Blog Tour, Guest Post

Blog Tour: A Gathering of Shadows + Guest Post by V.E. Schwab + Giveaway

Gathering of Shadows blog tour

I’m really excited to say that today I am hosting V.E. Schwab, author of the Shades of Magic series, as part of her blog tour for the release of A Gathering of Shadows. I read and reviewed the first book in the series, A Darker Shade of Magic last April, and absolutely loved it. I finished A Gathering of Shadows just a few days ago and loved even more than the first… it’s worth the wait, everyone! I hope to have my review up in the next couple of days. For her post today, Victoria will be answering the question:

If I was a character in A Gathering of Shadows, who would I be and why?

‘This is a hard question to answer, because there’s a difference between who I’d LIKE to be — who I find aspirational — and who I think I actually am. Delilah Bard is flawed in many ways, but she’s also strong in ways I wish I was. She’s unencumbered by fear, doesn’t psych herself out, is willing to shoulder risk for reward. And while I am these things to a certain degree, I know that I’m much more like Kell: neurotic, perpetually concerned by the world around me, and searching for my place in it.

If I had to choose a new character instead of a continuing one, though, I’d say that I’m most like Alucard Emery, the captain of the Night Spire. Alucard is the onion of the series, a character wrapped in layers upon layers, and even in AGOS, we only see the first few. He’s different things to different people, a performer shifting to fit the audience. He knows his strengths, and guards his weaknesses, and he wants to win.’

I really love Victoria’s answer – especially her description of Alucard as the onion of the series! He was definitely my favourite character of the book, and I can’t wait for more of his layers to be revealed! 😉

Thanks so much to Titan Books for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and for sending me a copy of A Gathering of Shadows, and thank you also to Victoria for writing a piece for the blog and of course, writing the book itself! A Gathering of Shadows is out to buy now!

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Top Lists

Anticipated Releases 2016

2016 looks to be another fabulous year of new releases, and will definitely see plenty of books added to the ‘to read’ pile. Here are some of my most anticipated releases for 2016. Let me know if you’re looking forward to any of these, or if there are others you just can’t wait for!

The Drowning Eyes Ghost Talkers Time Siege

A truly gorgeous looking short story, The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster will be published by Tor this month. I was drawn in by the cover initially, but the description of this fantasy novella sounds amazing. Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal will also be published by Tor, but not until the summer of 2016. An alternate history of World War I, where armies make use of mediums, it sounds enthralling. If you can recall, I shared my review of Time Salvager by Wesley Chu last July, and I absolutely loved it. You can bet I’ll be looking out for the sequel, Time Siege, due in July.

Morningstar A Gathering of Shadows New Pompeii

February still seems far, far too distant: it’s when the conclusion to Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, Morning Star, will be released. I NEED IT NOW, as does pretty much everyone who read the first two books. And just to torment us further, there have been no ARCs! A Gathering of Shadows is the sequel to V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, which I read, reviewed and loved back in April 2015. I discovered New Pompeii early in 2015, as the blurb was featured in the back of another book. By this point it seemed so far off – in fact it wasn’t even on Goodreads, and I had to add it myself. Now it has a cover and a set publication date of August 2016. It sounds so exciting, and perfect for lovers of history and science fiction.

Truthwitch Age of Myth Dark Run

Okay, so technically Truthwitch by Susan Dennard has already been released, but only just. I’m always on the look out for wonderful sounding new fantasy series, and as I’ve had some good luck with Young Adult ones, this sounds right up my alley. I’ve not read anything by Michael J. Sullivan yet, although I am meaning to get round to it. He even did a question and answer session for my Goodreads book group after we picked one of his books for our monthly fantasy read. If you’re a long time follower of the blog, you’ll be aware of my passion for mythology, so his newest work Age of Myth sounds perfect for me. Dark Run by Mike Brooks was something I discovered during Sci-Fi Month, and I absolutely fell in love with the cover. And because I really DO judge books by their covers, I decided I wanted to read it before I even knew what it was about.

What are your anticipated releases for 2016?

Top Lists

My Top Books of 2015

As the title says, it’s time to discuss my top books of 2015! I already shared my top science fiction novels of 2015 as part of Sci-Fi Month, so most of the sci-fi has already been covered. However, there are a couple that I read after writing that post, meaning that some science fiction will sneak its way in! And because I’m super indecisive, I haven’t gone for the usual top ten, but top twelve…

And now, in no particular order…

Red Rising Golden Son The Empress Game

Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown was by far one of my ultimate favourite books of the year. It was chosen as Science Fiction Book of the Month by my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, and it was an instant huge success with almost every member who read it. It completely and absolutely blew me away, and I posted my review back in November. The sequel, Golden Son (Red Rising #2) was just as fantastic, and my review will be posted next month as part of the Golden Son readalong, in preparation for the release of the next book. The Empress Game (The Empress Game #1) by Rhonda Mason was another science fiction standout that just missed my last list. I don’t know what I expected when I started it, but it certainly wasn’t what I read. It was a true thrill ride, and I shared my five star review last month.

