Book Review: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Book Review: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. SchwabA Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
Also by this author: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)
five-stars
Series: Shades of Magic #3
Published by Tor Books on February 21st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 624
Also in this series: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:  Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.

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.

 

MY REVIEW

I can’t believe we’ve finally reached the end of this incredible series. What a ride it has been and I’m thrilled to say that as fantastic as the first two books were, A Conjuring of Light is just as good as, if not better than those two were.  I loved it so much that I feel like I’ve been flailing about it for days unable to come down from my book high long enough to share why I loved it so much.  I’ve had a week now to calm down though, so hopefully what I write here is coherent and will entice you to pick up this series if you haven’t read it yet.  I can’t express how much I’m going to miss Kell and his many-sided coat, Lila the pirate thief, and Alucard and Rhys, a couple so precious that they made me swoon even though I am not typically one who swoons.  Anyway, here we go…

LIKES

Oh gosh, where to even start?  Basically everything from the first page to the last, but I’ll try to focus on some of the main high points for me and keep my thoughts as spoiler free as I can for anyone who either hasn’t started the series yet or hasn’t made it this far.

The Intensity.  I loved that this finale picked right up where the second book left off, started off with a bang and kept me on a roller coaster ride until the finale pages.  Sometimes the intensity was action related, as different people tried to step up and fight off the Shadow King, and sometimes the intensity was more emotional as everyone desperately tried to come up with a plan of action that could stop him or as they dealt with the fallout of each failed attempt to stop him.  I was fully engaged with the story from start to finish, either because so much was going on or because of what everyone was feeling.

Osaron the Shadow King. A.K.A. my new favorite character that I loved to hate.  I seriously hated everything about this character because OMG, how dare he threaten to ruin my precious and vibrant Red London!  That said, however, I absolutely adored the way Schwab crafted this character.  The shadows, the poisonous fog, and that oily blackness seeping everywhere were just so palpable.  I don’t know that I’ve ever found a villain so mesmerizing.

The Wicked Barbs and Endless Sass – I’m such a sucker for great banter, and Schwab is a master of writing it exactly the way I like it.  Even as these characters are frantically doing everything they can to save their city from dark magic, Lila, Kell, Rhys, Alucard, and Holland are still constantly engaged in these hilarious battles of wit.  They’re nonstop hurling insults at each other, teasing each other, and that constant exchange of wicked barbs and the endless sass is what makes me love these characters so much.  I also especially love the jealous exchanges between Kell and Alucard since Kell is clearly so protective of his brother.  All of that snark just gives me life!

My Ships – Okay, so everyone who follows my blog knows that I’m not usually big on romance, so it’s pretty amazing for me to have not just one, but two ships that I’ve been rooting for throughout this series.  But it’s true, I’ve been rooting for Lila and Kell to get together since they first met in the first book, and I’ve felt the same way about Alucard and Rhys ever since we first got wind that they have a history together.  I loved that as action-packed as this final book was, as my favorite characters fought to save Red London from the Shadow King, Schwab manages to strike what was for me, the perfect balance between action and romance.  We get to see progression in Kell and Lila’s relationship as they work together to try to save Red London, and it appears they could possibly have a future together – that is, if they can survive the onslaught of the Shadow King and the darkness he has unleashed.

The even more compelling ship though is Rhys and Alucard.  Schwab also takes us deeper into their shared history, showing us what exactly happened when Alucard abandoned Rhys before, and she paints such a sympathetic portrait of Alucard, that I think even if you didn’t ship them before, you’ll be shipping them by the time you hear the full story of what happened their last night together.  It was one of the many moments in this book where I shed a few tears when I learned the truth.

The Growth of Rhys – I feel like in so many ways this series was a coming of age story for Rhys.  When we first meet him in A Darker Shade of Magic, he’s this flirty, kind of bad boy prince who is in no way ready to become King.  Everything that he goes through in the series and especially the way he conducts himself in this finale shows that he has undergone a major transformation in terms of his maturity and his fundamental understanding of what it means to lead a kingdom.  I adored his character so much that I felt like I had a proud mom moment watching him and knowing he’s now ready to step up and lead his Kingdom.

The Redemption of Holland –For the first two books in the series, Holland was one of the main characters I loved to hate.  He always fascinated me because he was so different from Kell, even though they were both Antari, but I definitely never felt any sympathy for him.  Well, Schwab got me in this final book.  She gives Holland a rich backstory to explain who he was and how he ended up the way he was when we first meet him in A Darker Shade of Magic.  Not only did his backstory make me sympathetic toward Holland, I actually even shed a few tears for him.  Totally did not see that coming!  I also love that Schwab not only painted him as suddenly a more likeable character, but she also presents him with the opportunity to fully redeem himself to those he has betrayed since we first met him.

