Book review: Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Goodreads ⭐ Read First: This Savage Song ⭐ Amazon ⭐

“I know it hurts,“ she said. “So make it worth the pain.”

In Our Dark Duet, Kate Harker has left Verity and made a new life for herself in the neighboring town of Prosperity.  Whereas Verity is quite literally infested with monsters, Prosperity is still more or less a safe town with only the occasional attack.  Kate works with a group of teens to take down monsters as they appear, but she’s still very much the loner that she’s always been.

Back in Verity, August Flynn has had to take on a new role after his brother’s death.  Before the tide turned for the worse, August dreamed of someday becoming human.  Now, he has no choice but to methodically reap the souls of every sinner who tries to slip into his family’s compound.

When Kate learns that the violence in Verity has bred an entirely new monster, she feels obligated to return.  She’s stunned to find the new August, a Sunai who has embraced his role in life and bears little resemblance to her former friend.  Together, can they return Verity to its former safety?  Or is the town too far gone to be saved?

Oh, my heart.  This is the sixth book I’ve read by Victoria Schwab and I should know to expect this by now, but somehow, I was still surprised.  I think I might have actually died as I finished this book.  Victoria Schwab ripped my heart straight out of my chest with that ending.  The worst part is that I’ll still read anything that she writes.

I don’t want to get too much into the details of the plot or what happens to the characters.  Thankfully, I successfully avoided all spoilers before diving into this book, and although it nearly killed me (see above), I’m glad that I didn’t know what to expect going in.  Just like with A Conjuring of Light, it’ll probably take me weeks to recover from this trauma.

I probably sound overdramatic with all of this ranting and raving about the ending, but this is really a very good book.  Schwab has put such a new and interesting twist on the dystopian genre with this duology and, truth be told, I’m a little sad that the series is finished.  This is most definitely a world that I could continue to explore.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most anticipated releases for the 1st half of 2017

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Today’s theme is Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the 1st Half of 2017.  Well, there’s not a lot I’m looking forward to in 2017, except for books.  When it comes to reading, you know I always have a mile-long list waiting to be read.  Here are ten books I’m looking forward to (excluding any that I’ve already received as ARC’s).

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Infini by Krista & Becca Ritchie.
Anticipated release: January 2017

“Don’t have a best friend that’s a girl” — this was the advice from my older cousin. I didn’t take it. Because he followed with, “friends don’t f*ck friends. And you’ll want to f*ck her.”

It was terrible advice.

My cousin should’ve told me that being best friends with Baylee Wright — since she was twelve — would be the best and worst decision of my life.

He should have told me to protect her from what was coming.

He should have told me that when a darkness crawled towards us, there’d be no safety net.

Now I’ve signed back on to the same Vegas acrobatic show as Baylee, working together for the first time in years. And she tells me that she’s having trouble in a certain “area” of her life — because of our past.

“You can help me fix it,” she says.

And then she hands me a list.

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How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore.
Anticipated release: January 2017

Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do–through intimidation and manipulation.

After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change–but it’s impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne’s war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won’t go down without a fight–not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what’s left of herself.

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Wait for Me by Caroline Leech
Anticipated release: January 2017

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

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A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab
Anticipated release: February 2017

The battle between four magical Londons comes to a head in this stunning finale to the New York Times bestselling Shades of Magic trilogy by rising star V. E. Schwab

London’s fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.

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The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes #2) by Brittany Cavallaro
Anticipated release: February 2017

In the second brilliant, action-packed book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy, Jamie and Charlotte are in a chase across Europe to untangle a web of shocking truths about the Holmes and Moriarty families.

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson’s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers.

So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Anticipated release: February 2017

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

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Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
Anticipated release: February 2017

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

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Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
Anticipated release: March 2017

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

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Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Anticipated release: March 2017

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Jason Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

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Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski
Anticipated release: April 2017

Can friendship, Star Trek, drama club, and a whole lot of coffee get two nerdy best friends through the beginning of their senior year of high school?

Meg and Linus are best friends bound by a shared love of school, a coffee obsession, and being queer. It’s not always easy to be the nerdy lesbian or gay kid in a suburban town. But they have each other. And a few Star Trek boxed sets. They’re pretty happy.

But then Sophia, Meg’s longtime girlfriend, breaks up with Meg. Linus starts tutoring the totally dreamy new kid, Danny—and Meg thinks setting them up is the perfect project to distract herself from her own heartbreak. But Linus isn’t so sure Danny even likes guys, and maybe Sophia isn’t quite as out of the picture as Meg thought she was… .

From crowdsourced young adult imprint Swoon Reads comes Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski, a fun friendship story about two quirky teens who must learn to get out of their comfort zones and take risks—even if that means joining the drama club, making new friends, and learning how to stand on your own.

