories that I care about and not just throw-away, silly novels. TRICKY TWENTY-TWO actually had the characters addressing serious issues. We hear talk of marriage and serious commitments, and not in just the silly way of how the characters are usually afraid of commitment or Stephanie’s caught up between Morelli and Ranger. I loved that things got a little deeper and the characters became more real again and not just caricatures of themselves.

The plot was better too! Less crazy, wild animals and more actual cases, bringing that sense of mystery back to the book and not just a silly thriller aspect. I do love these books — they’re fun, familiar, and the audios are SO quick. I’m really glad that they’re coming back around and keep me excited for more! For a while I was starting to grow tired of them (not like I’d quit them!) but I’m really happy that I’m getting that faith back in the series.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | As usual, Lorelai King was a lot of fun! I think she’s really good at all of the different voices (and there are a LOT of distinct ones) and she really brings these books to life. I don’t think I’ve read Stephanie Plum book in print for maybe ten books (or more!) because they’re just so much fun on audio and somehow they go by so quickly!!

Mini-Reviews: Recent Audiobooks | 738 Days, Tricky Twenty-Two, We Are the AntsTitle: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Publishing Info: January 19, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 26, 2016

There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.
Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.
What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.
But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.
The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.


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I hadn’t picked up WE ARE THE ANTS for a while because truthfully, I was afraid of the whole “abducted by aliens” thing. While I will agree that it is a big part of the book, it’s not a main portion of the action. Henry does believe that he keeps getting abducted and that he has the ability to save the world or let it be destroyed but it’s more about the question of his decision than it is about the aliens.

The book is a lot deeper and a lot more realistic fiction than I thought it would be too! Obviously aliens had me believing it was sci-fi but it was really more of Henry’s story, what he was going through since his boyfriend’s suicide, the bullying that’s occurring in his life, and his relationship with his family. It was a heart-achingly beautiful novel, quite realistic and really thought-provoking. It was darker than I had anticipated but there was also a wonderful balance of humor to ease that darkness a little bit. Shaun David Hutchinson did an amazing job and really brought me into a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own (alien abduction is really just a turn-off for me) and I like how that whole idea was incorporated into the book! I was poignant, original, and very well-written.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS | Gibson Frazier was a really good narrator! This is the first time I’ve ever listened something he’s narrated (I have a tendency to listen to my favorites) and he was really great! Sometimes a little monotone but I also think that was a bit of the character so I’m not sure if it was him or Henry. I liked how well he seemed to fit the character and I really enjoyed him in this book. Sometimes I did wish for more emotion but I’d be interested to listen to more from him.

Elantris – Brandon Sanderson

Elantris – Brandon SandersonTitle: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: May 30, 2006 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 12, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.
Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping -- based on their correspondence -- to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.
But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.
A rare epic fantasy that doesn't recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It's also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy. lf.

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Ever since I read MISTBORN a couple years ago, I’ve been obsessed with Brandon Sanderson’s writing. His books launched me into the world of adult fantasy when I had been reading nearly exclusively young adult and I’ve been on a mission ever since to gobble up the rest of his books. Every book I’ve read (and every novella) has been enjoyable and I simply cannot get enough. I took advantage of an Audible deal that had Brandon Sanderson audiobooks on sale so I picked up ELANTRIS and WARBREAKER (which I also hope to read soon) and decided to start with ELANTRIS since it was Sanderson’s first published novel and it’s a stand alone.

ELANTRIS was such a good, solid read. At times it felt a bit lengthy and I was anxious for things to get moving but that could also be because I was listening to the audiobook so it did take me significantly longer than if I was reading it in print. I was “warned” ahead of time that the beginning was a lot of set up and character development and the true action and twists didn’t occur until closer to the end so I was all right waiting for that. I also didn’t mind because the characters were just so enjoyable! Since it’s not as action packed as some of his later books, ELANTRIS is able to really dig into characters and let their personalities shine! Raoden was truly as personable as he was made out to be and I loved Sarene’s independence and strength. Each character really brought the book to life and it was so easy to connect with each and every one of them.

