Tag Archives: Fantasy

The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea – Erin MorgensternTitle: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Penguin Random House, Doubleday Books
Source: Amazon
Genres: Adult, Magical Realism, Fantasy
Date Completed: September 2, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Night Circus, The Night Circus

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

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THE NIGHT CIRCUS is one of my favorite books and I’ve been waiting so long for a new Erin Morgenstern book that I was SO NERVOUS for THE STARLESS SEA! I also have a tendency to hype myself up and sometimes overhype myself for some of my favorite books so it was quite the effort to let myself get immersed in the book and not get ahead of myself! Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about because Morgenstern’s master prose easily wrapped me inside of the pages of this book and I was instantly swept away.

THE STARLESS SEA is basically a love story to books, reading, writing, and anything literary. There are so many amazing quotes about books and literature here that it was easy for me to love on so many different levels, but it wasn’t just about the characters being book lovers. The concept of stories made up this book on a magical level, adding fantastical elements to storytelling in the real world. It’s really kind of impossible to describe but Morgernstern once again nails that dreamy element of magical realism that lets you peek behind the curtain into the magical undercurrent of the normal world. It’s truly mesmerizing and it was such an incredible thing to read.

There’s quite an array of characters in the book, all of which were lovable, really. All of them have their flaws but I absolutely loved following the story of main character Zachary Rawlins. He sort of reminded me of a Quentin-type character (from The Magicians) except not quite as tragic and not quite as… erm… whiny, I guess (sorry, Q. It’s a common complaint). He’s a book-lover, has a studious mind, is a little more reserved, and just has something about him that reminded me of Quentin, which is funny considering I read later on that Erin Morgenstern actually kind of borrowed the concept of the bee-key-sword combination from Lev Grossman and The Magicians!

It’s kind of funny how THE STARLESS SEA seems to leave me wordless and tongue-tied when it’s so beautifully written but it’s slightly indescribable and so hard to review! I think the beauty of the book speaks for itself. I loved the stories within the story that linked back to different stories that represented things in real life which were also magical. (See? Impossible.) Everything just folded back in on itself and connected so perfectly and it was a truly wonderful read.

 

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Bookish magic. Can it really get much better than magic inspired by and revolving around books and stories? I don’t know if it can.
Left Me Wanting More: Time with the ending. There is a point in magical realism books where I have a hard time merging the fantasy and reality and that point in THE STARLESS SEA really came towards the end for me. I just wanted a biiiiit more time to spend with some of the magical elements to really feel grounded with them and know that this was real.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I know that this book isn’t for everyone BUT if you enjoy magical realism or think you might get along with this book, I do highly recommend it! The writing is definitely more etherial.

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BOOKS LIKE THE STARLESS SEA

             

Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Amazon, Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Date Completed: November 6, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints

The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .

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I was super excited but also super nervous to read CALL DOWN THE HAWK! I knew I’d love it but I was also scared to read about new characters and have some focus away from the Gangsey. Thankfully I was able to jump in and start listening to the audiobook right away, super excited that Will Patton was back for the CALL DOWN THE HAWK audiobook too!

I’ll admit that it was a little different and maybe slightly difficult to adjust to the new character POVs in CALL DOWN THE HAWK. It wasn’t a bad thing but I’ve re-read The Raven Cycle so many times now that I got used to the different voices there, including those that weren’t the main characters. I had to re-learn how to adjust to a new character AND how to adapt to the new story line that she brought to this new series which again, wasn’t bad but different. I definitely enjoyed Hennessy and the concept of a new Dreamer with a different story very much!

What I really loved above all else was how this series continues in the same world but it’s its own series. It’s one thing I love about Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse and Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. Now Maggie has… the Dreamerverse? The Raven Cycle established this world, these characters, and this magical ability and CALL DOWN THE HAWK just expands upon this idea even more. Like many other great fantasy authors, Maggie Stiefvater continues to reveal history and backstory like it truly is history and was always there. The new things we find out about existing characters continue to astound me and fold in seamlessly to her existing canon. We get to know side characters like Declan Lynch, who become main characters and expand depths upon depths that we never knew existed. Who knew that curmudgeonly, blah, controlling Declan had so many reasons to be so and there was so much more to him than we realized? I adored getting to know more about him in this book which was quite the surprise!

