Sorcery of Thorns | Book Review

Title: Sorcery of Thorns
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Publish Date: June 4, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 465
Format: Kindle eBook

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery: magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught – about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

Sorcery of Thorns is a standalone YA fantasy novel, which is not something that you often come by. It’s a story that began (and technically ended) in a library, with books that could talk, move, make noise, snore, etc. That part was super fascinating to imagine! Like, can you picture hundreds of grimoires just mumbling to themselves or trying to spit ink at you? It sounds fun, not gonna lie.

The main female protagonist, Elisabeth, grew up in one of the Great Libraries in the kingdom, as she was abandoned there as a baby. She grew up amongst the stacks and loved them very much. She was also very much trained in what it was that the librarians should expect of the novels: that they’re dangerous – especially those of higher class levels – and that they could kill people if they changed into Maleficts.

Also that sorcerer’s are evil and will kill you for the hell of it.

As she is thrust into a much different, much larger city than the one she grew up in due to tragic circumstances at the library she grew up in, she discovers that not everything that was taught is as it seems, and she slowly learns and grows from that over time.

However, I will say, I really didn’t like her character through 80% of the story. I found her to be just… too afraid of everything. She felt incredibly weak and not quite three-dimensional for a large portion of the story. It kind of felt like her growth was stunted for a while. As the story and the stakes grew, I saw more of her potential, but as a main character, there was a lot that I just wasn’t personally drawn to. Like, I felt like, especially in the beginning, that her biggest defining “trait” was her height, because it was pointed out so often. It was just very frustrating at times.

As for the secondary main character, Nathanial, who is a sorcerer, I really liked him! Quite the contrast to Elisabeth, I really liked his character. Yes, he has a dark past (that some parts weren’t explored too much or in too much detail, which is a shame), so sometimes he comes off as standoffish, but his humor genuinely made me laugh. I loved his sarcasm so much!

I also enjoyed seeing the magic and how it worked in this world from a couple of sorcerers. Nathanial’s magic was dark, much like his family’s past, and it was very powerful. I think the caveat of having a higher-demon being your patron in order for you to have magic was a great way to incorporate magic into the world – and one I don’t see often in stories!

I do wish, however, that there was more of him in the novel, and more interactions between him, Elisabeth, and Silas, who is Nathanial’s demon. When the two of them – and even the three of them, or just Silas and Elisabeth – were together, it felt like there was a lot more life added to the page, and I was just so curious about the two male protagonists and what they were going through.

Silas, the demon, is very forthright in his feelings towards humans, emotions, and other such things, and he really sticks to it through to the end. I can’t explain much more than that without spoiling it, but I really enjoyed how a high-born demon, in a bound pact with a human, is such a stickler for decorum as a butler. It’s a great juxtaposition, and one of the best highlights throughout the book.

I found myself often predicting a lot of what was going to happen next as I was reading, and then found myself becoming frustrated when it wasn’t obvious to Elisabeth for a bit after. I don’t know why it bugged me so much that she didn’t get it, but also I’m not the biggest fan of being able to predict things that are going to happen (I’m talking multiple times; once or twice is okay). And then when it did happen and Elisabeth would react the way she did just… didn’t help.

I found the plot to be interesting, though, especially with the lore behind the demons, the grimoires, the magic, and ancestors involved in the story. It was very intricate and I found it to be pretty enjoyable as a result.

The romance was both subtle and rushed all at once. I mean, I thought it was sweet and I enjoyed the scenes, but also, wow, they almost moved really fast and it caught me off guard. I do think, though, that they compliment each other well.

The epilogue, also, I enjoyed (and predicted, but I was glad I did), and found myself wanting more afterward.

Despite all that, I liked the book. I definitely think that if you’re interested in reading it, if you like books about books, magic, betrayal, and romance, that you’ll enjoy the story. Overall, it wasn’t bad, but it’s not something I’ll gravitate back towards anytime soon.

★★★☆☆

Stay At Home Book Tag

Hey everyone! Hope you’re all doing well and staying safe! Today I wanted to do a tag that’s pretty cozy as it’s all about books to read while just staying at home.

This tag was originally created by Madison of Princess of Paperback, so go check out her video for her answers!

Laying in bed: a book you could/have read in one day

Not counting manga, because I can read multiple volumes in one day, I’m going to say that I have read the Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman in about a day each (or at least in 24 hours each). These books sucked me in and put me right into the world. I think that the mix media feel of the books played a huge part in my enjoyment of them, but I was genuinely captivated by the story and characters and was rooting for them and such. Such a great science fiction YA trilogy if you’re interested in reading it.

