The Marks We Leave Behind: The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by V. E. Schwab

I wanted to love this book. I was prepared to love this book. In the end, I…liked this book.

The only way I can describe what I’m feeling is to say that it’s like meeting someone with the qualities that should make them your soulmate but no matter how hard you try, the chemistry is missing. So, as much as it pains me, I’m friend-zoning The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue.

Who, What, Where?

The premise of TILoALR is great. Even after being disappointed in elements of its execution, I maintain that I love the concept of this book. The story follows a girl named Adeline who grows up in a small village in 15th century France. Not content with simply being married off, birthing babies, and never seeing anything of the world, Addie makes a deal with a mysterious god of darkness. Immortality in exchange for her soul. The catch, however, is that no one retains their memories of her once she leaves their sight. As you can imagine, this creates a freeing yet difficult and lonely existence. Things take an unexpected turn when in 2014 she meets a bookseller named Henry who somehow remembers her.   

Whimsical Prose

Schwab’s writing in this novel is beautiful. Sure, she repeats some details more times than she should (e.g. Addie’s freckles, Henry’s curls) but, by and large, the prose is stunningly poetic and lyrical. Had I been reading this on my kindle the pages would have been covered in highlights. Yet, while I admired the style, I feel as though it also distracted me and contributed to feelings of disconnect at times.

A Not So Love Triangle

TILoAL is a love triangle and yet, it’s not. If you were looking for a great love story, you won’t find one here. It’s just not that kind of book, it’s far more complex. The two main relationships are between Addie & Henry, and Addie & Luc (the dark God). Neither is deep, romantic love in a traditional sense but they’re as close to it as Addie feels she will get within the parameters of her existence.

Due to the nature of their deal, Luc is the only constant in Addie’s life, and he understands her like no-one else ever will. The book features numerous run-ins between the two over the centuries and although I enjoyed the adversarial nature of their relationship, these exchanges did become repetitive over time. They also largely lacked the deep, personal conversations necessary to support the book’s claim of them having an intimate, special connection. Things do evolve eventually, which I really liked, but I wish it had been a more gradual shift and started far earlier.

Henry is Addie’s first, and perhaps only, opportunity at pursuing a normal-ish, human relationship without the power imbalance involved with Luc. Their relationship is sweet and I really enjoyed the beginnings of it. However, once Henry and Addie get together, it does feel as though not a lot happens until late in the book. It won’t be difficult to guess the “twist” in their story, but I don’t feel that it affected my enjoyment at all.

A Girl, A Boy & the Devil

Confession: I never really warmed up to Addie. I sympathised with her desire to make her bargain and efforts to leave a mark on the people and world around her in spite of her curse, but I think my main issue was stagnancy. Although Luc claims Addie is learning and changing, I didn’t see this beyond the early chapters. Despite living over 300 years, travelling, meeting people, experiencing the world’s good and bad, Addie always felt like the same person in the present as she did in the past. Describing her, I could say she’s stubborn, streetwise, attracted to artists, and desires to see the world, but overall, her personality just seemed…flat. There was never anything that pushed me to either like or dislike her.  

Henry seems like another one of those boring, nice-guy characters but underneath he’s a lot more than that. As someone who, just like Henry, is currently in their late twenties and stuck in a low paying, uninspiring job because they can’t decide what they want to do with their life, I really related to and was unexpectedly comforted by his character. Henry’s struggles with depression and feelings of being lost or never enough will definitely resonate with a lot of readers. His story reinforces the idea that everyone deserves to be seen, loved, and appreciated for exactly who they are and even if you don’t know what your future holds yet, you’ll find your way eventually.

Luc is the character I’m most disappointed with. So much untapped potential! The reader’s time with him is mainly limited to his conversations with Addie and because of his unwillingness to provide her with information about himself, it really weakens his character development. With how compelling and mysterious he is, this frustrated me a lot. While I understand that limiting the reader’s exposure helps to put us in Addie’s shoes and understand the toxic, manipulative nature of their relationship, I can’t help feeling like I missed out on something big.

Then & Now

The narrative flicks back and forth between 2013/2014 New York and different moments from Addie’s past. I really liked this structure but considering the fascinating parts of history that Addie has lived through and places she’s been (few of which we actually see), I was expecting more interesting anecdotes from her past. I feel as though the book shows us little of her experiences during big historical moments where she would have been directly impacted and the stories that we do get start to seem the same as time goes on. The 20th century is also dealt with very quickly, something I found odd with how important it was to Addie’s relationship with Luc and the book’s climax.

The End

While I have a lot of praise for the ending, I get the feeling that many people won’t be so keen on it. For one, it’s quite open but it also reinforces the idea that the novel is not meant to be happy or a love story. It’s intriguing and really fits the trajectory of the story well.  

Slow Pacing and Thoughtful Themes

Unlike Schwab’s previous books, TILoAL is much slower in pace. It’s less about action or drama and more about character journeys and exploring themes. I’m not normally averse to gradual narratives, but there were stretches during this where I found myself switching off due to inactivity or repetition. Themes wise, though, I need to give Schwab credit. This is a story about loneliness, memory, personal legacy, the beauty in living despite life’s ugliness, and it handles them all quite well. For example, Addie, Luc and Henry are all completely different characters but who experience similar feelings of loneliness and isolation. They present distinctly for each of them and their responses are equally unique. This is a book you need to think about and process as you read and I can easily see why it’s taken Schwab so many years to feel as though she’s told her story right.


