Every bit as disturbing, dark, twisted and utterly compelling as I've come to expect from Gillian Flynn. I felt like some aspects of the nove3.5 stars
Every bit as disturbing, dark, twisted and utterly compelling as I've come to expect from Gillian Flynn. I felt like some aspects of the novel were overreaching, and while the plot is threaded together almost impeccably, some scenes and plot points felt like they were too loosely tied to the plot and relied far too much on convenience. Aside from that, this book is absolutely riveting and entertaining in a very sick and ugly kind of way. It has Flynn's trademark razor-sharp writing and a very cutting and fascinating anti-heroine whose brutal honesty I loved. I expected something different, but I was pleased with the final result. ...more
A very amusing, quick, and entertaining read. The first two thirds of the novel were very charming and amusing, but it lost me a bit during t3.5 stars
A very amusing, quick, and entertaining read. The first two thirds of the novel were very charming and amusing, but it lost me a bit during the last third because it suddenly turned into your typical, slightly crazy romantic comedy. I was also a bit baffled by what accounted for feminism, starting with the idea that feminists can't possibly want to get married or that most women have daddy issues, but I think most of the women in the novel made good statements against all that and were fairly decent representations. All in all, a light and fun read for when you need to take a break from books that take themselves too seriously. ...more
If magic is alive anywhere in this world, it is in Victoria Schawb's mind, I swear. I've never made secret my fascination with her books, and4.5 stars
If magic is alive anywhere in this world, it is in Victoria Schawb's mind, I swear. I've never made secret my fascination with her books, and as she keeps writing more and more, my love for her as an author just keeps growing, because whatever world this woman comes up with, it is definitely one I want to live in, even if it is through the pages of a book. A Darker Shade of Magic is not an exception.
Schawb proved with Vicious that she is more than capable of delivering adult titles with the same skill and finesse that she delivers YA. In both of her adult titles, she's blurred the lines between right and wrong, and has given her readers compelling and mesmerizing characters that intrigue and disturb in equal measure, not to mention that she writes some of the best and most imaginative world building in the business. A Darker Shade of Magic, I would dare to say, is even better than Vicious at every single one of these things.
From the very first line, Schawb's gorgeous writing and incredible imagination hooked me in and refused to let me go. The world of this book is unbelievable. The magic beats with a heart of its own in this novel and infuses every single aspect of the story with wondrous, compelling and dangerous beauty.
The story in this novel flows smoothly, with a surprisingly fast pace, while still being very complex and multidimensional. I struggled for a bit to get into the story because of how complex it was, but that lasted but a second. Soon, I was tearing through the pages of this book, eager to know what would happen next. I don't know if it's me, but the fantasy in this book is so spectacular, this one read to me a little like a fairy tale. Whether that was just me or not, the truth is that I probably had never gone through such a fantastical and wondrous experience while reading a novel. Even if it wasn't wholly unpredictable, the confidence of the prose, the utterly gorgeous writing and the breathtaking magic of this world made the book near perfect.
In this novel, we have flawed, complicated and morally ambiguous characters that are nothing short of captivating. I loved the dynamics between them, how realistic their relationships felt and how honest they were about the lengths they were willing to go for each other. Lilah continually straddled the line between exasperation and admirable badassery, which made her quite the compelling character. Kell, for his part, was alluring and mesmerizing, a mystery I can't wait to unravel. And Rhy's every bit as charming as we were promised. Simply put, the characters were amazing, confident and really easy to get invested in.
The antagonists were certainly formidable, even chilling at points, but it's never a secret who they are and what they want. All throughout the novel, we are always aware of who they are, and thus, can expect, or not be entirely surprised with, a few of the events in the novel. That is not to say that the novel is entirely predictable or that it is never surprising, but it is not hard to see where it's going sometimes. I do wish the novel had done without the threat of rape, especially so early in the novel, and there were a couple of instances that relied a bit too much on chance and coincidences, but it was really easy to put my concerns aside the more I read of this novel.
I don't think I need to talk about how gorgeous the writing was. At this point, anyone familiar with Schawb knows she's one of the best writers out there and that her prose is flawless. Same goes for her world building. Wildly imaginative, beautifully structured, I only wished we'd seen more of these worlds and learned more about their history. Most of them are wrapped in mystery, and though we certainly get information about them, it only fanned the flames of my curiosity instead of snuffing them, particularly when it came to the Black London and what's beyond every London in every one of the worlds.
