Episode 3: Silk by Caitlin Kiernan with James DeBruicker and Marilag Angway

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Word of the Day: Weird

For episode 3 I welcome two new guests, James DeBruicker and Marilag Angway! We discuss Silk by Caitlin Kiernan, which is a darker book than the previous two books on the show. The book brings about memories of 90s goth, a discussion of intent vs. impact, and how a book can be excellent, but light on plot.

Books Referenced in this episode:

Silk by Caitlin Kiernan
All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Party at the World’s End by James Curcio
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Jerusalem by Alan Moore
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Join by Steven Toutonighi

Find us on the web:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads |
Email: judgingcoverspodcast@gmail.com

Find our host and guest(s):

Meghan’s Twitter | Mari’s Blog | James’s Instagram

Book Review: A Conjuring of Light

I finished this book this morning, then laid around absorbing the fact that the series is done. I tried to figure out how I felt, and honestly, writing a review two hours later is probably too soon. But here are my initial feelings:

I cannot think of another series in which I enjoyed all three books released, where my love for the series only grew, and where I have been left fulfilled, and wanting more all at once.

I am going to go ahead now and say there will probably be spoilers in this review. I want to discuss some of the major themes and characters in this book, so I am forewarning anyone reading. Continue at your own risk.

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A Conjuring of Light

by V.E. Schwab

Published 2017

Format: e-book (I couldn’t wait until the signing on Tuesday – SORRY)
Genre: Fantasy, Adult
Ratingmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 5/5 Moose (10 out of 5? 10 out of 5.)

Synopsis

This book picked up immediately after the end of the second book, meaning we jumped into some action that never seemed to go away. Like the other two books, the story continuously keeps changing point of views, and like the other two books, it adds more characters’ views into the mixture. Kell, Rhy, Alucard, and Lila must fight and consider teaming up with one of their greatest enemies to defeat and even greater threat to not only Red London, but all Londons.

Quotes I Loved

I highlighted over 20 quotes, and a few more are smattered below, but here are some of the ones that made me laugh and cry.

Alucard stood in the doorway, soaking wt, as if he’d just been dumped in the sea, or the sea had been dumped over him. “Stop fucking with the ship.

“And how, exactly,” said Alucard, propping himself on one elbow, “do you plan to live forever?”

“Life isn’t made of choices,” said Holland. “It’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.”

“I told you to keep him safe, not cuddle.”

Rhy shook his head, exasperated. “Kell isn’t the only one you fail to understand. My bond with him didn’t start with this curse. You wanted him to kill for me, die for me, protect me at all costs. Well, Mother, you got your wish. You simply failed to realize that that kind of love, that bond, it goes both ways. I would kill for him, and I would die for him, and I will protect him however I am able, from Faro and Vesk, from White London, and Black London, and from you.”

Kell drove it on with a degree of focus — of concentrated focus — he’d never seen the Antari use. A level of strength reserved not for London, or the king queen, not for Rosenal, or Osaron himself.

But for Rhy, thought Alucard.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

I realized as I started writing this review that I needed to break down my thoughts and feelings in order to process it without just squeeing everywhere. I originally had a section of “Things I Love,” but there is so little I didn’t love about this book so it stayed blank. So I added a “Spoiler Free” review, then a break down of the things that impacted me, and the things I wish I had more information about.

Spoiler Free Review:

Overall, I absolutely loved this book. It was incredibly action packed and easy to read, despite my occasional tears. Schwab has planned out the series to such a wonderful conclusion, and even concepts or plot points that can be considered predictable are handled wonderfully. I came out loving the main five characters even more than I had when I started the book. This book lived up to the hype and the year long wait.

Plus with the announcement of the movie rights being bought,

Things I Took Note:

Rhy’s (…and Kell’s)Parents.
I loved learning about the King and Queen and getting a taste of their point of views. I loved that the King was firm and strong, but wasn’t abusive or mean to Rhy, and realized the error of his ways with Kell. He was a good King and father, which is so rare in fantasy genres. A king rarely has balance, and to pull it off without seeming too forced is even harder.
The Queen is cold and hard, but not unloving. I cried with her as she cried over Rhy, and I could read a whole book on her and the King’s lives. Prior to this book she was such a background character that my first thought with her was “oh yeah, I guess Rhy has to have a mom” (which, the fact that there isn’t a dead parent is great too.)

