Gallant, a review

Gallant by V.E. Schwab was an Illumicrate book box pick for March and so I read it along with the Discord buddy read in April. The Illumicrate edition of this is absolutely *stunning*, just gotta get that out there.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find the book completely stunning. Now don’t get me wrong, the writing was absolutely gorgeous and it was a fun read. I personally didn’t have many pacing issues and I loved learning about this world Schwab created. Our orphaned main character has mutism, and communicates through sign language. As a non HOH or Deaf person I thought this was done well, but of course please go and find own voices reviewers for an actual accurate review.

The utilisation of a shadow world, one that’s the dark version of our world, is one that I love. And I’m always down for any books about death. However, this book really seemed to be lacking something. There was a significant lack of depth throughout the book. We barely learn about the orphanage and who Olivia was before she leaves the orphanage and meets the family she’s never known. We barely learn anything about said family, meaning that when there is risk abound, well we care significantly less than we should. We also barely learn about this “dark” world and the true aims of those who reside there. And her parents. We learn a fair bit about Olivia’s mum, although it also somehow doesn’t feel like a lot. But we specifically do not learn about her dad. And that leads me onto my next point.

This basically felt like a prequel book. It’s a nice novella, a prequel to a bigger series where we’ve had time to develop further at least some of these characters. This is just backstory, extra information to add to the main storytelling arc. Not a book on it’s own. Additionally the ending was far too quick. It’s like someone gave Schwab a page limit and she had to try and squeeeeze everything in there, and unfortunately she didn’t hit the mark.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 8, Plot: 6, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 5, Enjoyment: 7, with a score of 6.86 and a 3.5* rating.

I will 100% pick up any other books that Schwab could possibly publish in a Gallant series, because I think it has so much potential. But unfortunately, as it is, unless you’re a die hard Schwab fan this one just isn’t worth the hype. (imo, obvs). Let me know, if you’ve read this, what you thought! Do you totally disagree with me and think this is the best book ever written? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, a review

So I finally picked up The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. I’ve heard so much about this book, both positive and negative. But I think one thing most can agree on is that the way this book was pitched? Really didn’t help it. It claims that it’s a love story between an immortal girl and the devil. It’s not.

The real concept of this book is a girl who gives up the ability to make a mark on the world in order to escape a forced marriage and live forever. We discover her learning how to deal with this cursed gift, how she learns to adapt her life to survive. I think that if Schwab had focused in on that more, then this could’ve been perfect.

I did love this book though, I shouldn’t have. It’s not a work of literature. There are a million and one flaws. And yet I genuinely struggled to put this book down every day and enjoyed it immensely. I just needed to know what was going to happen. How Addie was adapting.

One aspect that helped me on a pure reading bases was that the books chapters are short. And then switch between time periods. This means that the book feels fast paced, constantly keeping you on your toes, and because Addie learns to cope with her new life over time we also get a reprieve from the negatives of her early days in the positives of the later ones.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t all that much character development from Addie herself. I feel like everyone else involved changed, whether for better or worse, but she remained locked in her state. I’m not sure if this was intentional by Schwab as part of the curse, but if so I think it was the wrong choice. Also, when talking about the curse, Addie doesn’t age. That’s very convenient. Enough so that Schwab mentions it in the plot. Another thing that could be written off as being because the Devil loves Addie, but it’s just a little too easy.

I really enjoyed the secondary POV that we got to read from, Henry, the first person to recognise her in 300 years. He’s such a pure character, and learns so much about himself. His story is heartbreaking, in more ways than one. One of the things I didn’t like about this book is that Henry felt like he was supposed to supply Addie’s character progression. She uses him, or at least that’s how it felt to me.

The ending of this book was also fucking awful. It feels like it just came out of nowhere, simply because the book was pitched as “Addie ❤ Devil” and they had to make it fit somehow. This book was over 500 pages long and yet it she was insistent on this storyline it needed at least another 150 pages. It was sudden. It took away from all the character progression we thought we’d seen. It was just… so bad.

My last negative is that despite Addie exploring the world in her 300 years. Despite her being teleported (essentially) by the Devil to new locations at his whim, and her travelling herself through various different countries, exploring so much… she only ever went to predominantly white and western countries? Most of the people she speaks to are all white? I understand that as a white author Schwab won’t want to write over an own-voices author, but given this specific premise of travelling it just seems… wrong that she only went to western countries.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 6, Atmosphere: 8, Writing: 7, Plot: 6, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 6, and Enjoyment: 9, which gives a score of 7.14 and a 4* rating. Which is weird.

Essentially, objectively this book is bad. But regardless of that I seem to have enjoyed the actual process of reading it. I have a feeling this is one I’m going to have to reread in the future to fully develop my feelings on it. Have you read this one? Please let me know which side you fell on!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: abusive relationship, alcohol abuse, assault (physical and sexual), death, depression, drugs, painful intercourse, prostitution, sexism, sexually explicit scenes, starvation, suicide (attempted), war.

Fourth Chance Author?

How many chances do you give an author before you give up on them?