Ordering my thoughts and feelings to write this review was not an easy task. I’m still questioning whether my final rating is an accurate reflection but, in the end, while there are things I enjoyed about this book, I can’t help feeling that it never reached its full potential. I know TILoAL will be a favourite for plenty of others out there. Unfortunately, it just isn’t for me.

3 Stars

WWW Wednesday | 19.12.18

It’s time for WWW Wednesday (hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words) in which I pad out my blog (hey, at least I’m honest) with an update on what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m currently reading and what I’m planning on reading next (in this case, trying to cram in before 2018 is over). Interested? Of course you are! You clicked on this post. So here we GO.

Recently Finished

40556417To Best the Boys – Mary Weber (ARC)

This ended up being quite different from what I’d expected (no idea how because the blurb is an accurate description of the book). For some reason I expected the story to spend more time on the scholarship contest but they’re only in it for less than 40% of book. Some parts of the competition felt rushed and others lacked excitement. How we reach the end result is also a bit like, what just happened and why?

I liked Rhen as a protagonist – she was smart, strong and sassy. She’s somewhat similar to Audrey Rose from Stalking Jack the Ripper but less obtuse and silly. It’s also a fairly good feminist read (and does try to incorporate some disabilities, too) that manages to make several jabs at its fictional world and the real world simultaneously. However, one of the bigger issues I had was that I was kind of confused about the world – there was this strange blend of fantasy elements, consisting of mostly just random fantastical creatures, with an otherwise historical vibe which just wasn’t really explained.

An okay and reasonably entertaining read but not memorable.

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Currently Reading

40139338Vengeful – V. E. Schwab

This was one of my most anticipated 2018 releases and finally, after having just reread Vicious, I’m doing the thing. So far I’m about 200 pages in. The non-linear structure is proving a bit more challenging to keep up with this time as there isn’t as big a difference between each time period. The plot is moving a little slowly at the moment but I don’t mind too much because I’m getting more info on existing characters and learning about some compelling new ones. Marcella is basically the definition of a badass bitch and I love it. Her character is proving a great addition for me. I’m really excited to see where this all goes.

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Up Next

Ugh. The age old question. I’m running out of time in 2018 and constantly thinking about how many books I can fit in before the end. I should probably consider some of the books I’ve started earlier in the year and got distracted from. One being…

37632716The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

I started this book AGES ago. We’re taking four months, but I’ve always been determined to go back and finish it before the end of the year. It’s why I still haven’t taken it off my currently reading section on Goodreads yet. Anyway, I’m about 140 or so pages in and after this week I’ll have some time off to really get cracking on it. Things were starting to pick up where I last was in the story and the book has so many amazing reviews that I hope it ends up being a fantastic read, even if the start has been a bit slow for me to get into.

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As usual, tell me what you’ve been up to reading wise. Good, bad, utterly forgettable?

And what books are you hoping to still try and squeeze into the rest of 2018?

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my Christmas List (Or Will Just Buy Myself Anyway)

This particular Top Ten Tuesday topic is actually scheduled for next week, but as I kind of already did this week’s topic two weeks back, and by the time it’s correct to do it I will have already opened my presents, I thought, why not do it now instead? Here are ten books I’m hoping to find under my Christmas tree this year (and which, if not, I’ll just go buy myself anyway).


It Ends with Us – Colleen Hoover

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Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

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One True Loves – Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Tempests and Slaughter – Tamora Pierce

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I was Born for This – Alice Oseman

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Archenemies – Marissa Meyer

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Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson

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The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang

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The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski

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The Dark Vault – V. E. Schwab

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Honestly, ten is likely a bit much to receive in one go, (or so the logical part of my brain tells me), but hopefully I’ll get one or two to add to my physical TBR. I’m really excited regardless of which I receive because they all look like awesome reads. Some of them have featured on other lists this year so this might finally be the chance for me to actually get and read them!

What books are you hoping to receive for Christmas this year? 

The Greek Mythology Book Tag

Having just finished another Rick Riordan book, it felt like this particular tag was calling my name when I stumbled across it the other week. However, from what I can see there are two variations of it. For the most part, they’re the same except for a couple of prompts in the middle and at the end so with those, I kind of just picked whichever of the two options I felt like doing. I’m a bit unsure where the tag originated from but if you know, pass the info on. Okay, let’s meet the Gods, shall we?


Zeus, The King Sky God

Favourite Book

Why do you guys insist on making me choose between my beautiful babies? It’s NOT possible! There are so many amazing books out there that limiting myself to one seems unfair. So, unfortunately, I’ll have to pass on this one.


Poseidon, God of the Ocean

A Book that Drowned you in Feels

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

This is a book of so many mixed emotions. There are some really sweet moments between the characters (they’re all really loveable) but there’s also a few heartbreaking ones with regards to recollections from the war and finding out what happened to certain people.


Hades, God of the Underworld

A Book with a Dark/Ominous Plot

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Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

If there’s one thing you can say about Gillian Flynn’s books, it’s that they’re a tad dark. She really digs into the not so pleasant parts of people and uses them to create twisted stories. No one is perfect and everyone has ulterior motives. Even the ending of this one is pretty bleak.


