Tea & Book Chat: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #2)

Personal Thoughts:  Boom! It only took an entire year but I finally read A Gathering of Shadows right in time to catch up with V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series before it’s final installment, A Conjuring of Light debuts at the end of February.  I have no idea how I waited this long to dive back in but I do know that I never would’ve been able to wait another 12 months for the rest of this story after the unreal cliffhanger at the end of book two.  V.E. Schwab has NEVER done that to us readers before so it was completely unexpected (and I loved every minute of it!)!  I ended up loving A Gathering of Shadows even more than it’s predecessor, A Darker Shade of Magic but I’ll get more into the why of things below!

Plot Summary:  A Gathering of Shadows is the second book in the Shades of Magic trilogy so if you haven’t read A Darker Shade of Magic, proceed with caution because there will be spoilers ahead.  The second book picks up four months after the events in A Darker Shade of Magic.  Having purged the obsidian stone through a rift into Black London along with Holland’s dead body, you would think things in Red London would begin to improve.  Think again! Kell and Rhy are dealing with the consequences of their actions but only Kell is being punished for them.  For someone who craves freedom, Kell seems to be less in control of his own life than ever before.  Meanwhile, Lila Bard is off gallivanting with pirates aboard a ship called the Night Spire.  As fate would have it, our two heroes become involved in the Essen Tach, or game of elements where folks compete using their magic to battle each other.

Critique: I’m a huge fan of elaborate competitions so A Gathering of Shadows was destined to secure a place in my heart.  But it had me even earlier because following Lila’s adventures was my favorite element of this second book (okay, one of them but it’s just so hard to choose because I loved so much about this book!).  The imagery that Schwab conveys about life aboard a pirate ship is the ultimate in appealing alternative lifestyles.  Normally, life for a woman aboard a pirate ship might be a bit of a challenge but as you’ll remember from A Darker Shade of Magic, Lila Bard will give any man a run for his money using her plethora of weapons and a bit of her charm.  Early on, I was living for those Lila scenes.  Then we have Kell and Rhy, irrevocably bound to one another after the events of the first book.  I am so glad that we got to see more of Rhy in this book because while he was charming and funny in book one, his added perspective uncovered an extra layer of depth that we weren’t privy to until now.  I’m pretty sure everyone saw one specific thing involving Black London coming but I’m not going to say anything about it here just in case.  Except to say THAT ENDING THOUGH.  While we spent most of the story in Red London, we did find out some important information about the state of things in Grey, White and Black London so I’m really excited for the final book.  So overall, the world VE Schwab built continues to be intriguing, the allure of the games kept everything exciting, the character relationships became stronger and the unexpected cliffhanger had me shaking my fist and screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Do I Recommend?: YES YES YES. There a bunch of people who have said that this series isn’t their favorite of VE’s works but I would still recommend continuing even if you didn’t love the first book.  A Gathering of Shadows is a game changer and the antics of Kell, Lila and Rhy are sure to keep you hooked until the very end.

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Kristin

Bout of Books: Wanderlust – Day 1 Challenge

This is my first time participating in Bout of Books and I’m going to make an effort to post the daily challenges throughout the week! This morning I posted my TBR – I’m aiming for 4 books in total but I’ll be happy with 3 as well.  The first day challenge is hosted by Leann @ Between Library Shelves and the topic is Fictional World Travel.  Participants are supposed to choose 3 to 6 books that are set in countries other than your own, display your choices in a creative way and share them on Leann’s blog.  Below are some of my favorite books that have given me a case of wanderlust!

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Paris Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
London A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Venice – The Magician King by Lev Grossman
PragueDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Japan Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa
London – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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Kristin

BookTube: February Wrap Up

I’m posting this video a little late seeing as how we’re already about halfway through March, but better late than never!  In my monthly wrap up videos I’ll be giving mini reviews for all the books I read that month along with a star rating since I don’t always have the opportunity to write a full review for each book I read during the month.  I also just became a Book Depository affiliate!  So if you’re looking to purchase some discounted books with free international shipping (for instance, those neon Hunger Games books from my January Book Haul) I’ll make a small commission if you use this link: http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=superspacechick

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Life Lately: The Final Days Of Winter

A couple of weekends ago Andrew, Carolyn and I met in Union Square to watch Melissa’s Kung Fu demonstration and belatedly celebrate Chinese New Year.  It was so much fun watching Melissa and her classmates perform (especially when they used weapons)!  It almost made me want to start practicing again.  I was enrolled in Kung Fu from kindergarten (because of my love of the Power Rangers) until 10th grade and I was one stripe away from earning my black belt before I quit in favor of wanting to spend more time with my friends.  Before the performance we watched people dressed as the three dragons dance around and accept donations for the hope of good fortune in 2015.  I particularly love the candid photo Andrew captured of us girls laughing together.

