Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Name:  A Gathering of Shadows
Author:  
V. E. Schwab
Number of Pages:
  508 (Paperback)
Published:
February 23 2016 by titan Books
Genre:  Fantasy

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.    – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

A Gathering of Shadows picks up after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, so beware potential minor spoilers below. It’s a long time since I read that book, and getting back into the world of alternate Londons was an enjoyable page-turning read.

Lila is all at sea, quite literally, as she has negotiated her way into the crew of a privateer ship, The Night Spire. The ship’s captain, Alucard Emery is intrigued by Lila’s appearance, and gives her a chance to prove herself as his ‘best thief’.

Back in Red London, Kell is adjusting to a somewhat more confined way of life after events of the last book saw his life become tied to that of Prince Rhy. Whatever befalls Kell also affects the heir to the throne, so Kell can no longer take endangering risks, or put himself in harm’s way, as he has his brother to think of too.

And whatever they encounter long the way, Lila and Kell still think of each other. It’s inevitable their paths will cross again, and I couldn’t wait to see how it happened.

There’s so much to like about this book. Alucard Emery has become one of my new favourite characters, the sea captain who is so much more than he first appears.
I also liked the magical tournament, the Essen Tasch, which brings certain characters together and allows for some great scenes of action and magic. While some characters attend through reputation and magical skill, others gain their place by various methods of subterfuge.
There’s also a dark threat from elsewhere, as White London is apparently returning to life, and someone will go to great lengths to ensure that the place thrives now.

A Darker Shade of Magic is well paced, mixing adventure, magic, danger and at least a hint of romance. This world of several Londons comes to life on the page so vividly, and as always Kell and Lila are at the heart of the tale.

That ending!! Let’s just say I’m very glad that the next book is already published, because I don’t think I’d enjoy having to wait to find out how all this is going to play out. I’m sure it won’t be long before I pick up A Conjuring of Light.

 

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Book Review: Year One by Nora Roberts

Name:  Year One
Author:  
Nora Roberts
Number of Pages:
  432 (Hardback)
Published:
December 5th 2017 by Piatkus
Genre:  Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic

Goodreads

It began on New Year’s Eve.
The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.
Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most.
As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.
In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.
The end has come. The beginning comes next.    – from Goodreads

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Year One offers up a post-apocalypse that is both worldly and other-worldly.
It begins with the Doom, a flu-like virus that takes hold incredibly quickly and wipes out a lot of the world’s population. Of those who survive some are immune, but there are those who manifest abilities and powers previously unknown to them, and this is the other-worldly element. Magic is alive and well in this world, although not everyone with power uses it for good, there’s dark and light.
There are witches, elves, faeries, seers. All manner of magic flows through the pages of Year One.
There are action scenes and moments of horror set against the development of new communities and the joining together of various groups of survivors, both immunes and Uncanny (the name given to those with powers).

I thought the balance was more in favour of the domestic scenes and the community building. I did enjoy this, because what else would you do if everything fell apart but try to rebuild if possible, but there was so much else hinted at in this collapsing world, like the threat to the Uncanny as they were apparently being rounded up to be studied, and there were the Raiders, groups who had only destructive purposes. These themes didn’t receive much attention and I’d have swapped some of the domestic/cooking scenes for more of the supernatural/action.

I found the dialogue occasionally disjointed in a way, and didn’t think it was always evident who was speaking. I found myself going back a few lines at times.

When Year One was good it was quite great. There were some really spooky moments, and the darkness and power setting brothers against each other, and the cost of these confrontations, was totally engrossing. I would have loved more of these high-stakes scenes, especially concerning the situation in the major cities as humanity fell apart, the conflict between the authorities and the Uncanny, and the places to which these special people were taken. Who knows, maybe that’s something to come in future instalments.

Booking Ahead: February 2018

Booking Ahead is a feature on Pages and Tea where I glance through my never-ending TBR list/pile and select a few potential reads for the coming month. If I’m not reading books I love talking about books I’d like to read, so this post is a perfect excuse to do just that.

Welcome to the first Booking Ahead of 2018.
I’ve signed up for Beat the Backlist again this year so I’m sticking with the format I used last year in my Booking Ahead posts. It’ll be a mix of the new and the old when I’m picking out my potential reads for the coming month.

New Books

The Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan – This is one of the books I’ve seen on quite a few lists lately so I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s the synopsis, I think it’s going to be a good read.

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

Books from the Backlist

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab – Back to the adventures of Kell and Lila. It’s been too long since I finished A Darker Shade of Magic, so I’m glad to get back into this magical world.

