A Gathering of EMOTIONS—I mean, Shadows…

A Gathering of EMOTIONS—I mean, Shadows…
A Gathering of Shadows
Shades of Magic #2

Written by: Victoria Schwab
Published by: Tor
Release date: February 23rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 512
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Format: ARC
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository, Audible
Add on: Goodreads


** Spoilers for book 1 in this synopsis!! **

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

My Thoughts

As I start writing this review, I’ve literally just finished this book, and I just… can’t. I can’t. I sort of just want to leave you with a screenshot of my Goodreads updates and leave it at that, but I won’t do that to you. I actually do need to get some words out. Because this book is amazing and I really need to tell you why. So here goes.

Where do I even begin…?

A Gathering of Shadows is the kind of book I adore — one whose driving force is the characters. I can’t say too much about the plot, because a huge chunk of plotty stuff is packed into the end — along with a SUPER COOL MAGICAL TOURNAMENT heck yes — with a lot of ominous lead-up to that plotty stuff along the way. Shadows isn’t slow, though, and a plot-heavy conclusion doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t happen in the rest of the book. Oh man. Stuff happens. And so much of that stuff is my favorite thing — character-focused.

These bromances are my favorite.

So, here’s a bit of background: Kell is restless after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, and he desperately needs an outlet to let off some magical steam. Kell’s discontent is rubbing off on Rhy thanks to their bond; and Rhy is also suffering a devastating amount of guilt over all the deaths that happened in his kingdom, which he sees as his fault. (Cue me clutching Rhy to my heart and protecting him for all time, my little cinnamon roll 😭)

Continue reading

This is (and isn’t) a review of THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS.

I received this book for free from Roc. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This is (and isn’t) a review of THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS.
The Aeronaut's Windlass
The Cinder Spires #1

Written by: Jim Butcher
Published by: Roc
Release date: September 29th 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Steampunk
Pages: 640
Source: BookExpo America 2015
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads

Jim Butcher, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…

MyThoughts_v2

So here’s the deal. I’m feeling sort of burnt out writing reviews lately (as are a lot of us blogger-types, I think). So, I want to sort of approach this as though I’m NOT writing a review. I just want to talk (type?) at you about this book for a bit. Because I love this book.

First, some backstory: I’ve been a fan of Jim Butcher since way before I started blogging. I binged what I could of The Dresden Files throughout 2010 and into 2011 — same with Codex Alera. (Thanks, Goodreads, for keeping track of those dates for me, lol.) If you don’t know anything about them, Dresden is urban fantasy, and Codex Alera is straight-up fantasy. They remain two of my all-time favorite series (despite my seeming lack of ability to catch up with Dresden, urgh!!!).

So when I say I was excited to hear that Jim Butcher was working on a new steampunk series, which he described as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Sherlock meets Hornblower with airships and talking cats — you must understand, I was flipping excited. He mentioned it at a book signing I attended back in late 2012, and from that moment I needed it in my life.

Continue reading

ARC Review: UPROOTED by Naomi Novik

I received this book for free from Del Rey. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review: UPROOTED by Naomi Novik
Uprooted

Written by: Naomi Novik
Published by: Del Rey
Release date: May 19th 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 438
Source: NetGalley
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads

Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

MyThoughts_v2

I’ve been incredibly delinquent in writing this review, because this is one of those books that I just want to shove into people’s hands and say, “Just read it, you’ll thank me later.” What else is there to say, other than that?! Nothing, that’s what.

But I really need to try, becuase if you’re not convinced you need it yet, then I’m not doing my job right. So, here goes.

First and foremost: Reading Uprooted was an awesome experience, for me. I love re-reading books, and I often fantasize about being able to read an amazing book again for the first time — obviously, that’s impossible… but I think Uprooted is the closest I’ve ever come to what that would feel like. Reading this book felt like re-reading an old favorite, but getting to do so for the first time again. I felt such an intense familiarity with the tone, with the story, with the world and the characters — it reminded me of my favorite fantasy books, in the best way. But it never felt overly derivative — there were so many new twists and unique characters and such a sense of newness to the book, coupled with that old familiarity… It was just amazing.

Continue reading

Waiting on Wednesday – The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine,
which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating!

