Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (8/18/20)–The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles, #3)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

As most of you probably know, I’ve been following the Black Witch Chronicles (and loving them) since late May, after a friend’s recommendation. I saw that The Shadow Wand came out this June, and immediately put it on hold at the library after finishing book 2. Luckily, it came a LOT sooner than I expected, and I got to read it recently! But after reading it and letting it stew for about a week and a half…I have some major Thoughts. So this is likely going to be more of a rambling than a review. You have been warned.

Brace Yourself GIFs | Tenor

ALSO! This review may contain spoilers for books 1 and 2, The Black Witch and The Iron Flower, so tread lightly if you haven’t read them and intend to!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles ...

The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles, #3)–Laurie Forest

My library copy feat. a cool filter and Hobbes, one of my lovely cats

Elloren Gardner harbors a secret that could change her world forever.

She is the Black Witch of prophecy, destined to save her world of Erthia and bring glory to the Gardnerians. But under the tyrannical rule of High Priest Vogel, the truth about her is best kept hidden. Separated from Yvan, she must learn to hone her power before Vogel and his allies discover her identity. Joining forces with Lukas, the Commandor of the Mage forces and the boy she was unwillingly wandfasted to, she must control her powers and gather her allies before it’s too late.

Mixed Feelings GIFs | Tenor

Remember how I said in my review of The Iron Flower that book 2 didn’t fall into the trap of middle-book-slump? I seem to have forgotten then that the series is slated to be a series of five books, making The Shadow Wand the middle book.

And I hate to say it, but there’s some serious disappointing middle book syndrome going on here.

From the start, I feel like at least 100-150 pages could have been cut out (for clarification, The Shadow Wand clocks in at 554 pages). The first portion of the book jumps between the POVs of several, completely new characters; they show up later, and those chapters gave a little bit of backstory for them, but I don’t think entire chapters were needed to explain their backgrounds. We also get to check in on a few favorites from the previous books, including Tierney and Wynter. I liked seeing where Wynter was (because I still have a major soft spot for her, and she deserves so much better), but I…don’t know if it contributed to the story much at all. At least they’re…okay? Maybe? Sort of?

And…Forest is deeeeefinitely toying with our feelings here. The love triangle between Elloren, Lukas, and Yvan is expanded upon, but in…an interesting way. And by “interesting,” I mean “entertaining the notion that one party may or may not be dead.” We don’t see any of Yvan for the entire book, and the romantic aspects are primarily focused on Lukas. While that created an interesting dynamic between Elloren and Lukas, I feel like there could have been a bit of tension if Yvan had shown up once or twice.

For much of the book, it felt like the classic YA middle book where the Chosen One heroine (oh hey, look, another trope that this series fell into! Whoopee!) has to harness her abilities and build her army. There was quite a lot of the book that felt like a training montage, which, while I enjoy a good one every once in a while, was stretched out too long. The Shadow Wand needed a bit more tension and plot for me.

But for all that, that’s not to say that this book wasn’t entertaining. Even though we don’t see much of the wide and varied cast of the first two novels, I still love being back with Elloren and the gang. As always, Forest is a master at lush writing and worldbuilding, which shone through once more in this installment. And plus, who isn’t up for some good ol’ magic and dragons? I mean, COME ON. DRAGONS!

Httyd3 Toothless GIF - Httyd3 Toothless Dance - Discover & Share ...

Aaaaaaaand of course, it built up to one of those “it looks like everybody’s dead, but chances are they’ll all be alive and well by book 4” endings. AND NOW WE HAVE TO WAIT A YEAR TO SEE HOW IT’S RESOLVED. HOW DARE LAURIE FOREST PLAY WITH OUR FEELINGS IN SUCH A WAY…

Overall, The Shadow Wand was definitely a lower point for the series as of now, but it was still a (mostly) fun read. 3.5 stars!

Mixed Feelings GIF | Gfycat

The Shadow Wand is the third book in Forest’s Black Witch Chronicles, preceded by The Black Witch (book 1) and The Iron Flower (book 2) and succeeded by the forthcoming The Demon Tide (2021) and The Battle for Erthia (pub. date TBD). Additionally, there are two novellas set in the same universe, Wandfasted and Light Mage.

Aaaaaaand, now I have to wait a year to find out what happens…[angry screeching]

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: August 3-9, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

First and foremost, I hit 200 followers this week! (I’m currently at about 207, I think.) But I’d just like to give each and every one of you a big thank you for your endless love and support.

wholesome memes, aesthetic, cats and love and affection memes ...

