To Travel, To Dispel, To Heal: Reviewing A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I’m coming back at you with another book review sooner than I anticipated. In truth, it is because I had a really hard time putting this book down. I have reviewed two other novels by Schwab, so feel free to check out those. Now, we are starting a new series and I’m going to tell you all about A Darker Shade of Magic.

Four Londons exist along side each other and only few can travel between them. Kell is an Antari, one of the few who possess the magic needed to travel between these Londons. Officially, he works as a royal ambassador between the kingdoms. On the side, he smuggles magical artifacts across the worlds. When an item from Black London, the fallen London, comes into his possession, he finds himself in much more trouble than he anticipated. While trying to hide this item, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a professional thief and pirate, who forces him to take her to his London. The two must return the artifact to Black London and keep it out of the hands of those who mean to use it to destroy the boundaries between the Londons.

It has been a minute since I have gotten so invested in a novel from the very first chapter. Schwab excels at world building and this novel is no exception. The action and pacing are steady and suspenseful. The characters are charmingly imperfect. The magic rules in the world are well thought out. This book certainly is violent but not in a gratuitous way. It has the kind of exciting magical duels I’ve only really seen in the likes of Harry Potter. This novel is for the more mature fantasy seeker who is ready to move beyond the magic of YA novels. I highly (highly!) recommend this novel if you are looking for an awesome fantasy and adventure novel with a nice dose of magic. A Darker Shade of Magic delivered on all fronts for me.

Big Gods Don’t Cry: Reviewing The Tyrant’s Tomb (Book Four of the Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hey everybody! I haven’t completely fallen off the face of the Earth yet. Granted, I’m still super busy but I have my weekends back for some relaxation, which includes catching up on my books. In case you have forgotten, I am still a fan of Rick Riordan and all of his series. I actually saw The Lightning Thief: The Musical earlier this year and loved the hell out of it. Now, it’s time to talk about the latest book in The Trials of Apollo series, The Tyrant’s Tomb.

Yes, Apollo is still teenaged boy with unfortunate name of Lester. Yes, he is still miserable. Thanks for asking. To make things worst, it turns out his mortal birthday also happens to be the day that Caligula and Commodus are planning to attack Camp Jupiter, home of the Roman demigods. On top of all of that, an evil undead king is planning on attacking once the blood moon rises. And if you think it couldn’t get worse, Apollo also must figure out how to cure the poison inflicted on him by ghoul. With all of that being said, he must team up with Meg, Frank, Hazel, and Reyna (and a few other unlikely friends) to save Camp Jupiter or (hopefully not) die trying.

I’m still surprised by how much I am enjoying this series. I really didn’t think that I would be delving back into the world of YA novels. Riordan has proven to have staying power, though. I guess the connection I make with this novel is the fact the main character (Apollo/Lester) is technically an adult who then has to deal with the struggles of teen angst as well as deal with adult issues. He still makes for an enjoyable main character to follow. This novel had a slightly more emotional angle to it as we have Apollo facing his past actions and coping with that guilt, which is kind of a heavy topic for a YA novel. I did enjoy that aspect of it, though. Riordan still keeps a nice sarcastic tone throughout the novel that never feels like it is too much or inappropriate. There was plenty of action and adventure to be had that every Riordan novel gives you. Go ahead and read The Trials of Apollo. I’m looking forward to the next novel. Also, I might go see The Lightning Thief on Broadway in the near future.

Bring Back God, Then We’ll Talk: Reviewing Only Human (Book Three of the Themis Files) by Sylvain Neuvel

Hey everyone! I’m back at it again with another book review. I hope you all missed me. In exciting life news, my grad school orientation is happening this upcoming week as I’m writing this. I’ll definitely try to give some more life updates about grad school, if anyone is interested. For now, let’s talk about the final book of The Themis Files trilogy.