It by Stephen King – I watched the movie recently and inevitably it’s left me wanting to re-read the book. It’s so long and I have such a massive TBR pile that I don’t know whether I’ll actually end up reading it this month, but I want to mention it, just in case…


What are you hoping to read this month? Have you read of my picks, and if so what did you think?
See you again next month for another Booking Ahead.

Monthly Summary: January 2018

Hello and welcome to my first Monthly Summary of 2018.

How has your new year of reading started off?
My reading has taken me through a winter in the Scottish Highlands, then I ventured into mermaid-infested waters to discovers the monsters of the deep before journeying on into a post-apocalyptic scenario in which magic makes people more than regular humans. It’s all pretty exciting, and aren’t books wonderful, that I’ve experienced all this mostly from the comfort of my own home.

I also took part in the latest Bout of Books (and can’t wait for the next one already) and wrote a couple of Top Ten Tuesday entries, so I’ve had quite a good start to this new reading and blogging year. Here’s a round up of what happened on Pages and Tea during January…

Book Reviews

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

The Watcher by Ross Armstrong

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Featured Posts

 

Top Ten Tuesday

Books I Never Managed to Read in 2017

Bookish Resolutions/Goals

Other New Posts

2017 End of Year Survey

Beat the Backlist 2018 Challenge

Reading Review

Reading Resolutions 2018

January Progress

Beat the Backlist Challenge Progress

Read-A-Thon Updates

Bout of Books January 2018 Sign Up
Bout of Books January 2018 Progress
Bout of Book Final Summary

Events

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon

Reading Review: January 2018

Welcome to my Monthly Reading Review.
This post is my attempt to keep track of how I’m doing with my reading challenges and resolutions.

BOOKS I’VE READ

The Watcher by Ross Armstrong

The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Year One by Nora Roberts

Total Library Books Read This Month:  4
Total Own Books Read This Month:  0
Overall Total Books Read This Month:  4

Total Library Books Read 2018:  4
Total Own Books Read 2018:  0
Overall Total Books Read 2018:  4

MY READ OF THE MONTH

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant.

It was my first 5* read of the year, so has to feature as my Read of the Month. Killer mermaids, scientists, dolphins, and high-stakes out on the vast ocean, what more could you want? Add in a few pretty scary moments and you’re in for a good read.

BEAT THE BACKLIST

My total for this challenge is 4 books read.  I’ve read:

The Watcher by Ross Armstrong
The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Year One by Nora Roberts

GOODREADS

I set myself the target of reading 20 books this year, which is the same as last year. I didn’t want to go too high because I always choose such long books that I want to keep it low pressure and just enjoy what I’m reading, without having a massive target to reach.
My current total of books read is 4.

GOALS

  • I’ve kept up with my reviews so far, which is quite good as I’ve read more this month than I usually do.
  • I took part in my first readathon of the year, Bout of Books, and am on the lookout for another even to participate in.
  • Sci-fi and Post-Apocalyptic featured in my reading choices this month, so I’m still indulging my enjoyment of those genres.

So concludes January’s Reading Review. See you again next month

Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Name:  Into the Drowning Deep
Author:  
Mira Grant
Number of Pages:
  484 (Paperback)
Published:
November 13th 2017 by Little, Brown Book Group
Genre:  Sci-fi, Horror

Goodreads

The ocean is home to many myths,
But some are deadly…
Seven years ago the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a mockumentary bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a tragedy.
Now a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.
Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.
But the secrets of the deep come with a price.    – from Goodreads

My Rating:

 

My Thoughts:

Do I think they found mermaids?
Yes, of course I do.
And I think the mermaids ate them all.
                                                  – Dr Jillian Toth

Seven years ago a crew set sail on the Atargatis to film a mockumentary about sea creatures of myth and legend, the mermaid.
That crew never returned home, and rumour and speculation was rife, especially since the ship was found with no one on board, a ghost ship.
What did emerge was disturbing footage that seemed to prove the existence of mermaids, but it painted them as monsters of the deep, rather than the beautiful myth that so many imagine.
Some called it a hoax, most agree it was a tragedy, but for Victoria Stewart, a marine biologist, it is personal. Her sister Anne was lost with the Atargatis, and Tory is dedicated to finding out the truth about mermaids and what happened to her sister.
Needless to say that when another trip to the Mariana Trench is proposed, Tory is definitely onboard, along with a large and mostly great cast of characters. The new ship, the Melusine, is off into dangerous territory…

They had sailed off the edge of the map, into the waters the cartographers had marked with ‘Here be monsters’ and a picture of something terrible and toothy…

The book works so well in that it delivers the goods about the horror lurking somewhere out in the vast ocean right at the beginning as we’re treated to glimpses of the Atargatis footage.
We know what is out there, there’s a great teaser, then the book goes into the development of some of the central characters.
There’s Tory and her friend and colleague Luis, who through vast amounts of family money funds a lot of their research and projects.
Dr Jillian Toth always claimed mermaids were real but refused a place aboard the Atargatis.  She lives with guilt, believing she sent all those people to their deaths, encouraging them with her claims that these creatures were out there but staying behind when it came time to prove it.
Jillian’s estranged husband Theo Blackwell works for Imagine Entertainment, the company behind both expeditions and also has a place on the new expedition.