I’ve definitely had a nice week. I spent a few days in Vail with my family, and we did lots of walking amongst flowers and eating too much sugar, so that was a lovely reprieve from the monotony of 2020 life. (Also, writing in a bunk bed is on another level of good vibes.) As far as writing goes, I’ve finally decided to resume writing my paranormal fantasy WIP, and that’s been fun to get back into the groove. All I’ll tell you so far is that it draws a lot of inspiration from Hellboy/B.P.R.D. and Guillermo del Toro, and there’s quite a lot of sarcasm, amphibious creatures, and questionable magic afoot.

As far as reading goes, the 4-5 star high capped off last week, and I’ve had almost entirely 3 star reads this week. I got another library haul yesterday, so hopefully that’ll help pick things back up again, but only time will tell.

Other than that, I’ve started catching up on season 2 of The Umbrella Academy, started watching Devs ([loud screaming]), and I’ve been rewatching What We Do in the Shadows with my family so that we can get my brother into it. (We’ve already blown through the whole first season) I also watched I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, which was lovely.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles, #3)–Laurie Forest (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles Book 3) (English ...

How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals–Sy Montgomery (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals ...

A World Without You–Beth Revis (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

A World Without You by Beth Revis

Starswept–Mary Fan (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Starswept: Mary Fan: 9781946202277: Amazon.com: Books

The Good for Nothings–Danielle Banas (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: The Good for Nothings eBook: Banas, Danielle: Kindle Store

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Ice Wolves (Elementals, #1)–Amie Kaufman

Ice Wolves (Elementals, #1) by Amie Kaufman

Blanca & Roja–Anna-Marie McLemore

Amazon.com: Blanca & Roja (9781250162717): McLemore, Anna-Marie: Books

Show Me a Sign–Ann Clare LeZotte

Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte - Hardcover Book - The Parent ...

On a Sunbeam–Tillie Walden

Amazon.com: On a Sunbeam eBook: Walden, Tillie: Kindle Store

Tarnished Are the Stars–Rosiee Thor

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: July 27-August 2, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope everybody’s had a good week.

I had another library haul this week, and all of them have managed to be 4-5 star reads for me! Needless to say, expect quite a lot of gushing book reviews in the next few weeks. I finally got my hands on The Shadow Wand (the third Black Witch book), and I’m *nearly* finished, so there will definitely be A Lot of Thoughts™️ on that in the near future.

Somehow, I’ve been hitting records for my stats as far as likes and views goes this week! Before this week, the most likes I’d ever gotten on a post was about 20; now, I’ve gotten multiple posts that are above 20 likes, so that’s a first. So thank you all for all the love! 🙂

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Other than that, it’s been a good week. July went by in a blur, so mentally, I’m still in July, but hey, now it’s my birthday month! I also started watching the second season of The Umbrella Academy, and I’m liking it so far! Camp NaNoWriMo is done, and now I…don’t really know what to do with myself. I outlined a bit for one of my WIPs, but I haven’t written anything in about a week, so that needs to change. Of course, I’m probably going to procrastinate yet another week, but only time will tell. I also made another original book tag (linked under “posts and such”)! Big thank you to Elle @ Geekerella Undercover for being the first to particpate! 🙂

Oh, and I also made this alignment chart of YA sci-fi books as a joke:

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orïsha, #2)–Tomi Adeyemi (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (B&N Exclusive Edition) (Legacy ...

Goddess in the Machine–Lora Beth Johnson (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Goddess in the Machine (9781984835925): Johnson, Lora ...

Into the Crooked Place–Alexandra Christo (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

Honor Lost (The Honors, #3)–Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Honor Lost (The Honors, #3) by Rachel Caine

Monday’s Not Coming–Tiffany D. Jackson (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Monday's Not Coming – HarperCollins

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles, #3)–Laurie Forest

The Shadow Wand (The Black Witch Chronicles Book 3) (English ...

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (7/14/20)–The Iron Flower (The Black Witch Chronicles, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Ever since I read The Black Witch back in May, I’ve been ITCHING to read the sequel. Of course, it wasn’t available on the Kindle library (*sniffle*), but now that my local library has started curbside appointments, I was able to get back into the library haul routine–and pick up a few sequels and anticipated books, including this one! And I must say, The Iron Flower did not disappoint in the least!

