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

Bloggarts,

This book. This whole series. My goodness. If you haven’t had the chance to read my reviews for the first two books, now would be a good time to do that.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

acol hardback

This book picks up directly after the end of A Gathering of Shadows, and lemme tell ya, shit has hit the fan. Each POV gets an “intro” chapter of sorts and each of them ends in a cliffhanger that made me bite my nails and yell at the book. In this book all the major players get POV chapters; Kell, Lila, Rhy, Alucard, Holland, and Osaron. The first thirty pages of the book is at a breakneck speed where stakes are high and my heart pounded in my chest with fear for all my favorite characters.

So, yeah. Nearly killing all of your characters is one way to start the last book in a series. I’ve been taught over the years that the first chapter sets the tone for your book, that whatever happens in chapter one is what your readers will expect from the rest of the book. As a reader I’m not sure I agree with that, since I’ve read plenty of books that were fast-paced and gripping for the first ten pages or so and then slows down and sets the stage afterward.

But Schwab doesn’t do that here. The stakes are high through this whole book, which is no small feat when you consider that it’s 624 pages long. Red London is under attack by Osaron, the entity Holland brought back from Black London, and it will take sacrifices from everyone to defeat him.

What I loved:

  • The characters. This should be a big “duh” after the reviews I wrote for the series so far. I love them all. Even the side characters that don’t seem all that important. Tieren, Lenos, Hastra, Maxim and Emira. I love them all even as they break my heart over and over again. But of course, it comes back to the main players time and again. I adore Kell and Lila, Rhy and Alucard, and even Holland by the end of the book.
  • The relationships, because that’s what this book is really about. Kell’s relationships a conjuring of light alternatewith Lila, Rhy, Alucard, and his parents. Rhy’s relationships with his parents, Kell, and Alucard. Alucard’s relationships with Rhy, his family (which we see more of in this book), his crew, and with Lila. Lila’s relationships with Kell, Alucard, the crew, Barron, and Calla. We even see more of Holland’s past and the people in his life before the Danes stole everything from him. I think that’s what makes this series so successful for me. I’m a very character-driven, emotional writer. So is Schwab, so her books resonate with me.
  • The magic remains some of the coolest shit I’ve seen in fiction lately. There are rules but there’s still a sense that even the characters don’t know all of them. That there is more to learn, more to the world and powers and the people that simply hasn’t been discovered. And that’s really freaking cool.
  • I loved that, despite all the heartache (and there’s a lot of it) Schwab still managed to give us a satisfying, happy-ish ending. I cried a bunch through this book, and the ending was no exception. But she was able to wrap it up in a way that was satisfying and right. That’s no easy task with any story, let alone one I cherished as much as this.

After all that, was there anything that I didn’t like?

a-conjuring-of-light

Not really. I didn’t like that I couldn’t get my hands on the audiobook, which is more a matter of me being too cheap to buy the thing on Audible than anything else. The audiobook has a 6+ month hold through my library, which I’ve kept because I’m going to listen to it and enjoy it (read: cry) all over again. I had to read the book, which I thought would slow me down, but it really didn’t. I devoured it all the same.

I didn’t like that it ended. How’s that for criticism? How dare you stop writing about these amazing people? HOW DARE?

But, you want to know some good news? A Shades of Magic television show is currently in production, and V.E. Schwab seems pretty involved with (and excited by) the process so far. I try to keep my expectations low for adaptations of books, because they so rarely hold a candle to the source material, and this one’s gonna be tough for me. I will have very high standards, which means I will probably hate it.

I’m still gonna watch the shit out of it though, because I am desperate for any and all Kell content. Seriously, it is taking all of my discipline not to shelve my TBR and drown myself in Kell/Lila fanfic. I even found a playlist on Spotify that I CANNOT stop listening to. That’s where I’m at with my obsession right now.

I’d say send help, but I don’t even want it. I’m happy right where I am.

