Friday, February 8, 2019

2019 5 Star Read #2 - Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
All Souls Trilogy, book two
Published July 2012 by Viking Adult

Format Read: Book from Personal Library

Description from Goodreads:
Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

My Review:
Both books I have read so far in this series have been truly spectacular. They make for slow reading because the author is a historian by trade and her work is jam packed full of facts, but they are also super interesting, intricate reads. I have not for one second regretted the "extra" time it took to read either book. They are intense reads, but so engrossing, and I have not wanted to put them down to go to work! I wish all books left me with that hungry feeling between reading sessions.

Anyway, this book picked up immediately after the ending of the first.
*spoiler alert*

Diana and Matthew utilize her time traveling ability to go back to Elizabethan London to find a powerful witch that can tutor Diana in navigating her powers. There are emotional repercussions to traveling back to an earlier point in Matthew's life, which at first threaten to divide them, but Harkness does an amazing job at believably having the two lovers connect in an even stronger way after recognizing even greater depths of each of their personalities. This book is truly a homage of a type to a deep, abiding love built not on first attraction, not on fate, etc, but on the willingness and faith to push through difficulties and truly accept another person into your life, flaws and all. I LOVED that this was not an easy love story, but a strong, deep one.

Beyond that, there were soooooo many interesting scenes and details of Diana adjusting to life in Elizabethan England. The cast of real, historical characters including Marlowe and Shakespeare, himself, made for a very entertaining diversion into the past. The intersection between history, science, and the elements of the fantasy world that Harkness has created was seamless. As I read, I felt as if I could turn around at any moment and find a new history book denoting important vampires and witches of Europe. It was astounding how real the possibility felt.

*end spoilers*
I finished this book both dying to read the next one and desperate to read something totally different. Something light. The story is so gripping, but the writing is exhausting (in the best possible way). I'm hoping to read The Book of Life sometime in late February or early March.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

2019 5 Star Read #1 - Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep
Crown of Shards, book one
Published Oct 2018 by Harper Voyager

Format Read: Book from Personal Library

Description from Goodreads:
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

My Review: 
Holy cow, did I love this book. 
I am a fan of high fantasy, but I also love quick reads, and sadly, the two are not always one in the same.  However, this book delivered all the things I love about high fantasy - a world with a fully-fledged magic system, a loosely medieval society, and epic battles - in a super easy to read writing style.  I devoured this book...and immediately pre-ordered the sequel! 

The main character of this book is a girl with a strong core, but has been brow-beaten enough that she believes she is worthless. The girl finding her inner strength and going on to kick ass trope is one I'm all in for... every single time.  I love that in this book, too, there is romance, but it is completely secondary to her doing what she needs to do AND the friendships she builds with others along the way.  This is no princess that drops everything for a man. No, indeed. 

The magic, the sword-fighting, the royal intrigue, the secrets, the romance, and the main character all sold this book for me.  I am waiting WITH BATED BREATH until July (wahhhh!!) for the sequel, Protect the Prince, to be released. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

January Challenge Wrap Up Post

2019* Books I Already Own Challenge
So, as I mentioned in December, I have decided to continue my Books I Already Own Challenge into 2019 as I REALLY would like to read through the collection of books I have at home! I decided to be a little more loose this second year, though, as I also have other goals and so while I'll still be focusing on this, you will see more library books mixed in as I participate in group reads and catch up on some books I've been dying to read, as well.

I want to get back into actual review blogging again, too, so slowly I will be adding in more reviews of the books I read this year. I think I'm going to start off just trying to highlight my four or five star reads so I don't feel the pressure to try to review every book I read - I just don't have time for that anymore... BUT keep your eye out for some upcoming reviews!

This year started off really well reading-wise! I read more than I thought I would and a lot of them were high four star or five star reads, which made me a very happy reader.

Here's what I read in January:

Audiobooks I Own
The Lost Sisters by Holly Black - novella
The Pale Dreamer by Samantha Shannon - novella
Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
Endless Knight by Kresley Cole
Golden Son by Pierce Brown
Heart of the Witch by Deanna Chase
Beyond the Veil by Pippa DaCosta

Physical Books I Own
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness *5 star*
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep *5 star*

eBooks I Own
Greta and the Glass Kingdom by Chloe Jacobs
Greta and the Lost Army by Chloe Jacobs *5 star*
A Dark Grave by J. A. Souders - novella

Required Reading
(for work) The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree by Susan Wittig Albert

Borrowed from the Library
(for group read) Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo *5 star*
Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

How was your first month's reading in 2019?