There's no romance in this book, though there's a flicker of something that may or may not come to happen in future installments. I'm still debating how I feel about this, about how many threads were left fluttering in the wind for future books. By the end of this one, it feels like we've gotten but a glimpse, that this adventure was but an unpaved track that diverged from the main, colossal highway.
Another spectacular offering from Schawb. Wondrous, gorgeous, compelling and utterly magical, A Darker Shade of Magic is an spectacular novel that's perfectly showcases Schawb's prowess as an author and her ability to break down barriers and deliver books that go beyond their genres. Both, her adult and YA fans can enjoy this one and get lost once more in the magnificent worlds that only Schawb is able to come up with. ...more
As expected of Schawb, we get a beautifully written and absolutely riveting tale of magic, secrets, power and vengeance. The story features compellingAs expected of Schawb, we get a beautifully written and absolutely riveting tale of magic, secrets, power and vengeance. The story features compelling characters of ambiguous and shifting morality, a thrilling story and a fantastic new world parallel to ours. Really, it has everything you could expect from Schawb and more. As her first adult effort, this book not only stands out but also excels. It has a great pace, and though the shifting back and forth between timelines and POVs takes a bit of getting used to at the beginning, it's really easy to get into and really hard to put down.
Vicious was well on its way to earning 5 stars from me right up until the end. Don't get me wrong, it still is a fantastic ending, and very appropriate too, but it ended up being a bit more based on chance rather than strategy than I had expected it to be. All along, I was under the impression that the climax would bring the culmination of one of the character's years of careful and clever planning, that the end would arrive and he would get revenge through a carefully executed plan, mostly because that's the type of feeling the novel gives, like every move had been previously calculated to the smallest detail, and also because that's pretty much what the character says himself. And yet, when the end arrived, it felt like, instead of using a clever plan, the characters just sort of winged it, just threw the chess pieces onto the board instead of sticking to their predetermined strategies as they had claimed to want to do. It wasn't even like they just got there and then decided to wing it. It's like, the whole time, the plan had been not having a plan at all and just relying in plain luck.
That's basically the only complaint I have about this entire book and the only reason I couldn't give it that last star, but the book doesn't just deserve a chance, it deserves to be read again and again. This is the way to write clever anti-heroes that are hard to discern from villains, this is how you write deep and compelling relationships, ambiguous morality and thrilling plots. As usual, Schawb simply kills it.
This was a clear 4 star book for me up until the last five pages. I didn't like it as much as the first one, nor did I think it was better th3.5 stars
This was a clear 4 star book for me up until the last five pages. I didn't like it as much as the first one, nor did I think it was better than its predecessor, but I enjoyed it very, very much. The humor is as clever and amusing as in the first one, the romance between Alexia and Connall is as engaging, and the plot, though a bit of a filler, is still very entertaining. I was really liking this one, that is, until an incident in the last few pages left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I had a feeling something like that would eventually happen, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon into the series or in such a way. I considered giving it 3 stars because of it, but, in the grand scale of things, 5 pages versus 370+ pages of fun do not seem to matter much, so a 3.5 stars it is. I already ordered a copy of the next one in the series so I am obviously still interested in seeing what is to happen next, but I don't think I'm going into the next one with the same enthusiasm I started this one. ...more
This novel is a fantastically clever and utterly disturbing look at our times and an unforgiving criticism of who we are as modern people. I struggledThis novel is a fantastically clever and utterly disturbing look at our times and an unforgiving criticism of who we are as modern people. I struggled with the narration at times and found myself put off by the overwhelmingly male essence of the novel and the poor female representation, but I still enjoyed it and felt mesmerized by it. I've loved the movie since I first watched it years ago, so maybe that would explain why I was ready to like this book, but for a book to be so riveting to me when I already know the big twist speaks highly of the novel itself.
On an interesting side note, at first I found it weird that the author thought of this novel as a sort of retelling of The Great Gatsby but, after reading the novel, I think I do see what he means. ...more
It's being a while since I've read modern adult fiction; to be honest, I can't even remember the last one I read, so I was cautious about this book. IIt's being a while since I've read modern adult fiction; to be honest, I can't even remember the last one I read, so I was cautious about this book. I've been eying for a while, not completely convinced but interested. So when I saw it in a poorly-stocked store (book-wise) I sometimes go to with my family - (and having being in the middle of a in-person-book-buying-withdrawal since Borders closed down taking with them my hopes, dreams, sanity and only reason to go to the mall, along with the only book-selling place within miles, thus, forcing me to do all my compulsive book buying through the internet) - I didn't hesitate to buy it. And, boy, I do not regret it one bit. That...that was wickedly intense.