It’s been almost ten years since Dr. Rose Franklin, Vincent Couture, Eva Reyes, and General Govender were transported to the alien world of Esat Ekt. They successfully returned to Earth, only to find a war between Russian and America raging on. With the use of alien technology, the human population is doomed to destroy itself unless Rose and the rest can find a way to stop it.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this sci-fi trilogy as I haven’t read one that had such a strong human element that balanced out the fantastical sci-fi elements. I will admit that this novel did feel slow in the beginning as it goes back and forth between them discovering their new alien home and them being interrogated in Russia. I did enjoy the parts of Esat Ekt, though, and how it felt so similar to the world as we know it. It almost gave the feeling of walking into your living room, but everything was moved two inches to the left. Another element I enjoyed about this book is how it was able to include the very timely topic of racial profiling and interning people just because of their ethnicity. Some people might see it as preachy. I, however, appreciated how Neuvel was able to integrate it into the story without it feeling like it was coming out of nowhere. I was also able to appreciate Neuvel’s take on familial relationships and what it means to be a family. Only Human was nice, solid ending for Neuvel’s trilogy. Overall, I found the trilogy immensely enjoyable and would recommend it to all sci-fi fans, especially fans of giant robots.

I too have an opinion on the final season of Game of Thrones

Hi everybody! Sorry but not sorry that it has been so long since I have last posted anything. I now have two jobs so, I hope you understand I have make that paper. I’m sure many of you on this website are fans of Game of Thrones. I read the books in high school around the time that the show started. It’s safe to say that I have been invested in the series as a whole for a while. This final season, which should have been incredibly epic and satisfying, has been anything but that. Before I go any farther, I do want to say that this is no shade towards the actors or the actual filming, as both are still great. I want to talk about the writing and some weird decisions that the writers seem to have made. BIG SPOILER WARNING! If you are not caught up, you may exit now. If you don’t care about spoilers and/or the show, then you may proceed.

The Character Development: Who needs consistency in their characters’ development, right? Honestly, this is my biggest gripe with the show currently, even though there is only one episode left. It’s really disheartening to see some of my favorite characters grow so much, only to be stopped for the plot. For an example, I shall direct you to Tyrion and Jaime Lannister. In my humble opinion, they have had some of the best personal development in this show. The Lannister brothers have fought so hard against their sister and we were all so proud when they finally broke away from Cersei. What happens next? Tyrion somehow becomes very convinced that she’s going to willingly surrender, even after we watched her blow up the Sept just to keep her crown. Jaime, even after he finally gets together with Brienne, decides to run back to Cersei for no reason other than he feels guilty. I’m sorry but what? You keep expecting for some sort of turn around but, then it doesn’t happen. They aren’t the only victims of this, though. Jon Snow and Daenerys aren’t much better off. Cersei even ended up being a bit of a letdown.

The Pacing: With a short run, the episodes can’t be too jam packed in order to draw out the suspense. I do normally love that but, in this case, the pacing of the show has just been off. From the battle with the Night King to the battle in Kings Landing everything feel like it should be in a different order. I don’t know how to explain it any better. Maybe some you know what I am trying to get at. I just feel like everything could be rearranged in a better order to make the story feel more cohesive. Honestly, I think that the battle for Kings Landing should have happened in the middle and the battle with the Night King should have happened at the end. I also think that the character deaths have been put in weird places as well.

The Treatment of Women: Let’s put on our feminist lens for just a moment. For starters, none of the episodes have been directed by or written by women. I’m going to call that a red flag. The female characters have not always been treated well in the show but, we have seen them bounce back and become triumphant. Unfortunately, these strong female characters have been devolved to pure emotion. Now, I’m not saying that female characters have to be perfect and strong all the time, but they do have to have development that sticks. In this season, it seems like all of that amazing characterization has been thrown out the window. (See character development above). The only female character whose development has stuck is Arya. (Honestly, she is my favorite this season). It seems like they’re going back to favoring the male characters.

The Forgotten Lore: As you all know, the show contains forms of magic that have been explored throughout the various seasons. They have helped to compose various plot points as well. Some of the biggest forms of magic have been in prophecies. Azor Ahai (aka The Prince who was Promised) and the Valonqar (Cersei’s prophecy) were huge points in the books and they were brought up in the show. It seems, however, that they have been tossed aside as well. I really liked the magical aspect of the show and I wish we could have explored it further. (By the way, I’m going to leave it to you to look up those prophecies. It leads into a lot of fan theories.)

Those were my gripes. Let me know in the comments if you have any other grievances that I may have forgotten.

