This was a delightful little fairy tale if you can call it that. Olivia Prior is an orphan who grew up in a school that does not understand her or tries too. She is not able to speak but she has a lot to say and will not go unheard. Her father died before she was born and only has a diary of her mother that shows her fall more and more into madness. Throughout it tells her Olivia she will be safe as long as she doesn’t go to Gallant. One day, she gets a letter from her uncle telling her that he has been searching for her for years and it’s time to come home to Gallant. She heads to Gallant in hopes of finding a family that she has always wished for but what she discovered a broken down mansion. The Uncle who invited is dead by a year and all who live there now is the housekeeper, the groundskeeper and her grieving Cousin. The family Prior live in Gallant and they can never leave because they guard the wall between the living and the death. Her arrival is not welcomed but Olivia will not be denied a chance of a home or go back to that school so she does what she can to stay. It’s all delightfully gothic in feel and tone. There is such a mystery around all the characters and makes it so rich. Olivia’s cousin, Matthew is so broken by the loss of his family and the history of his family at Gallant. You just wants to give him a hug because he resigned himself to the burden of his families legacy and wanted to protect them as well. He wants Olivia to leave so she doesn’t have to suffer the fate of the family. Olivia is strong and a little stubborn and goes beyond the wall and discovers all the secrets. I won’t say more as not to spoil it but I can’t say enough good things about this book. It was a quick read and heartbreaking. You can’t help but root for Olivia as she tries to find her place in a family she never knew she had but has always wanted. Your heart will break for Matthew who has lost too much and can only lose more. Please go read it.
This has some real gothic vibes to it and I love it.
Well it was a year. I did read more books then I did last year but not anywhere near my pre-pandemic levels. But who is. I have found it harder to write reviews recently. You may have noticed. I’ll try to do better in 2022. Anyways, without further ado. These are top 5 favorite books of the past year. In order of which I read them.
- Stormbreak by Natalie C. Parker – I just loved this whole series of women pirates taking on the systems keeping society down. It was just one adventure after another and it a great ending. I highly recommend the whole series.
- The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeiine Boulley – This book is just so heartbreaking. What Daunis and her people have gone through is just so painful and yet the strength they processed is just amazing. Boulley’s writing is very striking. She doesn’t sugarcoat the experience her characters experience. Be aware. It does deal with sexual assault, drug use, racism and domestic violence.
- The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab – Addie Larue made a deal that she wanted to live her own life but in exchange no one remembers her. 300 years later, she finally remembers her and it seems like things maybe turning around but of course things are not as they seem. This book is such a rich book. Fantasy and historical fiction all in one. Loved it.
- The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee – Jo is lady’s maid. Not by choice but because her options are limited. When an opportunity presents itself to write an advice column under a secret identity she takes it. It gives her the freedom that she doesn’t have in day to day life. I loved reading about Jo because despite the card stacked against her she doesn’t give up.
- The Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – I’m choosing this series as a whole since I read them all at once. It was recommended by a coworker and she knows her stuff. Cassie and her fellow Naturals are not your normal teenagers. They know how to read people and for that makes them useful to the FBI. I just got sucked into the mystery of this series and I was so happy that I waited to read it all at once.
What were your favorite books of the last year?
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.
She wanted to live her own life and not belonging to anyone. She got her wish but the trade off is that no one remembers her. It’s like she never existed at all. Call me intrigued.
Taking one of my list. I probably bought this book right after I finished Victoria’s other series, Shade of Magic. Which I read in 2018 so yeah I bought a while ago.
It’s that time of year where we take a look back at everything we have read this year and come up with our best of the year. It’s a tough job but not one we take lightly. It’s been a very diverse year for me.
1.Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi –This fantasy was like nothing I’ve ever read. A little bit of magic, a little bit of adventure and a little bit social commentary. It took me on a wild ride as Zelie discovers her own powers and does what she can to help her people from the evil King who has done all he can to erase her people. It was a breathtaking first book.
2. A Cruel Prince by Holly Black-Holly Black is at her best when she is writing about fairies. It really is her element. The lush world that Black has created is so rich and vibrant that I almost wanted to go if it wasn’t filled with blood thirsty fairies. Looking for a fantasy full of royal intrigue this one is also for you.
3. Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E. Schwab –Technically I read the first book last year but I finished the trilogy so I’m counting them all as one. It was one wild fantasy series. From truly vile villains, pirates, royalty magic and supernatural forces it really did have everything but never felt too much.
4. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland- This one I think I liked for the very beginning. Jane was born a slave but when the dead of Civil War come back to life, Jane is sent to a boarding school that teaches her and other girls of color how to fight zombies so they may one day work in a nice home as protection. Jane is resourceful, smart and funny. She knows how to kill a zombie.
5. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fischer –Carrie was truly one of a kind and is sorely missed. Her diary that she wrote while filming the first Star Wars was honest, raw and funny. Really what you would expect from Carrie Fischer.
