Recommendations · Reviews

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab // Review

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab

Rating: ★★★★★

Release: 24th February 2015

This book is a perfect example of the best way to write a novel about magic. It’s complete with a badass female, a mysterious dark-eyed magician, and a kingdom that is one bad choice away from destruction.

This book tells the story of Kell, a magician known as an Ansari, who can control all aspects of magic and master them. He can also travel through the different London’s, Grey London – where magic left, Red London – his London, where magic is used on a daily basis, and White London – where magic has taken over and the people fight to control it. However there used to be one more London, Black London – a place where magic destroyed and is now but a distant horror story in the minds of those who have forgotten it. Until now…

This book was one of the best books I have ever read. From the moment I opened it and started reading about the intricate details of Kell’s coat I knew that I had already fallen in love with the book. I loved the character of Kell instantly, he was so well-developed and the magic he has, with being an Ansari, is described brilliantly. I loved how when he does blood magic it does take it out of him rather than him having an endless vat of power like a lot of books about magicians do. It helped to make his character so real, and along with his kind heartedness and love toward his brother Rhy, it was love at first sight for me.

The relationship between Kell and Rhy was something so special, I loved how Kell has the need to protect him like a guard but also the love of a brother. It allows such amazing character development to take place between both characters, and really shows the dynamic of the royalty in Red London. The comparison between the royalty in each London is so brilliantly written that it means you can see the differences clear as day.

The introduction of Lila is also one of the main standouts in this novel. Victoria Schwab not only creates a magical world to die for, but her creation of Lila is outstanding. I love her relationship with Kell, and her determination to live for an adventure, even if it does mean putting her life in danger. She is such an inspirational character, and I love that she doesn’t originally have any magic yet keeps up with Kell just as much without it! She is such an amazing female heroine.

The story overall is brilliantly written, from the wonderfully devious villains to the awe-inspiring fight scene, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I loved how malicious the Danes are, and how Holland reacts to both being prisoned to them but also how he deals interacting with Kell, a fellow Ansari. They work so well opposite each other, I loved how well thought out each character seemed.

The lack of romance (other than minor parts) was a wonderful breath of fresh air, and something that Victoria Schwab writes amazingly, she is the queen of YA in that aspect for definite.

Whether it was learning about each London, seeing the difference in each one, or the development of the story and the introduction of Black London, this book kept me on edge the entire time. I loved every part of it, and it was exactly the example of what an amazing book about magic should be written like.

A Darker Shade of Magic, and it’s two sequels (A Gathering of Shadows & A Conjuring of Light) are all out now!

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Recommendations · Reviews

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco // Review


Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ★★★★★

Release: 27th October 2016

A Victorian crime thriller that will keep you questioning the true motives behind Jack the Ripper, like you never have before.

This book had been all over social media, so I knew I had to pick it up. I’ve always had an interest in reading about true crime stories, and obviously the story of Jack the Ripper is one of the most notable ones there is, so I knew just from the title this was something I needed to read.

From start to finish I loved this book. There wasn’t one part of it I didn’t completely immerse myself in, it was brilliant. Not only is the cover absolutely stunning, but the novel inside matches the cover beauty.

The first thing that stood out to me when I started this book was the chapter headers. Not only were they beautifully designed with blood spatters and stunning cursive, but also many of them started out with a diagram or image of something to do with the chapter e.g. the image of something with a certain disease. It was such a wonderful detail and it really added to the overall atmosphere of the book!

Audrey Rose is definitely one of the main female leads who I aspire to be. Throughout this book she was so head strong and even though the males of her family constantly tried to make sure she kept with the times and did what she was ‘expected’ to do (as was custom in Victorian times), she never let them get away with it and if anything defied expectations even more. Her character is so ahead of her time, and after being surrounded by so many male influences it was wonderful to read as she become more and more confident in her abilities and believed in her deductions and skills in the morgue. She really is one of the most inspirational female leads I’ve read and I can’t thank Kerri enough for creating her.

The other characters and her relationships with them I found were also stand out. Her relationship with Thomas Cresswell was written amazingly. The romance was never less than subtle, as again would be custom of the time period, and it was such a slow burning romance that it really allowed me to get invested and believe the story.

In relation to this her relationship to her father and brother was also something that really stood out. She never let them get in her way, yet always made sure to respect them, and it really showed how hard it would be for a woman in Victorian times to be free to herself. I loved how they had a rocky relationship, but always resorted back to caring for each other and for their family.

I loved how the story of Jack the Ripper was brought in. The first killings were mentioned so subtly that it really felt like I was in that time period, and that I had no idea what monstrosities would really begin to occur as the killings went on. The information about Jack himself was also so historically accurate I couldn’t help but be in awe of just how much research Kerri must have done for the novel. From including information and names of all his victims, to even including examples of the infamous letters he wrote such as the ‘Dear Boss’ letter, it was such a wonderful addition, and brilliant for those like me, who are extremely interested in the history behind it.

