Tag Archives: V.E. Schwab

Challenge Update, October 2019

4 Nov

I’m really happy to have continued to make good progress. I didn’t know how the new job and a focus on swimming were going to go but I can’t complain about the amount of reading I’ve still been able to do. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in October:

The King’s Curse // Philippa Gregory (3/5)
A Conjuring of Light // V.E. Schwab (4/5)
We Sold Our Souls // Grady Hendrix (4/5)
When I Crossed No-Bob // Margaret McMullan (3/5)
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy (3/5)
Beautiful Ruins // Jess Walter (4/5)

A pretty good mix here and a lot of different genres covered. I’m overall happy with it.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

10/12
I was able to tick off the 1500-1699 time period with The King’s Curse. The Tudors are almost always a good bet for a book in that time period and they never seem to disappoint. I’m working on one more time period and it’s just the final one that I’ve still got to figure out.

Goodreads Challenge

53/52
WOOO! I finished up this last month and I have to admit it feels great to have one challenge completed. I’m still not sure if I’ll keep this level for next year or up it a bit but it was a good challenge as is so I’m tempted to keep it.

Book of the Month

The honor this month goes to a very satisfying end to a series, A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. I enjoyed the ending to this series and I’m really excited to hear Schwab is returning to the world with some more books. I’m OK with meeting some new characters, but the world of magic she created is way too fun to abandon.

Added to my TBR

I’m down only one more to 66 this month. A little bit is still progress, right? I’d like to think I’ve added for good reasons.

Personal Challenge

I’m gearing up again to track personal goals here. This is a great way to keep me accountable and to tell you about me outside the wide world of books.

  • Finish 70.3 Half Ironman: DONE!
  • Attend six weddings: DONE! The last two were back to back weekends and it was utterly exhausting but absolutely amazing. I’m ready for a ‘calm’ year in 2020 with only two.
  • Finish a weather blanket: I’m behind and working to catch up again. I’m afraid I’m going to run out of one yarn so I went out and bought a bunch more but now I might not need it after all. Sigh.
  • Write: I’m taking an extreme measure here and doing NaNo! I got nervous before I submitted my last manuscript and I’m giving myself a kick in the pants to get moving and write if I’m too nervous to submit! I need to get over it eventually, granted, but maybe this will make me brave?
  • See my friends more: This is going so well. My husband and I hosted a party on Saturday and had at least 25 people come! In our apartment, that’s a lot of people! I’ve made a big effort to see my swimming friends more, too. It’s been really fun to talk about swimming with other swim nerds so often!

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2020, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (4/5)

22 Oct

After a pitifully long amount of time between books one and two, I decided to plow ahead with book three in this trilogy. I was glad to find the audiobook but a bit shocked by how long it was. It got me through half marathon training, the half itself, and then some. I was glad to finally wrap this one up on a car trip so I can move on. However, I can’t stop thinking about the world Schwab created.

Cover image via Goodreads

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

Other books by Schwab reviewed on this blog:

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)

Summary from Goodreads:

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
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.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
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?

WHO WILL RISE?
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.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

This book took up right where the second one left off which was one reason I wanted to jump right into it. While book one to book two had a time lag, this had none at all and could have easily been a single (very long) novel. It made me realize that the second book was a lot of character development and not a lot that was essential to the plot. Anyway, moving back to this one. This book was all action from chapter one and I appreciated that while I was running and listening. It did become a bit exhausting at times, but I enjoyed it overall. The character development here was great, especially Alucard. I felt the plot was a bit more drawn out than it needed to be, but it was still exciting so I didn’t care much.

Kell and Lila were well developed in this book. Their established personalities weren’t taken off course but we saw Kell grow and Lila soften which were needed. Rhy grew a lot, too. Arguably, he grew the most and I really liked his character progression. While some characters plateau in later books in a series, these didn’t and I liked how Schwab handled them.

Rhy was my favorite character. He’d been very immature in earlier books and it was great to see him mature so much without it feeling forced. He grew in his ‘career’ and in his relationships. Of any character, he was one who started to change in book two while the others stayed static and this book really brought him into his character.

