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

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue invisible life of addie larue
V.E. Schwab

Tor Books
October 6, 2020
★★★★★

This is by far the best Schwab book I’ve read, and yet I’ve still come away from the experience in much the same way I’ve come away from reading all her other books, which is to say: I think that, on a technical level, this is an absolutely brilliant book and I can’t fathom giving it less than five stars, but I still have several criticisms. And I just know there’s going to be so, so many effusive and glowing five-star reviews of this book (they’re coming out already), which are well-deserved, but I’d still like to discuss some of the issues I had.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab”

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Top 5 Tuesday: Authors New to Me

top 5 yu

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm.  This week’s topic:

DECEMBER 12TH – Top 5 (OR 10!) new to me authors in 2017

As I was going through this list I realized that this year I’ve discovered plenty (seriously, plenty) of new authors, and many debut authors in particular! But I didn’t want to stretch the list out to ten, so I’ve settled on the authors that have impressed me the most and whose body of work I will be following/exploring.  (Also I’m too lazy to go looking for author pictures; I’m sorry I’m like this.)

Daphne du Maurier. Granted, I’ve only read one single novel by her (Rebecca) but I loved it. I’ve always shied away from ~classics~ because I found them unnecessarily dense and hard to relate to, but du Maurier shattered that expectation.  I found her prose lovely and clear, definitely something to learn from, and her plot was quite thrilling, not at all what I was expecting!  That her work was so accessible opened me up to reading more classic literature in general, so I’m grateful for that.  I look forward to reading more of her work.

Alison Goodman. Her Lady Helen series floored me with how utterly amazing it was. The amount of historical detail she incorporates so naturally into her work single-handedly reignited my interest in historical fiction.  Her writing is superb and polished, which means I will certainly be checking out everything she writes from now on. She also wrote the popular Eon: Dragoneye Reborn which I had always shied away from based on the summary, but now I will certainly be giving it a go.

S.A. Chakraborty. Not only is she new to me, but Chakraborty is new on the writing scene.  Her debut City of Brass, released just two months ago, has received multitudes of well-deserved praise. It is a fantasy debut of astounding skill.  Also, I follow her on Twitter and she’s a devoted history buff, which is super fun! She’s always posting cool things about Middle Eastern history.  And seriously, City of Brass was so good! Well-written, intricately plotted, rich worldbuilding, amazing characters…it was one of the best books I read this year and I would literally sell part of my soul to have the sequel in my hands right now.

V.E./Victoria Schwab. Schwab has been on most people’s radars for a while now, and she had been vaguely in my line of sight as well, but I only started reading her work this year.  From there it was a quick descent into obsession; I even got to see her in-person this year at the Sirens Conference.  She is absolutely wonderful human being: sweet, authentic, and engaging. I love her social media presence and that she makes such an effort to keep her readership updated.  Her work is just objectively good even if it is not always mind-blowingly amazing (I do think some of it is a teensy bit overrated), and she is super creative! Plus the gal is gay and lives in Scotland. I mean. She’s truly #goals.

Mackenzi Lee. I absolutely loved Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. It was engaging and cheerful and historical and included queer characters.  I also know Mackenzi Lee is a super history nerd in real life so I can be assured of reading historically accurate details when reading her work.  She has two new books coming out soon, one of which is a follow up to Gentleman’s Guide but stars Percy’s sister Felicity, and the other is a book about the Dutch Tulip Mania.  How cool is that? Like first of all I’m just so happy I met another human who is as fascinated by that time period in history as I am, but also it’s about queer ladies! Much of Lee’s work seems to focus on diversity and inclusion while remaining within a historical realm, and combo is one of my favorite things ever.

MAJOR props and shout-out to S.K. Ali, Katherine Arden, Kiersten White, Sandhya Menon, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Nina LaCour, Julie C. Dao, and Rhoda Belleza.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Authors I Want to Write Like

Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the goodreads group to learn more.

This week’s topic is Authors I Want to Write Like.

