Books, Reviews

A Gathering of Shadows, by Victoria Schwab

4 Stars

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as 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.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

Okay, it took me forever to get to this book. Not because it was boring or anything, but because it wasn’t out when I originally read A Darker Shade of Magic, and after waiting a year for the book, I didn’t remember enough of its predecessor to pick it up. I stalled on rereading ADSOM, and only just got to it when I saw that Haven was reading it on her Goodreads feed.

Man, did I realize what a mistake I had made. ADSOM, despite having earned a spot on my “favorites” years ago, didn’t actually strike too deep a chord with me. I knew the world building was fantastic, but not until rereading did I realize how fantastic. The world building, plot, and characters were beautifully and expertly crafted, more so than I’ve seen in a while, and I couldn’t pick up the second book fast enough.

But this review is not about A Darker Shade of Magic (but if you haven’t read it yet, go read it now), but rather the second book in the series. A Gathering of Shadows picks up four months after the events of the last book, with Kell and Lila having gone their separate ways in Red London. We’re quickly introduced to what our beloved characters have been up to, and they’re just as awesome as ever. Lila is one of the coolest kickass characters I’ve ever read about, in a way that doesn’t actually seem forced; one of my pet peeves these days is authors forcing a character to either be kickass or useless, with no in between, and it irks me to see female characters reduced to two generic genres. Lila has squirmed her way onto a ship in AGOS, and introduced to an extremely likable character: Alucard Emery. Alucard is a great addition to the series, and his and Kell’s rivalry is adorable, at least once they meet in this book. Rhy and other favorites are also back, with varying levels of page time for each.

But as much as I adore this series, I can’t ignore this book for what it was: a filler. In my opinion, this entire book could have been scrapped and pertinent details crammed into the other books in the series, because all this novel does is set up the final installment. The plot of this book revolves around The Element Games, which is exactly what is sounds like, but with no real stakes. The villain just sits back and plots ominously the entire time, and the Games don’t even start until around the 60% mark, and Kell and Lila don’t reunite until much later in the book. It’s infuriating, how little stakes there are, and how long it took for anything to get done, because this was a filler book. The only reason to read it is for you to become deeply acquainted with Alucard (who is awesome, especially with Rhy) and for the last 10% of the book where stuff gets real, and the stakes are finally raised.

It’s still a great series, and I’m admittedly biased because I zipped through these books so fast I’m writing this review right now having already read through the last book (which is SO. FREAKING. GOOD). The series as a whole has one of the best world building and plot of all time, and the side romances are barely there, just a bit to complement the plot, not take over the plot. Read this book, if you’ve read the first one and aren’t sure to continue, because this and the third book will absolutely blow you away.

-Liz

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Books, Original Post, YA Fiction

May 2017 Wrap-Up – Haven

Hey guys! This is my first wrap-up post and I’ve actually been meaning to do this since April, but due to testing it was pushed back. Anyway, I read 9 books this month, which is pretty amazing considering all the projects I’ve had to do (why do teachers insist on overloading us with work when the school year is coming to an end?).

Books I’ve read this month

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History Is All You Left Me, by Adam Silvera (3.75-4 stars): I quite liked this very emotional and honest LGBTQ contemporary. There have been so many positive comments on Silvera’s More Happy Than Not, making him out to be a very hyped author. I was not disappointed with History Is All You Left Me, if you are looking for a diverse and raw read on love and loss, this is the one for you. You can find my full review here.

The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater (4 stars): This was a great sequel, and while it take a bit of time for me to truly get into it, it did not disappoint at all. I loved the introduction of new themes and characters, and the writing was totally upgraded. This series is already becoming one of my favorites and hopefully the next two live up to expectations I have. You can find my full review here.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (4 stars): I remember being extremely excited yet anxious when picking up this book, but it definitely lived up to the hype. This book reaches out to a range of messages on courage and hope, while detailing some necessary truths of the society we live in. Everyone should read it. My review can be found here.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, by Morgan Matson (2.25 stars): Unfortunately, I wasn’t huge fan of this much-loved contemporary. While I appreciated the attempt to combine deeper themes and a lighthearted road trip, I couldn’t find the balance between the two and the execution was simply not for me. I’m disappointed in my disappointment, but I’m still looking forward to reading Matson’s other contemporaries. You can find my in-depth review right here.

A Gathering Of Shadows, by V.E Schwab (5 stars): This was easily the best book I’ve read this month and probably one of the best I’ve read this year so far. After re-experiencing the glory of A Darker Shade Of Magic, I started this one and had the time of my freaking life. I adore these characters, this plot, this writing, everything. While it can be classified as a ‘filler’ book, I loved it nonetheless. I’m going to start A Conjuring Of Light soon and am totally not ready for the emotional destruction I’m about to face.

All The Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven (1 star): I strongly disliked this book, and most of my dislike stemmed from plain disinterest in the pretentious themes that are forever running through YA contemporary. The book’s view and depiction of mental illness was also quite off-putting, and while this aspect is praised and put down among readers, it simply made me uncomfortable for a number of reasons. Not for me guys, nope. You can find my in-depth review here.

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (3.5 stars): So, I decided to re-visit this classic this month. Interestingly, I had never read Winter, so catching up on the rest of the series was necessary. Cinder didn’t really capture me the same way it did in the past, but it definitely brought up a wave of nostalgia. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series though.

Shadow And Bone, by Leigh Bardugo (3.5 stars): I read this book way back in 2014 when the hype was just picking up, and remember being very ‘meh’ on it. I decided to give it another try this month and found myself enjoying much more this time around. Yes, it’s an older book so many of the events that took place are reminiscent of the tropes found in YA fantasy today, but I don’t regret picking it up again.

Radio Silence, by Alice Oseman (5 stars): This book totally took me by surprise and is actually one of the easiest 5-star reads ever. The messages it means to convey are told so subtly and earnestly, and the whole book simply exudes charm through its characters, themes, and writing. Look out for my review coming soon. 🙂

May was an incredibly scattered month, but interestingly, I’ve read the most books this month in the year so far. Hopefully the summer helps me prioritize so I can read and blog a whole lot more than I am doing now. Thanks for reading, guys!

-Haven