5 stars · Fantasy · young adult

Sightwitch by Susan Dennard: SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD

35481848

 

 

Sightwitch (The Witchlands #0.5)

author : susan dennard

pages : [hardcover] 208

memorable quote :

What is life except perception?

favorite character : ryber

summary :

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard, Sightwitch is an illustrated novella set in the Witchlands and told through Ryber’s journal entries and sketches.

Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch…

Before Merik returned from the dead…

Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.

Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight—and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.

On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.

Set a year before TruthwitchSightwitch is a companion novella that also serves as a set up to Bloodwitch, as well as an expansion of the Witchlands world.

review :

I can’t say it enough: I’m so glad that I finally read these books. The Witchlands series is something special. It’s creative, immersive, and nuanced. The characters are lovely, flawed, and relatable. The diversity is done well. The plot is . . . well, I don’t think my heart can take much more. If you haven’t read these books yet, start with Truthwitch, then read your way here.

Sightwitch is a collection of maps, drawings, and journal entries that not only tell more of Ryber’s story. They give a better perspective to this world as a whole. More of the fun (well, sometimes terrifying) world building that couldn’t be lingered over in the first two books. It’s a look into the past–sometimes the very far past, as in thousands of years, and sometimes just the earlier days of characters we’ve learned to love. It all blends together in this beautiful, much too short book that will keep you reading late into the night.

I just didn’t want to put it down.

There’s adventure and romance, yes. But also bravery–characters coming into their own. Loss. Reunions. Hope, and plans for the future. Worry, and the chance that literally everything will crumble to ruin.

Sightwitch is quieter than the previous two books, possibly because it is a prequel. It doesn’t have as many characters or locations as the others, and I love it. I love being drawn so personally into the lives of these characters we really needed to learn more about. Basically what this book taught me above all else is that I will read anything Susan Dennard writes and won’t be pleased until there are, like, fifty books in this series.

So if you haven’t started to read it yet . . . you should probably pick it up today.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

Advertisements
5 stars · series · young adult

Reread Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone is still one of my favorite books

8490112

daughter of smoke and bone

author : laini taylor

reread review :

Yep. Still love it.

Because Goodreads only all too recently added the reread option, I’m not sure what read this really is for me. Fourth? Fifth? I love it anyway. There’s always some new detail that I find I’ve forgotten or never noticed before– a new line that helps me remember why I fell in love with these books in the first place. Hard enough that as soon as I finished renting it from the library, I needed to buy my own copy!

Akiva is still one of my favorite love interests of all time. I love how flawed he is and can’t wait for my reread of book two for more of him!

Karol is as always a gripping main character. She is completely unique. I love how she can go from teenage angst to trying to save the world and still feel like a realistic, flawed character.

I recommend this book to everyone possible. You absolutely must give it a try!

 

original rating : 5/5 stars

reread rating : 5/5 stars

 

how I feel when I read this book :

ahwg

5 stars · series · young adult

A Gathering of Shadows: suffering from sequel syndrome


A Gathering of Shadows Final

A Gathering of Shadows

Shades of Magic #2
Book 1: A Darker Shade of Magic

author : v. e. schwab

pages : [hardcover] 512

memorable quote :

Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.

favorite character : holland (& kell’s coat)

summary :

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

review :

I went into the Shades of Magic trilogy knowing absolutely nothing, because sometimes that’s the best way to let yourself slip into a book. To fall into the world headfirst alongside the characters. Book one immediately drew me in, with the inventive and captivating writing, array of interesting characters, and a plot that held back nothing.

Book two was . . . different. The tone was different, the setup of the story was different. My reaction was different.

I didn’t hate it. I still loved the characters, and some of their actions made me love them even more. I still loved the world and the world-building skills of V.E. Schwab. If this had been a standalone novel or the first book in a different series I would have loved the book itself.

But we go from book one, A Darker Shade of Magic, in which entire worlds are at stake and people are dying, to book two, where the main characters participate in a magical tournament. Sort of like the Olympics of magical sparring. And all of the important, life-altering, terrible things that could shatter the world at any moment happen only in the background.

It’s hard to take the plot very seriously when it sort of reads like a fanfiction. As if someone saw the overall plot and thought it would be interesting to throw in some entertaining gladiator fighting in the middle of it.

To be honest, it’s great fanfiction. The descriptions are so astounding the visuals pop off of the page. The feats of magic are entertaining and the characters get in several quotable quips. But I can’t help but feel as if the series would be better as a duology.

It feels odd to like a book and the writing, but feel as if the entire plot line has been misplaced.

I would still recommend this book, because it’s a fun read and the ending is a great bridge to book three.

