“All Eli had to do was smile. All Victor had to do was lie. Both proved frighteningly effective.” // Review of “Vicious” by V. E. Schwab

Title: Vicious
Author: V. E. Schwab
Audio book narrator: Noah Michael Levine
Genre: NA/Urban fantasy/superheroes
Date Read:
10/12/2017 – 28/12/2017
Rating: ★★

Review:

All right, all right. I should have known better. I said after not enjoying the final Shades of Magic book  that clearly Schwab’s are not for me. And yet, I was still intrigued enough by Vicious to pick up the audio book when I saw it on a display at my local library.

Thanks to a college science experiment, Victor and Eli develop superhero-like powers, but frmo there, everything goes drastically downhill. Ten years later, Victor escapes from prison with a plan to confront Eli and no one knows who will come out the other side.

As usual, Schwab’s writing is extremely readable. This is something I have always found with her work, even as I haven’t enjoyed the stories themselves. The plot (even though I didn’t like a lot of it) was quite tight in and of itself.

My main issue was that I didn’t really feel invested in either main character, and some of their motivations seemed rather out of the blue to me. A lot of their decisions annoyed me and the thirteen-year-old character, Sidney, seemed to have more sense than either of the two adults most of the time.

Victor’s power to turn pain up or down on a dial, either for himself or for other people,  worked on that trope that if someone can’t feel pain, their injury won’t affect them.This isn’t how pain and injuries work, and it bothered me that it seemed like his own wounds, as well a gun shot wound of Sidney’s, just had the pain turned down and then everything was fine.

I did find some of the worldbuilding intriguing. I liked the idea of near death experiences being the instigator for extraordinary powers and that the power someone developed hinged on what they were thinking as they died. But overall, I had the same reaction to this as several of Schwab’s other books and now I know to stick to my resolution  that she is not an author for me.


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#WWW Wednesday – December 27, 2017

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

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I totally thought I posted last week, then I found last week’s post sitting in my drafts a few days later, which explained why no one had interacted with it. So there is the last two weeks of my reading.

What have you recently finished reading?

I accidentally powered through my Christmas books and forgot to save them for reading over Christmas! I finished both What Happens at Christmas by Evonne Wareham and Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber and I enjoyed them both quite a lot.  My reviews are here and here respectively.

Warcross by Marie Lu was next. This was fun, though it did feel a bit like a series opener. I predicted one of the twists but not the other one, and even though I called it, it didn’t actually affect my enjoyment. I’ll definitely continue with the series as it comes out.

After that, I read Beautiful Mess by Claire Christian. This was a great YA contemporary about two teens dealing with mental illness and helping each other through it. The ending was maybe not the greatest, but it was really good mental health representation (along with supportive parents and a healthy attitude towards medication, amongst other things).

On audio, I finished Vicious by V. E. Schwab. I honestly have no idea how I felt about it. I mean, it was kind of an addictive read but I didn’t agree with anything the characters did so I was constantly cranky at them… the thirteen-year-old showed more sense than any of the adults…

My reviews of The End by Lemony Snicket and Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy also went up since my last post. Click the titles to read them.

What are you currently reading?

I just started False Awakening by Cassandra Page. This is the sequel to  Lucid Dreaming which I read last year. I have only read the first chapter at the time of writing this, but I do enjoy Cassandra Page’s writing style, so I think I will enjoy it.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m not sure yet. I have a couple of ARCs that release fairly early in the new year so I should probably get onto  those. Not sure what I’m  in the mood for at the moment, though.

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

#WWW Wednesday – December 13 2017

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

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished The Penultimate Peril  and The End by Lemony Snicket, the final two books in A Series of Unfortunate Events. I actually really liked the way the series wrapped up, though I can see how some people were disappointed. I plan to read Lemony Snicket’s other series, All The Wrong Questions, which is set in the same world as ASOEU but follows adventures of the young Lemony Snicket.

I finally got my review of Stay by Jesse Blackadder posted last week. Click here to read it.

What are you currently reading?

I picked up Warcross by Marie Lu from the library last week and I have finally got around to starting it. I haven’t had a chance to read too much of it yet and I’m still getting my head around some of it but it’s promising so far.

I also started the audio book of Vicious by V. E. Schwab. After not loving the second two books in the Shades of Magic trilogy, nor being impressed by Our Savage Song, I had pretty much given up on Schwab, but since listening to it as an audio book means not taking away from reading other physical reads, that was okay. I’m at about 80% but I honestly can’t tell you whether I’m enjoying it or not. I think it’s one of those books where “enjoy” is not quite the right word.

Still sort of slowly working on The Game You Played by Anni Taylor when I have nothing else to read.

What do you think you’ll read next?

While I had one Christmas book on hold at the library, I decided I needed another, and I knew from talking to others that there is no short supply of Christmas reads on Netgalley. I looked through a few but chose What Happens at Christmas by Evonne Wareham, because I liked the sound of a mystery set at Christmas. I should probably read that before the library copy of Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber (which I heard about thanks to Laurel-Rain Snow).

What are you reading this week? 

~ Emily

“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: ★★

Review:

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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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday -29 March, 2017

wednesdaybanner

Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday! This is a weekly blog hop hosted by yours truly. If you’re a writer, you are very welcome to join us by posting an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date. You can click the blue guy on the right of this blog to be taken to the link up.

This will be my last week sharing from my Wizard of Oz retelling (for now). Last week, Dora and Julia were discussing the cheesy fantasy movie Dora was auditioning for. Today I’ve got 11 lilnes (2+9 for the 29th) from her audition.

“Are you ready?” asked the guy in glasses who had brought her into the room.

She nodded, trying not to lose focus.

