Review Tuesday: The Shattered Court by M.J. Scott

I borrowed The Shattered Court by M.J. Scott from a friend of mine. It was one of those, I was perusing her bookshelf, came across it and asked to borrow it. I was definitely not disappointed. This is my favourite book of the year so far.

shattered-courtFrom Goodreads:

Entangled in a court ruled by tradition and intrigue, a young witch must come to terms with newfound power and desire—and a choice between loyalty and survival.…

The royal witches of Anglion have bowed to tradition for centuries. If a woman of royal blood manifests powers, she is immediately bound by rites of marriage. She will serve her lord by practicing the tamer magics of the earth—ensuring good harvests and predicting the weather. Any magic more dangerous is forbidden.

Lady Sophia Kendall, thirty-second in line to the throne, is only days away from finding out if she will be blessed—or perhaps cursed—with magic. When a vicious attack by Anglion’s ancient enemies leaves the kingdom in chaos, Sophia is forced to flee the court. Her protector by happenstance is Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie, a member of the royal guard, raised all his life to be fiercely loyal to the Crown.

Then Sophia’s powers manifest stronger than she ever imagined they would, and Cameron and she are inextricably linked in the process. As a witch unbound by marriage rites, Sophia is not only a threat to the established order of her country, but is also a weapon for those who seek to destroy it. Faced with old secrets and new truths, she must decide if she will fight for her country or succumb to the delicious temptation of power.…

This book starts off simple enough – you meet the two main characters Sophie and Cameron at the very beginning. Their life is a rather ordinary one. Cameron is a Red Guard – which means that he is a royal guard and someone who can do battle magic – and Sophie is a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. She is turning 21 and when she does she will find out if she has powers or not. If she does, she becomes an item auctioned off to the noble who will benefit the Crown the most. Oh, the joys of being a woman. Obviously, as it says in the description, Sophie does come into power. And she is unbound by marriage rites. What does this mean? It means that her powers are fully her own, and when you’re in line for a throne (even far down the line) that makes for a very dangerous situation.

The plot of this book is engaging and engrossing. The magic (what you know of it) is interesting, and the intrigue of the court, and who is responsible for certain things keeps you on the edge of your seat. Nothing is quite like it seems. I will admit however, that it is a little frustrating at times because you learn things slowly and only as Sophie learns them. I want to know all of the things, and I want to know them now!

The other thing that makes this book so enjoyable is Sophie and Cameron. They start of indifferent to each other and slowly (and then quickly) a bond grows between them. An unshakeable bond. These two characters and their relationship brought me joy. I want them to succeed. I’m rooting for them all the way. I’m smiling right now just thinking of them.

The book ends with many things left unanswered. It is definitely written as the first book in a series. I am so excited for book two – which is suppose to be coming out this year but that’s all I know. This is definitely a book that I’m going to be buying for myself and most likely reading again – maybe even again this year.

5 Things: Oh Canada, anniversaries, jewelry & magical adventures

Here are the 5 Things that brought me some joy this week. As I said in last week’s post, this new series of mine is inspired by Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere. (And if you haven’t ever checked out her blog you totally should).

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It’s Canada Day today!  We are indeed a mighty nation and we are 149 this year! We are the nation that brought you insulin, hockey, basketball, the zipper, MacIntosh apples, poutine, standard time, egg cartons, sonar, gas masks, the paint roller, and the electric wheelchair – just to name a few things. Today the day started out perfect for me because I woke up to the sound of rain, and then it continued to rain for a good chunk of the day and we even had a thunderstorm (Best. Thing. Ever.).

 

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This past Sunday was mine and Doug’s 6 month anniversary. I cannot believe how quickly time has gone by, nor have I ever been happier. He’s definitely a keeper 🙂

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I discovered this week that Jack Kerouac, author made famous by his book On The Road, is actually  a Canadian. I was mind boggled. Maclean’s wrote a fantastic article about him and his being Canadian (which is how I found out) and you can read it here. I’m definitely going to be moving On The Road up my to-read list.

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I bought this beautiful tree of life sterling silver necklace last weekend in Brighton from The Blue House. It’s a gorgeous store and if you’re ever in the area you should definitely drop in.

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This photo I saw on Instagram this week from ourplanetdaily, and it’s taken in Taichung, Taiwan. I fell in love with this picture. The stairs seem to want to lead you on some kind of magical adventure don’t you think?

 

Review Tuesday: Author Spotlight – Tamora Pierce

This past month I had some personal family tragedy, which led me to fall behind on my reading. Firstly, for a little while there wasn’t a whole lot of time, and secondly I just wasn’t in the mood to read anything new. My friend Carmen suggested that I go and read a favourite book, and said that it would be like curling up with an old friend. She was definitely right. I ended up reading a bunch of books by Tamora Pierce, who I loved when I was growing up and who I’ve read countless times.

The original cover. There have been many new covers since this one

The original cover. There have been many new covers since this one.

Tamora Pierce is a fantasy YA author, and the majority of her books have strong female protagonists who you simply fall in love with, and want to succeed. They are just awesome characters. She has two different series:

The Tortall Universe which starts off with Alanna, a girl who wants to be a knight even though girls aren’t allowed to be knights. So she does the only thing that she can do. She pretends to be a boy. That series is followed by Diane a wild mage, Kelandry the first girl who’s allowed to try for her knighthood as a girl, and Aly who’s Alanna’s daughter and a spy. All of these books were published in a linear timeline of Tortall. Beka Cooper’s trilogy, which was published after all of these other books in the series, takes place before the Alanna books. Beka is a Provost Guard. All of these female characters are incredibly well written and friends of mine. I loved them growing up and it was definitely nice to revisit this world over the past couple of weeks.