 

DISLIKES

Nothing at all to see here. Move along, people.  Seriously though, I have absolutely no complaints about this book.  When I first got my hands on the book and saw how enormous it is, I thought I might end up complaining about it being over 600 pages long.  Not the case though.  A Conjuring of Light is so damn good that I managed to finish all 600+ in about 2 days.  I’m pretty sure I’ve NEVER read such a lengthy book that fast before!

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

As sad as I am to say goodbye to these amazing characters, I don’t think I could have asked for a more satisfying ending to this series.  And maybe it’s just me, but I really felt like it was left open enough at the end of this book for Schwab to continue this journey if she ever wanted to.  I’d totally be down for it too – even a spinoff with one or more of the characters would be fabulous.  But for now, I am okay with bidding “Anoshe” to Kell, Lila, Rhys, and Alucard. May we meet again someday.  ♥ (And yes, Anoshe made me cry too, haha!)

 

RATING:  5 STARS

five-stars

About V.E. Schwab

ve schwab

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the #1 NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”

She is represented by Holly Root at Root Literary and Jon Cassir at CAA.

All appearance and publicity inquiries should be directed to her PR rep, Kristin Dwyer, at: kdwyer@leoprny.com

Waiting On / Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

New WoW

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  This week I’ll also be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa.

My selection for this week is Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows.  Aside from the gorgeous cover, this book had me at DRAGONS!  From reading some of the advance praise for this book, I’m also excited to hear that Mira, the main character, is a somewhat flawed character since those are my favorite kind of characters to read about.

 

BEFORE SHE IGNITES by Jodi Meadows

Publication Date:  September 12, 2017

 

From Amazon:

“A fully realized fantasy world complete with dragons, treachery, and flawed characters discovering their courage. I couldn’t put it down!” —C. J. Redwine, New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen

From the New York Times bestselling co-author of My Lady Jane comes a smoldering new fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Kristin Cashore about a girl condemned for defending dragons and the inner fire that may be her only chance of escape.

Mira has always been a symbol of hope for the Fallen Isles, perfect and beautiful—or at least that’s how she’s forced to appear. But when she uncovers a dangerous secret, Mira is betrayed by those closest to her and sentenced to the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles.

Except Mira is over being a pawn. Fighting to survive against outer threats and inner demons of mental illness, Mira must find her inner fire and the scorching truth about her own endangered magic—before her very world collapses.

And that’s all before she ignites.

* * * * *

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR BEFORE SHE IGNITES

“Do not walk, run to get this book, so you can devour it like I did! Mira is a fascinating and flawed heroine who tilts the world on its side. I loved her and this fiercely imagined world. Jodi Meadows is a genius.” (Mary Pearson, New York Times bestselling author of The Remnant Chronicles)

“A fully realized fantasy world complete with dragons, treachery, and flawed characters discovering their courage. I couldn’t put it down!” (C .J. Redwine, New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen)

“Complex world-building and luminous storytelling. Mira will sear a mark on your heart long after the final page is consumed.” (Stacey Lee, award-winning author of Outrun the Moon)

* * * * *

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Summer Reading Challenge: Summer TBR Wipeout 2017 – Intro Post

 

I seem to have an endless list of books that I say I’m dying to read but never quite seem to ever get around to actually reading them.  I’m really trying to push myself to finally get some of those lingering books off my TBR, so I was thrilled to come across this challenge, which is hosted by The Candid Cover.  I feel like this challenge is exactly what I need to focus my attention on cleaning out the backlog of books.  I had originally thought about purging, but I do truly still want to read all of these books so that’s not going to cut it.  Below is the very ambitious list of books that I would love to knock off my TBR this summer.  It will probably end up being more like early fall before I get to them all, but even getting half of these read would be a major accomplishment for me at this point!

THE BOOKS

 

      
                        
   

Are you looking to finally knock some backlisted books off your TBR this summer?  Maybe you should consider taking the Summer TBR Wipeout Challenge too.

Q & A with Tiffany McDaniel, author of The Summer That Melted Everything

Photo Credit: Jennifer McDaniel

“Tiffany McDaniel is an Ohio native whose writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows. Also a poet and artist, she is the winner of The Guardian’s 2016 “Not-the-Booker Prize” for her debut novel, The Summer that Melted Everything. The novel was also a Goodreads Choice Award double nominee in both fiction and debut categories, is a current nominee for the Lillian Smith Book Award, and has recently been announced as a finalist for the Ohioana Literary Award and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award for Outstanding Debut.”  (from www.tiffanymcdaniel.com)

The Summer That Melted Everything is being released on paperback today and to mark the occasion, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ask Tiffany some questions about the novel, about her career as a writer, and about what she has in the works next.  Here’s what she had to say:

 

1. What made you decide you wanted to write for a living?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Writing is the first thing I remember  doing without being told to do so. I had that innate desire to write down what was in my head. I’ve always known I wanted to live with story. I think for most of us writers, we don’t decide to write. We *need* to write. We can only hope we are fortunate enough to be able to make a career out of it.

