BOOK REVIEW: A Darker Shade Of Magic – by V.E. Schwab

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Title: A Darker Shade Of Magic
(Shades Of Magic #1)
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: February 24th 2015
Finished reading: April 15th 2016
Pages: 400
Rating 5qqq

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

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I know, I know, I should have listened to the numerous recommendations and raving reviews and picked up this series a lot sooner, because A Darker Shade Of Magic went straight to my list of all time favorites. This book is amazing! I have to say it has been hard to write a coherent review without fangirling all over the place… Because the first book of the Shades Of Magic without doubt deserves every last bit of the hype around it. Why? A Darker Shade Of Magic has an excellent worldbuilding, a simple but intriguing plot, a fast pace, well written prose, interesting characters I almost immediately connected to, no love triangle, almost no romance… In one word: BRILLIANT, or at least everything I want in a fantasy series. I loved the dynamics between the two seemingly so different characters Kell and Lila, especially since there is NO love interest whatsover between the two. The worldbuilding is really well done and together with the prose it immediately set the right atmosphere for this kind of dark and intriguing story. And even though A Darker Shade Of Magic doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, I still needed to read the sequel straight away. An excellent sign for a great story, right? I will stop fangirling now and leave you with these last two last facts: first of all, V.E. Schwab is without doubt one of my new favorite authors and secondly, if you haven’t read this series yet and like the genre, make sure to move it to the top of your TBR pile!

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Ever since disaster happened in Black London, the three remaining Londons have been separated and isolated in their parallel worlds. Grey London – dirty, boring and lacking magic, ruled by mad King George -, Red London – where life and magic managed to flourish with the Maresh Dynasty at the top – and White London – where people fight to control magic and whoever has murdered their way to the throne rules. Kell is one of the last Antari left with the rare powers to be able to travel between the worlds, and officially he is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London. It is his task to carry the monthly letters between the royals of each London, but that is not the only thing Kell takes with him on his travels between the parallel worlds.  His dangerous hobby of smuggling bits of a world they’ll never see to those willing to pay for it finally caught up with him and he is set up for treason… And while he flees into Grey London, someone seems to tag along even though Kell still believes he doesn’t need help.

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As you might have guessed from my rambles above, I really loved reading A Darker Shade Of Magic. This first book in the Shades Of Magic series has basically everything I want in a YA fantasy series all mashed together into one brilliant story, and this book made it straight to my list of all time favorites. I know it sounds a lot like fangirling and I admit I still find it hard to write a proper review even days after finishing it… But what I can say is that A Darker Shade Of Magic is one of those books that is truly worth the hype. Make sure to read it if you haven’t already; you won’t regret it!

WWW Wednesdays #87 – April 20th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I actually opened my copy of A Gathering Of Shadows by V.E. Schwab as soon as I finished the first book, because I simply LOVED A Darker Shade Of Magic. Since I haven’t been able to write a proper review yet though, I decided to put the sequel on hold until I do so I won’t be mixing up the plots… So I decided to start The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza instead. The plot is really intriguing so far and I like the detailed descriptions, but unfortunately I’m not really a fan of the main characters. There’s too much ‘bitching’ and too little character development or other things that might make me like the characters better… Hopefully things will improve later on.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first title I managed to finish since last week was Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford. It’s not a bad read, but the plot is not really original and most of the humor felt either forced or was even slightly offensive…
* I then decided to read Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper and that turned out to be an excellent idea. Like Wonder, this middle grade book has a strong message that people shouldn’t discriminate or judge people by what they look like; it is what is on the inside that truly counts. A really fast read and definitely recommended even though some parts of the the plot are not completely plausible.
* I then finally started with A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and I’m still trying to finish a somewhat coherent review without it being just me fangirling all over the place. This book was BRILLIANT! I should have known after so many raving reviews and recommendations… Without doubt one of my all time favorite fantasy series.
* The last book I finished was The Beginning Of Everything by Robyn Schneider, which turned out to be a big disappointment. Such a shame, because I loved her other novel Extraordinary Means! Unfortunately, The Beginning Of Everything is basically full of cliches and annoying characters I really couldn’t care about… More in the full review.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I really should start reading Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor next since it was the winner of the which series to read next? poll last month. I have been wanting to read it for ages, but decided to pick up Shades Of Magic first. I also want to try Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover… I’m keeping my fingers crossed this one will be as good as November 9 (unlike Ugly Love). The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is also still on my list… Hopefully some time soon; I just haven’t been in the mood to read historical fiction lately. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson.

