Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (10/26/21) – A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

For no particular reason, I’ve ended up reading a lot more sequels than usual this month. I picked this one up because of how much I loved A Darker Shade of Magic; I couldn’t find it at my local library, so I ended up checking it out from my school library because I just NEEDED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT. However, though A Gathering of Shadows was still a decent novel, it fell into the tragic curse of the disappointing filler sequel.

Enjoy this week’s review!

A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel (Shades of Magic, 2): Victoria Schwab:  9780765376473: Amazon.com: Books

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) – V.E. Schwab

Kell Maresh and Delilah Bard have long parted ways. But unexpected circumstance will reunite them, and the results may mean the end of Red London as they know it.

After the fall of the Danes in White London and the disappearance of the stone, Kell is back in the palace with Rhy. It is the eve of the Element Games, where magicians from all over compete in an extravagant spectacle. But the competition brings old friends and new ashore—namely Alucard, a clever pirate captain who is not as he seems, and Lila, who has joined him as a part of his crew. But on the margins of all the festivity, a new threat is rising—one that could topple every London in existence.

ladyofvalyria | Dark fantasy novels, Katherine pierce, Royal aesthetic

TW/CW: graphic violence, fire, near-death situations

I’m glad that I read this soon after reading book 1, but still, this one was a disappointment…[Obi-Wan Kenobi voice] “YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE!”

It saddens me to admit it, but A Gathering of Shadows fell straight into the fatal trap of the Disappointing Sequel: if anything, it’s almost nothing but filler. My main complaint about book 1 (besides Lila) was that the plot was a little weak, but this book was even more so. Most of the book was just festivities surrounding a celebratory event that had almost no connection to the main plot. All that tied it back to the central plot was sprinklings of a villain that we thought was dead (resurrection trope! Whee!) and not much else. Coming off of the immersive, heartstopping gem that was A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows was a little bit pathetic in comparison.

However, that’s not to say that it wasn’t at least decent. I did like A Gathering of Shadows, at least to some degree. It was disappointing, sure, but I didn’t hate it. V.E. Schwab’s writing still kept me rapt, and the worldbuilding and expansions to it were interesting to see. Even if the Element Games plot bored me a little, I did like seeing all of the intricacies that went into it, as well as the other cultures and countries outside of Red London. There’s no denying that the world that V.E. Schwab has built is a fantastic one, and in the case of this novel, it was largely its saving grace.

And there’s always the matter of the characters! Kell and Rhy were just as lovable as always, and although they didn’t develop an awful lot during this novel (not like the plot gave them much room to do so, oof), reuniting with them was like reuniting with old friends. I loved Alucard as well; he was such a fun character, but…hold up, what is it with the second book in a YA fantasy trilogy ALWAYS introducing the sarcastic, seductive privateer? First Nikolai Lantsov, now Alucard…HAHA

A Gathering of Shadows almost made me like Lila, but all my hopes for her collapsed about halfway through the book. Not only was she as “not-like-other-girls” as ever, her motivations made even LESS sense than they did in book 1. Given that she’s spent her life on the streets fighting for her life, you would think that she wouldn’t do something so risky as…well, disguise herself as a dead magician that she looks nothing like and enter a competition in his name, right? Wrong, apparently. With all that Lila’s been through, I would personally think that she would be the kind of character to weigh risks and benefits, but I guess that all went out the window. I get it, she’s a teenager, but even for a teenager, that’s kind of ridiculous. Plus, after how A Darker Shade of Magic ended, I was excited to see that she might have some kind of ulterior motive or the beginnings of a corruption arc…but no, I guess that wasn’t the case either. Sigh.

All in all, a lackluster but entertaining addition to the Shades of Magic world that offered up a dry plot, but kept the series afloat with new characters and consistently dazzling worldbuilding. 3.5 stars.

Fearless Falling, Reckless Rising | Liz sherman, Super powers, Magic  aesthetic

A Gathering of Shadows is the second book in the Shades of Magic trilogy, preceded by A Darker Shade of Magic and followed by A Conjuring of Light. V.E. Schwab is also the author of the Villains series (Vicious and Vengeful) and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.

