Thursday, February 16, 2017

Theme Thursdays: A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

This year we're going to try something new that we hope will help us tackle our TBR piles and keep us motivated to complete our #RockMyTBR challenges. We're starting a new feature called Theme Thursdays! Each month, we'll review books from our respective TBRs that fit a theme we choose at the beginning of the month. February's theme is PIRATES

A Gathering of Shadows
(Shades of Magic #2)
V. E. Schwab
Release: February 23, 2016
Goodreads Amazon
It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift--back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games--an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries--a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

Despite A Gathering of Shadows being one of my most anticipated books of 2016, I just barely got around to reading it after several friends told me to wait until closer to the release of book three. And all I can say is Holy Hell! How have people coped with that ending for a year?!?

While I loved A Darker Shade of Magic, I definitely adored this book more. It felt even more engaging and the characters felt so much more cemented in their personalities and confident.

The story picks up soon after the first book with both Kell and Lila spending their time in Red London. Kell continues to stay with and protect Rhy, whereas Lila has found her place as a crew member of a ship. From page one, I was once again enraptured in Schwab's magical world of multiple Londons.

There's just something magical about Schwab's writing. While is it full of complex world-building, political issues, inversed tropes, and various character dynamics, it is also incredibly readable. Personally, I can easily become bogged down by excessive detail regarding complex worlds and magic systems in fantasy, but I can honestly say that I never had that issue while reading this book. I was always immensely interested in whatever was occurring and couldn't put it down. And I have fallen head over heels for the magic system. I think the idea of the idea of elements and blood and bone being the main conductors of magic is brilliant and I loved that everyone approaches their element(s)/magic differently.

I was thrilled that we got so much Lila in this book. And I totally get now why all my friends describe Lila's personality as "Everyone is like "Lila, no!" and Lila is like "LILA, YES!". After this book, I feel like we're starting to understand Lila, her motivations, and her overall demeanor. She is an incredibly strong-willed individual and she is not afraid of crossing any lines to do what is necessary, which is definitely something we get to witness in this book. Despite the trouble she gets into and causes, I find it impossible not to love her and to respect her for her sheer confidence and audacity.

I loved Kell just as much as I did in the first book. He is still kind of a stick in the mud but he is fiercely loyal, and I think that's what makes him such an endearing character. He will never give up or turn his back on those he cares for. He is also extremely responsible with his strong powers which is admirable considering other characters. Although, I think we will see some different sides of Kell in the next book.

As much as I love Kell, I was ecstatic that we got Rhy POV chapters in this book! I loved seeing his character development in this book. He struggles with becoming a strong, powerful king one day, and the inner conflict he faces between his own emotions and his obligations were truly masterfully done.

Last but not least, my new favorite character in this series is Alucard Emery, the charming pirate captain. Or should I say privateer. I loved his character so much! He's witty, strong, sharp, and exceedingly amusing. I loved his relationship and dynamic with Lila. And I really want to know about whatever the drama is between him and Rhy. Every interaction between Rhy and Alucard was great and it created an interesting contradiction to what appears to be Kell and Alucard's mutual disdain for each other.

This book was so amazing! I really could spout pages in praise of this book. The plot, the magic tournament, the world, the characters... everything was perfect! It was all I wanted it to be and more! If you haven't read this series or this book yet, now is a great time to start.

  5 / 5 Stars!!!

My reviews of other books in this series:
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Non-Written Novels

Top 5 Wednesday is a group of bloggers, booktubers and bookstagrammers posting on a common topic every (you guessed it) Wednesday. You can find the lists by searching #T5W or Top 5 Wednesday. And you can join the group on Goodreads if you want to participate.

This week's topic is Favorite Non-Written Novels.

This topic is all about the books that are not 'written' novels! So graphic novels, comics, manga, audiobooks, etc. I love this one! I read a ton of graphic novels and manga and I don't get to talk about my favorites as much as I would like to. That being said, it was super hard to narrow this down to a top five list.

5. Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen
 If you're not reading the Sarah's Scribbles comic, you need to go remedy that now! This collection documents modern life of a generation of young people from the awkward to the horrifying to the not so classy moments we all experience. It's laugh out loud hilarious and I can't help relating to so many of the comics. It's so great!