“Princess Ruby, are you up there?” he called, only putting a small amount of expression into the line. He didn’t have a hero’s voice. It was sort of squeaky. Dora tried not to let it distract her too much.

“Yes, I’m up here!” she responded, fixing her eyes on a point on the wall about foot from the floor. She visualised the craggy rocks and the brambles that led up to the tower where the princess was being held, and imagined catching a glimpse of the hero as he fought his way past them towards her.

“Don’t move! I’m going to get you out of there!”

“Andre, watch out!” The script described a dragon appearing behind Andre, so Dora flung out one arm, pointing.

“That’s good,” said Oliver Zamik, breaking into the scene. Dora gave herself a shake to come back to herself, and then turned back to the panel. Only four lines? Was that all they needed?

Auditions are weird, y’all. I don’t know what’s weirder, that some people have to do them for a living, or that I put myself through them with no promise of a pay cheque later (I do community theatre, for those who might be new here).

I’m honestly not sure what will happen with this project. I would like to see it through, but I was having trouble even getting the scenes that were firm in my head down on paper, let alone the ones that needed teasing. I am back to working on Memories and Magic at the moment, but I will be finished the first draft of that soon, and I want to put it away for a while before I start editing (even though I am actually REALLY KEEN to start editing).

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

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

A Conjuring Of Light by V. E. Schwab… in the end, I had mixed feelings about it. I think it’s time for me to stop reading V. E. Schwab books, even if I am intrigued by Vicious. I’ve read four of her books now and only liked one (ADSOM). I also DNFed one back before I really knew who she was. So. Yeah. Anyway, review up this Friday.

What are you currently reading?

I started He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly on the weekend, when I needed a physical book to read on my study breaks. It took me a while to get into, but it grabbed me properly on the way home on the bus this afternoon.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Soulless is still next on my radar. Though I have bought a few books lately. And got a couple more ARCs. I’m really sucking at sticking to my “read books I already own” goal for this year. But it’s fine, the year’s only a quarter gone. Still plenty of time to catch up, right?

What are you reading this week? 🙂

~ Emily

“It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.” // Review of “This Savage Song” by V. E. Schwab

Title: This Savage Song
Author: V. E. Schwab
Genre: YA/fantasy/dystopian
Date Read: 18/08/2016 – 22/08/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

I’m starting to think V. E. Schwab is a one-hit wonder for me. I loved A Darker Shade of Magic, but every other book I’ve read by her, including this one, has been a bit of a disappointment in comparison.

Verity City is split into two parts; in one, you pay for Callum Harker’s protection from the monsters. In the other, Henry Flynn’s task force protects the public. Kate Harker and August Flynn come from two very different worlds, but after an assassination attempt, are thrown together in an uneasy alliance and discover that the truce between two sides of the Seam is breaking, and not everything is as it seems.

One of my main issues with this novel was that I never warmed to the main characters. I think I was supposed to think Kate was really badass, but I can’t support a character who burns down school buildings simply because she doesn’t want to be there, and who pulls a knife on schoolmates just beacuse she was called a freak. I actually didn’t mind August too much at first, but once I realised he was one of those monster characters who just wants to be human, and will do everything to ignore his monster instincts, which puts a lot of people in very immient danger… then I rolled my eyes at him and wanted him to just suck it up.

I did like the premise of the novel, that people’s sins manifested into real monsters. The monsters came in three different types, all were well-established as creepy. What puzzled me, though, was that there seemed to be no additional effort to curtail people’s violence. If you knew that punching that guy would lead to a new monster on the streets, would you actually punch them? And where was the incredibly strict law enforcement? There wasn’t really much detail about how the USA had become the dystopia it is now, and thus it seemed strange that there would just be these two powerful families fighting monsters while everyone else just carried on.

It may be that the speed I was reading (because for all of this, dammit, Schwab keeps you reading) at made me miss details, but I did sometimes find the plot a bit confusing; the Truce between the two halves of the city was clearly breaking, but I kept getting confused about who was betraying who, and I thought the reveals towards the end got a bit far-fetched.

Having said all that, there is no denying the Schwab is a good writer. I read the book quite quickly, as her writing style is easy to follow and keeps you turning pages.I just wish I had been able to get a bit more involved.


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#WWW Wednesday – 24 August, 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.

wwwwednesday

What have you recently finished reading?

thissavagesongcoverI finished This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab and while I liked the plot, I never really warmed to either of the main characters, so that let it down for me. I’ll go into more detail in my review, which will go up on Friday.

My reviews of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling et al and Tallow by Karen Brooks both went up in the past week.

What are you currently reading?

birdmanswifecoverMy main focus at the moment is The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley, which I received from NetGalley. This is historical fiction based on the life of the illustrator Elizabeth Gould. I’m about a third of the way through and John Gould’s demands and taking for granted of his wife are making me frowny, but the fact that she was so overshadowed by her husband is partially why the author set out to the write the book, so I am glad this book exists.

I am still going on Votive by Karen Brooks and The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. I have about five hours left of Votive, so I’ll probably finish it in the next couple of days. I am still enjoying it but it’s way too long! I didn’t relaly feel like returning to the world of the Rook immediately after This Savage Song, hence checking out The Birdman’s Wife first.

What do you think you’ll read next?

paperandfirecoverPaper and Fire (The Great Library #2) by Rachel Caine is waiting for me at the library, so that will be next. The reviews have been mixed but I hope I like it as much as I liked the first one. After that, back to my extensive list of ebooks and physical books that I own and need to get through.

That’s all from me today. I’ve decided to take a bit of a hiatus from WIPpet Wednesday while I’m editing rather than writing. See you on your blogs!

~ Emily

“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: ★★★

Review:

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.

toreadthisweekjune8

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