Reviews

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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“A Discovery of Witches” is Deborah Harkness’s debut novel and tells the story of Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendent of witches, who discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. The manuscript’s reappearance summons a fantastical underworld full of witches, vampires and daemons, which she navigates with the help of vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

PLOT

Unfortunately, most of the plot was pretty boring and the story just dragged on quite often. Especially the middle part of the book was super slow and many things were described in way too much detail. But at the end of the novel it was hinted that they’d have to go on a quest soon. That quest is something I would’ve already liked to see in this book because I just felt like most of “A Discovery of Witches” was one big filler to get to the action that wouldn’t happen until the sequel. Something I really liked about this story though were the details about things like alchemy, biology, the history of witches and so on and I felt like you could really see that the author knew what she was talking about. I haven’t really had any touching points with those topics in real life since leaving high school, so I learned quite a lot of things while reading this novel.

CHARACTERS

The two main characters are Diana and Matthew. Diana is a witch and Matthew a vampire and I had my problems with both of them at the beginning of the book. During most of the first two thirds of the novel Diana was mostly being kind of dumb, annoying and sometimes even pretty naïve but she then started changing a little towards the end of the book and I started liking her a bit more. The same goes for Matthew though it wasn’t his characteristics that made me dislike him, but the fact that I couldn’t stop thinking about Edward Cullen whenever he made an appearance during the first half of the novel. He was just giving off such strong twilight vibes and I was so scared that wouldn’t change though thankfully it did and now I actually even like him a bit better than Diana. The romance between the two though was once again your typical case of insta-love and while I’ve seen worse cases, that still really disappointed me because I’d hoped to see an interesting love story between the two. But I  have to say that I really liked most of the side characters just like Marcus, Sarah or Em and of course Tabitha (Sarah’s cat) whose behavior made me laugh quite a lot.

WRITING STYLE

Deborah Harkness’s writing style is pretty descriptive and even though it made the story drag on quite a bit, I also really liked getting so much information sometimes. Overall, I would say this book was well written though I think she’s definitely not one of those authors that has a unique writing style you would recognize immediately.

OVERALL

All in all, I was a bit disappointed by this novel and it just didn’t meet my expectations. Due to the fact that it dragged on so much, it was a really slow read and I sometimes had to push myself to even continue reading the book. I have to say though that the last 20% of the novel definitely made up a bit for the rest of it and that things got a little more interesting then. There were also certain scenes in the rest of the novel that I really enjoyed and I think the side characters made the novel a lot better than it would’ve been without some of them. So overall, this is a solid 3 stars for me.

WILL I CONTINUE THE SERIES?

Even though this series won’t be on top of the list of series I still need to complete, I think I’ll definitely still give the second book a try. Like I said, the end of this book made it look like the next book would be a lot more interesting than this one and there’s also the TV show that is coming out later this year and I really don’t like watching an adaptation without having read the books first.

Have you already read “A Discovery of Witches” & what did you think about it? 🙂

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Reviews

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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“Better never means better for everyone … It always means worse, for some.”

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood is an adult dystopian novel set in the Republic of Gilead. The novel follows Offred who is a handmaid herself and only has one function: to breed. If she fails to do so, she will either be hanged at the wall or sent out to the colonies where she’ll die of radiation sickness.

PLOT 

The plot was something I was struggling with a little. The first 75% of the book were pretty boring and nothing much happened. Furthermore, if something happened, it often wasn’t explained at all or only much later, so there were many moments in which I was unfortunately struggling to follow the story. However, I still didn’t feel like I had to force myself through the book and the story definitely got better towards the end of the novel. 

CHARACTERS

I really liked Offred and the other handmaids such as Ofglen, Ofwarren or Moira. I just would’ve really liked it if I would’ve learned a bit more about the lives of the other handmaids as well. Since the book was written from Offred’s POV and because the handmaids don’t really talk that much to each other, you didn’t get to know the other ones as well as you got to know Offred. That’s something I wished had been different because the other handmaids seemed like they were pretty interesting characters who were also very different from Offred and much more rebellious than her. So learning more about them, would’ve definitely increased my interest in the novel.

WRITING STYLE

Despite thinking that the plot was a little boring sometimes, I actually really liked Atwood’s style of writing. Her writing is actually quite unique and I feel like she’s one of those authors you can recognize, simply on the basis of something she’s written even if you weren’t told it’s been written by her beforehand. 

OVERALL

Overall, “The Handmaid’s Tale” was definitely an okay book and I did enjoy reading it even though I’d really hoped I would like it a lot better than I ultimately did. I think my problem with the plot and the fact that I would’ve liked to know more about the life of the other handmaids could’ve been solved if the book had been written from different POVs because, unlike for example Ofglen or Moira, Offred was pretty passive when it came to fighting for her own freedom. Nevertheless, I think this is an absolute must-read. Even though I didn’t give “The Handmaid’s Tale” a full five stars, I still think this is a very important book and what shocked me the most about it is definitely that it was written more than thirty years ago, but that the topic unfortunately still is a very current one. 

WILL I READ MORE OF MARGARET ATWOOD’S BOOKS?

As I’ve already said before, I really enjoyed her style of writing which is why I’ll definitely give her other books a try. Also, I’ve seen quite a few people that didn’t fully enjoy “The Handmaid’s Tale” say that they actually enjoyed some of her other works a lot more and I hope it’s going to be the same way for me. 

Have you already read “The Handmaid’s Tale” and what did you think about it? 🙂

ARC Review · Reviews

ARC Review: Kingdom of Ash and Soot by C.S. Johnson

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Synopsis

PRAGUE, 1870. 

