The Friday 56: A Conjuring of Light

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

A shout went out behind him, and the clatter of hooves as a carriage reared. The man clutching the reins spat at him in a language he’d never heard, but the words were threaded together just like spells, and the letters unraveled and rewove in Osaron’s head, taking on a shape he knew.

“Get out of the way, you fool!”

Osaron narrowed his eyes, reaching for the horse’s reins.

I’m not a fool,” he said, “I am a god.”

His grip tightened on the leather straps.

And gods should be worshiped.”

V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light is one of the best series conclusions I’ve read. If you like magic and phenomenal world-building, be sure to pick up the Shades of Magic series. Read my full review hereCover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “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.

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR List

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. While Top Ten Tuesday was on hiatus, we had the opportunity to do freebie lists the last couple of weeks, but I decided to skip them altogether and I have to say, the break was kind of nice. But now we’re back and I’m ready to start putting together these posts again. This week’s topic is “Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR.” Anyone else feel like the last couple of months have flown by and there just isn’t enough time to get to all the books you intended to read? I’m feeling this so much right now. My TBR Spring list consists of books I meant to get to but haven’t yet, as well as a few releases I’m planning to read as soon as they arrive at my doorstep. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig – I got this the day it was released, but am still trying to find the time to pick it up. Pretty sure it will be my next read.

2. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller – I hear so many good things about this one and honestly, I’m just a sucker for banter and I hear this one has lots of it.

3. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – Why haven’t I read this one yet? My goal before May is to check this one out from the library.

4. Ms. Marvel, Volume 1 by G. Willow Wilson – I think it’s time for me to pick up my second graphic novel. This is the one I have my eye on.

5. Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I’m really interested in picking up her vampire novel Certain Dark Things, but I ended up giving into the impulse and bought this one for $6, so I think I’ll read this first.

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6. A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi – I’ve preordered this one and am dying to fall in love with Chokshi’s writing again.

7. Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis – I have to try this one, McGinnis has proven that she’s incredibly versatile when it comes to the many genres she’s written.

8. Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh – Give me more Renée Ahdieh now. I am beyond stoked for this new series by her.

9. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – I squeal every time I see bloggers rave about this one. I have come so close to preordering this debut, but I’m trying to stay strong…but sometimes I feel so weak.

10. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab – I think we’ve gotten a little spoiled having two Schwab novels a year. I love how different this series is and can’t wait to visit these characters again.

Any books that aren’t recent/upcoming releases that you’re planning to read this spring? Which spring releases have you preordered? Let me know in the comments and be sure leave a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

empress-of-a-thousand-skies-by-rhoda-bellezaTitle: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies, #1
Pages: 344
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 7th 2017

      “Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.
      Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he’s forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.
      With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

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“From his thumb to his index finger, the length of his hand fit cleanly around Rhee’s neck. He lifted her off the ground and squeezed. She felt her windpipe closing. She gasped for air as she tried to claw his fingers off one by one.”

There are some books with loads of potential that never seem to find their footing and then there are the ones that you wholeheartedly believe in despite their shortcomings. For me, Rhoda Bellaza’s Empress of a Thousand Skies falls into the latter category. Little spoiler here to open this review, please skip the rest of the paragraph if you do not wish to see. I want to start off by saying that the synopsis is very misleading when it comes to how the two lead characters converge. Their individual arcs do not directly intersect, but their stories do. I want to put that out there because I spent a large majority of my time while reading, wondering when these characters would actually meet and was really disappointed to see that they never did. With that being said, I do need to read a sequel soon because I’d love to see these characters in the same room together.

There are so many layers to Bellaza’s universe and this is one of the main reasons why I enjoyed this debut so much. Interplanetary politics plays a large part. From Rhee’s home planet Kalu to Wraeta, a planet destroyed during the Great War and Aly’s birthplace, this world is populated by a variety of individuals who have all be impacted by this war. The peace treaty currently in place was Rhee’s father’s greatest accomplishment, but it has not erased the bad blood between the planets. The war itself created a population of refugees who continuously face discrimination. Technology plays a really interesting role in this world. Most people have what are called cubes installed that make it easy to access information as well as store important memories. Seeing how the characters relied so heavily on this form of technology and how disconcerting it was for them to power down reminded me of how often we rely on our phones for information and how eager we are to take a picture or video of an important event, not realizing that this can sometimes hinder the experience.