5/5 stars

5 stars · nonfiction

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon is AMAZING

7313049

the art of how to train your dragon

written by : tracey miller-zarneke

preface by : cressida cowell

pages [hardcover] 160

favorite part of the book : toothless concept art!

summary :

Featuring more than 350 pieces of development artwork that includes early character designs, story sketches, and concept paintings never before released by the studio, The Art of How to Train Your Dragon offers a stunning view of DreamWorks Animation’s film about an unlikely alliance between a young Viking and a deadly dragon, inspired by the original book by Cressida Cowell.

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon presents the insights of the filmmakers who crafted this high-flying cinematic adventure and takes the audience on a visual tour of the Viking and dragon worlds that is an enthralling – but far less treacherous – as one would experience living among fire-breathing creatures with a boisterous Viking tribe.

The reader will be intrigued by page after page of beautifully realized illustrations that show how this remarkable movie about the Viking world, “where only the strong can belong,” mixed with the dragon world with its “fiery furies,” was conceived in its full glory. There are also behind-the-scenes section on the bold cinematic techniques used in creating this strikingly original animated movie. With an exclusive preface by Cressida Crowell and forward by Craig Ferguson, How to Train Your Dragon will be a delight for all movie and animation lovers as well as dragon and Viking fans.

review :

I absolutely love the art books that accompany most animated movies nowadays. They’re pretty expensive so I don’t own nearly as many as I’d like but whenever the stars align, and the pay is good, and the price is right, one falls into my hands. I’ve been waiting on this one for a while. It didn’t disappoint.

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon is slightly reminiscent of The Art of Rise of the Guardians, because each had a children’s/middle grade book series that existed before the film was conceived. And both films aren’t so much direct adaptations as vaguely related entities when compared to the original texts. I loved being able to see the steps that occurred between the original conception of the movie, focused more on the book, and the end result, which told its own story. Using the same basics characters, setting, and themes, but in a slightly aged-up and slightly scarier version of Hiccup’s world.

I loved it all.

I loved seeing concept art–concept art always fascinates me. To see these iterations of beloved characters and know that they could have looked like any one of those options if the design team had taken the film in a different direction. I loved the little fun facts, like Astrid’s braid trailing down her back rather than the side of her head because she kept turning and whacking other characters with it. I loved learning how they layered the settings, cheated with the lighting, threw in details they knew might not make it to the final version.

I can’t pretend to know everything about animation. I’m not an artist. But I know story. And it’s so interesting to see how all of these different components and concepts and ideas thread together into a cohesive and loved whole. Something people will watch and remember and then watch again.

I can’t recommend this book enough! It’s smart, it’s beautiful, and most importantly, it has dragons.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · Fantasy · series

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab is all I want in fantasy

A Darker Shade final for Irene

a darker shade of magic

shades of magic #1

author : v.e. schwab

pages : [hardcover] 400

memorable quote :

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”

favorite character : holland

summary :

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

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.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse 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.

review :

This book is truly a rollercoaster and, wow, I can’t believe I waited so long to read it.

There are some books I know I’ve been hyped too much about and can’t enjoy. Then there are some that live up to the hype, exceed it–maybe deserve more of it. A Darker Shade of Magic is certainly the latter.

And, yes, I’d heard a lot of good things about this book. But I dove into it without even reading the summary–without knowing much about the plot really. Apart from assuming it had something to do with magic. (Yes. There is plenty of magic in this book. What. A. Shock.) I loved not knowing what I was getting myself into. What the world was, what the plot was going to be, what the characters goals and motivations were. I wanted to find out within the story and it truly delivered.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I already know I need more to devour. The writing is just captivating. I love the way that the world was built. And there was absolutely no info-dumping! I hate that more than almost anything else in fantasy novels. The characters were so nicely fleshed out that you came to feel for even the most minor of them. I wanted more of some who only appeared on a few pages!

That said, some of the main characters were a little predictable in their little heroic roles. I’m excited because the way this book left off leaves more room for interesting and unexpected things to happen. For these characters to really branch out and flex their wills and abilities in this world.

Basically I need book two like yesterday.

This is a book I’ll recommend and reread. It’s a book with characters I love and a world I can immerse myself in and a story that hooks me in. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · books to movies

Thor Ragnarok: Movie Review

This was my least anticipated Marvel title for a while now. I never really expected to actually see it in theaters.

I’m so glad that I did.

academicincrediblecanine-max-1mb

Thor: Ragnarok follows a more Guardians of the Galaxy kind of tone when it comes to superhero films. It doesn’t take itself too seriously–actually, it doesn’t take the previous two Thor films too seriously. It pokes fun at itself, while simultaneously building on the mythology of the world and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was fun, and sad, and had a lot of amazing fight scenes complete with superpowers and explosions.