I have been so, so excited for this topic. As an aspiring writer, writing style is something I pay close attention to.  This was a super fun topic for me and really got me thinking about what I admire in authors.


ny42eh4NRoshani Chokshi: Okay, let’s get this out of the way: I love purple prose. I love it. Heavy, heady, overly descriptive, flowery writing. I adore it.  Yes, sometimes it can be too much, but I have a very high threshold.  I’ve only read one of Roshani’s books but I fell completely in love with the writing, separate from the story or the characters (both of which were good, but not as fantastic as the writing).  When I started The Star-Touched Queen I remember being absolutely mesmerized by the quality of the words weaving together. I would go back and re-read paragraphs just to linger on the pretty writing.

“Neither the secret whirring song of the stars nor the sonorous canticles of the earth knew the language that sprang up in the space between us. It was a dialect of heartbeats, strung together with the lilt of long suffering and the incandescent hope of an infinite future.”

– The Star-Touched Queen


13414088S. Jae-Jones: JJ is another writer sometimes accused of overly purple prose.  I wasn’t partial to her book because it was much too slow for me, but I adored the quality of her writing. Yes, it was purple at times, but it was also incredibly elegant and polished, lush and sensual.  Though the story slow, it was beautiful and atmospheric, with a lingering fairy-tale quality.  I also really admired the way she wrote her romance.  It was such a slow burn, and even the sex scenes were written in such a gorgeous, elegant way!

“I surveyed my kingdom. Chaos. Cruelty. Abandon. I had always been holding back. Always been restrained. I wanted to be bigger, brighter, better; I wanted to be capricious, malicious, sly. Until now, I had not known the intoxicating sweetness of attention. In the world above, it had always been Käthe or Josef who captivated people’s eyes and hearts— Käthe with her beauty, Josef with his talent. I was forgotten, overlooked, ignored— the plain, drab, practical,talentless sister. But here in the Underground, I was the sun around which their world spun, the axis around which their maelstrom twirled. Liesl the girl had been dull, drab, and obedient; Elisabeth the woman was a queen.”

– Wintersong


7168230Victoria Schwab: The thing about Victoria’s writing is that it feels absolutely effortless. It’s the sort of writing that makes you feel like you’ve just wrapped a warm cozy blanket around yourself.  She is just an objectively good writer; her prose is neither too purple nor too sparse, she builds characters who feel real, she is so, so creative with her plots, and she writes romance that makes you care.  Also, her productivity is just so admirable? She writes so much and has been writing for so long and she puts out at least one book a year, which is almost unbelievable. I kind of want to be Victoria when I grow up (Victoria is only five years older than me RIP).

“They crashed into each other as if propelled by gravity, and he didn’t know which one of them was the object and which the earth, only that they were colliding. The kiss was Lila pressed into a single gesture. Her brazen pride and her stubborn resolve, her recklessness and her daring and her hunger for freedom. It was all those things, and it took Kell’s breath away.”

– A Gathering of Shadows


3472Margaret Atwood: I’ve only read two books by Atwood (a crime, I know), but I’ve enjoyed both of them (and hey, I’ve been meaning to read more).  Atwood’s writing is just so brilliant and incisive. She has such a clear way of stating universal truths.  Her writing is sensual and detailed, clear and visceral.  Not only do I want to write like her, I want her cleverness and her ability to bend genre conventions.

“She imagines him imagining her. This is her salvation. In spirit she walks the city, traces its labyrinths, its dingy mazes: each assignation, each rendezvous, each door and stair and bed. What he said, what she said, what they did, what they did then. Even the times they argued, fought, parted, agonized, rejoined. How they’d loved to cut themselves on each other, taste their own blood. We were ruinous together, she thinks. But how else can we live, these days, except in the midst of ruin?”

– The Blind Assassin


tumblr_inline_o940q2meUN1qaqnoq_500Alyssa Wong: Alyssa’s a bit different from the other folks on this list, because she hasn’t written a novel just yet. But she’s written multiple award-winning short stories, most of them dark, most of them strange, all of them lovingly crafted.  Her writing is rich and vivid, but above all creative.  She has a way of pulling out common themes and ideas and writing about them in innovative ways. I really admire her skill, and I read her short stories to learn!

