Popular Books That I’ve Read Never #1

Happy Sunday everyone! This is a new post that I’ve decided to do, most likely bimonthly. It’s called Popular Books That I’ve Read Never!

(And I know I worded it a bit odd, but you can probably still figure out what this post is about, lol.)

Now, it’s not that I only read unpopular books, it’s that I don’t only read the popular books. I also don’t read hardly any of the really popular books, because those are usually nonfiction or memoirs (which I don’t usually like), or they have a TON of romance (which I also don’t usually like).

This post is primarily going to focus on SFF novels, mostly because SFF is primarily what I read. It’s gonna be of five books, because I don’t want it to get too long. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

SERIES: Throne of Glass (Book #1)

LENGTH: 432 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Romance, YA, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Publishing

RELEASE DATE: 2 August 2012


Lethal. Loyal. Legendary.

In a land without magic, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She has no love for the vicious king who rules from his throne of glass, but she has not come to kill him. She has come to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three murderers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she will be released from prison to serve as the King’s Champion.

Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. And a princess from a faraway country will befriend her. But something rotten dwells in the castle, and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying mysteriously, one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival-and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

LENGTH: 438 pages

GENRES: Urban Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Romance, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 6 October 2020


A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.


Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

SERIES: Alex Stern (Book #1)

LENGTH: 496 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Flatiron Books

RELEASE DATE: 20 October 2020


Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

LENGTH: 369 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Folklore, Romance, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 6 March 2012


Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.


A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova

A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova

SERIES: Married to Magic (Book #1)

LENGTH: 338 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Romance, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Silver Wing Press

RELEASE DATE: 6 November 2020


The elves come for two things: war and wives. In both cases, they come for death.

Three-thousand years ago, humans were hunted by powerful races with wild magic until the treaty was formed. Now, for centuries, the elves have taken a young woman from Luella’s village to be their Human Queen.

To be chosen is seen as a mark of death by the townsfolk. A mark nineteen-year-old Luella is grateful to have escaped as a girl. Instead, she’s dedicated her life to studying herbology and becoming the town’s only healer.

That is, until the Elf King unexpectedly arrives… for her.

Everything Luella had thought she’d known about her life, and herself, was a lie. Taken to a land filled with wild magic, Luella is forced to be the new queen to a cold yet blisteringly handsome Elf King. Once there, she learns about a dying world that only she can save.

The magical land of Midscape pulls on one corner of her heart, her home and people tug on another… but what will truly break her is a passion she never wanted.

So that’s it for Popular Books That I’ve Read Never. For now at least. You can get that it’ll return, though. I haven’t read nearly enough popular novels for that to be the case.

As always, thank you so much for reading, and have an amazing day/night!

See ya ~Mar

(A Very Late) Weekly Wrap-Up: 2/20 – 2/26

Weekly Wrap-Up 2/20 - 2/26

So, like um… I got sick this past weekend (technically Thursday) and that’s all I’m gonna say about it.

We’re somewhat into a new week already, but it just doesn’t feel right to me, to not start off the week’s posts without a weekly wrap-up. So I’m doing it, even though I’m very disappointed with my posting from last week. (Even though I know it wasn’t my fault.)

Monday 2/20: Majestic Monday #10

Last Monday, I finally got back in the saddle and restarted Majestic Mondays. And what better number to (re) kick it off than with the first of the double digits!

With this post, however, I’ve gone back to doing Majestic Monday the way I did it my very first post – by only highlighting one awesome book cover as opposed to the three that had become the norm. It was just too much on Mondays, with me doing weekly wrap-ups and all.

Anyway, this week I looked at The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. If you missed the big comeback, you can read the post here.

Wednesday 2/22: WWW Wednesday #6

Wednesday, I did my usual. Well, part of my usual, at least. We had to move a meetup around kind of at the last minute, so my Wednesday last week was unexpectedly busy. As such, I only had time enough for one post, and I chose WWW Wednesday. At random.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you wanna know about what I’ve been reading lately, you can check out my post here.

Friday 2/24: A Conjuring of Light Review

On Friday, I finally managed to get my book review out for A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. It’s the third book in the Shades of Magic series, and I thought it was a lovely end to it. (For now – apparently Schwab has more on the way.) (Not really interested in reading those though, as of right now.)