The ending was amazing, and I couldn’t help but feel every emotion Audrey did. The explanation behind the motives of Jack linked so perfectly to the entirety of what had occurred throughout the novel, it tied up every loose end in the most perfect way. The development of Audrey’s relationship with her father was also such a beautiful chapter to read, it was a heart-warming addition to a gripping novel.

This book is such a beautifully written, historically accurate and truly well thought out book that I couldn’t help but almost read it in one sitting. The end links so well to the title of the sequel that I’m now counting down the days until I can get my hands on it! A perfect historical crime thriller, by a wonderfully talented debut author.

Stalking Jack the Ripper is out now on all online outlets!

The sequel, Hunting Prince Dracula, is available to pre-order now!

Reviews

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan // Review


Title: Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

Rating: ★★★

Release: 26th January 2017

I was lucky enough to get an e-copy of this from NetGalley – all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

I had my eye on this book for a while so when I saw it on NetGalley I had to request it, and read it as soon as I got accepted. The start of the book completely captivated me, the split perspective between Katie and Margot was brilliantly written. I was completely invested in the story and from the first chapter I had so many questions buzzing around my brain just waiting to be answered!

Helen’s writing style builds up the perfect amount of suspense so it doesn’t bore you because nothing happens, but instead you feel like anything could happen at any time and it makes you want to carry on reading just to see how the story develops. It really was a brilliant start to the book!

However sadly I felt the second half didn’t quite live up to the first half. I felt that everything exciting and noteworthy had already happened in the first half, so the last parts didn’t seem as important. There was a twist but for me I just didn’t feel like it was very believable.

I know books don’t have to be believable but this ending just felt a little too extreme for me, and I felt the book had a lot more potential than it got credit for! Everything just happened so quickly and it was a very abrupt ending that left me a little unsatisfied. I felt that there were quite a few loose ends and questions I’d have loved to be answered, so it wasn’t for me.

However saying that there were some positives and I really did love the character of Margot. I loved how headstrong she was and how she went out of her way to help someone in need, she really was such a wonderfully created character and was the star of the book for me.

Overall it wasn’t a bad book, I did like the idea behind the narrative and the characters, I just think it deserved a bit more ‘oomph’ for an ending!

Reviews

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir // Review

Title: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Rating: ★★★★★

Release: 11th February 2016

Sabaa Tahir’s debut novel is an amazingly action packed novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat from the moment you pick it up, until the second you finish it.

This book was one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. The narrative was one of the most amazing things, the main focus of the novel was Laia’s attempts to save her brother from being executed, and living up to her parents name, and it was brilliant. It’s so refreshing to have a YA book that focuses on the relationship between a family and for the entire motive behind what goes on in the narrative to be family orientated.

The fact as well that there was no insta-love and that the romance is there but never takes centre stage was one of the main things I loved about it. The developing relationship between Laia and Elias was beautifully written and the way the characters are developed shows just how talented Sabaa is.

I loved each and every character that was introduced in this book, and I also really liked that there were no real ‘side characters’, every character was important in some way and the story focused on all of them, and gave them all back story which was so brilliant.

I was completely hooked from the start, and the amount of twists and turns throughout made sure to keep me that way through the entirety of the book! This book is the perfect example of how to write split POV’s as there was never a time I wanted to skip past a chapter to get to the character I wanted to read about, every character was completely perfect.

The Commandant is one of the best villains I’ve ever read about, there is no major reason behind why you fear her, but the writing is so subtle and the true nature of her character is revealed bit by bit that you can’t help but feel the fear that every living under her command at Blackcliff Academy feels. That is the true way to write in a villain, Sabaa you’re a star.

The end was unbelievable and left me with so many questions for the next book, just the way you want a book to leave you! From start to finish I was in love with this book and I am incredibly excited to get around to reading the sequel!

An Ember in the Ashes and it’s sequel, A Torch Against the Night are out now at any major bookstores and online!

Reviews

Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams // Review

Title: Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams

Rating: ★★★★★

Release: 14th February 2017

This debut novel is a beautifully heart warming story of a mother’s love for her unborn child, that will leave you feeling every emotion and wanting to start it all over again.

The cover of this book is so fitting to the story. It explains the entire story just in one picture and that can be hard to do, from then I knew it would be an amazing book, and I wasn’t wrong.

Emily’s writing of this story is absolutely beautiful. I have rarely read a book that not only had me hooked from the start but that had me completely immersed in the story, it felt so real. The way that diary entries are included in letters from our main character Flora to her unborn child is brilliant. It added such a personal insight into the story that I felt like I was going along with Flora’s journey to motherhood with her.

The character of Flora herself was also particularly amazing. She is now one of my favourite book characters, she had such a ‘realistic’ atmosphere about her, that I felt I could relate to. I was completely captivated as she told her child her story, and felt every emotion she did as the story went on. It was brilliant.