Of course I loooooooved reading more about Ronan and it was even interesting to see more about Adam peripherally through his POV. I actually liked that this focused more on Ronan and the Dreamer side of the story over Adam’s POV and how he was involved in the Gangsey side of The Raven Cycle. The separation made this more of its own series too, allowing new characters to become the focus and take us into the story. Adam’s story wrapped up in THE RAVEN KING and we do see a new character arc come into play, but now that’s more to do with Adam discovering who he wants to be and what he wants to do with his life for the first time and doesn’t really have to do with the magical elements of Ronan’s life. He’s able to be there for Ronan as someone who knows and understands what he goes through but he also needs to lead his own life and write his own story. It makes it interesting to see all of that from Ronan’s perspective too.

There’s so much that happens in this book that I feel like I already forgot so much but it was so interesting. Like The Rave Cycle, I immediately just wanted to stop and re-read… but I forced myself not to. I will definitely do a re-read again next year (starting with THE RAVEN BOYS and finishing with CALL DOWN THE HAWK) and I can’t wait to read this book again knowing what I know. I feel like it’s been so long since I read a new book in this world (three years since THE RAVEN KING?!) and it’s so special to be able to read something new with super fresh eyes and I’m equally excited to read it again and pick up everything new that I missed the first time around. You know it’s a fantastic book when you already can’t wait for the subsequent re-reads.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Dreamerverse. Yeah, I made it up, but that’s what I’m gonna call it! I looooved being able to read a new book in this same world but also have it be something that felt like its very own.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection in the beginning. The thing about these books is that they’re perfectly laid out. It took me a while to adjust and connect in the beginning BUT when I re-read, I won’t have that problem. These books and series are just so perfect but for me at least, I have to be so fully immersed in the world that things are even better on the re-read than the first read. I wished I had been able to instantly connect more but I know I’ll be in so deep with the next book and the next read.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

You MUST read the original series first, in my opinion. If you want to read the series independently of one another…… I guess you COULD read CALL DOWN THE HAWK first but I really, really wouldn’t recommend that. But if you did love The Raven Cycle, you should absolutely read CALL DOWN THE HAWK and get sucked into this new series!

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Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) – Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) – Sara RaaschTitle: Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raasch
Publishing Info: October 14, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Amazon, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: December 9, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

bookreview1

I’ve had SNOW LIKE ASHES on my TBR for forever (I think quite literally four years) but I had tried the audio and didn’t like the narrator so I decided to wait until I was ready to read the print copy. I finally got around to picking this one up and it both went as I expected and I was surprised I enjoyed it!

Reading so many YA novels, some of the themes and writing styles can really kind of blend together to feel like one large book. While SNOW LIKE ASHES still did have that similar feel, I also feel like it branched out a bit in ways I didn’t expect regarding the magic system and a couple of interesting twists. I did see some of that coming but it was also still done in a way that was pleasing and somehow still surprising. In some small ways, it reminded me of the overall concept of the Mistborn trilogy (thought not quite to the crazy world-building extent that Brandon Sanderson takes things), but that really made me want to keep reading the series.

I also really liked the relationships in this book! I thought once things started shifting, it would start feeling like a love triangle, but it really didn’t. It felt like a natural shift in Meira’s life and a shift in her emotions as she starts to figure out who she really is and how she might help out in this world and it didn’t feel like she was trapped in a triangle at all. I started to really love Theron so I hope we see a lot more of him in future novels!

There were a couple patches that felt a little off as I was reading but things ended up coming around in the end to fit nicely together. I didn’t love some of the places the book went but it all ended up being necessary which made me feel better about it in the finale. This is definitely a series I’d like to continue soon!

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Kept Me Hooked On: A fun, original fantasy world. I really liked this fantasy concept revolving around seasons! There were a few more aspects to it but I thought it was really neat and I enjoyed the different ways the kingdoms were formed.
Left Me Wanting More: Continuity. There were a couple places where I felt things could have flowed better bu it was still fun overall!

 

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Addiction Rating
Try it

I really had fun reading this one! I still didn’t LOVE it where it was like “this is amazing” but it was an enjoyable first book in a series and I’d like to continue reading!

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BOOKS LIKE SNOW LIKE ASHES

             

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) – Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) – Samantha ShannonTitle: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon
Publishing Info: August 20, 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Date Completed: December 1, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant - and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine into the world of fiction. It also introduces Samantha Shannon, an extraordinary young writer with huge ambition and a teeming imagination, who has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

bookreview1

THE BONE SEASON is an incredibly interesting book and it’s also very complicated. I had first started to read this via audio a few years ago and the audiobook narrator was just sooooo boring that I ended up returning it and I never came back to continue on until now. I’m definitely glad that I read this one and Samantha Shannon sure packed in a whole lot of new and exciting information!

