Give the Dark My Love (Give the Dark My Love #1) by Beth Revis #bookreview #YA #fantasy

When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her. 

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague. 

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.

Alchemy and necromancy – that’s what initially drew me to this book.  Also the beautiful cover.  A protagonist with all the best intentions finds herself walking the fine line separating light from darkness – it’s an intriguing hook.

Nedra’s transformation from a dedicated student determined to find a cure for the plague to a desperate alchemist who turns to necromancy is fascinating, and done to perfection.  So many times I wanted to yell at her to consider the consequences of her actions – but if she did, I guess there wouldn’t have been much of a story.  It’s difficult to like her character by the end of the book, but an excellent portrayal at what grief can do to a person.

Grey is a sweet love interest – and it’s a case of insta-love, but his character doesn’t add much to the story.  He attempts to be a moral compass for Nedra, but she’s an obstinate girl.

There are a couple of twists toward the end – one I’d figured out, and the other a bit of a surprise.  The beginning is more of a slow burn, explaining world-building and magic, but the pace picks up toward the middle.  I’ll be interested to see where this series goes in the second book.  This book is scheduled for publication September 25th, 2018.

Thanks to Penguin First to Read and the publisher for the ARC.

The Devil’s Thief (The Last Magician #2) by Lisa Maxwell #TuesdayBookBlog #YA #fantasy #historicalfiction

In this spellbinding sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Last Magician, Esta and Harte set off on a cross-country chase through time to steal back the elemental stones they need to save the future of magic.

Hunt the Stones.
Beware the Thief.
Avenge the Past.

Esta’s parents were murdered. Her life was stolen. And everything she knew about magic was a lie. She thought the Book of Mysteries held the key to freeing the Mageus from the Order’s grasp, but the danger within its pages was greater than she ever imagined.

Now the Book’s furious power lives inside Harte. If he can’t control it, it will rip apart the world to get its revenge, and it will use Esta to do it.

To bind the power, Esta and Harte must track down four elemental stones scattered across the continent. But the world outside the city is like nothing they expected. There are Mageus beyond the Brink not willing to live in the shadows—and the Order isn’t alone in its mission to crush them.

In St. Louis, the extravagant World’s Fair hides the first stone, but an old enemy is out for revenge and a new enemy is emerging. And back in New York, Viola and Jianyu must defeat a traitor in a city on the verge of chaos.

As past and future collide, time is running out to rewrite history—even for a time-traveling thief.

The first book in this series was easily a 5 star read for me.  At nearly 500 pages, I almost didn’t request it because of the length – but it didn’t feel that long when reading it.  At 700 pages, I didn’t hesitate to request The Devil’s Thief  because of how engrossing the first book was, but this novel felt like a chore at times, and the series still isn’t complete.  With the third book (I’m assuming it will be the last?), the series will be considerably even longer than Stephen King’s uncut version of The Stand.

The dual timeline is compelling, and not at all confusing.  I liked seeing how events in the past influence the present, and the changes in some of the characters over that time period.  I gasped at a couple of surprising twists, and the world-building remains top notch.  Characterization is also strong, and I enjoyed spending time with these characters again.

However – Esta and Harte are disappointing.  The majority of their story focuses on the romantic drama/tension between them, and does nothing to advance the plot.  Viola and Jianyu have the more interesting plot developments by far, and Julian is a nice addition to the lineup.  There’s also a good amount of repetition, but this was an ARC, and final editing may take care of that and lower the word count.

Although this book underwhelmed me and didn’t move as quickly as the first, I’m curious to see where the next book goes, and I want to know the fate of these characters.  The Devil’s Thief is scheduled for publication October 9th, 2018.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Timekeeper (Timekeeper #1) by Tara Sim #bookreview #steampunk #YA #TuesdayBookBlog

I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time. 

I think I’m a steampunk fan – I’ve read several steampunk books and enjoyed all of them, and I adored the Victorian London setting in this novel.

The whole premise of clocks controlling time tantalized me, and I connected with Danny almost immediately.  I know clocks and cogs aren’t for everyone, but the fact that Danny could ‘feel’ time and diagnose a clock’s problem fascinated me.  His relationship with Colton was very sweet, although a bit on the ‘insta-love’ side, but I chose to overlook that.

Timekeeper had been in my TBR for a while, and when the theme for one of my book clubs was an LGBT novel, I immediately thought of this one.  A perfect selection, and one I’d recommend.

The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck #bookreview #YA #fantasy

Welcome to a world where nightmarish creatures reign supreme.

Five hundred years ago, Jack made a deal with the devil. It’s difficult for him to remember much about his mortal days. So, he focuses on fulfilling his sentence as a Lantern—one of the watchmen who guard the portals to the Otherworld, a realm crawling with every nightmarish creature imaginable. Jack has spent centuries jumping from town to town, ensuring that nary a mortal—or not-so-mortal—soul slips past him. That is, until he meets beautiful Ember O’Dare.