Whatever It Takes: Reviewing Avengers: Endgame, directed by the Russo Brothers

Hi everyone! In case you weren’t aware, I am a diehard superhero nerd and an especially bigger Marvel nerd. This weekend, the final installment in the Avengers series was released. I actually got out of the movie about an hour ago as I am typing this. This weekend is particularly eventful as a very important episode of Game of Thrones is coming up on Sunday, Gotham has officially ended after five seasons, and Supernatural is coming up on its final season. Since I am emotionally overwhelmed, I decided to do my first movie review on this blog. Maybe I’ll even go back and review the past Marvel movies. SPOILER WARNING RIGHT NOW!! TURN BACK IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE AND DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED. However, if you either don’t care about spoilers, have seen the movie, or are not planning on seeing the movie, then feel free to continue onwards in this review.

It’s been four years since Thanos wiped out half the universe. The remaining Avengers have all gone their separate ways and are finding ways to cope with their losses. When Scott Lang (aka Ant Man) returns from a quantum realm, he brings with him the possibility of being able to save everyone they lost. It’s up to the Avengers to continue the fight to bring back what they lost or lose everything in the process.

I have been following the MCU for the last decade now. I knew that this would be the last movie featuring the original six Avengers and, I have to say, I was pretty pleased with how certain storylines were wrapped up. I will say that not all of the Avengers survived this movie, but that doesn’t mean that their ends weren’t satisfying. It was definitely a lot of my worst fears come true. The movie, however, doesn’t forget to have heart and humor. Chris Hemsworth probably had the most fun as, in the movie, Thor lets himself go in order to cope with his losses. Seeing the famously ripped Hemsworth with a beer gut is pretty hilarious. Another aspect of the movie I liked was all of the callbacks to the previous movies and some carrying over of aspects from past movies. The humorous aspects of the Ant Man movies, Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and the Thor movies were easy to be seen. They also kept the serious aspects that came from the Captain America and Iron Man movies. It also made the movie feel a little meta. The end battle is absolutely fantastic. Many a fan theory was confirmed during this portion of the movie and it made my little fangirl heart flutter. Soon after, my heart was absolutely crushed. I am so glad that I have gotten to enjoy these movies and can’t wait for future movies. It hardly felt like three hours. My fellow Avengers fans: absolutely go see this movie. You will regret it if you see it but you will also regret it if you don’t see it. Bring tissues and don’t drink any water.

The Sun Always Rises: Reviewing The Burning Maze (Book Three of The Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hi everyone! Let’s get caught up on this series. I’ve actually re-read these three books before I decided to post any sort of review. That is besides the point. Let’s talk about The Burning Maze.

Apollo, despite still being human, has successfully restored two of his famed Oracles with the help of Meg McCaffrey and Grover Underwood. With the identity of the third Emperor revealed, Apollo and his friends must face the infamous Labyrinth in order to free the third Oracle from the evil sorceress, Medea. With Apollo becoming more mortal by the day, he must call upon more demigods. This time they are joined by Piper McLean, daughter of Aphrodite, and Jason Grace, son of Jupiter.

I’m going to put a big old warning out for anyone who was a fan of the Heroes Of Olympus series: you will get all of the feels from this book. I already talked about how the second one was dark but this one gets even darker and a little more graphically violent. Granted, I don’t have a problem with this. In fact, I do tend to read a lot of violent novels. This third installment certainly gets more serious, but still finds its humor in order to alleviate some of the stress you get reading these books. I love how these novels are building up and I can’t wait to find out the answers to some of the questions that Riordan has presented us. Most series tend to falter a bit but this one has stayed relatively strong so far. Again, I’m going to highly recommend this series to all of you mythology nerds out there.

Walk Like You’re A God: Reviewing The Dark Prophecy (Book Two of The Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hey everybody! I’m trying to space out these book reviews somewhat. I don’t think any of you honestly care. I just get really excited about some of my books and I don’t want to stop reading. You know how it is. Anyways, here’s my review of The Dark Prophecy. Feel free to check out my review for the first book in this series.

Apollo is still a mortal teenage boy named Lester, in case you were wondering. After stopping an invasion of an evil Roman emperor at Camp Half – Blood, Apollo must venture to the Midwest to find the second Oracle in the Cave of Trophonius, which is known to drive people to insanity. With the help of Leo Valdez and the now-mortal Calypso, he faces certain death at the hands of the second member of the Triumvirate. It’s just another day in the life of an ex-god.