Check out my full thoughts: Illuminae | Gemina | Obsidio

Snacking: guilty pleasure book

These steamy new adult romances by Elle Kennedy are SUCH a guilty pleasure read! I love to read about romance and look for it in the stories I read all the time, so throw in some hot dudes and ladies, some drama, steamy scenes, and romance, and it’s like the perfect combo. There is talk of hockey in these, but it’s not all encompassing, but it does play a big part in them given the guys are college hockey players, so.

Really any romance that Elle Kennedy writes is a guilty pleasure read for me. I enjoy her writing style a lot and how she writes her characters.

Check out my reviews: The Deal | The Mistake | The Score | The Goal

Netflix: series you want to start

For this, I was staring at my shelves and I have a few series I’d love to start sooner rather than later, but I think the one that intrigues me is the Graceling Realm trilogy by Kristen Cashore. It’s an older companion trilogy that my husband actual owned, and so I figured I’d read it eventually, you know? I had tried to start reading it a year or so ago, but I just never did, so… that needs to change eventually lol

Oh, another “older” series I’d love to read that’s been on my shelves for forever is Splintered by A.G. Howard. I started reading them a long while ago (they’re an Alice in Wonderland retelling, if you couldn’t tell), but I never finished the first book. One day I will!

Deep clean: been on your TBR for ages

*stares at my shelves* ….Yes.

No, but I think one of the ones that have been there the longest is the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. I’ve read both Cinder and Scarlet years ago, and made it part way through Cress, but I’ve never actually finished. It’s not like I lost interest, I think I just got distracted and never picked it back up. I’m thinking I might restart the series, or just restart Cress, but we’ll see!

Animal Crossing: book you bought because of the hype

Alright, flashback to about…what, five or six years ago? When To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han came out, there was a huge buzz in the book community about them, so of course I got them. I remember liking them, and I haven’t read the third book, but I don’t think I’d reread them again.

Check out my reviews: To All the Boys I Loved Before | P.S. I Still Love You

Productivity: book you learnt from or had an impact on you

I don’t read a lot of books outside of fiction, so I’m going to say one that had a big impact on me was A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. When I read this, I was fully enamored by it. The story hit me hard due to similar circumstances and emotions I was going through at the time, and the writing itself was just lovely. It’s seriously a great book, fairly short, but packed with emotion.

Check out my review: A Monster Calls

FaceTime: a book you were gifted

Over the holidays, my parents gifted me two books: one was The Art of Neon Genesis Evangelion: 2007-2017, and the other was The Ultimate Guide to Creating Comics by William C. Potter and Juan Calle. They both know how much into drawing I am, as well as anime and manga, and so they got me these books! They’re pretty neat and inspiring.

Self care: what is one thing you’ve done recently to look after yourself

Image is the initial loading screen of the game.

I’ve been playing Final Fantasy VII remake since it came out at midnight on Friday April 10 and have only logged a little over 30 hours at the point in which I’m writing this, so…. And I’m sad that this is only part one and not the full game, but if it had been then it would have been much larger than 100GB, that’s for sure. I am, however, really enjoying it as it’s my first time ever playing the game since I never played the original.

The graphics are beautiful, the story is really great, I love the characters, and I can see why this is one of the most hyped and beloved of the franchise.

BONUS: name a book coming out soon that you’re excited for

I’ve got to be honest, I have no clue what’s coming out anymore. I haven’t been active in the community for so long that I no longer really know what’s coming out and such. And, well, I’m trying to be careful with money and buying things as much as I can, so yeah.

OH. One book I’m excited about that’s coming out later this year is book four, Rhythm of War, in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve only read the first book, The Way of Kings, but it was phenomenal and I can’t wait to continue with the series. It’s set to hopefully come out in November 2020.

I tag everyone who wants to participate! Do you have a book you’re excited to come out soon or this year? What have you been doing to take care of yourself? What’s your guilty pleasure read? Tell me all the things in the comments below!

The Play | Book Review

Title: The Play
Series: Briar U #3
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy, Inc.
Publish Date: October 7. 2019
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Sports
Pages: 422
Format: Kindle eBook

What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friends with a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.

Except three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.

And she’s making a play for me.

Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.

Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.

This is the third standalone novel within this series, and I really enjoyed it! I love readying about these characters from the same school and stuff, because you get to see their perspective and kind of grow and root for them when you see them in previous books. It’s great!

