Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
After siphoning her own blood to defeat her enemy, Opal Cowan has lost her powers. More, she’s immune to the effects of magic. Opal is now an outsider looking in, spying on those with the powers she once had, powers that make a difference in her world.
Until spying through the glass becomes her new power. Suddenly the beautiful pieces she makes flash in the presence of magic. She also discovers that someone has stolen some of her blood and that finding it might let her regain her powers. Or learn if they’re lost forever.

Book Cover

Review:
I don’t know what happened with this series. I loved the Study trilogy so much, but this companion series just isn’t as good. I really loved Opal as a character in the first two books, but in this finale, she’s not in a good place. She takes risks she shouldn’t. She hurts so many people. And falls in love with someone she used to hate (and not in the fun enemies-to-lovers kind of way) like this dude is really bad. I don’t know, I can’t say only negative things about Spy Glass because I did still enjoy it while I was reading it. It’s got the same dark and gritty feel to the Study trilogy, but it felt way more all over the place. There was too much going on at once to the point where it felt like the story had no plot. But when the pieces did finally start to come together it made a bit more sense. Even then, Opal follows the most winding and convoluted path to the end of this book. It felt like there was so much going on that some things were lost in the story. There were so many litter details from the previous books that had a big impact on this third book, but I never would have guessed because they were made to seem pretty minor in the perilous books.
Anyway, enough griping. I did really enjoy this book and the series overall. There’s action and adventure, danger and high stakes, romance and hatred. I think Snyder knows how to write a story that will keep me compelled until the end even if I don’t like some of the characters. I do have to say though, I loved what we got to see of characters we knew from all of the books in the World of Ixia. Those familiar faces made it a bit easier, especially around the characters I don’t like. It was fascinating to see Opal be put into the one situation she’s been trying to avoid the whole series. I think that specific challenge really brought something extra go the story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
Like the colorful pieces of sea glass washed up on shore, Opal has weathered rough waters and twisting currents. But instead of finding a tranquil eddy, Opal is caught in a riptide. Her unique glass messengers which allow instant communication over vast distances have become a vital part of Sitian society. Once used solely by the Councilors and magicians, other powerful factions are now vying for control. Control of the messengers equals control of Sitia. Unfortunately that also means control of Opal. If that isn’t enough of a problem, Opal’s determination to prove blood magic is still being used is met with strong resistance. The Council doubts her, her mentor doubts her, and even her family is concerned. When her world is turned upside down, she begins to doubt herself. In the end, Opal must decide who to believe, who to trust, and who has control—otherwise she will shatter into a million pieces and be swept out by the tide.

Book Cover

Review:
Sea Glass is the second book in the Glass trilogy but the fifth book in the World of Ixia. I’ve grown to love the world and most of the characters and I think this has allowed me to overlook some things about this book that I wouldn’t normally overlook.
I have to say that I did really enjoy this book while I was reading it. But now that I’m finished, I can’t help but ask, “what the hell was Opal thinking?” And obviously we see much of what Opal was thinking and I still have no idea why she thought her ideas were good ones. I think I’m having a hard time because much of what Opal’s gotten herself into is her own fault. So, I guess that says good things about how much of an active protagonist she is. But she also makes some really poor choices that I just don’t really understand. She continually trusts the wrong people, she doesn’t confide in anyone she can actually trust, and those she does trust and confide in often get caught in the crossfire trying to help her.
I think the plot was interesting but I feel like I don’t know where it’s going. A big thing happened at the end of this story and I’m not sure how it’s going to affect where I thought the plot was going. I would say it was a pretty good plot twist, but I won’t be able to say that confidently until I see where things will go in the third book.
I will say that Opal has grown so much in this book. She’s not the timid girl that says yes to everyone and allows herself to get walked all over. She listens to others but ultimately does what she thinks is best. I liked the character development.
Overall, it was a sort of all over the place story. I did enjoy it while I was reading but I feel like I’ve just been left wondering what the heck just happened. I’m going to continue onto the next book and see if things get better for Opal (but honestly, they’ll probably get worse, at least for a little while).