Concept of Family and Home
Obviously Lila suffers from not feeling as though she has a home and constantly wants to run away from anything that would hurt if she lost it. No attachments, no pain. However, she is not the only character wrestling with the concept of family and home. Holland did everything in order to protect and save his dying world. Kell gets the opportunity to figure out who his parents are and why they gave him up! And yet he knows that all he needs at his core is Rhy.

Strange thing about forgetting spells.
Rhy was his brother.
They fade on their own.
London was his home.
Unless we don’t let go.

I personally groaned loudly because I WANTED TO KNOW WHY someone would give him up. But to be content enough with this family? It’s beautiful.

The running “Stay With Me
Alucard to Rhy. Rhy to Alucard. Kell to Lila. It’s beautiful.

The Concept of Myths and History Repeating Itself
There are stories and myths throughout the whole book. The Someday King of the Wite London, the Man and Magic (a perfect representation of Rhy and Kell), the Prince who road while everyone slept, staying with his people?

It’s from one of the myths, the Origin of the Magician. Magic and Man were brothers, you see, only they had nothing in common, for each’s strength was the other’s weakness. And so one day, Magic made a blessed thread, and tied itself to Man, so tightly that the thread cut into their skin[…]and from that day, they shared their best and worst, their strength and weakness.”

[…]

“There’s no ‘they’ anymore, Master Kell. Magic gave so much to Man, and Man so much to Magic, that their edges blurred, and their threads all tangled, and now they can’t be pulled apart. They’re bound together, you see, life to life. Halves of a whole. If anyone tried to part them, they’d both unravel.”

This was the story of a prince who watched over his city as it slept. Who went on foot, for fear of trampling one of the fallen, who wove his way between the bodies of his people.

[…]

Some would say he spoke, that even in the far-off darkness, the sleeping heard him whisper, over and over, “You are not alone.”

I have no doubt that the stories told of Rhy today in Red London are nothing short of mythological, and how he kept the kingdom in a time of peace and prosperity after it nearly fell to the darkness.

Holland’s Past
Oh man. I was not the biggest fan of Holland, but something Victoria Schwab does well is make villains seem well rounded in their personalities and motives. I related to him so much more after reading what he went through and why he did what he did the past two books. Learning about his relationship with the prior king, his own family, his first love? At the end of the day, I don’t think I can fault him for what he wanted to achieve. And somewhere around the halfway point, I didn’t want Holland to die. Instead, I wished him a peaceful ending.

My Love For Delilah Bard
Lila has been my favorite character the entire series. She’s stubborn and chaos and the protagonist in her own story. And yes, I am aware that she is incredibly damaged and psychotic. But I also loved Rachel in Animorphs, so I guess I have a type.

Lila struggles with some different emotions this book. She deals with loss of people she truly cares about, and how that it’s….necessary. Her relationship with Holland becomes less black and white, meaning that Lila is capable of growth and change (something not quite clear in the other books.)

Tieren curled a finger around his beard. “Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

“You’re my best thief,” he whispered, and her eyes burned.

“I should have killed you,” she muttered, hating the waver in her voice.

Things I was left wanting more:

These aren’t things that I necessarily disliked, I just wish they had been handled differently or been expanded upon.

A Better Understanding of Kell/Lila’s Relationship
The thing I loved most about their relationship leading up to this book is that they were like water and oil, and yet they WORKED. This book had them too in sync, too calm. If Lila did something stupid, Kell didn’t necessarily yell at her. It reminded me of sequels to Pride and Prejudice, where authors make Elizabeth and Darcy suddenly always agreeable. I am not saying they shouldn’t be together or that they won’t never fight — maybe it was that they acknowledged that whatever was a problem between the two of them was not as big as Osaron.

