ARCs, Books

ARC Review: SHADOW SCALE

shadow scale coverAuthor: Rachel Hartman

Number of Pages: 608

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Release Date: March 10, 2015

“The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?”

– Goodreads.com

***I received this ARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

 After several long years, the eagerly awaited sequel to Seraphina has finally arrived! I loved Seraphina, so I certainly had high expectations for Shadow Scale. Although I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book, this sequel was nevertheless a worthwhile read!

Besides Rachel Hartman’s amazing writing style, my favorite aspect of this book is the meticulous attention to detail regarding everything in Seraphina’s fantasy world. Each kingdom has different languages, cultures, and customs that are explained in the story with surprising clarity and ease. I don’t know how the author was able to keep them all straight in her head! The politics of the kingdoms are also quite complicated, as are the backgrounds and personalities of the characters. It’s always apparent when an author really pours their effort into fully fleshing out a fictional world, as is the case with this novel.

Seraphina is a fantastic main character. Not only is she fascinating because of what she is- half dragon, half human!- but she is also a well-rounded, balanced female character. Often times girls are portrayed as either stone cold or soft and fragile, but Seraphina is strong, independent, and compassionate all at the same time. She isn’t afraid to show her emotional side, but she also understands when it is necessary to buckle down and be tough. She has her own interests and passions (primarily music) and although she does have a love interest, she doesn’t require his constant presence in order to function (unlike some female characters in YA fiction…). I really admire the multidimensional young woman that Rachel Hartman has created in this story, and I wish that there were more girls like her in YA fiction.

Speaking of her love interest, I also really liked how romance isn’t an enormous part of this novel. Yes, it is certainly present- and thank goodness, because Prince Lucian is such a great guy!- but it is not really emphasized until the end of the novel when everything is coming to a close. The focus is largely on the action and adventure that Seraphina experiences, which is refreshing to read about in a genre plagued by a need for romantic relationships. Along with her romantic relationship with Prince Lucian, she also highly values her friendships with Glissenda, Abdo, and Orma.

I could go on and on about all of the things I love about this sequel. Jannoula, the main antagonist, was so twisted! You almost sympathize for her because of her tragic past, but at the same time she’s so evil that you can’t really like her. She was such a dynamic, unpredictable character and she added an important element of suspense and drama to this story. Also, I really liked learning more about Seraphina’s mind garden, which reminded me a lot of Sherlock’s “mind palace” in the BBC TV series “Sherlock”. Watching it change over time was very intriguing, and it offered a unique look directly inside of the main character’s mind.

My main complaint is that the first half of this novel had a rather slow pace. Until the twists and turns started happening, it seemed like the story was dragging quite a bit. After that, though, the plot really started to quicken and thicken (yay rhyming!) and I couldn’t put the book down. Moreover, I sort of had an issue with the ending of this book, particularly with what happens in the epilogue. I won’t spoil it, but it seemed out of character for Seraphina to just settle for something that she was so passionate about. Personally, I think she should have insisted that it turn out differently, even though what actually occurred did make some logical sense. She was such a strong character, and I really wanted to see her go after what she really wanted! However, I can see why it would realistically make sense for her to sit back and let things take their course.

Overall, I really enjoyed this sequel even though it wasn’t as amazing as the first novel. I don’t know if there will be a third book in this series, but I really hope so!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! I would definitely suggest reading the first book, though, because I think it would be really confusing if you started with this one. This is a great book for anyone who is interested in reading an excellent YA fantasy story that is thought-provoking, action-packed, and unique!

Have you read Seraphina or Shadow Scale? What are your thoughts on either or both of them? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Monthly Wrap-Up

March 2015 Wrap-Up

March Wrap-UpWe are one fourth of the way through the year, people! March is probably my least favorite month of the year because it’s so long and there aren’t many holidays (well, besides St. Patrick’s Day and Pi Day, but I’m not Irish and I can’t eat most pies because they’re cross-contaminated with nuts a lot of the time). However, this March actually went by pretty quickly because I was so busy. Here’s what I was up to:

Bookish News

In March I read a total of 5 books:

I also read an ARC preview of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab that I received from NetGalley.

