Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Conjuring of Light, by V.E. Schwab

Hey all! 

I just finished reading a Conjuring of Light, by V.E. Schwab! 

"The precarious equilibrium among the 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. Kell begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. Meanwhile, an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown and a fallen hero is desperate to save a decaying world…"

I would like to start by saying that I didn't know what I was getting into when I read this series, but I knew there was a huge hype surrounding it. I really enjoyed the series as a whole! The world, the magic system and the story building was incredible. The characters spoke to me, each for a different reason. I have reviews of the first two books of this series up from last year! 

From now on, I'll be mentioning spoilers. If you have not read this book, or any of the other installments, I would suggest coming back another time! 

I'm going to review this in a set of points rather than how I usually do it - I really wish I could actually make a video for this because a lot of feelings I have are difficult to write in words, but I'll do my best! 

So this book was really, really good! It was a very satisfying ending to a series that I had heard a lot of hype about, it was difficult to put down, and it had a satisfying ending! 

Going through the book, I actually started taking notes! Granted, most of these notes include things like "Rhy please don't die" and "Kell I love you but you're an idiot sometimes" and "Lila has a deathwish but they would all be dead without her", but that already should be able to give you a nice overview of A Conjuring of Light.

So we start with the confirmation that Lila is an Antari - something I had figured out the minute she said she had a fake eye in book 1. But this acts as a key to unlock a whole load of really good plot devices and creates a whole trust triangle between Kell, Lila and Holland. 

Holland became a lot more understandable in this book. I won't stretch it to say I love his character, but you can completely sympathize with his past and can really see his motives and reasonings. The three Antari balance perfectly! 

This book has a shadow cast over Red London, full of dark magic from Osaron, who wants to rule once again. This was an interesting concept as the darkness had a different effect on different people, depending on their relationship with magic. Antari are immune, as are people related in some way to one. Some strong magic users absorb some magic and become 'silvers', while others turn to ash completely once they let the magic it. It was so sad when Calla died, but I really enjoyed it when Alucard became a silver. 

Alucard quickly became one of my favorite characters. He always seems very uncaring... until someone he cares about is in trouble. Then he becomes the sweetest person in all of Red London, the most attentive and the most protective. He and Rhy are really sweet together, I must say! 

I also love Kell and Lila. His steady nature and her fire are really complementary, and I love 
how they keep saving each other I'm so happy that they're endgame with each other, and that they go explore the world when the book ends! 

About the ending of the book, I thought it was phenomenal - there were no major deaths, and the world got restored to a better state. 

The only thing that bothered me about this finale was the fact that, even though they were touched upon, there was no explanation as to who Kell was in the past. There was a mention as to where the jacket came from, but not what KL means, or about his real parents. I kinda wish the same idea was explained for Lila as well! 

The intrigue in this book was really great! I don't want to go into too many details, but it was a wonderful mix of politics, magic, belief in ones self and societal ranking. There were several points that amazed me, while others didn't come as much of a surprise. 

My for my final point - I appreciate the fact that Rhy never died, I really do! But he really should have died so many times! Kell's link that kept him alive could have broken somehow, or maybe after escaping death a certain number of times it starts to fade. Instead, there were situations in which is body could not possibly have survived an event, yet Rhy lived on. I feel like that pushed the immortal card a bit too far. 

I could talk about this book and this series for a long time, but then I'll start rambling too much. 

I'm giving this finale a 4.5/5 feathers! 

Have you read A Conjuring of Light? What did you think of it? Let me know! 

Stay bookish! 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Artemis, by Andy Weir

Hey, all! 

I just finished reading Artemis, by Andy Weir! 

This is one of those rare cases where I didn't like the characters much, but the book was so plot-driven that it kept me going. I read this book incredibly quickly and enjoyed the science of it. I will be slightly ranty about some character building, so watch for that! 

"Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first."

Okay so I've heard a lot of mixed opinions on this book. I found myself to be in the middle of all of the controversy. As a science nerd, I really loved the science blabbering, as well as the chemistry-based plot! It was super well thought-out in the chemistry side, and I appreciated how well the science was explained. 

Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was the pacing. Although I'm someone who loves short chapters - and this book's chapters were quite long - it is written in such a way that I always wanted to know what happened next, a la Da Vinci Code. As a result, I read this book in less than a day

This story is about Jazz, a Saudi-Arabian girl who lives on the moon. She's a smuggler, helping get mild illegals onto the moon and to their recipients. She's super smart, thus a multimillionaire asks her to vandalize a company that creates oxygen for the moon-city, in order to provide oxygen for the moon on his own, for people to pay him. Needing money, Jazz agrees, but as expected, things go wrong. 