4. Soppy by Philippa Rice
This collection is absolutely adorable! It documents all those small everyday moments of being in love with someone. I adore this little book! It's one of my go to pick me up reads.

3. The Ancient Magus' Bride by Kore Yamazaki
This is a manga series that I just picked up a few weeks ago. It's a human learning magic from an inhuman mage and that inhuman mage learning how to be human. It's the perfect combination of silly, whimsical, and dark that creates a sort of twisted fairy tale. I'm intrigued to see where they go with this. Also, it's being made into an anime!

2. Heart and Brain by Nick Seluk aka The Awkward Yeti
I've been a devoted follower of The Awkward Yeti for a few years now and my love for his comics hasn't diminished at all. My favorite of his collections is the Heart and Brain comics. I go from laughing hysterically at the cynical Brain and overly optimistic Heart to relating to them hard. I can't recommend this comic enough!

1. Yona of the Dawn by Mizuho Kusanagi
Yona of the Dawn is hands down my favorite manga that I've ever read. It's a reverse harem fantasy manga about a spoiled princess who has to regain her throne with the help of the four dragons from her childhood friend who betrayed and murdered her father. It's all about Yona growing into the person she needs to be to protect and regain her kingdom. The characters are marvelously done! You can't help but love and cheer on Yona's little gang of misfits. Also, the romance in this series is so great!

In case you want more recommendations, here are my Honorable Mentions: 
xkcd: volume 0 by Randall Munroe
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Giant Days by John Allison
Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
The Crimson Spell by Ayano Yamane* (Yaoi)
Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan
The Demon Prince of Momochi House by Aya Shouoto

*contains explicit content

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Week 2 Instagram Challenge Wrap Up

Have you been following our February Bookstagram Challenge? We're having so much fun! For the complete list of prompts and challenge details, see this post or click on the widget at the top of our sidebar.

Today's prompt is #IShipIt so make sure to check out Instagram for everyone's favorite couples. Since it's Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share some photos from our #FollowYourHeart prompt.

Clockwise from top left: @jo_vbc, @BookishJessi, @rithsic, @ghoulishgretl

Here are the prompts for week three.
Make sure your profile is public so we can see your photos!

And don't forget about the giveaway!
All of these Bookstagram essentials are going to one person who uses #G3WFebChallenge this month.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Book Trends You're Tired Of

Top 5 Wednesday is a group of bloggers, booktubers and bookstagrammers posting on a common topic every (you guessed it) Wednesday. You can find the lists by searching #T5W or Top 5 Wednesday. And you can join the group on Goodreads if you want to participate.

This week's topic is Book Trends You're Tired Of.

What are some things you are tired of seeing that are trends in publishing? Maybe something that pops up on a lot of covers these days, or the popularity of certain tropes in a particular genre? Let it out!

5. Naked chests on covers
 I am so sick of seeing topless men on romance covers! (Yes, there might be something wrong with me.) It's not that I'm against abs, it's just that they all look the same. Half the time the men don't even have heads because their chests take up the whole cover. And sometimes they don't even try to make it look like the character in the book. I think the cover should tell you something about the content of the book. All these chests tell me is "this is a romance," which I probably already knew. -Gretl

4. Serials
I'm sure that there are some people who love serials, I'm just not one of them. I'm a binge reader. Not only in the read-a-whole-series-back-to-back way, but in the way I read a single book. Most of the time I finish a book the same day I started it. I hardly ever take more than two days. I'm immersed in that world until I finish the book, sometimes to the point of distraction. If I try to do the Georgina Kincaid one chapter a night method, I don't remember what I read. And if I read part one, I may not be interested anymore by the time part two comes out. So serials just don't work for me. -Gretl

3. Characters with Sacrifice Syndrome
I don’t know what it is, but I am sick of the “I have to push you away because I’m not good for you” trend that I see in romance. My best friend calls this the “Sacrifice Syndrome.” No matter how much the hero/heroine cares about their love interest, they feel this all consuming need to push them away for their own happiness, safety, etc, etc, etc. This trend drives me bonkers. You’re a vampire. She’s human. Suck it up, buttercup. You don’t have to save her from yourself. I will concede that there are some books that make this work, but they set up legit reasons other than the overused “I’m not good for you” excuse. But overall, this is another trend, I want to see die by fire. We don’t need any more too stupid to live characters. -Rose Red