My favorite book of the month was Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. Although I didn’t think it was quite as good as the first book in the series, I still really enjoyed it. Rachel Hartman’s writing is fantastic, and the fantasy world that she has created is one of the best and most intricate I have ever read. I really hope there’s another book in this series!!

Personal News

As far as school is concerned, this month was kind of crazy. My teachers are piling on the work before review in April for the AP exams, trying to cram in as much material as humanly possible. I’ve been waiting and waiting for news from the colleges I’ve applied to, and I finally heard back from a few of them on acceptance and financial aid. I still don’t know exactly where I’m going, but it’s nice nevertheless to finally have some information.

Blogging News

This month I spontaneously decided to participate in the March 2015 Bloggiesta and I had such a great time! Even though I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked (darn that schoolwork!) I still made some significant progress in scheduling posts ahead for April.

Here are some of my notable posts from the month of March:

How was your month of March? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays: March 25th

WWW Wednesdays tealWWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words that asks three questions:

Live Your Dash by Linda EllisWhat are you currently reading???

Right now I’m reading Live Your Dash by Linda Ellis, which I received for winning an award in school about a year ago. The idea behind this book is very inspiring and thought-provoking, and I can’t help but feel good whenever I read it.

I’m also still reading Harry Potter y la cámara secreta by J.K. Rowling (the Spanish translation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

What did you recently finish reading???Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

With my AP English class I read the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, and I have to say that it is the best play I have ever read! It was meaningful and suspenseful in ways that I never expected, especially because I don’t usually enjoy reading plays all that much. My English teacher definitely knows how to pick the best books!

GilgameshAlso, I randomly decided to read Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative by Herbert Mason one day and I really enjoyed it! I didn’t know anything about it when I first started reading it, but there was some helpful information in the back of the book that made understanding the characters and historical context of the story much easier. I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not, but after reading it I definitely think it’s a great story that more people should read.

A few days ago I finished reading an ARC copy of shadow scale coverShadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, which I received from NetGalley. This is the sequel to Seraphina, which I read a few years ago and absolutely adored. Although this book wasn’t quite as good as the first one, it was still a great read. I kind of want to go back and reread Seraphina now, too!

Reviews of these books will be posted soon!

A Darker Shade final for Irene

What do you think you’ll read next???

Hopefully I’ll read A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab next! I have it on hold, so it depends when it comes in. Gotta love those holds lists!

What are your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays: March 11th

WWW Wednesdays tealWWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words that asks three questions:

Whatshadow scale cover are you currently reading???

Right now I’m reading an ARC copy of Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, which I received from NetGalley. This is the sequel to Seraphina, which was such a fantastic novel. I’m only a little bit into this book, but I can already tell that it’s going to be great!

I’m also still reading Harry Potter y la cámara secreta by J.K. Rowling (the Spanish translation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall coverWhat did you recently finish reading???

Since the beginning of the month I have finished A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. Although it was really cute and I did enjoy reading it, I felt as though it just amounted to your average YA contemporary romance novel. I was expecting the unique writing (it’s written from 14 different perspectives, and none of them are of the main characters!) to make it stand out more, but I found that it actually created a few more issues that made me like it less. Still, it was a great read!

Next, I finished an ARC preview of A Darker Shader of Magic by V.E. Schwab that I had received from NetGalley a little while ago. Since it was a preview it was only the first 100 pages or so of the full book, but I loved it nevertheless. I can’t wait to read the entire novel!!

Reviews of these books will be posted in the near future, so stay tuned!

A Darker Shade final for IreneWhat do you think you’ll read next???

Hopefully I’ll read A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab next!! *fingers crossed*

What are your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY