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Jamie @ Books and Ladders

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Love this Sequel!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-08-13

I really loved that this book had the same amount of action and had the characters face new challenges without making them too difficult or levelling the characters up too much. I thought this was a perfect middle novel in a series but I definitely don't want the series to end! I can't wait to pick up the rest of Mark Lawrence's books because if they are even half as good as this, I'm in for an amazing story.

I loved the way that this story started, with Lawrence giving us a recap of the last book so we could just move right along to this one. I also liked the time jump. It felt natural without making us question too much. I think Nona really stepped up her game in this one without being Too Much.

A lot of middle books don't know how to take what was good about the first and make it into something similar but different for the second without losing the interest of the audience. This is not the case here. It was such a perfect bridge between the first book and what I expect the last to be.

I think this is shaping up to be my new favourite fantasy series and I highly recommend it if you want to get into Adult Fantasy.

Not For Me

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-07-30

Depicted to me as "The Hunger Games" meets "The Bachelor," I was really excited to read this one. I mean come on, 35 girls fighting to the death over the love of one guy? Yes please. And I heard so many good things and this is like everyone's favourite series of all time, so I thought I would give it a chance. Boy was I disappointed.

I feel like a lot of the problem stemmed from the fact that I wanted to like America, I just literally could not stand her. I think part of it was her name because when Aspen said "Mer" I was like "Murica" in my head and started laughing. Every time she would say she "still loved Aspen" or think about how awesome Maxon was, I would roll my eyes. They were both literally the most boring people in the world. Not that any of the characters were any better, they were all literally blank slates with one or two "interesting" qualities to make them "stand out" from the competition.

Marlie was so interesting and then became so boring. Having a secret does not make someone interesting if they don't ever share that secret with you. Especially after a couple weeks of waiting and wondering. It just made me annoyed that this secret wasn't being shared. The other girls were so boring and I think it is stupid af that he kept Celeste

The info-dump of the history of the land in the middle of the book was a wtf moment for me. Especially since America didn't know it all and was like "why don't we write history down anymore when I still have an old US History textbook at home." Like k girl. And the rebels were just ridiculous. They were supposed to be threatening and everything should feel tense and on the brink of war, but I just felt like they were reasons to get everyone into the same room and then kick people off the island at the end to make it more of an intense scenario.

Also. WTF with the virginity thing? Like why is it a law that they have to be virgins until marriage. That is actually ridiculous. And the fact that men can marry down castes and keep their number but women can't???? That itself almost made me stop reading to the book because wtf. Like I was fuming with that. Why is that the only world building we got??

I feel like instead of being "friends" with Maxon, I wanted America to fill him in on gossip about the girls to help him make his choice. She should have been looking for things that made each girl someone he would want to marry/love/whatever instead of being his "friend". Which, ps, she was not a very good friend. Yeah, they talked and yeah, he could "trust" her, but they didn't really talk about him when they wer together, just her and her issues. What a shitty friend.

Overall: Maybe a 2.5, but for sure a 2/5 on this one for me. I just did not enjoy it. I thought it would at least have one or two petty cat fights and more interesting characters instead of just making me want to vomit every time they kept complimenting one another and saying "well if *I* don't win, YOU should" puh-lease.

2 people found this helpful

Great Novella!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-07-30

I am typically weary of novellas because I am not a fan of authors making these novellas necessary to read and purchase to understand the story. I like when they are just additions to the story to give avid fans of the story more to read if they choose to. That is exactly what Mitosis was.

Mitosis wasn't a necessary read (well, listen since I had it as an audiobook), but it did give us just a little bit of an insight as to what David and the Reckoners are doing in the interim between the end of Steelheart and presumably the beginning of Firefight (but I have yet to read that one). I liked that we got to see more of David and his irresponsible heroism; it wasn't necessary for me to read this one to know that about him though, which is probably what I liked the most.

My favourite part of this was the idea that Newcago is changing for the better: more people are trusting that the Reckoners will be able to protect them from any and all Epics. But I do think that will bite them in the ass in Firefight.

Overall: 3.5/5 stars. This one just made me all the more excited to read Firefight! I should really go pick up a copy... I would suggest reading or listening to this one -- it is a good refresher to the story before you read Firefight, but it isn't necessary to read it in my opinion. It doesn't lead into what the big bad will be in the next one or give you a "dream" or "prophecy" that is necessary to understand the stories like some other books I could mention...