While it was a very fantastical world with overly action-packed plots, the emotions in this book rang true to modern life. Kell and Lila are struggling with feelings they’ve never had before and dealing with changes they hadn’t anticipated seeing. Alucard is dealing with his past and trying to reconcile mixed emotions. Schwab did an amazing job of drawing relatable characters in her fictional world and I really enjoyed being a part of their story.

V.E. Schwab
Image via EW

Rhy’s plotline when he stayed back in Arnes was my favorite part of the book. He showed his bravery and maturity and dealt with very mixed emotions which must have been a huge challenge. While exploring the seas was fun, having someone stay in the castle where so much of the series had taken place kept the book rooted and I think it made it feel more consistent with the rest of the series.

As fun as it was, the adventure to the floating market wasn’t a part I particularly enjoyed. It gave the characters a way to get the items they needed to defeat their enemy, but it was a lot of time that I didn’t feel was particularly necessary for a book that was already long. I’m not sure how it could have been shortened, but I think it could have been.

The audiobook was narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer, the same narrators as the previous book. I thought they did a fabulous job yet again, especially Kramer who had so many characters to narrate. He gave the appropriate weight to the heavy parts of the book and was fun during the playful times. Granted, there weren’t many of those in this dark novel.

Forgiveness was a big theme in this novel. Especially for Alucard. He literally sacrifices some of his life to tell Rhy he’s sorry and explain to him why he left. He didn’t feel an apology was enough but Rhy was ready to forgive him. I think this dovetails with Rhy growing up. I’m not sure he would have been able to forgive in the second book and he wouldn’t have been able to at all in the first. I think their relationship shows the character development in this book wonderfully.

Writer’s Takeaway: The world-building Schwab did for these books is incredible and deserved to be explored in three books. I’m told there is another trilogy coming in this world and I’m so excited to see what else happens in it. The intricacies that Schwab developed about the way people in different worlds/countries look, talk, carry themselves, and act was amazingly well done and I really appreciated how deep into it the reader was able to go. I have a lot of respect for fantasy writers who are able to do this.

Overall, a very enjoyable book. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
A Conjuring of Light | review | VE Schwab | readinganyone
A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab || A Stabby, Stunning Conclusion | the words gremlin
A Conjuring of Light Review | How Useful It Is
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab | The Review Marina
Review: A Conjuring of Light (V.E. Schwab) | Bookloves Review

WWW Wednesday, 9-October-2019

9 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I think I’ll finish When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan soon. Unless it’s Wednesday and I’m responding to comments on this post, I usually get through a few pages during my lunch and there’s not much left. I think this will come off next week!
I continue to move through The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli but no faster than I have been. I’m enjoying it, but it’s a bit dense and not gripping enough to keep me reading when I get tired. I was able to extend my time with it until the end of the month and I feel confident I’ll finish it by then.
I was able to start We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix on Saturday. So far, I like it but I’m not really feeling the horror element to it yet. I think I’ll get through this pretty quickly since I’m listening to it in my car and when I’m running/cooking/doing chores on my phone. I have a few to get through so I want to speed this one up.

Recently finished: I was happy to finish The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory the day of my Friend of the Library meeting so I could return it in the evening! I enjoyed the story and the ending was a bit of a shock to me which was a nice twist. This book will fulfill a new time period in my When Are You Reading? Challenge so I’m super excited to add it to my list!
I was able to finish A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab Saturday during a road trip! So excited to wrap up this series. I liked how it ended though I think there’s more to the story that I’d like to hear. But I always feel that way with good books. I hope more V.E. Schwab comes across my path soon, it’s been a joy.

I also posted my review of Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I’m always a sucker for a good memoir and this was no exception. I’ll be posting my book club reflection of the book tomorrow so more to come on this one!

Reading Next: I will start Eastbound from Flagstaff by Annette Valentine as soon as I finish Travels. It will be good to have some historical fiction to motivate me as I do NaNo prep.
I already have another audiobook lined up thanks to book club commitments. I’ll be starting Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter as soon as I finish Souls. I’m really hoping to have a lot of audio time and get through these quickly! I hate feeling rushed for book club.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 2-October-2019

2 Oct

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m really close to finishing The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory, I was hoping I’d be done by now! I’ve got a slug of eaudio to finish up and I’m going to take a break from physical audio once I finish this one. Maybe it will be today?
A half marathon wasn’t enough to finish A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. This is longer than I thought it would be! I’m wondering if there’s a bit too much fluff in here but it’s keeping me engaged so far. We’ll see how I feel as it gets closer to the end.
I’m excited to be over halfway through When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan. It’s getting a little darker now and I’m not sure where this is headed. I didn’t expect some of these elements from an MG book!
I’m still enjoying The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli but I’ll have to see about picking it up a bit and reading faster. I’m approaching my initial due date and because it’s an interlibrary loan, I only get one more renewal. I’m not sure I’ll finish at my current pace.

