“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: ★★


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 and #WIPpet Wednesday – 17 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.


  • What did you recently finish reading?


My partner ended up buying Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and so I ended up reading it a lot sooner than I expected. It wasn’t perfect, but I actually really enjoyed it! It probably helps that I haven’t really been involved in Harry Potter fandom since 2008, so I was able to shrug off the more dubious parts more easily. And being a theatre person used to reading scripts also helped as well, I guess. I wish I could see the play now, I think it must be amazing! My review for this will go up on Friday.

tallowcover  I finished the audio of Tallow by Karen Brooks this morning. This was a good series opener, though it really was setting up for things to come. I do like the alternate-Venice setting though. It’s really fresh and original. And I got quite invested in the romance, which is unusual for me in a YA series!

Reviews of Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant, and Am I Black Enough For You? by Anita Heiss went up this week. Anita Heiss retweeted the link to my review, and it subsequently got retweeted by 24 other people, which then translated two days where my blog stats were off-the-charts (at least compared to my usual traffic). So that made me happy.

  • What are you currently reading?

therookcoverI am still going on The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. I’ve really only been squeezing in reading time on my lunch break this past week so this one is going slowly. Fortunately, it’s borrowed from a friend rather than the library, so I don’t need to worry about impending due dates (though it does make me paranoid about breaking the spine or doing it other such damage that has usually already happened to the library book).

votivecoverVotive by Karen Brooks is my new audio book, as I finished Tallow this morning. From the reviews, it sounds like this one gets a lot darker than the first book.  At 23 hours long, it is the longest audio book I’ve committed to by about 7 hours, but I’m trying not to pick anything else up at the library at the moment, so I’m rolling with it. (I know, I know, some of you are able to get through 40 hour ones quite easily, but if it’s faster to read the book than listen to it, I usually try to go with that option).

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

thissavagesongcoverI know I just said above that I was avoiding getting anything from the library, but This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab has come in for me after several weeks on hold, so I’ll be picking it up tomorrow. I’ll probably put The Rook on hold to read this as it is likely to be a popular title and therefore only have a two week loan period rather than four.

And 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.

I decided to share from Operation Sugarplum this week, since that is where my interest is at the moment. For those newer to these parts, this is my modern-day retelling of the Nutcracker. In  this scene, Max is battling an Evil Creature, and for context, the sword he has just produced is magic and can only be used in defence. That isn’t explained here, but does come up later when Clara tries to use it to attack someone. I have complicated maths this week! ((1+7)/16) x 8 = 4 paragraphs.

“Ah,” it said. “It has to be this way, then?”

“I guess it does,” Max replied.

“What if I don’t touch you? What then?”

“Well, then, you might as well turn around now because I won’t come with you willingly. If you’re going to make your King happy, there’s going to have to be some sort of confrontation here, and that means I’ll be able to use it. And then I’ll beat you.”

Max is awfully confident for someone whose magical abilities have been an abstract concept/training exercise up until now. Let’s just say it’s a good thing Clara is spectating.

I think this is the first time I’ve shared from this story this year. You can read more excerpts by clicking here. Bear in mind, I’m working on the second draft now, so things are liable to change a bit.

All right, better finish this up! See you all later!

~ Emily

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Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V. E. Schwab
Genre: New adult/fantasy/historical
Date Read: 01/09/2015 – 10/08/2015
Rating: ★★★★


darkershadecoverThis is kind of weird metaphor, but this book was like a warm, comforting Friday night in after a long week. It had a nice slow pace, interesting and likeable characters, and built its way up to a great climax. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even entirely sure why I’m only giving it four stars… star ratings are really based more on a vibe than any kind of critical analysis for me, and the vibe I got was four. Probably just because it took me a little while to get into it.

Kell is a rare magician who can travel between worlds, specifically Red London, White London and Grey London (Black London no longer exists). While smuggling between worlds is illegal, Kell has a vast collection of artifacts hidden away, and comes across a new one that will put him and all three worlds in a huge amount of danger. While he’s trying to divest himself of this, he meets Lila Bard, who has been waiting her whole life for adventure. She gives Kell no choice but to let her help him, and together they travel between the three worlds to destroy the magic that threatens to destroy them.

Kell is the somewhat broody, somewhat rebellious but very dashing magician with a mysterious past, while Lila is a street urchin yearning for something more. Both Kell and Lila could be cliched characters if not handled correctly, but fortunately, that isn’t the case in this book. I honestly couldn’t tell you which character I liked more; they were very different from each other, but I got very attached to both of them. The supporting characters, such as Kell’s almost-brother, Prince Rhy, and the royal families of both Red and London, are also well-drawn and interesting.

I think the world-building is what makes this book, though. It’s a different take on parallel universes, particularly the fact that it’s magic, not sci-fi, that allows travel between them. And it’s set in the early nineteenth century. While London has the same name in every version of the world, that is the only similarity; the empires and languages are entirely different, and a lot of detail goes into highlighting these differences. The magic system is not entirely unique, but it is also well developed, and Schwab put enough of her own spin on it to make it feel fairly original.

It does get a bit dark at times, and fairly violent, so fair warning for that. There’s quite a bit of blood (both from the fact that a lot of the magic is “blood magic” and requires Kell and the other magicians to slice their hands open in order to use it, and the fact that people are running around killing each other). Having said that, it is a fairly easy read, and I recommend it!