BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Darkness – by Kami Garcia

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Title: Beautiful Darkness
(Caster Chronicles #2)
Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: October 12th 2010
Finished reading: March 29th 2016
Pages: 503
Rating 3qqq

“There’s something about sitting alone in the dark that reminds you how big the world really is, and how far apart we all are. The stars look like they’re so close, you could reach out and touch them. But you can’t. Sometimes things look a lot closer than they are.”

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I read Beautiful Creatures, the first book of this series, over a year ago before I had a lot of experience reading YA fantasy and I gave it one of the highest ratings. I’m not sure why I never picked up the sequel before my TBR jar decided it was time for me to read it, but I’m now left wondering if I actually enjoyed it that much back then. Why? First of all, I wasn’t really impressed by Beautiful Darkness. I’m not saying it’s a bad read; it’s without doubt entertaining and easy to read with its fast pace, but I’m missing the spark that would turn it into a 5 star read. It might just be that the sequel isn’t as good as the first book (which isn’t such a strange thing since a lot of YA fantasy series seem to suffer from the exact same syndrom), but I found the main characters and some of their actions actually quite annoying. That and the love triangle definitely were the cause for quite a few raised eyebrows. Both the plot and the whole strong female character idea aren’t exactly original, but if you are looking for some good magical action and an easy read, I guess this series would still be worth reading.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book yet. I’ll keep the summary short but it’s almost impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

Ethan Wate used to think Gatlin was just another small sleepy Southern town where things never changed, until he met Lena Duchannes. She was the girl of his dreams, literally… A whole secret world is being revealed to Ethan, one that had always been hidding in plain sight, and even her deceased mother seemed to have been keeping secrets from him. Gatlin has been marked by a curse that affects both Ethan’s and Lena’s family… And impossible, magical events have been happening ever since. Ethan and Lena have been fighting those problems ever since they met , but after what happened recently Lena starts pulling away… And Ethan doesn’t know how to save her or change her mind.

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After I reread my review of Beautiful Creatures before starting Beautiful Darkness, I had really high hopes for the sequel. I think part of the fact why I didn’t enjoy the sequel that much is that I’ve read a lot of YA fantasy series since and the plot and characters don’t sound that original or exciting anymore. Sure, there is a lot of action and I like the worldbuilding of the Caster world, but I can’t say it’s one of my favorite series either. I will probably read the last two books at some point though, just to see if things improve later on. I’m already keeping my fingers crossed the love triangle won’t be playing a big role in Beautiful Chaos

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WWW Wednesdays #83 – March 23rd

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I needed something light and entertaining after a few disappointing reads and I decided to give in to my guilty pleasure. I loved watching the first seasons of True Blood a few years ago, and I finally found the time to pick up the first book in the series the show was based on: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. So far it’s definitely working; I’m flying through this book! I’ve also started The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell yesterday evening, but it’s too early to tell what to feel about this book about books.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* It took me literally ages to finish Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard, and that wasn’t a good thing at all. My Red Queen reread left me liking the first book slightly less (mostly because Mare), but I still really enjoyed it. The sequel was a different matter. Glass Sword is pretty slow, Mare is really annoying and the whole plot is basically a repeat sequence of the following: Mare blindly trusts someone –> Person betrays Mare –> Mare is in deep trouble –> somehow she manages to not get killed. More complaints in my full review…
* The other book I managed to finish is Disclaimer by Renée Knight. Unfortunately yet another title I didn’t enjoy… March has been pretty unlucky so far! I couldn’t connect to the characters and the plot is a bit of a chaos and not exactly believable.
* The last is actually a DNF (probably my first DNF ever!): The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney. It was really hard to make the final decision to just stop reading this book and I still feel a bit guilty, but the thought of having to waste more time reading this story was even worse. DNF at 42%; bye bye annoying characters, unnatural and forced prose, character development and unbelievable plot!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I will probably pick up Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch as soon as I’m in the mood to read fantasy again… If not, I might read Random by Tom Leveen or Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard first depending of which genre I’m in the mood for. My new TBR jar pick is still Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl… I’ve also been wanting to start a new fantasy series; feel free to vote on my poll to help me decide which one to start next. 🙂