As much as I enjoyed the plot and keeping up with what was happening I had a hard time with what a lot of readers seemed to have a problem with... Jazz. 

Oh man Jazz was annoying. It felt like Andy doesn't know how to write female characters - she's the only one with a real role in the book, and she has the mindset of a 15-year-old boy. She was 'perfect' - smart, rebellious, good-looking, sarcastic and known by all. She always got told that she was smart enough to do something other than a low-paying job, but she never looked into it, even though she kept mentioning needing money. Her humor was forced and just off, and she never, ever let herself be feminine without either receiving shame or shaming herself. 

I think Andy Weir tried to be diverse but it just all fell apart - while I did enjoy that the moon colony came from Kenya, it felt like all of the random countries mentioned were mentioned for the sake of being mentioned. Same goes for varying religions and sexualities. It would be really interesting for someone from one of these countries, religions, or someone from the LGBT community to read this, I'm curious to know what you think of the representation. I'm hardly one to talk - being white straight and atheist - but something about it just felt forced. 

That's all I have for today! I'm giving it 3/5 feathers - I loved the plot and reading process, but I feel like this book was problematic in some regards. 

Have you read Artemis? What did you think of it? Let me know! 

Stay bookish! 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab

Hey, all! 

*I'm a little sick so my review may be short and sweet rather than long and very detailed. Hopefully this will cut back some spoilers as well* 

I just finished reading a Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab! This series may be one of my new favorites, and I cannot wait to receive book 3! 

"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."

I'm so happy that this book didn't fall into the dreaded second-book syndrome! A Gathering of Shadows picks up 4 months after ADSOM left off - Lila is now a thief on a ship, while Kell and Rhy are trying to figure out life now that their lives are more entwined than they could imagine. This installment focuses on an event called the Magic Games, which makes magic users from different cities compete against each other using the elements they can control. 

Of course, both Lila and Kell find themselves in these games. Of course, things go wrong. It wouldn't be a good book if that didn't happen, now would it? 

The games were a lot of fun to read about! You really felt the competition in how it was written and in everyone's reaction to it. 

This book is constantly busy and flowing, in such a way that I never wanted to put it down! The only thing that made me slow down is that it took quite a while for the main plot of the book to begin - most of the first chapters were fluffy in order to explain what happened in the time before the Games were announced. 

Kell is still adorable - I love his character, how careful he is and how aware he is of Lila around him. Lila an interesting character as well, but very stubborn at times. However, I am not surprised about her true nature - I expected it since book 1! What I'm more curious about is her backstory - notably how she ended up in Gray London. 

A new character we meet is Alucard - the Captain of Lila's ship, and a strong magic user from Red London. I never really knew whether to trust him or not, until his past with Rhy was revealed. To be fair I wasn't surprised - Rhy has a flamboyant enough personality. However, I am very curious about how his role will be involved in book 3. 

I'm sorry about how short and messy this is! I'm giving this book 4/5 feathers :) 

Have you read A Gathering of Shadows? What id dyou think about it? Let me know! 

Stay bookish! 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

2017 - What Happened There?

Hey, all! 

Ok - we have stuff to talk about. Get ready for a long post, but I gotta get this written down.

At the beginning of the year (or the end of last year), I mentioned some big goals I had for blogging, reading etc.

If you've been following me for a while, well, you'll see that most of these goals didn't exactly go to completion... 

So today, I'm going to post a 2017 recap - what I managed to get done, what I missed out on, and why that might be the case. 

So I'm a big believer in the 'bad news first' deal. So before I go on about what I managed to get done, I'm going to go over why I've been mostly MIA this year. 

Some deep stuff I needed to write down
First, I want to apologize for my blogger attitude. As bloggers, we give opinions on what we read, and we agree to read books authors and publishers send us before publication. I've been really slow with all of this in 2017, both the reading and reviewing aspect. The number of NetGalley ARCs I need to read is kind of incredible...

I also have not been visiting other blogs as much as I would have liked to. Those of you who have blogs, I love what you write, and I hope that you keep blogging so well! I'm sorry that I haven't had much of an opportunity to visit your sites, I'll do my best to change that :) 

My Goodreads goal was 70 books. I read 60 last year so I figured it was possible to get to 70. As of now, I made it less than halfway. I didn't lose interest in reading, on the contrary! Sometimes all I want to do is sit down for a week and do nothing but reading. 

