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.

Book Review: Unbound

I haven’t been reading Victoria Schwab’s books for a year yet — 9 months from the look of it, but I have already commited to reading all of her books and everything she puts out in the future. And why, may you ask?

Because she seriously just keeps getting better. This was the second sequel book I’ve read of hers, and AGAIN, it’s just as good (or in this case better than) the first book. Which makes me REALLY excited to read Vengeful, the sequel to Vicious.

But this review is about Unbound, the second book in the Archived series. YES, I thought it was just a duology, which led to some disappointment at the ending. Good news — there’s another one coming! And this book didn’t end on a cliffhanger (or well, it was one that was resolved by a wonderful short story later on.)

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The Unbound

Victoria Schwab
Published 2014

Format: paperback
Genre: Young Adult, paranormal
Rating:  moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3.75/5 Moose


Synopsis 

Mackenzie “Mac” Bishop: a sixteen-year-old girl who’s destiny in life is to be a Keeper, responsible for keeping Histories (ghosts) from escaping the Archive (final resting place). Unfortunately for her, one nearly killed her shortly after she moved to Colorado. Now onto of having to move on from her near death experience without anyone to talk to, she also has to start a brand new high private high school.

High school would be hard enough, but Mac is also dealing with nightmares, black outs, and now people are going missing, all of which saw Mac last. She’s convinced the Archive is involved somehow, though she’s not one hundred percent those missing aren’t her fault. With her sanity being threatened, her destiny is being held by a thin thread.

Characters

Mackenzie Bishop — The main character of the series, a junior in high school. She’s also one of the youngest Keepers (someone who can read Histories) to exist, taking over her grandfather’s role when she was twelve. Her family moved to Colorado after her brother passed away in order to get a fresh start. She shys away from human contact and friends. In the second book she is trying to deal with her emotional/mental state after Owen attacked her in book 1.

Wesley Ayers — Wes is the first Keeper Mac has met outside of her grandftather. He’s 17, charming, arrogant, slightly narcissistic, outgoing and “eccentric” (re: wears eyeliner and earings and spiked hair). This book shows how little anyone, especially Mac, knows Wes as she didn’t even realize Wes went to the same high school as her.  Mac and Wes seem convinced that they’ll make Crew together soon.

Roland — One of the head Librarians who has been put in charge of Mac. He’s a calming, patient force in Mac’s life, trusting her to make mistakes even after she didn’t tell him about Owen.

Owen — Owen shows up in nightmare form through out this book, a representation of how mentally unstable Mac is. He shows up any time Mac zones out even slightly, threatening her with a knife and chaos.

Rants, Raves and General Thoughts

flirting-reaction-gifs_1
My reaction almost every time Wes showed up

So I was on the fence about Wes the first book, but I feel like I must say, I find Wes wonderful and need one like him now. I don’t particularly care for him as a love interest (I was team Roland until I realized it was creepy okay? It’s the Chucks. Damn Chucks get me every tim.) but given that Crew tends to be code for soulmates, it made sense that he’d shift into more of a love interest. Plus it’s been awhile since I’ve had a crush on a book character  (looking at my reading list of 2016, I think it’s been since my last book by Ms. Schwab?) And this crush definitely colored my love for this book.

As the book went on, I realized I relate to Mackenzie quite a bit — her internal vibe/aura being a thunder storm makes it even more relatable. I’m guessing mine sounds similar, though probably more like a tornado. (And Wes’s being metal music — swooooon.)

The pacing of this book is better than the first. It still jumps to the “past” (sometimes the past was a few days ago, not childhood) way too much for my liking, and I still found it a tad predictable, but it’s not as ridiculously slow. In true book 2 of a YA trilogy fashion, our lead heroine is quite broken after the events of book 1, but at least she’s not curled up in a ball doing nothing.

The ending is rushed quite a bit, again, but I was appeased by the knowledge of a third book. Maybe one where Wes/Mac make Crew?

