The Last Magician: A time travel story that doesn’t suffer from Moffat-y plot holes

I am a time travel fan, but time travel is rough. I mean, I can’t imagine it’s too comfortable to be flung through time and space. But I’m thinking more in the execution of a time travel story that doesn’t fall into the crutches that Moffat did with his time on Doctor Who (don’t @ me, I LOVE DW but at some point “It worked out because I’m the Doctor” just doesn’t hold). I very rarely read time travel books because they never hold up for me.

But that all changed with The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell.

Not gonna lie, the cover of this book is what first caught my eye because it reminded me of The Neverending Story and The Neverending Story makes me happy. But then there was the title and that lead to me reading the synopsis and I don’t think I had ever bought anything else as fast as I did when I was done reading the synopsis (that sentence is terrible, but I’m letting it stand because I do what I want). So let’s check out that synopsis, shall we:

Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

Hot damn. I’d unpack all the words and phrases in the synopsis that drew me in but then we’d be here for days. So let’s continue on…

Esta is snarky and steely and a Mageus who can manipulate time. Hi, Esta, wanna be my new best friend? I’ve read some reviews where she is compared a bit to Delilah Bard (from the FANTASTIC Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab) and I can see it. She is strong, fierce, wants to prove herself, and has a thing for a grumpy magician that she can’t fully admit to.

Then we have Harte Darrigan. Handsome, charming, stubborn, and with a tragic past…Hi, Harte, wanna be my new boyfriend? Harte is everything I want in a male lead. Remember in the synopsis when it says “the very air crackles with magic.” The air doesn’t crackle with magic, it crackles with tension between Harte and Esta. It’s not over done, its just perfect. Slow burn to the very end and I am all about that.

The secondary cast is well fleshed out and I could see where they all came from and how they got to where they are now. As someone who LOVED Six of Crows, I thoroughly enjoyed the group heist plot aspect of this novel. And of course there is a betrayal (if there isn’t betrayal, is it even a heist book?) and I DID NOT see it coming.

One thing negative I will give this book is the pacing. It felt like stop and go a lot of the time. Some parts I felt like I was devouring the story at a breakneck pace because I needed to know what was going to happen. And then it would slow way down. At 498 pages, I’d call this book a door stopper and part of me thinks it could have been edited down just a bit. But, for all the pacing issues, I am thankful for the rich characters and world that was built.

I would definitely call the ending a cliffhanger, but it wasn’t the kind of cliffhanger where I wanted to howl into the void in agony over the wait for the next book. Sure, I want the next book, but I’ve been waiting since I finished this book last year and I’m still surviving. Though, I’ve been thinking of this book a lot lately, and now I’m starting to get a bit antsy for The Devil’s Thief, which is released on October 9th, 2018. Well heck, I thought it was sooner than that…If I get my hands on a TARDIS I know what my first stop will be!

Recommended for fans of Six of Crows, time travel, urban fantasy, historical fiction, and handsome magicians.

Rule: The book that reminded me that I love some good court intrigue and that I miss GoT

Spoiler Free Review of Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Rating: 4.25/5

Synopsis: “Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.”

An arc of this book was sent to me by The NOVL and Little Brown Young Readers (THANK YOU!) in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

You know when you are watching a Netflix show and the episode is going along just fine and the BAM! one phrase or reveal at the end of the episode has you immediately hitting the “Next Episode” button even though its 2am and you have to get up for work in 5 hours? That’s what Ruin was like for me. Luckily I left the book at my office to only read during lunch breaks because I am positive I would have lost quite a bit of sleep while mumbling “Just one more chapter…”. As it is, I may have kinda sorta taken slightly longer lunch breaks than I should have just to get more reading in.

The book starts with the introduction of the three main characters: Zofi, a traveler skilled in the Arts (the magic system of this world); Florencia (Ren), a ladies maid with laser focus on improving her station in life; and Akeylah, who has been raised by a terrible family and probably has the saddest backstory out of the three.

Each girl is the bastard child of the King. Each must now compete to prove themselves worthy of becoming the heir to the throne. Each has a damning secret that could destroy them.

Hot DAMN, I loved this book. I’ve been craving some good court/political intrigue (I blame the lack of Game of Thrones for this craving) that wasn’t too EPIC FANTASY and this book hit that mark perfectly. Instead of info dumping about the world and how it’s politics came to be, the author sprinkled bits of knowledge throughout. The world building was a bit lacking in that I got very little sense of what any particular location looked like. But the building of the history of the world was good and there was A+ political intrigue.

