Magic Study by Maria V Snyder

Rating: 4/5 starsMagic Study.jpg

Pages: 392

Series: Poison Study, Book 2; The Chronicles of Ixia, Book 2

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Fiction

I have to admit, I’m enjoy the read through of this series just as much as I have in the past. This world’s characters and magic system still fascinates me, even though I mostly know what’s coming next – at least in relation to the major plot points.

Getting to see more of the world is always enjoyable and Snyder does this in a way that feels so natural. At the start of the book Yelena is travelling through a new country – Sitia – and so we get to experience the world through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time. It makes the over explanation of the scenery make sense – something a lot of books have a problem doing.

Of course, the introduction of new types of magic opens up the world even further. It’s great to see the jungle and the plains, but getting to experience how different magics work is always more enjoyable for me. Thankfully, there was lots of magic to experience in this book – both good and bad.

I find the magic in this world is extremely complex. While we got a small taste of this in Poison Study, it’s nothing compared to what the reader gets introduced to in Magic Study. Of course, magic ruled Sitia whereas it’s been outlawed in Ixia since the takeover.

If you’re interested in complex magic systems in the books you read, I’d highly recommend giving this series a shot. Snyder is one of my favourite authors when it comes to building the magic of her worlds.

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I’d Tell You I love you, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Rating: 2.75/5 starsITYILYBTIHTKY.jpg

Pages: 284

Series: Gallagher Girls, Book 1

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Mystery, Contemporary

 

While I know it’s always a risk to go back and reread stories you loved years ago, I’ve been lucky that recently all the books I’ve reread have been enjoyable. Of course, this one had to go and ruin that trend. Now I’m not saying that it wasn’t a fun read, but it wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered it. Sure I first read this book back when I was younger than the protagonists and that’s the age range that this book was geared towards, but I was still disappointed during this reread of the first book in a series I loved the first time I read it.

The truth is, this book is pretty simplistic. It gives the reader exactly what it says – a cute RomCom about a teenage spy. I got little more than that out of this read, so if that’s what you go into it looking for you won’t be disappointed. Of course, there are many similar stories that have been written that do this better – Heist Society by Ally Carter being one of them. (It’s also a great example of the growth Carter went through as a writer over the 4 years between the books.)

While there are a few things that I enjoyed about this read, I don’t know that I’d suggest others go out of their way to pick the series up. An enjoyable read for a preteen, I definitely feel that this book is written pretty young for someone older than that to pick it up. If you’re looking for a fun and silly book, though, you might enjoy giving this read a try. The key to enjoying this series seems to be accepting its quirky early 2000s sense of humour and settling in for the girly ride.

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Don’t Rush Me by Jackie May

Rating: 3.5/5 stars Don't Rush Me.jpg

Pages: 286

Series: Nora Jacobs, Book 1

Genres: Paranormal, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Polyamorous, Reverse Harem

After living your whole life as a loner, afraid to make connections with others for for of their reaction to you, must be hard. Yet that’s exactly what Nora has to deal with every day of her life. Not only did she have to shy away from touching others because of her powers, but Nora believes she’s been cursed – it’s the only way she can explain the draw others feel towards her.

While it took me a while to get into the story, I really started to enjoy the characters and the underworld of Detroit that May created. Nora is a snarky young adult – and that’s something that I can relate to (being one myself) – and she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Of course, she has difficulties interacting with others in a nice way since she’s had to spend her whole life fending off others. I have to admit, that sounds like it would suck.

Overall, I didn’t feel as if the world was explored too much in a story that’s dealing with an investigation. Instead, I almost felt as if Nora’s powers and happenstance circumstances were used to move the story along at a pace faster than I would have liked. While the character development in this novel was pretty good, the world building was lacking (in my opinion). I’m hoping that the world is explained further in the rest of the series as I see a lot of promise in this story.

While I could easily see Detroit in my mind’s eye, having family in Windsor and visiting multiple times a year, I don’t think that it’d be easy for the average reader to be able to picture the Ambassador Bridge or Terrance’s car disappearing from sight under it. Of course, this is one of the best describes scenes of the world and can actually be placed in Detroit proper. Other than this, I didn’t have any strong mental images of the world which May has created.

If you’re looking for a fun read about a girl discovering the truths about the underworld, and fending off the attentions of the males around her, you might enjoy this read. I can admit that the read was an enjoyable one and I look forward to continuing on with the series in order to see how the characters continue to interact and the relationships develop.

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Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Poison Study.jpg

Pages: 416

Series: Poison Study, Book 1; The Chronicles of Ixia, Book 1

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Fiction

“Everyone makes choices in life. Some bad, some good. It’s called living, and if you want to bow out, then go right ahead. But don’t do it halfway. Don’t linger in whiner’s limbo.”

Full disclosure, this wasn’t my first time reading this story – more like my 4th or 5th – so nothing I have to say about this series is going to be based on first impressions. However, the fact that I’ve read this series so many times just goes to show how much I love the tale and the world that Snyder has created here.

The reason that I picked up Poison Study this time around was because I went to read Snyder’s Glass series. I got about 2 chapters into Storm Glass before I realized that I didn’t remember the specifics of what happened in the Poison Study series well enough to understand what was going on in the world. So, here we go – after more than a year away from this world, I’ve dived straight back into this fantastic world.

In Poison Study, Snyder has created the nation of Ixia where magic is illegal and is boarded to the South by the nation of Sitia which is ruled by powerful magic users. Since coming to power, the Commander has closed its boarders with Sitia and deemed all magic to be vile. Now all that’s protecting him from assassination attempts are his master spy, Valek, and his taste tester.