6. Shadow and the Fox by Julie Kagawa- Add a little fox, a trained warroir with a demon infused sword and Japanese mythology and you get one fun book. I really enjoyed the story building and characters as they try to steal save the scroll that will summon the dragon that will grant wishes was great.
7. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake- The third book in the series was definitely a keeper. I mean they all were but it was still great. We finally get to see more of the world outside of Fennbirn Island and how the Queens became to be. The mythology is really coming together and it’s going to lead to an epic finale.
8. Wildcard by Marie Lu – Emika is so cool. As she unravels the mysteries and tries to save not just Hideko from himself but everyone else from an even bigger conspiracy. It was a fun novel and reminder that not everyone on the internet is your friend.
9..Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir- Elias, Laia and Helene are on opposite sides of the fight against the Nightbringer and keeping the balance. It’s a thrilling race against time to bring down the Nightbringer and the Empire and Elias Mom, who is just frightening.
10. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson- I’m still waiting for the last book in her Shades of London series but this filled the void. Who doesn’t love a good boarding school mystery? Stevie decides she wants to go to this exclusive boarding school because she wants to be the one to solve it’s biggest mystery of who kidnapped and killed the daughter and wife of the school’s founder. Twice and turns abound in this one.
The Shades of Magic trilogy is quite a ride and A Conjuring of Light is no exception. For a book that has to do with multiple Londons, magic and power this is book isn’t really about any of those things. It’s about where do people really belong. Kell is an Antari, a very powerful magician that can travel between worlds. He is raised as a Prince, treated as the brother and son of the Royal family in Red London but never truly feeling that he is one of them because he knows he can’t leave. Rhy is the crown prince of Arnes in Red London and for all his privilege and charm he has no magic. There are no rules or reason as to why some people have magic and while others don’t. Rhy is the heir to the throne but feels unworthy because he doesn’t have any magic and in this world is seen as a weakness. Lila is talented thief from Grey London struggling to get by. She ran away from home when she was young and has been running ever since. She had no friends as she sees any kind of attachments as a weakness she cannot afford because she has big dreams of seeing the world. Holland grew up an White London, a hard world that Magic has been slowly going away thanks to it’s nearness to Black London. In his London magic is a gift and curse those who have it have power and those who don’t will do anything to get it. Holland is an Antari like Kell and for that reason he is both feared and targeted. He grew up with stories of a King that will bring back magic to his world and he dreams of being that King but he suffers greatly from those who loved and cared for. Alucard was born to the aristocracy but was cast out of his family because of who he loved and now travels the seas a Privateer for the Crown. All of them are powerful in their own rights and all of them are searching for their place in their world or worlds. Their stories is what makes this series so compelling. As they all struggle to overcome a power far greater then them individually it was their discovering of themselves and overcoming their own fears that allowed them to overcome the darkness and save their world and themselves. One of the themes throughout the book is that magic needs a balance. Just like the Force for there to be peace the Light must balance the Dark. Magic needs to be balanced with non-magic because even Magic has it’s limits. Black London was destroyed before the action of the trilogy because Magic had no counterbalance and burned it down. For Kell, Lila, Rhy, Holland and Alucard, they are all looking for that counterbalance in their lives and until they found it they couldn’t defeat Osaron who was pure magic. I feel like I’m getting real deep here but I think this is true in all of our lives. The Shades of Magic is truly entertaining series. It did have few bumps along the way. I said of the second book about how it started off slow and a little harder to get into and this book I felt had a little unnecessary side trip to a mysterious black market, in the end these are minor missteps to a enjoyable trilogy. A trilogy that I wonder if may become more one day because I think she left things open to a return to Grey London in the future. I kinda hope so because I would love to visit Kell, Rhy, Lila and Alucard again.
I’ll admit that I had a little trouble getting into this one. I get the feeling that V.E. didn’t plan on this being a trilogy originally because while there were a few loose ends it was wrapped up pretty nicely and could have ended where it did. That meant that she sort of had to start all over again setting up the world and the characters. Lila had left Red London to seek adventures and find herself on a privateer’s boat. Kell and Rhy are left dealing with the new bond between them and the knowledge that their lives are tied to each other. If one dies so does the other. All three are restless in their new realities so of course it’s a good time to put on an international tournament of magic. The Essen Tasch, a competition with neighboring nations Faron and Vesk. A good way to expand the universe but it also meant it took a lot of pages building up the games that by the time we finally do and we get all of characters in one place again, the book is more then two thirds over and you blink and the games are over. I just felt it needed a little less setup and more action. Especially since the real story was going on in White London and we only get a glimpse of. The one saving grace is it has one hell of cliffhanger, with not just one or two but at least three characters lives in peril at the final page. It’s a good thing, I went ahead and bought the last book because I have to know what happens next.
What the hell was that ending!? Thank goodness I planned ahead and bought the last two books in this series because KELL! RHY! LILA!! This is not going to end well.