(This is a review for a third book in a series. There will be minor spoilers for the previous two books)
The end to a series worries me, whether it be a TV show or book series. I am eager to reach the conclusion, to see how things work themselves out but I am also a bit terrified. The final book in a series is the one chance to wrap everything up in a way that makes sense and gives us an idea of what will become of the characters. I know that there is a lot of pressure to end a series just right. I have been severely disappointed before (*cough Hunger Games, Maze Runner cough*) and that scares me for other series. Then there are the times where things just fall right into place and things end perfectly. V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light is one that ends just the way it should have.
A Conjuring of Light picks up right where A Gathering of Shadows left off. Kell is a prisoner, Rhy is dying and Lila is determined to save them both. I am not going to reveal too much of what happens because it could ruin the story. But the plot primarily revolves around everyone trying to banish the shadow king from Black London. They all realize they have to work together to get their home back.
This book took off from the very first page. The tension and stakes are set high and they do not soften at all. Things began at a running pace and they only grow into a sprint as the book goes on. I was on the edge of my seat from the start, waiting to see what the next chapter was going to bring. Who would going to get hurt or die? What obstacles were going to fall into their way? What were they going to do to defeat this threat? The pace never let up and I loved that. For a final book I wanted things to keep moving and this book did just that.
All of the characters evolved well throughout this series but the one that struck me in this book was Holland. Holland was a character that sat in the background for the other two books for me. I didn’t feel anything strong for him one way or another. He was just kind of there. I understood him. He was being forced to act against his will and he loved his city but I didn’t connect to why. I didn’t get why I should care. This book changed all of that.
This was Holland’s book. We saw his past, and got an understanding of his connection to White London. His choices, what he wanted and what he was willing to do all made sense after this book. I became invested in his life and was eager to keep learning more about him and his past. He felt the most alive to me. I felt sympathy for him and wanted to help him, which was not something I thought I was going to feel for him when I started the book.
Another aspect I really liked of this book was the way the romantic aspects were wrapped up. Often romance has a tendency to take over a story. Even if the book is not romance, the romantic aspects start to dictate the choices made and where the story goes. I like romance but I have an issue when we lose the story inside that romance.
This series did not do that. The two romantic storylines were integrated into the larger story well. We got a wrap up to them, we got to ee the issues inside those relationships but they weren’t the only thing we focused on. We got the bigger story with the romance elements inside of it. I appreciated the way they were written and wrapped up.
This was the way to end a series in my opinion. The plot came to a final conclusion. The relationships were finalized and there was still room left open for another story with these characters. I like when there is a possibility for more while ending the story we were reading in a final and satisfactory way.
According to my Goodreads reading challenge I read 36 books this year! I know that there was at least one book that I did not finish though and I did reread the first and second Harry Potter books because I got the illustrated versions. Most of the books I read this year I really loved. I wrote review for many of them which I will include links to when possible.
I love when I spend the year reading books that I adore. I found some new authors that I will be following and reading their new material. I started some new series which I am excited to finish!
Take a look back with me on some of my favorite books of the year!
We will start with V.E. Schwab, who has become my new favorite author. I read the first two books in her Shades of Magic series. I wrote a review for A Darker Shade of Magic. The third and final book should be coming out in February and I am excited to see how the series ends!
I then read This Savage Song ,which i received in a book subscription box. I was thrilled to see it in the box because I had been wanting it for so long. It was a great story about the difference between good and evil and what makes someone a “monster.” My review on it has more of my thoughts. The second one comes out in June and I can’t wait!
I recently finished Vicious. It was probably my least favorite of the four but I still really enjoyed it. I love the way she looks at what it means to be good and bad and if there is a true distinction between the two concepts.
I read the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer really quick. It was a great ride. I loved the fresh ways of viewing the fairytale characters. I hope to be able to read Heartless sometime this new year. I wrote a review for Cinder which you can find here.
I also fell in love with the Six of Crows series. This was another one that I got lost in. I loved the characters, they were all unique and felt alive. The story was fast-paced and full of adventure. I wrote a review for the series as a whole which you can find here.
To round out the series I read is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. This was another fun one. I liked the take on time loops, the characters were all fun and interesting and the story kept me turning pages for three books without an issue. I did a review for each of the books which you can find here, here and here.
Now for some individual books. I read More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera after seeing a review for it. It was one of those books that left me in shock and emotional at the end. It so well written and heart breaking. Few things get me choked up but this one was of them.
We are the ants by Shaun David Huchtinson was just a book I found in passing. It so much more than I thought it was going to be. I fell in love with it quickly. It a good look at why you would want to keep the world around even when it is breaking your heart. I will be adding a review for this one soon.
