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The Fantastic and Mundane Chronicles of an Aspiring Writer

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Book Reviews

My Musings: Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

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The latest addition to the Kate Daniels’ series has everything that’s great about the series: suspense, humor, great fight scenes, and, of course, quality Kate and Curran time. Yet despite all of this, for some reason, this installment didn’t hold my attention as much as the previous ones. In short, I was able to put it down. For a while. Honestly, when I try to remember the basic plot I can recall a blur. To me, I guess, this book felt like a fill-in volume. Yes, Kate, seemingly out of nowhere can now hold her own against her father’s invincible power, but *spoiler* he still hasn’t been defeated by the end. Towards the middle, the pace was beginning to pick up and pieces were falling into place for an awesome battle scene at the end—which turned out to be way shorter than I expected, not mention drastically anticlimactic. Don’t get me wrong. Like I stated before, this book is still very much a part of the Kate Daniels’ series with the same charm as all the previous novels, and when I finally got into it, I couldn’t put it down. Still, something about it just seemed off to me. Maybe it was the short length or lack of substantial plot, I don’t know. With that being said, I’m still a fan of this series, and I will definitely be reading the next volume.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for fans of urban fantasy with action and romance

If I could summarize the book in three words: entertaining, but forgettable 

Check out the official summary of Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews on goodreads.

My rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★

 

My Musings: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

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This book was everything I hoped for and more. Maas’ worldbuilding and character development was amazing, and in my opinion the best it has ever been in this novel. Aelin’s growth over the entire series has been amazing to watch, and the difference between her character now and in the first book is unbelievable. I also loved how after getting to know each of the main players in the series, we finally see all of them interact in this latest installment. Maas has created such strong characters that each of their voices and personalities come alive on the page without the danger of any one of them being lost or fading into the background. The romantic relationships in this book—both new and old—were interesting if somewhat predictable, though that didn’t stop me from becoming fully invested in them anyway. The plot-twists in this book were entirely unexpected, and as usual, the heart-wrenching ending left me yearning for more.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for readers of epic fantasy with a band of loveable heroes and villains you can’t help but love to hate.

If I could summarize the book in two words: utterly consuming

Check out the official summary of Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas on goodreads.

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Musings: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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From the very beginning this book’s pacing was fast and the tone suspenseful. Crouch’s language is simple, yet his voice manages to be just as haunting as it is intriguing, making the reader constantly want to turn the next page and discover what comes next. The plot of this book was by far its most unique factor. Filled not only with unexpected twists and turns, this novel posed profound questions regarding the consequences our choices make in shaping our lives, and even our very realities. While this book is classified as a science fiction thriller it focuses more on the nature of love and life as well as what it means to be human. The main protagonist Jason Dessen is an average guy faced with abnormal and formidable circumstances whose only wish is to return to the family and life he loves above all else. All the hype leading up to reading this book was not unfounded, and I found this novel to be a satisfying and unique read that left me thinking for days after.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for readers looking for a unique perspective within the science fiction genre.

If I could summarize the book in one word: mind-boggling

Check out the official summary of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch on goodreads.

My rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★

My Musings: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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True to its name this novel was indeed both strange and beautiful in in its themes, prose, and story. While the title gives the impression that the plot primarily centers on the character of Ava Lavender, the book is more of an anthology of the fantastical experiences of several generations of women in one peculiar family.
This book isn’t simply about a girl named Ava who is born with the wings of a bird, but rather so much more. It is about life and love. It is about the passage of time.
The story and the way in which it is narrated—through the various perspectives of each of the characters—reflects on the drastic ways love effects people’s lives. Infatuation, lust, hatred, the pain of betrayal, love in all its forms—these are all emotions we all feel, and Walton portrays them with a poignancy and subtle grace that is utterly mesmerizing. The narrator’s repeating declaration that “love makes us such fools” effectively summarizes the overarching theme of the novel, which explores both the negative and positive consequences of such a visceral emotion in equal measure. This story isn’t solely about love. It is about humans’ interaction with the accumulation of emotions that make up love and all that it entails.
This is not an adventure story, nor even a coming-of-age tale, but rather a conglomeration of fantastical elements, superstition, and mythology and how they intertwine with reality. It is unique and bizarre in every sense of the word, but also incredibly profound. This is the perfect novel to cozy up with on your next rainy day.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for readers looking for a beautiful love story within a fantastic and magical world

If I could summarize the book in two words: bizarrely moving  

Check out the official summary of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender on goodreads.

My rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★1/2

My Musings: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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The sequel to Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses far surpassed everything about the first. The plot, the characters, the worldbuilding, and especially the romance were all so much better developed, and while I didn’t fall in love with the first book I definitely did with this one. In my opinion, this novel was close to flawless. I wasn’t a huge fan of Tamlin as the love interest in the first place, and this latest installment simply expounded on why. I loved Feyre’s growth throughout the story and how she finds her own strength through not only relationships with those around her but also with the acceptance of herself and who she has become. Rhysand’s character was revealed to have far more depth and maturity than what we saw in the first book, and the friendship to romance between him and Feyre was both entertaining and heartbreaking to watch at times.
To put it simply, I thought this book was amazing. I was thoroughly addicted from the first to last page, and reading this reminded me why I fell in love with fantasy in the first place—because when everything, when the words, the characters, and the story all coalesce to fit perfectly, the result can be magic.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for readers looking for a beautiful love story within a fantastic and magical world

If I could summarize the book in one word: mesmerizing 

Here’s an official summary on goodreads.