Rachel Hawkins Delivers Again!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-07-27

I loved Rachel Hawkins first series Hex Hall and Rebel Belle promises to deliver the same sort of laugh-out-loud situations while still being swoon-worthy and full of action. (Also, Rachel Hawkins is really nice and these covers are really pretty so you should go buy a copy of this book). Please note that I listened to this as an audiobook while following along in a physical copy which made the book that much more fun because I got the “voices” of the characters and felt that much more connected to them. However, Hawkins’ books are always a blast to read and really easy to get into, so I will always recommend them.

Harper is your typical Queen Bee. She has her hands in everything and wants to make the school experience great not only for herself but also for everyone else who attends. But this hits a snag when she watches a janitor die and gains amazing fighting powers. One of the best parts about Harper’s character was seeing her grow into accepting her responsibilities. She was such a strong character without the abilities because she was always taking on more than she probably should have so that everything would be Perfect™. I really liked being inside her head because it was nice to see her thought patterns around how she was supposed to act versus how she was acting. I also liked seeing her start to freak out and really being herself at the end. It was nice to see that some situations call for you to tell people to get in line and follow suit rather than to just be polite and nice. I could really connect to Harper throughout this novel and think I will be able to in the future as well.

The plot was really great as well. I liked seeing it unfold and that this novel had it’s own arc but also had plot points for the future books as well. I liked that there were tidbits of what we can hope to expect in the future without giving too much away for the readers while also keeping us intrigued and wanting to continue the story. I thought the ending was a bit unfortunate in a way but also pretty great. I am excited to see what the next book brings. I think the overall story idea is one that I wouldn’t trust anyone but Rachel Hawkins to write and deliver perfectly to us.

I liked the relationships that Harper had with Ryan and David. I think they both felt realistic and had good natural progression. I liked that Ryan was portrayed as a good boyfriend rather than an asshole Harper had to get away from. I also really liked that they both came to the conclusion that they would be better off NOT being together rather than sticking it out. I think it will be an interesting dynamic in the next book between the three of them.

I just felt like Blythe was a little underdeveloped. She was introduced a bit too late and wasn’t given enough screen time for me to connect to her as a villain. I hope there will be more of her in the next book, as well as more of an explanation of what her group actually wants. I think there was a bit of a hint at it, but not quite enough for me to be fully hooked. I think the rest of the book and characters made up for that lack of villainous behaviour however. And while I understand that Blythe doesn’t feel like she is a villain, I would have liked to see just a bit more from her so I could see why I should feel more than indifference towards her.

Overall a really good introduction to what promises to be another fantastic series by Rachel Hawkins.

Pretty Good

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-07-27

This is good and I quite enjoyed the audio, but I'm not 100% sold on it. I think part of my problem is it was quite short and had it been longer I could have fully connected to the story better. I really liked the idea that the princesses basically saved themselves in this one and that it was about love and power but I just think that there could have been something more to really wow me. I did like the twists on the original fairy tales and think that Gaiman did something great in what he differed and what he kept the same, but I'm still meh about it. It was good, but not great.

Not For Me

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-07-27

I don't even know where to start with this one, tbh. It seemed like it was going to be a pretty solid book. I had ~some~ issues with it at the beginning, but not enough to take away from my enjoyment of reading (or I guess, listening, since I had an audiobook). However, after her mother's trial, at like 75%, the book took a nosedive.

I think the main problem for me was the pacing. I liked that there wasn't too much time spent on the military training, but some of that felt too rushed. The reader needed a bit more time to understand what the military was about and why Phaet was pretty much selling her soul to the devil to join the military. As well, I felt like I didn't understand the full purpose of the training. It seemed like pretty standard and generic military training but I feel like there should have been more space related training to make it a bit more plausible considering they lived on the moon. I just feel like there was something lacking in the military training, considering it was such an important part of Phaet's character growth.

It was pretty obvious that there was a rebellion but considering we didn't learn about it until 75% through the novel, specifically at her mother's trial, it seemed to really come out of nowhere. And the reasoning behind it was kinda confusing. I THINK it was about the fact that wealth isn't distributed equally -- or as equally as it could be -- but they seemed to put a lot of emphasis on the fact that the Earth's history wasn't a part of THEIR history. It was weird. And just everything after that made me dislike the book more and more and more. I think I would have liked it more if we knew about the rebellion at the beginning .. or if it had more ... meaning.

The OTHER thing we learn about at the end is much more interesting than the rebellion, but because of the timing, it just made me roll my eyes even more than I previously had. I am just IDK MAN. This one is okay but it's not that good. I think the author had some good ideas but the execution just didn't work for me.