At the beginning of the story, Rhee is determined to avenge her family. I liked Rhee for the most part, but there were times when I was puzzled by her decision making. She’d been training for years, but when it came to her plan for revenge, she hadn’t thought much further than getting close enough to the person she believes is responsible in order to stab them in the heart. I mostly chalk up this lack of preparation to her youth and inexperience. She is the kind of character who is motivated more by emotion than reason. I believe Rhee had a lot more influence than she realized and wondered why she didn’t just come out of hiding, take the throne, and then enact her revenge. I loved Aly’s character, flaws and all. As a Wraetan refugee from a once-hostile planet, Aly carries around a lot of weight on his shoulders. He is judged more harshly and seen as untrustworthy by a lot of people. He struggles with living in a world that can be unfriendly and unfair, wanting to prove to everyone that he is worth more their prejudice views would dictate. Like Rhee, he has lost his entire family and is still searching for his place in the world.

Empress of a Thousand Skies has plenty of elements that are relevant to our current political climate, is multi-layered when it comes to its world-building, and introduces two very different and engaging characters that I’m dying to learn more about. It isn’t often that I say this, but I wish this novel had been longer, so I could get a chance to spend more time with both Rhee and Aly.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

The Friday 56: By Your Side

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“What was wrong with me? I thought now, clicking off the television. Whenever I was away from Jeff, outside of our interactions, I could easily pick up on all the signs. But whenever I was near him, it was like my brain short-circuited and I couldn’t tell if he liked me or not.”

Kasie West’s By Your Side is another fast-paced, light read for the contemporary fan. The protagonist gets trapped in a library, which I’m sure is a dream come true for many of us. I smiled a lot while reading this. My mini review of this one will go up later this month. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
     
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

ARC Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Series: The Bone Witch,, #1
Pages: 400
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: March 7th 2017
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, which does not influence my review*

      “Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.
      Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

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Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch is a unique story of one girl’s rise through the ranking of the asha, a order of women whose responsibilities range from entertainment to battling daeva, the deadly creatures set loose by the False Prince. The story shifts between past and present storylines, as we’re given a glimpse of who Tea will become and what made her into an asha in exile. When Tea is far too young to understand her own power, she accidentally resurrects her brother. This show of power does not go unnoticed and Tea is given the opportunity to learn under the tutelage of the bone witch Lady Mykaela. But bone witches are not as highly revered as other kinds of asha. Many fear them as their power more closely resembles that of the Faceless, those who serve the False Prince. Tea learns that becoming an asha will not be easy, but she may not have a choice when those battling daeva are failing and she may be the only one who can stop them.

Chupeco’s world is well-developed and often times lush. As Tea learns what it means to be an asha, so we learn alongside her. While I enjoyed the various aspects of the asha life, there were times when this really slowed down the narrative and I got impatient for something to happen. One part of being an asha that was really intriguing was the importance of one’s attire. The wardrobe of an asha is unique and significant to her. Chupeco’s writing shines the most when she is describing these traditional ensembles. I found it really unique that each person had a heartglass that they wore around their necks that they could exchange with the person they loved as a sign of commitment. With the right kind of skill, you could learn to discern a person’s feelings from the color of their heartglass.

Readers are given two simultaneous portraits of Tea. Her younger self is bright-eyed and untested. She is only beginning to understand the power she yields and to many, she is an easy target. She is infatuated with Prince Kance as he is kind to Tea in a way that not many are. The most important figure in her life is her older brother Fox. He is forever tied to her because how she brought him back to life. Only a few years older, the exiled Tea we are introduced to is wise beyond her years. She yields her magic in a controlled and graceful fashion. She also holds close the loss of people dear her, one who died for her and another that chose to turn away from her. I’m really interested in learning more about this older Tea and what transpires in the couple of years between the close of this first installment and the future Tea.