Today’s song:

most of the time, covers that people produce specifically to fit into movie trailers annoy me, but I’ll admit that this gives me CHILLS

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (10/25/21) – The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

Concluding my collection of spooky books for this October, here’s one from an author that I haven’t read in quite a while. The only book by Lauren James that I’ve read is The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (although I have several books of hers on my TBR), but I’m interested to see how she handles the paranormal genre!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (10/25/21) – THE RECKLESS AFTERLIFE OF HARRIET STOKER by Lauren James

Amazon.com: THE RECKLESS AFTERLIFE OF HARRIET STOKER: 9781406391121: JAMES  LAUREN: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

“Congratulations, new kid. Welcome to the afterlife.”

What if death is only the beginning?

When Harriet Stoker dies after falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a group of ghosts, each with a special power.

Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah welcome Harriet into their world, eager to make friends with the new arrival after decades alone. Yet Harriet is more interested in unleashing her own power, even if it means destroying everyone around her. But when all of eternity is at stake, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to make an enemy.

So why do I want to read this?

Take a look. You'll see it. on We Heart It

Oh, this is promising…I’m getting a distinct found-family vibe from it; I haven’t seen it done before with ghosts, and I can’t wait to see how it’s executed! Death and being undead seems like something that would instantly bind people together as ghosts.

Plus, ghosts with powers? Of course I’m interested. The blurb doesn’t specify what kind of powers that we’re dealing with, so I’m intrigued by the possibilities that this book’s paranormal world and laws could hold.

What I remember from The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was that it did suspense and plot twists very deftly, and I’m hoping the same applies to The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker. That kind of plot aspect is almost a given in most paranormal novels, so I’m interested to see what kind of curveballs Lauren James will throw our way.

Green Aesthetic | Wiki | Aesthetic Twilight Amino

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: October 18-24, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

For the most part, it’s been a good week. I have three (yes, three) exams all on the same day next week, so that’s…fun…but I’ve managed to get my studying under control. My mood’s continued to be a lot better than last October, and I’m glad to say, again, that I’m in a better place. I know I must sound like a broken record by now, but last October was absolutely abysmal…

As far as reading goes…you ever just have one of those weeks where you read something FANTASTIC and then everything else you read that week just…sucks? Yeah, that’s how it’s been. Two 1-star reads, one of which was a DNF. But I got some more books from the library yesterday, so hopefully things should pick up. (I finished the Shades of Magic trilogy and I don’t know what to do with myself now…) I’ve been making steady-ish progress with my current WIP as well, and I passed 100 pages last night!

Other than that, I’ve just been eating leftover cake, studying, getting my pumpkins for Halloween, and watching The French Dispatch! I saw the latter on Friday night, and it was an instant 5-star movie for me. You can just tell that it’s exactly the kind of thing that Wes Anderson has been waiting years to make, and the creativity and love just radiates from it in waves. 100% in my top 3 Wes Anderson movies now. (I’m seeing Dune tonight too!! Finally!!)

Untitled — thoresque: Timothée Chalamet in The French... | Wes anderson,  Wes anderson movies, Color in film

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3) – V.E. Schwab (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: A Conjuring of Light: A Novel (Shades of Magic Book 3) eBook :  Schwab, V. E.: Kindle Store

Caster – Elsie Chapman (⭐️⭐️)

Caster : Chapman, Elsie: Amazon.co.uk: Books

The Stars Now Unclaimed (The Universe After, #1) – Drew Williams (DNF – ⭐️)

Amazon.com: The Stars Now Unclaimed (The Universe After Book 1) eBook :  Williams, Drew: Kindle Store

Animals Real and Imagined: The Fantasy of What Is and What Might Be – Terryl Whitlatch (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Animals Real and Imagined Terryl Whitlatch Soft Cover 9781933492926 | eBay

Horrid – Katrina Leno (⭐️)