Hera, The Queen Goddess of Family and Marriage

Cutest Fictional Couple

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Percy Jackson & Annabeth Chase (Rick Riordan books)

There are a lot of fictional couples that I adore but not all of them are what I’d describe as “cute”. I haven’t read much of them as a couple yet, but so far Percy and Annabeth are definitely cute. I like the fact that they were friends first and that they complement each other so well – Annabeth is practical and thinks about things first while Percy tends to dive into things head on.


Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Battle Strategy

Favourite Intelligent Character

Hermione

Hermione Granger (Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling)

I really should try to vary my answers a bit for these tags but eh, Hermione’s my girl. It’s not hard to see why she’s called the brightest witch of her age. Good thing too, she needs to be to make up for all the stupid stuff Harry and Ron tend to do. I mean, she was petrified in book two and still managed to give them the necessary information to help them solve the mystery.


Gaea, The Great Mother

Series with the Best World Building

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The Lord of the Rings – J RR Tolkien & A Song of Ice and Fire – George RR Martin

This one’s a tie for me. I don’t think anyone can deny the world-building skills of these two authors. I’m not a huge fan of Tolkien’s writing style but the man created maps, languages, history, music, races, everything you need for a rich fantasy world. Martin’s worlds are also fantastically rich, which is probably why his novels are enormous and take so long to write.


Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty

A Beautiful Cover

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The Last Namsara -Kristen Ciccarelli

I get asked this question in a lot of book tags and in an attempt to try and not reuse the same answers over and over again *cough* Strange the Dreamer *cough*, I’m going with this one. While I found the book itself to be a bit of an average read, I think the cover is lovely. It’s just so sparkly.


Aries, God of War and Battle

Most Violent Book you’ve Read

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Godsgrave (Nevernight 2#) – Jay Kristoff

I almost went with The Hunger Games on this one before I realised that much of the violence actually happens off-screen. Instead, I’ve gone with Godsgrave. Nevernight is pretty violent as well (not that I have a problem with it) but Godsgrave has assassins AND gladiators. There’s bloody chariot races, giant worms burning people with acid stomachs, and lots of stabby, stabby.


Hephaestus, God of Blacksmiths and Flame

A Scorching Hot, Swoon-worthy Character

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Jamie Fraser (Outlander series – Diana Gabaldon)

As if there was any question about how I’d answer this one. I ♥ Jamie. While he certainly has some not so good moments, he always tries to learn from them. He’s kind, brave, and treats Claire as a partner. Oh, and he’s hot. Can’t forget that part.


Artemis, The Virgin Goddess of the Hunt

A Heroine who Doesn’t Need a Man to Save her

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Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy Series – Richelle Mead)

Rose is one of my favourite heroines and she has been since I was in high school. She’s one of those rare MCs that you actually could say is your favourite character. Rose is spunky, passionate and she kicks so much ass.


Apollo, God of Music, Light, and Healing

A Sequel that Redeemed its Series

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Golden Son (Red Rising 2#) – Pierce Brown

Redeemed isn’t really the word in this instance (the only one that would work for me is  A Court of Mist and Fury by SJM and I don’t want to use it for the umpteenth time) but I scored Golden Son higher than the original book, Red Rising, which is very, very rare for me. It’s a fantastic sequel in a fabulous series. Highly recommend.


Hermes, God of Messages, Travelers, and Thieves

Book with the Best Message

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Queens of Geek – Jen Wilde

There are quite a few books out there that have really nice messages so for this tag I’ve decided to go with Queens of Geek. This novel is massively diverse and inclusive, but even better, it promotes kindness, equality, women supporting other women, self-love, and putting yourself out there even though it might be scary to do so. While there may not be much of a plot and the writing is a little simplistic at times,  it’s definitely a feel-good book.


Hestia, Goddess of Hearth and Home

A Book you go to for Comfort

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Alanna: the first Adventure (Song of the Lioness 1#) – Tamora Pierce

To avoid using Harry Potter AGAIN, which really is my go-to comfort series, I’m going with Alanna: the First Adventure (which yes, I know I’ve mentioned a few times in the past but too bad). It’s the first book in one of my favourite series from childhood. I can always read these books and be taken straight back to primary school, which for some reason is very reassuring. They’re quick, easy reads and Tamora Pierce is a great fantasy writer.  I really should read her newest book, Tempests & Slaughter when I get a chance.


Demeter, Goddess of Agriculture and Fertility

Favourite Bookish setting

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Hogwarts (Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling)

Hogwarts. You could ask me this question a million times and I’ll always give you the same answer. I want to go to Hogwarts – hang out in a common room, attend a feast in the great hall, meet the house elves in the kitchens, watch a Quidditch match, take a trip to Hogsmeade, walk the grounds with Hagrid, chat with ghosts, play a game of exploding snap, try out the room of requirement, I WANT TO DO IT ALL.


Dionysus, God of Wine and Feasting

Most anticipated 2018 Release

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What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

I’ve mentioned my excitement for Wildcard by Marie Lu & Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor before so for something different, here’s a YA Contemporary due out in October. What If it’s Us just sounds super cute and I think the characters will be really great. I’ve liked both the Becky Albertalli books I’ve read so far and I’ve only heard good things about Adam Silvera. Here’s hoping this one’s a winner.


