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 Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: August 16 – 22, 2021

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

Summer ended for me this week, and I started back at school on Wednesday. It’s good to see my friends again, but…yeah. Too many people. At least they’re requiring masks at my school. Thankfully, we didn’t have much homework this week, though.

I’ve had a hit-or-miss reading week – most of them fell in the 3.5 star range, but I found a great book and another one that didn’t do it for me as much. I think I have a good reading week ahead of me, though!

This weekend’s been good though! We celebrated my birthday over the weekend, and we went to a new location of my favorite bookstore and got some great-looking books! We also visited the Wild Animal Sanctuary this morning, and it was great to be there after not going for so long! (Look it up – it’s a great place to go if you’re in the Colorado area!)

Other than that, I’ve just been working my way through the climax of my sci-fi WIP, volunteering at the library, drawing, playing guitar, and slapping nerdy bumper stickers on my car. I also rewatched Guardians of the Galaxy with my friend on the last day of summer. Never gets old.

Ac Fa Ba Bec GIF | Gfycat

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: A Quiet Kind of Thunder: 9781534402416: Barnard, Sara: Books

A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1) – Becky Chambers (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1) by Becky Chambers

When My Heart Joins the Thousand – A.J. Steiger (⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: When My Heart Joins the Thousand: 9780062656476: Steiger, A.  J.: Books

Plain Bad Heroines – Emily M. Danforth (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: Plain Bad Heroines: A Novel: 9780062942852: Danforth, Emily M.,  Lautman, Sara: Books

The Ever Cruel Kingdom (The Never Tilting World, #2) – Rin Chupeco (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The Good Luck Girls – Charlotte Nicole Davis

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Ahsoka – E.K. Johnston

Amazon.com: Star Wars Ahsoka: 9781484705667: E.K. Johnston, Wojtowicz,  Jason P: Books

Six Crimson Cranes – Elizabeth Lim

Amazon.com: Six Crimson Cranes: 9780593300916: Lim, Elizabeth: Books

Girls at the Edge of the World – Laura Brooke Robson

Amazon.com: Girls at the Edge of the World: 9780525554035: Robson, Laura  Brooke: 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 Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: September 28-October 4, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles, and HAPPY SPOOKY SEASON!

This week was definitely…something. I had (and still have) a slew of exams and a project to do all week, so school-wise, very overwhelming. Not ideal. But October always makes me feel better, and spending the weekend in Vail among the changing leaves of the aspens definitely alleviated some of the stress from earlier in the week.

Somehow I managed to read…a bunch this week? I’m not sure why, but I managed to blow through most of my library haul AND an eARC in a week flat, and that’s definitely a…record of sorts for me. I mean, one of them was a short graphic novel, but still. I haven’t been able to outline as much this week, but it’s starting to have *some* semblance of structure.

Coraline GIFs | Tenor

And the first few episodes of season 4 of Fargo came out recently, and they were both SO GOOD! I also re-watched Coraline after not seeing it for…almost a decade? The first episode of Penny Dreadful too–SPOOKY SEASON!

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Struck–Jennifer Bosworth (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Struck (Struck, #1) by Jennifer Bosworth

Sea Sirens–Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Comic books in 'Trot and Cap'n Bill Adventure'

Star Daughter–Shveta Thakrar (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

The Assignment–Liza M. Wiemer (⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: The Assignment (9780593123164): Wiemer, Liza: Books

All These Warriors (Monsters, #2)–Amy Tintera (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Amazon.com: All These Warriors (All These Monsters) eBook: Tintera, Amy:  Kindle Store

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Showers, Flowers, and Fangs–Aidan Wayne

Showers, Flowers, and Fangs by Aidan Wayne

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars–Christopher Paolini

Amazon.com: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars eBook: Paolini, Christopher: Kindle  Store

Today’s song:

File this under: Apples in Stereo songs from my childhood that have inexplicably gotten stuck in my head this week

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

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: All Our Hidden Gifts

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I don’t usually read seasonally (unless it’s Spooky Season, of course), and that wasn’t the reason that I requested this eARC, but I’m happy to say that All Our Hidden Gifts was a delightful read that’s perfect for this time of year! Though it wasn’t without its flaws, it was a sweet mix of paranormal fantasy, horror, and contemporary fiction.

Enjoy this eARC review!

All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O'Donoghue

All Our Hidden Gifts–Caroline O’Donoghue

Maeve’s sentenced to cleaning out the closet for her in-school suspension, but she soon learns that the job might not be as boring as she thought it was.

When mysterious tarot deck turns up the closet, Maeve pockets it, learning everything she can about it so that she can put her cards to good use. Her readings soon become the talk of her Catholic school, and soon, she has customers lining up outside of the closet. But after Lily, her former best friend, draws an unknown card, she disappears days later, causing a commotion in their tight-knit community. With the help of Lily’s sibling Roe, Maeve must find the secret of this mysterious Housekeeper card before its repercussions spread beyond Lily’s disappearance.

Art Magic GIF by littlekingdoms - Find & Share on GIPHY

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Walker Book US/Candlewick Press for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

All Our Hidden Gifts had the feel of an 2000’s horror movie for a teen audience, but in the best way possible. There’s paranormal and high school drama in equal amounts, but O’Donoghue balances out both genres for a paranormal tale that teens are sure to love.

Let’s start off with my biggest complaint. I found the pacing to be rather inconsistent, especially when compared to the synopsis on Goodreads and elsewhere. The storyline with the tarot cards turned out to have less of the spotlight than I thought, and it seemed to go far too quickly–most of it was over by the time that I’d gotten a third of the way through the novel. However, the other story elements were enough to keep the novel afloat for the remainder, so it didn’t bog down the story as much as I thought it would.

Other than that, I don’t have too many complaints. O’Donoghue’s writing was fresh and cinematic, with all manner of fascinating twists and tense scenes. Even if you’re not familiar with the tarot, the story is gripping and the perfect kind of spooky, paranormal fun that you’d want to channel right around Halloween.

I didn’t get attached to most of the characters, but they were absolutely authentic; weirdly enough, I connected a lot with Lily, even though she wasn’t present for most of the novel. There’s also a lot of LGBTQ+/POC-friendly elements to the novel, most notably in Roe, who is genderfluid. So kudos for O’Donoghue for that! There’s also a prominent Filipina character as well.

All in all, All Our Hidden Gifts lacked a bit in pacing and lovable characters, but made up for some of it with a timeless blend of paranormal fun. 3.5 stars!

pendulum gif | Tumblr

Expected release date: March 30, 2021

Today’s song:

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