Horrid by Katrina Leno

THE ONE, LONELY POST I MADE THIS WEEK:

THE ONE, LONELY SONG THAT WENT WITH IT:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

His Hideous Heart – Dahlia Adler et. al. (anthology)

His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allan Poe's Most Unsettling Tales  Reimagined: Adler, Dahlia: 9781250302793: Amazon.com: Books

Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir

A bestseller with some problems: 'Project Hail Mary' by Andy Weir | Books |  santafenewmexican.com

The Girls Are Never Gone – Sarah Glenn Marsh

The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh: 9781984836151 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Dream Country – Ashaye Brown

Amazon.com: Dream Country: 9781916042988: Brown, Ashaye: Books

Today’s song:

this album. this album is still magic.

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (10/19/21) – Steelstriker (Skyhunter, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

wHEW okay so I just submitted my college applications I need a minute

Meme Generator - Gavin screaming - Newfa Stuff

So, what do my college applications and this week’s review have in common? My feelings after finishing both of them can be described accurately with the image above.

I’ve been a fan of Marie Lu’s for years now, and I loved Skyhunter, so I immediately jumped at the chance to preorder book two. I got to read it recently, and I can say with certainty that Marie Lu has made another riveting success!

Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! This review contains spoilers for book 1, Skyhunter! If you haven’t read book 1 and intend to, I suggest you skip through this review.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Steelstriker (Skyhunter Duology): 9781250221728: Lu, Marie:  Books

Steelstriker (Skyhunter, #2) – Marie Lu

my copies of Skyhunter and Steelstriker feat. a cool filter

Mara has fallen. The Federation’s colonization sweeps through what was once the last stronghold of freedom, and at its forefront, the young Premier wreaks havoc, fighting to uncover an ancient artifact that could give his empire unimaginable power.

Talin has been captured for the Skyhunter initiative, melded with wings and great power against her will. But her connection to the Premier presents her with a unique perspective that could help her allies win the war. Meanwhile, Red and the rest of the Strikers are intent on breaking her out, but a plot against the Federation could mean the difference between victory and utter chaos.

are you with me? | Rogue one star wars, Star wars ships, Star wars fandom

TW/CW: torture, human experimentation, graphic violence, public executions, murder (attempted and executed), colonization

Let it be known that I was reading the last part of Steelstriker while getting my hair dyed, and that right as I hit THAT CLIMAX, the lady dyeing my hair came in and I had to hold it together long enough for her to rinse my hair out. This is the havoc that Marie Lu has wrought upon my heart.

But it was 100% worth it.

Skyhunter is a very special book to me. Not only was it written by one of my favorite authors, it helped me through what was easily one of the toughest times in my life. When I was weighed down with grief and stress, Skyhunter taught me to maintain hope, even in the darkest of times. Now, here I am one year later, and Steelstriker means just the same to me—a bleak, dystopian world, but with underlying currents of hope and resistance.

Just as with book 1, I can picture the imagery of Steelstriker like it was footage from a TV show. Marie Lu’s writing kept me hooked from page one, and I only found myself putting it down for…well, basic necessities. (And getting my hair rinsed off.) I felt just as invested in Talin and Red’s story as I did last year.

Standing next to Skyhunter, one aspect that set Steelstriker apart was the rich political intrigue. Within the action there are threads of unrest, manifesting in secret plots and uprisings aplenty. Every single plot point had a satisfying domino effect through the rest of the novel, and the constant twists that resulted kept me guessing until the epilogue. Marie Lu’s balance of sci-fi action and realistic dissent and secret plots made for a book that sucked me in for its entire length.

And the characters! Coming back to Red, Talin, and the rest of the striker gang felt like reuniting with old friends. I had a soft spot for Red in book 1, and he was just as well-developed, complex, and outright lovable as ever. Talin’s internal struggle with being a Skyhunter never ceased to tug my heartstrings, and her perspective balanced outside intensity with introspective development. And the two of them together!! I mentioned in my review of Skyhunter that I thought they would work in either a platonic or romantic relationship, and having them be in love was so, so, SO sweet. They’re just perfect for each other. GAAH.