Basically, all I want in my Avengers films these days.

tenor

Thor has always been my least favorite Avenger–maybe tied with the Hulk. And because both of those Avengers happen to be in this movie, I never really gave it much thought. The previous two Thor movies never really stood out to me. They were dark and serious, without the hearty punch that’s come from previous Marvel movies with the same tone. Which is crazy to me because undoubtedly out of the favorite characters of the MCU is Loki. The previous Thor movies didn’t have the charm and heart of the Captain America films. None of the punchy pizzazz that comes with Iron Man. Those two series succeed in having rather dark and twisted plots, amazing characters to pull them through, and memorable witty moments.

Thor didn’t really succeed with the funny for me until this movie.

giphy

I will admit that Ragnarok did at times feel like it was trying too hard. That it wanted so much to be seen as something separate, so it could be more successful, that it was punching its way out of the setup given by the previous movies. What happened to Thor’s friends? I could only remember Lady Sif. Where did all of his friends go? Thor really doesn’t seem to care. He cares a whole lot for saving the world (well, stopping the start of the end of the world, I guess) but it’s a lot of generic for the greater good and not the good of, you know . . . all those guys he spent thousands of years fighting beside.

tenor1

The character of Thor himself was decidedly different. Of course he would have changed, what with the ‘stuff’ he’s been through (I have to be vague–I literally have no idea what he’s been up to and he gives the vaguest answer, too, okay?) and the whole Jane situation (does anyone else remember when Thor used to date Natalie Portman?). There were just a few random moments where Thor seemed very un-Thor like for the sake of throwing in a few extra jokes.

tumblr_ni3h7xreqa1r5ynioo1_r1_500

BUT I will say that those are the only bad things I can say about this film. As soon as I finished watching it, I decided I wanted to watch it again. I loved the amazing settings, the new characters introduced, the dynamic between Thor and Loki (I MISSED THIS SO MUCH). I want more. Am I a Thor fan now? I guess. Am I even more excited for the next Avengers movie? I didn’t think it was possible, but YES.

Have you seen Thor: Ragnarok? What did you think? Most importantly: What was your favorite joke?

I give Thor a resounding 5/5 stars because the entertainment of it outweighed anything else.

 

 

 

 

5 stars · science fiction · series

Undivided by Neal Shusterman; an amazing conclusion to the series

17950614

undivided

unwind #4

book 1: unwind
book 2: unwholly
book 3: unsouled

author : neal shusterman

pages : [hardcover] 372

favorite characters  conner & risa

memorable quote :

Best way to save humanity is to turn the monsters against one another.

summary :

Teens control the fate of America in the fourth and final book in the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman.

Proactive Citizenry, the company that created Cam from the parts of unwound teens, has a plan: to mass produce rewound teens like Cam for military purposes. And below the surface of that horror lies another shocking level of intrigue: Proactive Citizenry has been suppressing technology that could make unwinding completely unnecessary. As Conner, Risa, and Lev uncover these startling secrets, enraged teens begin to march on Washington to demand justice and a better future.

But more trouble is brewing. Starkey’s group of storked teens is growing more powerful and militant with each new recruit. And if they have their way, they’ll burn the harvest camps to the ground and put every adult in them before a firing squad—which could destroy any chance America has for a peaceful future.

review :

Unwind was one of those books that, after I read it, I knew immediately I was going to love it and keep rereading it forever. It took me a little while to realize it was going to be part of a series. I’m so amazed at the turns this series has taken–the ups, the downs, those nail-biting moments in-between. Neal Shusterman proves again and again that he’s one of my favorite authors because he’s brilliant, and writes wholly (ha) unique and compelling narratives, and creates these characters you can’t help but love.

Undivided, the final book in the Unwind dystology, came with a bittersweet feeling. I often hate to end series because, while I have this pull to know what’s going to happen, I can’t help but feel like I need to stretch out my time in the story. I don’t want it to end. Oftentimes it takes me longest to read the books I know I’ll love because I’m afraid of the terrible things that could happen to the wonderful characters.

Not to say that Neal Shusterman isn’t also capable of creating amazing, compelling villains, or those characters who float around in the gray area between good and evil. As much as I care for some of the amazing crew they’ve picked up along the way, I always need me some Connor and Risa.

I won’t spoil anything. I will say that this book made me cry like I haven’t since I read book one for the first time. It’s amazingly thoughtful, terribly reminiscent and poignant in today’s world. It’s sweet. It bites. And it’s everything that I could have ever wished for.

What I love most about this series is that when it’s bad, you can’t imagine it will get any worse. And it does. And then when it’s good, you can’t imagine it’ll get any better, and then it does. There’s never any way to predict it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sad to say goodbye to those surprises, and these characters, and those moments that made me laugh or cry. But I’m glad for the journey–if only so I can force everyone I know to read these books, immediately.

Undivided proves, once and for all, that this will be one of my favorite series of all time.

5/5 stars