I’ve always been good at math. It’s straightforward, black-and-white, right and wrong. Equations. Da thought of people as books to be read, but I’ve always thought of them more as formulas—full of variables, but always the sum of their parts. That’s what their noise is, really: all of a person’s components layered messily over one another. Thought and feeling and memory and all of it unorganized, until a person dies. Then it all gets compiled, straightened out into this linear thing, and you see exactly what the various parts add up to. What they equal.

Final Verdict

Before I read The Archived, I was toying with my own idea of what happens to people when they die. That thin idea has gone on the backshelf as this series does a perfectly wonderful job of handling the dead. If you haven’t read a Schwab book, don’t start with this series (Vicious or A Darker Shade of Magic. GO GO GO.) But if you’re already a fan, give this one a read. It’s still good, just not her top series.

Book Review: Vicious

Today is just a quick update / review today, as all my boxes and stuff have finally come in. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not climbing over boxes all day, and everything is starting to look normal. But I did read two (or three? subway rides are blending!!) books this past week, so here’s the first review.

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Vicious
By V.E. Schwab
Published: 2013

Rated: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md4.5/5

I stumbled across this book at the store Books of Wonder. This was an odd thing as Vicious is not a Young Adult novel, but that’s okay. This is my second book by V.E. Schwab this year. She’s definitely an author I’ll be paying attention to and looking forward to read her books! Seriously, A Darker Shade of Magic is probably the best book of 2015, and if you haven’t read it yet, add it to your list (even for simply the cover!) Anyways, Vicious is almost as good as ADSoM, though maybe not as riveting.

Side note: I follow Victoria Schwab on social media, and she seems awesome. And she’s a few months older than me, which strangely makes her more of an idol than other authors.

Summary

Victor and Eli are college roommates. Both seem to have a darker side underneath their masks of brilliance, arrogance and snarky sides. For Eli’s senior thesis, he decides to explore EOs— ExtraOrdinary people, or people who have, essentially, super powers. Their research leads to a possible formula: is there a way to make EOs?

Fast forward ten years later, Victor has broken out of prison, with only one thought: find Eli for revenge. He’s surrounded by a team of odd characters — his jail mate and a young girl he picked up on the side of the road. On the other hand, Eli has been on a mission to rid the world of EOs, aside from his own personal sidekick.

Thoughts Thoughts Thoughts

Who is the villain, and who is the hero, especially when both guys are sociopaths?? Even the characters ask them of themselves in the book:

“If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?

He took a long sip of his drink, tipped his head back against the couch, and decided he could live with that.”

Whoa.

I mean, Victor and Eli in my head:

dexter1 benedict-cumberbatch-sherlock

(Not as much Sherlock, but I couldn’t think of a closer sociopath. The master is too…too. But imagine both of them with SUPERPOWERS.)

This book is written in a manner similar to how ABC seems to be doing all their shows these days: modern day moments with flashbacks to the past (or future). I think if this wasn’t SO POPULAR, I wouldn’t have been tired of it by Part 2 of the book. That being said, how else would this story be told? (I blame ABC more than anything, honestly.)

The concept of this story is amazing. The second part drags a little, though it was definitely interesting to see the story from Eli’s POV as well. And the side characters — Sydney and Mitch especially — are just as interesting to learn about.

So how does one become a superhero? Well, you have to have some kind of gene (never really explored or explained) and you have to come back from death. Not have a NDE, but literally flatline and come back. And for early 20 year old guys, this means WE HAVE TO TRY IT IN OUR APARTMENT. While drunk. Cause you know, it’s just death. You’ll totally come back from it.

What I didn’t care for so much was the ending. Something about it felt lacking a bit. I’m not sure what, but it wasn’t the epic battle I was expecting between the two. And I think I’m in the minority on this opinion. And I think it’s more of a “me” thing, because I really suck at epic battles I think.

But that’s okay though, because apparently a sequel is on the way!

Who would I recommend this for?

Superhero/Antihero fans, even if they aren’t big fans, and especially if they root for the villains on occasion. If you need the name Serena to mean something to you other than the UES It Girl. This isn’t a YA book, but I wouldn’t say teens shouldn’t read it. Actually, everyone read it. You should just support this rising star of an author.