Anyway, this story follows two characters: Hunter and Demi. Demi is a character we’ve never met before, but I thought that she was a great addition to the ever-growing Briar Univers(ity) because she is a half-black, half-Latina young woman who wants to become a psychologist, even though her parents (particularly her father) want her to become a medical doctor like he is. But she has her own goals and fascinations, and she’s incredibly smart.

Hunter we first met in the first in the Briar University books and, well, he had quite a roller coaster of a time in that book, so it was nice to see him much more level-headed in this one. I felt that he was well-developed and matured for the time that this took place at, and that he was definitely much easier to take in that the first book. He just wanted to be the best team captain he could be – even going as far as to take a vow of celibacy from sex – and he does a great job at it… for a time (because you know these books have lots of steamy sex scenes in them, haha!).

Another interesting dynamic within this book was that Demi started off in an already existing long term relationship. She was the first character through all the books in the Briar Universe that was in a pre-existing relationship. As far as the relationship goes, it felt realistic in how it was portrayed. There was a sense of unease as the book went along, and I saw what was going to happen for a little while, but it still floored me! Demi handled the situation much better than I was expecting, so that was good.

The plot followed the two as they were both in the same psychology class, and through heartbreak and longing – and lots of shenanigans – and it felt like a very organic progression into the relationship that formed between them. It didn’t feel rushed, and though the situation was a bit stressful at first given what happened with Demi, they managed to face a lot of situations where they encouraged each other.

And of course there were steamy sex scenes. The two characters were extremely attracted to each other – which is great! – and they definitely showed it. If you like your naughty reads, I definitely recommend these books.

I do, however, feel like the ending was a bit… off? Like, I can totally see how it’s plausible, because it’s definitely happened in real life and such, but it just felt so sudden that I was blindsided by it. I didn’t really know how to feel, but I am glad of the end message that Elle put into the book about seeking help if you need it – and please, if you do need help, please seek it out. You’re not alone.

Overall, an enjoyable read in this series. I’m not sure if it’s the last book in the Briar U arc, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

★★★★☆

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse | Book Review

Title: The Titan’s Curse
Series: Percy Jackson & the Olympians #3
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publish Date: May 5, 2007
Genre: Middle Grade – Fantasy, Mythology
Pages: 312
Format: Kindle eBook

IT’S NOT EVERYDAY YOU FIND YOURSELF IN COMBAT WITH A HALF-LION, HALF-HUMAN.

But when you’re the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive…

As this is the third book in the series, there might be spoilers!

Oh man, this series is SO fun to read! Why didn’t I read these before? Haha, anyway, I found myself enjoying this third installment quite a bit. It was just as fast-paced and action-packed as the first two, but I found myself seeing Percy and his friends starting to mature as they get older with each book, starting to grow into their young teenage years. So not only do they have to face the monsters, gods, and other such things in their environment, but they also are starting to really come into their own and to discover more about themselves.

This particular book follows Percy, Thalia, and two Hunters who are usually hunting with the goddess Artemis: Bianca and Zöe, in their journey to not only save Artemis, but also Annabeth.

It felt like Percy was dealing with a lot more inner turmoil and emotions in this one than the last two. Being left alone or cast out, depending on where he was, he definitely seemed lonely a lot of the time. But through that, there was a determination to help his friend Annabeth, to save her from wherever fate might have taken her.

Thalia – who used to be a tree thanks to her father, Zeus, who changed her into one so as to save her life – is navigating her own feelings on her father, as well as her own situation and whether or not she fits into a prophecy told about a child of the three big gods betraying them. Though we see everything through Percy’s eyes, I still felt a sense of anger and frustration of Thalia at her decisions, and how she makes an ultimate decision so as to not be the one spoken of in the prophecy – which I thought was very mature for her to decide.

Bianca, and her younger brother, Nico, were such a mystery in the book, but when the reveal happened as to who they were, I had guessed it just before I read it. It was still shocking, but oh man, I wonder if and how they’ll return and how the situation could play out in the future. Although, I’m sad about Bianca, but also I found her to be very selfish in leaving her brother behind to join the Hunters, but… Ah, I don’t know what else I can say on that because of what happened to her in the desert.

And then Zöe. Oh man, I thought she was very mature for her “age,” though, to be fair, she was thousands of years old at that point. I didn’t quite understand the hostility between her and Thalia, though it was explained eventually later on, but I still thought that maybe they could have gotten along more. However, I did almost cry at the end with what happened to her because I really grew to really like her, and I wanted to know even more about her past, but I don’t think we’ll get any more than what we got.