As per their code the prisoner that’s next in line to be hanged is given the choice of becoming the taste tester for the Commander, though not everyone says yes to the job. Yelena, however, jumps at the opportunity to keep living, even if it’s a life filled with poisons and deceit.

My favourite thing in this story is the way that Snyder depicts the world in shades of grey. Nothing is black and white, not even the code of ethics that Ixia follows. The characters must decide for themselves what they believe to be the most important to them, what they’re willing to risk in order to do what they think is right. For a militaristic land, these decisions could be life or death.

While the magic in this world is intensive, it is not the main focus of this novel. Instead, it is a tool that is used when needed. It is not a crutch that the characters in this land use to do everything but something that is to be avoided at all costs. Especially since being caught with magic is the equivalent of signing your own death warrant.

If you’re looking for a fun story about poisons and romance, I think you’d enjoy this read. I found it interesting to learn about the different ways to detect poisons and how the body may react to them. While it may seem like a morbid fascination, I’ve always been curious about poisons and how they work. Snyder does an amazing job at outlining this very thing.

Before I go onto spoilers, can I just say how terrifying it is to think of spiders the size of small dogs? While only briefly mentioned in this book (and we don’t actually get to see them), I shivered when they were mentioned. It can’t just be the arachnophobia in me – giant spiders are terrifying.

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Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Rating: 5/5 stars

The Queen of Nothing.jpg

Pages: 300

Series: The Folk of the Air, Book 3

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Fae

“Only out of his spilled blood can a great ruler rise. But not before what I have told you comes to pass,” (Baphen, Preface).

My love of the fae and stories about them made this series a wild ride for me. I loved seeing these wicked creatures acting in their own interests, using others to get what they wanted and not apologizing for it. I loved seeing the way the different courts dealt with each other and how their biases played into their interactions.

Black does an amazing job at creating characters that feel real. In this series I have found characters I love and characters I hate, though my favourite might just be the characters I love to hate. I can feel their motivations, their wants and desires. I can tell how her characters are feeling through the words on the page. Black is a master with words, creating a world that I’m more than happy to jump into time and time again. The only downfall is that this tale is over – I could keep reading this world for years to come.

I highly recommend checking out this story, starting with The Cruel Prince (review here). It’s everything that I could have asked for out of a story about the fae and brings me back to the heyday of fae popularity. It’s clear how much research Black did into the beings before writing this story, making it incredibly well written.

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The High Priest’s Daughter by Katie Cross

Rating: 4.5/5 starsThe High Priest's Daughter.jpg

Pages: 351

Series: Network, Book 3

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Witches, Paranormal, Magic

 

Courting Leda would be like trying to cuddle a porcupine. (Bianca’s musings, Chapter 36).

The High Priest’s Daughter takes place right where Antebellum Awakening left off, the war of the Networks becoming more and more of a reality and Bianca struggling to protect everyone and everything she cares about. Bianca has to struggle with living a life based on more than just surviving for the first time in her life, and it’s harder for her to do than she would have thought.

While in no way the main plot of this story, I love the way in which Cross writes her romances. Each one is different and unique, pulling on Cross’ ability to writer dynamic characters in order to shape the ways in which their relationships progress. I’m not only talking about romantic relationships with that, either. The ways that Bianca and her friends grow as individuals greatly influences their interactions with each other and I, for one, am living for it.

Bianca’s dedication to her friends and family is a driving force of this story. This found family of hers is the one thing she knows she can trust in, even if they’re growing up. It is the one thing she’ll protect at all cost.

If you’re looking for a unique tale about witches, I highly recommend giving this series a try. It’s filled with mystery, intrigue, and one of the most complex magic systems I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning about. The dragons that exist in this world are a favourite of mine, as well. Of course, you should start off with the first book, Miss Mabel’s School for Girls (review here) if you haven’t already picked it up.

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Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Rating: 4/5 stars Ash Princess.jpg

Pages: 432

Series: Ash Princess, Book 1

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

 

“Maybe they have broken you, but you are a sharper weapon because of it. And it is time to strike.”

I went into this story looking forward to a beaten down princess to come rising out of the ashes around her and that’s exactly what Sebastian gave me. It was clear that though these characters might be fractured, it’ll take a whole lot more to fully break them. While of a people nearly destroyed, the main cast of characters proves time and time again that it’s true what they say about Phoenixes – they rise from the ashes stronger each time.

While classified as a romance, I find that this is in no way a vital piece of the story. This story survives quite strongly by itself, with hints of romance thrown in that help the story progress but in no way are the focal point. Sure romantic relations happen, but they are more a driving force than the focus – a chess piece used to get the outcome that’s desired. While some of the feelings might be real between the characters, that’s less important than what the characters get out of the interactions.

Theo does an amazing job at being strong when she’s surrounded by people trying to break her. No matter what they do to her, no matter what they try to make her believe, she remains stronger than most would in this situation. A princess from a peaceful nation, it’s clear that she’s stronger than most would give her credit for – and cleverer, too. She has a wicked mind, perfect for doing what needs to be done no matter how awful it may seen. Theo’s even willing to go against her own heart, her own selfish desires, if it means protecting the people that have all but given up hope in her.

But Theo will fight, and she fights to win.

If you’re looking for a story about a badass heroine that rises above those who wish to see her crumble, who’s willing to put aside her own wants and needs to do what is right, then I’d suggest giving this story a try. However, go into this read knowing that its premise isn’t a unique one. This trope has been multiple times through the years but Sebastian does a great job at making this version of the trope a damned good one.

Also please be aware going into it that there are graphic depictions of beatings and torture. There are also plenty of instances of racism, murder and death, with the passing mention of rape that occurred in the past. If any of that stuff isn’t easy for you to read about, this might not be the best book for you to pick up, even if I did personally enjoy the story.

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