Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

About the Book:

57347034._SY475_

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.

Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the stunning first volume of the No.1 internationally bestselling ALL SOULS trilogy.

A world of witches, daemons and vampires.

A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future.

Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires.

Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist.

Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

My Thoughts:

I discovered the series on one of the online streaming channels and realized that it is actually based on a book series. I watched one episode and then decided to read the book first. I honestly prefer to read books more than watch the series/movies.

This book drew me in instantly. Diana is a strong independent woman who is trying to keep away from the one thing that defines who she is, magic. She is a witch, the last in the line of the strongest witches and she has her own internal demons to fight. A historian, Diana unknowingly opens an alchemical manuscript that alerts all creatures to her presence and draws them to her. Everyone wants the book. Everyone has an agenda.

Matthew, a vampire, is drawn to Diana for reasons he does not understand. It starts off with the manuscript like all other creatures, but then protective instincts kick in and suddenly he wants to keep the others away from her, keep her safe. As they start to work together, there is so much chemistry and passion that builds between them, both professionally and personally.

This is a tale of forbidden love, of loving outside your community, crossing boundaries and of enduring love. Wow. That is a lot of love talk! But this book is so well written with it’s technical descriptions that will not put the reader off. It does the opposite, it will draw you in until you are a part of the world of these characters.

At first the story takes time to build and then slowly builds pace which is then held steady. We follow Diana and Matthew as they navigate a world of creatures where there are rules and of course people who are out to get them. With the support of family and loved ones, they try to find out the truth of the manuscript and keep everyone safe. Diana starts to learn about her magic, her legacy and who she is. She starts to unravel the mystery behind her parents death and come into her own all with the strong support of one truly handsome vampire!

This is a wonderful story that is told in a manner that will leave the reader spellbound. The author casts a wonderful web of magic on reader that carries them along until the end. I loved reading this book and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series!

Book Review: Vampire Royals (Books 1-3) by Leigh Walker

About the Books:

Book 1: The Pageant

The Pageant (Vampire Royals #1)

Who’s the fairest of them all?
Young women from every settlement in the land are being handpicked to enter The Pageant, a beauty contest reminiscent of Miss Universe from the old days. Gwyneth West’s social-climbing mother wants her to compete, by Gwyn isn’t so sure…
The Pageant is government-sponsored. If you’re lucky enough to be chosen, participation is mandatory. Aggressive competition is allowed, even encouraged.

And then there’s the prize…
The winner of The Pageant gets a marriage proposal from Dallas Black, otherwise known as The Dark Prince. Dallas is the son of King Black, who won the last world war and now governs the new settlements. The Royal Family is mysterious. Rumor has it they don’t sleep. Rumor has it they eschew the sun.
Rumor has it they’re immortal.
When Gwyn is thrust into The Pageant, she fights to survive the competitive nature of the other contestants.
But even if wins…can she survive a vampire fiancé?

 

Book 2: The Gala

The Gala (Vampire Royals #2)

 

FOUR WEEKS. TWENTY CONTESTANTS. ONE PRINCE.

The Pageant is almost over, and Gwyneth West knows she can win—except the prince is a vampire, and some of the other contestants are turning out to be quite beastly.

What do you do when the person you love…might want to eat you alive?

Struggling to hold onto her position in the palace, Gwyn knows her vampire prince could slip through her fingers in an instant. And when human rebels threaten to storm the vampire royals once more, Gwyn finds herself caught between two worlds: her people, and the vampire she loves.

Leigh Walker writes action packed futuristic sci-fi, sweet romantic vampire novels, and stories that capture your heart and then make it race.

 

Book 3: The Finale

The Finale (Vampire Royals #3)

A ROYAL WEDDING IS COMING…BUT WHICH CONTESTANT WILL BE THE BRIDE?

Gwyneth West’s a finalist in The Pageant, the dating competition that’s gripping the settlements. Down to the final week, the dashing Prince Dallas Black will choose one young woman as his fiancé.
One small issue: Gwyneth’s a human and the prince is a vampire. What’s worse? Gwyneth’s family are sworn rebels, out to take back the settlements and overthrow the crown. What’s worse than that? Gwyn’s own rebel brother is a prisoner in the castle dungeons, but the king and queen don’t know his true identity.
Gwyneth and Dallas want to show the settlements that vampires and humans can live together in peace. But as their differences threaten to tear them apart, Gwyneth discovers her love puts the prince at risk.
How do you choose between love and duty?

 

My Thoughts:

This series is very similar to ‘The Selection’ series. However, there are some differences including the fact that the Prince and his family are Vampires. The author starts this off as rumors which are later shown as the truth. The concept of vampires and humans living side by side and co-existing is a strong idea that both the Prince and Gwyn, the heroine of the story, share. The story is indeed fun to read, following the very cliched concept of a competition to find the best suitor for the Prince. However, the idea behind this is to find a way to unite all the settlements and to bring peace while trying to keep the rebel groups at bay.

The synopsis of the story promises aggressive competition, but nothing about the story is aggressive. The story centers on the chemistry between the Prince and Gwyn, giving us only minor glimpses of the interactions with the other contestants. To keep in line with the contest, there are some sections of the story devoted to etiquette training and history of the kingdom and the settlements. However, there is not a lot of character development for the other girls in the story and this takes away from the main theme of the contest.

The story then continues into the two other books, focusing on the Prince’s interaction with the girls, bringing it down to the top four contestants and his relationship with his parents. Each girl is unique in her own way and it is wonderful to read about their rivalries but also about how they come together in the end. We are also provided some insight into Gwyn’s background and her family and her relationship with the King and Queen. The love and understanding that develops between her and the prince is beautiful to read about.

Overall, this series is fun and enjoyable especially for those who love the idea of vampires and human’s together, though there is not a lot of focus on the supernatural aspect of the characters. The books are short and easy to read. They can each be read in one sitting and are a good stress free read!

Book Review: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

About the Book:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

My Thoughts:

The Beautiful has to be one of the most talked about books! I was quite intrigued by the book cover and premise that I had to pick it up! It is a dark and sultry romance with murder, mystery and thrills all thrown into the mix!

At first, it took some time to get into the book and understand the context and setting. We are introduced to Celine, our main protagonist, a very strong-willed woman who keeps her own council and is not afraid to speak up. At first we see her struggling to conform to the rules of the convent where she has been taken in in New Orleans, having fled from Paris. However, she catches the eye of first Odette and then Sèbastien Saint Germain, all part of a group simply known as Le Cour des Lions. Little does she know that she has stepped into a completely different world, shrouded in darkness and surrounded by the dead, quite literally!

A very well written tale, the setting of New Orleans is very well described, especially the streets and nightlife. The characters are intriguing and well developed. At times, I must admit to getting a little annoyed with Celine, but it was not enough to pull me away from the book. As we are introduced to the creatures of the underworld and Celine starts to discover the existence of the paranormal, a series of murders leads to questions of motive and who the real target is. Not to be left out, Celine tries to conduct her own investigation having the feeling that she is indeed a target.

The developing romance between Celine and Sèbastien is both natural and forbidden and is interesting to see develop. The courtship (a suitable word for the time in which the story is set) is not without it’s problems and when murder and mayhem are thrown into the mix, we have all the ingredients for an entertaining story! The story is a roller-coaster of a ride as we navigate the sub-plots and various supporting characters who add such flavor to the story!

Though there were some ups and downs with the story, it is definitely worth the read!