Skin The Alchemist of Souls Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan

Skin by Ilka Tampke was a lucky library find. I’d been eyeing it up after browsing Hodder & Stoughton’s catalogue, and had been hoping for a review copy in the post. Although I wasn’t lucky in that respect, I did manage to find it in the library not long after release, and snatched it up. It was a truly gorgeous tale of Celtic Britain, specifically Somerset, and a young girl who is seen as ‘skinless’ by her tribe, due to her unknown parentage. The Alchemist of Souls (Night’s Masque #1) by Anne Lyle was my ‘brand new book treat’ at Bristolcon, and I was drawn in initially just by the cover. After reading the blurb I was certain that I had to own the book – and I started reading it the very next day. Let’s just say that I now want to read as many Elizabethan historical fantasies as I can get my hands on. Thief’s Magic (Millennium’s Rule #1) by Trudi Canavan was one of the many Netgalley reads that I finally got around to – and one that I really wish I’d read sooner. Although that does mean less time to wait for the sequel… a steampunk type fantasy, that also featured archaeology, it was full of adventure. I shared my review back in October.

Simon and the Homo Sapien Agenda Warbreaker The Well of Ascension

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli was a total surprise, and a completely adorable book. I picked it up at the library because I’d seen a few bloggers raving about it, and thought I’d take the risk – after all, it was a library book. However, I fell a little bit in love. I feel that no top book list will ever be complete without at least one Brandon Sanderson book, but that’s okay because I have two. Both Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) and The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) were typical Sanderson: basically amazing and all you could ever want in a book. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everything of his that I’ve read so far, and need to hurry up and catch up with the rest of the Mistborn series.

Outlander Dragonfly in Amber A Darker Shade of Magic

2015 saw me get rather addicted to the TV series Outlander and fall in love with beautiful Scotsman Jamie, so imagine my delight when I discovered it was based on a book series – and a long one at that. Extra sexy Scotsman! Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon are both gorgeous, heartbreaking tales, and I can’t wait to continue the rest of the series. I’m slowly building up my second-hand collection of the books, I’m only missing two of them now! A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab was a book I was offered by Titan, and absolutely jumped at the chance to read. They even kindly posted me a copy out to the Netherlands whilst I was there. I devoured the book in two or three days, and then lent it to a friend who also loved it. Can’t wait to read some of her other work! I reviewed the book back in April this year.

What were your top reads of 2015?

Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, August 2015

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Dragons & Jetpacks is a science fiction and fantasy bookgroup, based on Goodreads. The group is open to all, all that is required is a Goodreads account. We read two books a month, one fantasy and one sci-fi – the second week of each month is when members make suggestions, and the third is used for voting. We’re always happy to meet fellow fans of the genres, so you’re more than welcome to join the group!

DJ_SF
Red Mars

Goodreads

For centuries, Mars has beckoned to mankind to come and conquer its hostile climate. Now, in the year 2026, a group of one hundred colonists is about to fulfill that destiny.

John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers and opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. And for the genetic “alchemists, ” Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life… and death.

The colonists place giant satellite mirrors in Martian orbit to reflect light to the planets surface. black dust sprinkled on the polar caps will capture warmth and melt the ice. And massive tunnels, kilometers in depth, will be drilled into the Martian mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves, and friendships will form and fall to pieces–for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed.

DJ_F
A Darker Shade of Magic

Goodreads

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

Have you read either of this month’s picks? What did you think?

Review

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I still have yet to read Vicious by V.E. Schwab, but when I heard about A Darker Shade of Magic I knew this was one I had to read, so imagine my delight when I was offered a copy by Titan Books! Plus those covers… I could stare at them all day.

I really love the concept of different versions of our own world, filled with magic, and it’s definitely something I haven’t read enough of. A Darker Shade of Magic is technically about three different worlds, one of them our own, within each of which London has the same name and location, despite differences everywhere else. Grey London is our own world, so named for its lack of magic. Red London is where magic is embraced, whereas White London is where magic is almost feared, and those who brandish it are not to be trusted. There was a fourth London, Black London, but it was destroyed by magic. Kell, as a Traveller, can move between the three worlds, passing messages on for the monarchs.