You probably won’t read another book like Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch. Her world is both dark and enchanting. Chupeco pays particular attention to detail in a way that many other fantasy books don’t. I’m looking forward to finding out more about Tea’s journey and transformation, and I’m also hoping we get to explore her abilities more.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

a-conjuring-of-light-by-v-e-schwabTitle: A Conjuring of Light
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic, #3
Pages: 624
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: February 21st 2017

      “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.”

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“He tried to rise–he had to get up, had to find his brother—but hands surged from the darkness, fought him, held him down against silk sheets, fingers digging into shoulders and wrists and knees, and the pain was there again, vicious and jagged, peeling back flesh, dragging its nails over bone.

V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light is an engrossing and heart-stopping conclusion to one of the most inventive fantasy series I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Schwab has crafted a complex and engaging world, one filled with magic that sunk its teeth into me from the very first page of A Darker Shade of Magic. In this final installment, Red Londen is under attack and Kell must face an enemy far more powerful than himself. Osaron has already taken control of one Antari, but he has his eyes set on Kell. The kingdom is buckling under the weight of Osaron’s power, people are giving in to the intruding whispers, unable to resist Osaron’s influence. A plan begins to form to take Osaron down, who is more apparition than man and thus harder to kill, but the cost may be far greater than anyone imagined.

I’ve really enjoyed all the characters’ arcs throughout this series. Brought up beside Prince Rhy, but invariably different, Kell has not quite belonged in his brother’s world. As an Anatari, Kell has been gifted with the kind of magic that others would kill for, but it has also made him a kind of prisoner. His dynamic with the King and Queen is complicated and at times heartbreaking. Kell, who has regarded them as family, discovers that he was a tool, a weapon used to protect the crown prince. There is a coldness between Kell and these two that never seems to thaw. Despite their missteps, Kell recognizes that his adoptive parents love him, maybe not in the way that he wants, but in the only way they know how. Kell’s unspoken loneliness is something that has always stood out to me. He is a prince, but has never quite felt like a son. He is an Antari, able to travel through worlds, but navigates these worlds very much alone. Holland was the first person he met who could truly understand him, but instead of a friend, he became a foe. But unlike Holland, whose choices have cut him off from building meaningful connections, Kell is unalterably tied to his brother Rhy and the enigmatic Lila. Where he once believed he must navigate the world alone, he comes to realize he doesn’t have to.

Lila has spent most of her life running. It is her coping mechanism, her way of protecting her heart from pain. She is arrogant, ambitious, and at times reckless. She’s convinced herself that she’s better off alone, that looking out for herself is the only way to live. But people like Kell and Alucard have managed to pierce the wall she’s built around herself and in this final novel, she must decide if running is something she still has to do. I was really happy to get more of the story from Alucard’s perspective. We’ve seen him mainly through Rhy and Kell’s eyes, which hold conflicting views of the aristocrat turned pirate. He isn’t a man used to being vulnerable, of waiting and asking for things he wants. He knows he still wants to be with Rhy, but is no longer the one in control. Alucard has caused pain, but has also been the target. Much like Lila, he has also been running, but has a chance to be the kind of person Rhy deserves.

Holland’s story is fraught with pain. He has been used, betrayed, and discarded. Despite everything he has done in the past, I found myself rooting for him. He may never be as noble and self-sacrificing as Kell, but he has his own brand of honor that is needed to overcome Osaron. A Conjuring of Light is undeniably Rhy’s book. It is a chronicle of his rise, of this once flippant prince shaking off the final bits of boyhood. It’s Rhy recognizing and accepting the weight of the crown upon his shoulders, of discovering that his life is not his own, but his people’s. My heart broke for Rhy more than any other character. I felt every doubt, every struggle, and every loss. But I also rejoiced in his triumphs, every brave act endeared him more to me and it was so satisfying to see all he had been through coalescing into a truly rewarding arc.

A Conjuring of Light managed to pull at my heartstrings more than the previous books. Schwab’s writing truly dazzles. I’m in love with every fight scene, which are sometimes elegant and other times messy, but always enthralling. Schwab has created a world that is easy to fall into and much harder to leave.

Rating: 5/5

★★★★★