Hecate, Goddess of Crossroads and Magic

Favourite Magical read

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A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic 2#) – V. E. Schwab

Now, this was another difficult one because I read so many fantasy books that involve magic. I have a lot of favourites but A Gathering of Shadows is definitely high on the list. The book actually involves a magic competition which was immensely enjoyable for me – how could it not be with three of the major characters as competitors?


Nemesis, God of Revenge

Favourite Revenge Story

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Vicious – V. E. Schwab

Nevernight is probably my favourite revenge story but since I’ve already used Godsgrave above, Vicious is my pick for this one (yep, another Schwab book. I’m in love, no point denying it). There are a lot of morally questionable characters in this story, which is great. This especially applies to Victor, our male lead, who will do whatever he has to do to get back at Eli, even if it means hurting others. It’s different, a little bit dark, and there are x-men-like powers. A great read.


I Tag

You all know the drill, only if you (a) feel like doing it and (b) haven’t already. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended if you don’t! If you do, I’m looking forward to seeing your answers!

Lu @ It’s Lu Again

Dezzy @ The Thoughtful Voice (for after your mini-hiatus)

Priyasha @ Books and Co.

Kelly @ Another Book in the Wall

Rendz @ Reading with Rendz

If I haven’t tagged you and you’d like to do it, go for it!


There were some really tough ones in here, you’d be surprised how long it took me to complete this tag. Then again, I probably make it harder by trying not to use things I’ve answered with recently (however, in some cases I fail, epically).

How would you have answered some of these questions? Do you have a favourite book or are you like me and simply refuse to choose? 

Top 10 Tuesday: Books with my Favourite Colour on the Cover (Or in the Title)

This week’s TTT topic (via Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl ) is an extremely serious one. Expect to get some serious insight into my soul and find a base for some intense comment discussion.

Just messing with you. This week we’re looking at books which involve my favourite colour either on the cover or in the title.
My two favourite colours are orange and red, but since a lot of orange shades on books end up being more like Effie’s hair than a sunset shade (thanks, Peeta Mellark) I’m going to go with red for this list. The colour of passion, red velvet cake, bold lipstick, theatre curtains, the occasional murder scene…Okay, too far. Because twelve is so much easier to put into neat little rows, I’ve done twelve red books instead of ten.

Red Books

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  • A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab) – I really love these covers and the US versions are great as well. The white, red and black scheme is really striking. Plus, extra points because Kell is from “Red London”.
  • American Gods (Neil Gaiman) – A big, red book. I quite like the silver accents too.
  • The Mime Order (Samantha Shannon) – This cover is such a bright, eye-catching red. It really stands out whenever I pull it out of my shelves.
  • Scythe (Neal Shusterman) – Just enough red and in the right places for a super awesome cover.
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli) – How could I not include this one?
  • Red Rising (Pierce Brown) – It’s so simple and yet it works so well. Red accents and the word in the title. Woo!
  • Scarlet (Marissa Meyer) – A big red cape and the title is a shade of red, winner.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J. Maas) – Couldn’t resist.
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor) – I like the UK covers of these books so much more than the US versions. I feel like the mysterious red door here perfectly captures the tone of the story.
  • Eldest (Christopher Paolini) – Badass red dragon on the cover. This definitely had to make the list.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn (Renee Ahdieh) – I adore this cover. It’s just so damn nice to look at. The red is a little different in shade from some of the other covers on this list, almost metallic, but still equally striking.
  • Vicious (V. E. Schwab) – Schwaby’s publishers really like red in their covers and for good reason, this is another great design.

What’s your favourite colour and some of your favourite book covers in that colour?

Love Ashley

Music, Monsters, and Friendship: This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

4 stars

TSS

What if the worst deeds of humanity somehow created something living, breathing and equally monstrous?

It’s a simple concept, but it’s one that Victoria Schwab takes and, unsurprisingly, manages to turn into an engaging story full of shocking twists and interesting characters. Schwab herself describes TSS as: Sin City + Romeo & Juliet – Romance + Monsters, and to be honest, this is a pretty much perfect explanation of the book. The story is set in the troubled city of Verity, plagued by the existence of terrifying monsters which are formed by violent acts. The province is split down the middle between two very different controlling powers (or houses, if you want to use the R+J analogy). In the north, there’s Callum Harker, the powerful crime lord who has devised a way to control the monsters whilst demanding payment from citizens for continued “protection”. In the south lies the Flynn family, set on simply exterminating the monsters and who possess a zero tolerance for the individuals who create them. For some time there’s been a truce between the two families which has continued to grow increasingly rocky over the years, with a break down expected to be imminent. And so, when Harker’s teenage daughter Kate returns to the city, the Flynns send their youngest family member, August, to school with her to gather intel. As you can expect, this all gets very messy when an attempt is made on Kate’s life and blamed on the Flynns. But who’s behind it and is it as simple as it seems? If you guessed no, you’d be right.