I also didn't really like Phaet's relationship with Umbriel because it seemed like he wanted one thing and she wasn't really sure what she wanted, but went along with what he wanted so she didn't hurt his feelings. It irked the crap out of me. At the end she is like "I'm glad I just nodded and didn't verbally agree to being TOGETHER with him" and I was like confused because 1. she had already promised to be with him before but wasn't feeling it, just thought it would be good for her family and 2. she was running off with another guy. I didn't really like Umbriel to begin with but his interactions with her and the way he spoke to her as if she owed him a relationship because he was nice to her were really off-putting.

But that doesn't mean I like Wes either. Is he better than Umbriel? By a small margin and only because we have to compare them. But Wes like idk he was basically a paper towel to me: useful in some cases but might as well throw it out after use. He was like a knock off Four imo but okay we can roll with it. If it switches into his perspective, at least we know what Phaet's fate is (ha ha, see what I did there. Okay I'm going now)

I guess most of my problems revolved around the pacing but also the lack of communication to the audience about what was happening. I just feel like so much more could have been explained -- and there was ample opportunity to do so -- and it just wasn't so it could be "shocking" and a "plot twist" (I guess?) but instead it just left me wondering what was happening and why there weren't more hints from the beginning. I also am not sure how I feel about the "romance"? Both felt so forced and I just couldn't deal with it. Anyway, I don't know if I would necessarily recommend this one. It is a pretty standard dystopian novel that doesn't really add a whole lot to the genre in my opinion. I think if I had been reading and not listening to this one, I wouldn't have finished it.

Not For Me

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-07-27

I have lots of Thoughts about the last 40% of the book. because up until then, everything was pretty good. Sure there was some slow pacing issues and definitely not enough deaths, but it was an interesting take on End of the World SciFi. But then... *sighs* okay I didn't want to do this on my phone because it's a pain to type but there is a conversation at about 65% of the way through the novel after the Big Action Sequence where the women are figuring out how to repopulate the environment and we find out that two of these women have mental illnesses.

Which, wow! rep! except they are BOTH the villains and they both talk about their illnesses like accessories that make them Cool and they are both seen as evil, although the one with Bipolar Disorder is seen as more evil than the one with Depression. And there is some Science Talk about how they can eliminate all these diseases from the embryos so that the future generations can be free of them and I just was not okay with it?

They also were eliminating some other medical diseases that would cause "issues" in breeding because they were such a small population and it was gross and ableist and I couldn't handle it. but I continued and the last section was a bad version of The 100 so idk why I even bothered continuing on from there. I want those 32 hours of my life back please.

Good Start to a Fantasy Series!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-07-27

I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, I was SUPER enthralled every time I was listening to it. I tried to listen only when I was doing chores and stuff and ended up just sitting on my bed and listening rather than doing anything. The storyline is really compelling and the characters are ones you really root for. However, I thought there could have been a bit more explanation at the end and I thought the first little bit was a bit thick with explanations. I also feel like there could have been a better handling of the races of the two warring factions because it reads really white but probably shouldn't based on the setting.

I enjoyed reading about the war and military tactics (which I wouldn't typically say because that's not really my thing) but I felt like the beginning had too much of an emphasis on it. I understand that it was to show us the life of a Captain (Marcus) versus the grunt (Winter) but it made for a bit of a dense read at the beginning when I should have been swept away. It took me a v long time to get past the first part (almost a month and a half) instead of the couple of hours it should have been. Once the focus shifted more to the characters and how they would have to survive the campaign (rather than the campaign itself), I found myself unable to turn the audiobook off. I was blowing off other reading responsibilities just to listen to this one. And it's the characters that really saved this one for me.

I loved Winter and her story. I felt super connected to her and am really glad we got her perspective on events. I also liked how her story intersected with Marcus and Janus. I think it was honestly the characters and their thoughts, feelings, and motivations that kept me so heavily invested in the story. And they are the reason I will be continuing on with the series (in book form, since I own the rest as hardcovers).

I thought the world-building was a little lacking. I felt like the magic system wasn't fully explained and thrown together at the end to give us some sense of "resolution" but it definitely wasn't enough. I feel like this one was bogged down with battle details rather than expanding upon the religious sects, the magic, and the history. I would have liked to know a bit more about all these things -- especially since they seem to have a large impact on the rest of the story. I think it was wise to keep the characters in the dark at the beginning, but that didn't mean we the readers had to be in the dark for the whole novel. I think we needed more from Janus's perspective (and not through Marcus and Winter) so that we could have a clear picture and focus but instead it just felt as though there was a need for a magic system so it got clumsily added to the end of the story.

