What I'm currently reading: A Darker Shade of Magic (V.E. Schwab) and Saturn Run (John Sandford and Ctein)

Because reading two books at the same time is oddly effective for me.

(via Macmillan)

Kell is one of the last Travelers-magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes, connected by one magical city.
There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad king-George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered-and where Kell was raised alongside Rhys Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London-a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.
I'm about halfway through this book and it makes me a bit sad because I'm halfway done and I don't want the story to end. A Darker Shade of Magic is an amazing book that hooked me from the get-go and hasn't relented since. I'm disappointed that Red London isn't a real place I can go to and that I'm not Antari either, dammit!

(via Penguin)

The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope—something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do.

A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least one hundred years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.

The race is on, and an remarkable adventure begins—an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect—and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.
This is a book I've seen at the library twice and decided to check it out because I really like this vein of hard sci-fi where humans have to push themselves to the limit technologically. That's why I want to read The Martian, Red Mars, and Seveneves this year and the next. In this case, an alien starship hanging out around Saturn forces humanity (in this case, the U.S. and China. No idea about the rest of the world because I haven't gotten that far yet) to push itself beyond what they've done before: travel to the outer planets. Oh no doubt that we'll do this in the real world eventually, but I would be surprised if it happened within my lifetime or even in this century.

One of the things I like about this story is the conversion of a space station (apparently the U.S. has its own in 2066) into a ship. I thought that was pretty clever, given that the U.S. doesn't have time to build a ship from scratch.

I'm focusing on A Darker Shade of Magic right now, then switching it to Saturn Run as soon as I'm finished. After that, I might pay Wallander or Rebus another visit. Once I'm finished with Saturn Run, I'm going to keep on going with sci-fi and read either A King of Infinite Space (Allen Steele) or A Maze of Stars (John Brunner).

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