Fierce, and Powerful, and Terrifying: Reviewing A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I am back at it with another book review. I am back in school next week and I am hoping to post some reviews of the novels I’ll be reading in the near future, among my personal TBR stack. Before I begin talking about this novel, I encourage you to go read my previous reviews of this series. It’s time to talk about A Conjuring of Light.

The connections of the four Londons are beginning to fray as the shadow king Osaron seeks to take over all of the worlds. Kell must protect his brother Rhy and his kingdom against this ancient evil. Lila Bard must learn to control her powers before they control her. With the help of disgraced pirate captain Alucard Emery and other unlikely allies, they must race to find a way to save the four Londons and be ready to make any sacrifices necessary.

I am going to be a little honest: this novel was a bit of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed 90% of it but there was a lot that left me wanting at the end. There was still a lot to these worlds that Schwab doesn’t dig into and parts that I honestly didn’t care to know about. I still loved how fully fleshed out the characters were. Their interactions felt natural and honest within this magical world. Everything was believable in its own way. Schwab does an excellent job creating perilous situations with very high stakes. I was certainly upset in some parts. While there were still parts of this novel that I didn’t particularly like, I still enjoyed this series overall and thought that the ending was thoughtful and sweet without being cloying. I would definitely recommend this for fans of fantasy that have officially moved out of the YA genre. I really did enjoy this trilogy and wish I could have more.

To Seeking and To Finding: Reviewing The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Hey everybody! I’m here with my first book review of 2020! I already mentioned I had gotten Morgenstern’s sophomore novel over Christmas and I just became so sucked into it. I reviewed her first novel, The Night Circus, already so feel free to go check out that review. Now, I am incredibly excited to bring you this review as I stayed up way too late finishing this novel. Anyways, here’s my thoughts on The Starless Sea.

When he was a child, Zachary Ezra Rawlins saw a door with a bee, a key, and a sword painted on it. The door called to him, to something unknown. Years later, he find a book in his college library. The book contains fantastical stories of pirates, magical cities, mute acolytes, and…his childhood. The book also has the familiar symbols he saw on the door all of those years ago. Shocked, Zachary goes on a mission to find why he is in this book. He ends up at a masquerade party where he meets two enigmatic strangers, a pink-haired and intense painter named Mirabel, and a handsome and adventurous man named Dorian. The two lead Zachary into a mysterious and wondrous world full of books, parties, and magic. But the fate of this underground world hangs in the balance and it is up to Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian to learn the mysteries of the Starless Sea and figure out what they are willing to sacrifice in order to save this refuge.

When I read The Night Circus, I definitely fell in love with Morgenstern’s combination of whimsical, fairy tale-eque writing and solid, adult centric themes. The Starless Sea delivered that and more. I absolutely loved the very structure of this book. The chapters alternate between the main story and fairy tale side stories that all tie together in the end. She mixes descriptive, classic prose and the stylistic writing one would expect in fables. It is initially a little confusing to read but it ties together in such a satisfying way. The mechanics or “magic” of the world is just specific and just vague enough at the same time. Morgenstern sets it up so you don’t find yourself wanting to question the magic of the Starless Sea and the Harbor. The characters, in the main plot and side plot, all feel fleshed out even in their magical worlds. I loved Zachary as a main character. This book came to me at a perfect time as he is a struggling grad student who just wants to find a new world to explore. I feel as though I’ve gushed about this book enough. I’ve discovered my new favorite genre is “novels about novels.” I am also loving “new adult” fantasy. Honestly, I liked this better than The Night Circus, but I would still recommend it. The Starless Sea was a wonderful read with beautiful writing and fantastic characters. I had a very difficult time putting down this book and will definitely be revisiting it in the future. I actually really enjoyed how the romances in this novel were handled, as someone who does not typically like romance. I loved the world-building and unique narrative structure of the novel. It is all so involved in the best way. Also, bonus points for including LGBTQ+ characters. I am so glad this is my first official book review of 2020 and I cannot recommend this one enough.

My Favorites of 2019

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a good Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, etc. (or you at least had some relaxing time off). I had a pretty eventful year in general and I mean that in a good way. It is now time for my annual list of favorites across all creative mediums. I got a bunch of new books over break that I will be reviewing soon. I hope for the best for all of my followers in 2020! (Note: these are probably not in chronological order. I know my book list is rather short but I did not consider everything my favorite. Also, leave me your favorites of 2019 in the comments.)