White London
What happened afterwards? Has it fallen? Will it live? Who is king now? Did it find peace? Was Holland’s death meaningless?

Lila and Maris
I mean the obvious thing here is THEIR STORY IS NOT DONE. Will there be another story? A short story? A 600 page novel? Just Lila on an adventure? What favor could she want?!

The Ending
There is a level of the ending that feels too wrapped up nicely. But then again, no one gets out undamaged (except maybe Lila.) I want another sequel I guess. Or a collection of short stories. I mean, yes, people died — some people who had been important throughout the series….and yes I am aware I would be so upset if someone major had died in end. Overall, I truly love the ending. I just wanted more.

Final Verdict

I have been recommending A Darker Shade of Magic to anyone who asks for a recommendation for two years now. It’s not a series I would have picked up on my own, save for the absolutely beautiful cover, and I do not regret it in the slightest. This series ended beautifully, and I cannot wait to read it all over again.

Or to see the author and buy the book in hardback.

Top Ten Tuesday

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week is a new topic to ponder and make a list on, and this week is a bit of a Halloween freebie. Since I didn’t do last year’s Halloween topics as I was preparing for my big move, I decided to go the obvious route and go with which literary characters I’ll eventually turn into Halloween costumes.


 

Delilah “Lila” Bard (Shades of Magic)

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Taken from ADOM Wikia

Let’s be honest, I wouldn’t want to dress like anyone else if I didn’t have to or it would get eyebrows raised. I love Lila and her insanity. I am going as a pirate this year, which is as close s I’ll get to her this year, but November 1st I’ll start planning. Which brings me to my second choice….

Kell (also from Shades of Magic series)

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Taken from Tumblr
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HI COSTUME IDEA FROM PINTEREST

Love him too, and I wouldn’t have to die my hair, AND an excuse to buy a cool coat. ….Seriously, between these two and Evie Frye, I don’t want to cosplay anything else?

Belinda from Belinda Blinked

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Okay HEAR ME OUT. Yes the amount of weight I would have to lose, and the toeing of the line to make sure I don’t cross into …nudity? But god it would be a lot of fun to walk around in heels, an unbuttoned shirt, bralet, and carrying pots and pans.

Morrigan from The Wicked and The Divine

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Taken from Wikia

Hi, guess who my favourite underworld Goddess is? Seriously, not even just because of this comic. There is a good chance I would totally do Morrigan in Percy Shelley’s body too. (More than a good chance. I would totally do both.)

Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time

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One of my favourite books and heroines. This would be a simple concept to pull off, except that I would have to spend the entire time explaining who the heck I was.

Penelope Bunce from Carry On

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I loved this book, and it’s a way to get past the *EVERYONE* does Harry Potter! So Penelope, who is a bit of a cooler Hermione would be perfect.

A Gallagher Girl from the Gallagher Girls series

….Let’s be honest, this is just my way around “how can I go as a St Trinian’s character. But add in that they’re also spies? I’m happy.

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Rachel Berenson from Animorphs

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This one would require makeup skills to make half my face a bear and have a blonde fighter. I would also carry a fake hawk around too. (TOO SOON?)

Elfie Trinket from Hunger Games

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You can’t go too big. You can’t go too colorful. You can’t be awesome enough!

Gwen Stacy from Spider-Gwen

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She’s pretty much the only super hero comic I consistantly follow, so how coud I not?! So many options. I’m LOVING all the Spider Gwen Venom cosplays going around right now, seriously.


And just to throw my two cents in, here are my Shocktober/Horror books:

1. The Apartment by

2. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

3. Elizabeth Gaskell’s Gothic Tales

5. Trigger Warnings by Neil Gaiman

6. Necronomicon by Simon

7. Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

8. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

9, The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

10, Blood and Salt  by Kim Liggett (met her earlier this month and she’s AMAZING!)

Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows

Oh man. I cannot tell you how worried I was for this book. Sequels are always a strange thing that can either take a series and elevate it, completely ruin it, or be completely stagnant. And as slow of a start as A Darker Shade of Magic was, I was super nervous.

But also, really excited for this book.