All of it culminated to a climax that threw my heart down the Grand Canyon and an epilogue that pulled it back up. Marie Lu certainly knows how to toy with my feelings [coughcough THE MIDNIGHT STAR cough cough].

It’s bittersweet for me to think that the Skyhunter duology is coming to a close. But Steelstriker was a sequel that was just as heartbreaking, intense, and wholly special as its predecessor. Thank you, Marie Lu, from the bottom of my heart. 4.5 stars!

Steelstriker is the final book in the Skyhunter duology, preceded by Skyhunter. Marie Lu is also the author of the Young Elites trilogy (The Young Elites, The Rose Society, and The Midnight Star), The Kingdom of Back, the Legend series (Legend, Prodigy, Champion, and Rebel), and the Warcross series (Warcross and Wildcard.)

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: October 11-17, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

Even though I’ve been dwelling on some unpleasant things this week, it’s been a surprisingly good couple of days. A year ago now, I was in a really rough patch in my life, and all I can do now is be grateful that I’m in a happier place and that I’ve grown and healed in the time since then.

Reading was a little slow this week, but I had some good reads, both for fun and for school. (A lot of sequels this week, for no reason in particular…) I also held my meeting for my school’s book club, and it was so much fun to talk about The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea with everyone!

Though it’s been a little on-and-off, I’ve also gotten lots of writing done for my current WIP this week! I’ve discovered that dreamlike sequences are a lot of fun to write; this WIP has a whole lot of them, and adding in all the detail has been one of my favorite parts of writing this story in particular. Also, after I’d written a certain scene, I realized that I unintentionally made an overt Yellow Submarine reference…absolutely embracing that though

yellow submarine the glove gif | WiffleGif
my current WIP without context

Other than that, I’ve been drawing a handful of aliens, enjoying my newly dyed hair, listening to the new Snail Mail and Suki Waterhouse, and losing all self-control around the bowl of candy corns sitting on my dining room table. I love October.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) – V.E. Schwab (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Buy A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel: 2 (Shades of Magic, 2) Book Online at  Low Prices in India | A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel: 2 (Shades of Magic,  2) Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

A Neon Darkness (The Bright Sessions, #2) – Lauren Shippen (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ )

A Neon Darkness (The Bright Sessions, #2) by Lauren Shippen

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (for school) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Brave New World: Aldous Huxley: 9780060809836: Amazon.com: Books

Each of Us a Desert – Mark Oshiro (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue - Kindle edition by Schwab, V. E..  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3) – V.E. Schwab

Amazon.com: A Conjuring of Light: A Novel (Shades of Magic Book 3) eBook :  Schwab, V. E.: Kindle Store

The Stars Now Unclaimed (The Universe After, #1) – Drew Williams

Amazon.com: The Stars Now Unclaimed (The Universe After Book 1) eBook :  Williams, Drew: Kindle Store

Caster – Elsie Chapman

Caster (Caster, #1) by Elsie Chapman

Today’s song:

SHE’S BACK SHE’S BACK we need an album

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books

Found Family Sci-Fi recommendations

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

I haven’t done a recommendations post/something other than a book tag or a review in a while, so I figured it would be fun to mix things up a little bit.

Yeah, yeah. I get it. This is a very specific post. But these are the kind of books I love, and I know other people love them too, so I thought I would put this out into the world.

The found family trope is easily one of my favorites in media as a whole; usually, it involves a character, often an outsider, who meets a series of strangers, often outsiders as well, on whatever journey they are on, and these strangers become a family to them. Often, these characters have very different personalities, but their differences are what make them stronger. They come to accept each other no matter what, growing closer than they ever could have imagined. As someone who has been more than a little bit of an outsider over the course of my life, the trope has resonated with me a quite lot; I’m glad now to have found friends that love me for being as weird as I am, and I love them for being weird too. And for those of you who are in the place where I used to be, I promise: someday, you’ll find people who love you and celebrate you for who you are.