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+ (honestly, I wish I could give it an even higher rating)

My Musings: Morning Star by Pierce Brown

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The release of the final book in the Red Rising trilogy made me feel simultaneously excited and anxious. Brown is a master of unexpected plot twists and delving into his futuristic world of war and politics is always as mind-blowing as it is fantastic. While there aren’t as many action scenes in this book, I like how Darrow seems to develop more as both a character and a worthy leader of the rebellion. In contrast to the first two, this is mainly a war novel, which definitely contributed to its slower pacing. Most of the plot is focused around Darrow’s campaign strategy with only a handful of large battle sequences. However, the somewhat gradual build-up to the finale is worth it in the end. Overall, the latest installment proved to be a satisfying conclusion to a great series.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for fans of hardcore sci-fi books and epic battle scenes in space.

If I could summarize the book in one word: Intense 

Here’s the official summary of Morning Star on goodreads.

My rating (out of 5 stars) ☆☆☆☆1/2

The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews

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Hello, everyone! Despite the official summary, this will be more of a book recommendation instead of a review, since I am relating my overall thoughts on an entire series and not a single volume.

Right now, I am just starting to again read Urban Fantasy books, and I have officially fallen in love with the Kate Daniels novels by Ilona Andrews! What I love about these books is the sheer fun of reading them. While there are elements of romance that gradually become more prominent over the course of the series, the action, humor, and mystery that makes these novels come alive never dwindles.

The first book opens with the introduction of Kate Daniels, a mercenary in an alternative version of Atlanta in which magic and technology are constantly at war. While on a case to track down the individual responsible for the murder of her guardian, she crosses paths with Curran, the fearsome leader of the city’s shapeshifter clan. From there begins a string of adventures filled in equal parts with suspense, magic, and a romance that is never redundant or boring.

Kate plays every bit the part of a strong heroine, while still being relatable and genuine in everything she does. While at first, Curran is presented as being a romantic interest as well as the most powerful male character in the opening book, he later is shown to be much more than that. While moody and temperamental, Curran is always an ally and friend to Kate, even when she doesn’t realize it. The constant banter between these two is pure entertainment and watching their relationship evolve throughout these books is the highlight of the entire series. The world building in these novels is fabulous as well. Though originally, I was slightly confused by the explanation of the alternate version of Atlanta in the first volume, after I continued on with the series the details became more clear and understandable.

Overall, the Kate Daniels books have turned out to be some of my favorites of all time, and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a quick fast-paced read and a series that will always entertain!

📚✔︎ Would recommend for fans of urban fantasy with shapeshifters and a slow burning romance.

If I could summarize the book in one word: Exhilarating 

Here’s a summary on Goodreads for the first book in the series, Magic Bites.

My Musings: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

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This book was a fun read filled with romance, magic, and wonderful worldbuilding. Many of the elements of the story resembled those of Harry Potter and Eragon, but the tension-filled relationship between Prince Titus and Iolanthe was unique in its own right. The most interesting aspect of the story was watching the budding romance between these two wonderful characters. Despite Iolanthe being presented as the main protagonist, destined to be the chosen one meant to defeat the evil Bane, I found Titus to be the most lovable of the pair. I admired Thomas’ delicate and carefully crafted portrayal of the almost king as a boy weighed down by his destiny, while heroically struggling to be brave and uphold his duty to his people. Iolanthe was every bit the spunky heroine, but not nearly as well developed, and I couldn’t make myself feel as much of a connection to her.

Overall, the story was interesting, but not action-packed. For all the time and effort spent by the author in creating this dramatic sense of the potential greatness of the two main characters, I found the ending to be somewhat disappointing and anti-climatic. The action scenes were fast-paced, but many times vague and confusing. This drawback was very evident in the final scene, and that was partly why I was left somewhat detached at the conclusion. Aside from this, the novel was a pleasant and romantic read. I would recommend it for fans of high fantasy with an English flair.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for fans of high fantasy with an English flair.

If I could summarize the book in one word: Enchanting

Here’s an official summary on goodreads.

My rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★1/2

My Musings: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

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After seeing several reviews on this novel, I was somewhat hesitant to buy it, however after reading the blurb several times, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. The concept of a warrioress tasked with hunting evil faeries and saving the world in the process isn’t an exceedingly original one, but I found this to be a surprisingly fun read. While May’s worldbuilding is somewhat lacking, the relationship between her characters were interesting enough to keep me entertained. Aileana was a compelling heroine, and I loved her strength throughout the novel. I also enjoyed reading the banter between her and Kiaran, and honestly their alliance/romance was the highlight of the book for me. Without giving any spoilers away, I will say that I found the ending to be both short and confusing and not satisfactory at all. I am as big of a fan of cliffhangers as anyone else, but this ending didn’t even feel like an ending at all, and to be honest, I most likely won’t be reading the sequel.

📚✔︎ Would recommend for any fans of faeirie folklore and steampunk looking for a fast read.

If I could summarize the book in one word: forgettable

Here’s the official summary on goodreads.

My rating: ★★★ 1/2

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