2. Insta-Love/Love Triangles
Nothing turns me off from a book quicker than insta-love or a love triangle especially in YA books. I read a lot so I know there are some exceptions where both of these tropes have been used well in the story. But for the most part I think they're trends that need to die… by fire. I have no problem with characters having an instant connection to each other. But a connection is not the same thing as love. There have to be interactions and more than two days between meeting and declarations of love. One of my favorite things about reading romances is seeing the relationship develop between the two love interests. Please authors! PLEASE LET THEM INTERACT BEFORE YOU HAVE THEM DECLARING THEIR ETERNAL LOVE FOR EACH OTHER! Then SHOW me how their interactions deepen their feelings. I want to ship your characters, but you have to give me a reason to ship them. 
If there is anything I hate more than insta-love, it’s a love triangle. There are a few series where this trope has been done so well that it doesn't bother me (Hello! Mercy Thompson series!) but I usually hate when a heroine (or hero, for that matter) can’t decide between two love interests. I’m sure they both have excellent qualities, but just choose one already. I’m going to end this here before I get into a full-blown rant about this. -Rose Red

1. The Tortured Past Trope
This is a trope I have a love/hate relationship with. Characters with troubled or traumatic pasts are interesting characters and you can’t help but cheer for them when they overcome the consequences of that past and find love. I can see where some past trauma would make a person think they can’t be redeemed or that they’re unlovable, but sometimes it’s so concentrated on in the narrative that it ruins the story for me. I have to see the character make baby steps to becoming better. It’s not a sudden realization and everything is fixed thing and I hate that some books write that in. As much as I like to see characters overcome their pasts, this trope has been done so much, especially in the New Adult genre, that it’s boring to me. -Rose Red

What book trends are you tired of?


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February Instagram Challenge: Week One Wrap Up

You might have heard we're hosting an Instagram Challenge this month. For the complete list of prompt and giveaway details check out this post. You can also get there by clicking on the widget in our sidebar.

 We're finishing up the first week so we'd like like to share a few of our favorite pics so far. 

Clockwise from top left: #febtbr by @mylibraryfinds, #febtbr by @ruthsic, #ravishingred by @bookish_ash, #bookmail by @jo_vbc

And here's proof that great minds think alike. (Or at least our minds do.)
On Sunday we posted our favorite sports themed reads. From top to bottom: Goldilox, Gretl, Rose Red.
If you haven't joined in yet, it's not too late.
Here are the prompts for week 2:

Make sure you use #G3WFebChallenge and have your account set to public so we can see your pics.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Month in Review: January 2017

It's weird to think that the first month of 2017 is over.  Our new year is off to a great start! Here's what the Weres were up to in January.

What We Reviewed

Theme Thursdays

This year we're going to try something new that we hope will help us tackle our TBR piles and keep us motivated. We started a new feature called Theme Thursdays! Each month, we'll review books from our respective TBRs that fit a theme we choose at the beginning of the month.

January's theme was MAGIC

Rose Red reviewed The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Next month's theme is exciting! We're going to be reading PIRATE books!  

Our Posts That Weren't Reviews

We're doing something really exciting next month! Goldilox and the Three Weres is going to be hosting a February Bookstagram Challenge! You can check out info on the daily prompts in our blog post! There's even a giveaway! We look forward to seeing your awesome photos under the #G3WFebChallenge hashtag!

A new year means that we're participating in a new set of Reading Challenges for 2017. Wish us luck in our reading endeavors!

Rose Red has been thinking about her blogging goals for 2017 and wants your input on what Non-Review Posts you'd like to see more of on the blog. We're trying to diversify our content. To start, Rose Red did the New Year's Reading Resolutions Book Tag.

This year we've decided to switch things up a little so we replaced our beloved Waiting on Wednesday with the Top 5 Wednesday meme. It's been fun so far! We've talked about our 2017 Goals, our most anticipated 2017 Debuts, and our Favorite Underrated Books.