In my opinion, sci-fi is the most entertaining genre to see the found family trope in action. Sci-fi has a tendency to throw all of the characters into a life-changing adventure, and if the execution is right, their relationships deepen along the way, making for a tight-knit group of what I love to call “chaotic space misfits.”

Now, the books I’m putting on this list aren’t exclusively space-centric sci-fi. I’ve included a few books from other sci-fi branches, but all have similar found family themes. It’s mostly YA, but I have a few Adult and MG books on the list as well.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

Welcome To The Kingdom Of Geeks And Dorks - Tumblr Blog Gallery

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S FOUND FAMILY SCI-FI RECOMMENDATIONS

Victories Greater Than Death – Charlie Jane Anders

Amazon.com: Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, 1): 9781250317315:  Anders, Charlie Jane: Books

young adult

Fast-paced and full of heart, Victories Greater Than Death is a perfect fit for longtime sci-fi fans and readers that are new to the genre! The relationships in this novel are so sweet, and I’m excited to see how they develop in the sequel!

Aurora Rising – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle): 9781524720964: Kaufman, Amie,  Kristoff, Jay: Books

young adult

Two YA sci-fi books with purple covers with beautiful and VERY powerful space girls on them? In one post? It’s more likely than you think.

Aurora Rising is, in my opinion, the textbook-perfect example of the found family trope, and both the platonic and romantic relationships within it never fail to make me feel soft and happy inside.

The Disasters – M.K. England

Amazon.com: The Disasters: 9780062657671: England, M. K.: Books

young adult

The Disasters is the perfect book for you if you’re a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy-esque characters and banter. This one has action, drama, and misadventures in space aplenty!

Gearbreakers – Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers eBook : Mikuta, Zoe Hana: Kindle Store - Amazon.com

young adult

Nothing like taking down giant, overpowered robots to bond a couple of people together…

The bonds between all of the characters in Gearbreakers truly shone, and the balance of soft levity, dystopian grit, and brutality were so well-handled!

Skyhunter – Marie Lu

Book Review: Skyhunter by Marie Lu – RARELY IN REALITY

young adult

Continuing on the dystopian train, here’s an action-packed book from one of of my favorite authors! Amidst all of the horror and desolation in Skyhunter’s ravaged world, the relationships between Talin, Red, and the rest of their ragtag gang of Strikers brings hope to a bleak novel. I read it almost a year ago, and it was just the thing that I needed to get through a rough patch in my life.

The Search for WondLa – Tony DiTerlizzi

The Search for WondLa | Book by Tony DiTerlizzi | Official Publisher Page |  Simon & Schuster

middle grade

Looking back, The Search for WondLa wasn’t just my gateway into sci-fi literature—it was probably my gateway to the found family trope as well. This was my favorite series from late elementary school through middle school, and even when I look back through it, I love it just as much as I did when I was younger. Middle school Madeline would be elated to hear that I still highly recommend it; an intricately crafted piece of sci-fi, filled with an immersive world, unique characters, and beautiful illustrations.

Honor Among Thieves – Ann Aguirre & Rachel Caine

Honor Among Thieves (The Honors, #1) by Rachel Caine

young adult

Spaceships are often the perfect vehicle for interstellar bonding (and anything interstellar, really), but have you considered…sentient, intelligent spaceships? What’s more fun than having your own spaceship join the found family?

Honor Among Thieves, with its diverse and chaotic cast of characters and intergalactic intrigue, is sure to both capture your heart and keep you on the edge of your seat!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

Amazon.com: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: Wayfarers 1 eBook :  Chambers, Becky: Kindle Store

adult

I said earlier that the found family trope often involves the characters bonding over some life-changing adventure, but it isn’t always—and never has to be—the case. It seems to me that Becky Chambers has pioneered the “soft sci-fi” novel, one that’s set in a future universe filled with aliens and strange politics, but there are no cosmic, fate-of-the-world wars or over-the-top conflict. It’s more slice-of-life, but in space. (Oh, look at me and all my hyphens…) Which I love.

