One of my favorite things about traveling is going to bookstores in different cities. Why? Because they feature different books; different people like different things, and a people in a different city will read different stories. That was how I found A Darker Shade of Magic.
The deal is: there are three Londons, Grey (ours and Lila’s), Red (Kell’s), White (Holland’s), and Black (no one talks about Black London). Only Lila, Kell, and Holland can move between them. There’s magic and romance and pirates/privateers and a crazy coat. Of COURSE Black London comes into play.
I don’t want to say more because these are glorious adventure novels and you shouldn’t know what’s going to happen next. I bought the first one, A Darker Shade of Magic, on vacation and then went to my local bookstore on our first day back to buy the next two, A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light.*
Recommended, especially if you like some fun fantasy. And bonus: it’s a complete trilogy, so you won’t have to wait to read the whole story.
* Note: A Gathering of Shadows ends with a cliffhanger. You’ll want A Conjuring of Light around when you finish it.
All the Birds in the Sky was, for me, a tightly written three-act near-future novel about the clash of technology and magic (read: nature). I really enjoyed it.
There are two middle school aged children, Patricia and Laurence, and they are both freaks in that special middle school way. They almost become friends before they go their separate ways. As adults, they meet up in near-future San Francisco. Laurence is part of a tech incubator whose goal is to reach other planets sooner rather than later. Patricia is helping her fellow people via healing magic. The world is falling apart, and that accelerates. Clearly, humanity needs saving; will it be technology that will get us to the other world(s) before this one is destroyed or will it be magic that fixes it all?
This book is very much A Good Thing and worth your entertainment time.
What’s it about?
The Night Circus is kind of a romance, kind of a fantasy novel, and it’s a lot about glamour. There are two magicians older than we can know, who are in constant competition. Every so often, they each choose a student to compete against the other until one can no longer stand it. The remaining magician is the winner. For this particular competition Celia and Marco are both constructing a fabulous circus. It has amazing things – a tent that is only ice, a fire that never goes out – and its performers never age. Celia and Marco, of course, fall in love. So how will the competition end? Who wins? It’s worth the read to find out.
Why should you read it?
I mentioned glamour above. Glamour is an idealization. Glamour is beauty – these are both very lovely people. The circus, to its visitors, is graceful and mysterious. But what makes it not glamorous to the readers is that we see how it works. We see what it does to Marco and Celia to create this circus and keep it running. They do not lead rich, full lives. And glamour is also about sprezzatura, the art of making an idealization (the circus) appear easy. The circus is work and it wears on our heroes and it is not hidden. You should read The Night Circus because it can make you think about what goes into amazing creations, be they books or movies or buildings. It can be worth asking: what’s edited out? Why? What does the circus’ audience see? What do we see?