“Life isn’t made of choices, it’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.” // Review of A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

Title: A conjuring of Lights (Shades of Magic #2)
Author: V. E. Schwab
Genre: New Adult/Fantasy/Historical
Date Read: 17/03/2017 – 28/03/2017
Rating: ★★


That’s it. It’s time for me to admit that V. E. Schwab and I just aren’t meant to be. I’ve tried, I really have, but with the exception of A Darker Shade of Magic, none of her books have really worked for me. I’ll try to keep this brief, and not too ranty.

The thing is, she is a great writer. She has an amazing way with words. And I think she has great ideas. I think her plotting is where she falls down. In my review of This Savage Song, I noted several moments where I thought the plot or world-building were quite weak, and it was the same in this book. It was too long for a start, and there were so many sections from the points-of-view of characters we barely knew, because they had only ever been on the sidelines in the previous books, if that.

On top of that, this was one of those books where I never felt like the stakes were particularly high, even when I could objectively see that they probably were. The Big Bad is threatening, sure, but he never moves beyond that. He just sort of… hangs around and postures? I get that the idea was that he was robbed of his power source, but it just took the life out of him. And I found I had lost my love for the rest of the characters. I don’t know if that was because it had been so long since I read the previous books, because I was feeling slump-y while reading this, or because eventually the book got too long for me and I just wanted it to be done. But whichever it was, the fact was that I was no longer rooting for them. I’ve got to admit, I kind of ended up on the Holland bandwagon, just because he was more interesting (and I do like hardened characters who make bland comments at the others) though at the same time, I didn’t really see the flashbacks to his past as necessary.

Anyway. Obviously Schwab is a good writer and her books have rave reviews so don’t take my word for it. I honestly think it is a case of “it’s me, not you” and I feel like it is only fair to give an author a decent chance (especially when I did like the first of her books that I read). But now that I’ve concluded this series, it’s time to jump off that bandwagon.

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“Don’t you see? He wasn’t coming to pay your debt. He was coming to see if you’d returned to pay it yourself.” // Review of A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Title: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
Author: V. E. Schwab
Genre: New Adult/Fantasy/Historical
Date Read: 29/04/2016 – 03/06/2016
Rating: ★★★


A Gathering of Shadows FinalIt didn’t actually take me a month to read this, I promise. But the distance between the two dates above just goes to show how easy I found it to put down this book when I had a pile of library books I had to finish first. I know that one of my issues was that it had been some time since I read the first book and I struggled to remember some of the details, but while I still love these characters and the world they inhabit, I have to admit that I found this book to be a case of Middle Book Syndrome.

In the four months since the events of the first book, Kell has been dealing with the aftermath of the sacrifice he made for his quasi-brother, Prince Rhy, as well as having lost the trust of most of the people of Red London. Lila, meanwhile, has found herself a ship just like she always said she would, but her captain, Alucard Emery, is returning to London to participate in the Element Games, an international magic tournament. But as our main players are reunited, others are on the hunt for them.

Kell, Lila, Rhy and newcomers such as Alucard Emery are as delightful as ever. Their relationships to each other, particularly in regard to the fallout from the previous book, were wonderful to read; you feel like you have been with these characters for a long time, and you can feel how deep their relationships with each other run. I think that one thing that made the story feel sluggish to me was the fact that for so much of the book, Kell and Lila were not having adventures together, as they had done in the previous book. Even once Lila is back in London, a significant amount of time passes before they are reunited.

The big buildup throughout the book is to that of the Element Games, but apart from giving us some very cool magical displays and revealing some of Lila’s newly discovered talents and Kell an outlet to let off some of the stress he’s been feeling, they do very little to advance the plot. It reminded me of the majority of Quidditch matches described in the Harry Potter books. While they provide a setting for events that might advance the plot, they are given too much time for something that isn’t actually advancing the plot itself. And the Games are won off-screen while our main characters are occupied elsewhere, so it’s not even like we got to witness the  big finale.

Some of the events throughout the book, along with the ending, have provided a concrete setup for the third book. I think that book will be back up to the standard of the first one. I should, perhaps, do myself a favour and re-read the first two in the lead-up to that one’s release.

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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 08 June, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

  • What are you currently reading?

wwwwednesdayI’m actually properly reading Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel now! I think I’m nearly at 60% at time of writing.

And I’m technically listening to the audio of ArchEnemy by Frank Beddor, but I’m going a bit slowly with it. I think I’m just not as interested in Princess Alyss and co. after listening to the first two books in quick succession.

  • What have you recently finished reading?

I finally finished A Gathering of Shadows, and while I feel it was a bit Middle Book Syndrome-y, I feel like the next book will be epic! (When it comes next February). My review goes up on Friday.

I also read Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, which was silly, but I do love the idea of alcohol-induced superpowers/magic. I posted my review on Monday and the book is now available for sale.

My review of Viral by Helen Fitzgerald also went up on Friday.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I figured I’d just post the photo I posted on Instagram after a visit to the library to collect six holds last night. Good thing I have a weekend trip away and also the whole of next week off, eh? Also, add Anne of Green Gables to this list, though I’ll be reading it electronically.


wednesdaybannerAnd now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. Today is 8/6/16, and I have eight paragraphs for you. Carrie and Jasper are discussing how best to help the memory-less Princess who is currently in the next room.

“You need to go with her,” he said. “She has no hope of getting there on her own. She’s lost everything we taught her; she wouldn’t know how to light a fire or how to barter. She’d just hand over that gold if it was asked for.”  