Seventeen, stubborn, and a natural-born witch, Ember feels a strong pull to the Otherworld. Undeterred by Jack’s warnings, she crosses into the forbidden plane with the help of a mysterious and debonair vampire—and the chase through a dazzling, dangerous world is on. Jack must do everything in his power to get Ember back where she belongs before both the earthly and unearthly worlds descend into chaos.

This cover is stunning, and initially what drew me to this book, and the title is very clever.  Once I started reading, the world-building enchanted and intrigued me and, along with Ember, I enjoyed learning about the Otherworld, its rules, and the creatures inhabiting it.

With his pumpkin and Headless Horseman  comparison, Jack is my favorite character in this book, but I have to admit, Dev is one of the most charming vampires I’ve come across in a while.  Del, Finney, Frank (you can probably guess what that’s short for) – all are wonderful characters, but it took me a while to warm up to Ember – probably because of my frustration with her actions early in the book.

While the world-building and characterization are strong points, the love square between Ember, Finney, Jack, and Dev grew a bit tiresome and takes up a chunk of the book.  I also had to backtrack numerous times when the POV changed abruptly during paragraphs – which happens a lot.

With the satisfying ending, I don’t see the author doing a sequel, and there’s no need for one.  It’s nice to read a standalone in a genre with so many series.  This is a perfect read to curl up with on a chilly fall evening – even better if it’s closer to Halloween.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

The Island: Vampires of Merovingi #1 by Sarah M. Cradit #bookreview #vampires #fantasy

1789. Saint-Domingue. Hispaniola. West Indies. 

Etienne de Blanchefort has seen incredible success as a colonial planter in the Northern Province of Saint-Domingue. Though uprooting his family from France a decade past was a gamble, life in the tropical West Indies has been good to him, his wife, and four children. With France embroiled in their great revolution across the Atlantic, he harbors little doubt he made the right decision for his family’s future.

Until, that is, the arrival of his fiend.

Etienne’s practical nature cannot reconcile what he knows to be true of his world with what he cannot ignore about the abominable creature haunting his family and the island.

Nor can he ignore his wife’s terrifying dreams that slowly steal her vitality.

Or Victorine’s burgeoning free spirit and wariness of their way of life.

Or Nanette’s curious, furtive behavior as she hides in trees.

Or Marius’ secret new friendship with one he cannot name.

Or Flosine’s unsettling drawings of a man from a time long before theirs.

Etienne’s fiend will not stay elusive for long. He has a request. A very particular, very important request, one that will change the lives of Etienne, his family, and his descendants forever.

I’ve been a vampire fan since the original Fright Night movie with Chris Sarandon.  After the Twilight novels, vampire books flooded the market for a while, then receded, but I’m glad to see them making a comeback.  Maybe not quite as big of a splash this time, but that’s alright with me.  Since I’ve read all this author’s Crimson and Clover series, I was thrilled to learn she was starting a new series featuring vampires that fit within that same world.

Not having read a ton of historical fiction books, I appreciated the attention to detail and extensive research the author clearly performed for this book.  As always, her imagery is rich with description.  Although the first 25% of the book was a little slow for my taste, the pace moved along much quicker after that.

The Island looks to be the start of a riveting series and I look forward to meeting more of the vampires!

I received a digital ARC of this book from the author.

Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine #bookreview #YA #fantasy @Berkleypub

To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making…if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

I felt the last book in this series was somewhat slow, but this book barely dropped below warp speed.  Alternating POVs from the characters, double crosses, triple crosses, intricate, multi-layered plans, and bigger automatons….so much going on.  I couldn’t stop reading, but was so afraid not all of the characters would remain standing at the end – but no spoilers here.

In this book, several scenes demonstrate just how much the characters have grown and matured from Ink and Bone.  While being tested to their limits, they discover inner strengths and qualities needed to survive, and it was very satisfying to see how they’ve developed.

This is a wildly creative YA fantasy series I’ve enjoyed from book one, and will eagerly anticipate the final installment.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Today is release day for Smoke and Iron!

Buy links: AmazonKindleBarnes & NobleNookBooks a MillionIndieboundiBooksKoboGoogle Play

Author social mediaTwitterInstagramFacebook

 

Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3) by Rachel Caine #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

Words can kill.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library…

I’ve been a fan of this series from book one, and I’m surprised it’s not more popular among readers.  Besides having colorful, gorgeous covers, it boasts a wonderfully inclusive cast of characters.

Character development continues to be a strong point with this series, and I’ve grown to care even more about these characters after this book.  Although not blood-related, with all they’ve been through, they’ve become a family of sorts, and have learned to rely on and trust each other while fighting for survival.  And that’s why the ending of this book may rip your heart out.  That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

With this being the middle novel of the series, I felt it was a bit slow and repetitive in places, and not much happens in the first half.  That being said, I’ve already started the next book, Smoke and Iron, and it certainly makes up for it.

This series offers something for everyone – action, a bit of romance and history, power struggles, both clever and untrustworthy characters, and a heaping load of suspense.