Plot

I’m not sure what I expected going into TSS but it wasn’t what I got. I have a feeling I didn’t read the blurb properly, (probably too busy jumping for joy at the idea of having another Schwab series to read). The first part of the novel sets up our two main characters and establishes the flip sides of the pretty dystopian world they live in. From here, to my surprise, it moves into an almost typical high school setting involving classroom learning, social politics, and friendly banter over lunch. It’s a little odd to get used to at first amongst all the broader fear of getting brutally murdered. Yet, this section of the book provides essential scenes for the development of August and Kate’s relationship as well as their individual characters. We also never forget about the broader implications of what is happening inside the high-school ‘bubble’ as these scenes are balanced out by each character’s experiences outside of school hours. The last third of the book is a The Fugitive like section in which we see our two-some on the run. It’s during this part that we get some great action-packed scenes, emotional conversations between Kate and August, and entertaining twists which kept me entertained as well as drove me to pick up book two pretty quickly.

Characters

One of the best parts of the book is the sense of duality between August and Kate. Schwab has said that her inspiration for this story came from a line she wrote in Vicious:

“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.” 

It’s very easy to see how this was utilised to create her two main characters here. As the daughter of quite a monstrous person, Kate goes through a large part of TSS determined to live up to the reputation of her father. To not only survive, but rule, a place like Verity, Kate believes that she needs to be cruel, cold, and dangerous. In other words,  that she, too, needs to be a monster. Her father is the only family she has left and for reasons even she doesn’t fully understand, she desperately craves his approval and acceptance. The only problem is that Kate is a far better person than her father and he’s not in any way someone she should aspire to be. It’s something she comes to realise eventually but it takes time. The slowness of this development may come across annoying and unlikeable for some people, but looking at the underlying reasoning for her actions, I quite liked Kate and found her to be a good, strong character in the moments that mattered.

August, on the other hand, is a monster. A Sunai, August is driven to reap the souls of the impure which he achieves through the enchanting melodies of his violin. This is something he takes very little pleasure in, unlike that of his older ‘brother’, Leo, but it’s a process necessary to his existence. It’s a well-used trope, the monster who wishes he was anything but, and yet August never felt cliché to me. Instead of spending all his time moping about the nature of his existence, August simply tries to live his life as if he were the person he wants to be. It’s a serious case of denial, yes, which gets him into trouble later on, but it’s both sweet and endearing.

The friendship between Kate and August works so well because of their differences. They bring out the best in one another whilst also forcing each other to deal with the parts of themselves that they’d rather not. I read so many YA novels with underdeveloped romances which seem like they’re there just for the sake of ticking off a box. It was a wonderful change to read something that focused on building a solid and balanced, platonic relationship without any romantic elements. Yep, that’s right. You heard me. NO ROMANCE. None. Nada. Zip. And it’s a choice that works perfectly for this particular story.

Monsters

There are three forms of monsters in Verity – Corsai, Malchai and Sunai. Corsai, animalistic in nature, are born from non-lethal forms of violence and live off human flesh. Malchai, closely resembling vampires, are the result of murder and bare some of the warped characteristics of their creators. Last are the Sunai. Much more human-like in nature, Sunai are products of crimes involving the large-scale murder of innocents – massacres, bombings, and so on. They are akin to avenging angels who use music to reap the souls of those who have committed violent acts.

Despite the general similarities of each type of ‘monster’, there’s a great degree of variation within the classes which provides for some interesting character contrasts. This is particularly so for August and his adoptive Sunai siblings, Leo and Ilsa, who each have their own vastly different personalities and attitudes towards their role in the greater scheme of things. The differences among the Malchai don’t become prominent until book two, however, Callum Harker’s right-hand man (or monster, rather), Sloan, is still an interesting and frightening figure in this story.

To put it simply, the monster elements of the story are definitely some of the most interesting, and I absorbed every little detail like a dry sponge.

Writing

If you’ve read Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic series, you’ll be satisfied with her still excellent writing here. However, do keep in mind that unlike ADSoM, this series fits solidly within the YA classification and as a result the descriptions are briefer, language is more to the point, and the plot speeds along far quicker.  It’s not a bad thing, nor is it unfulfilling, just different. Her worlds are still well constructed, characters distinct, and concepts sound. If you’ve loved her other work, you’ll at the very least like this.

This Savage Song was an enjoyable read with an engaging concept and interesting characters. Did I adore it as much as the ADSoM books? No. Did I speed through it, set on reading the sequel to find out what happened next?  Very much so. I have no hesitation recommending it to anyone looking for an entertaining YA fantasy read.

4 Stars

Have you read This Savage Song? What did you think?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books of 2017

And it’s time to get back into good old Top Ten Tuesday. This week is a nice, easy topic – my favourite reads of this year. So far, I’ve read 40 books in 2017 which is pretty decent for me – I watch far too much TV and play a lot of video games. I marvel at all you amazing people who reach over 100. Teach me your ways! Anyway, here were the books I enjoyed most this year (plus links to the reviews I actually got my lazy butt to write). There’s nothing surprising or niche here, but hey, just means these books deserve the hype they get which is a great thing.

1. Nevernight (Jay Kristoff) – 5 STARS

Pure amazingness. It was the book I didn’t even know I needed in my life until I read it. The sequel was just as fab and probably should have been on this list too. Can’t wait for the next one.

 2. A Conjuring of Light (V. E. Schwab) – 4.5 STARS

A fantastic conclusion to one of my now favourite series, from one of my now favourite authors. Victoria Schwab, you are amazing. Your characters, writing, and world building completely stole my heart.