“Are you sending her to Milton Nethercote?”  

“Yes. I think we can safely assume that her memories are being tampered with. I wasn’t being dishonest when I said he was one of the few that could help her.”

“But what if this is some kind of trap? Is it wise to send the Princess to the leader of the resistance when she’s still so loyal to the King?”  

“If he can help her, and I believe that he can, isn’t he the perfect person for her to be with when she realises how much her own father has lied to her?”  

“That’s true.”  

“If you don’t want to go, we can find someone else. But we shouldn’t shelter her here for very long. Ideally, you should leave again tonight.”  

“But she’ll be exhausted. And I will need to prepare.”

That’s it from me, see you on your blogs!

~ Emily

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 01 June, 2016

Hey everyone! Just to let you know, this is the last chance to enter the giveaway for one of two signed copies of A More Complicated Fairytale! It closes 11:59PM Australian Eastern time. Winners will be announced in Sunday’s blog post and contacted by email.

Now that’s out of the way, it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

  • What are you currently reading?

wwwwednesdayI’m back to A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab. And, um, unpopular opinion time! I obviously still love these characters and their world and V. E. Schwab’s writing, but… I’m 50% through this book and still haven’t seen much resembling a plot? Like, I still feel like things are setting up. And from a couple of reviews I’ve read plus what a friend of mine who is at about 90% was saying when we were talking on Monday, it remains this way? Don’t get me wrong, I still love the characters and the world-building, I just expected things to moving along more.

  • What have you recently finished reading?

seeingreddcoverFinished the audio of Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor, the second in the Looking Glass Wars series. I’m enjoying this series! It does Wonderland-adaptation right. I also love that it’s a YA series where the romance really is part of the background, even when it’s what’s currently going on. It’s not all-encompassing and passionate, it’s actually very cute. And Dodge is just occasionally described as being handsome, rather than Alyss swooning over him every minute.

Also posted two reviews this week: The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood (3.5*) and Disclaimer by Renee Knight.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

nightshadeloungecoverI have a NetGalley of Last Call At The Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger, which releases on June 7, so I should probably read that asap. And I have the audio of the third Looking Glass Wars book, Archenemy, on hold so hopefully that will become available soon.

My beloved Kindle has finally decided to die. It is over four years old so it’s had a pretty good run, but I am still sad. It’s not letting me turn pages now, and it keeps rebooting or freezing up. And every time it reboots, it goes back to the home screen, and then takes forever to load the book I was reading. I’ll probably read ebooks on my tablet for a while, then eventually get a replacement.

wednesdaybannerAnd now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. Today is 1/6, so I have seven paragraphs (don’t worry, it’s dialogue, so they’re all short). This is slightly before last week’s excerpt. Princess Adelyn has escaped due to Carrie casting an illusion so that everyone thought she was the princess, and thus Carrie is the one who gets captured and dragged back to the palace. She lets this happen somewhat, to buy Adelyn time to get to where she needs to be. Anyway, this is her speaking to the King’s chief magician, Eli Masden.

The magician looked at Carrie. “There now, Your Highness. See what happens when you run off with strangers?”

“You won’t get away with this,” Carrie said, trying to mimic the Princess’ tone.

“With what? Returning the princess home after a terrible, traumatic abduction?”

“Is that what you’re going to make me believe? Are you going to put that in my mind?”

“Oh, something like that, most likely.” He smiled cruelly. “But don’t worry. You won’t know any different.”

“Why aren’t you doing it now, then?”

“Because I want you to face your father with these memories still intact, and tell him the names of the people who helped you, and where they can be found.”

I love Eli. He’s one of my favourite characters, even though his character will need some fairly heavy revisions, because he’s rather inconsistent in how nasty he is. Sometimes he feels bad about it, sometimes he’s very unapologetic.

I’m going to leave this here, as I am off work with a cold today and am getting to the point where I want to take another nap. See you all later!

~ Emily

#WWW Wednesday – May 4, 2016

Happy Star Wars Day!

(I’m not actually even a Star Wars fan, really, but that is beside the point)

It’s also Wednesday, which means WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop in which we answer questions about what we’ve been reading this past week. This is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. You can join in by commenting on today’s post over on her blog.


  • What are you currently reading?

A Gathering of Shadows FinalI’ve read a little more of The Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel but really do need to commit to this properly again. Unfortunately, that might not happen until I have got through my pile of library books.

I started A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab after feeling so dissatisfied with The Raven King (more on that below). I needed a strong urban fantasy that actually would live up to my expectations.

Having said all of that, my life got overtaken by uni this week as I had a report worth 40% of my grade due today, so I haven’t been reading very much. When I stopped writing each night I was more likely to go to Netflix than my book, just because the attention required was far less. (Related: everyone should watch Call the Midwife)

  • What did you recently finish reading?

ravenkingcoverI finished The Raven King, and asadfjkh, I was really disappointed! If it had been its own book, it probably would have been fine, but as the fourth and final book in a series, it really needed to ramp up the epicness a lot.

My reviews of the Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Book 3) and The Raven King both went up this week.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch is due back to the library in a week (damn these popular books with their loan period of only two weeks!), so I’m probably going to need to put my ebooks aside for a bit and read that. I still have some uni work to complete, but I’m hoping some solid work on the weekends will pretty much see me through that. This semester has been a bit of a struggle; I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

For now, I think it’s time to pop on another episode of Call the Midwife. See you all later!~ Emily