Books

  • The Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab
  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan
  • The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Villains duology by V.E. Schwab
  • Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Movies

  • Captain Marvel (dir. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck)
  • Avengers: Endgame (dir. Joe and Anthony Russo)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (dir. Jon Watts)
  • John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum (dir. Chad Stahelski)
  • Zombieland: Double Tap (dir. Ruben Fleischer)
  • Shazam! (dir. David Sandberg)
  • Polar (dir. Jonas Akerlund)
  • Jumanji: The Next Level (dir. Jake Kasdan)
  • Frozen II (dir. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee)
  • Toy Story 4 (dir. Josh Cooley)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (dir. Dexter Fletcher)
  • Fyre Fest: The Party that Never Was (dir. Chris Smith)

TV Shows

  • The Mandarlorian, Season 1 (Disney +)
  • Stranger Things, Season 3 (Netflix)
  • Doom Patrol, Season 1 (DC Universe)
  • Swamp Thing, Season 1 (DC Universe)
  • Supernatural, Season 15 (CW)
  • The Flash, Season 6 (CW)
  • Batwoman, Season 1 (CW)
  • Arrow, Season 8 (CW)
  • Supergirl, Season 5 (CW)
  • Black Lightning, Season 3 (CW)
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths: Five Part Crossover (CW)
  • Nancy Drew, Season 1 (CW)
  • Good Omens, Season 1 (Amazon Prime)
  • The Boys, Season 1 (Amazon Prime)
  • The Witcher, Season 1 (Netflix)
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 3 (Netflix)
  • Jessica Jones, Season 3 (Netflix)
  • Lucifer, Season 4 (Netflix)
  • The Punisher, Season 2 (Netflix)
  • The Umbrella Academy, Season 1 (Netflix)
  • His Dark Materials, Season 1 (HBO)
  • Russian Doll, Season 1 (Netflix)
  • Queer Eye, Season 4 (Netflix)
  • The Umbrella Academy, Season 1 (Netflix)
  • The Haunting of Hill House, Season 1 (Netflix)

Music

  • Norman F*cking Rockwell by Lana del Rey (album)
  • Wasteland, Baby! by Hozier (album)
  • WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? by Billie Eilish (album)
  • Beetlejuice: The Original Broadway Musical (album)
  • Six: The Musical (album)
  • Doom Days by Bastille (album)
  • Blinding Lights by The Weekend (single)
  • Nightmare by Halsey (single)
  • Graveyard by Halsey (single)
  • I’m Too Sensitive for this Sh*t by Hayley Kiyoko (EP)
  • Landfall by Claire Wyndham (single)
  • DEATH STRANDING: Timefall (Original Music from the World of Death Stranding) (album)
  • CHAMPION by Bishop Briggs (album)
  • Cheap Queen by King Princess (album)
  • Hallucinations by PVRIS (album)
  • Don’t Call Me Angel by Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey (single)
  • Destroy Me by grandson (single)
  • FEVER DREAM by Of Monsters and Men (album)
  • Happiness Begins by Jonas Brothers (album)
  • For The Throne (Music Inspired by the HBO series Game of Thrones) (album)
  • Free Spirit by Khalid (album)
  • Sing to Me Instead by Ben Platt (album)
  • Hadestown: The Original Broadway Musical (album)
  • Truth Hurts by Lizzo (single)
  • Artemis by Lindsey Stirling (album)
  • K – 12 by Melanie Martinez (album)
  • The Birth of Violence by Chelsea Wolfe (album)
  • Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief: The Musical (album)

Podcasts

  • The Last Podcast on the Left
  • Red-Handed
  • Wolverine: The Lost Trail
  • Motherhacker
  • RNZ: The Worst Sitcom Ever Made
  • Queer as Fiction
  • Passenger List
  • My Favorite Murder
  • Behind the Bastards

Favorite Events of 2019

  • Seeing Freestyle Love Supreme on Broadway where Lin-Manuel Miranda performed live (!!!!)
  • Getting floor seats to a Jonas Brothers concert and touching Nick Jonas (!!!!)
  • Starting (and surviving) fall semester of grad school
  • Visiting the Mansfield Reformatory (where they filmed the Shawshank Redemption)
  • Seeing my little sister graduate from high school and start college
  • Successfully working two jobs at once over the summer (I know a lot of people do that and don’t have the same luxury as I do of having an optional part-time job but I did not think I would be able to handle it as well as I did)
  • Successfully being a teaching assistant for two courses
  • Not crying that much over things (lol)

Whatever I am, Let it be enough: Reviewing A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I’m coming at you with (probably) my last book review of the year. I’m planning on doing my annual favorites list after Christmas. I have a stack of books that has grown considerably over the past couple of months. At the university I go to, we have a table where people can put books they want to give away. Obviously, I checked it every day and will continue to do so. All the while, I am hooked on V.E. Schwab’s series, Shades of Magic. Now, let’s talk about the second book, A Gathering of Shadows.