I can honestly say that I was not expecting to be as invested in these books as I currently am. This one does take a bit of a darker turn. As this book flashes back to Apollo as a god, some of the details become more gruesome than I anticipated but I loved that aspect of the novel. Riordan does a great job balancing drama with comedy and playing with anti-climax. I also particularly enjoy this book because you get a bit of an ancient Rome lesson. If you find Roman history interesting, then you will like what Riordan has in this novel. I’m still immensely enjoying this series so I still definitely recommend reading The Trials of Apollo series.

Not Surviving, But Thriving: Reviewing Vengeful by V. E. Schwab

Hi everyone! Wow, it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. It’s taken me way too long to finish this book. If you want to, you can check out my review of Vicious, the first book in the series. But for now, let’s discuss Vengeful by V.E. Schwab.

Victor Vale and Eli Ever were only the tip of the EO iceberg. Now, a new player has entered the game. Marcella Riggins is powerful, beautiful, and can destroy anything with the touch of her hand. With her sites set on the city of Merit, Marcella decides it is time to claim what she believes is rightfully her. With Victor on the run and Eli being held in an EON detention center, the two must find away to stop Marcella and her powerful friends then end each other once and for all.

Just like Vicious, Vengeful has a thrilling and suspenseful edge to its story telling. The chapters are short but they are packed with gory detail and some great examination of the characters. The novel does get gory so, squeamish readers, you have been warned. I love the complex, morally grey nature of the characters. My only real complaint about this novel was it felt a little slower than its predecessor. There were some longer sections just dedicated to some of the characters’ backstories. I didn’t find it boring by any means. I just felt it dragged on a bit at times but, once you get back into the action, the book picks up very quickly. I found it hard to set this book down. If you loved Vicious then you will certainly love its sequel.

Where the World Ends is Where You Must Begin: Reviewing The Gunslinger (Book One of The Dark Tower Series) by Stephen King

Hi everyone! It’s time for me to stop padding this blog with random posts and start giving you some actual book reviews. I was grateful to receive the entire Dark Tower series from my aunt not too long ago. I have mentioned in the past that it has been awhile since I have read a series. I’m also a Stephen King fan so this was all very serendipitous. Now, here are my thoughts on The Gunslinger. 

The mysterious man called the Gunslinger is on the hunt for the equally enigmatic Man in Black. As he travels across the desert, the Gunslinger must survive many magical obstacles in his path as well as protect Jake, a kid from Earth in order to reach his arch nemesis. King’s mix of epic fantasy and classical Western tales provides a surreal backdrop for the thrilling and dark tale of the Gunslinger and his quest.

As you have probably seen, I have reviewed King’s horror novels in the past but I have not read one of his non-horror novels yet. The Gunslinger had a surreal and gritty atmosphere that brings together all of the classic elements of a Western story with the kind of fantasy I’ve read in Lord of the Rings. The story is certainly not structured in any traditional way. It took me a bit to realize that as the story simply flows together and isn’t broken up by so many chapters. The Gunslinger is actually a quick read but the story makes you pay attention to detail as King certainly follows the “show don’t tell” rule of story telling. I finished this book feeling intrigued. King does inject his usual gory form of story telling into this novel, so you have been warned if you are sensitive to violence. At times, the writing did carry a certain sexual overtone that made me a little uncomfortable. It wasn’t enough to deter me but, again, you may not enjoy this if you are sensitive to this kind of content. In the end, I found myself very intrigued by The Gunslinger. I love the mashup of two very different genres and will definitely be reading the rest of the series. I’ll go ahead and recommend this novel to fans of fantasy novels. The Gunslinger is an epic exercise in pushing the limits of action and fantasy.

Note: I know the movie adaptation came out a year ago or so. I haven’t seen it but let me know if you think it is worth watching. I would like to know.

Current Favorites: TV Show Edition

Hi everyone! I was really hoping to have my review of Children of Blood and Bone for you  by now but I have recently gotten I new job so that has taken up most of my time. I have to finance my book addiction somehow. The book addiction isn’t the only one I have. On top of being a movie addict, I love my tv shows. It’s nice to have that hour long escape from the world. TV shows give me something to look forward to during the week. For this post, I’m going to do a short list of tv shows (or mini series) I feel are underrated or not as mainstream then I’ll do a longer list of mainstream shows I like. I hope you enjoy both of these.