The concept of Elantris and its fall was incredibly interesting. For most of the book, no one really knows why the once godlike inhabitants of Elantris fell and why the Shaod continues to take people, turning them into the “creatures” that the cities fear and quarantine. The world-building and background surrounding these questions impressed me and as always, the big reveal was so satisfying. I was really hoping for a bit more history of the magic system because it was so interesting and complex and I’m always anxious to dig into why and how it works! There is an explanation but I’ve been spoiled with the details that Sanderson includes in subsequent books and so I was seeking so many more details about AonDor! I also hoped for a bit more of digging into the creation myths of the Cosmere but since it was Sanderson’s first published work, there was still so much more to come to play around with what this world was, what drove its magic, and how it connected within the Cosmere. I know ELANTRIS was a stand alone (well, it does have a short story but it’s more of a companion to the novel than a continuation) but I would love to learn so much more about this world! I immediately went digging into the Coppermind (the Wiki for Sanderson’s complete works — it’s incredibly detailed!) to get any more info that I possibly could! All it did was make me want another book detailing this planet’s history even more.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sanderson yet (since I’m finally writing a review for a book that’s not a sequel in a series), the Cosmere is Sanderson’s universe and most of his adult works take place on a different planet in the Cosmere. ELANTRIS is the first book set in the Cosmere and takes place on the planet Sel. Each Cosmere-set series is independent of the others but they all take place in the same universe and therefore share the same (incredibly detailed) history. I won’t get into it because a lot of this was explained with MISTBORN: A SECRET HISTORY, which is meant to be read after the 6th book in the Mistborn series and it could be a little spoilery to say more about the Cosmere since I only just discovered it this far into my Sanderson journey. I will say, though, that I’m constantly impressed with the world-building and I’m obsessed with books that are not series that connect. Sanderson is such a craftsman when it comes to connecting the Cosmere books and it may not always be in the most obvious way but when you make that connection, it’s so incredibly satisfying and it is such a delight to observe as a reader!

ELANTRIS was a book that really stuck with me and I keep thinking about it long after I’ve finished! It didn’t have quite as many historical details or action as some of the first Sanderson books I’ve read but I actually enjoyed that because it’s great to see how Brandon Sanderon’s writing style has changed, evolved, and can differ from story to story. I love that the books can feel so unique and yet still have a typical Sanderson feel that I can identify with. I can’t wait to continue my Cosmere binge later on this year!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible during a sale
Narrator: Jack Garrett
Performance: More books narrated by Jack Garrett, please!

I’m always iffy trying out a narrator that I haven’t listened to before, especially with a favorite author AND an audiobook that’s literally 28.5 hours long. That’s over a full day of my life listening to one person’s voice so it gets intimidating to pick someone new! I’m really glad that I not only liked Jack Garrett but ended up loving him! His narration really embodied each character and each person had their own unique voice. I’m always so impressed with how many different voices a voice actor can do and with a detailed cast of characters, Jack Garrett had no issue making each voice quite unique. His female voices were softer and more feminine but not over the top. Accents were well placed and the general performance of everything was just top notch. I don’t know what other books he’s narrated but I will definitely be seeking out more!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

elantris goodreads

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Raoden // Character Obsessions: Answers, leading, duty, giving.
Raoden was amazing. I loved how he really was so incredibly likable and most of all, I loved that he was so concerned about his people, no matter where he ended up. He wanted to make sure everyone had a purpose and that purpose made them feel useful in a place that might otherwise consume all of their hope. He was a fantastic character to follow and that is one of the sad parts about ELANTRIS being a stand alone… I’d love to spend more time with these characters!
Sarene // Character Obsessions: Damning the man, equality, investigations, justice.
Sarene was strong, independent, and in control. She didn’t care about gender “norms” and just wanted what was fair and right for all, regardless of gender, class, or status. I loved her constant push to empower the women in this book and total disregard for what Arelon considered appropriate. She was an amazing female character and I loved how she dominated this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantasy stand alones. There are so many fantasy series and I don’t often read a fantasy stand alones! I did become a bit greedy and wanted more of this world but it’s also so nice to have this wrapped up and I don’t have to wait years for more books or spend more time continuing a series.
Left Me Wanting More: Details. As I mentioned, the only thing I really craved more of were some details — how Sel connected in the Cosmere, more of its creation story, more info on AonDor and Aons, and how the magic system worked. These are the reasons I think I crave more of a sequel/continuation but the book really is a fantastic stand alone.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I just love Brandon Sanderson and there isn’t a book of his yet that I won’t recommend.