Not only was Flora written and developed beautifully but the rest of the characters were also developed in the most realistic way. The way Flora’s parents reacted to her pregnancy was so good, it wasn’t made out to be perfect and barely a shock like a lot of films. The reactions were real, and I liked how her mother wasn’t sure at first. It just felt like a reaction any parent would have and that made this story so unique.

The relationship between Flora and River kept me on edge the entire time because I just wanted the best for them! I couldn’t contain how much love I felt for them, and the love they had for each other was beautiful.

I also loved how the story was told not only in letter format but also in flashbacks. It was so cleverly written that in most letters we were actually filling in gaps in the life of Flora and Eloise but the author had created it so well that it was hardly noticeable. Everything made sense, and by the end all loose ends were tied up in one heartbreaking and emotional bow!

The ending itself brought me to tears, but I couldn’t have pictured a better ending. Emily is one talented author, because she knew just when to pull at our heart-strings to make it all the more difficult when the book came to an end. The epilogue left me feeling almost every emotion under the sun from happiness, relief and also utter sadness. It takes an amazing author to do that, and this book did it perfectly.

There aren’t words to describe how much I loved this book. I loved how realistic it felt, from the emotions of Flora, to her relationships with River and Tate, and then overall her unending love for her baby. A truly heart warming and heart breaking read, but one that shows just how far a mother will go to protect and love their child. Beautiful.

Emily, I can’t thank you enough for gracing me with this book! Your writing inspires me!

You can buy Letters to Eloise now in paperback here:

Amazon UK: Here!

*NOTE: I was sent Letters to Eloise by the author in return for an honest review and that is what I have written. All opinions are my own and are completely truthful.*

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Why Reading Means the World to Me // #WorldBookDay

Hi everyone!

So this is a little different to my usual posts on this blog but I wanted to write something today in honour of World Book Day and I thought that explaining and expressing my love for books was the perfect way! I apologise if this is a little long!

I’ve always grown up with people around me reading. Whether it was my mum, my nan or my auntie, there was always someone reading around me. I picked it up from them and since being little I’ve never looked back. Reading has been one of the most important things in my life ever since, and I wouldn’t be half the person I am without it.

I wrote a post on my other blog about the positive effects of reading, so I didn’t want to write another of those. This one is my own opinion and my own reasons behind why I love reading so much.

Reading is my escape. It allows me for however long I’m reading to become someone else. The worries I have in my life are no longer bringing me down, for even just an hour I can forget about it all and focus on myself. I’ve always loved how books can allow you to travel through universes without moving a muscle, the power of words are one of the strongest things in the world and until recently I never realised just how true that is.

Since I got diagnosed with depression, books and reading have been my lifeline. I dived into reading because that way I didn’t have to focus on what I was going through and instead I did what I’ve always done when it comes to reading and became someone else. This is one of the reasons I fight so hard. Knowing I have a book to dive into when it all gets too much, it’s a wonderful feeling. For that time my mind is no longer an issue – I get to instead worry about things like whether my favourite character will survive the chapter. Still stressful but a nicer kind of stress and worry.

However until I read Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig last year I never really realised just how much books can change you. That book changed me and gave me hope that I didn’t think I could have. Obviously my friends and family always help but this was in book format. The format I’ve loved for so many years of my life. It hit me right where it needed to.

I realised that the bookish community isn’t just an escape, but books can be a home. A place to feel safe, and somewhere where no matter how dark your life gets, there’s always that little bit of a shining light in a book to clear the dark clouds. And it means the world to me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if, back when I was a little girl, I’d decided I hated reading. This is in no way saying that those who don’t read are any less than those who do, it’s not what I’m saying. This is purely a personal explanation of why books are one of the lights in my darkness.

They’ve helped me understand more about myself, other people, made me laugh, cry, want to scream but also have helped me make some of the most amazing friends I’ve ever met. I met one of my now closest friends through a book app and that was all down to our mutual love for books.

Books have always been there, and I know always will be. They are my constant companion through everything and I cannot ever thank my family enough for embracing the young book lover I was when I was little and letting me grow up to the person I am now.

Reading led me to starting my own YouTube talking about books, and this blog and let me start to do things to better my career and myself. It helped me further my passion for writing and combine it with my love for reading. It got me published in my student newspaper each issue with book reviews, and improved my confidence in myself. It makes me happy. I have so many things to thank reading for, I don’t think I’ll ever have time to.

But that’s it. That’s a small insight as to why reading means the world to me. It has helped me through the darkest of times, and carried me through the happiest. It works with my family and friends and helps to try corner my depression and keep it at bay, while I try to fight it. Most of all it makes me feel safe and gives me a way to see the world from the comfort of my home.

Happy World Book Day to you all! Happy Reading and I hope your love for books never wavers.

I hope you liked this little explanation!

Keep Reading,

Meggan x