“The world ended with a bang, folding in on itself, the lines of the horizon collapsing like soaked origami. Our parents’ house turned to glass, to fire, to energy sparking ripe and rich for the taking. I drained it, pulling it deep into myself until the house was empty, our parents gone. And then there was nothing but me and my sister, her imprint, her echo.”

– A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers


Honorable Mentions: Daphne du Maurier, Erin Morgenstern, Catherine Valente, Alison Goodman, Katherine Arden

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Top 5 Wednesday: Books I’m Thankful For

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I haven’t done Top 5 anything in a while, but I thought I could give this week’s Top 5 Wednesday a shot! The topic is Top 5 Books You Are Thankful For.  It ended up being…a little demoralizing.  Let me explain. When I first saw the topic, my mind immediately jumped to books with f/f pairings, just because this has been on my mind lately.  In particular, YA books with f/f pairings. But as I went through my list of books read this year, I realized that none of the books I’ve read this year feature any prominent f/f pairings.  There is a thread on Twitter that recently talked about how few f/f books there are in YA and in fantasy, particularly compared to m/m, and f/f books tends to be sidelined as “special interest” or something.  All of which is to say: please, please, recommend f/f books to me! Preferably fantasy, but I will take contemporary as well! Give me recs guys!!!

Anyway, I didn’t mean to turn this into an essay on the state of the YA market. Despite the aforementioned blow, I did manage to find five books I am thankful for, and for various reasons! In no particular order:

20764879A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab: Aside from being a spectacularly written book with incredible tension and a romance that makes me giggle (a rare thing), A Gathering of Shadows also features Lila Bard, an absolute tour de force of a character. So often women with magic are reluctant to use their powers or stumble into them. Not so with Lila.  Lila actively seeks out her power. She is not frightened by her abilities; she is impressed by them. She wants to be the most powerful of them all, so she trains as hard as she can, even when others tell her not to. She takes ridiculous risks and she’s full of herself and she’s not frightened of anything. She is an absolutely incredible woman, an incredibly written female character, and I am so thankful she exists.


31123249Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali: This was one of my favorite books of the year.  Ali writes about Muslim community with such grace, such love, such complexity! In Ali’s book, Muslims were real and human, lovable and flawed, loving and cruel.  Ali wrote about a niqabi who also happens to be an outspoken badass – talk about flipping the stereotype of oppressed Muslim women right on its head! The narrator is witty and engaging, and the writing is high-quality. I am thankful this book exists because it is such a great example of diversity in literature done right.


33574143The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Probably one of the stranger books I’ve read this year, but also one of my favorites! It’s a novel of manners a la Jane Austen with a touch of magic (telekinesis, to be specific). At its heart, it’s a romance. However, what drew me to it was the elegant writing, the prettily crafted world, and the compelling main characters.  The moment I finished this book I was inspired to write a novel of manners of my own (Egyptian inspired, in my case). So, I am thankful this book exists, because without it, I wouldn’t have my current WIP, which is one of my favorite projects that I’m working on.


29396738Monstress by Marjorie Liu: This one’s a little different, since it’s a graphic novel. I don’t normally read those, but I was drawn to Monstress.  Let me quote the Goodreads summary at you so you understand why: “Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.” I mean. Need I even say more? This book is absolutely wild, so freaking original, with that overwhelming epicness that so many fantasy books strive for but don’t achieve. I am thankful that something this original exists.


16235Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Not only am I partial to f/f relationships, I am super fond of friendships between women. Sister of my Heart features one of the most beautiful, intimate, and enduring friendships between two women that I’ve ever seen.  Two girls, Anju and Sudha, from different worlds, grow up together, close as sisters, and their love for each other goes beyond anything.  There were so many beautiful scenes in this book, but the one that I remember most clearly is Anju watching Sudha look at the moon. Sudha is topless, but her hair is covering her chest, and Anju is thinking she is beautiful.  There were of course flaws in this book, and I’m sure if I went back and looked with a more critical eye I would find them. But I don’t want to. As much as I want to go back and reread this book I’m afraid reading it now, with my more critical eye, might ruin it for me. So I am simply thankful this book has given me such a beautiful and powerful female friendship to think about.