It’s been four months since Kell, Delilah Bard, and Rhy faced off against the Danes in White London. Since then, Delilah had run off with the handsome sea captain, Alucard Emery. Now, Kell and Rhy prepare for the Essen Tasch, a magical tournament created to unite the kingdoms. All the while, something dark stirs in White London and can only return to life by destroying another London.

I absolutely adored the first book in this series and this second one was still enjoyable. The pacing was a little slow in the beginning, as it went back and forth between Delilah and Kell. There was some great world building, along with plenty of action when it was needed. Schwab does an excellent job fleshing out the other cultures without just making them “others.” The plot is still very grounded in Kell’s story, which is endlessly enjoyable. Like I said, the novel was slow for a bit but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down. I am incredibly excited to keep reading this series. I still recommend Shades of Magic if you want a “new adult” series that keeps the balance between entertaining magic and an intriguing storyline.

I Have Built a You in Me: Reviewing This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Hey everybody! Well, it has been a decent chunk of time since I’ve been on here. Fortunately, I am reaching the end of fall semester so I will be doing a lot of catching up during the winter break. Next semester I will be teaching a class so I will definitely be blogging about that. Thankfully, I was able to get a hold of this novel as I had seen it everywhere and was ever so curious. So, let’s talk about This Is How You Lose the Time War.

Red is deadly, resourceful, and relentless on the battlefield. She comes from a future ruled by the Agency, a post-singularity technotopia. Blue is strategic, cunning, and just as deadly. She belongs to Garden, an omnipotent and omniscient consciousness contained within all organic matter. The two agents are sent by their respective societies to stop the other from changing the future. Red and Blue, however, begin a correspondence that transcends time and space. Soon, they will have to choose between the future of their worlds and their own futures.

I was incredibly intrigued by this novel upon seeing it online and I am so glad I was able to get my hands on it because I loved it. This novel combines the abstracts and language of poetry and the thrill and action of science fiction. It is a fairly short novel at just under 200 pages. I became emotionally invested quickly in the characters. The language of their letters is fascinating. They feel like real people in a sense, the way that Blue and Red express their emotions through humor or angst. I don’t plan on making this review too long as I don’t want to give away too much. I do recommend this novel if you are looking for a quick read that will captivate you with its world building and poetic structure. You don’t have be a huge sci-fi fan either to enjoy this book. Also, bonus points if you wants a book that features LGBTQ+ characters.

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.

To devour what they left behind…:Reviewing The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Hi everybody! I know, I know. It’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to finish this novel, but I’m super excited to share this with you. Lately, I’ve been on a historical mystery kick. I feel the genre is very under appreciated. Despite this book taking me forever to read (not because of length, but because I’m lazy), it was absolutely worth my time. Now let’s talk about The Shadow of the Wind.

Daniel Sempere was just a young boy when his father took him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He immediately found himself drawn to The Shadow of the Wind, written by the enigmatic Julian Carax. Being the son of a bookseller, Daniel uses his father’s connections to find more books by Carax. Soon, he finds out that all of Carax’s books have been destroyed and he may have the only remaining book of Carax. Daniel’s search for the truth reveals the dark and tangled web of Barcelona, full of murder, lies, and forbidden love.

Zafon’s twisted and intricate novel is worth the deep dive that requires to read it. Admittedly, it can be a bit of the struggle to keep up with the plot as so many characters are being introduced at every turn, but it all ties together in the end. There are points in this book that made me audibly gasp. Some people might say I’m spoiling the book by saying it has plot twists, but they are amazing plot twists. It is a mystery, after all. That is part of the genre. This novel is immersive, suspenseful, and thoughtful all at once. The atmosphere of Zafon’s depiction of Barcelona in 1945 is enough to pull the reader into the story. The novel has bits and pieces of many other genres, which is what makes it so interesting to read. I highly recommend The Shadow of the Wind to just anyone at all as it has something to satisfy every reader and will keep you hanging on until the very end.

This Is My Design: Reviewing Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Hi everyone! I hope you forgive my absences. I am bogged down with academic reading now that (obviously) has to be a priority. Thank you all so much for 400 subscribers! Wow, I still can’t believe any of you are interested in what I have to say. Since I have your attention, I will be giving you my review of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon, which is the novel that first introduced the world to Hannibal Lecter. I am a huge fan of the television show, “Hannibal,” so I had to read one of these novels. Also, since we are creeping towards October, it felt appropriate to do a horror/thriller novel.