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
Award-winning author Maria V. Snyder brings readers into a world of molten magic, where storms can be captured within a glass orb and a magician’s powers can remain hidden…until challenged by enemy forces. 
As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowan understands trial by fire. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan’s glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers—particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade—require Opal’s unique talents to prevent it from happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap into a new kind of magic. Yet the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control her powers…powers that could lead to disaster beyond anything she’s ever known.

Book Cover

Review:
Storm Glass starts somewhere we’re familiar with. We’re following Opal at the magicians keep. Opal is the only glass magician. You might remember her from the Study series because she helped Yelena defeat the big bad and still get her happy ending. But in this series we focus on Opal.
I thought that the concept of Opal’s magic was really interesting. She can create glass messengers and only magicians can see the spark inside her glass pieces. But while she’s visiting the storm dancers with one of the master magicians, she does something knew. She’s still learning about her magic. All of Sitia is learning that magic might not always take the forms that they’ve grown used to expecting. So, Opal is allowed to take time outside of her regular classes to see what other things she might be able to do. But it turns out to be more than she bargained for when she realizes her new ability can be seen as a threat.
I liked Opal. She was a little annoying at times because she was lonely, but it was her own fault that she was lonely even if she didn’t realize that at first. But Opal does her best to stay positive and focus on the mission.
I think the plot was interesting for this one. It felt a bit more coherent than the previous series. It felt like things progressed naturally and Opal wasn’t kidnapped ten times. And she wasn’t think super strong, highly trained person. She relied on her intelligence to get her out of bad situations and I liked that. She didn’t have magic to just rescue her from the trouble she found.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. I’m excited to see where the rest of the series goes as some of the series plot lines were clear. I didn’t feel strongly over the romance, but the twist that involved one of the romantic interests totally took me by surprise. I definitely preferred one love interest over the other and I’m really hoping this doesn’t turn into a love triangle thing because it was clear that Opal also preferred one of them over the other. So far, I think I like the Study series better, but this book was interesting and enjoyable. We got to see more of Sitia and new kinds of magic which was pretty cool.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena’s unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena’s fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before…
Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear.

Book Cover

Review:
I absolutely love this series. Yelena is such an interesting main character. I mentioned in my review for the second book that it felt like the overarching series plot was getting a little lost, it felt a bit slow. But Fire Study really pulled it all together. There were a few things I didn’t totally love, like Yelena has gone through all this stuff. But she doesn’t seem to learn anything or improve until the final third of this book. It’s been almost three books, she should have grown and developed some right? It felt like she regressed in book two and so in this book she worked to get all that back. And then, we didn’t really even get to see that growth because it all happened so quickly. I still love her though. My other issue with Yelena was that she didn’t take the time to feel things. At one point, someone she loves dies and we don’t see or feel any of that grief. I get that she’s just pushing it all away because there’s a lot of other things going on at the same time, but it would have been nice to see her take a moment for herself to feel that loss.
That’s really all that I didn’t like. I loved the revealing of all the secrets. I said this in my review for the first book, but some of the plot twists were predictable and others took me by surprise. I don’t mind this as I always feel smart when I predict things that are going to happen. I think the finale of this series was pulled together so nicely with all of the bits and pieces wrapped up in a satisfying way. I really enjoyed the world and seeing people from both Ixia and Sitia come together to overcome the big bad. I felt like we got more of the characters I love from the first book which made me happy.
Overall, this was an enjoyable conclusion. I love this world. I think the magic system is complex and fascinating. Yelena is a main character I could get behind (most of the time since she runs full on into danger entirely too often). I loved the romance and would have loved to get more of that. I think the world is compelling and I’m excited to read the companion series that follows someone we met in book two. I absolutely recommend this series to any fantasy lovers.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
You know your life is complicated when you miss your days as a poison taster…
With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be united with the family she’d been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But although she has gained her freedom, she once again finds herself alone – separated from her lover Valek and suspected as a spy for her reluctance to conform to Sitian ways.
Despite the turmoil, she’s eager to start her magic training – especially as she’s been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes embroiled in a plot to reclaim Ixia’s throne for a lost prince – and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.
If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with her new enemies.