I won’t have another review this week, but I’ll be back on Friday to talk about the SFWA Reading Series event in Portland Thursday night. I’ll be hanging out, drinking beer, and listening to Rebecca Roanhorse and Sam J. Miller read and talk about their books. I am so excited that I’m sure I’ll have a bunch to talk about after the fact.

Until then, Blogland.

 

BZ

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Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #16

This last week was a blur. I’m trying to think of what all I did, and honestly I can’t tell you much. The weekend was full with hiking, family get-togethers, and yard work in the decent weather. We also watched a couple movies and spent the holiday relaxing together, a rare occurrence these days.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading A Conjuring of Light

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Including two book reviews.
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • YES! Writing went very very well this week. a-conjuring-of-light
  • Finish reading A Conjuring of Light
    • …yes. I am so sad because of it. What the hell do I do now?

Weekly Word Count: 4,980

I think it’s safe to say that the novel is officially in the third act and things are rolling downhill and gathering steam. Every time I sat down to write I wrote almost double of what I’d hoped to. I’d exceeded my word count goal by one hundred words by Saturday, and so rewarded myself with a writing-free Sunday. I also wrote about 1300 words hammering out a 500 word story for PodCastle’s Flash Fiction Contest. It was a real challenge, which was the point, but I’m pretty proud of what I came up with. I’ll have more details about this over the summer, once voting on the stories begins.

Book reviews for both Trail of Lightning and A Gathering of Shadows are out now, so check those out!

Thursday was a four mile Walk ‘n’ Talk with Madhu, where we mostly commiserated over waiting to hear about submissions. After that, since it was such a lovely day, I found a patio, had a beer and some french fries, and got some good writing time in.

I went on a lovely hike this weekend at Opal Creek, one of Oregon’s most popular hikes. It was a cool and misty morning that broke into a gorgeous day. The water was gushing with fresh snowmelt, the roar of the river never-ending. We packed a lunch of tuna salad, hard-boiled eggs, dolmas, cheesy bread, and dried coconut and apple chips. The picnic at the middle of the hike is always my favorite part.

And then Sunday was a chill day, watching movies, making good food, and enjoying the peace and quiet. I finished reading A Conjuring of Light last night, I cried a good deal, and then moped in bed because what else could I do? I have a serious case of book hangover right now.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading The Light Brigade

This straightforward approach has worked the rest of the month, so why not keep it going? I’ve got the review for A Conjuring Light to post this week, and will probably have another post later in the week as well. Writing continues to progress at a steady pace, so I’m confident that I’ll make my goal for the week. I’m working a little bit less this week too, so I have more time for writing.

the light brigadeI’ll also have some more time for reading, which is good because I haven’t even started The Light Brigade yet! It’s not too long, and all the press and reviews I’ve seen about it promise a fast-paced and gripping story. So, I should be able to finish it this week. I’m slowly, but surely, catching up to my reading goal.

This week is a busy one otherwise. I’m going to Portland on Thursday for the SFWA’s Reading series, where both Rebecca Roanhorse (Trail of Lightning) and Sam J. Miller (Blackfish City) will be reading and speaking! I am so stupid excited for this event and Trevor’s even going to come with me!

Then Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day. Each year The Book Bin does a big daylong celebration with panels and authors, and usually ends the day with a release party for the newest issue of The Audient Void. This year is no exception, with issue #7 final proofs returned to Obadiah today. So, if you want to come down, support a local bookstore, and grab your issue, hot off the press! If you don’t live near Salem, you should still visit your local indie Bookstore and give them some love.

No hikes for the next couple of weeks, there’s just too much going on. So I’ll be home or at writing/book events, getting work done. That’s the plan. I’ll see you soon with a review, Bloggos.

Until then,

 

BZ

 

Book Review – A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab

Blogland.