What We're Waiting For

Here are some of the February releases we're excited about:

February 7
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
The Turn (The Hollows #0.1) by Kim Harrison
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones 
King's Cage (Red Queen #3) by Victoria Aveyard

February 14
Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James
February 21
The Dragon's Price (Transference #1) by Bethany Wiggins 
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V. E. Schwab 
Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

February 28
Into the Fire (Night Prince #4) by Jeaniene Frost
The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl From Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig
Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1) by Tricia Levenseller

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Books From My TBR I'm Finally Going to Read

Working On That TBR Pile!
How do you feel about your TBR pile?

or more like

We here at Goldilox and the Three Weres have talked a lot about tackling our TBR piles in 2017 so I made a video about some of the books that have been on my TBR for a while now that I plan to read in these first few months of 2017!

What books are on your immediate TBR? Have you been doing a good job clearing off that TBR shelf so far in 2017?

Books From My TBR I'm Finally Reading in 2017!

(Email subscribers click on the post title to view the video.)

Click on the little red youtube button below to subscribe to the channel!

You can also view more videos on the channel by clicking here: 
Goldilox's Booktube Channel

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Our Instagram Challenge Starts Today!

Did you hear we're hosting our first ever Instagram Challenge this month? If you want to participate, here are the first week's prompts. For the full list and giveaway details, check out this post.

Follow us on Instagram and we'll share our favorite photos from #G3WFebChallenge.

Top 5 Wednesday: Current Favorites That Aren't Books

Top 5 Wednesday is a group of bloggers, booktubers and bookstagrammers posting on a common topic every (you guessed it) Wednesday. You can find the lists by searching #T5W or Top 5 Wednesday. And you can join the group on Goodreads if you want to participate.

This week's topic is Current Favorites That Aren't Books.

We all go through reading slumps occasionally or just need to take a break to reset our brains between reads. Here are some of the things other than books we've been obsessing about lately.

5. Bookstagram
Okay, this one still involves books but I'm photographing them not reading them. We're hosting our first ever bookstagram challenge this month (It starts today!) and I've been trying to get some of my photos taken in advance. As the host, I'm kind of feeling the pressure to make them good. But I'm having fun looking around the house for props I haven't used before. For details on the challenge, check out this post. -Gretl

4. TV Shows
Has anyone else been watching Emerald City? I started it a few weeks late and halfway through the first episode I thought I didn't like it, but it grew on me. It's nothing like The Wizard of Oz we all watched as kids. It's dark and dystopian and I'm kind of loving it now. If you're into YA fantasy, you should check it out. It has that feel to me. The main characters are adults, but there are a couple of teens in there too.


I need a new Netflix show to binge! I recently finished The West Wing and I've been looking the last few weeks but nothing is jumping out at me. -Gretl

3. Adventures in Cooking
One of my personal New Year's resolutions this year is to eat more healthy and to not eat out as much. Both of those goals have required me to cook more than I was last year. I actually love trying new recipes and cooking but I just haven't had the time because of grad school craziness. It's been fun getting back into the swing of things. It's also been delicious! My favorite new dishes I've tried so far have been these Carne Guisada, Multigrain Bread, and Beef and Snow Peas recipes. -Rose Red

2. Video Games
I'm not much of a traditional gamer but I've been playing a lot of video and computer games lately. Mostly I've been playing my old school city-building game, Zeus, and its expansion, Poseidon. I found it in a box while I was cleaning last month and it's been so fun playing it again! I've also been playing Super Mario Run since it came out. I love it but I'm terrible at it! It's become my go to phone game when I have to wait somewhere. My poor phone battery isn't enjoying it as much though. -Rose Red

1. Anime 
In case you didn't know, I'm a huge anime fan! I got started on Sailor Moon as a teen and haven't looked back. When I find myself in a slump, like I've been in since November, I watch anime. During the holidays, I fell head over heels in love with the sports anime, Yuri!!! On Ice! It's amazing! It's a story about men's figure skating. But it's also about family, friends, and anxiety where the romance between the two main characters, Yuri and Victor, is considered normal. As I said, it's amazing and heartwarming. Each week's new episode was the highlight of my week. You can watch the whole first season for free on Crunchyroll. Yuri!!! on Ice isn't the only anime I've been watching. I highly recommend: Yona of the Dawn, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Haikyu!, and Snow White with the Red Hair. -Rose Red

What are your current non-book obsessions?


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