If you’re interested and you missed it, you can read my review for ACOL here.

Goals for 2/27 – 3/5

All I want to do this week (for the blog) is to post more than last week. I don’t have a set number of posts I want to do, or any specific kinds of posts – save for a book review (or two) (hopefully). Also, Majestic Monday is out this week, for (obvious) reasons. (And I don’t have it in me to do it today/Tuesday this week either.)

Anyway, thank you for reading and I hope you have a really great day/night!

See ya ~Mar

A Colorful End to an Amazing Portal Fantasy | “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E. Schwab [Book Review]

Kell wore a coat that billowed in the wind.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.


The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

My review for A Darker Shade of Magic

My review for A Gathering of Shadows

This series was an incredible adventure. This book was an incredible end to said adventure. There were definitely some ups and downs for me while reading them (mostly from books two and three – book one is practically perfect), but on the whole, I loved it.

A Conjuring of Light is the third book in V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, and completes the initial trilogy (cuz there’s apparently gonna be another series?). It’s a whopping 624 pages, and was published by Tor Books on February 21, 2017. It’s an awesome historical fantasy series, and one with a take on the portal fantasy subgenre that I’ve rarely seen.

As I said above, I had some ups and downs with this novel. More ups than downs for sure, but I want to be entirely transparent and admit that there was some stuff that just didn’t jive with me (personally) here.

Stuff I Liked

Pure magic has no self. It simply is, a force of nature, the blood of our world, the marrow of our bones. We give it shape, but we must never give it soul.

For sure, the thing I loved the most about A Conjuring of Light was the thing I enjoyed most about the first two books: all the different Londons. It’s just so cool. I love the idea of four completely different worlds that only share one thing – the name of one city.

I also liked most of the characters. Kell, Rhy, and Alucard were just as fun and engaging to read about as before, and I loved the conclusions to their stories. Lila’s too, even though I didn’t much care for her as a character (but we’ll get into that), as her ending felt fine too. And Kell deserves to be happy so… yeah.

“What are we drinking to?”

“The living,” said Rhy.

“The dead,” said Alucard and Lila at the same time.

“We’re being thorough,” added Rhy.

Holland was a great character as usual, too – a rather “gray” kind of character despite being from “White” London. Get it? (*cough*) …Anyway, I really enjoyed his character arc, and all of the stuff we learned about his past, even if it felt a bit info dumpy at times.

Both the climax and the ending were also fantastic. The climax felt just as heart pounding as I knew it would, and the ending was wonderful. These two things really elevated the book for me, and made me end up loving the book.

Now, let’s get into the rant.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

Let’s start off with something similar to the last section: the Londons. Yeah, I know, I just said it was my favorite thing about the series. And it is. It’s just that after A Darker Shade of Magic it kind of became the Red London show, with only brief cameos from the other three. And I kind of didn’t like that.

Like, seriously, there’s only about four – very brief – scenes in this book where Grey London makes an appearance. That barely feels like it qualifies for historical fantasy fiction to me honestly. The Grey London plotline honestly felt useless in this book, and felt like it dragged on for waaayy too long, becoming irrelevant to the plot long ago.

White London also didn’t really make an appearance – compared to Red London, at least. Though it was the second most visited London of the book (though that’s not saying much).

And Black London didn’t appear at all. Which, fair, honestly. The only character “from” that London was no longer there anymore, so it was even more of an empty wasteland than it was before.

Now, let’s get into my second biggest gripe of the novel: certain character stuff.

Firstly, Lila Bard. She’s even more annoying than she was last book. Everyone thinks she’s amazing. Everyone has never met anyone like her before. Blegh. She’s the most Mary Sue character to Mary Sue in a book I’ve read since A Gathering of Shadows. Oh, wait…

Lila Bard was a force to be reckoned with. Whether her hands were filled with knives or fire, her voice low and coaxing or lined with steel, she seemed to hold the world in her hands. Maybe she did. After all, she’d already taken two Londons as her own. She was a thief, a runaway, a pirate, a magician. She was fierce, and powerful, and terrifying.

So yeah, she pissed me off. Again. But I just accepted that and powered through her chapters, and the bits in other characters’ chapters where they were staggered by her amazingness. Also, Kell deserved to be happy, so yeah.

