Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness 

or: SOMEONE GET ME ON THE NEXT PLANE TO LONDON STAT!

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Synopsis: Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos.

What is more interesting than vampires and witches in Oxford? Clearly nothing. Everyone else go home, Deborah Harkness has just won at life.

I LOVED this book.

This is one of those books that sucks you in so deep you scarcely even realise you’re addicted until you look at your clock and realise its 11:30pm and you have to get up at 6:30am. This book’s pull is so tantalizingly gentle and mesmerizing that it’s almost as if Matthew is whispering suggested advice in your ear.

I’ve always wanted to study at Oxford- it’s one of those dreams you know will never happen but you wish like hell for it anyway- and Harkness brought me there, swathing me in loving prose and dense descriptive language.

Harkness has a unique writing style that reeks of the pragmatism of someone who learned to write through essays and scholarly styles. Yet while this should lead for a dry book, it doesn’t. Her writing is carefully paced and all paragraphs carefully constructed. Conversation between all characters is effortlessly natural at the same time not prone to monologues or un-realistic cues. Action happens in the same way life happens; the characters don’t know what’s going on and struggle to find their place.

And that’s what I like about Harkness’ writing; she doesn’t play the all-knowing author. There’s none of that arrogance that sometimes lingers when the author plays the ‘great puppet master’; Harkness shows a humility and respect in her writing that’s obvious from page one and made me respect her from the very beginning.

This book is incredibly detail dense. Harkness takes pains to develop the story at a grass root level, leaving in swaths of ‘pointless’ days for Diana, including the human things – like daily exercise and endless hours at work- that most authors shy away from or cut out as it doesn’t suit their grand plan. Don’t be put off, this makes everything work. You don’t resent Harkness for leaving this in; it allows the audience to become very connected to Diana, and makes the story live, breath and feel like it COULD happen.

Harkness, doesn’t present the glamour witches and vampires that we are used to. She revels in their weirdness. Witches aren’t the hobbled old granny-crone, nor are they the glam child wonder that we are suffocated with;- there rather presented as real, run of the mill people who just so happen to have a different sense of the world. Harkness’ witches are more wiccans than actual supernatural beings. And I bloody loved it.

The vampires were rude, stuck in their ways and struggled with food. I loved it.

The deamons- an interesting new addition to the mythological world from Harkness- much like the witches, felt real enough that it’s easy to imagine passing them on the street in real life.

And that’s where the power of this book lies. Harkness has created a dual world that has such strong tethers to actual life, that she seduces you into thinking that all of it, has the possibility of being true. She seduces you through witty one-liners, a complex and deeply intriguing plot that just keeps flip flopping, and very very detailed descriptions and prose.

Harkness is a world builder, and the world she built for this story is so tempting that it’s hard to tear yourself from the pages. This is a monster of a book, and upon receiving it, I was more than a little intimidated. But I barely noticed the 800 pages that I churned through in two weeks. This such an intriguing story and I was so compelled to work out the mysteries and why things worked, that I found myself at the end before I realised I had past half way.

I am more than a little desperate to find out what happens next;- the cliff hanger absolutely sucked me dry (HA. Get it?) but as I’ve been on a self imposed book buying ban (which I failed miserably) since early March, I’ve had to tough it out since finishing this book in early march. The next book- what appears to be another significant beast- I’m hopping to read in the next few months. Harkness has set up a very interesting series and I am really hoping that the next book doesn’t let me down and does this one justice.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go look at pictures of the Oxford campus and cry because I can’t attend.

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

or: OMG WOW

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Synopsis: When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

A few days ago, I posted a blog post about how I had been in a readers slump and was desperately seeking a book or something to break me out of it. This was that book

I’ve been looking for a while to expand my author reading list as I’m increasingly worried I’m becoming too encircled by the same group of authors and since several of my favourite bookstagramers had been absolutely raving about this book, and everyone in the Fantasy YA community seemed to be talking about it, I couldn’t resist the lure of the book with the pretty cover.

My love for this book didn’t grow until a few chapters in and honestly I don’t know why. I blame the reading slump. Feyre’s life in the human world didn’t capture me and the first chapters of character building seemed drawn out and slow. Don’t fear though, the moment Feyre is taken to Pyrithian things change for the better. The beginning is a solid three stars, but the moment Feyre is taken by Tamlin, woooo boy do things jump on the fast train to epic vile.