3.  A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J. Maas) – 5 STARS

The book that helped me understand the craze that is SJM and made me fall in love with the series. Such a fantastic novel and it flew by like it was nothing. Thank god I pushed myself to give this sequel a go.

4. Strange the Dreamer (Laini Taylor) – 4 STARS

 In one word – gorgeous. The writing, the characters, the world building. Much love.

5. Gemina (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff) – 4 STARS

Non-stop action, humour, great characters, and a lot of fun. I love this series and I can’t wait for Obsidio to come out next year!

 6. An Ember in the Ashes (Sabaar Tahir) – 4 STARS

Another book that managed to take me by surprise. I had a great time reading this one and have already bought the sequel ready to go.

7. Cinder (Marissa Meyer) – 4 STARS

I majorly underestimated this book and it ended up being really enjoyable. I’ve heard amazing things about this series for ages and I’m glad I finally decided to give it a go.

8. Geekerella (Ashley Poston) – 4 STARS

My second attempt at reading YA contemporary for 2017. Such a fun, light book that ended up being so much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Plus, it appeased my inner geek girl.

9. This Savage Song (Victoria Schwab) – 4 STARS

The concept for this one alone makes it a standout. Schwab once again creates great characters and surrounds them with a really engaging concept.

10. The Bone Season (Samantha Shannon) – 4 STARS

Yes, it was a re-read but it counts because it was just as awesome as before. Heavy world building, yes, but very enjoyable.

The Narnia Book Tag

I haven’t done a booktag for a while and after seeing that Nadwa from Painfully Fictional had done this awesome tag the other week, I thought I’d give it a go. Yes, I know I answer a lot of questions in my tags with the same books over and over again but they’re just so good and work for so many things!

Narnia – A Magical World You Would Like to Visit

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I’ve desperately tried to wrack my brain for an answer that isn’t my usual cliché for this one but I can’t help myself: I JUST WANT TO GO TO HOGWARTS, OKAY?! Ever since I was about six years old, I’ve wanted to be a part of J. K. Rowling’s wizarding world. I want to eat crazy food, fly brooms, cast spells, encounter magical creatures, and take magical trains to mystical places. I want moving pictures, conversations with ghosts, and epic games of violent chess. I want it alllll….take me there!

The Magician’s Nephew – A Book You Think is Underrated

Lexicon (Max Barry) – One of the few books I’ve read by Australian authors and very different to anything I’ve read before. If you’ve never heard of it, I highly recommend giving it a look up. It’s all about how a special order are able to use the power of words to create some very interesting effects on people and how destructive that power proves to be. There are two concurrent narratives and eventually they converge but with a lot of mystery involved as to how until the end.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – A classic that you love?

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As I’ve said before, I’m not really one for classics. They’re just not my thing and because of that I haven’t really read many of them. If I had to choose though, I’d probably go with Dracula by Bram Stoker. I wouldn’t say I loved it but I definitely powered through it in the space of about one day.

The Horse and his Boy – A Book You Picked Up Without Knowing What it was About

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson) – I didn’t really know all that much about what to expect with this book when I read it. My mum had told me it was good and I knew it was making the rounds on the media circuit so I decided to give it a try. It was definitely a darker ride than I was expecting but very enjoyable.

Prince Caspian – A Sequel that You Loved

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A Gathering of Shadows (V. E. Schwab) – I really loved A Darker Shade of Magic, but unlike a lot of other people, I think I actually enjoyed book 2 even more. Pirates, a charismatic new character, a magic competition, and an epic and dramatic ending, I was in heaven!

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – A Quest You’d Like to be a Part of

I actually can’t answer this one. While there are so many exciting and amazing quests in books that are fantastic to read about, with the dangers along the way none of them are exactly things I’d like to be along the ride for. I’d much rather cheer and cry from the sidelines.

The Silver Chair – A Book You Didn’t Expect to Love

Cinder (Marissa Meyer) – I read this one as the fantasy book of the month for my Goodreads bloggers group. I’d heard people raving about the series for ages and to be honest, I’d written it off as a forgettable 3-star read before I even started. I was shocked to discover that I really, really enjoyed it! I bought the sequel mere minutes after finishing it. If that isn’t an indication of a great book, I don’t know what is.

The Last Battle – A Perfect Ending to a Series You Love

The Clockwork Princess (Cassandra Clare) – I was actually happy with how this story ended – everyone finished up happily and the love triangle even resolved itself in a way that ensured no matter which side you were rooting for, you got something out of it. The characters fought, they won, what else can I say, really?

The Pevensies – A Siblinghood of Friendship You’d Love to be a Part of

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Fred & George Weasley (HP, Obviously pre-Book 7) – Just imagine the fun and mischief we’d have together. Secret passages, portable swamps, fireworks, I’m giddy just thinking about it.

Eustace Scrubb – A character who grew on you?

Ronan Lynch (The Raven Cycle – Maggie Stiefvater) –  Yep, I read The Dream Thieves and yes, Ronan grew on me. Like a fungus. He’s self-destructive, kind of an ass, a little weird, and yet, here we are.