Will Graham risked everything in order catch the ingenious and dangerous Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Graham was ready to start a normal life when he was called upon to catch a killer called the Tooth Fairy, who has murdered entire families. In order to find him, Graham must first understand him. Only Hannibal can help him enter the killer’s mind. Will Graham must risk it all, once again, in order to catch this new monster

I had read this novel previously and, upon revisiting it, forgot how genuinely uncomfortable it made me. I mean that in the best way, though. Any good murder mystery novel should give the reader visceral feelings and Harris succeeds at that. Even though Lecter isn’t technically a threat, he still looms over every page of this novel. It feels as though we are watching Will Graham outrun him while still trying to catch the “Tooth Fairy.” Graham and the other “good guys” are relatable and sympathetic while still being morally grey. The novel is wonderfully suspenseful. It is not afraid to reveal the gruesome details. Even in a clinical language, the descriptions of the crimes still give you chills. The cat-and-mouse game keeps you hanging on until the end. I would then recommend Red Dragon as a good fall read for anyone looking for a thrilling and complex mystery.

If you want me to talk more about “Hannibal,” the television show, I will happily create a post about that where we can have a discussion.

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.

Book Characters I Would Fight IRL

Hi all! I’m not here because I’ve finished a book. Instead, I have been inspired by BookTube. Several BookTubers I watch have made similar videos to this and I thought I would join in. Yes, I will talk smack about your favorite character. Feel free to fight back as I take down your favorite character or feel free to agree with me.

Severus Snape: “Hi, my name is Snape and my crush dumped me so I’m going to be a dick to children.” Ugh, this man pisses me off to no end. Allan Rickman gets all the kudos for giving us a great performance, but the character himself is such a douchebag. He had decades to get over Lily and accept her choices. They could have easily remained friends, but instead, Snape chose to be a bitter jerk who has thing for betraying people. I love a complex character as much as the next person, but we need to agree that Snape made bad life choices.

Sherlock Holmes: I’m a huge fan of the original Sherlock Holmes series. I’ve read all of those stories and spin-off novels. I’ve watched many live action adaptations. If I ever met Sherlock Holmes in real life, I would punch him in his smug face. The hubris of the man is ridiculous. If it weren’t for Watson, I would probably not enjoy those books at all. Holmes spends most of his time making people prove themselves to him for absolutely no reason. As much as I love the asshole genius trope, I also hate the asshole genius trope.

Amy and Nick Dunne: I thought Gone Girl was an interesting novel in the way it showcased two of the worst protagonists ever. Nick and Amy are both equally garbage human beings and I’m so glad they ended up together because they deserve each other. I get that they are supposed to be written that way and I truly found that interesting. It was also so incredibly frustrating to read too. They were both just horrible people in every way. It’s hard to read a book where you can’t root for anyone involved in the plot.

Bella Swan: I hated her when I was a Twilight fan and I still can’t stand her. Let’s ignore Edward and Jacob for a second because at least they had interesting characteristics. Bella had nothing going for her. She had no personality. She wasn’t unique in any way, shape, or form. No will power of her own. She never really comes out of her shell or opens up in any way. Let us not forget the time she flung herself off a cliff to get Jacob’s attention. I feel so bad for Kristen Stewart to this day.

Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish: Of all the scumbags in all of Westeros, I think Littlefinger takes the cake. While Joffery Baratheon and Ramsay Bolton were sadistic assholes, at least they were interesting to watch in the same way you would watch a slasher movie. Littlefinger, on the other hand, just showed up to pull some scummy, backhanded move that only provided something for himself. Every other person in Game of Thrones had some sort of solid alliance or something to fight for, but not Littlefinger. Like Snape, he also spends most of his time being bitter over a childhood crush that rejected him. He was just made me feel gross whenever he was on screen. (Also, I would have nominated Ramsay Bolton but, let’s be real, I would absolutely not fight him.)

Holden Caulfield: Oh my god, talk about being whiney. I couldn’t stand this kid. Don’t get me wrong: I understand that he was going through some stuff and he’s only a teenager. But, holy cow, nothing gets better if you just whine about it. Even as a teenager, I understood that. Also the kid thought way too highly of himself. I would absolutely punch out anyone who thought so highly of themselves for no real reason. Holden’s attitude is a classic case of “ugh I don’t want to be like everyone else. I’m different because I think.”

Humbert Humbert: Lolita is already such a hard book to read and to have such a garbage narrator makes the whole thing even worse. What else is there to say other than he preys on a young and vulnerable girl for a majority of her life? It’s disgusting and I would happily fight this guy in a back alley.

That’s all I of the characters I can think of for now. Maybe I’ll do a part two or I’ll do a list of movie and/or tv show characters I would fight. Hope you enjoyed this.