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After the demonstration we headed to one of my favorite eateries called Grey Dog.  It’s mostly frequented by NYU students but the food is delicious!  I ordered my favorite meal from there which is a Breakfast Quesadilla and Andrew and I sprung for a cocktail each.  I got the Vanilla Almond Chai Toddy and he ordered (but oh-so-graciously traded with me) a Hot Buttered Cider which was similar to Butterbeer.

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I never thought I would said this but winter is FINALLY winding down.  This past February was one of the coldest on record in NYC in YEARS and we were bombarded with snow more often than anyone who lives here was hoping for.  Granted, I guess it can be pretty or whatever, but enough is enough.  Also, Andrew looks dashing in his Sherlock-esque coat and scarf.  He ventured outside with me during one of the aforementioned storms so I could take a good photo of my book in the snow.

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Lately I’ve been collaborating with my good friend Melissa Grey (who also happens to be the author of The Girl at Midnight) and Andrew to create nail art tutorials based on book covers for YouTube.  Melissa is very talented and patient in her planning and application and watching her process has actually made me feel capable of recreating her designs on my own.  I even ordered my own nail art kit!  You can watch our first video for A Darker Shade of Magic here.  There are plenty more to come and I’m so excited to share them!

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Because of the cold weather and snow, I’ve spent the majority of my free time indoors reading, watching movies and playing video games.  Andrew and I went to GameStop together on Valentine’s Day and he bought me Majora’s Mask for 3DS and I bought him the new Ducktales game for Wii U.  He’s beaten his but I have yet to have the time to begin mine!  We have been playing Super Smash Bros. together on Wii U and that’s been a blast.  My favorite character to play as is Rosalina.  Also, our Amiibo addiction is still in full force.

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Since I’ve been inside so much, I haven’t been eating as healthy as I should.  Now that spring is on its way I’m ready to ditch some of the junk food (minus Ben & Jerry’s, Cadbury mini eggs, cupcakes and the occasional macaron because obviously) and start eating more fruits and veggies.

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I’ve also decided to start taking advantage of more of the events that NYC has to offer!  It’s so easy to let work and extracurricular work (blog, YouTube, etc) get in the way of going out and experiencing things and I’m determined to participate more, especially since the weather is becoming more bearable.  Last week I attended The Winner’s Crime event at McNally Jackson where author Marie Rutkoski met with Sara Rees Brennan for a discussion about Kestrel and Arin’s next installment.  The Winner’s Crime book is gorgeous and there’s a map(!) inside.  I am so excited to have my copy personalized by Marie herself.  If you haven’t heard of The Winner’s Trilogy, you an read my review of the first book in the series, The Winner’s Curse.  I also attended The Orphan Queen launch party at Books of Wonder with Andrew and Melissa.  The authors at this event included Jodi Meadows, C.J. Redwine, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Joy N. Hensley.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring my copy of Cynthia’s latest book but I believe she’ll be back for the mega signing during the New York City Teen Author Festival.  I also got to meet Alexa and Rachel for the first time IRL and they were so sweet!  I can’t wait to see them both at future events.

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BookTube: DIY Nail Art Inspired By V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade Of Magic

In my latest BookTube video I’ve teamed up with Melissa Grey, author of the upcoming The Girl at Midnight and the guru behind Novel Nails for a bookish manicure inspired by V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic.  If you like to read my full review of Victoria’s latest book, you can see that here.  And if you do your own ADSOM manicure, please tag us in your photos on Twitter / Instagram!

Here are some behind the scenes photos and stills of the manicure!

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A Darker Shade Of Magic Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY!

Hi there, and welcome to Red London!  I’m so excited to be participating in the blog tour for A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and in the London I would prefer to live in, given the choice.  I’ve already read and reviewed ADSOM which I’m positive is going to be my favorite book of 2015.  There’s thievery and magic and pirates and parallel London’s and it’s absolutely perfect in every way.  I’m a huge fangirl of Victoria aka VE Schwab so I was over the moon when Tor reached out to me about the book’s official blog tour which entails (wait for it) a question answered by Victoria herself!  But that’s not all, Tor is also giving away a hardcover copy of A Darker Shade of Magic along with a double-sided signed poster featuring the US and UK covers of ADSOM, and they’re willing to ship internationally!

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So without further adieu, here is the question I asked Victoria, along with her answer:

Q:  You’ve expressed on various forms of social media that you’re also a huge Marvel fan so I’m very curious, if you were given the chance to write a story arc for one superhero, who would it be and why?

