Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

What would you give up for immortality? Would you bargain your soul away for freedom? Addie LaRue is 23 years old in 1714 France. She’s about to be married off to a man she doesn’t love or have any interest in. She does not want to be a wife or a mother. She wants to live and see the world. She wants to love but not have attachments. In a moment of desperation, she bargains her soul away with a mysterious stranger to live a life away from the obligations of her small village. Unfortunately, she gets more than she bargains for because she is not able to leave a trace behind. People forget her as soon as they meet. She can’t say her name or even write it down. She can’t hold on to anything or own anything because it’s all easily forgotten. She has immortal life but she can’t make or keep any connections with anyone but her mysterious stranger, who she calls Luc. Addie is clever and stubborn and won’t let this get in her way. She finds ways to survive. People may not remember her but she finds ways to make her presence known. She inspires artists to draw and paint and write music. She lives on through various pieces of art and music for centuries. She has learned to be invisible and how to navigate the world without anyone every remembering she exists. That is until she meets Henry, who is the first person in 300 years who sees her and remembers her.

I enjoyed this book but it does take a while to get into it. The narrative goes back and forth from 2014 and the past and the transitions are not always clean. It does take a bit to figure out what is going on and how all this pieces together. However once all the characters have been introduced and we’ve seen the deal being made and how the curse plays itself out, the story picks up and you can only feel like this is not going to end well for everyone. I felt for Addie. She wants more than what is offered to her in 1714. Let’s be honest, it almost doesn’t matter when a woman lives, their options are limited. I could understand her desperation when she made her deal and her heartbreak as she then tries to navigate the world after. How even with immortal life, she has to make some truly terrible decisions to survive but she does. Partly because she is still curious about the world but also partly to spite Luc, who tries everything to break her. She learns to adapt. She learns to use Luc as inspiration but she also learns that as much as she hates him, she loves him because after all these centuries. He is the only one who knows her. So she lives on and will continue to live on and it’s kind of inspiring. The ending is really the only way a story like this could end. It’s neither happy or sad but bittersweet. Everyone gets what they want but also not what they want either. It’s an interesting premise and has so much more going on then what I’ve touched on here. It’s worth sticking with it to the end.

Quick Review: Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

**THIS POST CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS FROM THIS BOOK AND PREVIOUS BOOKS FROM THE GRISHAVERSE**

In the latest book in the Grishaverse, King Nikolai, Zoya and Nina all prepare for war on many fronts. The biggest threat comes from the north as the Fjerdians have the military might but in the South, the Shu Hans are taking a more subtle approach. Not to mention, the people of West Ravka are looking to succeed. Nikolai has to deal with all of this while also deal with rumors that he may not be a legitimate Lantsov and there’s also the whole demon living inside of him. Leftover magic from the Darkling and the fold. There is a lot going on but the pacing is good so it never feels overwhelm. Nikolai is worried he won’t be able to keep Ravka together. Zoya is afraid of her power and that she will fail her country and Nina can’t let go of her anger of losing Matthias while falling in love with Hanne. The book goes back and forth between Nikolai, Zoya and Nina as well as a few new characters as we untangle all the various threads of the story. They weave together really well and is never overwhelming. It was good to give a few characters some closure but don’t worry. This will not be the last book in the Grishaverse as it ends on a clear set up for a new series. Guaranteeing that some sidelined characters will be back in a big way.