WWW Wednesdays #82 – March 16th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I finally picked up my last TBR jar pick The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney a few days ago, but I am not exactly enjoying it so far. The story is pretty bad and I don’t like the prose or the main character for that matter. The way the story is told feels really unnatural and forced… So I decided to put it on hold and continue my Red Queen marathon first. I finished the first book last night, so I’m about to dive into Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard as soon as I can find some free time.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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I ‘only’ finished three titles since last week week, with one of them being a quick reread… Why? We were invited to a wedding party last weekend! 😀 A lot of fun, but it did take away a lot of my reading time.
* The first title I finished was The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. It turned out to be a really interesting read and I loved the Amsterdam setting and its many descriptions! Not perfect, but without doubt recommendable.
* I then finished Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover; a book a really wanted to love, but unfortunately I didn’t. I really didn’t like the main characters or their actions and some of the prose really annoyed me… That doesn’t take away that I still think Colleen Hoover is a genius though.
* The last book is a reread I’m not going to review again, because I already wrote one last year: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Just as enjoyable the second time around and I’m glad I did the reread, because I had forgotten a lot of details that will help me enjoy the sequel a lot better.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I will probably pick up Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch as soon as I finish Glass Sword… I’m trying to read/finish as many series as possible this year, and since the third book is recently coming out in September I’m counting this one as well. I might read Random by Tom Leveen or The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell first depending of which genre I’m in the mood for though…  And I have a new TBR jar pick: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I read the first book of the series last year and really enjoyed it, but somehow I never continued the series until now. I guess my renewed TBR jar thought it was about time. 😉

BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Creatures – by Kami Garcia

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Title: Beautiful Creatures
(Caster Chronicles #1)
Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: 2009
Finished reading: February 10th 2015
Pages: 563
Rating 5

“Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures.”

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I picked up a copy of Beautiful Creatures a few months ago without exactly knowing what it was about, and I’m glad I did. I absolutely LOVED this first book in the Caster Chronicles! I have been having problems finding good YA fantasy series lately since so many sound quite similar and are packed with (cheesy) romance scenes. I’m not a big fan of the romance genre so I tend to avoid books that are classified as romance, but I’m glad I did read this novel by Kami Garcia and Margareth Stohl anyway. The dose of romance is just right and doesn’t distract you from the plot; the relationship between the main characters Ethan and Lena plays a big role in the curse that affects the Duchannes family. The prose is easy to read with many interesting book references that actually make sense. Historical facts about the Civil War are brilliantly mixed with the magical elements and the fast pace and plot twists just make you want to keep on reading. The Casters are surely a bunch of interesting people and I love the idea of them having a hidden library with all kinds of interesting books and secret passages. Beautiful Creatures is without doubt a must read for those who enjoy reading YA fantasy!

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Lena Duchannes is new in town, but that is not her only problem. There is a curse that affects her family and the consequences will be known on her sixteenth birthday… Then, the Book will decide her fate and show her if she is Light or Dark. Lena and her family are Casters and have special powers that they have to hide from the Mortals. Even before Lena gets to know the people in the Southern town she moved to, they already judge her. She is different than others and the fact that she is now living with her strange uncle Macon Ravenwood doesn’t help her fit in either. But Ethan Wate doesn’t seem to matter. He has been having strange dreams lately and when it turns out that Lena is in them, he is dying to find out more about her.

The story is narrated by Ethan and we get to know the Caster world through an outsider. Slowly, Lena and Ethan become friends and they are aware there is a special bond between them. Mortals and Casters aren’t supposed to be together, but they soon find out they were not the first in their family to fall in love… Their ancestors were in love with each other during the Civil War, but fate decided to end their relationship brutally and the curse was born. It is now up to Ethan and Lena to find a way to fight the curse and prevent Lena from becoming a Dark Caster… But they do not know the full story and things are not as easy as it seems. Meanwhile the clock is ticking… Will they find a solution on time?

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The historical facts, the male POV and the magical elements made Beautiful Creatures into one of my favorite reads this year and one of my favorite YA fantasy series in general. The Casters are not exactly witches and they have some very interesting supernatural powers; the intriguing part is that not all of them know exactly what they can do and you see them slowly discovering their potential. The growing relationship between Ethan and Lena is crucial for the development of the story and therefore it didn’t bother me at all. The main characters are interesting, the plot is great and the different elements are mixed brilliantly. Do I have to say more? I LOVED this novel and I would definitely say it is a must read.

Friday Finds #18 – December 12th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at Should Be Reading and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. I haven’t had much reading time this week and I won’t be having any at all the next few days as I will be painting and redecorating my home with my hubby. I found a bunch of interesting reads this week anyway, some added to my virtual TBR, others already owned. Below a selection:

My finds:

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