A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E.Schwab

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: A Darker Shade of Magic 
     Author: V.E. Schwab
     Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction 
     Publisher: Tor Books
     Publishing Date: February 24th, 2015

          - Characters were all very well developed
          - World building both intricate and new, yet familiar 

    Things that could have been better:
         - Different points of views confused me a bit - due to my everlasting forgetfulness! 

Rating: 4.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Initial Thoughts

All of the book blogging community pretty much screamed at me to reead this book! I finally took upon this opportunity when I found out about the ADSOM read a long on Twitter and Goodreads! Plus, Lucie from Tea, books and fun also decided to read this book with me (although for her it was a reread)~! 

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now. 

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby 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 another world for her 'proper adventure'. 

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.


The characters were actually phenomenal in this book. I really liked how they were constructed - they were 3-D characters that had many different layers to them. Especially with Kell - I delighted learning more about him, because he was such a complex character with a complex past that isn't fully revealed, not even at the end of the book...but  I guess that will encourage me to read book 2! I also really loved reading about Lila - she was such a badass character, and she would be a wonderful role model! 

Especially with some of the more minor characters - their deaths were actually like tiny little blows to my heart. Even if I didn't like them, I still felt sad when they died because of the last few moments they had, which didn't necessarily redeem them if they were evil, just made them more human. 

I actually disliked the switching perspectives throughout the novel - it did make it a bit difficult to read the book, because I was constantly forgetting what had previously happened...but that's just me with books that have multiple perspectives!  


The rules around magic here really made me think of Chemistry, but in a more instant form. One of the rules about magic was that it couldn't be created, and I just immediately thought of the Law of Conservation (the inner nerd in me is rising out!). I really loved how there were similarities between our world and the worlds that Schwab has created - it made it easier for me to follow along with the story! I think that the strongest aspect of this book is really its worldbuilding, with how it is both intricate and yet has links to our current everyday life. 

Writing Style

V.E. Schwab writes flawlessly. There were no huge info-dumpy sessions thankfully, and the words in this book had a poetic feel to them - every word used seemed to be in just the perfect place. It was really nice to read, because not only did it flow well, but it was also understandable. Sometimes you get these novels which sound nice, but you actually have no idea what's going on. This wasn't the case here - and I was so glad to experience this. 

Entertainment Value

For me, it was just hard to connect with the book. I don't know if this is because I read it in short little bursts - three or four parts a day, over the weekend. When I talked to Lucie about it, she said that she got to connect with the book and the characters more with her reread, so maybe it's because it's because it's the first time I've read it. 
As I didn't connect with the book, it made it hard for me to resonate with the characters and fangirl over this book. 

Final Thoughts

It's a book i would definitely reread, if anything to try to connect with the readers more. I love the world-building and I'm so excited to start reading A Gathering of Shadows soon! I need more of this universe!! I rate this book a rough 4.75 stars out of 5 (let's just say 4.5 stars) 


Thoughts in a Phrase 

Next book please! 

Keep reading and loving books!

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Reader Confessions Tag!

I was nominated for the Reader Confessions tag by Denise @ The Bibliolater,as well Erin @ The Book Archive! Thanks so much, Denise and Erin - I've been wanting to do this tag for so long! :D 

1. Have you ever damaged your own book?

Yep, I definitely have! I have a tattered hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The spine has actually come off, and some of the pages are falling out! As you can hear, it's in a pretty miserable state! This was before I became an intense book collector though, and this experience really changed how I treated my books!
2. Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

Oh gosh, YES >.< I was younger, loved reading books, and I'd read books at the dinner table. I think I splattered some pasta sauce over a copy of The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan :S And I've also doggy eared lots of library books too, because they just weren't mine, so I didn't care how I treated them >.< I am shocked by how badly I used to treat my books >.<
3. How long does it take you to read a book?

It honestly depends on the book. If it's an awesome 300-500 page book, then a day. If it's an awesome book longer than 500 pages, probably two days. If I'm ehh about it, maybe three days or so? But if I don't like it, then I'll drag it out. Oh, and if it's an ebook, I usually read those faster than physical books, just because I can bring ebooks around more than physical books, most of the time :)
4. Books that you haven’t finished?