The writing was razor-sharp, the characters so layered and drawn out and, oh yeah, completely insane. There's something so utterly likable about them being so conceptually unlikable. It's absolutely crazy. The thrilling suspense, the chilling atmosphere of this book, it all left me so disturbed - still am completely and frighteningly disturbed. I deliberately took my time reading it, letting every piece of this book lingering for hours in my head as the plot unfurled. This is clever, crazy-smart, sneaky and so thoroughly riveting. I'll probably be picking up Ms Flynn's other books very soon.
So why not the five stars? Well, I don't want to give anything away, but, sometimes I got the uncomfortable feeling that the characters here communicated that being a strong, independent woman comes burdened with being a little bit crazy. It was probably just the character's psychology, and I will make no further assumptions on the matter, but I felt bothered by that sometimes.
Still, this is an impressive book. 4.5 stars for sure. ...more
The Woman in Black is a difficult book to rate because, although it is evident why this book is revered as a classic modern ghost story, ther3.5 stars
The Woman in Black is a difficult book to rate because, although it is evident why this book is revered as a classic modern ghost story, there were also instances where the book slowed down too much and became rather dull. The truth is that this novel is absolutely terrifying. I can't remember the last time a book scared me this much and Hill's ability with chilling atmospheres, lyrical writing, tense scenes and moments of sheer horror are nothing short of masterful. The problem with me were the in-between moments, because they lowered considerably the tension in the novel and even managed to bored me to sleep in two separate occasions. So my real problem here is that I don't know how to factor into the rating the weight these instances of dullness had in the overall product, because truth be told, this novel is absolutely fantastic. The story is incredible, the writing amazing and the horror taken to its full potential. Now that it has been a couple of days since I read it, though, what I remember more clearly about the novel is how great those moments were instead of how much it bored me a few times, so that means that, in spite of the bad moments, the impression The Woman in Black left me with is overall a good one. ...more
Likening new novels to ones with a loyal fan base is one tool publishers use to ensure that someone at least turns to look at their new literary offering. There are “Hunger Games meets this” and “for fans of Twilight” and there’s definitely a “like Stephen King” out there, but in all of my years of reading, I haven’t come across as a book being marketed as “the next Harry Potter” or an author being called “the next J.K. Rowling” with that much certainty – until now.
Awarding a book that status definitely calls attention to it – which has been the case with The Bone Season, the debut paranormal/sci-fi/dystopian novel of 21-year-old Samantha Shannon. The hype surrounding this novel has been building for over a year now and people’s expectations have gone through the roof. The problem with marketing techniques such as this is that despite grabbing everyone’s attention, a lot of strain is placed on the work of a new author, a double-edged knife that is as likely to help her as hurt her. That is the case with Shannon’s work: as impressive as it might be, it doesn’t measure up.
Paige’s world is parallel to our own, but far more advanced and based on alternate history that starts with the appearance of humans with supernatural abilities, all of which are considered a threat to society. Paige has one of the rarest and most dangerous abilities of all: she is a dreamwalker, which makes her a great commodity for the crime lord that employs her. But she is kidnapped by the Rephaim, powerful and otherworldly creatures that control the world from the shadows, and is to be trained to be a slave, a soldier or their entertainment. The second most powerful Rephaim, Warden, takes her under his wing, but there might be more to him than Paige can see, as well as with the seeming perfection of Scion and the society they have created. Now Paige must learn to control her power and fight if she wants to survive and be free again, and maybe even help save her fellow “voyants.”
The Bone Season is a really ambitious novel. It is a cocktail of paranormal, sci-fi, dystopian, post-apocalyptic and even a little bit of horror that right from the start is really hard to fully comprehend. The world-building of The Bone Season is undeniably impressive and heralds a powerful imagination on Shannon’s part, but its execution depended often on overwhelming info-dumps that begin on the first page and a vocabulary that forces the reader to shift back and forth between the reading and the glossary at the back of the book.