The world-building was incredibly interesting and EXTREMELY detailed. So much so that it was a little hard to sort everything out in my head, even with a full chart in the front of all of the abilities. There were just a lot of new names with seven different abilities PLUS the whole concept of being a voyant in the first place and what the aether meant, and then all of the subcategories on top of it, and THEN being in a future world set in London with a whole SECRET world and another race of beings AND monsters. Whew. It’s a lot. It was all so, so interesting but it was just a looooot of information so my biggest hang-up while reading the book was that I just couldn’t dang remember it all. I had to get a grip on all of these new things and top that off with the fact that I wasn’t expecting the book to take place where it did and take the direction it did, so it was just a lot for my brain to try to understand. Good, but complicated.

I… didn’t love the romance. I saw it coming, was hoping it wouldn’t be the case, and that was still the case anyway. I just don’t get the romance trope, which is apparently a thing, where the guy is an immortal who falls in love with a teenage or young girl. Ummm, why? I get that the girl is always the special thing but still. Someone who’s hundreds of years old being attracted to a young girl and vice versa… that’s not sexy. I actually DID like Warden and he has that mysterious appeal buuuuut. It’s not sexy to be a million years old (dramatic, but you know). =

This book didn’t leave me with a WOW feeling but I really do want to see where it’s going and what happens next. I was kind of hoping for more things to unfold in THE BONE SEASON, to be honest. There’s a lot of set-up and it’s enjoyable and I like Paige, but also I think more reveals could have happened here to pull the reader in more and get some more of that wow factor. I guess it probably also doesn’t help that I read this book coming off a Mistborn re-read where things are just so well-structured and I love how those reveals are timed.

I definitely want to continue on in this series and I do have a pull to it. I wish more had happened to connect me in a few more ways, but it was still an enjoyable read and I never felt bored or like there was a lull. Things were still always happening even if it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Separate fantasy worlds. This wasn’t quite a portal world but it was a similar-type feel! There was a significant separation between reality and fantasy (with a little bit of overlap) and it was interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Separation. I wish the fantasy part had been saved for a second book, or on the contrary, I wish it had been introduced more gradually. It was just a bit too abrupt for me to go from mostly reality to full-on fantasy.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s a really fun concept and I actually liked the character chemistry and relationships! I would say after spending time away from the book, I’m still not sure I really feel drawn to read the sequel, though.

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BOOKS LIKE THE BONE SEASON

             

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) – Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) – Melissa AlbertTitle: The Hazel Wood (The Hazel Wood #1) by Melissa Albert
Publishing Info: January 30, 2018 by Macmillan, Flatiron Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: October 16, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from THE HAZEL WOOD! For some reason from the cover and the synopsis, I was expecting this to be more lyrical and flowery as well as set more in a high fantasy-type world. I mean, re-reading the synopsis, it seems pretty clear that it’s not, so I don’t know if the synopsis changed from its initial posting back before the book was released… Who knows. But for some reason I had that thought in my head before I started the book, so it was an interesting start!

I actually really did enjoy the beginning despite my weird preconceived notions! I was in the mood for something a little lighter and this hit that desire. The beginning pulled me in and set up some interesting concepts! I liked the intrigue of Alice’s grandmother Althea and it was really interesting that Alice had become intrigued but yet had never read Tales of the Hinterland (Althea’s book). Clearly there’s a connection and an important reason why and I was certainly sucked in to find out what that reason was!!

I enjoyed the connection between Alice and Finch and I really liked their chemistry! It wasn’t a forced romance (it kind of wasn’t even a romance at all) and they were able to connect in a few different ways. I also though the relationship between Alice and her mother was also interesting! They had a great connection and it was a great draw and connection throughout the story.

THE HAZEL WOOD was delightfully creative and it was an interesting fantasy concept! The beginning felt a little bit more like magical realism and then we learn more about the world and we find out exactly how fantastical this world really is. Things kind of fell apart for me a bit once Alice gets a bit more into the fantasy part of the story. Without spoiling things, the shift further into the fantasy world kind of lost me. I think it was because we spent so much time in the present-day world with only getting clues in to the fantasy side that I just wasn’t in the mindset for a full-on switch. I was preparing more for a magical realism-type concept from what I read in the beginning and I am not good with things that are too whimsical or fantastical. It felt like there was a kind of free-for-all in the fantasy section of the book and it was a bit too much all at once. I enjoy high fantasy worlds with great world-budiling because the rules behind them fascinate me and I love seeing the inner workings of a magic system and political fantasy world. When things are introduced quickly and a character experiences so many things for the first time all at once as Alice did here, I tend to get lost in all of the new, non-sensical things. I almost wish that section had been split off into a second book and we got to focus more on that development so the reader could spend time exploring this new world and everything it had to offer, as well as how it affected Alice and her family.