Recently finished: Nothing new this week! And no new reviews. I’ve got some coming again eventually. I am mostly caught up at this point and it feels really good to be able to say that!

Reading Next: I can’t wait to start the eaudio for We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix. It’s teasing me on my bedside table and I really want to pick it up soon.
I almost never do this, but I accepted an ARC! Though the book is out already so I guess it’s not very ‘advanced.’ Maybe Early Reader Copy? Anyway, the book is Eastbound from Flagstaff by Annette Valentine. I was won over by the 1920s setting and decided I needed to have more giveaway books on my list this year. This seems like the best place to start.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 25-September-2019

25 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I think I need about another week with The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory. The longer commute is nice to get through these long books faster and sit through traffic. Though I think the construction on my drive is almost done so this shouldn’t be an issue much longer.
One more week of half marathon training to go but I don’t think it will be enough to finish A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. I’ll wrap this up soon, I hope. I have another book club selection to get through soon.
When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan has been a good lunch read for me. I’m really going to try to stick to shorter books so I can remember the beginning better when I finish them!
I’ve started on The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli and I’m enjoying it so far. She’s using a lot of stories and anecdotes to tell the story which makes it a lot more enjoyable! I don’t think I’ll fly through this one, but I’ll enjoy the ride.

Recently finishedI wrapped up Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I’m looking forward to my book club discussion on this one, I think a lot of people will have a lot to say. My review for this one won’t be up for a while because I have so much planned out on the blog. I’m running about two weeks ahead!

I’ve had two book reviews go up already this week. The first was The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by Josephine Leslie. This was a super cute short book and I enjoyed it though I’m not sure I would have guessed it would get the response it has. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. This one really wasn’t for me and I’m glad I’ve read it but I think a paragraph in a history book could have summarized it better for me. I gave the book Two out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: My next book club pick is We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix. It’s our Halloween pick but our leader thinks it will also be a funny read so I’m excited to see how that combination works.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-September-2019

18 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I got through so much last week that I’m not surprised there’s little movement this week. I’m making great progress with The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory due to the longer commute. I don’t mind it at all, really. It’s just under a half-hour and without too much traffic. Perfect for listening!
I’m still listening to A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab while I run in preparation for a half marathon at the end of the month. I’m liking it a lot and it’s very high energy! Great mood for running.
I’m trying to wrap up Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance quickly due to a library hold. I’m liking it, but parts seem to drag a little more than others. I think this will be a good discussion book for our group.
I’m glad I picked When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan for my ebook. It’s moving quickly and the shorter chapters are good for the start-and-stop nature of how I read ebooks.

Recently finished: Nothing finished this week but I’m not at all surprised after the landfall of books listed last week! It has to fall short after such a great week.

I did get two book reviews written! The first is for Writing and Selling the YA Novel by K.L. Going. I liked this book, but it wasn’t the best one I’d read on craft this year. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian. This was a book club pick so I’ll be posting about our discussion soon but it’s safe to say I liked this one but was disappointed in the ending. I also gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: My hold on The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli came in at the library and I’m hoping I can finish Vance quickly so I can dive in to it before the reading period ends! I might be rushing a bit.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 11-September-2019

11 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ll be moving faster through The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory now that I’ve started my new job with a longer commute. I’m actually a little excited to have a bit of time for myself and my audiobook each day. It helps me to calm down or get ready for the day, whichever is needed.
Now for all the updates! I started listening to A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab when I went for my ‘last run’ on Friday before my Saturday race. It was just a half-hour but it was enough to get me invested in the story! This one is picking up right where the last left off so it’s all systems go and I’m enjoying that a lot.
Due to availability, I decided to read a physical copy of Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I’m enjoying the mix of anecdote and research so far so I’m excited to see how this one develops.
I decided on a shorter book for my next ebook and picked up When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan. McMullan teaches at my alma mater so it seemed like one I should pick up!