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BOOKS LIKE ELANTRIS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE NAME OF THE WIND    THE WINNER'S CURSE

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) – Susan Dennard

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) – Susan DennardTitle: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard
Publishing Info: January 5, 2016 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Barnes & Noble
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 15, 2016
Related Posts: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1), A Dawn Most Wicked (Something Strange and Deadly #0.5), A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2), Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3)

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.
Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.
Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.
In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

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I wasn’t going to pick up TRUTHWITCH — at least not for a while — simply because of the incredible, months-long hype that surrounded it. To be frank, it really killed my interest for the book and having finished Susan Dennard’s previous series and ending up unimpressed, I wasn’t anxious to dive right into TRUTHWITCH. I was offered a review copy of the audiobook from the publisher and with so many friends who had already given it high praise, I figured it was as good of a time to start as any.

My whole experience with TRUTHWITCH was a rocky one. I started the audiobook and was really enjoying the story but the longer I listened, the more the narrator bothered me. I actually was perfectly fine with her narration of the story but the dialogue was a killer. I couldn’t stand the voices she used for the girls and Safi and Iseult ended up coming off as whiny, immature, and weak. Not wanting this to affect my whole experience, I ended up stopping the audiobook and I purchased a print copy instead.

Things were going okay until I realized I had hit a wall with just about everything. I couldn’t bring myself into this book and I was struggling to pick it back up. I had some serious trouble with the pacing most of all and couldn’t find a good balance between action, world-building, and character development. I ended up feeling like a whole lot was happening but it really wasn’t moving the plot forward at all. I felt no closer to development, a surprise, a turning point, or resolution and it started to get really hard for me to keep reading. Quite frankly, I was bored.

I also really struggled with the world-building. It’s one of my favorite parts of fantasy novels and I absolutely love learning about political and social structures, geography, lore, and history. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities in the beginning to introduced something in passing that gets used later in the book (Sarah J. Maas is a PRO at this) so the reader already has knowledge of what it is and is excited about its involvement in a major plot point. There were so many things that happened towards the end that I didn’t realize were even important until the characters were discussing them. I also would have loved to learn more about each ability/power, why it was important, how it ranked in comparison to other powers, why Safi’s Truthwitchery was so incredibly important, why stasis was so important to Iseult and her powers, the limits to the powers, how people ended up having them, etc etc. Some of these things were touched upon but I just wanted so much more detail and backstory and history that I found it really lacking for my taste.

The characters also really didn’t grab me at all. You’d think two amazing friends and strong girls would immediately hook me but somehow they didn’t. Maybe it was the narration that soured me on this because try as I did, I never really got those voices out of my head and I never got over the fact that I didn’t feel much depth to them. I think I connected more to Iseult than Safi because I had kind of a hard time with Safi’s hard-headedness at times. Instead of strength in Safi, I saw immaturity and a lack of patience.

The romance didn’t really get me either. I really liked the introduction of Merik and the dance scene was GREAT but other than that, I didn’t feel the chemistry. The cute romantic things that came later were just too late and I was already stuggling with the book. The chemistry just didn’t feel natural for me. I had already lost interest in the book at that point and was pretty much racing to finish (I READ THIS FOR A MONTH) so nothing was really interesting me at that point in time and I really just wanted to finish.

I am super bummed that I just didn’t latch onto much of anything in this book. I just felt like the development wasn’t there (I guess for me — so many people loved it so maybe I’m just the black sheep here) and things were introduced with no history so I was struggling to realize what they were and why they were so important. TRUTHWITCH was just sadly not a hit for me. This may be my last Susan Dennard book because I really lost steam at the end of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy and this one didn’t end up changing my mind on what I was missing from Susan Dennard’s first series. I’m not sure hype or persuasion could get me to read another book since I seem to be the unpopular opinion on her books.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

truthwitch gr updates

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Safi // Character Obsessions: Friendship, duty, freedom, honesty. 
I just never quite got on board with Safi. She seemed a bit too hot-headed and/or immature, making decisions hastily. I feel like it’s one thing to get into trouble because it’s cute for the book or it’s that sort of character but it seemed like Safi got into trouble because she ended up putting herself there and it kind of bothered me.
Iseult // Character Obsessions: Friendship, threads, family, honor. 
I connected a bit more to Iseult than to Safi but I still didn’t connect much. I felt like even though we do get some of her history and her past, it was only just a tiny bit and I wanted to spend so much more time getting to know her.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Books with hype. I gave into the hype and ended up reading this one. I think it was a bit too hyped up and that didn’t help but I also don’t think I would have felt differently even if it hadn’t been.
Left Me Wanting More: World-building. I LOVE learning about a fantasy world. I just wanted so much more of this in TRUTHWITCH.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I seem to be the black sheep. There have been a few others who seem to share similar opinions but the vast majority of my friends LOVED this. I’d say check out a few more reviews before you take my word for it.

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BOOKS LIKE TRUTHWITCH

(Click the cover to see my review!)

SHADOW AND BONE    RED QUEEN

The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6) – Brandon Sanderson

The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6) – Brandon SandersonTitle: The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: January 26, 2016 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 31, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot

With The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.
Now, with The Bands of Mourning, Sanderson continues the story. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

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It always seems impossible to find a place to start when reviewing and discussing Brandon Sanderson’s books. I quickly became addicted to the Mistborn series in 2014 and it also opened the door for me to explore other fantasy books and also not limit myself to young adult. I do have to say thank GOODNESS that SHADOWS OF SELF and THE BANDS OF MOURNING were released so close together because the wait is always excruciating. (Seriously. I’m already dying for more.) I suppose the good news it that now I’m caught up on the Mistborn books and I can dive into another one of his series (I’m thinking THE WAY OF KINGS will be my next Sanderson read)!

THE BANDS OF MOURNING really had it all! One thing I kept saying about this new Wax & Wayne trilogy was that I just didn’t feel as connected to the characters as I had with the original Mistborn crew and things really clicked and solidified for me in this book! I had always enjoyed the characters but I felt like THE BANDS OF MOURNING really dug deeper into each character’s back story, emotions, and created strong bonds between each character as well. There were some sweet romantic moments, amazing bromances, and fantastic friendships that I grew to love even more and I loved how well these characters ended up working together. I love books with sort of a zany crew and Wax, Wayne, Steris, and Marasi certainly were an odd group to put together but they blend together so well to form this perfect unit! Wayne never ceases to crack me up and I love the way he plays off of the other characters.

Another thing I loved was how much this really tied into the original trilogy and even things that had happened prior to MISTBORN. There are some deeply-rooted secrets that get revealed and some incredibly world-building moments that always have me wondering how much Brandon Sanderson planned ahead of time and held back. The layers of this world keep on peeling back to reveal more and more and it’s simply stunning to see how much more there is to learn about Scadriel and the Cosmere. It’s also really fun to think about in terms of our world and reality — scientists, scholars, archaeologists, etc are always discovering new things about our history and the unknowns out there in space. It’s amazing to see those same concepts applied to a series! I feel like authors don’t normally go that far into developing a world (or in this case, universe) and I’m so floored with the things that Brandon Sanderson has crafted for the Cosmere.

As usual, Sanderson is the master of huge twists and shocking moments. Obviously I won’t go into detail so as not to spoil anything but the ending of THE  BANDS OF MOURNING is packed full of action, answers to questions, and moments that had me gasping and/or crying. The ending was phenomenal and wait, did this book set it up for a fourth Wax & Wayne book? Needless to say, it kept me on the edge of my seat and cemented my love for this series even more!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Book Universes. I can honestly say that aside from some tampering by gods or a science-fiction setting, this is the first series that really explores a universe, complete with gods, creation stories, history, and so much more.
Left Me Wanting More: Swoons? Honestly, this book is really lacking nothing but I can always use a bit more of a swoon factor. I do like that Wax and Steris really start to come together in this book and they’re kind of perfect for each other. They’re both so level-headed and practical that it really starts to fit.

Addiction Rating
Fall in love with it!

The Mistborn books are just phenomenal. I’m so glad I read them and I will continue to put them in the hands of others!