How do I even start? What can I say about this book that I didn’t already say about the first one? Oh, this is a good opportunity for you to read that review before you go on with this one, by the way. It’ll prepare you for all the squealing ahead.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

a gathering of shadows

Kell and Lila are back and getting into all kinds of trouble again. Lila’s settled in nicely to life at sea, but becoming part of a crew comes with emotional ties she’s not sure she wants, or can even handle. The charming captain, Alucard Emery, has become her particular friend, and that’s something she’s really not familiar with. Friends.

Meanwhile, back in Red London, Kell’s dealing with the fallout of his mistakes in the first book. The King and Queen have stopped calling him son, have stopped treating him like family and have more or less grounded him. He cannot go anywhere without a pair of guards watching over him. And Rhy’s suffering a similar fate. After his (near) death at the hands of Astrid Dane he’s also got a pair of guards, but it’s the new connection between himself and Kell that has them both feeling claustrophobic.

They can feel each other’s heartbeats, their emotions, even feel one another’s pain. And with both of the Princes agitated and cooped up, they make some… questionable choices. For instance, the country is hosting the Essen Tasch (Element Games), the Arnes equivalent of Magical Olympics. And Rhy is in charge of planning and hosting the event, so naturally, he goads Kell into donning a disguise and competing. Illegally.

Alucard is also entered in the games, so his ship returns to London, and Lila Bard gets a very bad idea. She picks a competitor not so different in build than her, kidnaps him, and takes his place in the competition. Because, oh yeah, Lila’s been working on her magic, and she ain’t half bad.

Meanwhile, in White London, something dangerous is growing. A new threat, that wants nothing more than to spread between worlds in its desire for more.

What I loved:

  • MORE KELL AND LILA!!!!! I love these dummies. I love all their hangups and their trauma and their smiles. I don’t know what else I can say except I love them very much and would read about them until I die.
  • Rhy gets POV chapters!!!! The prince get a lot more screen time in this book, and he becomes much more developed because of it.Image result for castlevania alucard gif
  • Alucard mother-effin’ Emery. I did not need yet another character to love, but Schwab doesn’t care. She gave me Alucard anyway. He’s a jerk, but a very lovable one. Think the “Lovable Rogue” trope and you’ll picture Alucard. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll picture Adrian “Alucard” Tepes from Castlevania and love him even more. Also, Kell hates him and anytime they’re in scene together I cackle.
  • The pace is slower, which I actually enjoyed. It made the building tension slow but in a teasing sort of way. Just when I’d get comfortable with the shenanigans of the Essen Tasch, the narrative would check in with White London and remind me of all the looming bad news. Plus, the slower pace allowed for a ton of character interactions which led to me screaming and squealing and laughing way too much.
  • The narration! Michael Kramer, who does an awesome job narrating most of Brandon Sanderson’s books, narrates Kell’s chapters, and his wife Kate Reading narrates Lila’s. They do a phenomenal job. I can’t imagine anyone reading for them again.

What I didn’t love:

  • The King and Queen. They’re the real dummies in this book, even if I get where they were coming from. Half of the stuff in this book wouldn’t have happened if they had just loved Kell instead of bear a grudge toward him. But, it was believable that they’d treat him with distrust after everything he did.
  • That there is a SIX MONTH wait for this audiobooks and the next through the library’s digital collection. I absolutely cannot wait that long, so I’m reading the last book instead of listening.

Image result for crying gifI can’t think of anything else I didn’t like. I loved this book, almost as much as the first one. I think, the stakes felt lower in this book, but by the end they definitely were not. I cried. Not that it takes much to make me cry, but man, Kell’s last few chapters of this book are… tough.

I’ve inhaled this series, staying up late to read, finding any excuse to listen to the books, like folding laundry and doing dishes. I haven’t been this utterly enchanted by a series in a very long time, and I’m already lamenting the end. I can tell the book hangover on this series is going to be baaaaaaaad.