I technically think I started this one before 2016 but I finished it in 2016 so it counts. This one falls outside my usual genre. If you can’t tell fantasy is the genre I usually read in. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill was a horror book and I was enthralled by it. It was scary yet interesting at the same time. I don’t usually enjoy horror but I did really enjoy this one. You can find my review here.
I know this one probably isn’t landing on many favorites’ lists this year. There are issues with it, and I go into my depth about them in my review here. But I loved this despite the issues. I loved being transported back to the Harry Potter universe and I loved the addition of Scorpious. This was a fun ride and one I did love reading.
So those are just some of my favorites from this year. What did you read in 2016? Did you enjoy the majority? What are some of your favorites?
I picked up Vicious because it was by V.E. Schwab. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors this year and I am working on getting through all her books. I have heard this one is one that is recommended for those who want to start reading her books. I didn’t know much about the story, other than it was a revenge plot. But I have been impressed by her other books, and the depth she brings to her characters, and this one did not disappoint me.
The story itself is pretty basic. Victor and Eli are college friends. They are working on their thesis’s and Eli decides to do his on EO’s or ExtraOrdinarys. ExtraOrdinarys are basically people who have super powers. The thesis becomes an experiment. The experiment goes wrong and Victor ends up in jail. After ten years he gets out and he is set on revenge against a man he used to call a friend.
If this story did not have strong characters I would have lost interest fast. The plot is not one full of twists or turns. There is nothing too innovative about the plot itself. The addition of the super powers makes it a bit more interesting but nothing too new. Victor blames Eli for what happened and Eli blames Victor. At the end of the day it is a story about simple revenge.
What makes it more complex and what held my attention was Victor and Eli. These two are complicated people. To start off they aren’t two people who are real close friends. They are tolerate friends in the beginning. They find a kinship in each other. Both of them are selfish. They both don’t trust others and they both don’t trust each other.
We learn quickly that while they get along they still hold each other at arms length. Victor resents Eli for getting a girl they both liked. Eli starts to resent that Victor became part of his experiment. They both state that they can tell there is something not quite right about the other one. They can see in each other the darkness that is in their hearts, but it doesn’t make them run.
Neither one of these men are “good” people. They both make some pretty bad decisions and they both hurt people. I think this is what made the story. I knew that because we primarily focused on Victor that we are supposed to be on his side. He is our primary narrator so we should want him to win, we should understand him. The thing was that even though I understood him, I didn’t actually like him.
Victor has a soft side, which is needed because otherwise there is no way we could relate or want to listen to him. But that soft side doesn’t last long. He makes one good decision and then runs backwards ten feet. The man is set on his plan and in the end people will get hurt, he can’t stop that. He cares about Sydney and Mitch (his sidekicks) but he doesn’t care enough to turn away from what he wants.
Eli thinks he is doing what is right. I understood where Eli was coming from but I couldn’t sympathize with him. He comes off as delusional most of the story. I found it interesting that I didn’t hate him. Usually in these type of stories you take sides. You choose either the hero or the villain, usually the hero. But in this story there was no side to take.
Both men made choices to help themselves and only themselves. Both of them hated each other for a series of events that really both of them could be blamed for. I didn’t want Victor to “win” or for Eli to “lose.” I wanted them to find a way to see the darkness inside themselves and realize that what they were doing would do nothing for anyone, even themselves.
The end of the book was a bit of a let down. I expected a major confrontation between the two men. I expected them to go at each other, or to have a long talk; one that laid everything out and put who they were out there in the open for everyone to see. The book led up to that point and it took a handful of pages to complete. I predicted it from half way through the book. I wanted more from the ending. I wanted it to end with a bang and what I got was more a whimper.
I enjoyed this book. It is not my favorite by V.E. Schwab (that is still This Savage Song). I liked the characters and that neither were good people. I liked not knowing who I was supposed to like. I liked the way it was told by flipping between past and present, it made the story feel like it was always moving. I just wish the end had had more of an impact.
I have been meaning to pick up A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab for ages now. I have seen repeated reviews of it and all have been great. The idea of separate Londons connected my magic was interesting to me. I finally got around to buying it and I am so glad that I did. It was one of those books I continuously picked up just to read one more chapter. I was always wondering what was going to happen next. The characters are complex and have so much potential. I am halfway through the second book in the series and so far it is living up to my expectations.
In A Darker Shade of Magic, there are four Londons. There is Red London, Grey London, White London and Black London. Each one has a different relationship to magic. Grey London has no magic. Red London is the ideal place to live. It has a balance of magic and the power that comes with it. White London is being eaten alive by the magic in its borders. Black London is a legend, consumed by magic long ago.