So, now to the other thing that kind of irritated me about the characters as a whole: there were too many POVs. This is more of a me thing, but I just don’t like more than a few POVs in a book. It just annoys me a little, most likely because there’s just too many characters, and I don’t care about some of them, and I want to get back to following those that I enjoy. Nothing else against those characters or they’re POVs though.

And I really hated how many characters were killed off here. Like, really? Why? I just don’t understand when authors decide to off a bunch of the characters in the last book of their series. Even if it’s foreshadowed. It just doesn’t match the patterns of the other books, and it’s so many characters to the point where I feel nothing when they die.

And the last thing that annoyed me about this book (I promise) was the (admittedly very few) plot conveniences. There was really only one, honestly, but it kind of irritated me. I can’t say what it is, because that would be a spoiler, but it ended up affecting a major event in the plot. But, I have to admit, some people might not consider this to be a plot convenience, it might just be another me thing.

Final Thoughts

“Life isn’t made of choices,” said Holland. “It’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.”

A Conjuring of Light was a very good end to one of my favorite series. Though it isn’t my favorite Shades of Magic book (that would be the first one), I didn’t like it any less than the second one (they’re tied) and it’s ended up being one of my favorite adult fiction series.

I definitely recommend this to fans of the Shades of Magic series as well as V.E. Schwab’s other works (some under Victoria Schwab). Fans of historical fantasy fiction might enjoy this as well.

Thanks for reading and have a great day/night! (I was feeling under the weather yesterday, which is why this wasn’t ready and posted then. Sorry.)

See ya ~Mar

SOCIAL LINKS: Goodreads | Instagram

WWW Wednesday #5

You guys can probably tell by now, but I double post on Wednesdays a lot. But that’s just cuz there’s so many fun weekly features to take part in. Like WWW Wednesday.

WWW Wednesday is a meme that used to be hosted at A Daily Rhythm, but has been taken over by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. Now, without further ado, let’s get into the 3 Ws!

The 3 Ws of WWW Wednesday

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Thing I’m Currently Reading

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

Current Status: 44%

Current Feels: 🫤 (still meh)

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.


The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

The Thing I Most Recently Finished Reading

The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber

The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart #2) by Stephanie Garber

My Rating: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Read My Review

Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can…

The Thing I Might Read Next

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #1) by Tamsyn Muir

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

What books have you been reading lately? What are your 3 Ws of the week?

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

Birthstone Book Covers: January 2023

Leslie over at Books Are the New Black created a cool thing – a monthly post called Birthstone Book Covers. Each month, she features book covers that are either the same color of that month’s birthstone or include the color in the title. As you can imagine, several people love it as well, including me. It just seemed like so much fun, that, when I discovered it, I had to join in too!

January has one birthstone: Garnet.

If you want to participate too, just follow these simple (and fun) rules:
• Mention the creator (Leslie @ Books Are The New Black) and link back to her so she can check out your post.
• Pick 5+ book covers that match the current month’s Birthstone.
• Nominate people if you want!

Vicious (Villains #1) by V.E. Schwab
Star Father (Star Mother #2) by Charlie N. Holmberg
Tangled in Tinsel by Trilina Pucci
The Glamourist (The Vine Witch #2) by Luanne G. Smith
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Majestic Monday #5: City of Lost Chances, Ashes and Embers, Addie LaRue

So, um… It’s time for another Majestic Monday!! On Monday! Because it’s totally still Monday. Right?!?

Anyway, Majestic Mondays are when this blog gushes over pretty book covers. Majestic covers, one might say. And the three books I’ve chosen this week are: City of Lost Chances by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Ash and Embers by Jenna Wolfhart, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab.

City of Lost Chances by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Length: 545 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: December 8, 2022

Book Description

There has always been a darkness to Ilmar, but never more so than now. The city chafes under the heavy hand of the Palleseen occupation, the choke-hold of its criminal underworld, the boot of its factory owners, the weight of its wretched poor and the burden of its ancient curse.

What will be the spark that lights the conflagration?

Despite the city’s refugees, wanderers, murderers, madmen, fanatics and thieves, the catalyst, as always, will be the Anchorwood – that dark grove of trees, that primeval remnant, that portal, when the moon is full, to strange and distant shores.