Book Cover

Review:
Magic Study is very similar to the first book. It follows the same sort of journey as Poison Study. Yelena is now in Sitia where she’s come to the magicians keep to be trained in magic. Yelena is reunited with her family that she was taken from as a child. She has a lot to deal with emotionally. She’s meeting a family she doesn’t know. She’s now living in a territory she doesn’t remember. She must learn to control her magic. She’s always adjusting to a completely different culture than what she’s grown up knowing.
But then, because it’s Yelena, several someone’s want to kill her. So, she’s still not fully trained and once again on edge constantly looking over her shoulder. But she’s growing. She working on trusting others and not just taking matters into her own hands. She’s not always succeeding at this, but she’s trying. She’s trying to see the bigger picture, starting to think about what the future can hold for her.
The characters are really what made this story. We get to see characters we loved from the first book like Valek, Ari, and Janco. I loved getting to see Ari and Janco again. They are such good friends to Yelena. I liked seeing them outside of Ixia. But we also have some new characters like, Leif, Dax, and Irys. Irys we met in the last book, but we get to know her a little bit better in this one. Though, now that I’m thinking about it, I feel like we didn’t ever actually learn anything about her. Not like we did with the Commander in the first book anyway. I really liked Dax. His was a bit of a superficial friendship, but he added some humor and levity to the story which I liked. Leif was a really interesting character and the more we learned about him the more I wanted to learn even more. I’m already very excited to see him again in the third book.
Overall, this story was similar to Poison Study because it follows the same plot line of Yelena learning something knew and getting taught about that as well as training and learning to ride horses. Side note, Kiki was absolutely my favorite character in this series. But once she’s learning magic, she realizes there are political things going on around her that she just can’t help but get involved in. So, there’s lots of issues in the world and Yelena always manages to make it her problem. But she learns a lot about herself and her abilities. I liked that we got to see a bit of her and Valek together again. I’m also very intrigued to read the third book and see where this is all going. So far, the first two books have had their own contained plots with mysteries to be solved. But the overarching series plot seems a bit slow so I’m interested to see where all of this is going.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

Book Cover

Review:
I’ve just finished rereading Poison Study for my “Rereading Books I Loved as a Teenager” blog post which I will be wrapping up later this month. I read this series back in 2012 when I found it randomly at my local library. I remembered really loving them, so I bought the trilogy when I found them at one of my local used bookstores a year or so ago. But with all the moving I’ve done and will be doing in the future; I’ve been working on rereading books I don’t remember anything about other than the fact that I liked them so I could see if I still liked them or not.
Poison Study follows Yelena who is about to be executed for murder. But when Valek, the Commander’s chief of security, offers Yelena a position as the Commander’s new food taster. After Yelena accepts, Valek teaches her how to sniff out and taste poisons that might be used to kill the Commander. I thought Yelena’s training in poisons was a great part of the story. It was interesting to learn about the poisons but while she’s learning that, we’re also learning about how this world works and the governing of Ixia. We learn a bit about Ixia’s past. The start of the story is pretty slow. We know that Yelena killed the son of someone important. The fact that she’s still alive is something that this man isn’t happy with. Along with learning about how to identify poisons, Yelena is being targeted by several different people. So, not only is she trying not to be poisoned to death, but she’s also on the lookout for anyone trying to physically attack her as well. This is when the story starts to get more complicated and a bit political.
Yelena and Valek are suspicious of the man trying to have Yelena killed, but he’s in a position of leadership, so it’s complicated. I think the political twists and turns of the plot were interesting ones. There were some that were predictable, people that were so obviously ‘bad guys’ but what was interesting was figuring out how they were doing the things they were doing. You could see all of the pieces and it was pretty clear that they were all connected, but finding out how exactly the puzzle pieced together was a compelling story.
This story was way darker than I remember. Yelena’s childhood was filled with trauma, from torture (that’s pretty explicitly described) to rape. She was not treated well. But she seemed like a pretty well-adjusted person for someone that had been through all of that and then spend a year in a dungeon. We’re told about her trauma and shown what she’s been through and it seems that the biggest thing from everything she’s experienced is that she wants to learn to fight so that she’ll never be defenseless again. Also, she has a ghost following her that we don’t really know much about what exactly that means, so I guess we will find out more in the next book.
The romance between Yelena and Valek was one I enjoyed. I’ve read mixed reviews about this as many pictured Valek to me an older gentleman and Yelena is supposed to be only 19. But we learn more about Valek’s history it’s clear he’s not an old man. I think their romance was slowly developed and believable. I really enjoyed it and I’m very excited for the ‘forbidden romance’ aspect of the next book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was way darker than I was anticipating, but I enjoyed it. There is also a trans man in this first book that I believe we will see again later in the series, but I can’t speak to whether it’s good or bad representation, so if you’ve read this and you can speak for the representation, let me know. I’ve seen lots of people compare this to Throne of Glass and I can sort of see the comparison, but this series came first so. I’m eager to continue the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

