Book Review: Shadows

Shadows by Robin McKinley

Shadows
by Robin McKinley
Kailey (Luminous Libro)‘s reviewOct 28, 2021  ·  edit
really liked itbookshelves: owned-booksbooks-read-in-2021

Maggie lives in an urban society that has outlawed the use of magic. When the fabric of the dimensions begins to collapse, and holes in reality start to appear, the government tries to use science to deal with the problem.
When Maggie meets her new stepfather for the first time, she knows he is involved in some kind of powerful magic, because he is surrounded by wisps of shadow that loom in the darkness. The shadows seem to move about on their own, wiggling and changing with every mood.

I loved the magical urban setting in this book! It’s very modern, with cars and cellphones, but the history of the world includes magic, passed down by genetics through certain families. The world-building has such great depth, and it was so interesting learning all about the magic system.

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Book Review: How Do You Live?

How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino

How Do You Live?
by Genzaburo YoshinoBruno Navasky (Translator)
4 out of 5 stars

Copper reflects on the meaning of life as he faces challenges at his school. He befriends a poor classmate who is being teased and bullied, but that puts him in crosshairs as well. Somehow he must find the courage to stand with his friends, and find out what kind of person he really wants to be. Copper’s uncle and mother give him good advice, but ultimately it is up to Copper to make his own decisions.

This book is told in two parts; the first is Copper’s experiences at school and the second is his uncle’s notes to him about philosophy and the underlying meaning behind everyday things. These two perspectives overlap in alternate chapters. First we read about something that happened to Copper and then his uncle writes to Copper about it, expounding on different moral and social ideas of why that particular experience was important and how it can help to shape Copper into a good person.

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Fantasy Book Review: Summers at Castle Auburn

Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

Summers at Castle Auburn
by Sharon Shinn
5 out of 5 stars

Corie is the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, who visits the royal court every summer to be groomed and trained for life among the nobility. The rest of the year she lives with her peasant grandmother in a small village learning to be an herbalist healer. As Corie grows into a young woman, she begins to realize the depth of the court intrigue that surrounds her half-sister, Elisandra. She determines to do everything she can to help her sister. She soon discovers that there are others who need her help too; the magical elven people who are held as slaves in the castle.

I loved everything about this book! The magic, the world-building, the exciting plot, the writing style, the complex characters: everything is golden!

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Book Review: War of Kings and Monsters

War of Kings and Monsters by Christopher Keene

War of Kings and Monsters
by Christopher Keene (Goodreads Author)
3 out of 5 stars

Nathan has no idea who he is. He is an apprentice Caller in the king’s home and best friends with Prince Michael, but he has no memory of his family and assumes he is an orphan. He studies under the Master Callers to summon Melkai monsters from another world. Some of the monsters are massive, and others are miniscule, like Nathan’s own little Melkai, a small lizard. The barrier between the world of humans and the world of the Melkai is weakening. Nathan is sent on a quest to find the other half of the magical key that can seal the barriers between worlds before the destructive Melkai are unleashed to roam freely across the land.

I enjoyed the plot of this book, because there are some clever twists and turns. There are several times when some particular character or object or connection is revealed and it was just so satisfying. The plot is full of fantasy tropes, but I didn’t really mind that because I like tropes. Some of the plot devices were obvious, but again, I don’t mind that as long as it is set up in an interesting way.

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February Reading Wrap Up

This video is NOT sponsored, but does contain affiliate links. Familius Affiliate Link: http://www.familius.com/happy-families-read-together/?utm_source=booksformks&utm_medium=Influencer If you make a purchase using an affiliate link, I may receive a small affiliate commission before taxes and at no additional cost to you. There are also Amazon affiliate links below. I only recommend books and products that I actually enjoy myself, and all the opinions stated here are my own true thoughts. Thank you for your support!

Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery https://amzn.to/3bjYZyP

Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie https://amzn.to/38blio8

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby https://amzn.to/30d8AB0

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses https://amzn.to/3sMwm30

Friendshipping: The Art of Finding Friendship https://amzn.to/2MSEBLK

Zeus the Mighty: The Maze of the Menacing Minotaur https://amzn.to/3ebSqQA

Flash Facts by Mayim Bialik https://amzn.to/38cTVKB

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost https://amzn.to/3ebxHwa

The Night Walk https://amzn.to/3v0pocP

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Book Review: The Boatman’s Daughter

The Illustrated Boatman's Daughter by Tom Durwood

The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter
by Tom Durwood (Goodreads Author)
2 out of 5 stars
In 1860s Egypt, Salima helps her father with his ferryboat business, but she longs for more education and wants to travel and see the world. Hoping to make some money to pay for school, she applies for a clerk position with a company overseeing the construction of the Suez Canal. She becomes entangled with the corruption and danger surrounding the various European and Egyptian powers struggling for control of the new canal.

The writing style is really excellent, and made me care deeply about the characters. However, it could use a copy editor for little things like punctuation.

The plot was exciting, and the adventure was interesting. However, there were times when I couldn’t understand why the plot took the direction it did in some scenes. It wasn’t clear why the characters chose to do what they did, or how they got to a certain point, or how they gained particular knowledge. It was just some little things that didn’t quite add up, but it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the overall story.

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Book Review: The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre (The Two Princesses of Bamarre, #0.5)
by Gail Carson Levine (Goodreads Author)
3 out of 5 stars

Perry is the adopted daughter of Lakti noble parents, but her real parents are Bamarre servants. Her true bloodline is kept a secret, because the Bamarre people are considered inferior and cowardly. The fairy Halina visits Perry and urges her to embrace her true heritage and free the Bamarre people from Lakti tyranny. With the help of a magic tablecloth, seven-league boots, and a perfect disguise, Perry plunges into espionage and rebellion. But can she ever escape her Lakti upbringing and be accepted by the Bamarre?

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Book Review: RuneMarks

Runemarks by Joanne Harris

Runemarks (Runemarks, #1)
by Joanne Harris

4 out of 5 stars

Maddy was born with a rune mark on her hand, and the people in her village despise her as a possible witch. As she grows up, she discovers that she does have a small amount of magic. Most of the magic in the land died with the old gods hundreds of years before, but there are small traces of it to be found. An old peddler begins to teach Maddy how to use her magic, but he has plans of his own to retrieve a magical artifact from deep within the Underworld.

I loved this imaginative story! It takes elements from old Norse mythology and legends, and weaves them together with the world of faerie and fae. The world has a deep history and I loved discovering the magic along with Maddy. The story starts out in this little country village, but then the scope gradually widens and becomes more and more epic until the fate of the entire universe is hanging in the balance.

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Book Review: The False Princess

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
The False Princess
by Eilis O’Neal 

4 out of 5 stars


Sinda has grown up as a princess, but on her sixteenth birthday she is told that she was only a decoy. She was a commoner baby switched with the royal baby to shield the real princess from a murderous prophecy. Sinda has to leave the only life she has ever known to live in a poor country village with an aunt she has never met.

I loved this book so much! Sinda is a wonderfully complex character, and goes through really intense character development. She is shy and awkward in the beginning, floundering around in fear and anger. But she gradually learns to trust her own strength, and she begins to fight to build a life of her own.

The plot is really interesting with brilliant magic and plot twists.

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Book Review: Wings of Flame

Wings of Flame by Nancy Springer
Wings of Flame
by Nancy Springer 

3 out of 5 stars

Two warring nations worship the same horse deity, but their priests differ on how to worship. The warrior prince, Kyrem, is sent as a hostage to peace to be the guest of his enemy. An outcast girl, Seda, must masquerade as a boy, and befriends the prince when she saves his life from brigands on the road.

There were some things about this book that I really loved, and some things that were confusing, and some things that were just weird.

I loved the characters! Their relationships are complex and always changing. They all have secrets and inner turmoil that they have to resolve. I was so engaged in their character development and their emotional reactions. Continue reading