AHAHA there are a couple of these! Some of them include Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Passenger by Alex Bracken and All The Bright Things by Jennifer Niven. Honestly, I've DNF'ed them, but I keep clinging to hope that I'll pick them up again some day...when I'm really bored.

5. Hyped/popular books that you don’t like?

Anything by Rainbow Rowell, John Green and most of the Throne of Glass series.
Rainbow Rowell
I read Eleanor and Park, and I just didn't connect with the characters. It was an alright read for me, but I just didn't find it amazing, and it didn't encapsulate what I really felt with my first love, which is something a lot of people have said it did for them?
I tried reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and like I said earlier, I DNF'ed. I don't get what's so amazing about it - I can only see it as a poorly done HP knock-off, because I got so bored, that I didn't even reach the part that most people love - the Baz and Simon relationship.
John Green
I think his books are alright actually - they just follow so many tropes/stereotypes, especially the Manic Pixie Girl stereotype. There's just nothing distinctive about them, and I don't connect with his characters either.
Plus, with The Fault in Our Stars was super over-hyped imo - the experience was just ruined for me, when I went to the movies, watched it, and had girls hysterically crying over it. As a non-emotional person most of the time, that hysterical level just annoyed me a bit >.<
Throne of Glass books
Oh my gosh, I'm so sad I have to put this here. I LOVED THRONE OF GLASS, I really did. But I hated Crown of Midnight, and I'm in the middle of reading Heir of Fire, and I'm just not enjoying it. I feel like a lot of it is unnecessary, and that Sarah J. Maas has just done everything to make it more "high-fantasy-ish". For example, I don't get why Baba Yellowlegs (I think that's the name) was in Crown of Midnight - she seemed super unnecessary. I just don't like these characters at all anymore, and there are now too many characters that I just don't care about. Plus with Celaena, I don't like her character anymore. Sorry :(
6. Is there a book that you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?

Umm, I don't think so! I think maybe Fifty Shades of Grey, like what Erin and Denise have said in their Reader Confessions Tag, but apart from that, no, not really!
7. How many books do you own? 

You're asking me to count how many books I own? NAH that would honestly take so much time! I'm going to estimate, maybe 400 books or so? There's honestly a LOT xD I keep buying more and more books, and my parents just get so mad, because my room is just filled with books!
8. Are you a fast reader or a slow reader?

I'm a fast reader, compared to all my friends that I interact with in real life. I think they probably only read ~30 books at most a year? I usually read about ~90 books a year, so yeah. But compared to a lot of the book blogging community, I'm a slow reader - I've seen lots of people read 200-300 books a year, and I'm just blown away!
9. Do you like to buddy read?

Yes, I love to buddy read! I've done it with Sierra @ Nerdgirl Review (Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell), as well as Lucie @ Teas, books and fun (A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder), along with Tina @ Tina the Bookworm (Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky)! I tried doing it with Cilla @ Paved With Books, but it didn't work out, mainly because I lost interest in our book :(

10. Do you read better in your head or out loud?

In my head. Out loud takes too long, although I do process the book more, and visualise it stronger. I just get too impatient with reading out loud, because I want to just go faster than what my voice can go with!
11. If you were only allowed to own one book, what would it be and why?

This question is too hard to answer! If I absolutely had to...it would be Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. It's the book I've reread the most (about 10-12 times?) and I still love it - so I really think I need it!

12. Who do you nominate?

This is honestly the hardest question every time, because I don't know who actually likes doing tags! Let me know in the comments below if you'd like to be considered for tags - because I hate nominating people who don't like being tagged!
1) Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books
2) Sophie @ Sailing Through Books
3) Jesse @ Books at Dawn
4) Anyone else who wants to do it!

Keep reading and loving books!

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Wonder Women by Sam Maggs | BAMF Women Everywhere!

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
     Author: Sam Maggs
     Genre: Non-fiction, STEM, Women
     Publisher: Quirk Books
     Publishing Date: October 4th, 2016

          - Lots of women I had never heard of
          - Could learn things whilst enjoying myself

    Things that could have been better:
         - Writing style was offputting 

Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Quirk Books website

Initial Thoughts

As a BSc university student, and a future M.D. student, I was really excited when Quirk Books contacted me to review Wonder Women. I'm a strong advocate for women in science, being one myself, so I was really excited to dive into this book. Plus, the gorgeous graphics!! 
A side note before I continue - I've omitted the Plot section of this review, because it's a non-fiction book, and hence I can't really comment about plot, because there would be no plot! 

Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”? Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition? How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China? 

Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn’t get the credit. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors—each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stickto-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.


Wonder Women is filled with a plethora of successful, but unheard of women, in a variety of fields, such as science, medicine, espionage, exploration and invention. 
Have you ever heard of Wang Zhenyi? Noor Inayat Khan? What about Maria Sibylla Merian? I know I hadn't, before I read this book!

I honestly thought I would know more of the women here, doing a BSc degree and all. After all, some of the most inspiring lecturers I have had, have always given lectures about some important people in science - for example Maud Menten is known for her work in Michaelis-Menten kinetics, and I learned a bit about her in university. But she doesn't appear here. So it was just really refreshing to hear about more women in different areas, apart from science. 

Writing Style

I was really put off by Maggs's writing style. It seems like a combination of both first and second person, which definitely made it feel like she was talking to me, the reader. But at the same time, the use of italics, parentheses and other textual manipulations was off-putting, as it felt condescending at times. As Briana @ Pages Unbound stated in her review, there is a Tumblr-feel to the writing style. 

For me, the writing style felt condescending to my age and my knowledge. I feel like younger audiences might find the writing style entertaining, witty and sarcastic, but for me, it just felt very condescending. 

There is just a discrepancy with the writing style and the target audience - I believe that the target audience are teenage girls, but it felt like my ten-year old sister would enjoy it more than I did, with regards to the tone throughout the novel. 

Entertainment Value

Wonder Women is a fascinating book that has the capability to make a change, to increase awareness of many women who have impacted the world in a huge way. In that way, it filled my time meaningfully - I learned so many new things about BAMF women, whilst enjoying myself. 

Final Thoughts

Wonder Women is an empowering book for any girl considering to go into STEM related fields. With the large variety of women, from all different backgrounds, profiled here, I'm sure any girl can find a role model within this book! Sadly for me though, the tone and the writing style just didn't appeal to me. 

But...if you want to get in early on reading this gorgeous book, you can sign up for a preorder here! If you preorder it, you'll get exclusive access to some downloadable wallpapers, created by comic artists Jen Bartel and Paulina Ganucheau, as a bonus. Also, two lucky winners will be given a framed print signed by the artists and Sam Maggs, the author. 


Thoughts in a Phrase 

The content was great - delivery, not so much. 

Keep reading and loving books!

Disclaimer - Quirk Books sent me a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review

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The Happiness Tag | In Which I Cheer Myself Up With Happy Things~

As always, I'm late on tags... OH WELL! 
I came across this tag when Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books did it - and honestly, I was hooked! I love anything that makes me happy - and I had to share it! 

List five things that make you happy 

This is weird right? But I think it's more the feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing my list of things to study for the night. 

Writing in my diary 
I have a four-year diary, where each page represents one day of the year. It's subdivided into four blocks - one for each year. I love writing in it, because I get to reflect on what happened the year before. Although there are some sad parts in some days, on the whole, it makes me happy because I'm always astounded by how it's been one/two/three years since that event (it usually seems like it was just yesterday) 


George R.R. Marin once mentioned something along the lines of how a person who reads many books lives many lives, whilst the person who doesn't read lives only once. I like to live many lives, I like to experience the world, and reading lets me do that ^_^ 
If it's a good book, I love reading, and it's really something that can cheer me up! 

I've been watching lots of comedies recently, and they never fail to make me laugh! Always a great pick-me-up on some heavy days. Want any recommendations?? HERE THEY ALL ARE!! :D 
  1. The Office - it's already finished, but it never fails to get me laughing. The diverse set of characters, the wonderful relationships...oh, how I love this show <3 
  2. Modern Family - If you want a family oriented comedy...definitely Modern Family! I love how everything ties together at the end of the episode, how each arc is beautifully tied together in a wonderful conclusion! 
  3. New Girl - The things that the people at that apartment get up to sometimes... :') 
  4. Brooklyn Nine-Nine - HAHAHAHAHA I always thought that cop shows had to be serious, procedural shows, but Brooklyn Nine-Nine blew away my expectations!
  5. The Mindy Project - Mindy is honestly such an inspirational character and person! 
I probably have many more recommendations...but those are just a few to get you started! 

