A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade final for Irene

★★★★★

Goodreads Summary:

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive. Read More »

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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

36896898★★★★

Goodreads Summary:

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.Read More »

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

23308087★★★

I made the mistake of picking this up on a weekday night, and I definitely stayed up just a little too late finishing it. With a gripping storyline, strong characterization, and a unique setting, Ahdieh’s new series does not disappoint.

Set in feudal Japan, FitM follows the story of Mariko, the daughter of a daimyō lord and bride-to-be of the Prince. Along her way to the capital, her litter is attacked by what she suspects to be the Black Clan, a group of bandits who is rumored to support the old emperor’s claim to the throne. After evading capture, Mariko decides to infiltrate the Clan to reveal their motives in attacking her. Disguised as a boy, she befriends the Clan’s leader, Ranmaru, and their strange second in command, Ōkami. But Mariko’s ruse is faltering, as the lines between her enemies and her friends aren’t as clear-cut as she thought them to be. Meanwhile, her twin brother Kenshin, the famed Dragon of Kai, will stop at nothing to bring his sister back home. And strange stirrings hover around the emperor’s consort, who may have a hand in more events than we know.Read More »

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

33163378★★★

Yes! So much girl power in this novel, it’s so inspiring to read about. The heroine is funny, smart, and strong. The book does fall to some high school stereotypes like the behavior of the boys football team that seems a tad unrealistic (I guess I can’t actually say, just because I’ve never experienced it doesn’t mean it’s not true), but I understand and totally support how it’s meant to highlight the theme of girls embracing each other for who they are. I especially liked how girls weren’t lumped into different cliques or labels, instead they were shown as someone more than their social circle; they were shown as human. Pretty easy to read and super empowering, Moxie is a book everyone should look at!

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

22103884★★★

This book deals with issues like depression, suicide, and other challenges teens in high school deal with. Zhang tells the story of Liz Emerson, the “it” girl of a small town and how her seemingly perfect life drove her to fatally crash her car. It shows that what we show on the surface is not what is actually beneath us.

Liz has always felt responsible for other people’s problems. And to some extent, she is. She’s the one who got her friend Julia addicted to drugs, kissed her friend Kennie’s boyfriend, and ruined people’s social lives. She’s filled with self-loathing for her actions, yet she can’t stop being the person she’s become. Add a cheating boyfriend, an absent mother, and a case of bulimia to the mix, and Liz has a problem: herself. So she decides to remove the problem, permanently. But things don’t go as planned, and she’s left to make a choice: to let go or to keep fighting.Read More »

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

29346927★★★★

I did not expect this book to be as good as it was. I put off reading it, thinking it was just another typical YA fantasy, but the characters won my heart in the end. The plot, although not action-packed, made me want to keep reading, and the setting was fantastic.

Zivah and Dineas are both under the rule of the Amparan empire. Zivah’s people of Dara are peaceful, and acquiesce to the empire’s demands, but after Dara’s healers failed to cure the empire’s soldiers after an outbreak of the deadly rose plague, their village is put under the spotlight. Now rosemarked from contracting the plague, Zivah is unable to practice her art of healing that she has trained so hard for. Meanwhile, Dineas has just escaped from the Amparan prison and is reunited with his people, the Monyars. He wishes vengeance for the brutalities done on him, and a way to stop the Amparans from conquering his people. A chance encounter between Dineas and Zivah spawns a plan that could bring the empire to its knees, if the pair can play their cards right.Read More »

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

34050917★★★★★

Enchanting and bewitching, the Girl in the Tower does not disappoint. Arden transports readers back into the snow filled world of Rus’, this time into the heart of the capital with its snow-capped rooftops and burning wood stoves. With its vivid descriptions, enthralling plot, and beautiful prose, this book cements the series as one of my all-time favorites.

After the events of the first book, Vasya disguises herself as a boy and sets off from her village to become a traveler and to see the world. But Vasya soon finds that the world is a dangerous place. When she saves three girls from the Tar Tar barbarians, Vasya unintentionally catches the Princes’ eye, and is whisked off to the capital, where her siblings Sasha and Olga reside. Her reputation hangs by a thread, for if anyone discovers who she really is, the repercussions for her and her family would be dire. And strange events are happening behind the kremlin bound gates of the city, which may bring in a whole new enemy.Read More »