The relationships of the crew of the Wayfarer made my heart so happy, and I bet they’ll make you just as happy too!

Heart of Iron – Ashley Poston

Amazon.com: Heart of Iron: 9780062652850: Poston, Ashley: Books

young adult

The main cast, along with the rest of the crew of the Dossier are the sweetest, messiest found family, whether they’re human, robot, or alien. If you love retellings, lost chosen ones, and plenty of banter, Heart of Iron is the book for you!

Larklight – Philip Reeve

Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of  Space: Reeve, Philip, Wyatt, David: 9781599901459: Amazon.com: Books

middle grade

Here’s another one for middle school Madeline…

Larklight, from my memory, is imaginative, kooky, and perfect if you’re a fan of steampunk. Never a dull moment if there are pirate ships and floating houses in space, right? Plus, all sorts of odd creatures…

LIFEL1K3 – Jay Kristoff

Amazon.com: LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike): 9781524713928: Kristoff, Jay: Books

young adult

Turning back into dystopian sci-fi, LIFEL1K3 is another fantastic example of a novel that finds the smallest bits of hope in the bleakest (and I mean BLEAKEST) of times. This series HURT me, truth be told, but Jay Kristoff is the master of writing friendships that you want to root for with all your heart.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite books with the found family trope? Have any sci-fi recommendations for me? Tell me in the comments!

StarWars.gif

Today’s song:

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (10/12/21) – A Darker Shade of Magic

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’d heard of this novel now and then before reading it, but it managed to escape my periphery for years. It then got selected for November’s pick for my high school’s book club, so I decided to pick it up before the library ran out of copies. I had no expectations, but I was surprised at how dazzling of a book it was! Automatically on my favorite books of 2021.

Enjoy this week’s review!

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) – V.E. Schwab

my library copy on my windowsill ft. a cool filter

Kell has lived a life caught between many worlds—in a literal sense. As a fabled Antari magician with the ability to travel between worlds, he works as a royal ambassador for his homeland of Red London, traveling between his home, Grey London, and White London. Black London fell long ago.

A chance encounter with an artifact containing dangerous magic and a skilled thief named Delilah Bard throws Kell off course. Now, he must wrestle with magic that could potentially swallow his home–and an alliance that could result in his undoing.

GIF - Strange Strange City City - Discover & Share GIFs

TW/CW: murder, blood, graphic violence, public executions

Going into this book, I had little to no expectations. I read This Savage Song about four years ago and remembered next to nothing about it, and so I had no sense about how I would feel about V.E. Schwab’s other books. To my surprise, A Darker Shade of Magic hooked me almost instantly with its unique characters and dangerous magic!

Schwab’s writing was the star of the show here, no questions asked. Her prose was so immersive that I could feel magic in the air, smell rain and ash, and see a river tinted red as though it were all surrounding me. Each London had its own intricate mythology, and each was fleshed out to the degree that none of them felt rushed over. (I have no sense for Black London, though, but I have a feeling I’ll learn more about it in the coming books. Hopefully.) Her imagery is nothing short of magical (no pun intended), and the worldbuilding to support each London made the environment that much more believable.

The central plot of A Darker Shade of Magic was a little bit weak, but it made up for it with tons of action and snappy dialogue. Having a good portion of the plot center around a ✨magical rock✨ is dangerous in and of itself, and even though this ✨magical rock✨ had some serious ✨magical consequences✨, it did feel a bit like a sorry excuse for a plot. Lucky for us, there’s far more than that; Schwab supplies the book with enough political intrigue, fantasy lore, banter, and intense conflict to make the plot full enough to sustain a gripping story. And gripping it was–yeah, I know I just griped about the ✨magical rock✨, but I seriously couldn’t put this one down.

For the most part, I adored the characters! Kell was a fantastic protagonist. From his distinct appearance (MAN I need to draw him) to his quiet loyalty to his magic prowess, it’s hard not to love him. Yeah, he’s more than a little edgy, but it was lovable in a Kaz Brekker kind of way. All of the supporting characters were similarly charming, bringing all sorts of unique elements to the plot.