 

Waiting on Wednesday – The Aeronaut’s Windlass
The Aeronaut's Windlass
The Cinder Spires #1

Written by: Jim Butcher
Published by: Roc
Release date: September 29th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Steampunk
Pages: 512
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads
Also by this author: The Aeronaut's Windlass

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy's shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity's ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake.

WhyImWaiting_v2

Soooooo today the book I’m featuring is not YA, which most of my WoW picks usually are. HOWEVER, if you’re a fan of fantasy and steampunk and airships let me just pull you aside for a second and tell you: I’m pretty sure you need this book.

Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files, The Codex Alera) is one of my favorite authors, and when I first heard about Cinder Spires (I think at a signing of his, years ago), I was a goner. He has since called it “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Sherlock meets Hornblower. There are goggles and airships and steam power and bizarre crystal technology and talking cats, who are horrid little bullies.” I mean… I’m just sitting here wondering what more you could possibly add to those lists to make them MORE awesome, and I’m coming up blank.

I could not be more excited for this book if I tried.

(And can I get a “heck yeah” for that airship/goggles/sword/coat-situation happening on the cover because heck yeah.)

What book are YOU anxiously awaiting today?

Link me to your WoW post! I’d love to stop by. :)

Waiting on Wednesday – A Gathering of Shadows

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine,
which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating!

 

Waiting on Wednesday – A Gathering of Shadows
A Gathering of Shadows
Shades of Magic #2

Written by: Victoria Schwab
Published by: Tor
Release date: February 23rd 2016
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 512
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads

* * SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1 BELOW!!!!! * *

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

WhyImWaiting_v2

I’m sorry, guys. I’m so sorry.

…Actually, no, what am I saying? I’m totally not sorry. ;)

I know I go on about V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic — but honestly, it’s just that it’s the most ‘me’ book I’ve come across in YEARS AND YEARS (I don’t want to say “ever”, but… yeah). The cover(s — US and UK) and title and synopsis were revealed today and I’m pretty much incapable of choosing another book to feature in today’s WoW.

I mean, do you see that cover, above?! And look at this:

Continue reading

ARC Review: A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab

ARC Review: A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab
A Darker Shade of Magic
Shades of Magic #1

Written by: Victoria Schwab
Published by: Tor
Release date: February 24th 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 400
Source: Gifted from a friend
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: Goodreads


Kell is one of the last travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad king—George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered—and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London—a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cutpurse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

MyThoughts_v2

There’s this feeling I sometimes get after finishing a book — it’s extremely rare, and only happens when the book was a whole other level of intense and amazing. It’s this euphoric, wrung-out, disoriented stupor, and it leaves you speechless and reeling.

Well, I got that feeling after finishing A Darker Shade of Magic. And that’s the highest praise I can give.

Victoria Schwab originally teased A Darker Shade of Magic as “pirates, thieves, and sadist kings.” If you’re any sort of fan of her work, and she throws those words at you, you’re a goner. But then you read the synopsis (Schwab-fan or not), and you sort of side-eye it. How is this possible? This book seems to have way too much going for it, way too many good things in it — How? Why? What’s going on? Is this for real?!

Well, before you get too excited, let me just make it clear how many good things there are in this book, because the synopsis actually doesn’t cover it.

  • (Aspiring) pirate ✓
  • Thieves ✓
  • Sadist kings ✓✓
  • Amazing magic system(s) ✓✓✓
  • Flawless worldbuilding ✓✓✓✓
  • London(s) ✓✓✓✓
  • Fabulous magical coats ✓
  • Incredible characters ✓✓✓✓
  • Amazing friendships/brOTP’s/nemeses ✓✓✓✓✓
  • Ship potential (no insta-anything) ✓!!!
  • Banter ✓!!!!!!!
  • FEELS ✓✓✓✓✓✓!!!!!!!

Yep, your eyes do not deceive you. A Darker Shade of Magic ticks ALL THE BOXES — and revels in it.

A Darker Shade of Magic does with the fantasy genre what Vicious did with superheroes. It takes things we’ve seen before — magic, evil tyrants, world(s)-in-danger, etc — and turns them upside-down. Raises the stakes. Makes them new. This is fantasy at its finest — and Victoria Schwab at her best — and it is not to be missed.

Continue reading