Enjoy this week’s review!

WARNING: This review may contain spoilers for book 1, The Black Witch, so proceed with caution! If you’d like to read my review of book 1, click here!

The Iron Flower ARC – Laurie Forest | The YA Drama Llama

The Iron Flower (The Black Witch Chronicles, #2)–Laurie Forest

Sort of a photoshoot ft. my library copy and a very nice cup of tea

The veneer has been lifted from Elloren’s cushioned life, and now, she is neck-deep in the Resistance, hoping to restore peace and equality to the magical races of Erthia. High Priest Vogel has won the election, and now he rules with an iron fist, stealing massive swaths of land and bringing racial tensions to a fever pitch. Elloren and her friends are caught in a grand search for peace, trying to find solace for the ones that the Gardnerian government targets most, and rescue others from a fate worse than death. And Lukas Grey, the new commander of the Gardnerian army and the boy who her aunt wishes to Wandfast her to, has grown closer still, but Elloren is pulled away by Yvan, an enemy-turned-ally and a staunch member of the resistance. Both seem to awaken something in her–something that hints that she may not be as powerless as she has been led to believe.

Can Elloren and the Resistance protect themselves–and the world they seek to restore to harmony?

“Mage Council Ruling #271: Smuggling Selkies or spirits across the Gardnerian border shall be grounds for imprisonment.”

[“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” theme blaring]

It’s Always Sunny at Verpax University?

[ahem] just thought of that while reading the book, don’t mind me

Rejoice, folks–The Iron Flower doesn’t fall into the trap of disappointing-middle-book-syndrome. On the contrary: it’s a truly worthy successor to book 1, with all of the elements that made The Black Witch so powerful still present and just as lushly beautiful!

Now that Elloren has shed much of her idiotic prejudice, she’s a far more enjoyable protagonist, and a worthy member of the Resistance. Though she still wasn’t my favorite character, her struggles were now far more palpable, and watching her heart turn kinder was character development at its finest. Most of our show-stealing cast was back and better than ever; though some of the characters had a reduced role after The Black Witch (ex. Aislinn, Wynter, etc.), I adored being back with Elloren, Tierney, Diana, and all the rest. At times, there were a few too many characters to keep track of, so some of them lacked attachment for me, but Laurie Forest still managed to create an incredibly strong cast with nearly impeccable chemistry. And I LOVED a few of the newer characters, especially Valasca and Marina. (We technically get introduced to the latter in book 1, but she has a much more prominent role in The Iron Flower.)

Another strong aspect was the political commentary. Book 2 has some even clearer parallels to the political climate today, making it all the more timely, and speaking to themes of racial equality, the senselessness of racism and xenophobia, and fighting back against the system. It’s certainly a very political novel (which I’m 110% happy about, honestly), and it serves to inspire others to make changes in their own communities. WELCOME TO THE RESISTANCE!

GIF Set: Rogue One Trailer #2 Rebellions are built on hope | Rogue ...

The one aspect I wasn’t a huge fan of was the romantic aspects. As much as I loved this novel, it sadly fell prey to what’s probably my least favorite trope in media…

…the dreaded love triangle.

The Path to Oadara — You can see how stern Jon is with her here ...

Even though Yvan grew on me in The Iron Flower, I still wasn’t a fan of the whole dynamic of Elloren bouncing between him and Lukas. There’s some nice forbidden love being set up, which I’m all for, but Lukas’ interference dragged parts of the story down. It’s certainly making the situation more complicated, which I appreciate, but I’m still just…eh.

But overall, I can overlook the love triangle for once. Forest truly gave her all in The Iron Flower, and it shows in the best way possible. From the worldbuilding to the plot twists to the political commentary, this novel is truly a worthy sequel, and a unique and timely fantasy novel. 4.25 stars!

Ras Al Ghul "impressive" Gif. by BM516 - Meme Center

The Iron Flower is the second book in Forest’s Black Witch Chronicles, preceded by The Black Witch (book 1), and succeeded by The Shadow Wand (book 3, 2020), The Demon Tide (book 4, 2021), and The Battle for Erthia (book 5, pub. date TBD). There are also two novellas, Wandfasted (0.5) and Light Mage (1.5). Book 3 just came out this June, so I am SO EXCITED to get my hands on it…

Today’s song:

Finding out that there’s a love triangle in book 2 like

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!