So, those are my ten most anticipated releases of early 2017 (that I’ve come across so far).  What are you looking forward to?

    Goodreads   Amazon

“Everyone thinks I have a death wish, you know? But I don’t want to die – dying is easy. No, I want to live, but getting close to death is the only way to feel alive. And once you do, it makes you realize that everything you were doing before wasn’t actually living. It was just making do. Call me crazy, but I think we do the best living when the stakes are high.”

It seems like just a few days ago that I read A Darker Shade of Magic, but looking back into my Goodreads history, it looks like it was actually back in December 2014.  (I guess that explains why I was a little fuzzy on the details when I started A Gathering of Shadows.)  Anyway, ADSoM was one of my favorites of 2014, and AGoS will probably be one of my favorites of 2016.

I love this world.

So many fantasy novels delve too far into the romance.  They set their plot aside, particularly in sequels or as the series continues on, for the sole reason of developing their love interests.  One of my favorite things about this book, this series actually, is that the focus is on the action.  The focus is on the magic.  On the different worlds.

Don’t get me wrong, there is some serious romantic tension building between Kell and Lila.  (I’m definitely hoping for some resolution there in the next book!)  But for most of the book, Kell and Lila are on opposite sides of the world.  Even when they’re not, the focus is on the Essen Tasch, a magical tournament bringing all of the (Red) world’s empires together.

It’s not all fun and games, though.  A threat lurks in White London.  Kell and Prince Rhy must deal with the aftermath of the spell that saved Rhy’s life, but bound it to Kell’s.  Add to that a cruel, cruel cliffhanger, and I am eagerly anticipating book three.

Please don’t make me wait too long for it!

Final rating:  ★★★★☆

It’s almost February already, and, by the way, February is looking like it’s going to be an awesome month when it comes to new releases.  There are six that I’m really looking forward to.

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– Starflight by Melissa Landers (2/2/16) 
– Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (2/2/16)
– Morning Star by Pierce Brown (2/9/16) 

I just realized that these are all star-themed!

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– These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas (2/9/16)

– A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (2/23/16)
– The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine (2/16/16)

We’ve also got two shadow themes down here!

What new releases are you looking forward to?

Book review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Goodreads | Amazon

Four different worlds. Four different Londons. Blood magicians, a feisty thief, and body snatching royalty – just a few of the things you’ll get in A Darker Shade of Magic.

Kell is from Red London, a flourishing empire where magic is celebrated. As an Antari, a blood magician capable of traveling between parallel worlds, his job is to deliver news between Londons. White London is a terrifying, ruthless place where magic is power and people will do anything to gain, or hold onto, what little magic they can. In Grey London, a sad, colorless place with almost no magic remaining, he meets Delilah Bard. Lila is rough around the edges, quick to fight, and hopeful that someday she’ll be able to get away from London and become a true pirate.

Kell and Lila find themselves drawn together as Kell is tricked into an impossible situation involving the fabled Black London, shut off from the world because of a magical plague.

I’ll be honest and say that it took me awhile to get into this one. There was really an awful lot going on – not in a bad way – and it took me a few chapters to immerse myself in Kell’s world. Once I did, the pages flew by as I read as much in one sitting as I possibly could. I loved the whole idea of the Antari, blood magicians who can do just about anything. With a drop of his blood and a few words, Kell can create doors out of nothing, heal the sick and injured, and change the world around him. I look forward to learning more about the Antari in the book(s) to come.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of Lila at the beginning – I thought she was reckless and took far too many stupid risks – I grew to love her toward the end. Schwab develops her character very well, showing the motivation behind her actions and giving her hopes, dreams, and goals. You see, Lila just wants to get out of Grey London. She wants to see the world. She doesn’t want to be stuck in a boring life, doing the same boring things day after day, until she dies. She’d rather live an exciting life, even if it’s dangerous, or even deadly.

Fans of YA and adult fantasy are likely to love A Darker Shade of Magic. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★☆

Giveaway alert!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be approved for an advance copy of A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab.  While the publisher requested that I hold off on posting a review until closer to the release date, I can say that it’s a great book and I really enjoyed it.

Now, Goodreads has 10 copies available through its First Reads program.  Click here to enter the giveaway!  It ends January 27, 2015.

Four different worlds. Four different Londons. Blood magicians, a feisty thief, and body snatching royalty – just a few of the things you’ll get in A Darker Shade of Magic, the newest book by Victoria Schwab.

The publisher has requested that I wait until two weeks before the release date to post my review, so it will be available on February 10.  I don’t want to say too much, but this was definitely a four-star read for me.