Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V E Schwab

Read between: 1st- 11th April 2021

Format: Paperback

Published: 1st May 2016

Publisher: Titan Books

Synopsis:

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review:

As this book is the second book in a series I can’t say too much without giving away the first one but I definitely enjoyed this book more than the first one.

We are reintroduced to Lila, Kell and Rhy from book one, and are shown how their lives have moved on since the events of the first book. Will Lila go back to Grey London? It felt easy to slip right into the second book.

We also meet some new characters which really added to the drama and adventure of the story. I’m wondering if Alucard is going to cause any more drama in book three.

I think the reason I enjoyed this book so much as the Essen Tach- the games added such a fun element to the book and I found myself invested even though the only competitors I knew were Kell and Lila. It was the hope that one of them might win.

However, nothing felt rushed or forced and everything that happened, happened for a reason and really added to the story.

I can’t wait to pick up the third and final book in the trilogy as I really enjoyed this one!

I wonder what’s in store for the characters next.

5/5 stars!

Thanks for reading!

~Katie

March Wrap Up

So March was a really good reading month for me- as I read six books! Two of them were Netgalley books which means I’ve managed to read and review them before they were published!

The first book I read in March was Ye Game and Playe of Chesse & Other Stories by Alice Dunbar Nelson which was released last year as part of the Reclaim Her Name series. I gave it 3/5 stars. It only had three stories in it but I did enjoy them- especially delving into the lifestyle of New Orleans.

The next book I read was a Netgalley read which was Dog Days by Ericka Waller. I gave this one 4.5 stars and you can fine my review here: https://sherlockianbooklover.wordpress.com/2021/03/10/book-review-dog-days-by-ericka-waller/

Next I read Volume 1 and 2 in the Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider comics by Seanan McGuire. They were great reads and I gave both 5 stars! Unfortunately Marvel have released a new series so there are only two original volumes to read. I really enjoyed finding out more about Gwen though!

I then finally picked up the first book in the Shades of Magic series- A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab and my review is here: https://sherlockianbooklover.wordpress.com/2021/03/23/book-review-a-darker-shade-of-magic-by-v-e-schwab/

My final read of March is another Netgalley read- London’s No.1 Dog-Walking Agency by Kate MacDougall. It is out on the 8th of April so expect a review then!

And that is everything I read in March.

I hope you guys had a good reading month too!

Thanks for reading.

~Katie

New Book Box- The Coven Book Box: Review

So through a mutual cosplayer on Instagram I was introduced to her new business, The Coven Book Box- a book box for lovers of true crime, thrillers and horror.

It’s not a subscription service, one of boxes can be purchased so there’s no commitment!

Firstly, I love how everything was personalised! From the box and all the tags I really appreciated the personal touch.

And it was full of goodies!

The first item in the box is a tote bag by Hellflower (www.hellflower.co.uk) which I’ll definitely use!

Next, there was a mug, which was the sole seller of the box for me. Since binging true crime Youtubers (Eleanor Neale) and listening to podcasts this mug made me laugh.

Mug is by The Filthy Mug Club on Etsy

It came with a biscuit too 😍

Next up was another ceramic piece, a painted flowerpot by Morbid Chalk (also on Etsy). There were two different designs to go for but I went for the flames as I find them more subtle.

Sticking to the the gothic/death theme the next item, and one I have no idea what I’m going to do with, is a coffin trinket box by Sinister Signs.

Finally, before the book, there was print by You’re So Cool Prints which I would display but I’m an angelic soul really. I just find it cool.

And to the book! All books come wrapped in brown paper, stamped with what genre they are (they will likely be crime, thriller or horror) so it’s a complete mystery. They’re also all second hand which I like as it means they’ve been loved before.

However, the box is quite pricey but definitely worth it and I know starting up a new business means less cash but newer books would also work great too!

I love the idea of blind date with a book though. Mine was a thriller and it was…..

The Woman in the Woods by John Connolly

I’ve never heard of it before but it sounds really good so I’m looking forward to delving in.

Overall I’d rate this book 4/5 stars!

If you’re interested in purchasing a box for yourselves you can either message the company directly through Instagram at thecovenbookbox or through their website https://thecovenbookbox.bigcartel.com where smaller boxes are available.

You won’t be disappointed!

It’s great to have a new UK based themed book box out in the world!

Thanks for reading!