I am going to try really, really hard not to spoil too much, but I mean, don’t read this review if you haven’t read the book. GO READ THIS BOOK. (And again, THESE COVERS.)

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Unfortunately, I started this review weeks ago, just to have a disagreement with WordPress for about a week. I lost about half of the review, so this’ll be fun to recreate, now that I am four books later….

A Gathering of Shadows

V.E. (Victoria) Schwab
Published: 2015

Format: ebook and Hardback
Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md/ 5 Moose


 

Synopsis

Four months after the end of the last book, everyone’s life is moving forward despite being on a different path. Delilah has found her place as the best thief on a pirate ship, though she has began to get a familiar itch of needing to move on, keeping any relationships more than an arm’s length away. Her captain, Alucard Emery, keeps quiet just as quiet about his past as Lila does, but is willing to teach her magic.

In Red London, the citizens are preparing for the Essen Tasch, or the Element Games, a 4 year event where the top magicians get together and battle it out. Everything on the outside seems quite normal, but Rhy and Kell both know that things aren’t. Rhy is more somber and has thrown himself into booze and planning the best event (thus planning how to be the best king) and Kell is feeling more and more like he’s trapped and an object, rather than a family member.

While things seem rather normal in Red London, Black, White and Grey London are experiencing some very weird abnormalities.

Characters

As these characters are mostly the same from the first book, I decided to pull a quote on each character instead:

Kell and Rhy — “Rhy held Kell’s pain in his hands, while Kell held Rhy’s life in his.”
“I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”

Delilah Bard — Lila on herself, (alluding to her cockiness maybe a little…) “I am Delilah Bard, she thought, as the ropes cut into her skin. I am a thief and a pirate and a traveler. I have set foot in three different worlds, and lived. I have shed the blood of royals and held magic in my hands.”

Alucard Emery — This quote describes Alucard best: “’My father was a vulture. My mother was a magpie. My oldest brother is a crow. My sister, a sparrow. I have never really been a bird.’ Lila resisted the urge to say he might have been a peacock. It didn’t seem the time.”

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

I….look. I’ll admit straight up, I have very few complaints about this book. Like atom sized minor complaints:

  • Cliff hangar — WHY
  • Occasionally I wanted to kick Lila (but I totally think that’s the point)
  • It would jump to a new POV too soon! TOO SOON!

I mean, this book has a bit of everything in it. I just…first of all, Victoria:

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It has a female character who has her own story, and doesn’t give a shit about her romantic interest in relation to everything else (so she might be a sociopath, she still has a heart!) She’s a pirate and is working on her magic, while realizing she might be in love, but who cares?! She lives in a new world that’s completely worth exploring!

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The way Kell’s confinement is described and portrayed, you can’t help but feel for him. I found myself just yelling at him to escape and runaway — live you’re own life! but his ties to Rhy are (obviously) just too strong. And ugh RHY. I am so glad there was more of him in this book. I don’t necessarily have a favorite character in this series (HOW CAN YOU, THEY ARE ALL FOUR WONDERFUL!?) but I was glad to get out of Lila and Kell’s world a little bit, and into Rhy’s mind especially. A character that, in the first novel could be considered a spoiled brat prince, is instead a complicated and fun character.

The love stories in this book are just lovely. They’re fluid and ever changing — who is really in love with whom? When you think you might know, it changes. And leads to some great, excellent, force your friend to read the book because of the snogging scenes.

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But this isn’t a love story (though if you want to know — I argue that everything is essentially a love story.) No, this is a book about power and magic, about embracing it and understanding the delicate balance of it. Lila is starting to come into her powers with the help of Alucard, and she is able to control two elements. But she ignores the balance needed to control the elements, and at some point she’s going to have to pay in order to balance it again. In a larger manner, all the other Londons — Black, White and Grey — are all in their own battles for power. Really, if I say much more it’ll be spoilers, but Red London is not as safe as it thinks it is. White London has a new king, to say the least. There is PLENTY of battles and action and MAGIC. I mean, Lila had the right idea. Who would want to live in a world without MAGIC?