Legion

Legion (2017 – Present, FX Network): Based on the Marvel comics of the same name, Legion follows David Haller, a troubled young man who is diagnosed with schizophrenia. He soon learns that he has powerful abilities and he must stop dark forces that want to destroy humanity.

Legion is based on the X-Men comics but, trust me, it is not the like the X-Men movies. This show is cerebral, psychedelic, and it always keeps you wondering what is real and what is not. The cinematography is absolutely wonderful as it seems to change with every episode. The show is hard to keep up with at times but it is worth the watch if you’re looking for a unique take on the Marvel universe.

Preacher

Preacher (2016 – Present): Based off of the Preacher comics, this series follows Jesse Custer, a preacher in a small Texas town who is unwittingly given the powers of an Antichrist. He then enlists the help of his criminal ex-girlfriend and a reckless vampire to  hunt for God.

The plot summary is weird and the show doesn’t refrain from embracing its bizarre plot. Preacher is full of dark humor, gory fights, and a surprising amount of heart. It’s not as hard to follow as Legion but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t keep you thinking. I’m a little behind in watching this show but I do still love it. Preacher is hell of a ride and perfect for comic book fans.

American Gods

American Gods (2017 – Present, Starz Network): Based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, American Gods follows Shadow Moon who is recently released from prison only to find out that his wife is dead. When a mysterious man named Mr. Wednesday approaches him with a job offer, Shadow accepts and is thrust into a world where gods fight gods.

I’ve gushed about this book and I’ll gush about the tv show. This show is one of the best adaptations I have seen in a while. I was even satisfied with the changes they did make. If you love mythology then you will love American Gods. The cinematography is great, the cast is fantastic, and the plot points are incredibly relevant to today’s world. I highly recommend you binge this one before the second season.

Gotham

Gotham (2014 – Present (Final Season 2019), Fox Network): Based on the Batman comics, Gotham follows the up and coming detective, Jim Gordon, who learns about the true evil lurking in his city after the wealthy Waynes are murdered.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I love shows based on comic books so Gotham has been on my radar for a while. It’s a refreshing take on the classic tale of Batman and it shifts the focus onto a broader cast of characters. Not only do you watch the journeys of heroes like Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon, but you also get to see the journeys of some of the most iconic Batman villains. The cast does an amazing job with these characters. The show is fun to watch as well as intense and heart breaking.

Hannibal

Hannibal (2013 – 2015, NBC Network): Loosely based on the novels by Thomas Harris, Hannibal shows the rise of the infamous cannibal as he forms a dangerous relationship with a young and troubled FBI profiler.

I am still upset this show was cancelled as it was both horrifying and enticing to watch. This one is another example of amazing cinematography. If you thought you wouldn’t find people appetizing then I suggest you watch this show. The cast gives absolutely amazing performances. The plot is full of suspense and chills. I cannot recommend this show enough as it had a short but amazing three seasons.

Lucifer

Lucifer (2015 – Present, Fox Network): Lucifer Morningstar was the King of Hell until he got bored and decided to start a nightclub in Los Angeles. When a murder happens in his beloved club, Lucifer ends up teaming up with Detective Chloe Decker and the two begin an unlikely partnership solving crimes together.

Lucifer is based on comics written by Neil Gaiman so I am biased but I do sincerely love this show. It is funny, touching, and a fun time all around. Unfortunately, it might be cancelled but, hopefully, it will be saved by the power of social media. Don’t miss the opportunity and watch Lucifer. 

Now that I’ve talked about more of the “indie” shows I like, here is my list of mainstream shows I enjoy. Note: Most of these shows are still on the air.

  • Doctor Who
  • Supernatural
  • Game of Thrones 
  • Arrow 
  • Flash 
  • Supergirl
  • Legends of Tomorrow
  • Black Lightning 
  • The Walking Dead 
  • Marvel’s Jessica Jones 
  • Marvel’s Luke Cage 
  • Marvel’s Daredevil 
  • Stranger Things
  • Sherlock 
  • Star Trek
  • The Office 
  • The Twilight Zone 
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events