I fell in love with this book and the characters. The plot twists were unpredictable even though Maas was very very loosely following the old classic tale, and I honestly had zero problems getting sucked in the moment Feyre reached Tamlin’s estate.

Being a big “Beauty and the Beast” fan when I was a little girl, I was unsure of what to expect when everyone was saying “interesting redux of an old classic”. I was paranoid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations and it would fall flat. How can a book live up to such a massive hype?

Oh boy did Maas kick ass. Nothing in this book feels like a cheap rip off. She takes the classic and flips it on its head, pulls it apart with gentle hands and makes everything as vivid and fantastic as if the Fae world sent it to us mere mortals as a gift. Feyre is so different from Belle that its refreshing but not too jarring. Tamlin was hotter than a ghost pepper and I think I’ve found a new fictional heart throb. Lucien was the perfect addition to the story (love me a sidekick with a tragic backstory) and the villains were as twisted as they were interesting.

This book is what I like to call an “Epic Adventure Love Story”. This has substance, allusions/internal reflections on deeper issues and asks the reader to challenge their perceptions of how a heroine should act and what she should be like. This book was gripping and had me gaping and gasping throughout. I stayed up to 1:30 in the morning reading this book because I simply couldn’t bear to put it down to go to sleep. I HAD to know what happened to Tamlin, Feyre and the Spring Court.

Honestly I’m so glad Maas is planning a sequel to this because I have a mighty need to know what happens. While the ending didn’t end how I expected it to, I’m kind of glad it did end that way. I love when authors surprise you like that. I love that it didn’t end on a cliff hanger but was so enticing that you want to stick around.

Maas who has other beloved books (which are now on my too read list BTW), really knows her stuff. Her skill is phenomenal and her style of writing is so vivid its easy to slip into her world even if you don’t fully understand it. This may not be a surprise to readers who have already read Maas’ other works, but you don’t need to be well acquainted with her work to slip right in. This book is more of a bridging book between YA and Adult but swings more towards adult in certain areas. I’d recommend this book for 17 and up.

Man, I don’t think I gave this book an adequate review… it’s just too good to put into words. Trust me, if you can, run your little butt to the store and get this book in your life. Thank me later.

Review: Daughter of Darkness by V. C Andrews

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Daughter of Darkness by V.C Andrews

or: *retching noises*

Goodreads   ||  No link for book because I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy

Synopsis: When I was a little girl, Daddy told me never to fear the dark. “We exist because of the darkness,” he told me. “All of you are daughters of darkness.” Beloved bestselling author V.C. Andrews’s passion for vampires comes to spellbinding life in a long-awaited novel of dark desires as all-consuming—and forbidden—as in Flowers in the Attic. One night, with the sound of a young man’s scream, high school senior Lorelei discovers that her stern but loving father, who adopted Lorelei and her sisters as infants, is no ordinary man. He has raised his beautiful girls for one purpose: to lure young men into their world of shadows. Like her sisters, Lorelei has been trained in the art of seduction and warned never to fall in love. But when she meets a handsome and charming classmate, she boldly defies her family and follows her heart—even if love is a poison. . . .Dangerously enticing and deliriously intoxicating, V.C. Andrews’s Daughter of Darkness will leave readers thirsting for more

Excuse me while I saliva vomit and bleach out the contents of my mind.

I abandoned this book on page 64. I just couldn’t force myself to go any further. I’d given up all hope of the book improving 20 pages ago and was so close to hurling the book onto a large fire somewhere.
I was given this book years ago as a gift but it’s stayed on my book shelf ever since. This should have been a sign but I was desperate for something to read while I waited on some ordered books and just thought it would be a quick easy read

I should have left it on my book shelf. What a waste of my time.

This is so dull I can’t bring myself to continue. Lorelei is a whiny little brat and Andrews writing is like a stream of consciousness that has zero direction. The plot moves at a glacial pace because she keeps slipping back into pointless memories. Her characters are dull and are obsessed with their father figure which is both disturbing and unsettling as the premise of the book.

The plot is horrific, the writing style is appalling and I am honestly questioning why they decided to release this book under such an esteemed pen name. I’ve never read Andrews work before, but my mother used to be a cult follower back in the 80s and 90s. I grew up watching my mum devour her books and she said such good things about her writing that I guess I had become blind sided.