THE HAZEL WOOD was interesting and kept me entertained, but I think it really lost me in the end when things felt a bit rushed and I didn’t get to enjoy the details when things got really colorful! I wanted to give more attention to the things that set this whole book into motion and I feel like I didn’t get to experience that like I wanted to because everything unfolded so quickly.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Separate fantasy worlds. This wasn’t quite a portal world but it was a similar-type feel! There was a significant separation between reality and fantasy (with a little bit of overlap) and it was interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Separation. I wish the fantasy part had been saved for a second book, or on the contrary, I wish it had been introduced more gradually. It was just a bit too abrupt for me to go from mostly reality to full-on fantasy.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s a really fun concept and I actually liked the character chemistry and relationships! I would say after spending time away from the book, I’m still not sure I really feel drawn to read the sequel, though.

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BOOKS LIKE THE HAZEL WOOD

             

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) – Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) – Deborah HarknessTitle: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) by Deborah Harkness
Publishing Info: February 8, 2011 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Vampires
Date Completed: September 21, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

bookreview1

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES was not what I thought it would be. Diana, the main character, is a witch but she’s a badass historian and is determined to earn her achievements in life her own way and not just by using magic for everything. For that reason (and of course, other reasons that we learn later), she avoids using any magic whenever possible. Things get complicated (naturally) in part because the urban fantasy world of A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES also includes vampires and demons and the three different supernatural species don’t really play nicely together. Diana meets vampire Matthew Clairmont on the day that all hell starts breaking loose (of course, the two are connected in many ways) and there we have our love interest as well.

So why didn’t A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES work for me? I basically felt like I was reading the entire Twilight Saga wrapped up in one book and made for adults. Granted, I haven’t read a lot of vampire books so any parallel reminds me of Twilight but there was sooooo much stuff and constant reminders that I just couldn’t shake it. I don’t know if this is one of those things where I don’t read a lot of vampire books and this is just common vampire lore but I first read about these plot lines in Twilight or what, but either way, I just felt like they really mirrored each other in a lot of ways. Just the fact that there was such a prominent vampire story line at all really bothered me. I was hoping this would be a lot witchier in terms of magic and plot, but bother were more focused on the vampire/non-vampire interactions and we spend way more time learning about vampire history and behavior than we do about the witch culture and coven history.

I also just felt like this book should have been WAY shorter. There were several long passages about things that could have been included in some world-building moments (like a scene about vampires going hunting where Diana is watching and Matthew isn’t even there) and many conclusions could have been brought about sooner. There were also a lot of secrets in this book (fair) but so many were brought up in a way where it was presented to Diana and people just flat out refused to tell her anything for no good reason. Matthew was way too overprotective for my tastes and it started to bother me. Diana was such a strong personality before she met Matthew, determined to earn everything herself and not skate by on magic, and then once Matthew is in the picture, there are a lot of inconsistencies where she wants him to do all the protecting for her and won’t try to start using her magic while still maintaining that she’s a strong personality who won’t take no for an answer. I had a hard time with the ways she fell apart and the instalove (and INSTA MARRIAGE ew) that just didn’t feel natural in this book. Things just really didn’t feel like they unfolded naturally and I was missing those good world-building chunks to explore this world and felt like there was far too much romance too quickly when we’ve two more books ahead of us.

I just really didn’t like the pacing at all and that beautiful mystery and tension from the first few chapters quickly dissipated, leaving a romance that I just wasn’t feeling in its intended intensity. I’m not sure if I’ll continue the series because of how it ended, adding in yet another supernatural concept when it could have been so beautifully focused on the witchcraft side of things. Pushing that to the side made it feel like it should have been Matthew’s story instead of Diana’s, and I get why it is Diana’s but I wanted to see much more of HER history start to unfold. It was there but there was just far too much vampire in this novel for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Witchy books. I love witchy novels and it was fun to see another witchy concept.
Left Me Wanting More: Consistency. I just hated how Diana didn’t feel like the same character that she was in the beginning. I hated that she became weak and needed saving once a man came into the picture.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

This one didn’t really work for me, but SO many people do love it. I would say maybe check with some other trusted reviewers, or just take the plunge and give it a try! I thought for sure this would be a hit and things just felt apart.