Ilmar, some say, is the worst place in the world and the gateway to a thousand worse places.

Ilmar, City of Long Shadows.

City of Bad Decisions.

City of Last Chances.

Okay, to start off with, we all know how I like a trio of colors on a cover by now. We also know how much I like gold on covers. And we know that I like book covers where there are contrasting elements that are diametrically opposed to one another. And this cover has all of it, so it’s no wonder it’s on this list.

Cover Rating: ★★★★✯ • 4.5 / 5 stars

Ash and Embers by Jenna Wolfhart

Series: The Mist King [Book #2]

Length: 464 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Release Date: December 1, 2022

Book Description

All her life, Tessa has lived in the cruel shadow of the wicked fae on the hill. And when she tried to fight back, she failed.

Now, she is trapped in the dungeons beneath Albyria. Cursed to wed King Oberon, she’ll be bound to her enemy’s side for eternity if she does not escape.

But someone far more dangerous haunts her dreams. The Mist King. He wants answers, but so does she.

And when the deadly mists begin creeping into the Kingdom of Light, it seems the impossible has happened. Oberon’s protective barrier has cracked.

That can only mean one thing. The Mist King is coming. The question is, is he coming to save her or to get his revenge?

So this is a second book in a series, but I just like this cover so much more than the first book. It has an old-fashioned key on it! With a rose on it! And I love old-fashioned keys! (And roses too.) The cover also has that contrasting black and yellow-gold, and we know how much I love that.

Cover Rating: ★★★✯☆ • 3.5 / 5 stars

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Length: 434 pages

Genre: Historical Fantasy, Romance

Release Date: October 6, 2020

Book Description

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Were three-for-three with the gold this week. And (technically) three-for-three on the black and gold. Wow. I must be in a black and gold mood this time around.

But what I really adore about this cover isn’t the black/gold pairing here; it’s the constellation in the background. I absolutely love constellations – I just think they’re so cool. I also like the font of the title. I like stencil fonts a lot.

Cover Rating: ★★★★✯ • 4.5 / 5 stars

Annnd, that’s all I got for you today! Have you read any of these books? (*cough* The Ones That Have Actually Been Released *cough*) What did you think of it? How do you feel about the covers? Join me next post for more bookish things!

Slightly Desaturated | A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab [A Book Review]

If magic coursed through anything and everything, was this what it felt like when it found itself again?

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

About This Book

Title & Author: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic

Length: 512 pages

Publication: Tor Books [January 17, 2017]

Book Description

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finishes preparations for the Element Games – an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries – a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrill of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again – and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall.

My Review

Star Rating: 🔴⚪⚫🔴 • 4 / 5 Londons

Note: This novel is a sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic. You can see my review of that here.

Honestly, because this book suffers from Middle Book Syndrome, I was very tempted to give it a 3.5 / 5, but eh, I’ll let it have that extra half-point because I liked the first book so much, and I’ve heard good things about the third one.

For this book… For this book, I’m a little divided. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the first 150 pages as well as the last 150 pages. I also really love most of the characters, both new and old, and the character development and interactions in this book are *chef’s kiss.*

On the other hand, the middle 200 pages are a total slog. Also, as much as I enjoyed her character in the first book, Lila Bard was quite annoying at several points in this novel.

Lila groaned and looked down at the course rope cinched tight around her hands, doubly grateful that the bastards had left her legs here, even if she was trapped in an abominable dress. A full-skirted, flimsy green contraption with too much gossamer and a waist so tight she could hardly breathe and why in God’s name must women do this to themselves?

Good. God. Please. Shut up. It’s just a dress. She talks about it like it physically pains her to wear one, or like she’s allergic to them, or something. Because girl, that is what we call an overreaction.

And dialogue like this is only part of what annoyed me about her in this installment. Some of her character traits were very close to Mary Sue levels on a few occasions – being able to master a brand new language in just a few weeks, becoming a master at magic in just four months despite the fact that it took literally everyone else years to do this. And let’s not forget how often people tell her she’s “Not like other girls.”

She did have a couple of good lines though…

“I know where you sleep, Bard.”

She smirked. “Then you know I sleep with knives.”