Kell was a bit of mystery although his intentions were always good. Lila was a bit of a contrast, a somewhat morally ‘grey’ character just trying to survive. The contrast between the two of them was nice, and I feel like they could both really help each other. I desperately wanted more back story for both, so that better come in book two!

I have to say, V.E. Schwab has some serious talent. Her words paint such rich and vivid scenes: I could practically see the foggy, shadowed streets and smell the scents of beer and roasting meat pouring out of the taverns; each London was so markedly different. Too often, books featuring magic make it seem so easy – wave a wand, speak a few words and bam, magic. When a magic system requires some sort of sacrifice, that’s when I really love it, and this particular system requires blood. It makes magic something to be feared, reinforced by the destruction of Black London, something that is not easy to control. And despite the fact it is about magic, it makes it more believable, in a way…

My only issue with the book was, ironically, the setting, or at least the setting in a larger context. Because Kell’s visits to every world were limited to London, and we didn’t see or even hear much of the worlds past London, it felt very small. Therefore if something were to happen to the people of one of those worlds outside London, it wouldn’t feel ‘real’, if that makes sense.

But apart from this small issue, A Darker Shade of Magic was a wonderful read. Vivid and original, it’s only convinced me further that I need to get my hands on a copy of Vicious and sample more of V.E. Schwab’s fantastic writing.

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: March 2015

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

A Darker Shade of Magic Firefight The Mime Order

 

Last month I read a total of three books: A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab, Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson and The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon.

Clearly, it was a pretty awful month for reading. And also for blogging… At least the two of the three books I managed to read were both amazing, and the other was still good! I’m back in university guilt mode: if I’m reading, I feel it should be something that will contribute towards my thesis, which is frustrating. That means I’ve spent most of my alone free time either watching TV shows or films, or playing video games.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read three books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge. They all counted, at least! April’s villain is Kang the Conqueror, time to select some books for him!
  • I have currently read seventeen books towards my Goodreads goal. If I keep this up, I’ll fall behind!

 

Currently reading:

Outlander

How was March for you?

Top Lists

Anticipated Releases 2015

Anticipated Releases 2015

It’s a new year, and with it comes new books and release dates! 2015 looks like it will be a fantastic year for new releases, and I just wanted to share a few (or maybe more than a few…) that I’m really looking forward to. I’m sure I’ll find plenty more between writing and posting this, and then even more during the course of 2015. I’d also love to hear which new books you’re looking forward to the most.

Shadow Scale The Liar's Key The Skull Throne

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman is the second book in the Seraphina series, the first of which I read last month and really, really enjoyed. Despite not liking Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence as much as I’d hoped, I gave his second series a try and found Prince of Fools much more enjoyable – so I’m looking forward to the sequel, The Liar’s Key. You may have seen me talk about a series called The Demon Cycle, written by Peter V. Brett, a lot – and the fourth book, The Skull Throne is set for release in 2015!

A Darker Shade of Magic Shutter Cannonbridge

I still haven’t managed to get my hands on a copy of Vicious yet so I’ve not sampled Victoria Schwab‘s writing, but A Darker Shade Of Magic sounds amazing nonetheless. I came across Shutter by Courtney Alameda when searching for books to fit the DC vs. Marvel Challenge. It sounds amazing, and reminds me a little of the video game Fatal Frame. I have a copy of Cannonbridge by Jonathan Barnes from Netgalley, and it sounds pretty unique – an infamous 19th century writer who never should have existed, but seems to have influenced the lives of just about everyone.

Those Above No Cover Reawakened

Hodder kindly sent a copy of Those Above by Daniel Polansky to my address in the UK, and I am DEFINITELY taking it back to Leiden with me. It looks like the start of another wonderful epic fantasy series. I may only have read the first book in the series, and will be reading number two soon, but I am still excited for the fifth book in the Mistborn series (which currently has no cover), Shadows Of Self by Brandon Sanderson – although there is no exact date within 2015 as of the current moment. Reawakened by Colleen Houck looks like it could either be really great or absolutely awful… but it’s about Egyptian mythology so yes, I will be reading it!

See How Small A Court of Thorns and Roses The Galaxy Game

Another one that I have from Netgalley, See How Small by Scott Blackwood sounds like it might be along the lines of something like The Lovely Bones. I really should have listed A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas first, because I am SO EXCITED FOR THIS ONE! I am completely in love with her writing, and I’m ecstatic that she has written another series. And finally, last but not least, The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord looks to be an epic science fiction novel. It’s a standalone, but is set in the same universe as her previous work.

What releases are you looking forward to during 2015?