And the CLIFFHANGER.

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Final Verdict

As I said before, I was worried about this book. Sequels are incredibly hit or miss in the literary world, and unfortunately, they often lean on the “miss” side. THIS BOOK IS A HIT. It relies on the first book enough to continue it but doesn’t retell the first book, it continues the story without really any cliché tropes, with the exception of a cliffhanger ending (DAMMIT) and has an excellent balance of character building and action.

I am restraining myself from picking this book up and reading it again. I haven’t had the urge to do that since I read a Harry Potter book in high school.

It’s good.

It’s great!

And you should be reading it.

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

No review of this book should start without showing the absolutely gorgeous covers of this book. I mean, seriously. I need both copies STAT.

A Darker Shade of Magic

by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab
Published by Tor Books, February 2015

Rated: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 5/5 Moose

Okay. Let me start off by saying that it takes a lot for me to commit to a fantasy book. I don’t know why, though I tend to be reminded of LOTR when I think of fantasy. Lots of description….I don’t necessarily get bored, but my attention wanes. Plus I listened this as a free audiobook from Goodread’s Ford Audiobook Club Group, so I was a little hesitant to start it. My friend Mari at Story and Somnomancy reviewed it with such high praises and squeeing that I couldn’t ignore it.

First thing: the audiobook was narrated by a British speaker….I wish I knew who off the top of my head, but I don’t. After listening to several American narrators, I came to the conclusion that this was not a book that I could start at work. I tried the first chapter five times. Once I got a good bit of the way in, it was easier to read.

A Quick Summary

Kell (or KL) is a rare type of warlock, one who can travel between the different Londons. There are four in total, referred to by Kell as Gray London, Red London, White London, and Black London. Gray London is boring, dirty, lacks magic, and is the London we all know. Next is Red London, prosperous and full of magic. It’s also where Kell lives, adopted by the Royal family. White London sees magic as a power tool, and the country is ruled by whoever killed the last leader. Finally, there is Black London, which fell to magic and is cut off from the other three. Very little is known about Black London.

Kell goes through the three Londons, delivering correspondence between the royals. He also brings trinkets across the worlds, for a price of course. He’s just a teenage boy, so this isn’t too surprising. He’s tricked into carrying a trinket that could get him seriously in trouble or killed, which causes him to exile himself briefly to Gray London. Here he meets Delilah “Lilah” Bard, and the two go back and forth saving each other’s lives.

Thoughts

Okay. First of all, the author is barely 7 months older than me. What the heck have I been doing with my life?

Now that whining is done (which hit me randomly throughout the entire reading of this book), what characters did I not love in this book? Answer: None of them. Kell, though a bit of a typical teenage boy idiot, was enjoying. Lilah was simply the coolest cross dressing thief, and even the main antagonists were well developed. A book where I didn’t want a character to just GO AWAY?

I haven’t read any of Victoria Schwab’s other books, but they’re definitely on my mental list. I think my brother, who loves to read and is only 11, would love this book too. It’s not necessarily geared towards the YA crowd, but there isn’t anything too crazy about it. (Note: I texted him the recommendation. He wasn’t too overjoyed at another recommendation. It won’t happen anytime soon.)

This book does not have a love story. And you know what? IT DOESN’T NEED ONE. (Okay, maybe it has one in the making, and Kell’s brother Rhys is a bit of a horndog, but STILL.) What I mean by this is Lilah is not some plot ploy to have Kell save the damsel in destress, she’s not a sidekick who realizes he realizes he’s in love with by the of the book. In fact, if there is a separate book for her adventures, I’d buy it. But I definitely ‘ship her with Rhys.

I’m so curious about Black London, which I incidentally got on the Buzzfeed quiz:

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I don’t understand why, but that’s okay. It seems like a terrifying place, but maybe it’s not. I mean, White London is not a good place, so ….maybe?

Final Verdict

If you are looking for a relatively quick read, a good read, and a solid fantasy book, this is it. The second book is already scheduled for February 2016, which should feature more of the fabulous Rhys. I haven’t seen this book get too many low ratings.