Tumnus – Your favourite mystical creature

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This one is so hard! The magical creatures just in Harry Potter alone are huge. I think I’d probably have to go with a dragon, nothing beats their majesty, intelligence and just sheer bad-ass-ery. That, or a unicorn because PRETTY.

Reepicheep: A Loyal Character

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Samwise Gamgee (The Lord of the Rings – J. R.R Tolkien) – You’ll never find a more loyal character. The amount of crap Sam puts up with definitely gets him the award for MVP in this series. That boy would have followed Frodo to hell and back, and he basically did. If only every gardener was this amazing to their employer.

The Wardrobe – Your Favourite Hideout/Place to Read

Even though I do most of my reading on the train these days, my favourite place to read is in the comfort of my own bed. In winter, I’m surrounded by blankets and in summer, I love lying on top of the covers in the sunlight, lazing away an afternoon.

However, if I ever manage to score myself the perfect window seat, now that would be what book nerd dreams are made of.


And…we’re done! Because I suck, I’m not tagging anyone. If you’d love to do this, please do! I’d love to see your answers because it’s a cute tag. Hope you’re all having a splendid week.

Top Ten Tuesday: Back to School

So, first up, sorry for the lack of posts last week. Turns out that getting home at 8 PM multiple days in a row is not conducive to publishing blog posts but I promise that this week I will back in full force – tags, memes, reviews and discussions. Let’s get the ball rolling with TTT.

This week’s topic is Back to School and the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish  have given us quite a bit of freedom as to how we interpret this. I’ve decided to go fairly literal and discuss books that involve schools or academies of some kind. It’s a bit of an odd collection of books but eh, my blog, my list. In no particular order…

1. Nevernight – Jay Kristoff

My current, amazing read. This novel features a “school” of sorts except that in this instance it’s focused on shaping its students into proficient assassins. With the teachers not above theft, poisoning, dismemberment, and torture, the trick is surviving the training process. Yikes!

2. Vampire Academy Series – Richelle Mead

I was the biggest fangirl of this series in my mid and later high school years. You’d think it’d be the most trope-y, lame thing ever, but it’s not (well, in my opinion). This series was when I first fell in love with one of my favourite authors – Richelle Mead.  A school that teaches it’s students to use elemental magic and kill bad vampires, yep, sign me up.

3. This Savage Song – Victoria Schwab

To be honest I actually wasn’t expecting a school setting for the first half of this book.  I don’t know what I was expecting, really. Regardless, the two main characters meet at school while one is doing reconnaissance and it all ends up a mess from there (for the characters that is, not the plot because this book was great!).

4. Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult

Quite a socially relevant book for the United States when it came out, a time in which school shootings were regularly in the news. It’s an interesting look at the students, teachers and families linked to a high school in the lead up to and aftermath of a shooting by one of the students. Both emotional and a little scary.

5. Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling

I’ll probably use Harry Potter on almost every list I ever create from here until the end of time but I think you can see why it’s justified here. Hogwarts: the most awesome magic school in literature. Enough said.

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

The events that make up this novel are triggered by the main character, Charlie, starting high school. It’s here that he meets the interesting cast of characters that we follow throughout that year. We get the usual high school story plot points – the big dance, relationship dramas, bullying, house parties – and yet they never seem to feel cliché here.

7. The Raven Cycle – Maggie Stiefvater

The focus of these books isn’t the school setting, especially considering the characters always seem to be busy dealing with other things like disappearing forests, mixed up timelines, searching for dead kings, and so on. However, Aglionby Academy does play a role in shaping the characters’ identities – Ronan’s disregard for his studies, Adam’s dedication to them, Gansey’s outward appearance as the almost stereotypical Aglionby student, etc. Plus, it’s the whole reason the boys are referred to as ‘The Raven Boys’.

8. The Austere Academy – Lemony Snickett

Across the thirteen books that make up A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaires find themselves in every possible setting you can imagine – a circus, a reptile house, ski slopes, a submarine, a mill, and of course, a prestigious preparatory academy. As with every book in the series, it’s weird and yet very enjoyable.

9. The Mediator Series – Meg Cabot

Going back to my tween years with this one. I used to love this series. Suze is a catholic school student with the ability to see ghosts. She often has to work with her school principal, Father Dominic, to work out what’s going on with restless spirits in order to get them to move on. The first book involves her trying to rid her school of a very angry former student turned poltergeist.

10. IT – Stephen King

I’m probably stretching things with this one but whatever. In one of the two concurrent story lines, the characters are all kids aged about 12 or 13 and attend the same school which is how they meet one another. It also means they all happen to attract the attention of the same awful, older bully.

The Disney Princess Tag

I had so much fun doing the dim sum book tag last week that when I saw Sydney @ Fire and Rain Books had done this particular one, I couldn’t resist trying it out for myself. I absolutely love Disney so why not blend it and books together? This wonderful tag is the product of a collaboration between the lovely Zuky from BookBum and Mandy @ Book Princess Reviews. Great job guys!

Rules:

  1. Mention where you saw the tag/thank whoever tagged you
  2. Tag Mandy & Zuky so they can track the tag fun across the blogverse.
  3. Play a game of tag at the end!

So without further ado, let the tag begin!