~Katie

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

Format: Paperback

Read between: 11th- 22nd of March 2021

Published: 27th February 2015

Publisher: Titan Books

Series: Shades of Magic #1

Synopsis:

A Darker Shade of Magic, from #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab

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

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand 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.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Review:

4.5/5 stars- mainly because some of it confused me.

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to pick up this book because it’s my first step into the writing of V E Schwab and she is incredible at story telling.

The story follows Kell, a magician who is able to travel between alternate versions of London, which with their own versions of magic, in order to collect artefacts and pass on messages for royalty.

We also meet Lila, a woman trying to make her way in her world, doing it the only way she knows best- stealing.

There are thrown together in a fight against dark magic, and rely on each other much more than they realise.

I really liked this book.

It’s such an intriguing concept but it’s done so well, and laid out so well that it’s so easy to flip between the Londons. I was hooked from the very first page and I didn’t want to put it down!

I like the fact that the magic isn’t your typical wand waving type, it’s blood magic, and this made it feel like there was always going to be danger.

There was never a moment when this book felt slow, or nothing happened, it was fantastical all the way through, with some relatable and sad scenes thrown in along the way.

It wasn’t intentionally left on a cliffhanger either, and even though I know this is book 1 of a trilogy, I really liked how it all came together at the end.

I am definitely looking forward to delving into the next one, because I can’t wait to see where the characters will end up next and how things will have changed.

4.5/5 stars!
Sometimes the different languages confused me but otherwise a fantastic book!

Thanks for reading!

~Katie

Book Review- Dog Days by Ericka Waller

Format: ebook

Read between: 4th-8th of March 2021

Publisher: Doubleday

Published: 11th March 2021

Synopsis:

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Review:

“George thinks grief is like a paper crown that slips over your eyes and gets pushed up again and again.”

Thank you to Netgalley and Doubleday for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Be aware there are trigger warnings of grief, self harm, homophobia, domestic abuse and suicide so if you’re not keen on those topics in books I would avoid it. It is a lovely story, with beautiful writing, but it’s always good to be aware of the content.

The book follows three people, George- an elderly man who has recently lost his wife, Dan- a therapist who doesn’t really know who he is, and Lizzie- a woman hiding from reality. We follow them as their lives change for better and worse.

George hates his dog (a sausage dog his wife bought before she died) Dan adores his dog, and Lizzie’s dog isn’t really hers but they have a connection anyway.

I own a dog myself, and I know how much a dog can help mental health so in some areas this book had really relatable moments.

It’s a really well written novel, the writing flows and I liked how it flipped between all the characters. They didn’t have a connection but at some points their lives would intersect.

There were twists, there were shocks, and there was a moment that made me cry.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more by this author.

4.5/5 stars.

A brilliant read that shows just how much having a dog can help a person through their darkest days.

I adored this book and I would highly recommend that you pick it up when it is released tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

~Katie

February Wrap Up

February has gone by really fast! I think it’s really felt like a short month this year. I didn’t do much reading in February due to being busy but here are the books I did manage to read!

The first book I read was another Anthology book- Shift of Shadow and Soul by Hilary Thompson. I gave this 4/5 stars

Next I read Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and completely fell in love with the story and the characters. I gave it 5/5 stars. My first five star of the year.

Obviously I had to read the sequel Aurora Burning after that and I also gave it five stars. The series is fantastic!

I need the last book now.

That’s all I read in the month of February- not much but I definitely had a good reading month in terms of how much I enjoyed the books I read.

Thanks for reading!

~Katie

Book Review: Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Read between: 17th-21st of February 2021

Format: Hardcover

Published: 5th May 2020

Publisher: Rock the Boat

Synopsis:

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review:

As soon as I finished the first book I knew I had to read the second and- wow.
Squad 312 really get thrown into the deep end here.

It’s set three days after they lose a teammate to a viral pollen known as the Rah‘aam, and now they are wanted criminals. So can get they get away in time to complete their newest mission?

There is something waiting for them in a safety deposit box- put there by a senior officer. It could change everything they know about the Aurora Academy.

Something I liked about this book is we get some more origin stories, having so many characters means we can get to know them better through what’s happened to them previously.

It was just as enjoyable as the first book, from Auri discovering how she must use her powers, to some revelations that really shocked me.

Emotions were very much all over the place in this book.

Splitting up the squad hurt 😦 and then Kal…..sweet Kal. I shipped Auri and Kal so hard and then my heart was broken into thousands of tiny pieces.

The final chapter is laid out differently but it also shows you how different all of the characters are.