The story is told from the POV of each sister. I found that while each POV was distinct, there was some overlap and repetitiveness in their thought processes. But I felt that each had their own voice in the writing which I can imagine is not the easiest to do. I felt the book had good representation since all the characters were POC and there was a W/W relationship. Racism and prejudice were discussed and I think it was handle pretty well. The one thing that did bother me a bit was that the self inflicted would the characters have to make in order to access the power of the Arts could be construed to glorify cutting. I didn’t pick up on that until I read some other reviews because cutting is not a trigger for me, but this could bother other readers, so fair warning.

All in all, I really loved this book and am already awaiting the next book!

Thanks again to Little, Brown/The NOVL for sending me this ARC copy. Rule is released on September 11, 2018!

My next review will be for Kill the Farmboy by Kevin Hearne and Delilah Lawson. The map in the front of the book has dick jokes so I’m really looking forward to this book.

Kingdom of Ruins: The book that made me realize I want a grumpy traveler of my very own…

Kingdom of Ruins by D.C. Marino

Rating: 4.5/5

Release Date: July 26th, 2018

FYI: I received a copy of this eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:

“In the Lands Within, history does not rest. Each archaeological layer communicates with the living generation, choosing its friends and enemies—and its kings. But an alliance has been struck no one could have anticipated, and an ancient evil is soaking into the soil. History is being erased, purchased and re-written at a terrible price. And a kingdom that shouldn’t have been forgotten is fading from memory.

In the Lands Without, archaeologist Lori Brickland has found a pottery shard with a heartbeat. The pulse might be a trick of the mind, or it might be the first sign of life in a world of ruin. An exiled traveler will say she shouldn’t search for the truth, a calculating ruler will say she’s the one he’s looking for. And the kingdom? The kingdom will need her before the end. It’s time to accept what she’s always known…

This isn’t archaeology.

This is war.”

Have you ever read a synopsis and immediately thought “I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK IN MY EYES NOW!”? Because that was my exact reaction when I read the synopsis for Kingdom of Ruins by D.C. Marino. Archaeological adventures in a world where the very ground communicates with the people of the land? Exiled travelers and calculating kings? Sign me the heck up!

And this book did not disappoint. We meet Lori Brickland when she is ready to walk away from her archaeological career due to the onset of atephobia (fear of ruins, which I didn’t not know was a thing and had to google when I read it), but through some meddling by her grandfather, she ends up following a particularly stern traveler through a rip in reality and into the Lands Within. I won’t go into the particulars of what follows Lori’s world jumping because I don’t want to spoil the adventure, but I will say that I enjoyed this book from start to finish.

The characters were all well developed and I could grasp their personalities pretty quickly. I understood their motives and could see how they got to where they were for this story and where they were going. I have a three-way tie for my favorite characters: Lori, who deals with her atephobia head on and also does whatever the heck she wants (Thane: “Lori, don’t do the thing.” Lori: *does the thing*). Meridian, who has a violin, is delightfully aware of who she is as a person, and has THE BEST expressions (I nearly died when she used the world “buckets” as an exclamation…I use that expression all the time and I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that). And then there is Thane, my grumpy, leather bound traveler with a mysterious past and just the right amount of sarcasm. I lived for the exchanges between Lori and Thane (*heart eyes forever*).

The world building was thorough without overdoing it. I got a clear image in my head for each location that Lori traveled to and that is a huge thing for me. I have to be able to create the world in my mind from the bones the writer leaves behind. The descriptions were absolutely divine and every once in a while, I would just stop to reread a sentence and savor it. The way the ruins and nature were described in the same way that a living creature would be gave the story a layer dark whimsy that I loved. There were a few instances where dialogue was written into the paragraphs of exposition, which robbed the reader of the breaks that a dialogue exchange can bring, but that was really my only complaint.

The long of the short of it, folks, is that I quite loved this book. I think it is a fun and whimsical adventure story with great characters and I am desperate to read more from this world. It should be said that the book has a complete ending but it leaves it open for more books (MORE BOOKS NOW PLEASE!). I’ll be writing a more in depth, spoiler-y review on my blog after the book is released and I have my final copy (you best believe I have this beauty on pre-order at B&N).

Tomorrow I’ll be posting a review of the Rule by Ellen Goodlett! Have a grand night, book people!

In which I finally review a book and that book is CARAVAL!

 

Do you want a book with two sisters escaping an abusive home to what is basically a carnival themed LARPing convention? Do you want a book with deliciously descriptive passages and scrumptious scenes that make you question if you want to stay in your reality? Do you want a book where you don’t know who to trust, especially the sexily secretive, rough and tumble love interest?