Snow White

 This Book (Like the Movie) Started It All: Favourite Debut Book from an Author

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (J. K. Rowling): Yes, it’s a super cliché and obvious answer but I don’t think I’ll ever love a debut from an author as much as I did HP when it was read to me at age six.


cinderella

Cinderella

A Diamond in the Rough: Just Like Cinderella, You Either Didn’t Expect Much Out of this Character in the Beginning but they Turned Out to be a Total Gem 

Gilbert Blythe – Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery): When we’re first introduced to Gilbert he’s a typical, annoying schoolboy. He calls Anne names, tugs on her hair, and becomes her biggest rival at school. Eventually though he ends up being one of the best and most loveable characters in the series. Anne ❤ Gilbert forever basically.


aurora

Aurora

Sleeping Beauty: A Book that makes you Sleepy or Just Could Not Hold Your Attention

Unearthly (Cynthia Hand): I just couldn’t really get into this one. I did manage to finish it but unfortunately I found the characters kind of boring and the story lacking. Today I barely remember anything about it, it was that unmemorable.


ariel

Ariel

Under the Sea: A Book with a Water/Ocean Setting

Voyager (Diana Gabaldon): Okay, I seriously struggled with this one because basically nothing I read is set on around the water/ocean. Note to self: read more pirate and mermaid books. However, in this book Jamie and Claire spend some time travelling across the ocean to Jamaica and then eventually to America.


belle

Belle

Beauty and the Books: Name a Book with the Best Bookworm/Book Lover

Irene – The Invisible Library (Genevieve Cogman): Ordinarily I’d answer Hermione for this one but just for something different, I’ll say Irene. Irene has devoted her entire life to books, so much so that she’s actually lived inside a magical, interdimensional library. This is a woman who’ll fight off fey, dragons, werewolves and God knows what else just to get a rare copy of a particular book. Not only is she awesome but she seriously loves books!


jasmine

Jasmine

The Thief and the Princess: Name Book with an Unlikely Love Story (Either In Terms of Romance or a Book You didn’t expect to Love So Much)

Illuminae (Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff): I’m usually not much of a fan of books that like to play around with writing styles. I was super nervous when I bought Illuminae because I’d heard wonderful things about it but even just flipping through I could see that it had some weird things going on. I ended up loving it and have recommended it to people ever since.


pocahontas

Pocahontas

The Real Life Princess: Name a Book that is based on a Real Life Person you Want to Read/Have Read

The Princess Diarist (Carrie Fisher): I don’t usually do non-fiction, however, I really love the Star Wars films and Carrie was always someone who really didn’t seem to give a damn what people thought of her. She was strong, sassy, and very intelligent. I think this would be a really fun and interesting read.


mulan

Mulan

The Princess That Saved Her Country: Name the Fiercest Heroine You Know

This one was so hard because I’ve read about so many amazing heroines, I even did a post about them a little while back. So I’ll just mention two super awesome ones.

Alanna – Song of The Lioness (Tamora Pierce): Alanna disguises herself as a boy for several years so that she can learn to become a knight. She fights in a war, recovers magical artefacts, saves the royal family from a wicked sorcerer, and wins the hearts of both a prince and a thief.

Lila Bard – A Darker Shade of Magic (V. E. Schwab): She’s a thief, an adventurer, a pirate, and a magician. Doesn’t get any more amazing than that.


tiana

Tiana

The Princess with the Coolest and Most Diverse Crew: Name a Diverse Book whether it is a Diverse Set of Characters (Like Tiana’s Group of Naveen, Louis, Ray, And More) Or Just Diverse in General

The Dregs – Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo): I know, I use this one a lot in my lists but I just love it so much! Each of the members of the Dregs are so different and yet they work together super well – a calculating thief, a silent spy, a religious convict, a gambling sharpshooter, an aristocratic runway, and a witch with a love for waffles. Such a wonderful cast of characters.


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Rapunzel

Let your Longggggg Hair Down: Name the Longest Book You’ve Ever Read

I’ve read quite a few long ones but try to avoid doing it too often. They take a lot out of me! Here are some of the biggest:

George RR. Martin: A Storm of Swords – p.1177

Stephen King: It – p.912

Diana Gabaldon: Drums of Autumn – p. 898


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Merida

I determine my Own Fate: A Book Where There is No Love Story/Interest or Isn’t Needed

This Savage Song (Victoria Schwab): Okay, so I haven’t actually read this one yet but I definitely have plans to get to it very, very soon. From what I’ve heard it focuses on a friendship between the two main characters rather than a romantic relationship which is kind of a nice change with all the romance you find in YA these days.


Anna/Elsa

Frozen Hearts: A Book in a Winter/Cold Setting

Shiver (Maggie Stiefvater): I feel like this one speaks for itself just from the cover and title.


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Moana

How Far I’ll Go: A Character that goes on a Journey

Rose – Blood Promise (Richelle Mead): I love the VA books and I’ll admit that this one grew on me a lot more the second time I read it. Perhaps being older helped. Rose heads over to Russia in search of Dimitri. She travels across the country meeting new people and dealing with the fallout from the previous book.

Hurrah! All done. There were some really hard ones in there that I wasn’t expecting to be challenging when I decided to do the tag. Apologies for the lack of book covers, they just kept completely messing up the layout. divider

Tagging:

Seeing as this is a bit of an older tag, I tag whoever wants to have some Disney Princess and bookish fun. Go for it!