Review: A Gathering of Shadows (#2) by V.E. Schwab

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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.

I’ve been reading this series as a buddy read with Alex which has been so much fun so far. Once again, I partly listened to this one on audio and the audiobook for this one was so much better than the first book. Instead of just having one narrator like in A Darker Shade of Magic, we have a male and a female narrator in this one and it really helped the story. I found it a lot easier to focus on the audiobook with multiple narrators and I wasn’t distracted by the voices.

We start the book on Lila’s point of view which I loved. Even though this book is in third person, there’s definitely a distinct separation between the characters that are being focused on and the narrator does change in the audiobook depending on it. I definitely have found myself enjoying Lila’s points of view more.

Kell would say it was impossible. 

Something I found myself absolutely loving about this book and the series in general is the fact this book has a very separate plot line from the first book. I often find second books in series can fall into being a bridge book between the first and third book, or just continue on and drag out the plot from the first. Without spoiling this book as it is the second in the series, this book follows a game called the Element Games or the Essen Tasch, which was so much fun to read about.

I found this one very fast paced again, which I’m glad about because the third and final book in this series is thick and I’m glad I’m not too daunted about going into it. I really like the characters but as with the first book, I did want a little more tension between them and a little more interaction to keep me interested in their relationship.

What a useless word, in a world with magic.

Overall, this was such a good second book in a series and there’s so much to enjoy. I’m very excited to finish off this series and see where A Conjuring of Light goes!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Weathering With You Vol 3 by Makoto Shinkai and Wataru Kubota

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The summer of freshman year of high school. A boy named Hodaka runs away from his island home and goes to Tokyo, where he spends every day in loneness. Then, in a corner of the bustling city he meets a girl named Hina. But he soon finds out that she possesses a mysterious power.
Up-and-coming artist and Afternoon Four Seasons Award winner Wataru Kubota is set to illustrate the complete manga version of the latest film by Director Makoto Shinkai, who received international acclaim for “Your Name”!! 

I’ve finally managed to pick up the last book in this manga series and I’m so glad I’ve finished the story. If you didn’t know, I’m a big fan of Makoto Shinkai and I love both the Your Name and Weathering With You films so much. Over the years, I’ve picked up the Your Name manga and the light novels for both, and I can’t help but loving them all. It’s a difficult one to judge because I’ve never read the story before watching the films, but it does mean reading this manga was like wrapping myself in a warm and familiar blanket.

There is something about this last volume I absolute adore, because we see all of the morals of the story coming together. This story discusses sacrifice and our abilities to influence and change the world for it to be more aligned with what we want. I love some of the very small conversations that happen in this final instalment and I was so glad to see these being brought in from the film.

Weathering with You Chapter 3

I also love the art style and I feel like the illustrator did a great job with this whole series. I’m glad I’ve finished it off and I would like to read more by Makoto Shinkai and watch a couple of films that I haven’t seen yet!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

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Everyone likes Humaira “Hani” Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.
Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after. 

This was just the absolute cutest. I buddy read this one with a few friends, and most of our chat was between ‘how cute is this’ and ‘how annoying is this side character’. Hani is a popular girl who has recently come out as bisexual to her friends, who invalidate her sexuality because she’s only dated guys. Ishu is an academic overachiever who wants to become Head Girl, but needs to become more popular to get votes. They begin a fake relationship to mutually benefit them both, which brings them closer together.

One of my favourite parts of this book was the Muslim and Bengali rep. It felt authentic, natural and was so lovely to read about. It shouldn’t feel groundbreaking to have this kind of rep in YA, but it really does. I was reading this the entire time thinking of young Muslim readers who will see themselves in these characters. There are so many little things mentioned in this book, from wearing hijab, to praying, to having peer pressure from classmates to drink, that young Muslim girls will not have seen discussed in books before. And although that is crazy, and sad, I’m so happy to their stories finally shining through in YA. I also loved how this didn’t try to explain terms or coddle readers who are not from a South Asian background, because it is not the job of the author to educate.

I loved how distinct the two main characters and their families were, both having their own voices and interests. Although they do become intertwined with each other’s lives and have some quirks that belong only within the relationship, they also remain true to themselves and their own personalities. I also really liked Hani’s relationship with her family, which was so wholesome and lovely to read about. I especially found that in comparison to Ishu’s parents, it was heartwarming to read about their interactions. Ishu’s relationship with her sister was, although complicated, also lovely to read about.

Despite some of the difficult topics and discussions, I found this one very easy to read and dip in and out of for the buddy read. I became absorbed into the story so quickly, and found myself becoming emotional for different reasons throughout, especially feeling a lot of anger towards anyone who hurt these two girls. The only downside I found with this one is that some aspects of the plot had loose ends, or sometimes felt a little frustrating – especially when it came to the racism within the school.

Overall, this book was so heartwarming and fluffy but also covered some really important topics. I really loved it I’d love to pick up The Henna Wars by the same author!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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