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The Silver Mask

Book Review: The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare | Jest Kept Secret

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: The Silver Mask Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare Series: Magisterium #4 Genre: MG Fantasy Content Warning: Thematic elements and mild language Blurb A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn’t succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt. Now Call is one of the most feared and reviled students in the history of the Magisterium, thought to be responsible for a devastating death and an ever-present threat of war. As a result, Call has been imprisoned and interrogated. Everyone wants to know what Constantine was up to-and how he lives on. But Call has no idea. It is only when he’s broken out of prison that the full potential of Constantine’s plan is suddenly in his hands . . . and he must decide what to do with his power. In this spellbinding fourth book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take us beyond the realm of the living and into the dangers of the dead. – Goodreads My Thoughts The Silver Mask is as enjoyable and light as the others in this series have been, but it also starts to delve into some deeper questions like, if we could raise people from the dead, should we? Or how far should we go to help our friends? The kids are just as believable and entertaining as ever, and the villains get even more interesting. Well, some of them do. Anastasia Tarquinn is a bit flat and uninteresting—I wish we got more of a sense of danger from her. She could really be interesting if they focused more on her obsession with Call and less on her just showing up at opportune moments. I also wish we’d seen more of Alistair Hunt. His kid has been kidnapped. You can’t tell me he wouldn’t fight against the Assembly to get him back. And where was he in the final battle and the aftermath thereof? Still, despite some flat characterisation and plot holes, I’m really looking forward to the last book, The Golden Tower, which is due out this year. Bring it on. Score:   And don’t forget to save this book to your Pinterest reading list! Thanks!

The Red Queen

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard | Jest Kept Secret

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: The Red Queen Author: Victoria Aveyard Series: Red Queen #1 Genre: YA Fantasy Content Warning: Mild language and violence (war) Blurb This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart. – Goodreads My Thoughts Whoa. I liked this. Some of the violence was a tad graphic for my taste, but the writing was decent and the story was intriguing. I liked the concept of power (superhuman abilities) being tied to blood, and I liked the creative variety of abilities that exist in this world. The villains were pretty dastardly, but I did see it coming a mile away. There were also a few plot points that felt a little forced or convenient. But it was a fun, compelling read that kept me turning the pages (well, listening). You’ll like this if you liked the Hunger Games (which I didn’t), Divergent (which I did), or Red Rising (which I didn’t). Apparently, these sorts of books are hit and miss for me. This one happened to be a hit. Score:   And don’t forget to save this book to your Pinterest reading list! Thanks!

The Bronze Key

Book Review: The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare | Jest Kept Secret

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: The Bronze Key Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare Series: Magisterium #3 Genre: MG Fantasy Content Warning: Brief mild language and thematic elements Blurb Students at the Magisterium are supposed to be safe. Under the watchful eyes of the mages, they are taught to use magic to bring order to a chaotic world. But now the chaos is fighting back. Call, Tamara, and Aaron should be worrying about things like pop quizzes and magic contests. Instead, after the shocking death of one of their classmates, they must track down a sinister killer… and risk their own lives in the process. As Call, Tamara, and Aaron discover, magic can only be as good as the person who wields it. In evil hands, it has the capacity to do immeasurable harm, unless it is stopped in time. In this striking third book of Magisterium, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare present us with a school where anything, good or evil, can happen, and the only way to unlock the truth is to risk everything to find it. – Goodreads My Thoughts This series is pretty much Harry Potter repackaged—three kids (two boys, one girl) form an unlikely friendship at a school of magic and team up to fight a guy who is trying to cheat death. Yep. But there is an interesting twist, which I shall not share here because SPOILERS, and it makes the series more unique than one might expect. And unlike Harry, Callum Hunt is no angsty teenager with a Chosen One complex. He’s snarky, insecure, and all too happy to let someone else take the lead. He’s a refreshing change of pace from your typical hero in MG/YA fantasy, and that’s why I keep reading. Add in some very likable sidekicks, a sassy frenemy, and some crazy cool monsters, and you’ve got a fun read for the weekend. This series would be great to read with kids. In book three, the stakes get a little higher as Callum, Tamara, and Aaron continue their fight against the Enemy of Death. We get some new antagonists who are a nice shade of gray, Jasper (my favorite) gets funnier, and the ending is a real punch to the gut. This is a great continuation of the Magisterium series. Score:   And don’t forget to save this book to your Pinterest reading list! Thanks!

The Copper Gauntlet

Book Review: The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare | Jest Kept Secret

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: The Copper Gauntlet Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare Series: Magisterium #2 Genre: MG Fantasy Content Warning: PG for some mild language and crude humor Blurb Callum Hunt’s summer break isn’t like other kids’. His closest companion is a Chaos-ridden wolf, Havoc. His father suspects him of being secretly evil. And, of course, most kids aren’t heading back to the magical world of the Magisterium in the fall. It’s not easy for Call . . . and it gets even harder after he checks out his basement and discovers that his dad might be trying to destroy both him and Havoc. Call escapes to the Magisterium — but things only intensify there. The Alkahest — a copper gauntlet capable of separating certain magicians from their magic — has been stolen. And in their search to discover the culprit, Call and his friends Aaron and Tamara awaken the attention of some very dangerous foes — and get closer to an even more dangerous truth. – Goodreads My Thoughts This is the 2nd book in the Magisterium series (and I just realized I haven’t reviewed the first one, The Iron Trial, on the blog yet. I’ll fix that.) This series is pretty much Harry Potter repackaged—three kids (two boys, one girl) form an unlikely friendship at a school of magic and team up to fight a guy who is trying to cheat death. Yep. But there is an interesting twist, which I shall not share here because SPOILERS, and it makes the series more unique than one might expect. And unlike Harry, Callum Hunt is no angsty teenager with a Chosen One complex. He’s snarky, insecure, and all too happy to let someone else take the lead. He’s a refreshing change of pace from your typical hero in MG/YA fantasy, and that’s why I keep reading. Add in some very likable sidekicks, a sassy frenemy, and some crazy cool monsters, and you’ve got a fun read for the weekend. This series would be great to read with kids. As for The Copper Gauntlet itself, it got off to a slow start for me, and then I realized it was because the narrator for the audiobook talks really slooowwwwllllyyyyyy… I increased the playback speed, and voila! Much better. Pitting Callum against his own father as the antagonist made for an intriguing plot, and I liked that Black and Clare touched on the pressure Aaron (Callum’s BFF) feels as the Chosen One. And Jasper. That kid is my favorite and I can’t tell you why because SPOILERS, but geez louise, he makes me laugh. Score:   And don’t forget to save this book to your Pinterest reading list! Thanks!