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BOOKS LIKE A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES

             

Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) – Brian McClellan

Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) – Brian McClellanTitle: Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1) by Brian McClellan
Publishing Info: April 16, 2013 by Orbit, Hachette
Source: Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: August 20, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...
Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved...
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should...

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets?

bookreview1

I took my time listening to this book, in part because it was longer than the short YA books I’ve been reading and in part because it just didn’t quite grab me. With a blurb from Brandon Sanderson and an interesting magic system, I thought I’d be all about it but the characters were just missing something that didn’t quite bring the book alive for me.

It started off a little quickly, alternating between a few character POVs before really establishing the world and starting with an uprising. It was hard to tell who I was supposed to be rooting for (although with any good book, it’s not always so clear cut between hero and villain, as happened here) but it felt a but abrupt to start things off with so much action and some small info-dumps, a lot involving these characters. I had a hard time getting a hold of the three main male characters for a while because while listening, their names aren’t THAT similar but I guess it was enough that I had to really think about who was who.

I never really got into the story like I wanted to. The motives are political, which is usually what the conflict is in a fantasy story like this, but it just seemed a little cold and I never felt that passion that would really launch me into the book. I had my sympathies and there were a few characters who got some good quips but so many of these characters were just so stoic that it really didn’t have me in love with any of them.

I did want to finish, and I did so slowly, but I’m not sure if I’d pick up the second book in the series. It was left on a bit of a cliffhanger and while I am curious, I’m not sure if I’d get into the second book any more than I did this one. I think it would be easier to jump back in, now knowing the characters, the plot, and where things might be headed, but I’m not sure if I have the motivation for it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New adult fantasy with different magic systems. I picked this book up to try some new adult fantasy novels and I thought this magic system was neat! I definitely wanted to learn more about it as I was reading and it was just interesting to see such a unique world.
Left Me Wanting More: Passion. I never quite got emotionally involved in this book. I felt like the characters were all a little too serious or their motives a little too cold. They did have plenty of passion for their causes but somehow I just never really connected to them like I wanted to. I think I just need more snark in my fantasy haha!

Addiction Rating
Consider it

While I don’t know if I’ll continue the series, it definitely was a unique concept with a fun magic system! I would definitely love to learn more but I don’t know if I feel that connection enough to continue one. If you’re looking for new fantasy series, it may be worth checking out!

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BOOKS LIKE PROMISE OF BLOOD

             

The Light Between Worlds – Laura E. Weymouth

The Light Between Worlds – Laura E. WeymouthTitle: The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
Publishing Info: October 23, 2018 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Parallel Universe
Date Completed: August 19, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge.

When they finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves.

Now, Ev spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes.

Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

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What a beautiful book this was! THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it turned out to be even better. The focus was much more on the time after the fantasy world and how the three siblings had to deal with being back in the real world and it made for such an emotional story. I loved the characters and how real everything felt. The emotions really struck me and I connected with these characters so much.

The writing was positively gorgeous. It was a tad flowery at times which sort of took away from some of the beauty because it was so well-written that it didn’t need to be over the top. Those quiet moments and emotional connections did the work so the overly flowery passages weren’t necessary, but they still evoked emotion as well, even if they did become a bit distracting. I was easily swept away with this story and I had a hard time tearing myself out of this world.

I actually really appreciated that this book wasn’t so much about the fantasy world that these children found but about how it changed them and the people they became. It wasn’t about all of them needing the world and everyone took away something different from the experience. I loved the sibling connection and the other relationships in the book were positively perfect as well. Tom was easily the best character in the book and I loved him so much, and Philippa’s Jack made for a wonderful addition as well. It’s wonderful to see supporting characters doing just that — supporting the leads for exactly who they are, despite heartbreak, secrets, stubbornness, and all the other things.

I actually didn’t quite love the ending. It was quite fitting and I knew it was one of two possibilities but I still didn’t love it. It also leaves a lot of questions left unanswered (like what will happen after the closing chapter), but it’s also not necessary to address those questions because that would be another story entirely. I’m so glad I read this book and although it wasn’t what my heart told me I was in the mood for when I picked it up, it founds its place quite fittingly.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique books about portal worlds. I really liked that this focused on what happened to the kids after they returned from their alternate world. As much as I love seeing those unique worlds, it was really interesting to see the story about what happens after, pulling on all of those raw emotions.
Left Me Wanting More: Ease of reading. One of the only things that took away from my reading experience here was some of the more flowery passages. They were beautiful but I don’t think the book needed it and at times they became a bit distracting. I was more than happy with the rest of the narration!