All of them except for Lila.

Lila…

I loved almost all of the other characters, but I hated Lila. She fell straight into the “not like other girls” trope, and most of her mannerisms didn’t fail to make me cringe. What I didn’t care for in particular was her motivations. Nothing Lila did made any sense. I get that she’s a teenager, but wouldn’t leading a life of crime and starving on the streets give somebody some semblance of direction in life? Every decision that she made hinged on the fact that there would be no consequences, and most of it was fleeting, shallow, and far too spur of the moment.

The worst example: why she wants to travel through all of the alternate Londons with Kell? “Because I’m bored.”

SHUT Blank Template - Imgflip

…okay, maybe I’m giving her too little credit. Maybe that was a cover for her actual motivations. But do we know any of these motivations? NOPE. Thus why her character made no sense. The only upside is that I imagined her looking like Maeve from Sex Education with a cool fantasy outfit.

20th century women — ramimalec: EMMA MACKEY as MAEVE WILEY in...
this is Maeve, for reference

All in all, though, an immersive and luscious fantasy that hooked me in from page one. 4.5 stars!

vague gifs | WiffleGif
@ Lila

A Darker Shade of Magic is the first in the Shades of Magic trilogy, followed by A Gathering of Shadows (book 2) and A Conjuring of Light (book 3). Under this pseudonym, V.E. Schwab is also the author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and the Villains series (Vicious and Vengeful).

Today’s song:

the instrumental part at 2:31 was stuck in my head earlier this afternoon and it took me a good hour to remember what it was from

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (10/11/21) – Kingdom of the Wicked

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

Continuing with some more spooky reads for spooky season, here’s one that I’ve seen everywhere! I’m hoping this one lives up to the hype—I do love books with witches and demons.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (10/11/21) – KINGDOM OF THE WICKED by Kerri Maniscalco

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Blurb from Goodreads:

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

So why do I want to read this?

Pin by jess on Hellboy (Joshua) | Liz sherman, Super powers, Demon book

There are a few things that are making me think that parts of this book could go wrong very quickly, but I’m willing to stick around and see what happens.

What’s hooking me here is the premise of a witch-centric murder mystery! I love the idea of Emilia attempting to avenge her sister and all of the other murdered witches, and it seems like something that could move the plot steadily along and make for some suspense. Something about it is making me think of Serpent & Dove, which I liked, so hopefully that’s a good sign.

However, this whole “prince of Hell” could go either way. Wrath sounds like just the kind of character that could fall into that creepy, romanticized bully of a love interest that happens all too often in YA fantasy (see: the Darkling from Shadow and Bone, Cardan from The Cruel Prince, Mirnatius from Spinning Silver, etc.), so I’m a little hesitant. On the other hand, I do like his potentially demonic origins, and I think that could be an interesting twist in the story.

I guess I’ll have to see for myself, won’t I?

Magick Aesthetic Witch Aesthetic Wiccanstuff GIF | Gfycat

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: October 4-10, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

I wanted this week to be a relaxing one, and I’m glad to say that I mostly succeeded! My school had a four-day weekend this week, so I had lots of time to catch up on sleep and get some much needed rest.

After that week-and-a-half slump, I had some FANTASTIC reads this week! I’ve only read book 1, but I can already say that I’m hooked on the Shades of Magic series, and it was bittersweet to end the Skyhunter duology. 😭 I also resumed one of my unfinished drafts (FINALLY), and I managed to get out 1,000 words last night!