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BOOKS LIKE THE BANDS OF MOURNING

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE NAME OF THE WIND    THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA

Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) – Brandon Sanderson

Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: October 6, 2015 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 9, 2015
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.
This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.
Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

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SHADOWS OF SELF was one of my most-anticipated reads of the year. I fell in love with Brandon Sanderson’s work over my first read of MISTBORN, became obsessed with his Reckoners Trilogy, and really just can’t get enough of the Mistborn world. SHADOWS OF SELF definitely continued the wild ride in this incredible fantasy world and left me wanting even more!

One thing I noted in my read of THE ALLOY OF LAW was that it was hard for me to switch to a whole new cast of characters since it picks up a few hundred years after the first three Mistborn books. I was hoping to connect more to the characters in SHADOWS OF SELF and I definitely think I got there but I also feel like I’m still not as into them as I was with the characters of the original trilogy. I’m not sure if it’s Wax’s logical and law-abiding nature that’s throwing me off (I love emotional rogues) or the fact that there really isn’t a transition from old characters to new since this takes place so much further after the original timeline but I still wasn’t quite making it to the same level of love as I had with the first three books.

The character connection is really my only “complaint” about these books, though. I just adore Brandon Sanderson’s writing and I’m continuously amazed how things tie together. There are things that were present in the first three or four books that I got answers for in SHADOWS OF SELF and it’s a totally mind-blowing experience because I didn’t even know I was missing a piece of the puzzle until it was exposed. Sanderson is constantly expanding the world, coming up with new ways to build on previous events, adding more aspects to the rules of the magic system, and really just continuing to grow absolutely everything that he’s already established. I love that it all feels natural and whether that was the plan the whole time or he came up with this concepts as he went along, the books really do feel like one big giant piece.

The reveals at the end of the book, as always, were simply amazing. Again, pieces I didn’t even know I was missing popped up and all at once, everything clicked and I was presented with even more questions about everyone’s situation. Ties are made THE ALLOY OF LAW, the Mistborn trilogy, and even things that pre-date MISTBORN. The craftsmanship of these novels is simply remarkable and always leave me wanting more!

There was also a lot more connection to the original books in SHADOWS OF SELF as well which easily made me totally geek out. It was so exciting to see specific characters referenced by name, in specific places, and their legacies found within legends. I was so happy to see so much more of the original trilogy referenced because it really brought even more feelings to the surface.

It’s hard to really get into detail in a review when it’s the fifth book in a series but if you’re reading this review and you haven’t started on the Mistborn books yet, all I can tell you is DO IT. I find it hard to believe that someone can be disappointed with them because everything is just so well done. I’m constantly dying for more and I cannot wait to see how this trio of books closes out!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

shadows of self gr updates

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Wax // Character Obsessions: Honor, law, friendship. 
I think I have a bit more trouble connecting to Wax as a main character simply because he is less emotional. He’s very much a law man and makes decisions with his head more often than his heart. He seems a bit more closed-off and also protects his feelings a lot. I just want to break into that emotional layer juuuust a bit more!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mistborn! Okay, when was I not hooked on it… But really, I’m so glad that this series keeps going. It’s so addicting!
Left Me Wanting More: Emotion. That seems to be the main thing I’m missing… I also don’t always need a romance but I would love it if there was a bit more of it in these books to really key into those emotions!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I will forever recommend these books and this series. I just love Brandon Sanderson’s creative genuis and I can’t get enougH!

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BOOKS LIKE SHADOWS OF SELF

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA    THE NAME OF THE WIND

Mini-Review: Firstborn | DNF Report: Proof of Forever, An Ember in the Ashes, The Eye of the World

It’s time again for a collection of mini-reviews and reports with feedback on a few things that I’ve read recently (or started reading and chose not to finish)!