 

2. What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author so far?

I would say publication itself. Many of us authors don’t feel as if we’ve made it until we are published. For me, it was an eleven-year journey to publication, full of lots of rejection and perseverance, so it was an uphill battle. At the end of that battle, it was nice to see a book of mine finally on the shelf.

 

3.  Who are some of the authors that inspire you?

I came late to reading the authors who I consider to be among my favorites now. I’ve always written more than I’ve read. For some authors, they read more than they write. Some of my favorite authors are Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, and Donna Tartt. There is also the poet James Wright, who is from my land of Ohio. I can’t say these authors have inspired me, because by the time I came upon them I already had a few novels written, but they are authors who I rank among my favorites thus far and authors I recommend everyone to check out.

 

4. What are some of the best books that you’ve read recently?

I’m making my way through Ruth Franklin’s bio of Shirley Jackson, A Rather Haunted Life. So far this bio has proved an interesting read about Jackson. One of my favorite novels of Jackson’s is, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I think this bio and her novel really complement each other.

 

5. How did you come up with the idea for The Summer That Melted Everything?

The novel started first as a title. It was one of those hot Ohio summers that I felt like I was melting to the ground. Out of true heat, the title was born. I usually start writing a new novel with two things: the title and the first line. These two things lead the entire rest of the story.  Because I don’t outline or plan the story beforehand, the plot and characters evolve with each new word and page that I write.

 

6.  If The Summer That Melted Everything was being made into a major motion picture, who would you pick to star in it?

I do hope the novel is one day translated to the screen, and I hope to be the writer behind the adaptation. I have thought of the actors who would play the characters. For the younger characters, I think the actors will be newcomers to the scene. I’m still thinking of who would be nice to play the other older characters. I suppose no one can ever truly replace the way the characters are in one’s mind, but for older Fielding in particular, I think Anthony Hopkins would do a wonderful job taking on that role.

 

7.  What is the main message you hope readers take away from your book?

In this novel, we see the tragic consequences of hate, so I’d say one of the biggest messages of the novel is to just love each other a little more.

 

8. What do you do in your free time when you aren’t writing?

I love plants and nature, so I really enjoy gardening. Also, baking and spending time with all the animals in my life. I also love art and I dapple in everything from charcoal to watercolors. It’s important to always keep the creative wheel spinning. Art really lets me do that.

 

9. Are you currently working on a new novel?

I’ve returned to that very first novel I wrote when I was eighteen. It’s titled, The Chaos We’ve Come From.  I have eight completed novels, and just like in all of them, in The Chaos We’ve Come From, the fictional town of Breathed, Ohio will be the setting. Ohio is a land that has shaped me as an author. The Chaos We’ve Come From in particular is inspired by my mother’s coming-of-age in southern Ohio, in those foothills of the Appalachians, from the 1950s to the death of her father in the early 1970s. It feels like a good time to return to these characters and to this story.

 

10. Do you have any words of wisdom that you would like to share with aspiring writers?

Never give up. While The Summer that Melted Everything is my first published novel, it’s actually my fifth or sixth novel written. I wrote that first novel when I was eighteen, and wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine for The Summer that Melted Everything. It was a long eleven-year journey to publication, full of rejection and perseverance. My writing is dark, and I was often told I was risky to publish. But if I had given up, I wouldn’t be where I am today with a book on the shelf. So to all the writers out there on the journey to publication, I say, don’t let rejection destroy you.  Let rejection empower you.

 

Thanks so much to Tiffany McDaniel for taking the time to answer all of my questions!  If you’re not familiar with The Summer That Melted Everything, here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

 

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperature as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestle with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

 

Sounds amazing, right?  So be sure to pick up a copy at your local bookstore!

* * * * * *

 

Weekly Recap # 7: Week of 6/25-7/1

 

Hey everyone!  It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

Happy 4th of July weekend to all who are celebrating!  I’m actually headed out of town today to attend a 4th of July bash at my aunt and uncle’s house.  It looks like we’re in store for some nice weather so I’m looking forward to spending some quality time outdoors, catching some rays and reading some of the July ARCs that have snuck up on me.  I had to backburner Heather Graham’s Perfect Obsession, which I had been planning to read this weekend, because I received an ARC for Final Girls, which comes out on July 11th so I really need to get that read first.  I started it today and it took me a while to really get into it, but now I’m flying through it and hope to finish it by tonight.  Then I need to read Conversations with Friends and The Library of Fates, which also have upcoming publication dates.