I’m off on another hike this weekend and the writing is going very well already this week, so don’t expect to hear from me until Monday. You know the drill.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #15

Hey Blogland,

It’s been an emotional day after learning about the tragedy in Paris. I visited Notre Dame when I was fifteen. That same year, before we ever knew each other, my husband also traveled to Paris and went to see the beautiful Cathedral. Now, almost fifteen years later, we’d both hoped to visit again so we could share those memories. I’m at once feeling the loss of what was and of what could have been, but I know it is nothing in comparison to the grief of the citizens of Paris and all of France. Je suis de tout cœur avec vous.

But before today came a whole week of writing and reading. Let’s talk about that.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yarp. Not only two but three, thanks to a busy week of reading and reviewing.
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
    • Yes! And then some!
  • Finish reading The City in the Middle of the Night
    • Yep. And I finished listening to A Gathering of Shadows!a gathering of shadows

Weekly Word Count: 4,368

Do you see that word count? Do you? It was a hard fought week with the manuscript with some scenes pouring out of me while others had to be tugged like knotted rope. But, the point is, I sat down each day and committed to 500 words. Some days that was all I could manage, but most days there were quite a bit more. Most days the flow didn’t hit until I crossed over 500 words and poured into more.

I finally powered through the last third of The City in the Middle of the Night. The review is up now for those who are interested in my thoughts on the book. I also posted the review for A Darker Shade of Magic on Friday, so it was a busy week on the blog.

I read Trail of Lightning and binge-listened to A Gathering of Shadows, pretty much screaming the entire time while I folded laundry. It took all of my self-control not to purchase the audiobook of A Conjuring of Light because I was very nearly too impatient to get my hands on the hard copy today. I also read a short story, as per my monthly goal of a story a week. So, yeah, lots of reading and writing this past week.

I’m trying to remember if there was anything else. The Walk ‘n’ Talk was rescheduled to this week, and Madhu received another Full Manuscript Request, so that’s awesome. I’ve sort of reached that nose to the grindstone phase of the novel. There’s not much to talk about writing-wise right now. I just need to buckle in and get work done.

Speaking of which…

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Write 500 words/day on Tavi
  • Finish reading A Conjuring of Light

So, yeah. More of the same. I’ve got two book reviews slotted for this week, so we’re all good there. I’m still feeling good about the manuscript and the direction the story is headed, so as long as I make time at my desk, I feel good about my word count goals. And as for reading the last Shades of Magic book? I can’t think of much that could stop me from inhaling it at inhuman speeds.

The short stories are STILL out and I’m still slowly dying of anticipation. Each day more stories are rejected (and some are even accepted) but mine remain in the nebulous realm of “Maybe”. It’s exhausting.

lisa collar tug gif.gif

What else? Walk ‘n’ Talk later this week and another hike on Saturday’s docket. Still don’t know where we’re going, but somewhere pretty and probably wet. I’m sure there will be pictures to share. There’s also a bit of social activity this week with dinner out tomorrow night and possibly(?) trivia on Thursday. Oh! And the Willamette Writers meeting on Wednesday.

Good grief. When am I supposed to do any writing? I may have overbooked myself. And there’s another busy week after that too, but I’ll talk more about that later.

Oh yeah! I signed up for Camp Nanowrimo, mostly as a way to keep myself accountable this month and really focus on getting this draft done. I like seeing the little graph grow each day, and I really like seeing the daily breakdowns of my productivity.

That’s all, I think. Reading and writing. Lather, rinse, repeat. I have a couple busy weeks ahead of me, both personally and writing-wise as I try to get this novel rough draft done before June. Meanwhile I’m trying not to think too much about all the pending news I’m waiting on. The good news is I have enough books that I ought to be well and truly distracted.

TBR madness

See anything you like? Tell me all about it (spoiler-free please!) in the comments! I’ll be back with the review for Trail of Lightning on Wednesday, and A Gathering of Shadows on Friday.

Until then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