Addiction Rating
Read it/Try it

I highly recommend this book BUT I know a few people didn’t love it as much because of their experience with reading the Narnia books, causing a comparison between the two. I never read the Narnia books so my experience with them is much more surface level. I didn’t have a comparison here and I was able to enjoy this book without a bias.

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BOOKS LIKE THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS

             

Mini-Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) – Seanan McGuire

Mini-Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) – Seanan McGuireTitle: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: January 9, 2018 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Date Completed: July 17, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can't find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests...

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts.

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This was the book with the most action and forward motion, I think. The first book did have its own murder mystery but the characters actually went on a quest here and we got to see a few different worlds which was so exciting! Seeing the worlds is one of the things I enjoy the most because I just love exploring new worlds and all the world-building! I also really appreciate how Seanan McGuire already designed explanations to be in the book with the characters mapping each world as nonsense/logical and virtue/wicked to really give the whole concept a structure. I also loved that Tor created a full list and a graphic of all of the known portal worlds! That’s definitely the kind of thing that hooks me into a book, especially this one.

I had a lot of fun getting to know more of the characters here and pushing the plot forward even more! I felt like more characters came together, or maybe it just felt like it since it’s the third book and I’m getting to know how they’re all starting to intertwine. This was definitely the book that I appreciated most so far and I think knowing more characters and worlds allowed me to fall deeper into the these worlds, especially considering these stories are so short!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Portal worlds! We got to see a few different doors in this book and I loved it!!
Left Me Wanting More: Pages. I really do enjoy the length of these and how short they are but I was really enjoying this story!!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This has been a fun series so far and I enjoy this book a lot! I’m definitely looking forward to continuing on and getting to know more characters and their stories.

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BOOKS LIKE BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY

             

Foundryside (Foundryside #1) – Robert Bennett Jackson

Foundryside (Foundryside #1) – Robert Bennett JacksonTitle: Foundryside (Foundryside #1) by Robert Bennett Jackson
Publishing Info: August 21, 2018 by Penguin Random House
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: July 29, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic--the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience--have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

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This book was so enjoyable from start to finish! Right off the bat, I connected with it. Sancia and really her whole gang throughout this book are sassy, clever, and such personable characters. I absolutely loved spending time with them, even the… inanimate objects? Robert Jackson Bennett really brought everything to life in this book and it made for such an enjoyable reading experience!

The setting was refreshing yet familiar all at the same time. Having read a lot of fantasy/high fantasy lately, I had grown a little weary of the medieval take on things and had switched to some urban fantasy for a while to experience fantasy in a more modern setting. While FOUNDRYSIDE still maintains that old world/technologically inadvanced feeling, the concept behind scrivings really gives it that feel of a sort of industrial revolution coming about and it was fun to see the progress as well as the more spiritual side behind things (gods and mythology and the like). There’s a lot of world-building present and I love how the reader is taken along the road of exploration to figure out how the scrivings work, where the concept came from, and how they could change the world entirely.

Everything just felt like it unfolded naturally. Key points were revealed at just the right moments. The crew came together in a perfect way that brought misfits together but everyone seemed to fit perfectly despite how different they all were. It was natural the way that they ended up finding each other and felt like they should have been together all of their lives.

This book also gave me a very Brandon Sanderson vibe. I love Sanderson’s books so much because of how much world-building he packs in and how perfectly timed his reveals are involving the secrets of his worlds. Robert Jackson Bennett has a similar style — in context as well as character tone — that really reminded me a lot of MISTBORN and THE WAY OF KINGS. I can’t wait to see where the next book goes because with everything that we learned in this book, I can only imagine getting even more lost in the politics, worldly secrets, and more hijinks!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult fantasy with attitude. Misfits! Cons! Sass! This book had all of my favorite elements combined with a fun and creative fantasy world.
Left Me Wanting More: Character relationships. I did like the character relationships that were there for sure! I feel like I wanted just a liiiittle bit more deep connections somehow!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was so enjoyable and I can’t wait to read more of the series!! This felt a little bit introductory and I’m excited to continue this and get even deeper into this world!

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BOOKS LIKE FOUNDRYSIDE