Not to mention, I kind of feel like she stole the spotlight from my man Kell. Ya know, the main character?? And speaking of said main character, I really like where Schwab took his arc in this book.

Kell’s relationship and mysterious new connection with Rhy Maresh – his foster brother and heir to the throne of Arnes – was taken in the best direction. They had to deal with the fallout of the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, and I loved how they dealt with their shared pain, emotions, and PTSD, and how they eventually made themselves to be better and began letting their problems go, in order to make each other happy.

I also liked how Kell developed true goals and desires here. In A Darker Shade of Magic, despite his habit of collecting and trading contraband between the Londons, he was still Red London’s magic lapdog that was totally okay with being Red London’s magic lapdog. In A Gathering of Shadows – after experiencing a true adventure, as well as nearly dying for the first time – he wants to be free and go out and see the world whenever he wants. I loved seeing grow as a character like this.

I also enjoyed seeing Holland again and finding out what he’s been up to. AKA, how he moved the plot along while the other characters threw tournaments and parties. And – poor Holland – now that he’s free of Athos Dane’s curse, he just wants to save his world. And all he gets is done overpowered shadow-king who wants to “help.”

“What do you want?” asked Holland.

To live, said the shadow. I can save your life. I can save your world. It is a simple deal, Antari. My power for your body.

“And whose mind?” Holland challenged. “Whose will?”

Now talking about new characters, Alucard Emery was an absolute joy. He was the swashbuckling, handsome, and charming privateer and captain of the Night Spire. I also really liked his interactions with Lila, and how, similar to her interactions with Kell, he wouldn’t tolerate her crap if it went too far.

I also really liked that we finally, sort-of got to meet the main antagonist. We sort of got a glimpse of him in the first book, but he was never properly introduced. I won’t spoil anything more though!

I wish we got to see more of the other Londons, though. Most of the book was spent in Red London, and it felt like we hardly ever saw the other three, especially compared to the first book. I would have loved to see more of Grey London, since it’s basically our London from 1801. Kell only popped in like, twice, and one of those visits was super brief. I immensely enjoyed how Grey London was featured in A Darker Shade of Magic, and how it had characters based on real, historical figures.

It was also nice to pop in and see what was up with White London too, but, like Grey London, I really wanted to see more of it. It was awesome to see Black London for the first time, and that’s a location I understand wanting to save for the finale. It was fascinating to see its current state, and I hope the characters return and spend a good deal of time there in A Conjuring of Light.

But, for the majority of it, I did enjoy this book. And that ending got me excited for the last of the trilogy (and OMG THAT CLIFFHANGER!!). I recommend this book to anyone who liked the first one and is looking to continue the series, especially since it’s the kind of sequel where reading the first book is actually required to understand it.

Have any of you guys checked out this series? How did you feel about this book, if you’ve read it?

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

Ghosts and Ghasts and Ghouls | A Review of City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

People think that ghosts only come out at night, or on Halloween, when the world is dark and the walls are thin. But the truth is, ghosts are everywhere.

Series: City of Ghosts

Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Book Description: Everyone has a ghost story. Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it!) she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead… and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost. So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger.

When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil – and herself.

And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.

My Review

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – 4.5 out of 5 stars!

This was a perfect October read! Especially just before Halloween. I haven’t read a ghost story in quite a while, and this kind of hit the spot. Sure, it’s technically in that awkward spot between middle-grade and YA, but who cares? Especially from an author I love.

(If you didn’t know, “Victoria Schwab” is actually another name that V.E. Schwab uses for some of her books. She uses “V.E.” for her adult novels, and “Victoria” for her YA stuff.)

City of Ghosts centers around Cassidy Blake, a girl who gains the ability to see spirits after (nearly) drowning, as well as a new ghostly best friend named Jacob.

He looks up at the word ghost and clears his throat. “I prefer the phrase ‘corporeally challenged.'”

Jacob was a wonderful character. Funny, smart, and protective of his best friend. He brought some levity and personality to the story that Cass’s narration lacked.

Not that Cassidy was a boring narrator. Not at all. Schwab wrote the preteen-girl-with-a-secret trope very well. The problem is just that though – average preteen girls aren’t usually the most interesting of people. I can say this confidently from previous, personal experience. Being an average, preteen girl, that is. But because Schwab encapsulates Cass’s identity as a preteen girl who sees ghosts in a great way, I think she wrote a pretty relatable character for middle and high school aged kids.