A: Loki. Hands down. As a card-carrying Slytherin, this shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s not just his stylish black-and-green attire or the fact he’s been played by Tom Hiddleston, but Loki is one of my favorite things: complicated. He’s a true grey character, an anti-hero to some, an anti-villain to others, and I would love the chance to play with that.

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*Giveaway*

Win a copy of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab & a signed double-sided poster

Giveaway ships internationally

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Darker Shade final for Irene

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC

V.E. Schwab

A Tor Hardcover

978-0-7653-7645-9 / 0-7653-7645-8

$25.99 | 400p.

Ebook: 978-1-4668-5137-5 / 1-4668-5137-6 | $12.99

On Sale February 24, 2015

Print – IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, Powell’s, Walmart.

E-Book – Kindle, Nook, iBooks, eBooks, Google Play, Kobo

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If you can’t get enough ADSOM, you can check out the book trailer or take this Buzzfeed quiz to see which London you belong in.

Also, make sure to check out the other stops on the A Darker Shade of Magic Blog Tour!

February 17 — Vampire Book Club — Red London

February 18 — The Eater of Books — White London

February 19 — Icey Books — Grey London

February 20 — Effortlessly Reading — Red London

February 21 – Cuddlebuggery – White London

February 22 — JessBella Reads — Grey London

February 23 — Istyria Book Blog — Red London

February 24 — Stories and Sweeties — White London

February 25 — Please Feed the Bookworm — Grey London

February 26 — The Nerd Herd Reads — Red London

February 27 — Novel Heartbeat — White London

February 28 — The Flyleaf Review — Grey London

March 1 — Addicted 2 Novels — Red London

March 2 — Books, Bones, and Buffy — White London

March 3 — My Friends are Fiction — Grey London

March 4 — Super Space Chick — Red London

March 5 — The Midnight Garden — White London

March 6 — Amaterasu Reads — Grey London

March 7 — Fiction Freak — Red London

March 8 — The Escapist — White London

March 9 — Addicted Readers — Grey London

March 10 — Bookish Antics — Red London

March 11 — The Social Potato — White London

March 12 — Young Adult Hollywood — White London

March 13 — The Modge Podge Bookshelf — Red London

March 14 — A Dream Within A Dream — White London

March 15 — Fandom Monthly Magazine — Grey London

March 16 — The Nocturnal Library — Red London

March 17 – Reading with ABC – White London

March 18 – Moonlight Gleam Reviews – Grey London

March 19 – Book Munchies – Red London

March 20 – Poisoned Rationality – White London

March 21 – Blood Bookaholic – Grey London

March 22 – Live to Read – Red London

March 23 — There Were Books Involved — White London

March 24 — My Bookish Ways — Only time will tell…

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Tea & Book Chat: A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic #1)

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

A Darker Shade of Magic is the book I’ve been craving the most on my most anticipated books of 2015 list.  And fortunately, it far surpassed my expectations.  There is SO MUCH going on in ADSOM and VE Schwab somehow manages to pull it all off flawlessly.  The world-building is so intricate and intensely crafted that each of the London’s (Grey, Red, White and Black) have their own personality and feel like are their own distinct character.  The way that Schwab defines magic in ADSOM is unlike anything I’ve ever read.  The reader really gets a sense of the costs of magic and how it can affect the user.

The main character of the novel, Kell, who is an Antari (meaning one of the only people able to travel between London’s) is a very complex character.  He’s incredibly loyal and while he means well, he certainly struggles with not letting dark magic overtake him at points. He’s charming and interesting and wears a great multi-coat ensemble.  But it’s his companion Delilah (Lila) Bard that really piqued my interest.  In her world of Grey London she’s a cross dressing thief and aspiring pirate with dreams of paying her debts and making a better life for herself.  She has a strong sense of right and wrong and the her interpretations of the world contrast with Kell’s in a lovely way.  She’s always in search of an adventure and she does not hesitate to live her life to the fullest, consequences be damned.

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I would definitely hope to spend my time in Red London if I lived in the ADSOM world.  It has some magic and smells of roses whereas Grey London has been drained of magic and seems rather dreary (similar to our world in the 1800’s).  White London sounds pretty terrifying as it’s ruled by the most evil set of siblings I’ve yet to read about, and Black London wouldn’t even be an option.  Given the opportunity, I don’t think I would be as brave as Lila who jumps at the chance to travel through doors to other dangerous London’s with Kell, knowing full well that she may not even be able to pass through unharmed.

Final thought: A Darker Shade of Magic is a must read and I have no doubt that it’ll be one of my favorite books of 2015.  It has thoroughly explained magic, thieves, pirates, intriguing world-building, corrupt royalty and complex layered characters which make it almost impossible to put down the book (even when you should’ve left for work twenty minutes ago).

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Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped. (via Goodreads)

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