Mini-Review: Firstborn by Brandon Sanderson | DNF Report: Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
DNF Report: An Amber in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir | DNF Report: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan


Mini-Review: Firstborn | DNF Report: Proof of Forever, An Ember in the Ashes, The Eye of the WorldTitle: Firstborn by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: July 20, 2010 by Tor Books
Source: Read for free on Tor.com
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 29, 2015
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot

Of the son of a High Duke of the interstellar Empire, much glory is expected.
And expected.
And still expected, despite endless proof that young Dennison Crestmar has no talent whatsoever for war. But the life Dennison is forced to live will have its surprising lessons to impart-

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FIRSTBORN is a bit misleading for a title if you’re a fan of Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy (and companions). It actually has nothing to do with that series whatsoever so don’t be too surprised if you start this and feel totally lost! I actually did know that it was not related when I first started reading but I still felt lost in the beginning of FIRSTBORN. I’ve read all of the Mistborn books published to-date and a few Sanderson novellas plus his YA series, The Reckoners, and yet reading a new story from Sanderson, I never quite know what to expect.

Since this was an independent short, it was a bit hard to just jump into the story where it began. It’s quite a different world from anything I’ve ever read from him so it took me a while to adjust to the feel, the characters, and the general conflict. The story was interesting once I got a firm grasp on it but I think the world building and character development would have really benefitted from a full novella instead of just a quick short.

I wasn’t totally in love but there were some really nice twists packed into a very short story! That’s one thing that Sanderson always seems to accomplish. I wasn’t wholly satisfied with the way the story closed but overall, it was enjoyable. I think I had wished for more since it didn’t quite wow me but I’m glad I read it!


Mini-Review: Firstborn | DNF Report: Proof of Forever, An Ember in the Ashes, The Eye of the WorldTitle: Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
Publishing Info: June 2, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Time Travel
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 27, 2015 | DNF at approx 25%

Before: It was the perfect summer of first kisses, skinny-dipping, and bonfires by the lake. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe knew their final summer at Camp Okahatchee would come to an end, but they swore they’d stay friends.
After: Now, two years later, their bond has faded along with those memories.
Then: That is, until the fateful flash of a photo booth camera transports the four of them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed.
Now: The girls must recreate the past in order to return to the present. As they live through their second-chance summer, the mystery behind their lost friendship unravels, and a dark secret threatens to tear the girls apart all over again.
Always: Summers end. But this one will change them forever.


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When I first heard about this book, I was REALLY excited for the concept. I always love time-travel novels so I was really anxious to pick this one. Looking back, I probably should have thought about this a bit more… It’s not so much time travel as traveling back into one’s past. The time travel elements I seem to enjoy the most are individuals who physically move through time (so for example, like Back to the Future when even if you travel back/forward in time, there is still a past-you who exists in that time period). PROOF OF FOREVER was much more like (in fact, almost identical to) the Hot Tub Time Machine concept — going back into one’s own past and actually reliving that chain of events as oneself instead of being able to view it as an outsider. Long story short, this concept just felt incredibly cheesy and kind of irritating to me as a reader.

I actually loved Hot Tub Time Machine but the concept worked for me, I think, because it was a comedy. It’s poking fun at itself (I mean, how goofy is that) so it all just sort of works. PROOF OF FOREVER has a contemporary feel but it’s much more on the serious side so without that humor, the concept really just fell flat for me and I couldn’t help but make comparisons to the movie the whole time I read. I really tried not to but there were too many parallels that really stood out for me.

The book also read very young for me. Each girl’s voice sounded a lot younger than… 17? 18? And I’m of course assuming each girl will learn some valuable life-lessons and to grow throughout the book, but they were really hard to relate to in the beginning and I didn’t feel the desire to witness that change. The four different POVs also felt very unnecessary. The different voices were all written in third person so it felt awkward to have that POV shift. It sort of felt like it was originally written in first person and then was changed to third? It works for some books but it just didn’t seem like the right choice for this one (or at least it just didn’t work for me).

I found myself not enjoying the writing really at all and I didn’t really care to see what happened to the characters. I was discussing with someone else who was reading at the same time and ended up getting the rest of the scoop from her to see if I even wanted to continue and I’m kind of glad I didn’t. This one just was not the right match for me.