WWW Wednesdays #86 – April 13th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I actually started the two other books first, but I needed something completely fantasy/romance free after I finished my last read. Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford sounded like it would do the job and so far it’s turning out ot be an interesting and fast read. The other two books I’m reading are A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab, with I’m loving so far and I’ve only put on hold because I’m not really in the mood for fantasy and I don’t want to spoil it… And I’ve also finally picked up Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I’ll probably finish this one first before continuing with ADSOM

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I wanted to escape the whole YA/love triangle business, so I decided to pick up this mystery/thriller kindle freebie: Blood Orchids by Toby Neal. Unfortunately not even changing genres helped me escape a love triangle and it did ruin the story slightly for me, but the story itself is still quite entertaining in general. There were quite a few things that bothered me though; more about it in my full review.
* I decided to pick up my TBR jar pick next, and boy was that the best decision I could have made! I LOVED The Conspiracy Of Us by Maggie Hall despite the hint of a love triangle… Fast pace, international setting, a conspiracy, plot twists, interesting characters: this book is almost everything I want in a series.
* I picked up the sequel Map Of Fates straight after finishing the first book, and while it was not as good as The Conspiracy Of Us and the romance scenes became more annoying (read: love triangle related), I still pretty much loved this one as well. The wait for the third book will be a long one!
* I was actually already reading All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders before I started any of the books mentioned above, but it took me a long time to finish it. Boy, this book was WEIRD! I guess this is one of those where the story either works for you or it doesn’t. I definitely belong to the second group and I wasn’t convinced by this story at all. The plot was all over the place, the pace a bit slow, I didn’t particularly like the characters and the story didn’t really make sense. Also, I thought this was an adult novel, but most of it felt more like a middle grade/YA read; up until a few sex scenes were thrown in. WTF?! I need more time to gather my thoughts…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I have been in a weird reading mood lately so I will probably end up reading completely different titles instead, but here’s what I would like to read. First up is Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper since I have been wanting to escape from the whole fantasy/romance/love triangle theme… And I guess both The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah would probably work as well. My new TBR jar pick is The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson, which I’m really excited about since I have been wanting to start this series for a while now. Jack The Ripper twist, yes please!

Teaser Tuesdays #89 – April 12th: A Darker Shade Of Magic

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at Books And A Beat. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

Oh yes, I’m FINALLY reading A Darker Shade Of Magic! I have been wanting to start this series by V.E. Schwab for ages now and I have only heard great things about it, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed I will love it as much as everyone else. I’m not that far into the story yet, but so far I can definitely see why everybody seems to enjoy this series.

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My teaser (6%):

“Between one stride and the next, dreary Windsor became elegant St. James. The stuffy cell of a room gave way to the bright tapestries and polished silver, and the mad king’s mumblings were replaced by a heavy quiet and a man sitting at the head of an ornate table, gripping a goblet of wine and looking thoroughly put out.”

What are you reading right now?

WWW Wednesdays #84 – March 30th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I started both my current reads yesterday evening, so there’s not much to say about them other than that I have been looking forward to read both. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley has been recommended to me numerous times, so hopefully it’s just as good as I have been told. And I have been looking forward to pick up Ice Like Fire ever since I finished the first book; I love the worldbuilding of this series!

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* After quite a few disappointing reads I decided to pick up one of my guilty pleasure books: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. Although I normally don’t like vampire stories, this series has turned out to be an exception. I loved the True Blood TV series and this first book is just as entertaining.
* Another book I really enjoyed was The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell. It can read a bit slow at points, but I loved reading about all those amazing-sounding bookshops all over the world. It really made me wish I could open my own bookshop one day…
* I read Apple And Rain by Sarah Crossan as well. After enjoying One earlier this month I was looking forward to read more of her work, but unfortunately this one wasn’t as good. I liked the poetry bits, but the story itself was not that interesting.
* The last book I finished was Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia. I read and enjoyed the first book last year, but the sequel didn’t really manage to convince me. It’s quite a fast read and still entertaining, but the introduction of a love triangle or two and Lena acting the way she does didn’t exactly make me enjoy it as much as the first book.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I have been saying I want to read Random by Tom Leveen for weeks, so I should just pick it up soon… But I might just give in and read A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab next (and the sequel A Gathering Of Shadows). If I’m not in the mood for fantasy, I have Stolen by Lucy Christopher on my list as well. I’ve heard great things about it, so I’m looking forward to finally pick it up. My new TBR jar pick is The Conspiracy Of Us by Maggie Hall.