List five songs that make you happy 

Cool by Alesso 
This song has such special memories for me...I don't even know where I first heard it from, but nowadays, whenever I work and this song comes on, my productivity actually increases tenfold - I get so motivated! 

Satellites by Cash Cash 
Just that whole motivational vibe again ^_^ 

Clarity by Zedd 
This song has so many levels of meaning for me. I first heard it in my first year at a new high school, and I was finally starting to fit in, have my own friends, be popular, you know? So yeah, this song just reminds me of that time, and makes me happy ^_^ 

Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars
Plus that music video is one of the best music videos I've seen :D 

Fireflies by Owl City 
MEMORIES :') And also, I can't help bopping along to the beat~ :) 

I tag...

..plus anyone else who wants to do it! Go off, be happy~! :D Revisit all the things that make you happy by doing this tag, like I did! 

Got any good music recommendations for me? Any nice music videos with a story (those are my fav music videos)? What makes you happy? Let me know in the comments! :) Always love chatting to you guys! 

Keep reading and loving books!

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The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: The Winner's Curse
     Author: Marie Rutkoski
     Genre: YA, Fantasy 
     Publisher: Farrar, Straux and Girroux
     Publishing Date: March 4th, 2014

          - World-building and politics - so intriguing! 

    Things that could have been better:
         - Characters - just didn't feel real/relatable to me
         - Plot - too coincidental for me to believe in 

Rating: 2.25 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Initial Thoughts

I've heard so many people rave about The Winner's Curse!  Plus, that gorgeous, gorgeous cover was calling to me. So I decided I had to take the plunge and just read it! 

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love... 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart. 


Kestrel was very difficult for me to understand. I just didn't feel like I connected with her at all - she wasn't relatable. I feel like this was partially due to the writing style, with the use of third person. The third person format really distanced me from Kestrel, and she was just unfathomable to me. 

Arin was even worse than Kestrel. He didn't make sense. In a normal world with consequences - I feel like Arin would never have been kept around in Kestral's household, with how rebellious he was at times. I felt like his purpose was to be the love interest, and it was very difficult for me to suspend my disbelief that he and Kestrel were right for each other. 

Let's talk side-characters now. I honestly didn't get Kestrel's attachment to Jess? It didn't seem like they were honestly that great friends - we get told they are best friends, but the actions in the novel don't support that, with how little we see of Jess. Ronan was really interesting to read about - he seemed like such a nice guy, and if I read the sequel - Ronan will be one of the reasons that I do so! 


The plot wasn't very interesting to me. It all felt contrived, it felt like things just happened for the sake of happening. For example, some plot points felt too convenient - highlight for spoilers. I thought that it was just too convenient that Kestrel happened to come by Arin being auctioned off, and Cheat was just REALLY lucky to engage Kestral into buying Arin. 
That being said, whilst I had problems with the plot - I did love the world-building. It was a familiar world to me, easy to grasp hold of, and I enjoyed learning more about each of the groupings - the Herrani and the Valorian. I especially loved reading about the Valorians, because they had such interesting beliefs/morals - women were allowed and even encouraged to enlist. This is so different to our society, because yes women are encouraged to go to combat in our world, but with Valorians, it seems to be more of an expectation. 

Finally, Rutkoski left us in a good spot for the ending. I'm curious to see how everything plays out in the second book, because the ending involves politics, is all I'm saying. And I'm interested to see how Kestrel will maneuver herself out of the spot she's in. 

Writing Style

The writing style wasn't my favourite. For one, there was the third-person format that hindered the character relatability. I didn't feel like I got to know Kestrel very well - it felt like I only knew superficial things about her, like that she likes music, or that she's bad at combat - not her thoughts, her wishes, her desires. I really feel like this is because of the third-person format. 

Furthermore, it seemed like everything was being dumbed down for readers. Sometimes, I felt like Rutkoski was repeating information previously mentioned. Whilst this is good because it reinforces that this information is important and keeps it fresh in readers' minds - at the same time, I feel like there was too much repetition, and it was almost as if Rutkoski was dumbing things down a bit, and I skim read a lot of The Winner's Curse as a result - just to reduce the amount of time I had to spend reading repetitious material. 