Review: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

This book was heartbreaking as it was beautiful. The reality that Indigenous Women face everyday is kind of horrifying when you think about how susceptible they are to violence and little resources they have to help them. Daunis straddles between two worlds. She’s half indigenous and half white. The white half also happens to be one of the richest families in her town. So rich that one of the dorms in the local University was named after her grandfather. She belongs to both worlds but doesn’t. When multiple deaths due to overdose on Meth, Daunis gets recruited by the FBI to help with the investigation on a possible Meth ring coming from the Rez. Around the same time, a new boy moves to town that is mysterious as he’s attractive and adds a new complication to her life. In the investigation, Daunis uncovers some truths about people in her life that she thought she knew and some even more painful harsh reality. Many of which she had been shielded from thanks to her mix heritage and that she is light skin and easily passes as white. A privilege that has kept her safe up until now. The intersection of racism and misogyny comes in full force in this one as it’s pretty clear that both lead to so many of the issues that led to this happening and it’s hard to read. Daunis is picked to help with the investigation because of her knowledge of her tribes customs but also her understanding of chemistry. I love her Daunis pieces things together and works through the problem to find a solution. She is as brave as she is smart and doing so helps solves the mystery but unfortunately at a personal cost. I have to say, this is not an easy read because the reality that Indigenous women face every day are hard and the lack of empathy and resources they receive is heartbreaking. Even with Daunis privilege of being half white and born into a wealthy family is not enough to shield her from them. So please bare that in mind when you pick it up. It is definitely worth the read and I highly recommend it. It’s a novel that is going to stick with me for a long time.

Kinda Review: The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon

I’m not going to say too much about The Mask Falling because I know that Kate hasn’t read it yet. I do try not spoil things for her (whether she likes it or not) but I will say it was very satisfying installment into the series. We get to see more of Scion outside of the UK and how far it’s reach is growing but also the cracks from within. Paige and Warden are now hiding out in Paris and it allows her to interact with new groups of voyants and non-voyants and discovers more about the Rephaim and tests her own relationship. So good.

What I did like the most is that in the back of the book was a review of the cast of characters and glossary. Before I started reading this book, I searched out recaps online because it’s been a couple of years since the last book came out and it’s so dense and has so many characters and needed a reminder of what has happened. I could have reread the previous books but I wanted to dive right in. Even with reading all the recaps it was still super helpful to have those resources right in the back of the book. I really do hope that more series follow suit because it was super helpful. I’m sure authors and publishers hope that readers will go back and reread the previous books in between releases but let’s be honest that is just not realistic. So why not devote a few pages in the back to character descriptions to help to jog readers memories. Especially series like this one that have so many characters and subplots. (looking at you Game of Thrones) In conclusion this was really good. It ended on quite a cliffhanger and who knows, I might go back to the beginning and read them all again since it’s probably going to be another three or four years before book five comes out.

Quick Review: Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare

Fourteen books and countless novellas in to the Shadowhunters Chronicles, you pretty much know what you are going to get. Lot’s of diverse characters. Action, romance, agnst and humor sprinkled throughout. There is at least one character questioning their identity, at least two characters who are madly in love with each other but convinced the other doesn’t feel the same way about them. Another end of the world plot that they have to uncover, usually having to do with something bad that the Shadowhunters have done in the past and now are paying for it. Chain of Iron is no different and I know this and yet I keep reading on. I guess because despite it all, I still want to know what’s going to happen next. Clare has a way of populating her books with well rounded and thought out characters. They feel real. They are complicated and simple. They may be otherworldly but still live in a space that feels like every day. I may not know what if feel like to battle demons but I do know what it feels like to feel lonely or out of place. I guess that’s why they are so popular because no matter who you are there is a character that represents you somewhere in the series. This series takes place in turn of the 20th Century London but still full of diverse characters because it is England after all and the Empire was in full swing. There are LGBTQ+ characters because they have also existed in this time period even if the media of the time didn’t reflect it. So yes, fans of the books are going to love this as much as the others but new readers may feel a little daunted by the all the references and subplots to previous and upcoming books. Basically don’t start here if feel like jumping on the Shadowhunter train.

Review: A Court of Silver Fire by Sarah J Maas

This series is about trauma and found family. It’s not an easy read but it’s also very engrossing read. I do love this series. The first three books focused on Feyre and her journey from human to High Fey. I’m not going to say she is over her trauma but thanks to Rhys and her new family she is in a much better place now then she was. Not something that can be said for her sisters, Nesta and Elain. In particularly, Nesta. This book focuses on Nesta and her trauma over the last few books and beyond. The eldest Archeron family, she was supposed to marry a Prince and continue to help rise the family but when misfortune struck her family she felt helpless and guilty that it was her youngest sister, Feyre that kept them fed. When she and Elain were brought into the Fey’s struggles and turned immortal by the Cauldran, Nesta’s troubles only got worst. She never had the opportunity to deal with the issues of her past life and then she’s thrown into a world strange to her and given more struggles to deal with it.