Then Welcome, Welcome to CARAVAL!!!!

“She didn’t realize how toasty it had been in the tavern until she escaped into the brittle evening. Crisp, like the first bite of a chilled apple, smelling just as sweet, with hints of burnt sugar weaving through the charcoal night air.”

First of all, I LOVE the writing in this book. The author, Stephanie Garber (who, for the record, is such a nice human), pieces together words in such a wonderous way. She weaves beautiful webs of descriptions that I often found myself stuck in them. I would stop reading and just stare in awe at certain passages. I fell straight from the pages of this book on to the streets of Caraval.

The main plot of the books revolves around Scarlett and Donatella Dragna (those NAMES!!), who find themselves at the mysterious Caraval. Donatella goes missing on the first night and it is up to Scarlett, with the assistance of Julian, the handsome sailor who helps Scarlett through Caraval, to find Donatella and beat the game. But who can Scarlett trust when everything is part of the game and you don’t know who the actors are?

And this is where my two main issues with the book come into play. While I love mysteries and the whole “Can I trust this person?” guessing game, it starts to wear on my nerves when EVERYTHING can be a lie or a trick. And I got just to the edge of annoyed with this book. It wasn’t overboard, but the constant threat of trickery started to wear thin by the end.

Which brings us to the end. That moment when the magic got sucked away in a sudden vacuum of truth. I felt like the big reveal of the story was rushed and every lovely bit of magic disappeared. Caraval was no longer a fun, twisty game, but simply a drawn-out ruse to help the Dragna sisters escape their miserable and abusive home life. If the execution of the ending had been a little better this would have been a five-star read for me.

At the end of the day, this was a solid four star read for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a carnival themed story. I liked all the characters, except Donatella who I wanted to smack every time she was on the page. I’ve heard a lot of people say they thought Scarlett was whiny but I just didn’t feel that way. I will say that though I am not a fan of Donatella, I am thoroughly intrigued for the sequel, Legendary! I’ll be going to the Launch Party tonight and I can’t wait to hear Stephanie Garber talk about this book!

 

My next review (Bad Things Play Here by Chani Lynn Feener) should be up by the end of the week! Until then, happy reading!

In which I am not surprised it took me this long to do a first post…

Well, here we are. Darn near a month after starting my blog and I haven’t posted at all. But that all changes today, folks! Because here I am, posting things.

First, a bit of an introduction.

My name is Kibby and I am a bookaholic. I like reading books, sure. But I also love looking at them, photographing them, buying them in excess, and talking about them whenever humanly possible. I eventually found my way to #bookstagram, where I truly found my book people.

However, Instagram has a 2,200-character limit on captions, and as you’ll soon learn, I am wordy AF. If something can be said in 10 words, I’ll say it in 30 and probably go off on at least one tangent. Though, if I’m in a bad mood I communicate through glares and pointed silence. It’s all about balance with me. All of this is to say, I decided to start a blog to accommodate my desire for more space for my words.

So, what am I planning to do with this unlimited space for my wordiness? Reviews mostly, specifically reviews of Science Fiction and Fantasy books. A majority will be written reviews, but I’m hoping to do some audio reviews. Think of a quick rambling review, like how you’d do a review/recommendation to a friend or someone on the street who asked about a book you are reading. Side note: why don’t more random people who talk to me in public ask about books? I’m much more likely to converse if it’s about books.

Along with reviews, I am also hoping to help promote new books that fall into my preferred genres. My blog is small right now, but I have an ever growing #bookstagram account and I’ll be doing reviews/promotions tag team style with that account. I’ll be posting information about how I’ll take review requests, should any every come my way, in the near future. All I know is that right now I’m only taking SF/F books.

For good measure, there will also be random posts about Doctor Who (Where my Whovians at??), whatever TV show I am obsessing about, maybe some WIP snippets, and anything else I think may be interesting.

TL;DR: Basically, I’m Kibby. I like books. I’m going to talk about books. Maybe I can read your book. Books.

Until next time, which I swear will be sooner rather than later, I wish you a fantastic day and fantastic reading!

There’s something of the book about you…

I’ve been wanting to start a bookish blog for quite some time and today just happened to be the day I made the leap!

More content to follow soon! I just had to get it started so I would have a reason to stop putting this off.

I’ll have book reviews and lots of general bookish ramblings! In the mean time, if you have a #bookstagram account follow me at https://www.instagram.com/somethingofthebook/

“We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?” – The Eleventh Doctor

– Kibby

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