And of course there were new villains to face in this story – a manticore, as well as a god who helped the Titans long, long ago – and it was interesting to see how it played out! I actually really liked the villains, in terms of villainry, and I’m interested to see if the betrayer god will make another appearance later on.

Overall, the plot was fast-paced, and it included a couple of twists I wasn’t expecting, as well as a few that I was. I found this particular installment to be really good, and probably my favorite of the series so far. There was a lot more at stake in this book, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for Percy and the crew because I’m sure, especially after that ending, that there’s going to be a lot more trouble for the young teens to go through.

★★★★☆

Magical Readathon | TBR

Hello there, magical people~ I hope you’re doing well. Today I’m going to be talking about the Magical Readathon hosted by Book Roast over on YouTube. This readathon is themed around the Harry Potter universe and includes classes in twelve subjects at Hogwarts, as well as twelve potential careers (and extra seminars and courses) you can take in your time at and after Hogwarts! This seemed like such a fun activity, and I was a bit too late to join the last few times I saw the announcements, but I’m finally early and ready to try this readathon for myself!

Now, if you would like all the details about the readathon, there are links in the video that Book Roast talks about the announcement here, but to summarize, it’s an event that’s taking place for the entire month of April from the 1st to the 30th, and during that time you pick books based on the prompts given for each of the twelve classes, and each class comes with a prompt designated to it:

  • Ancient Runes: Heart Rune – heart on the cover or the title
  • Arithmancy: Magical qualities of number 2 – balance/opposites – read something outside of your favorite genre
  • Astronomy: Night classes – read majority of this book when it’s dark outside
  • Care of Magical Creatures: Hippogriffs – creature with a beak on the cover
  • Charms: Lumos Maxima – white cover
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts: Grindylows – book set at sea/coast
  • Divination: Third Eye – assign numbers to your TBR and use a random number generator to pick your read
  • Herbology: Mimbulus mimbletonia – title starts with an M
  • History of Magic: Witch hunts – book featuring witches/wizards
  • Muggle Studies: Book from the perspective of a muggle (contemporary)
  • Potions: Shrinking Solution – book under 150 pages
  • Transfiguration: Animagus lecture – book/series that includes shapeshifting

You can also pick a career path to take after your Hogwarts career (this is totally optional) and allows you to focus on and potentially narrow down which books from which class you read. Careers include: Alchemist, Astronomer, Aurologist, Auror, Broom Maker, Care of Magical Children, Culinary Sorcerer, Curse Breaker, Graphic Designer, Healer, Herbologist, Hogwarts Professor, Journalist or Writer, Librarian, Mage of Visual Arts, Magizoologist, Metal Charmer, Mind Medic, Ministry Worker, Potioneer, Quidditch Referee, Seer, Spell Maker, Trader of Magical Tomes, and Wandmaker. (For more on these, check out the video I linked above!)

So for this readathon, I want to get back into the swing of reading novels (as has been in the case in almost every post I’ve made lately lol), but I didn’t want to overwhelm myself as it’ll be the first actual readathon I participate in this year. Picking a career was tough, but I decided to go with Writer, and I might double up with Graphic Designer, if I have the time and energy to do so. I’ll also be taking a bonus course called Merpeople Linguistics.

Let’s break this down!

Writer O.W.L.s Needed

  • History of Magic
  • Muggle Studies
  • 1 other subject of your choice (I chose Astronomy)

The books I chose for this Writer O.W.L. are:

Graphic Designer O.W.L.s Needed

  • Ancient Runes
  • Charms
  • History of Magic
  • Transfiguration

The books I chose for the Graphic Designer O.W.L. are:

And for my extra course/seminar, the Merpeople Linguistics course, I’ll be reading a book for Herbology: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. This one will be a reread for me.

Oh man, it’s a lot to take in, but I’m very excited. All of these books (except for Heartless) are also on my POPSugar Challenge for 2020, so I’m killing two birds with one stone.

I’m definitely aiming for just the first three books in the Writer’s career O.W.L.s as I don’t want to overwhelm myself, but I think having plenty of options is good for this challenge.

There will also be other challenges hosted on the Twitter, @magicathon, and there’s also a discord for you to join if you want! (Links in the video listed earlier in this post!)

Are you going to be joining the readathon? Which career are you aiming for? Is this your first O.W.L.s? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below!