Other than that, I’ve been doing lots of drawing, volunteering at the library, finishing What If? and getting through more of What We Do in the Shadows, and dyeing my hair! My hair is now blue on top, and then it fades to purple and pink at the ends!! The appointment for my hair was long though, so I brought along Steelstriker…and then had to try and hold it together after I got to a gut-wrenching scene right as it was time to rinse my hair out 😵‍💫

[nervous laughter] bookworm problems, amirite

Johann Kraus | Wiki | •Cómics• Amino

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) – V.E. Schwab (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Buy A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel: 1 (Shades of Magic, 1) Book Online at  Low Prices in India | A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel: 1 (Shades of Magic,

Vampires, Hearts, & Other Dead Things – Margie Fuston (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things: 9781534474574: Fuston,  Margie: Books

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Vintage Classics): Wilde, Oscar, Eugenides,  Jeffrey: 2015307743527: Amazon.com: Books

Steelstriker (Skyhunter, #2) – Marie Lu (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Steelstriker (Skyhunter Duology): 9781250221728: Lu, Marie:  Books

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (for school)

Brave New World: Aldous Huxley: 9780060809836: Amazon.com: Books

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) – V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) by V.E. Schwab

Each of Us a Desert – Mark Oshiro

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

A Neon Darkness (The Bright Sessions, #2) – Lauren Shippen

A Neon Darkness (The Bright Sessions, #2) by Lauren Shippen

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue: Schwab, V. E.: 9780765387561:  Amazon.com: Books

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Tags

Cozy Fall Book Tag 🍁

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I haven’t done a book tag in quite a while, and I figured I’d do one since I’m on fall break! I found this one over at Brianna’s Books and Randomness, and the tag was originally created by The Book Belle on BookTube. I love fall, so this is the perfect tag…

Let’s begin, shall we?

ANIME — ANIME SEASONS: Fall/Autumn 🍁

🍁COZY FALL BOOK TAG🍁

What book always reminds you of fall/autumn?

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

I read The Bone Houses last fall, and it’s the perfect atmospheric book for this season!

What is your favorite autumnal book cover?

Kingsbane (Empirium, #2) by Claire Legrand

Kingsbane (book 2 in the Empyrium trilogy) has some lovely autumnal colors.

What is your favorite autumnal drink to read with?

Chris Helmsworth GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I don’t habitually drink while I read, but I can’t say no to drinking some hot cinnamon spice tea while reading.

Do you prefer to read early in the morning or late at night?

Loki Thor Ragnarok GIF - Loki Thor Ragnarok Laufey Son - Discover & Share  GIFs
oop here I go dumping in all the MCU gifs

…uh, both? It depends on the day, really. My internal clock usually wakes me up at about 7 am on the weekends (much to my dismay), so I sometimes read then, if I don’t fall back asleep first. I like to read before bed as well. Both is good.

Halloween is coming! What’s your favorite spooky read?

The anatomy of Frankenstein book covers

Can’t go wrong with Frankenstein, the original spooky read!

What is the ultimate comfort read for you?

Aurora Rising: Amie Kaufman,Jay Kristoff: 9781786075338: Amazon.com: Books

I know I talk about Aurora Rising in almost every single tag I do, but this book really does have such a special place in my heart. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, what with book 3 coming out in about a month…

What is your favorite fall reading snack?

Boo! Bulldog's Top Halloween Candy of 2019 - bulldog yoga

I wouldn’t necessarily call it a reading snack, but believe me when I say that all of my impulse control goes out the window whenever I’m near a bag of candy corns.

What is your favorite autumnal candle to burn whilst reading?

Beautiful Candle Animated Gif Pics - Best Animations

I don’t usually burn a whole lot of candles, but we have a whole bunch of decorative candles from my family’s Halloween decorations that are scattered around the house. They’re pretty cute.

When you’re not reading, what’s your favorite fall activity?

Normal is an illusion." | Autumn scenes, Autumn tumblr, Autumn cozy

Watching Tim Burton movies, taking pictures of the turning leaves, and curling up with a blanket and whatever TV show I happen to be watching at the moment.

What’s on your fall reading list?

A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel (Shades of Magic, 2): Victoria Schwab:  9780765376473: Amazon.com: Books

Um? I never really do concrete reading lists, but I just got A Gathering of Shadows from my school library because I LOVED book 1. This will probably be my next read.

I TAG:

Autumn Aesthetic GIF - Autumn Aesthetic - Discover & Share GIFs

Today’s song:

That’s it for this book tag! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!