Entertainment Value

I kind of did have to force myself to read this book. I was really excited to start, because I heard so much great stuff about it, but I don't know I just didn't get immersed into the world. Nonetheless, it did keep me occupied, and reading for a couple of hours, although I did have to take a couple of breaks because I just wasn't loving it. 

Final Thoughts

I think an English teacher told me once that in order for a book or a movie or a play to be successful, sometimes there needs to be the suspension of disbelief. With The Winner's Curse, I couldn't suspend my disbelief with the plot and characters, and ultimately I couldn't enjoy the novel. The Winner's Curse, whilst easy to read in a couple of hours (even though I didn't fully enjoy it) is an ultimately forgettable novel to me, with little that distinguishes it from other fantasy books and other characters in separate novels. 


Thoughts in a Phrase 

It's not you, it's me. 

Keep reading and loving books!

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Conversations: Which Blogging System Do You Use?

Hi everyone! 
This is gonna be a short one today - more mid-semester exams to study for! 
The topic for today is...
Which blogging platform do you use and why? 
But of course, this is a bit of a sparse topic - so there are more prompts below! :) 

I use Blogger, as you all can probably tell. There's honestly no real reason for this - it's just the first platform I came across. 

Why haven't I been wooed by Wordpress yet though? It's too tricky for me. I tried using it once, but it felt like it was too much for me, with so much functionality, so much possible! I could probably spend a week trying to customise a blog with Wordpress. Time that I kiiiind of don't have. 

Blogger wins me over with its simplicity. Even though there are lots of times where I groan and sigh and hiss over how ridiculously simple it is, preventing me from doing more complex things that I would like. But I prefer this simplicity - after all, so long as I have a platform that allows me to post and comment with as little trouble as possible, I'm happy! 

I know this is probably a difficult topic to talk about - not much subject matter for a Conversation as such. So there won't be a link-up - sorry! 
I haven't caught up with you all in ages, I have been a bit AWOL. So...in addition to telling me about your blogging system, tell me about YOU! What has been going on in your wonderful lives? Big events? Birthdays? Blogoversaries? I want to know! 

Keep reading and loving books!

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Conversations: Which Commenting System Do You Use and Love?

Hi everyone! 
It's been a long time since I've posted! Sorry about that - lots of things happening at uni! But this week, the Conversations post is something I'm very interested in...
Do you use a particular form of commenting system? 

For me, I use Disqus, as you all can see, if you scroll below. 
There are many reasons why I use Disqus. 
As you all know, I HEAVILY emphasise how blogging should be about communication, making friends, etc. Disqus has such a wondeful system to facilitate that - it has notifications, a bit like Facebook, for if someone has replied back to your comment, and all that jazz. It's truly awesome. 
It also looks really good. I'm a huge fan of the minimalist look - it's difficult for me to implement, but it looks awesome! Disqus is pretty minimalistic, so it's nice to have on the blog. 
Then, let's not forget how Disqus can be integrated with pretty much anything. If you're using Disqus, you don't have to make a Disqus account or anything - you can sign in with Facebook, Twitter, and some other options, I believe! So pretty much anyone can comment on your posts, let you know what they think! 
Finally., Disqus is awesome because you get to "thumbs up" comments. Sometimes, I find it's hard to reply back to some comments - you know, the generic ones, that are like "oh, nice post!". But I still feel that obligation to do something, to acknowledge that comment, so instead of spending ten minutes thinking of an adequate reply - I just thumbs up! :) 

To be honest, I can't really think of reasons NOT to use Disqus. The only drawback is the lack of a mobile app - but even then, I think that has been resolved! I just have to play around with some code-y things..which I'll do sometime soon... >.<
Actually, thinking about it, Disqus can be a bit confusing to implement. Denise @ The Bibliolater and I have had many panicked conversations about how to install Disqus and how to keep it working (there was one time when Blogger had changed its system or something, and Disqus couldn't cope o_O ) 

What commenting system do you guys use? Why do you use this system? Can you think of any reasons not to love Disqus - I know I'm very biased! 
I love finding out more about each commenting system - so let me know! :) 

Keep reading and loving books!

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