Mini-Review: Firstborn | DNF Report: Proof of Forever, An Ember in the Ashes, The Eye of the WorldTitle: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir
Publishing Info: April 28, 2015 by Penguin
Source: ALAMW15, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 5, 2015 | DNF at approx. 25%

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


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This was a tough decision for me. There’s been lots of hype about this book — even before its release — and I was so excited for Steve West and Fiona Hardingham to narrate that I pre-ordered the audio. I NEVER pre-order an audio. Ever. I was so excited to listen to them narrate, claiming I could listen to them read the phone book and I would still just love the sound of their voices… But then I went and ate my words because I just didn’t feel the desire to keep listening to this book even with two of my favorite narrators bringing it to life. (There’s also possibly the issue that I LOVED Steve and Fiona so much in The Scorpio Races that they will always be Sean and Puck to me so it was just too hard to adjust to them narrating something new.)

I think I could have fallen in love with the audio and adjusted to my favorites narrate something new but… really the story wasn’t grabbing me either, and if you don’t get along with the heart of the story, there’s really no hope for narrators saving it. I actually really loved the first couple of chapters. The beginning was exciting, lively, and suspenseful.. but from there my interest waned and somehow the sharpness of the book started to slowly dull.

I didn’t really like either of the main characters very much. Laia seemed very blah and one-dimensional and it seemed like her personality flip-flopped a lot. She went from being paralyzed with fear to being take-charge. She was terrified and then brave. I suppose that is how real life works and we force ourselves into situations when life makes us do so but the transition or decision to go from terrified to brave just didn’t feel natural. It seemed like a light switch was flipped instead of seeing that internal conflict and Laia pushing herself to work past her fear.

Elias was all right but again, seemed very blah to me. He was excellent, he was special, and of course all he wanted was to be normal. To NOT be where he was, to not be related to who he was… Of course things go deeper than that but it felt like Laia was exactly one side of the spectrum and Elias was Laia’s exact opposite. She felt weaker, he felt stronger. She was outcast, he was in the midst of the elite. They felt a bit too polarized and it just sort of irked me.

I also wasn’t a fan of a few of the plot points. Too many things felt familiar or tired, like I had read it all before. I made some direct parallels to other books and other things just seemed to convenient. (Oh look, a random prophecy that came out of nowhere! And of course it involves the boy who doesn’t want it! And it comes with very, very specific rules! How convenient!) I just felt like I had read it before and it was done better.

I really struggled to put this one down because so many people had loved it… But I shared my feelings on social media and found that there were a lot of people who really didn’t as well. The ones who felt similarly to the way I was feeling said it really didn’t get much better for them. Others said they chose to DNF as well. I was hoping I could get back into the story but I think I would continue to have the same issues. I just think this book wouldn’t get much better for me so I should devote my reading time to something I would enjoy more.


Mini-Review: Firstborn | DNF Report: Proof of Forever, An Ember in the Ashes, The Eye of the WorldTitle: The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan
Publishing Info: November 15, 1990 by Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 5, 2015 | DNF at approx. 40%

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

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I picked up THE EYE OF THE WORLD for a couple reasons — firstly that Alyssa was loving it and she’s been giving me great fantasy recs lately and secondly that Brandon Sanderson eventually picked up this series after Robert Jordan’s death. Where I went wrong though is that Alyssa actually didn’t recommend this one to me. She and Amy were reading it and I wanted to join in the fun too but I didn’t realize she had a very good reason for not recommending it to me too. It’s just not a Brittany book.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the book but it’s just not my type of pacing, really. It felt slow and I even through the action scenes, I never really got into it. Part of it is that it’s the whole “journey” concept. It’s been compared to The Lord of the Rings (I guess) in that sense and that was one of the reasons I really couldn’t get into that series either (yes. It’s true). I’m not sure why that’s one of my issues but there’s something about it that prevents me from really getting into the book.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t liking the story but it always felt like it dragged. And for a 30-40 hour audiobook to drag. Ummm, that’s not good. I took the time to make it all the way to 40% and finally put it on hold after much debate. Then FINALLY four months later, I decided it’s time to DNF. I don’t have the heart to continue with the book and I shouldn’t have to PUSH to finish when I’m not enjoying it. This series is HUGE so what’s the point of pushing to finish a book if I’m not even going to continue the series? Just seems silly.

Again, not a bad book but I should have opened my ears before choosing it and not just picking it up because I didn’t want to be left out in my group of friends. SILLY. Also another case of a favorite narrator not being able to save a book. Don’t rely on that, friends. It doesn’t work.


Have you read any of these yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I know there were soooo many mixed reviews about AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. Do tell!