After the end of the war with Hybern, Feyre let Nesta to her own devices fearing that if she stepped in Nesta would just resent her but when Nesta continues to self destructs she finally can’t let it go on. She orders Nesta to train with Cassian in the morning and work in the library in the afternoon and live in the House of Wind. Nesta and Cassian have had a fiery relationship so it was only a matter of time before things really started to spark between them but this is not the relationship I want to talk about. Throughout the book she meets two other women. Gwyn, a priestess who also works in the library and Emerie, an Illiayrian with her own shop. Together they all train together and bond over their own personal traumas and become their own family. Gwyn and Emerie understand Nesta in a way that Feyre, Rhys and the others can not and she understand them too. It’s such a joy to see three women grow with each other and support each and lift each other up. They can just be themselves with each other as they all work through their own struggles. It’s not that female friendships are missing in this series, Feyre and Mor have a strong relationship but it was never the focal point like Nesta, Gwyn and Emerie are. I like reading strong female friendships and making it up front and center because it doesn’t happen very often. Even in YA novels that are mostly written by women. Friendships are usually secondary to the love line of the story. So yes, more female friendships.

This is such an incredible series because it has so many different elements of fantasy. Yes, it’s not always easy to read all the trauma that the characters have gone through but the characters in the story are well thought out and fleshed out. It’s worth the read for fantasy lovers out there.

Review: Stormbreak by Natalie C. Parker

I will miss this series. Caledonia and crew are special and took me on a quite of adventure. When the series begins the crew’s motto has run and hide and stay away from bullet ships. They are no longer running or hiding. They are striking back in hopes of creating a new world. Despite of all the trials Caledonia and crew continue to inspire others to join them and fight. They do it by giving the people the power of choice. They can stay and help them or they can go back to their life of servitude but for once it’s their choice. They all grow as characters but this is Caledonia’s story. She starts guilt ridden and angry, seeking revenge on Lir and Arik’s Bullet army to killing her family. Her need for vengeance often got her in trouble. Her inability to let it go and to not let her sisters in made her fail over and over again. It wasn’t until she was able to let go of her own wants and needs and let her crew burden some of the responsibility did they succeed. The book doesn’t sugar coat her flaws. It doesn’t gloss over her mistakes and her bad decisions. Her own personal struggles with who she is and the choices she has to make. She knows that to win they have to be as ruthless as their enemy but how do you do that without becoming them. She does it by again letting people choose their own destiny. When the fight is over it doesn’t mean that everything is now perfect or that she can go back to living as she did because life doesn’t work that way. She may have succeeded but now she has to live with everything she did to get there and that’s not easy. Caledonia wasn’t the only one who grew over the three books. Picses was always Caledonia’s second in command. There to help and follow Caledonia’s lead. She was Caledonia’s moral compass when she ever went to far but seemed at the beginning only wanting to follow. Over the series, she found her voice and began to not only challenge Caledonia more but also take more of the lead until she was the one giving orders. It’s great to see.

This books is full of great characters of all spectrums that anyone can see themselves represented. They all brought their own strengths to the crew and made it possible to win the day. From Amina to Hime to Nettle to Tin to Oran to Pine, Sledge and more. I don’t think there was an unlikeable character. Lir, our big bad was a good villain. He did unthinkable things but it wasn’t just for evils sake but born out of years of violence and abuse. It doesn’t excuse his actions but makes sense to the story and motivation. I do hope that someone buys the rights to this series because it would make a great series or movie. I would say TV show then movie because there is just so much into that it would lend itself well to an episodic format. So yes read this series from beginning to end. Especially if you liked Mad Max: Fury Road. You won’t regret it.