Also on board are the Wilson family – twins Heather and Holly, and their sister Hallie who accompanies them as interpreter as the twins are deaf. All three have their own scientific specialties and I particularly enjoyed the roles that Hallie and Heather played in this tale.
There’s Olivia, the face of Imagine, who broadcasts news of discoveries and life aboard the new ship, and two big game hunters, the Abneys, determined only to make a kill and be the first to claim having killed a mermaid, hoping to make their fortune from their discovery.

While we’re longing to get to the monsters, by the time we reach mermaid-infested waters, chances are you’re going to care about the fate of at least a few of these characters. Some you may hope end up as mermaid food and some you’ll be heartbroken if they don’t make it out alive, and can anyone really make it out of this alive when faced with such a deadly adversary?

The setting, this vast well-equipped but still-vulnerable research ship out in the wilderness of the sea above the Mariana Trench, and the depths themselves, the trench and the Challenger Deep are bought to life in a great isolating and claustrophobic way. All these people are out beyond the easy reach of humanity, surrounded by monsters. It makes for tense reading when the mermaids start picking off their prey.

The mermaids themselves, I don‘t want to give too much away but they’re pretty nightmarish. All your traditional ideas about mermaids are soon destroyed. These creatures, they’re dangerous predators with big appetites….

Into the Drowning Deep blends science and fiction wonderfully. I was drawn in to descriptions of the work that various people on the ship were undertaking, and found certain parts of it quite fascinating. I actually found myself going online at one point looking up a certain point because I wondered how much of that was actually factual, but I won’t say more about that for risk of spoilers.
There is action, suspense, horror, even romance, and enough twists and turns that I found it so difficult to put this book down, even though I really didn’t want it to end.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Resolutions/Goals

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This weeks theme is:   Bookish Resolutions/Goals


A new year saw me writing my customary Reading Resolutions post.
I decided a couple of years back I’d make some general goals for my reading year rather than joining a large number of challenges. That decided, I wrote my goals and only signed up for Goodreads and Beat the Backlist.
Here is a selection of my reading hopes/goals for the year…

Goodreads challenge – I do this one most years. I haven’t set a massive target as I want to keep it low pressure. 20 books will do I think, especially since I can’t seem to keep away from massive tomes and they take ages to read. I joined this challenge mostly because I use Goodreads to keep track of what I’ve read so I guess having a small target to aim for adds something extra.

Beat the Backlist – The only other challenge I’ve signed up for this year. It’s my second time taking part. Last year I cleared around 15 books from my backlist, so it was a good challenge for me and I can’t wait to see how many I can read this year.

To participate in read-a-thon events often – I have a terrible habit of finding out about reading events either just as they’re about to happen or when they’re already in progress. That’s not good if there’s a particular theme going on, so I want to try and find out about things in advance so that I can join in, because I do love a good read-a-thon.

To read outside my usual choices – Over the new year I saw various articles featuring ‘must read’ books for the coming year, aimed at people who resolved to start reading this year. I’m a long-time reader, but I did find the idea of taking on some of the suggested books an interesting idea, to broaden my reading genres and so I requested some of the titles from the library.

To keep on top of my reviews – I try to write reviews as soon as I can, while the story is still fresh in my mind and I can gush about all the reasons that I loved the book. I want to stay on top of things this year.

Top Ten Tuesday – Take part whenever the topic appeals to me.

Non-Fiction – I don’t usually read much in the way of non-fiction and I wonder what I’m missing, so I’ll try to check out at least one book sometime this year.

To read a classic – It’s years since I read anything you’d call a classic, so I’d like to read at least one over the coming months.

Audio books – The first time I tried an audio book it wasn’t for me. I found my attention wandering and kept having to go back because I didn’t feel I’d taken the story in. It became really time consuming and put me off for a while.
Last year I had another attempt, and I had a much better experience and enjoyed the story, which has left me thinking I wouldn’t be completely against trying another audio book this year.

I didn’t think I’d make ten items this week, and as it turns out I have ended up one short. So, is there anything I’ve missed? What resolutions or goals have you decided on this year?


See you again for another Top Ten Tuesday.