(I have to stop typing “average, preteen girl,” or else I’m going to scream.)

Addressing the other characters… Cass’s parents were fun. Her dad was the no-nonsense, nerdy, history professor type, and her mom was the dreamer, who believed in spirits and such. Their family dynamic was great, and it was nice to see some actually nice to see some actual parenting in a YA book for once. Like, they actually noticed that their daughter would run off and disappear, and they grounded her for it. Thank you!

Lara Jane Chowdhury was also a welcome surprise. Like Cassidy, she can also see spirits and cross the Veil and back. Unlike Cass, she actually knows what she’s doing. Lara is crucial in that she finally gives Cass an actual character motivation, instead of just floundering around with her spirit powers.

I also loved how Lara took everything seriously and was super no-nonsense, a foil to the more creative Cass, as well as the more easygoing Jacob. She was the straight man of the trio, for sure.

I really adored the friendships here, too. Jacob and Cassidy’s was so, so perfect. You could tell that they were really important to one another. Adding Lara to the dynamic was fantastic as well. I love how much she grew to care about Cass, and how far she was willing to go for the newbie.

And there was no romance! (Spoilers?) It feels like there’s romance in everything nowadays, even middle-grade fiction, so it was a welcome surprise for me, as someone who’s growing tired of it a little. Like, why can’t they just be friends? Not that I’m against it or anything – I actually really like it most of the time! I just enjoy reading books every once in a while that focus on other types of relationships, other than romance.

Nothing happens until it happens, and then it’s already happening.

I love love LOVED Schwab’s descriptions of Edinburgh. They all felt so life-like and real. You can tell she did a ton of research, and that she’d travelled there before. I know she’s been to a bunch of places in Europe, and that she actually lived in the UK for some time, and it shows. I almost felt like I was there, walking around Scotland with Cass and Jacob.

If I had to pick one thing that I didn’t like, though, it would have to be the antagonist. I felt like they were kind of a weak villain. Their motivation checked out, I just wasn’t really into them. I guess you can look at them as someone whose empathy has eroded away over many years, and who has been acting out of desperation. It felt a little forced, to me. But, they did work as intended, so I guess I’ll give them that.

All in all, I really liked the book and recommend it to anyone, regardless of age. If this book sounds like your thing, then I hope you pick it up and enjoy it!

Thanks for tuning in, and have a wonderful day/night!

World Building in Color | A Review of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Series: Shades of Magic

Length: 416 pages

Publication Date: January 19, 2016

Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint Edition

Book Description: Kell is one of the last Antari – magicians with the rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes – Red London – and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

My Review

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5 out of 5 stars!)

This book really did it for me. I can’t get enough of historical fantasies set in London (when they’re done right), and Schwab met that need with gusto – she went and added three more Londons!

Her writing, though I found it wordy, vividly described all of the different worlds so colorfully. From the vibrant and lush descriptors for the richly magical Red London, to the drab and rainy details of Grey London, Schwab really managed to make all of the settings feel distinct from one another.

Kell was a great protagonist, one that I felt I constantly wanted to know more about as the book went on. His coat was an excellent supporting character – and it does deserve to be included as one, believe me! – and it was just as interesting as Kell himself.

I thought Lila Bard was a fine second protagonist. I’ve seen her getting a lot of hate in other reviews, but I honestly liked her a fair amount during my journey through A Darker Shade of Magic. We’ll see if that changes going forward into the sequels. (She has a rather obvious “secret” that I’m quite annoyed is being teased.)

The plot was also fun to get into once the book picked up. I really liked all the machinations going on behind the scenes and the subtle plot threads that were laid out at the beginning. They all culminated nicely at the end, and the novel didn’t really leave on a cliffhanger, which was nice, even if there were still a few unanswered questions (like Lila’s “secret”😤🙄). I won’t spoil it more than that, though!

Anyway, I highly recommend this book! To everyone mostly, cuz I liked it just that much! But especially so if you like fantasy, or historical fiction, or historical fantasy fiction. This book tells its story well, and I can’t wait to read the sequels!