The Circle Universe is Tamora Pierce’s other universe. This one is magic based. Much more so than the Tortall Universe, which has magic in it but it isn’t the main focus of the books in that universe. The universe starts off with The Circle of Magic series. It has 4 books in it – one for each of the 4 main characters. These 4 main characters – Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar – have magic in them, magic that doesn’t appear like regular magic. These 4 characters (3 girls and a 1 boy) through their adventures become as close as siblings and are strong and supportive to each other that is refreshing to read.

The original cover that I have, there have been many new covers since this one.

The original cover that I have, there have been many new covers since this one.

The next series The Circle Opens is where the 4 main characters from The Circle of Magic each acquire their own student. The Circle Reforged series consists of three books –  1 from Briar’s perspective, 1 from Tris’s and one from Briar’s student. Like I said earlier this universe is heavily based and about magic, which I really love, but if it’s not your cup of tea then read the Tortall series.

These books by Tamora Pierce have been my favourite since I was a teenager, and I always keep an eye out to see if she has anything new coming out because damn right am I totally buying it. There are some authors that you just stick with no matter how old you get and Tamora Pierce is one of those for me.

If you’ve never read her books, I highly recommend them for yourself, or for any preteen/teenager. She’s an author that once you start reading will wonder how you ever did without her.

Review Tuesday: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I love the fantasy genre. It’s just about all I read growing up, and while my reading tastes have expanded over the years, I still love it. My problem though is that I’ve become quite picky and/or selective about what I read in the genre, and thus sometimes have a hard time find something to read. For instance, I hated Game of Thrones. I only got halfway through the first book and stopped because I completely despised it. I actually threw it across the room in disgust, something I’ve never done to a book before.

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But for all that I’m picky when it comes to fantasy, it’s always the first section I head to in the bookstore and the first section I comb through hoping for a good find. This is how I found A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. What drew me first was the cover. I was immediately intrigued as soon as I saw it. I wanted to know what was happening. So I picked it up and I was done. It was coming home with me.

From Goodreads:

Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.

What I loved about this book was the world building. It was done so well and in a way that didn’t draw or slow the plot line down. That’s usually the fail for me when it comes to some fantasy books. It’s like they pause to detail and show you the world at the expense of the plot and the flow of the story. That didn’t happen here. Everything was explained in an organic way that really worked with the story.

I also really loved Kell and Lila. Kell starts out as a cocky but lovable little shit who grows up in a hurry when everything starts to fall apart. He is understandable and there is something about his past that even he doesn’t know and that the reader really wants to find out. He’s a great character, with some definite flaws, which to me makes him all the more enjoyable. Lila is badass. She is all about herself and looking out for number one. She has very little desire to do the right thing or to think about others, and while she does help out Kell, she remains very much herself throughout the book, and I loved that she kept her identity as a character and didn’t become to Kell.

Overall, this was a fantastic book, and I recommend it to anyone who likes the fantasy genre. Book two in this series just came out a couple of weeks ago, and I will definitely be diving into that soon. A great read!

Review Tuesday: Fables Vol. 22: Farewell by Bill Willingham

This is it. The FINALE Fables. I can’t believe it. I’ve been reading this series for years, and I’ve eagerly awaited each new volume as it’s come out, but this is the last one and when I finished it, I didn’t know what to do with myself. The best news about this finale volume is that I was not disappointed.

Fables farwellFirst, from Goodreads:

It’s the final trade paperback volume of FABLES! No, wait – it’s FABLES #150, the grand finale of the best-selling, award-winning comic book series! And it’s also an original graphic novel in the tradition of 1001 NIGHTS OF SNOWFALL! Yes, it’s all this and more! Join us for 150 – that’s, right, 150! – pages of new stories starring your favorite Fables, all from the mind of Bill Willingham. It all starts with an 80-page lead story illustrated by series regulars Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha, plus stories illustrated by Mark Schultz, Gene Ha, Neal Adams, Andrew Pepoy and many more!
Don’t miss the final bows for Boy Blue, Stinky, Lake and more in this once-in-a-lifetime issue that also features a foldout cover by Nimit Malavia that opens into a four-panel mural! It’s even got metallic ink!

Now before we go any further be aware that there will NOW BE SPOILERS. DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO READ SPOILERS.

This volume deals with the plot points of where the last volume left off – ie the approaching war between Snow White and Rose Red. The first third or half of the volume deals with this, the rest of the volume is “Last Stories” from favourite characters.

The main thing that I was very worried about for this last volume was Snow White and Bigby. They were in a very tough situation in the previous volume and since this was the last one, I was terribly worried that it wouldn’t end well for them. But it did. And I was slightly surprised. These are two of my favourite characters in the whole series and I wanted them to have a good ending.

My favourite thing about this volume actually, is the fold out spread of all of the Wolf family – 1000 years worth of future generations to be precise. It was beautiful.

The only thing that I didn’t like about this volume was how Dare was left. His “Last Story” broke my heart, though his whole story line breaks my heart. I really just want to give him a hug and tell him everything and everyone is okay, and that he did it.

Cinderella’s storyline also didn’t end as I wanted it to, but at the same time it ended as I would assume she would have wanted it to end – with her kicking ass.

There are many different things that I could go on about that I love in this volume, but it’s late, and I could be here forever, so I’ll just talk about the series as a whole for a minute.

This is a fantastic and phenomenal series. It is my favourite graphic novel series, and it is something that I will and am recommending to everyone. So yes, that includes you. Check it out, you will not be disappointed. There are fairy tales walking around, sibling rivalries, revenge plots, unexpected true love, happily ever afters, and just completed talented and smart writing, along with beautiful images. So please go read this series. You won’t be disappointed.