Recently finished: All of the updates! I realized I only had a chapter left in Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min so I finished it up while I was at my parents’ cottage and had time to relax. I’m so glad I’m finally done with this one! I was reading it for far too long.
I was able to wrap up Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian on Thursday morning and I was a little disappointed with the ending. It just could have been a bit more conclusive, it kind of left off with not much closure. My book club just met to talk about it so I’m sure I’ll have more to share about it soon.
I sped through The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by Josephine Leslie. It was a very short and sweet book and I’m glad I read it, though there wasn’t too much of a story to it. I’ll get into that more in my review. I’m curious to see how a movie and a TV show came out of this small little book!

Two book reviews up as well! I reviewed The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma on Friday. It was a fun read and I really enjoyed it! Four out of Five stars.
I also reviewed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. My book club already met about this book so there’s more coming on it in the near future. I also gave it Four out of Five stars.

Reading Next: I put in an interlibrary loan request for The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli. It’s been a while since I read some non-fiction so I think this will be a welcome break. I’m not sure when it will come in but I hope I’m close to finishing Vance when it does!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-September-2019

4 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: No progress with Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min, as predicted. Once I figure out my new work routine, I’ll have a better idea of when I can expect to finish this book. I’m hesitant to focus on it because reading on a device before bed will probably make it harder for me to sleep.
I need to finish Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian before Monday so I’m focusing on it a little more than I normally would. I’m thinking of going for a walk after I write this post where I listen to it (and play Wizards Unite) just to get some time in listening. It’s not a chore by any means, but a much more compressed time frame than I was hoping for.
I’ve made decent progress with The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory though I think I’ll be getting through it faster once I start my new job and have a longer commute. I’m not sure what the main action is that I should focus on yet, but I’m sure it will become clear soon.
I was able to pick up a new book from the library last night, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by Josephine Leslie. This is one a fellow writer recommended to me years ago at a writers’ group meeting. I’ve only just started it so no telling yet how I feel about it.

Recently finished: I finished up Writing and Selling the YA Novel by K.L. Going yesterday. It’s probably a bad idea to keep reading books on writing while I’m trying to finish editing my book. It keeps me wanting to make more and more changes so I feel like I’ll never be done! There was some good advice in this book, but I felt it could have used some more details. A review might take a while because I’m very behind on them right now!

Reading Next: I still plan to get to A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab soon but it’s not ‘next up’ anymore. I’ve given that spot to Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. This is an upcoming book club selection and I’ll need to get through the audiobook pretty quickly. Some upcoming half-marathon training should help with that!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 28-August-2019

28 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m probably going to slow down on Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min for a few weeks. I’m sad because I’m finally getting close to finishing it, but there’s not a lot of good time to work on reading it without work lunches to keep my structured. I’m sure I’ll find my groove again soon.
Time for a lot of new books! I picked up a new physical book, Writing and Selling the YA Novel by K.L. Going. I’m really pushing myself to finish my edits and it seemed like a good time to have a craft book fresh in my mind. I’m hoping this is a pretty fast read and that I can learn from it.
I started in on Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian on Monday so I’m still at the early stages. I have two weeks to finish it so I’m not worried and I think I’ll be able to take my time and enjoy it.
Because I’m not in such a rush to finish my eaduiobook, I picked up a CD audiobook for the car. I’ll be reading The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory, a favorite author. Gregory is also helpful when trying to fill in rogue time periods from the When Are You Reading? Challenge. I’m excited for more Tudor England.