It’s a fantastic book though, and continued the adventure brilliantly! I felt like this book moved a lot quicker than Book 1 so I found myself flying through it.

I need Book 3 now please.

Thanks for reading! I’d highly recommend this series.

~Katie

Book Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Read between: 6th-16th of February 2021

Format: Hardcover. Illumicrate special edition

Published: 7th May 2019

Published: Rock the Boat – for Illumicrate

Synopsis:

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm

A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates

A smartass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder

An alien warrior with anger management issues

A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem -that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

NOBODY PANIC

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review:

I’ve had this book on my shelf since it came out and I was always ready to pick it up but never chose it from my TBR jar! However, I am so glad that I finally got around to picking it up as it’s my first 5 star read of 2021. There are so many reasons why I love this book, and if you haven’t read it yet I would thoroughly recommend it.

The multiple viewpoints can be very difficult to follow, but each of Squad 312 are so unique and I loved reading their viewpoints, it was great to see the characters develop and the friendships that developed through that. Although Tyler, Scarlett and Cat already knew each other, it was still fun reading their interactions.

I loved Scarlett’s sarcasm.

Another reason I like this book, is that Auri is supposed to be from the 21st century, so whenever she made a pop culuture reference (mainly with Kal) it made her feel more real, because I could relate to her- apart from her powers and the fact she was cryogenically frozen for 200 years.

I must admit, the book did start off slow, but around the third half it got really exciting and I found myself falling into the story a lot more. The added effect of the uniglass (a data chip thing) on pages, telling the reader about the ranks and other information also really helped to understand the world.

The shock at the end was completely unexpected and I had to put the book down before the final chapter to accept what had just happened and take a moment. It hurt. The authors decided to throw that upon us and I’m going to be really interested to see how the gang cope with it in the next book.

I’m going to move on to the sequel immediately.

Overall, a fantastic sci-fi adventure and I really love what an ecclectic group of character the members of Squad 312 are!

5/5 stars!

You won’t be disappointed if you pick up this book!

Thanks for reading!

~Katie

January Wrap Up

January was a good reading month for me as the UK was put back into lockdown meaning we once again had to stay at home.

I read eight things this month but only five of them count towards my reading challenge.

The first book I finished was Arrow:Fatal Legacies by Marc Guggenheim and James R Tuck. I gave this 3/5 stars.

Next I read A River Called Time by Courttia Newland, which was a Netgalley read. I gave it 3/5 stars.

I then read Arrow Volume 1 which is a graphic novel based on the first season of the TV show. I gave this 4/5 stars.

Next- one of the books that doesn’t count towards my goal because it’s part of an anthology, and that is Shock of Fate by D.L Armillei. It was good but the story took a good while to get going to I’d give it a 3.5.

Book 4 of January was In the Time We Lost by Carrie Hope Fletcher. I had really high hopes for this book and it wasn’t my favourite of hers. I gave it 3.5/5 stars.

Another anthology read! It was Drone by Jackson Dean Chase, this one wasn’t as good as the other one but still a 3!

The final book I read was The Reichenbach Problem by Martin Allison Booth. I liked the writing style of this and it was great to have a book based on an author! 3.5/5

The final thing I read in January was Issue 1 of The Little Mermaid comic series. It was nice and short to end the reading month.

Thanks for reading!

Reviews for four of the books can be found on my blog

~Katie

Book Review: The Reichenbach Problem by Martin Allison Booth

Format: Paperback

Read between: 23rd-30th January 2021

Published: 22nd March 2013

Publisher: Lion Fiction

Synopsis:

Rating:

Review:

I did actually really enjoy 75% of the book, however, it did get a bit far-fetched toward the end with Conan-Doyle traipsing across the Reichenbach Falls! which is why I dropped my rating half a star.

This book focuses on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, on a trip to Switzerland home of the Reichenbach falls. On the trip there he meets a man named Holloway who believes he is Holmes in real life.

There’s a murder, whilst he is away, and every turns to the writer of detective stories to solve it.

The writing style is fantastic and I can really hear Conan Doyle’s voice in the text. The author shows a really great understanding of the style.

It made the longer chapters really easy to read.

There are some faults, such as elements where Conan Doyle’s inner thoughts go completely off topic, but the case was very interesting and I loved all the drama that came with it.

I would pick it up if you’re a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes.

I can’t say too much more about the book as it would spoil the mystery but it’s very well written and I did enjoy it.

Thanks for reading!

~ Katie