The Scorpio Races

Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater | Jest Kept Secret

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: The Scorpio Races Author: Maggie Stiefvater Genre: YA Fantasy Content Warning: PG-13 for violence and brief strong language Blurb It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die. At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen. – Goodreads My Thoughts YESSSSSSS!!!! THIS is exactly the sort of Stiefvater book I have been craving for years. It has her typical beautiful, heartbreaking prose with themes that make me weak in the knees. It has solid, likable characters and actually scary villains. It has horses written by someone who clearly knows what she’s talking about. It has romance built on friendship and friendships built on not being romantic. And best of all, she finally, finally, finally gave me the climax deserving of all that rising action. Score:   And don’t forget to save this book to your reading list on Pinterest!

Furthermore

Book Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi | Jest Kept Secret

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: Furthermore Author: Tahereh Mafi Genre: MG Fantasy Content Warning: The MC is an eccentric child who hates wearing clothing, but that’s about it. Blurb Inspired by her childhood love of books like A Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places. There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other. But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him, she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss. – Amazon My Thoughts Tahereh, you brilliant girl! Furthermore was so fun! The worldbuilding (or should I say worlds-building?) was so well done and imaginative. I love the relationship between Alice and Oliver. Both were really well developed and easy to root for. The “villains” were an interesting shade of grey, and the humor was perfect—I laughed out loud and often. I can’t wait to read this with my future kids. Score:   If you like this post, please share it with your friends! Thanks!

Finnikin of the Rock

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: Finnikin of the Rock Author: Melina Marchetta Series: Lumatere Chronicles Genre: YA Fantasy Content Warning: Some violence (not graphic), mild language, and sexuality Blurb Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive. Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father. But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin’s faith in her . . . but in himself. – Goodreads Thoughts This is my third time reading this book, and I still love it just as much as I did the first time. In fact, maybe I love it a little more now than I did then, since I always seem to get something new out of it during a re-read. I love the characters. I love the world building. I love the promise of hope even during so much darkness and pain. I love the feminist angle I can actually get behind: Evanjalin is strong without Finnikin, but they are stronger together. I love how the book doesn’t sugarcoat any aspect of displacement or war, but still brings so much joy by focusing on healing and love and hope. I LOVE Finnikin of the Rock. I haven’t read the rest of this series, partly because I’m a little afraid I won’t love it as much as I love the first book. Trilogies usually disappoint me. But I’ve read other books by Marchetta and every single one of them is on my list of favorite books, so maybe it’s time I finished the series… Score: This will always, always be  

The Princess Bride

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: The Princess Bride Author: William Goldman Genre: Fantasy Blurb What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams? As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears. Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere. What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, and Miracles. In short, it’s about everything. – Goodreads My Thoughts I have never seen a movie that follows a book as well as the film adaptation of this one does. It was almost word-for-word, and the only differences (plot-wise) were the shrieking eels (or lack thereof), the Zoo of Terror, and an expanded ending in the book. And seeing as I LOVE the movie, it makes sense that I would also love the book—which I did. This will be one that I read with my future kids. It’s exciting, witty, and well-paced. A perfect afternoon read. Score:  

The Blue Sword

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my affiliate policy here.  Title: The Blue Sword Author: Robin McKinley Series: The Books of Damar Genre: Fantasy Thoughts: If I were a book and I had to pick another book to be my BFF, I would pick The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I’ve read it so many times that I practically have it memorized, and just finished it for the millionth time earlier this month. For those of you who haven’t been lucky enough to read this wonderful book yet, here is the synopsis from the back cover: This is the story of Corlath, golden-eyed king of the Free Hillfolk, son of the sons of the Lady Aerin. And this is the story of Harry Crewe, the Homelander orphan girl who became Harimad-sol, King’s Rider, and heir to the Blue Sword, Gonturan, that no woman had wielded since the Lady Aerin herself bore it into battle. And this is the song of the kelar of the Hillfolk, the magic of the blood, the weaver of destinies… THE BLUE SWORD. *Sigh* I am filled with nothing but love for this book. I love the way McKinley writes, and talk about world building—this book has it in spades! Much of what I have learned about writing, I learned from studying McKinley’s work. It also makes a great celebratory read—I was so close to finishing my book when I started craving The Blue Sword again, but I was literally spending every spare minute writing and I knew that I couldn’t just read a little at a time. The Blue Sword is, at least for me, a book that consumes you, heart, body and soul. If I started to read it again, I’d never finish my own novel. So I used it as incentive: finish your draft, Jess, and you can read The Blue Sword again. If that doesn’t light a fire under your butt, nothing will. If you are looking for a lyrical read with adventure, mystery, romance, and some incredibly vivid characters and landscapes, this is the book for you! Score:  

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