A Quick Review: Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

This one was fine. It didn’t pack the same punch as the previous books in the series as it didn’t have quite as high of stakes. To be honest I’m not sure if it’s a standalone novel set after the events of the All Souls Trilogy or the beginning of a new series. As a Standalone it’s good. It showed us the aftermath of the last book and what happened to Diana, Matthew and their twins but it mainly focuses on Marcus and Phoebe. They have been separated as Phoebe goes through the transmission from human to Vampire. It gives Marcus time to look back at his life and work through his feelings. We finally get to know how Matthew met Marcus and how he was made to a vampire and more importantly what happened between the two of them in New Orleans. It also interesting to see the process it takes to become a vampire. It doesn’t end with being bitten by a vampire. You have a lot to learn to be a vampire and a lot to give up. It seems to have ended on a happy note. So if it is a standalone it was fine but there is still the issue of Gerbert punishment and other issues with the congregation left open. Matthew hasn’t cured his blood rage yet and one of the twins is a weaver and has a Griffin for a familiar. There are so many left open questions to answer but there really wasn’t a lot of set up to what is to come. Sure there were hints of problems brewing in the congregation and Clairmont-Bishop family. I’m curious as to what is going on in Romania between the warring vampire clans. It feels important because why else mention it? So there has to be more books to come, right? It can’t just end here with Marcus and Phoebe being together as vampires and Diana and Matthew going back to teaching? There just has to be more.

Thoughts on Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

  1. I like this one better than the first one.
  2. Matthew is still a little too bit possessive for my liking but Diana has also starting to come into her own and is better at standing up for herself.
  3. Of course, Matthew would be a friends and collegues of some of the most important people of the time and of course he would be one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorites.
  4. Gallowglass is a delight and happy that he is still around for the next book.
  5. I loved the little family that they made with Jack and Annie.
  6. Who would I want to meet if I could go back in time?
  7. Diana meeting her dad as an adult was really touching.
  8. The Book of Life is gross. Who would want to make a book like that?
  9. Matthew’s son is going to be an issue.

Quick Review: Dividing Eden and Eden Conquered by Joelle Charbonneau

I believe I bought Dividing Eden because it was on sale and I had read other books by the author and thought why not? I finally got around to reading it thanks to USPS delivery The Tower of Nero to the apartment building across the street. (Yeah, tenant association email chain for the assist) I’m glad that I got around to it because it was a fun read. The premise is that Eden was at war with a neighboring kingdom, the previous royal family still had influence in the kingdom and the power of the wind that kept the power going to the kingdom and the threat to the terrors of the night at bay was failing. Twins, Carys and Andreus were not expected to ascend to the throne thanks to having an older brother but when he and their father, the king die they must compete against each other for the crown. Once inseparable, their loyalty gets out to the test when power is on the line. At least for one. Carys never really wanted to be in power but she is clever. You see, when she and her brother were born the seer made a prediction that one of them is cursed and would be the downfall of the Kingdom. It was assumed that the cursed one was Andreus because he was born sickly. Carys has always stepped in to protect him. When he has one of his episodes, she’ll do something to draw attention away from him so no one will be the wiser. It was her role and she thought it would always be. That was until Andreus met the new Seer, Imogen and his brother was dead and he could be king and out of everyone’s shadow. But who was behind the deaths of their brother and father? Wasn’t the Neighboring Kingdom? The ousted royals? The members of the council? Carys does what she always done and goes out of her way to help and protect her brother. Andreus betrays her the moment he sees he could have everything he ever wanted and a pretty girl. Typical boy believes a woman he wants to sleep with over his sister who has done nothing but protect him his whole life. The end of the first book, we get the resolution of who wins the crown but who is behind it all not so much. It’s much more complicated then that because there a lot of things at play here. All pretty well set up too. I was able to guess some of who was behind but one subplot I didn’t really see coming. All in all it was a good two books. If you are looking for a quick fantasy read with lots of subplots and palace intrigue, this is for you.