I was anticipating something more from this one and even though I enjoyed actually listening to the book and the characters, I feel like there was too much battle details and not enough magic system/world-building for me to truly be satisfied. I am hoping there will be more in the next one, especially with an epilogue like that, so I am looking forward to reading The Shadow Throne!

5 people found this helpful

I'm In LOVE

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-07-27

A Darker Shade of Magic has that unique kind of ability where it pulls you in and keeps you on the edge of the seat for the entire time and leaves you wanting more once it's finished. The magic system is one of the best I have read in a long time and if anyone asks me for a fantasy recommendation, this will be the first one off my tongue. Can February come a little faster so I can have A Gathering of Shadows, please and thank you?

There is so much good in this one that I don't even know where to start. I loved all the characters (I aspire to be Lila Bard) and can't wait to see what else is in store for them in the future. I could read about Kell and Lila doing mundane tasks and still be happy about it. They have the best chemistry and give and take, both allowing the other to shine but also grow. I loved Lila's want for adventure and Kell's reluctance to let her -- or anyone else -- be hurt because of magic. They had the right mix of sarcasm and actual caring to make them into a fun duo that you were rooting for the entire time.

The plot was amazing. I loved following along throughout the different Londons with Kell -- and then with Kell and Lila -- until we reached the end. I was so nervous about the ending because there didn't seem to be enough time to resolve everything. The ending left it open but also gave closure to this story arc, which was nice. I like when the plot concludes but you can still see the characters living on after. But man am I glad there is a sequel (AND A THIRD BOOK. YAY!) I also really want to know more about Kell's back story and why he can't remember anything because I feel like that is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

The world building was immaculate. If you are writing a fantasy book right now, take note. The world building in this is flawless and seamless with the right amount of exploring the worlds and being told about the different aspects of them. As Kell traveled through the different Londons, I felt as though I was right there with him. Once explained, I could travel between the Londons myself and understand the difference, but it was nice to have Lila reaffirm the aspects of them as she traveled. It made me as a reader realize that because Kell was so used to traveling, he didn't notice some of the details the same way a fresh pair of eyes would. So having Lila travel and be like "oh everything here is so vibrant and smells so nice" was a nice touch to expanding both the world and the characters.

This is like my number one recommendation right now and forever. I can't wait to see what else Schwab has up her sleeve in regards to Kell and Lila but I know I am excited to read it.

4 people found this helpful

Pretty Good

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-07-27

I picked this up on a two for one sale on audible and was pretty excited but saw some not so great reviews from bloggers I trust and thought “oh no, did I waste a credit” but I actually really liked this one. I was a tad bit disappointed by the ending as I felt unfulfilled. It felt like there wasn’t a real solution and answer beyond saying “It was THIS creature!” I thought since this was a series there would be MORE rather than just a one off? But even just the way the case was solved left me feeling dissatisfied. It had this great big build up and then I had it figured out at 63%. I guess I was anticipating an overarching enemy to be explained/discovered/talked about, but that didn’t happen and left me a little confused and unsettled. It made the story feel incomplete.

I did like the relationship between Abigail and Jackaby, especially since it was platonic. I also really liked that Jackaby saw Abigail’s worth and that he acknowledged it to her instead of keeping it to himself. He told her on multiple occasions that what she noticed might be mundane, but it wasn’t necessarily something he would see so she was useful (which is the closest thing to a compliment a Sherlock Holmes-type gives, I guess). I liked that Abigail quickly adapted and understood and caught on. She was very resourceful and liked to take charge, even if it meant she herself would be in danger. She realized that it was more about saving other people and the welfare of other people than herself. I also really liked that she was independent and made her own decisions — even if they weren’t decisions other people approved of. Jackaby was kind of a poor knock off for Sherlock Holmes but I think he had something special with the whole supernatural thing, which I hope gets explained a bit more in the next book.

However everything happened so quickly — a couple days in the story! — so nothing really felt explained or developed in a way that made sense. So much happens that it feels like it has been more than a couple days but really it wasn’t that long. And for Abigail to have such strong feelings for someone in that time was kinda “k??” but I digress. I would have liked a bit more time spent on this case — and all the cases in the future — so that we get more development of Jackaby and the other side characters, including a literal duck and a ghost. Whose names have escaped me because they didn’t have much to add to the story this time around in my opinion. Other than to give us insight into the world Jackaby lives in (and proof that supernatural things exist tbh).

I think I’ll continue with this series as it was the most interesting period piece with supernatural elements novels I have read since THESE VICIOUS MASKS (and I’ve started and stopped a lot since then).