Inside Out – Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
I’m Trella. I’m a scrub. A nobody. One of thousands who work the lower levels, keeping Inside clean for the Uppers. I’ve got one friend, do my job and try to avoid the Pop Cops. So what if I occasionally use the pipes to sneak around the Upper levels? The only neck at risk is my own…until I accidentally start a rebellion and become the go-to girl to lead a revolution.

Review:
I saw this book at the library and it’s author, Maria V. Snyder, caught my eye. I’ve read quite a few of her books and have really enjoyed them all. I figured this book would be another by her that I loved. This story, Trella’s story was interesting. I found that I had a hard time actually getting into this book until fifty or so pages in. This is strange for me because I’m normally immediately sucked into the story. With Inside Out I had a harder time getting attached to to story and the characters. I think this is because this book reminds me of another with a sort of similar story line. After the first fifty pages, I found that I got really into the story. I just wanted to know what was going to happen next. Inside out is full of suspense and action.
As for the characters, there are so many. Trella, such a smart, clever, strong girl. This is our strong female lead, and that’s exactly what she is. She leads her fellow scrubs to a new kind of life. One thing that bothered me about Trella was the way she isolated herself. She always thought she had to do everything by herself when that was the opposite of the truth. I really enjoyed watching Trella grow in this book.
Now, the rest of the gang. So, there’s Cog, Jacy, Logan and Anna-Jade. This small group is what makes Trella so strong. The support of these awesome characters. I loved seeing Trella realize that she had gained these friendships. These characters were all ones I enjoyed, always being supportive and as helpful as possible to their friend.
And Riley. I wasn’t sure how to feel about him at all throughout this book. At the very end of the book I decided that I like him a little bit. I also think he’s good for Trella. I’m really excited to see where this relationship goes in the sequel.
I think any young adult reader would like this book. It’s simple, with an interesting story line.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Rewind

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week we post our Top Ten for the weeks topic. This week’s is to pick a topic we missed or wanted to revisit. I chose to do my Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes. Antonia chose a different topic, but also liked this one so her top ten is here along with mine. Enjoy!

Amanda’s Top Ten:

1 – “True love will triumph in the end – which may or may not be a lie, but if it is a lie, it is the most beautiful lie we have.” –John Green, Looking for Alaska. This is one of my absolute favorite John Green quotes and there was no way I would leave it out.

2 – “When I look at my room, I see a girl who loves books.” –John Green, Looking for Alaska. Basically my life.

3 – “I’m in love and I like how that feels. And I hate how that feels. Because love is an invention of fiction writers” –Ellen Hopkins, Identical.

4 – “One must always be careful of books, and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” –Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel. There has never been a more accurate quote.

5 – “Everyone has choices to make; no one had the right to take those choices away from us. Not even out of love.” –Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes.

6 – “You have slipped under my skin, invaded my blood, and seized my heart. You have poisoned me.” –Maria V. Snyder, Poison Study. If you’ve read the book you know why I love this quote.

7 – “Anyone else feel like that? Like your life’s a big act. Like you’re trying to be a man when you’re just a scared kid, trying to keep under control when you really want to scream, cry, or maybe hit someone. Ever feel like you’re breathing underwater and you have to stop because you’re gulping in too much fluid.” –Alex Flinn, Breathing Underwater.