I’ve gotten a little behind on writing reviews, so I’m hoping that having a couple of extra days off this week will allow me to make some progress on that front.  Adjusting my schedule so that I get in my 40 hours at work and can still be off by noon on Fridays is taking some getting used to, and so several of my planned writing sessions this past week turned into impromptu naps instead.

I’m especially excited about the upcoming week because I’ll be posting my very first author interview!  Yay for a blogging milestone!  I’ll be posting that tomorrow, along with a giveaway to celebrate my milestone, so be sure to stop by and check it out. 🙂

Well, that’s pretty much it for me.  Have a great week, everyone!

 

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

  

UPCOMING REVIEWS

 

      
 

 

STACKING THE SHELVES

 

     

 

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Sunshine Blogger Award

Thanks so much to INSPIRATION PIE for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award.  I wasn’t familiar with this blogger award so it really made my day that you thought to nominate me once I learned more about it.  🙂  And if you haven’t visited Inspiration Pie, be sure to check it out.  It’s filled with wonderful reviews, lovely photographs, and much more.

 

WHAT IS THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

 

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
  •  Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  •  Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog

 

MY QUESTIONS FROM INSPIRATION PIE:

 

  1. What is your ideal vacation?  I love to be entertained as much as possible when I go on vacation so my ideal vacation is a city where I have nearly unlimited choices for entertainment – concerts, plays, musicals, museums, etc.  My favorite vacations thus far have been to New York City, London, Paris, and Rome.  So much to do and see!
  2. What do you love about yourself?  Oh, that’s a tough question because I am my own harshest critic.  I guess I’d have to say what I probably love most is that people feel like they can rely on me.  If I say I’m going to do something, I’ll always follow through.
  3. What do you wish you could change about yourself?  I wish I was more outgoing and less socially awkward.
  4. What book are you reading now? Final Girls by Riley Sager.  It comes out on July 11th so I’m trying to get an ARC read and reviewed before then.
  5. What keeps you blogging?  Well, books and reading are a lifelong passion of mine, so I love being able to use my blog to share my thoughts on what I’m reading.  I also love the book blogging community.  It’s fun to belong to a community that shares my passion for books.
  6. You are having a relaxing evening.  What are you doing?  It almost always involves reading. Either I’m reading something that I want to read or else I’m reading a book with my son, who loves to be read to.
  7. Do you have pets?  Yes, I have a black cat named Ninja.
  8. Favourite pizza toppings?  BBO Chicken, savory BBQ sauce (instead of the traditonal mariana pizza sauce), then top it off with bacon and onions.  I could eat the whole pizza by myself!
  9. Coffee, tea or wine or other? I’m a big coffee drinker, but I do love a nice cup of tea from time to time.  I’m also a big wine drinker and love going to wine tastings with my mom and sister.  They make for great girls’ day out activities!
  10. What is your favourite season?  I’ve always loved autumn.  I don’t know if it’s because my birthday is in October or what, but autumn has always felt magical to me.  All of the beautiful colors in nature as the leaves start changing, it’s just pure perfection to me.
  11. What is your favourite book genre?  That’s another tough question because I love to read across genres as much as possible.  I’d say my all-time favorite is probably historical fiction with YA fantasy as a close second.

 

MY QUESTIONS FOR MY NOMINEES:

 

  1. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
  2. If you were given a $50 gift card to your local bookstore, what books would you buy?
  3. What do you wish you could change about yourself?
  4. If you could meet any character from any book you’ve read, who would you want to meet and why?
  5. What made you decide to start blogging?
  6. What fictional character (books, TV, or film) is most like you?  In what ways?
  7. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
  8. What makes you happy?
  9. If you had to describe yourself in one word, what word would you choose?
  10. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
  11. What is your all-time favorite book?

 

MY NOMINEES:

 

*I understand that not everyone chooses to be a part of the award nomination process. By nominating the following 11 blogs, I am able to show thanks and appreciation for the joy these individuals have brought to my life. If you choose to take part, that is fantastic! If not, no worries! Just keep writing…♥

  1.  Musings of a Literary Wanderer
  2. Lindsey Reads
  3. Book Reviews by Di
  4. Greg’s Book Haven
  5. POP.EDIT.LIT
  6. Geybie’s Book Blog
  7. Sydney’s Shelves
  8. mistybookspace
  9. Shooting Stars Mag
  10. The Book Satchel
  11. Rebel Mommy Book Blog