Ten Books I’d Pick if I Ran a Book Club

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish,
and features weekly top-ten lists! This week it’s…

Ten Books I’d Pick if I Ran a Book Club

This was HARD, guys!! I’ve never been in a book club, and quite honestly I have no desire to. Any book that’s considered “required reading” immediately becomes the last thing I want to read. Sad but true. So I decided to pick books for today’s topic based on books I want to push on everyone I mean, um. >_> No but really, I chose these books because not only would I very much like to push them on people if I ran my own book club, but I am pretty sure I could talk about them FOREVER. Perfect for book club, right? …I mean, right? That’s the point, right? (I really don’t know what I’m doing.)

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Review + Giveaway! A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab

Review + Giveaway! A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab
A Darker Shade of Magic
A Darker Shade of Magic #1

Written by: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: February 24th 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 400
Source: Gifted from a friend
Buy at: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads
Also by this author: The Archived, Vicious, The Unbound


five-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-stars

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 cutpurse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then 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.

MyThoughts_v2

There’s this feeling I sometimes get after finishing a book — it’s extremely rare, and only happens when the book was a whole other level of intense and amazing. It’s this euphoric, wrung-out, disoriented stupor, and it leaves you speechless and reeling.

Well, I got that feeling after finishing A Darker Shade of Magic. And that’s the highest praise I can give.

Victoria Schwab originally teased A Darker Shade of Magic as “pirates, thieves, and sadist kings.” If you’re any sort of fan of her work, and she throws those words at you, you’re a goner. But then you read the synopsis (Schwab-fan or not), and you sort of side-eye it. How is this possible? This book seems to have way too much going for it, way too many good things in it — How? Why? What’s going on? Is this for real?!

Well, before you get too excited, let me just make it clear how many good things there are in this book, because the synopsis actually doesn’t cover it.

  • (Aspiring) pirate ✓
  • Thieves ✓
  • Sadist kings ✓✓
  • Amazing magic system(s) ✓✓✓
  • Flawless worldbuilding ✓✓✓✓
  • London(s) ✓✓✓✓
  • Fabulous magical coats ✓
  • Incredible characters ✓✓✓✓
  • Amazing friendships/brOTP’s/nemeses ✓✓✓✓✓
  • Ship potential (no insta-anything) ✓!!!
  • Banter ✓!!!!!!!
  • FEELS ✓✓✓✓✓✓!!!!!!!

Yep, your eyes do not deceive you. A Darker Shade of Magic ticks ALL THE BOXES — and revels in it.

A Darker Shade of Magic does with the fantasy genre what Vicious did with superheroes. It takes things we’ve seen before — magic, evil tyrants, world(s)-in-danger, etc — and turns them upside-down. Raises the stakes. Makes them new. This is fantasy at its finest — and Victoria Schwab at her best — and it is not to be missed.

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ARC Review: THE GLASS ARROW by Kristen Simmons

I received this book for free from Tor Teen. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

ARC Review: THE GLASS ARROW by Kristen Simmons
The Glass Arrow

Written by: Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: February 10th 2015
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: NetGalley
Buy at: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads

three-starsthree-starsthree-stars

The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.

In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.

MyThoughts_v2

Ahhhh, these are the worst kinds of reviews to write. The ones where you know the book you just read was objectively not bad, and that a lot of people will like it, but it just wasn’t a “you” book. That’s my problem with The Glass Arrow. It really wasn’t a “me” book. It had a lot of interesting elements, and a lot of potential, and a couple of good characters, but… unfortunately, it just really wasn’t my thing.

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ARC Review: THE SHADOW CABINET by Maureen Johnson

ARC Review: THE SHADOW CABINET by Maureen Johnson
The Shadow Cabinet
Shades of London #3

Written by: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: February 10th 2015
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Source: Gifted from a friend
Buy at: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads


three-half-starsthree-half-starsthree-half-starsthree-half-stars

* SPOILERS for books 1 & 2 in the synopsis!! *

The thrilling third installment to the Edgar-nominated, bestselling series.

Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

MyThoughts_v2

[Note: This review is for the 3rd book in a 4-book series, but this review will be spoiler-free, as always! However, this means that I will be talking around a lot of potential spoilers, because the end of book 2 is just… Let’s just say there’s very little I can talk about without spoiling something major. But I will try.]

It really sucks when expectations get in the way of one’s enjoyment of certain books. The fact is, I want to be blown away by every book I read, but in order for that to happen, I want the book to live up to at least one of two things:

  1. What I expect from it (which can be expectations based on prior books in a series, for example), and/or…
  2. What I want out of it (which can just be things based on my own feelings, like “ooh I hope XYZ happens”, or just “more awesomeness from a favorite author”, etc).

This can be problematic, though, because I think good books are sometimes(/often/always?) simply what their author intended them to be, regardless of either the audience’s expectations or desires. And I think that’s where The Shadow Cabinet and I didn’t quite get along. Neither what I expected nor what I wanted quite lined up with what was actually presented.

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Giveaway! Brandon Sanderson Starter Set

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It should be no surprise to anyone (at least, anyone who follows me on Twitter…) that whenever I see a Brandon Sanderson book sitting on a bookstore shelf, it calls to me. “Nikki,” it says, “you don’t really need that money for food! Or other books! Buy me! Give me away and spread the love of one of your favorite authors!!” It’s a constant struggle. And over Christmas, with all of those lovely book sales… well, it turned out to be too much for me to resist. I went in with the noblest of intentions: “These will make perfect Christmas presents! …And why don’t I just go ahead and get an extra copy of this one… and this one… and this one… you know, just in case?” X_X

So, somehow, I ended up with extra copies of the first books of 3 of Sanderson’s series — The Way of Kings, The Rithmatist, and Mistborn: The Final Empire. And then Sanderson came to Seattle and did a couple signings, and I left with 2 of those 3 signed (unfortunately, I’d forgotten I had an extra Mistborn before going to the signings). And then, my favorite local indie bookstore had their 115th anniversary, and of course they had to have a sale… and I ended up with a signed paperback of Steelheart.

WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THESE EXTRA BOOKS?!

Oh, gee, I wonder. XD

So here we go, folks. For those of you who have heard me go on (and on, and on…) about how much I love Brandon Sanderson’s books, and how great they are, and how everyone needs to read them, I have accidentally (shut up) compiled what I like to call my “Sanderson Starter Set” . . .

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ARC Review: THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST by Holly Black

I received this book for free from Little, Brown. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

ARC Review: THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST by Holly Black
The Darkest Part of the Forest

Written by: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: January 13th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: BookExpo America 2014
Buy at: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads

three-starsthree-starsthree-stars

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

MyThoughts_v2

I am so incredibly conflicted about this one, guys! On the surface, it sounds like something I should have loved. That blurb speaks to me. Faeries! A sleeping prince! HOLLY BLACK!! But honestly, I think I just wasn’t in the mood for this — I mean, I was in the mood for what I expected it to be, but it turned out that my expectations ≠ reality.

Nothing about this book really clicked for me. Objectively, I know that the writing was really good. I know that all the elements of a great story were there. I know that the words on the page described characters I should’ve connected with. But I just didn’t. There was a spark missing, and I just don’t know how to explain it.

In short: The modern setting threw me off. The pacing seemed odd. The characters never really came to life for me. And my emotions throughout the book were just sort of flat the entire time.

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