Kell is an Antari from Red London. He is one of the select few who can travel between all the Londons. He also is one of the most powerful throughout the Londons, able to control all aspects of magic. He comes into possession of an artifact from Black London and has to get it back before it destroys him and his home.
Lila is a thief from Grey London who become entangled in Kell’s mess. She is desperate for freedom and adventure. She quickly learns that this desire can be more dangerous than she initially anticipated.
There are a number of aspects I love about this story. One of my favorite parts is that magic has a literal life of its own. Magic is not just a force that can be used by a select few. It lives. Those who use it have to talk with it and form a relationship in order for it to work with them. It even has its own language.
Magic becomes its own character. I love this idea. Much of the time magic is a force that is a tool for the characters. It may be said to live, but in this story it actually does. It is not something that just needs to be harnessed, it needs to be respected. Magic is one-half of a partnership. Kell knows how to speak with the magic so it works with him, not for him.
Magic has its own wants and needs. We see all the angles of magic and its life. This was one of the most fascinating parts of this story for me. It was refreshing to see a new take on magic. I am eager to see how this evolves in the future books.
Lila has to be my favorite character. She is strong, stubborn and independent. She does not let anyone push her around. She is sassy and will argue if she feels it necessary. No one gets to tell her what to do. Lila does not like to be indebted to anyone, she wants to control her own life. She doesn’t want to need anyone.
Lila forms a complex relationship with Kell. She needs him once she is displaced from her own. He has the information she needs to survive and she fights the idea of needing him. She fights the idea but also begins to understand that sometimes you do need other people. I am interested to see how Lila continues to balance this idea with the independent side of herself.
Kell is also a great character. He lives with the royal family. While Rhy (the prince) considers him a brother, the king and queen have created a distance between themselves and him. This was an interesting dynamic to read. It puts Kell in a difficult position that really affects his character.
Kell has an obsession with smuggling artifacts between the Londons. This is what gets him into the trouble that he battles throughout this book. Kell is not quite sure who he is. He has no memories of his true past, he lives in a family that only kind of wants him. Kell struggles to figure out an identity for himself.
Both Kell and Lila are floating along to find a purpose. When he meets Lila he meets someone who is struggling with many of the same issues he is. I am interested to see how their relationship progresses throughout the books. I am sure they both are going to help each other come to terms with certain aspects of themselves.
In this book, there is the barest hint of what is going to come next when it comes to the plot. What is more interesting and, what is making me continue to read, is how these characters are going to develop. Who will Kell and Lila become and how will they help each other to grow.
I have been adding a number of books to my “want to read,” shelf on my Goodreads account over the last few months. Between recommendations from blogs and BookTubers I watch, the list has been growing quick. I decided it was time to go on a bit of a book splurge and buy a few of them. I really shouldn’t have because I do have a big trip coming up that I should have been saving my money for but I have zero self-control when it comes to books!!
First up is A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. I just finished the first book in this series (A Darker Shade of Magic)and loved it. ( I will be putting up a review sometime soon.) When I like a series I need to continue reading it. I won’t read a book in-between if I can help it. So this is the one I am currently on and am excited to see what happens next with our characters.
One of my favorite paranormal authors is Gena Showalter. Firstlife is the first in a new young adult series she is writing. It is about a world where your first life is just practice, your real life begins after you die. You have to choose where you will go once you die and a young woman has to decide between two factions and worlds that want her. The concept of being able to choose your afterlife, and that being what is important was an interesting concept to me. I am interested to see what this story is like.
Another Gena Showalter that I bought. This is the next book in The Lords of the Underworld series. I have reviewed the previous book on my blog, (here). I love this series and am so excited to read Bane’s story. I am eager to see where the story goes. Though I was confused when I got this one just because all the other books have been in paperback; but this one is hardback. It won’t detract from the story, it will just look very odd with the other ones from the series on my shelf.
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera is one I actually saw a review for by a BookTuber I watch and it sounded really interesting. It is about a sixteen-year-old who is struggling in his life. His girlfriend is helping him but he is falling for his male best friend. He is struggling with what it means and is given a way to help himself. A memory-alternating procedure can help him but leaves him wondering who he truly is. I love the concept of the memory-altering idea and what it means for person and who they are. The reviewer said this one was emotional and gave a lot of “feels.” I am hoping for an emotional journey.
Everyday by David Levithan is one of those books I have been wanting to get for a long time. I really love the other books I have read by Levithan and this one sounded really interesting. It is about someone who wakes up in a new body and a new life each morning. This concept is fascinating to me. I really liked the show Quantum Leap and this sounded similar. I am interested in what this story will end up being about.