8 – “I wasn’t dating anyone. I was fornicating with Batman.” –Janet Evanovich, Hard Eight. oh Ranger, I love you so much.

9 – “It’s fucking hard to be classy.” –Janet Evanovich, One for the Money. The perfect quote to describe myself and Antonia here at Classy as Fuck Book Reviews.

10 – “People come, people go – they’ll drift in and out of your life, almost like characters in a favorite book. When you finally close the cover, the characters have told their story and you start up again with another book, complete with new characters and adventures. Then you find yourself focusing on the new ones, not the ones from the past.” –Nicholas Sparks, The Rescue.

Antonia’s Top Ten:

1) “If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be, and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.” Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte. I don’t think I need to explain any of my Wuthering Heights quotes. They just stuck with me years after finishing the book. I don’t usually remember quotes from books, but these wouldn’t leave me alone.

2) “Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living. You said I killed you–haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe–I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.

3) “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.” Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.

4) “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. *Swoon* Enough said.

5) “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take.” Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien. I adore Tolkien and every word he wrote in these books.

6) “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.” The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien. This quote just always gave me this nice, happy feeling.

7) “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” Inkheart, Cornelia Funke. Books are the love of my life. I don’t need to explain book quotes to you guys, do I?

8) “Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn’t ask for anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly.” Inkheart, Cornelia Funke.

9) “If you would change a thing, first understand why it exists.” Outstretched Shadow, Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. I’m not sure why. I just really love this quote.

10) “And infatuated be damned. He was near to being blinded by his attraction to her. He was in love, damn it all. He disliked her, he resented her, he disapproved of almost everything about her, yet he was head over ears in love with her, like a foolish schoolboy. He wondered grimly what he was going to do about it. He was not amused. Or in any way pleased.” Slightly Dangerous, Mary Balogh. I love Wulfric. He’s fantastic and tries so hard not to love Christine. He reminds me a lot of Mr. Darcy which might be the entire reason I love him.

These are mine, but I love hearing new quotes so don’t be afraid to share your favorites too!

-Antonia.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Before Blogging Favorites


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This weeks Top Ten is favorite books before I became a blogger. These are my Top Ten favorites. There in no particular order. Let me know what you think.

1. Looking for Alaska by John Green – Looking for Alaska has been my favorite book for almost four years now. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon. You’ll actually be getting a review on this book in the near future.

2. The Ugly Duckling by Iris Johansen – I can’t even explain in words how much I love this book. The Ugly Duckling is the book that pulled me into the reading obsessed world. It was suspenseful and full of action which I’ve come to expect from Johansen. Reading this gave me a thrill that never went away.

3. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder – I’m putting this on my list of favorites because when I finally decided to read this series I immediately fell in love. I don’t usually read fantasy type books but this book sucked me in so quickly. I didn’t out it down until I was finished.

4. Identical by Ellen Hopkins – The first time I read this book I was a mess by the time I finished. This book shocked me, made me think. I couldn’t put it down. I love everything about this book. You should too.

5. The Next Always by Nora Roberts – The Inn Boonsboro books are a fantastic read. The first is my favorite because, basically, Claire. I fell in love with Claire and her three boys and her bookstore very quickly. Read this book now.

6. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey – I’ve read this book a few times and it’s on my favorites list because the truth of this story blew me away. The powerfulness of this man’s struggles really got to me.

7. Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich – I love the Stephanie Plum series because they’re enjoyable and seriously funny books. Eight’s my favorite because lots of things happen with my favorite characters. Along with the new characters that are introduced and the crazy things Stephanie gets herself into.

8. Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn – This book was shown to me by my brother which, if you knew him, you’d know that he doesn’t belong in the same sentence as the word book. I didn’t know what to expect from a book my brother recommended but I gave it a shot. I’ve read many of Alex Flinn’s books and this is by far my favorite out of all of them.

9. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter will forever be a favorite of mine. That’s it. End of story.

10. Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – I have read so many books by her and I love them all but this is my favorite. It’s hilarious, heart breaking and suspenseful all at the same time.

Love them like I do, read them all.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.