Now for something more personal - life has been unusual this year. A lot of it has to do with university - I've always been a fairly good student, until last winter when I realized that I needed to take an extra year of classes to go into the master's program I want to apply for. Since then, I've been finding it increasingly difficult to pass my courses, to the point where I fail exams more often than I pass them. As a result, I've been putting reading, blogging, and archery aside - my three biggest hobbies - in order to try to pass classes that I end up failing. This brought back some insecurities in my mind, which just increased stress in the long run. 

Now, I'm not falling into any mental illness, such as depression - (In fact, the past two years, I have been doing incredibly well! My confidence grew, as did my self-comfort and my regards to other people. I'm happy in my own skin, and with the people around me, and for once I'm not afraid of being on my own in the future, or of growing up!) - I just feel constantly caught up with time, and have been putting too many responsibilities into my own hands, such as extra classes, being the co-chair of a committee, extra working hours, driving classes, and starting my thesis early. "That's life", as some say. 

I was talking about this recently with a good friend of mine, and the discussion boiled down to something I had not thought of. Maybe all of this has been happening because I somehow messed up my balance between uni and the things I enjoy. I used to read and blog constantly, in such a way that it actually helped me focus on university. Maybe I studied more efficiently when I took more time to do what I enjoyed because I had less time to study all the fluff? It makes sense... 

Therefore, my resolution for 2018 might sound counterproductive, but I think I'll be better off if it works: to put more priority into doing the things enjoy. I'll be blogging more, reading more, putting more hours into archery - maybe even find a local coach! I have some cake recipes that I've been wanting to try for years! And, as much as I honestly enjoy learning about my courses, maybe taking a break from them will make me enjoy it all more. 

What I Accomplished in 2017
I don't know if I ever mentioned this on here, but 17 has always been my lucky number. Not too sure why, but it's never failed me. 

Although I've been trying to figure out everything that I wrote about above, I did have a pretty decent year! 

- I read books

- I kept up my Instagram! It grew a lot and I cannot believe how much support I am getting through it! 

- I organized a Dutch Bookstagram Meetup with some of the loveliest instagrammers and bloggers I know! Please go follow @Anniekslibrary, @sortingdays, and @sneirrbooks! 

- I was albe to represent some lovely companies! Please please check them out! 

- I was a part of the Boekhandel Dominicanen's group Young Adult Dome, that introduced me to great books, events and people

- I helped organize a huge Harry Potter party that even made the local news! 

- I worked with lovely authors 


- I narrowed down what my passions in education are! I'm applying to a Masters in Physical and Material Chemistry, with a minor in Astronomy! It's going to be a bit difficult for me as I'm not very mathematically inclined, but I am not afraid to take more time to learn. 

- I got an awesome thesis topic to work on - Sgr A*, the black hole in the center of the Milky Way!

- I visited London which is now one of my favorite big cities.

- I jumped off a 9m cliff into a river for a canyon tour which was one of my year's highlights!

- I figured out that not all people are going to judge for no reason, and that I could be myself without worrying what people think. 

- I traveled around the Netherlands some more and explored some places in France

- I watched all of Friends, no shame, at all

- I managed to take and pass some classes that I believed would be incredibly difficult for me. 

I hope that you are enjoying the holidays, no matter where you are from, what you celebrate and what you believe in! No matter what, we are all going into a new year in a few days, and I hope that 2018 is everything you hope it will be. 

Stay bookish, and thank you for this year!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Just Another Week, Always New Discoveries III

Hey, all! 

I hope you are doing well! Winter break has officially started here, and, with 7 weeks off, I hope I'll be able to read a bit more than usual, to review some more and to catch up on everything that I missed! 

Stay Bookish 

1. Read
So I kind of temporarily gave up on A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - it's been a little slow for me especially through exams where I can only really read one short chapter at a time. I might pick it up during the winter break again. 

Yesterday, I started A Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab! I'm 2 sections in and I adore it, just as I adored a Darker Shade of Magic!  

2. Haul
No haul this time! However I did re-purpose a candle I had! One of my candles I had from Letters and Lights had its wick burn out, but loads of wax was still on the edges. I melted it and re-formed it to make melts! 

3. Discover
I didn't discover much, but I'm simply dying for Obsidio to be published! This is the third Illuminae book by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufmann, and it'll be out in March! 

Bring on the Music
Oh I've actually been all OVER the music front lately! Right now I'm listening to something I just discovered yesterday - Walk The Moon's new album. I actually really love it! :D 

Sleeping At Last is a band I also discovered this week, and they're amazing to read/relax to! I would recommend listening to their song called Earth. 

I also re-discovered many songs I used to listen to when I was 13-15, and of course, had to make a playlist with them ^^. It's funny how I haven't heard many of these songs in years, yet still know many of them by heart! 