Shannon’s clean prose doesn’t make it difficult to visualize the world of London Scion in 2059, but the name-dropping, slangs and info-dumping hindered the experience of discovering this new world. It does get easier as readers get familiarized with the terms, but for much of the novel, the reader is bombarded with strange terminology and hierarchical orders that only settle past the half-way mark in the novel. Strangely enough, in spite of all the work it takes to understand it, Shannon’s world is satisfyingly complex and engaging. Still, though the book is aimed at adults, the novel reads more like a Young Adult offering and people familiar with the YA dystopian trend will be able to see it.
Paige was a satisfying lead: smart, competent, strong and realistic. It was easy to empathize with her, and the best thing about her was that, in spite of some flaws, she was a genuinely good person all the way through, which was something the reader could find out without the book overemphasizing it. She is followed by an interesting cast of characters, particularly those belonging to the crime syndicate – which ironically we only get to meet through flashbacks and at the end of the novel.
The same cannot be said for the ones that are present throughout the novel. The majority of them were underdeveloped and existed to serve as foils or to suit Paige’s plans or development. I can’t help the feeling that, for such an important character in the story, Warden didn’t actually feel that pivotal to the development of the novel, nor did I feel like much was done with his character. His aura of mystery is key to his character, but I feel like it completely took over his character and didn’t allow for much else to be seen from him. Admittedly, I did like his relationship with Paige and their slow but steady development, even when, strictly speaking, the novel didn’t really need even this small bit of romance.
The pace in this novel is an eclectic mix of impressive action scenes sandwiched between slow and admittedly boring passages that make the reading experience alternate between absolutely engrossing and a struggle. That’s not to say the plot is all over the place, but I believe it could’ve been a bit tighter. Despite everything else, the latter half of The Bone Season is surprisingly entertaining.
There’s certainly material in the world of The Bone Season to expand, but I can’t see how Paige’s story can fill seven books. I wouldn’t say I’m eager to see how her journey unfolds, but I wouldn’t discard the idea of getting book two. There are plot-holes and a lot of suspension of disbelief required to accept The Bone Season, but the novel is a promising start to the series. She’s no J.K. Rowling and The Bone Season is no Harry Potter, but that definitely doesn’t mean is not worth anything on its own....more
A little bit of Pocahontas, with a hint of Pirates of the Caribbean, some post-apocalyptic mayhem and a whole lot of military dystopia and the resultA little bit of Pocahontas, with a hint of Pirates of the Caribbean, some post-apocalyptic mayhem and a whole lot of military dystopia and the result is this book. It is not a bad a book, but it is also not my kind of thing. At all. Too new agey for me.
The Guardian's Wildchild is quite an ambitious project. Think a little bit of a military dystopia, with just a hint of the post-apocalyptic, a little bit of piracy and ships, a whole lot of the mystic and the spiritual, add a little bit of spying and some magic and just the right amount of romance and the result is this story. Yeah, it's a little bit complicated. Now, while this is not the type of story that I usually read, I must admit that this book is nicely crafted and very interesting.
The best thing about this book is probably the characters and that's great because more than half of the book is very character driven. Sidney is one of the best heroines I've read about in quite a while. She is upbeat and kind, but the girl dances to her own music. She is free as the wind and has a disregard for most rules but still always looks for the higher and common good and is incredibly selfless. And she is not dull, despite being such a goody-goody, which is always a treat. And Sam is the tortured, conflicted man we all love to read about. It was pretty entertaining to see him battle his emotions and see his feelings wage war on his beloved rules and protocols. But don't think for a second that romance is all there is in this story. Not by a long shot. Quite frankly, the romance builds up very slowly and takes the stage towards the end of the book. More importantly in this story is the world that Feather Stone has created through her words: a word of possibilities and choices not just for ourselves, but for the whole world. There are some plot-twits in there and a whole lot of drama that complicates our character's journeys every step of the way in a believable and entertaining manner, which, in the end, is the best thing one can have when reading a book.
While the whole vibe of the story might've been too New Age for me, I completely understood the message the author wanted to convey through this story, a message that is made all the stronger because of the shocking finale. Now, this book is not necessarily for YA readers, and I can see how perhaps this book would not be to the liking of many of those readers, being more focused in the character development and a little slow-paced with the action, but still, this book is enjoyable and interesting and a bold new departure for the paranormal romance I bet we are all getting tired of.
In the end, The Guardian's Wildchild is an entertaining ride through strange, mystical topics, a nicely researched story set in a world where a little bit of hope gives you the wings of freedom and a dangerous romance....more