For the last ten years, nineteen-year-old Eleanora Svobodová has worked as a servant in her stepmother’s household. Along with her older brother, she dreams of the day they will be free to live life on their own terms.

But everything changes when their estranged grandmother comes to Prague on behalf of Queen Victoria. Throughout Bohemia, a string of murders and secret whispers hint at a larger coup. As the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, an ancient order of spies and soldiers that protect kingdoms and their rulers, Lady Penelope is determined to mete out the perpetrators. Now, Eleanora must make the choice between a life of intrigue and saving the lives of others.

Can Eleanora find a way do the right thing and still find freedom?

 

My Review

*Thanks again to Prodigy Gold Books for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.* 

The first half of „Kingdom of Ash and Soot“ was absolutely amazing and I was so invested in the story, I couldn’t put the book down anymore. Back in high school, I always hated history classes but ever since passing my a-levels and leaving school, I’ve become more and more interested in history and have also found out that I actually really enjoy reading historical fiction. As a European, I of course am particularly interested in European history and so the fact that this book was set in Prague back in 1870 made it even more interesting to me.

An important part of every story certainly are the characters and I really liked them. Eleanora, the female protagonist, was a little annoying sometimes, especially towards the end of the novel, but I still liked her. But my favorite character was definitely Ferdy, one of Eleanora’s love interests, who was funny and interesting and stole my heart quite quickly. 

Another very positive thing about this book was C.S. Johnson’s writing style. “Kingdom of Ash and Soot” was very well written and you could clearly see that she already has quite a lot of experience when it comes to writing books and I’m definitely interested in checking out some of her other work now.

But even though the first half of the book was definitely worth five stars, the story kind of lost its momentum after the half-way point and I began losing interest in it. I started struggling with trying to understand what exactly the Order of the Crystal Daggers was trying to do in Prague and how everything was interconnected. There were a lot of different characters mentioned when the order began trying to figure out why and how so many people had been murdered and I quite quickly lost track of who is who and what kind of role they played in Prague or Europe in general back then which sadly tarnished my reading experience. 

All in all, this book started out strong but then lost its momentum and so I decided to give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. I do not yet know if I’m going to read the next part of the series even though the book ended with a very interesting twist and a freaking cliffhanger. But I think the next book hasn’t even been announced yet, so I still have some time to figure out if I’m actually interested in finding out what happens next or if it’s just a momentary thing.

ARC Review · Reviews

ARC Review: Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

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Synopsis

In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that.

Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.

With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan – but try convincing their hearts of that.

My Review

*Thanks again to Entangled Publishing for sending me an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* 

I really liked the premise of “Kiss of the Royal” and was intrigued by the idea of a world where kisses were used as some form of magic to protect or heal other people, lift curses and much more. And overall, I have to say this book definitely turned out to be a very quick and enjoyable read but it also had its flaws.

Some of the things I liked about this book were for instance the characters. They were well developed, and I really began caring for them after some time. I also liked the world building in this book and all in all, the plot was pretty interesting. But you were also able to tell that this was the author’s debut novel and I think there still is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to her writing style. But I’m sure she’ll continue improving with every book she publishes in the future and I most probably won’t have this problem anymore when reading her third or fourth book. 

Another thing that bothered me was that, while the plot was interesting, it could’ve been even more interesting if some parts of the story had been a little more complex. Especially the “big battle” at the end was over way too fast which bugged me a little even though it was probably better for my heart. Furthermore, I also think the romance was incredibly predictable. From the start you know who’s going to end up with each other and how their love story would play out. Like I said, I really liked the characters, so I’d really hoped the few romantic scenes in this book would make me swoon which they just didn’t.

Ultimately, I decided to give this book three out of five stars because despite everything that bothered me, I still enjoyed reading “Kiss of the Royal” and will definitely keep an eye out for future books by this author.

ARC Review · Reviews

ARC Review: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

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Synopsis

A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

 

My Review

*Thanks again to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* 

Ten years ago, Finn’s girlfriend Layla went missing when they stopped at a rest stop somewhere in France. Ten years later, he’s engaged to be married and his fiancée is none other than Layla’s sister Ellen. His past is only a very small part of his life now and everything seems to be fine, until he comes home from work one day and finds his wife-to-be sitting on the couch with something in her hands only her missing sister could have sent her.

I really liked the synopsis of “Bring Me Back” and thus was incredibly excited to pick up this book. It sounded like something I would really enjoy and even though I didn’t end up falling in love with this book, I also can’t say that I had to force myself through it. It was definitely a very quick read and I practically flew through the book, but unfortunately it didn’t exactly live up to my expectations.

Right at the beginning of the book when there was a flashback of the day of Layla’s disappearance, I had an idea of what had probably happened and how this book would end. I was really hoping I would be wrong, and B.A. Paris would manage to surprise me but she didn’t. The book ended just the way I thought it would end which was rather unfortunate. I’m sure it could have surprised someone who doesn’t really read mystery but even I, a person who only occasionally reads books from this genre, had already seen this kind of a plot a couple of times before.

Another thing I didn’t really like were the characters. I didn’t care about any of them and none of them were interesting or unique. They all felt pretty flat and some of the decisions they made were pretty absurd.

So overall, “Bring Me Back” is a book that doesn’t necessarily make me want to pick up any of B.A. Paris’s other works and I decided to only give it two stars. All in all, it was an okay read but even though it’s supposed to be a gripping mystery, it’s a book I probably won’t be able to still tell you a lot about at the end of this month.