Recently finished: I was desperate to finish The Map of Time by Félix Palma and lugged it to a wedding weekend with me only to not finish it until I got home. Oh well, I tried. I adored this book but I’m wondering about the other two in the series. There wasn’t much left that needed to be wrapped up. Right now, I’m not sure I’ll keep reading the series. I did love the writing, though, so that has me tempted. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.
I sped through An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and finished it the morning of my book club meeting! I really liked it which made the speed-listening no trouble at all. I’ve read Jones before so I knew the emotional journey I was about to jump in on and I adored it. The narration was great, all of it. I’ll have a full review coming soon. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

I posted two reviews this week. The first was for 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. This was a delightful little book and I’m so glad I read it. It was the perfect vacation book, too. Four out of Five Stars.
The second went up yesterday. I reviewed A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab and I can’t describe how excited I am to finish this series soon. This was a great second novel in the trilogy. I also gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: It seems odd to talk about my next books when I’ve just started so many. I do expect to get to A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab soon. I so often leave series unfinished and it would feel really good to wrap this one up.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (4/5)

26 Aug

I’m embarrassed that it took me this long to get to this book. I liked the first one in the series, but a lot of other books squeezed their way in between and it’s been more than three years since I started this series. That’s far too long. I remembered most of the first book, but there were details I’d forgotten and I think it hurt my reading of this book a little bit. I hope I can get to the third in a more timely fashion.

Cover image via Goodreads

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

Other books by Schwab reviewed on this blog:

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)

Summary from Goodreads:

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes 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.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

The start of the book was a good mix between a review of the first and picking up right where it left off. Lila and Kell’s parting was one of the few details I’d forgotten so I struggled with that a bit before I could settle into this book. Once I did, the book picked up right away and took us on a completely different adventure and I was all in. I loved the idea of the Element Games. It seems like a logical step to take in international relations with the magic that exists in that world. I found it a little unsettling that Lila could get in so easily, but I was able to suspend my disbelief and still have fun with it. The cliffhanger ending was the only part I didn’t enjoy. I wish it had wrapped up a little cleaner before cutting to book three.

Lila and Kell are well developed and that’s part of what makes them so likable. I’m not going to claim I’m anything like either of them or that I could be friends with them, but I can understand why they are the way they are and their reactions seemed in line with their characters. The secondary characters in this one, particularly Rhy and Alucard, were great and rounded out the cast well.

Alucard was my favorite character and I hope he has a big role in the final book. His story was great and I liked how he fit into both Lila and Kell’s stories. I’d like to hear more about him and I think we will going forward.

There were elements of each character’s story that I could relate to, but the fantastical setting kept me from fully sympathizing with anyone for the whole book. Alucard wanted to be accepted by his family, Lila wanted to prove herself, and Kell wanted independence. They were all relatable in some way, but without being able to travel between parallel worlds or the ability to control water, I was a bit too distant from them.

V.E. Schwab
Image via EW

The Element Games battles were my favorite part. They reminded me of a mix between The Hunger Games, and The Triwizard Tournament but much less deadly. I liked hearing about the ways Kell and Lila came up with to use their elements and win the battles. I liked the idea of it being a spectator sport and the ways Lila twisted the games to work for her. IT was a fun structure to build the book around.

The ending was frustrating! It was a total cliffhanger and left me a bit angry. I do not like cliffhangers and to me, it’s a sign that the books should have been combined into a longer volume and a publisher nixed that to make more money. The first book wrapped up somewhat nicely with a big event but this one stopped right before it. I wonder if this was Schwab’s plan all along or if it’s due to a quick money grab. It frustrated me.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer. I liked the dual-narrator as it played well with the dual-POV of the book. It can sometimes feel odd when a male narrator reads a female part and vice versa. I liked the decision to use both for this. Kramer was great. He has a way of using his low voice to add weight to Kell’s voice while giving Rhy an airy demeanor. Reading was good as well, but I think Kramer overshadowed her.

Kell has to sacrifice a lot for Rhy and his adoptive family. Eventually, he was asked to sacrifice too much. This book seemed to focus on what Kell was asked to give up, for who, and by who. The things Rhy asked of him never seemed too much though they might have been hard. Lila never asked him for anything but he’d give up almost everything for her. What the King and Queen asked of him always seemed too much. Maybe it has something to do with who asks, but also what they asked.

Writer’s Takeaway: Schwab has created a rich world in Red London. It’s parallels to Grey London and differences with White London are wonderfully illustrated. Her world-building is really commendable and I think it’s something a historical fiction writer can learn from. That’s an element of my book I could probably work on and Schwab has given a good example. It’s not just about the physical geography of the place, but the smells and sounds as well; the people who exist around the main cast and the ones that only come into play briefly. It’s the whole thing.

I enjoyed the book, though the ending frustrated me. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab | Story and Somnomancy
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