On a more serious note, a very well-appreciated French singer - Johnny Hallyday, died last week. The impact it had on the country was huge... he will be missed. 

Movies and Motion Pictures

1. TV shows
Since yesterday, I've been catching up with Once Upon a Time! I didn't think I'd like the new season, with #CaptainSwan gone and Henry being an adult, but I love the way they twisted it this season! It reflects season 1 well but still manages to surprise me! 

2. Movies
I want to seen Coco! And Wonder! I heard that the new Star Wars movie was supposed to be good, but I'm not a big fan of the franchise, for some reason. 

That's it for me this week! I'd love to see your responses! 

Stay bookish! 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Just Another Week, Always New Discoveries - II

Hey, all! 

This is my second entry for Just Another Week, Always New Discoveries! I really enjoyed writing this last week! I hope you'll join me in writing these! 

Stay Bookish 

1. Read
I finished reading A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab! I absolutely adored it, and ordered book 2 right away! You can find my post here if you are interested. 

I started reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I'm enjoying it so far! 

2. Haul
I have a haul this time! I rarely buy books but this time I had a gift certificate for my birthday so I spent some of it on books I've been wanting! I was so happy to receive them last night! I opened a box to find... 
- A Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab
- Warcross, by Marie Lu
- Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes (which I had to unhaul a year ago because there was no room in my suitcase... my review is here!
- Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

3. Discover
This week, I didn't discover much - I've been very very busy! ^^ 

Bring on the Music
I got the tickets for Fall Out Boy I mentioned last week! I've also been listening to a lot of Green Day and general 'energetic' music, I must say. It helps give me energy on the days where I need it. I don't listen to it as much usually!

Movies and Motion Pictures

1. TV shows
I'm kind of tempted to start watching Stranger Things, as everyone is talking so much about it! But I don't really have the time... this weekend I'll hopefully catch up on Once Upon A Time, though! 

2. Movies
Wonder is now out at the movies! I heard so many amazing things about it, I hope to see it soon! Have you seen it or read the book? 

That's it for me this week! Make sure to use the linky below to join in! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

Hey, all! 

I just found a possible new favorite series? 

I finished reading A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab and I loved every bit of it! 

"Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. 

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive."

I'll start with the writing. Most of the time, it is difficult to judge the writing style in a book, and I tend to keep to the plot and the characters. Schwab has a way of writing that is incredibly elegant, both light and engrossing, in such a way that when something is described, you can imagine every bit of it. There's also a pacing in the book that is constant. This sounds like a stupid point, but it made it so easy to keep reading! Plus, if you've been reading my reviews for a while, you know how much I adore short chapters. This had chapters in chapters which was perfect!

The idea of the 4 worlds with the common point being London as a kind of "wormhole" between them is a really interesting concept. The four worlds have nothing to do with each other except for a city. It makes me wonder if there are other worlds in this universe that don't have London, that Kell could maybe travel to as well.

Kell <3 
About Kell! I absolutely adore his character and I really hope to see more of him in the upcoming books! He is smart and witty and not afraid to go through danger to help someone he cares about. I love his calm, collected personality, combined with his wits. He's a Ravenclaw for sure. His relationship with both Rhy and Lila was so great! One of my new fave characters!

Lila was so cool as well! I enjoyed reading about her a lot. I play Dungeons and Dragons, and my favorite character to play is one very much like Lila - a Rogue Thief with wild dreams and high ambitions, who is stubborn yet loyal.

We also had side characters that just showed up in a chapter or two but that made all of the difference. At one point, we meet Booth. He's just a drunk guy who's at the wrong place at the wrong time. He is quickly possessed by magic from Black London in the coolest way, and this affects the rest of the story.

That's a part of the elegance of this book. The plot can derive to a totally unknown character, and every little action still has a consequence. It's a book full of the butterfly effect, in a way that leaves you wanting to read more.

Another great thing about this book is that magic had rules, but it became almost limitless
based on how people decided to relate to it. Kell used magic as an ally, so had his own morals about it. White London uses it as a weapon, so it became more ruthless. In Black London (which doesn't really have people), it is limitless. It was written very intelligently, and it made sense. Additionally, the whole elemental system was elaborate and elegant.

This book is for magic lovers, for explorers, for dark magic enthusiasts, for people who like historical fiction, and political intrigue. I would highly recommend it to everyone, as there's something in it for anyone. It's not shy about violence, but it's not centered around it. This book is a beautiful balance of everything I love in fiction, and I cannot wait to read what Schwab comes up with next in this world!

I'm giving this book a 5/5 feathers! My goodness I could not put it down! 

There is so much more I could write aobut for this book! Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? What did you think about it? Let me know! 

Stay bookish!