Sorry mum but this is the last attempt I’ll make for good ‘ol Andrews.

I gave this book one star on Goodreads. I would have given it none if Goodreads would have had it. I honestly didn’t ever expect to come across something that would rival the disastrous Spellcaster but it seems Gray has finally met her match here.
Trust me, this isn’t worth your time. I rarely abandon books: I stick it out until the end even if it’s horrible. I just can’t with this book

Review: Storm Born by Richelle Mead

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Storm Born by Richelle Mead

Or: hmm what’s missing here?

Goodreads   ||   The Book Depository

Synopsis: Just typical. No love life to speak of for months, then all at once, every horny creature in the Otherworld wants to get in your pants. . . Eugenie Markham is a powerful shaman who does a brisk trade banishing spirits and fey who cross into the mortal world. Mercenary, yes, but a girl’s got to eat. Her most recent case, however, is enough to ruin her appetite. Hired to find a teenager who has been taken to the Otherworld, Eugenie comes face to face with a startling prophecy—one that uncovers dark secrets about her past and claims that Eugenie’s first-born will threaten the future of the world as she knows it. Now Eugenie is a hot target for every ambitious demon and Otherworldy ne’er-do-well, and the ones who don’t want to knock her up want her dead. Eugenie handles a Glock as smoothly as she wields a wand, but she needs some formidable allies for a job like this. She finds them in Dorian, a seductive fairy king with a taste for bondage, and Kiyo, a gorgeous shape-shifter who redefines animal attraction. But with enemies growing bolder and time running out, Eugenie realizes that the greatest danger is yet to come, and it lies in the dark powers that are stirring to life within her…

This book was good but there was something missing from it that I cant quite put my finger on.

I’d give this book 3 stars after some time to think on it.

Richelle Mead has held my devotion for many years, and now that the Vampire Academy series and Bloodline Series were over, I was determined to read more of her work. I accidentally stumbled across book three in this series in store and then quickly realised my mistake after purchasing the book and returning home. Determined to like the series, I ordered this book.

This story is good, but it doesn’t sweep me up and overwhelm me. I’m not sure if its because I have extremely high expectations when it comes to Mead’s work or I’m just used to the slightly different style of the VA and Bloodlines series.

Will I read the rest of this series? Definitely; I’ve seriously got a crush on Dorian. Would I go out of my way to recommend it? No, I’d recommend her other stuff.This is the sort of book you read when its a cold, wet day and you have not much else to do. This is a great time waster with a very strong heroine who is in strong command of herself. This is the sort of book you’d take away on vacation. A ‘pool’ read if you will.

Once again, Mead’s ability to create such a dense and complex new world that runs parallel to our own is amazing; the Otherworld is amazing and something you’d find in a true world-built fantasy. Yes there are a few holy parts to this world- for example there are times when you kind of just sit there confused as you try and imagine it in your head- but I think Mead intends well. I’d say the Otherworld for her is so dense and complex, she has a hard time describing it because she leaves a lot of the world to the reader’s imagining. For a lot of reviewers (god bless goodreads) this is a deal breaker. For me it isn’t.

While yes, there is definitely a love triangle in this book, it’s not unnecessary and it’s hard to imagine Eugenie’s story existing without both Kiyo and Dorian in the way that it does. Does Eugenie become solely dependent on either one? no. Not at all. This book does however revolve around sex so if you’re not into sexually independent women, it’s best to put this book down and walk away, because there is A LOT of sex in this book. It’s almost as if Mead is making up for the very wisely abstinent Bloodlines and VA series here.

It’s easy to draw a lot of parallels between Rose Hathaway and Eugenie Markham, but Eugenie is still fresh and original and has just enough dry sarcasm to set her apart from Mead’s other spunky heroine. Eugenie, like most of Mead’s heroes, makes mistakes and like Mead’s previous offerings, is totally forgivable. You can’t help but root for Eugenie, and pray she stays strong enough to keep moving on her own path. While there are some moments Eugenie almost slides into Mary Sue mode, they are rare and brief. If your tolerance for Mary Sue moments is limited, again, its probably best to put down the book and move away. Eugenie isn’t a Mary sue… totally. Hopefully this improves as the series goes on.

I don’t know if that intangible missing part will appear in the next couple of books, but I’m definitely committed to this story line and will read the series anyway.