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Top Ten Tues: Best Books I’ve Read in 2018

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday again! (TTT is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’d like to participate, a list of the weekly themes can be found here.) This week’s topic is “Best Books I’ve Read in 2018.” Sounds like an easy one, right? WRONG. I’ve read so many good books in the past six months that I don’t even know where to begin.

I actually did a post on my favorites of 2018 (so far) about a month ago, but I’ve read several other great books since then, so here’s the updated list:

The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab

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To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

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Robots vs. Fairies (Anthology)

The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

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Book Reviews: The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (for each book)

The Wayward Children books by Seanan McGuire are a series of novellas about the children of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Each of the children at the school have stumbled upon, fallen through, or sucked into a doorway to another world. Worlds of nonsense, logic, the dead, and everywhere in between.

Every Heart a Doorway focuses on Nancy, a newcomer to the Home for Wayward Children. Like the others who live there, Nancy is having a hard time coping with life back in the real world and wants nothing more than to find the doorway back home to the Halls of the Dead. At her new school Nancy meets Kade (from the land of the Goblin King), Sumi (from the land of Confection), and twins Jack and Jill (from the dark Moors). Tragedy strikes shortly after Nancy’s arrival and it’s up to her and her new friends to get to the bottom of things.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the story of Jaqueline (Jack) and Jillian (Jill). Brought up  by parents who wanted them to be a certain way (Jack a lady and Jill a tomboy), neither of them are particularly close. When they stumble on the door to the Moors, however, everything changes. Both go their separate ways, one to become a mad scientist’s apprentice, the other the plaything of a vampire. In the Moors they are finally allowed to figure out who they are.

Beneath the Sugar Sky brings us back to the school, where Sumi’s daughter Rini falls from the sky. She’s disappearing and her home, the land of Confection (all Nonsense and sugar), is in danger. There’s just one problem: Sumi has been dead for years. Rini enlists the help of some of the other students to help save her mother. The unlikely group, including a boy who can resurrect skeletons and an ex mermaid, travel to the Halls of the Dead and Confection to try and save Rini before she disappears for good.

To put it plain and simple: This series is freaking fantastic. The different worlds that the author has created are full of vivid and beautiful imagery. Each character and the worlds they came from are unique and full of rich backstory. The way they’re all brought together into the present, trying to figure out how to cope with their loss and lean on each other, is rather touching. I hope to learn of some of the other worlds in future books, because they’re all so fascinating that I just can’t get enough.

The reason I didn’t write separate reviews for each of these books was because I was too busy devouring them in quick succession to even stop and take the time.

The next book, In an Absent Dream, will be out in January of 2019! I can’t wait.

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Favorite Books of 2018 (So Far)

“Wooooah, we’re halfway there”…Sorry, I just had a spontaneous Bon Jovi moment.

We are, in fact, about halfway through the year now. Close enough to it, anyway. This seems like a good time to do a mid-year check in in terms of my 2018 reading goals.

Goodreads Challenge: My goal is to read at least 40 books this year. As of yesterday, I’ve read 20. “Woooooah, we’re half…” Err, sorry. I swear I’m done. So far I’m doing pretty good with my goal.

Favorite Reads:

  • The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab. (You can read my reviews herehere, and here)
  • Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
  • Robots vs. Fairies (Anthology)
  • To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

 

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

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My Rating: 10 out of 5 stars

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point.
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.
WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

I had a very hard time going to work these past 2 days, and anywhere else where I wasn’t allowed to read. This book was glued to my hand from the day I started it. I stayed up late and woke up early, all so I could squeeze in as many pages as possible. It’s that good.

I loved the first two books in the series, but the third book elevated it to a whole new level. The characters, the plot, the unexpected twists, and the intricate level of detail in this book are absolutely stunning.

Every single character in this book has a unique, strong personality. It’s so interesting to see them all work together during such tumultuous times, especially considering the initial distrust among them. The character development from the first book to the last is fantastic. Watching the way Lila and Kell both grow, not just in their personal relationship, but in their abilities, as well, makes it difficult not to love them. The friendship between Alucard and Lila was a fun one, the love between Alucard and Rhy beautiful. Osaron makes a horrifying villain. His actions are pure evil and it’s hard to predict his next move, given that he doesn’t have a body of his own…There isn’t a single character in this series that wasn’t well written.

There are moments that make you laugh, moments that make you cry, and enough action to keep your heart racing. This book was the perfect conclusion to a perfect story. This series has officially made it to my “favorites” list. I can’t wait to read more of Schwab’s books to see what she has up her sleeves.

…I feel a major book withdrawal coming on.

 

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Top 5 Tues: Books I’d Save in a Fire

Greetings on this most Tuesday of all Tuesdays!

This week’s Top 5 Tuesday theme is a super difficult one: Top 5 Books I’d Save in a Fire. I had such a hard time coming up with answers for this one that I almost gave up. Seriously, how do you pick only 5 books?!

(For those who are unfamiliar with Top 5 Tuesday, it’s is a meme hosted by Shanah, at Bionic Book Worm each week discussing different ways of rating all bookish things! Check it out!)

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • The Crown (Queen of Hearts, #1) by Colleen Oakes
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

This is hard. Even after deciding on these 5 I still feel like I’m “wrong” or cheating somehow because I didn’t pick some of my other favorites.

You know what, I really hope I’m not in this actual scenario because I’ll probably die trying to save all my books.

What books would you save if you could only pick 5? 

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

A Gathering of Shadows Final

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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…

via Goodreads

I know I’ve already asked this, but why didn’t I read this series sooner?!

Delilah Bard is an absolute delight. I love her sense of adventure, bravery, recklessness, and aversion to societal norms. She’s definitely my favorite character in the stories. Alucard was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting him to turn out to be the cut-throat, deceptive pirate type, but his character is actually quite charming and complex.

Both Kell and Rhy were different in this book. It was interesting to see their reactions to the events of the previous book. (I have to admit that while I liked Rhy a little better in this book, overall he still gets on my nerves.)

The games were a fun addition to the story, but I’m glad they weren’t overdone. I was a tad concerned that it was going to feel like The Hunger Games. The magic system and the different Londons still blow me away. The attention to detail and explanations are always spot on. Given how hard it is just to create one world, creating multiple versions of it is a rather impressive feat.

…I want to say so much more about this book, but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.

A Gathering of Shadows was every bit as amazing as the A Darker Shade of Magic was. Filled with action, magic, and plot twists, Schwab makes it impossible to put these books down once you open them. I can’t wait to see what happens!

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Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for Irene

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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 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.

(via Goodreads)

This book takes a look at the darker, more dangerous side of magic. Usually, stories taking place in magical worlds have just one or two seeds gone bad. In Kell’s world, however, there are very few people that he can trust.

For the people of White London, magic is a source of power and manipulation. In Red London, magic is revered and honed, but at what cost? No matter which world he’s in, even Grey London, which is devoid of magic, Kell sees the consequences that magic brings.

I love the dichotomy between the Londons and what each of them represents. There were a lot of power plays at work: Red vs. White London, Holland vs. Kell, natural magic vs. learned magic, etc. It’s a rich and complex bit of storytelling that keeps you constantly on your toes.

Kell and Lila are a really great team. While Kell is interesting, at times it felt like Lila was the one really stealing the show. Her personality, boldness, and fondness for adventure was endearing and fun. I also enjoyed the fact that there was no romance between the two. I suspect that it could happen further along in the series, but I don’t feel like it’s necessary for their story.

Overall, I loved this book. I can’t even think of any little things to nitpick over. 5 stars all the way! (Interestingly enough, the predictions I made last Friday were pretty spot on.)