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.
Vicious by V.E. Schwab is a book I had always planned on reading but I kept pushing it back because I love Schwab’s writing and I didn’t want to not have a book of hers to look forward to reading. Since the release of This Savage Song has been drawing nearer, I decided to pick it up on a whim and I couldn’t be more happy that my July reading started off with such a bang! Vicious explores a complicated relationship between an anti-hero and villain and I love that it’s up to the reader to determine which of the main characters falls into which role. The story begins ten years prior when Victor Vale and Eli Ever are working on their thesis involving EO’s or ExtraOrdinary humans. They make several groundbreaking discoveries which leads to experiments and chaos.
I love that Schwab chose to acknowledge and go with the Marvel route of naming superheroes, that is to say, each character is named alliteratively. Victor Vale has spent the past ten years in prison planning exactly how he would try to kill Eli Ever when they were finally reunited again. He meets a chocolate milk loving friend Mitch and an intriguing twelve year old girl named Sydney along the way and it is a pleasure to see the story unfold along with them. I love how it’s constantly jumping perspectives and periods in time. Between the flashbacks told as if they were currently occurring and the present situations everyone finds themselves in in real time, I felt even more connected to the story than I would have if the stories had simply been relayed from a character who experienced it to a current fixture in either of Victor or Eli’s lives. Even more fascinating than the present, is watching each character’s descent into madness and attempting to determine who is the hero and who is the villain (or if there even is one or the other). For those wondering, I’m team Victor.
Final Thoughts: Vicious by V.E. Schwab is a quick paced adventure story which delves into the psyches of Victor Vale and Eli Ever. It’ll have you questioning what it means to be a villain vs. a hero and the constant switching between past and present timelines will allow you to see the hero vs. villain origin stories developing as soon as those initial seeds are planted. Vicious reads like a really engaging contemporary psychology novel with a sci-fi twist as the main characters begin experimenting with ExtraOrdinary humans. Vicious is technically an adult novel but everything about it is very accessible for anyone who typically reads and enjoys YA. I definitely recommend this one wholeheartedly!
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end? (via Goodreads)
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!
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
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!
I have an overwhelming amount of books. To the point where any strangers who enter my room (and some who have been in it in the past) are immediately afflicted with a serious case of ADHD. I mean it, there are books EVERYWHERE. I love it. It’s cluttered and colorful and homey and it makes me feel safe to be surrounded by so many of my favorite characters. It’s almost like they’re all watching over me. Which brings me to the only downside of my book buying addiction; it’s nearly impossible to chose which book to read next unless I’ve clearly mapped out a list with my top choices. If I don’t create a list I will forget about a certain book I had been looking forward to and its location on my bookshelf (I have too many to read to consolidate into one TBR pile) and it will be buried and lost among the stacks of my personal library. I was inspired to write this summer post by one of my favorite book bloggers, Jamie, of Perpetual Page Turner who posted her list of top beach reads today. If you think a book looks interesting and what to know more about it, you can click the title of a book you’ll be brought to Amazon where you can read a synopsis of the plot. Here’s my list of what I’m making my summer priorities!
1. The Vacationers by Emma Straub
2. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
3. Console Wars by Blake J. Harris
4. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
5. Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
7. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
8. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
10. The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
What are you looking forward to reading this summer? Have you read any of the books I’ve listed? I’d love to hear your thoughts or additions in the comments below!