A question I’ve been asking myself a few times lately. The first author I asked myself this for is Cassandra Clare. I’ve recently unhauled all of her books from my shelves bar one. That one being Clockwork Angel. It’s the last chance book for me.

Her writing is… fine? But seems a little juvenile and whilst the stories are entertaining, it’s in a bad and cheesy way. And with so many books in the world that I need to read, they don’t quite reach the priority list!

I’ve heard that some people really gel with her historical fantasy vs her urban fantasy, hence why I’m giving Clockwork Angel a shot. But I’m truthfully not expecting wonderful things and this is likely to be the last book I read from Clare (I’m sure she’ll be devastated with all her millions of fans)

And then there’s V.E. Schwab. Victoria Schwab. I’ve read A Darker Shade of Magic twice now. And both times I still don’t know what I actually rate it. And recently I’d tried to pick up This Savage Song, gotten 50 pages in and then lived in a reading slump for weeks.

I really don’t know why that is. And I have so many of her books on my shelves! And she seems lovely too! The few interactions I’ve had with her online and being able to meet her at a signing, she’s so kind, and I love seeing her online content. So I really want her books to be for me! But I can’t lie I seem to be struggling.

Fingers crossed that I’m able to get through some more of her books and really love her writing! But if not? Well at least I’ve supported a nice person and some others will be able to pick her books up in the charity shops and hopefully love them!!

Which authors have you given multiple chances to? And has it worked out for you? Let me know! Give me the motivation to keep picking books up by these two!!

First Lines Friday #19

It’s time for another First Lines Friday! Hosted by Wandering Words!!

What if, instead of judging a book by its cover or its author, we judged the book by its opening lines?

Here is how it works:

– Pick a book and open to the first page.

– Copy the first few lines without revealing which book it is.

– Reveal the book!

So… do these first lines entice you?

The narrows remind me of August nights in the South. They remind me of old rocks and places where the light can’t reach.

They remind me of smoke – the stale, settled kind – and of storms and damp earth.

Most of all, Da, they remind me of you.

Scroll down to reveal the book!

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The Archived eBook: Schwab, V.E.: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
The Archived by V.E. Schwab

This start seems… a lot more normal than I was expecting. Why was I expecting to be diving straight into fantasy? I guess because I’ve only read ADSOM (A Darker Shade of Magic) by Schwab. This has been on my shelves for over 2 years now. I got it Christmas 2018 in a bind up of this and The Unbound, the second book in the series. I’m not sure whether it’s because the book is so big that’s been putting me off, or if it’s something else. Either way, I need to get around to this at some point.

First Lines Friday #7

It’s time for another First Lines Friday! Hosted by Wandering Words!!

What if, instead of judging a book by its cover or its author, we judged the book by its opening lines?

Here is how it works:

– Pick a book and open to the first page.

– Copy the first few lines without revealing which book it is.

– Reveal the book!

So… do these first lines entice you?

The night Kate Harker decided to burn down the school chapel, she wasn’t angry or drunk. She was desperate.
Burning down the church was really a last resort; she’d already broken a girl’s nose, smoked in the dormitories, cheated on her first exam, and verbally harassed three of the nuns. But no matter what she did, St. Agnes Academy kept forgiving her. That was the problem with Catholic schools. They saw her as someone to be saved.
But Kate didn’t need salvation; she simply needed out.

Scroll down to reveal the book!

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This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab

I’ll be honest, this wasn’t the start I expected to this book! I picked it up at a signing I went to because I’ve heard so many great things about her writing and about this book, but I was expecting a much more fantastical start! I’m not mad though, it’s definitely intrigued me and pushed the book up my tbr!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab | A Review after a re-read

ADSOM was my choice for the August prompt of “a book that surprised you” for the Booktube Rereadathon. What surprised me about this book was that I couldn’t remember any of it! I first read it in the beginning of 2018 and I honestly could barely remember what happened, and what I thought I had remembered turned out to be completely wrong, so it’s definitely good that I re-read this one! And I enjoyed it! We follow Kell, he is one of the last of the magicians called Antari, and he belongs to the Royal family. He can travel between the different parallel Londons, Red, Grey, and White. Despite knowing the risk, Kell is an unofficial smuggler, but when one smuggle goes wrong it leads to disastrous consequences across all three London’s.

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First up that review from the Guardian is the most British thing ever: “A rather brilliant novel!” – okay, moving on. This book has a little bit of everything with knife happy main characters who will kill for those they love without a moments thought, as well as magic, villains, and morally grey issues. It’s all there!!

I really enjoyed the concept of the parallel London’s. It’s one I’ve seen before but never in this way and never with this specific way of travelling through. The connections that used to be there between the worlds also allows for a lot of additional world building to be done which gets us invested in the world(s) and it’s goings on quickly.

Kell himself is a fun character to read from, he has a staunch moral code, but it bends and flexes with his will. In contrast Lila’s moral code is strong and unbending, but she herself doesn’t know it’s full extent. The worlds that these two live within couldn’t be any more different, but their immediate ability to relate to one another, in an incredibly well written and realistic way, really makes the book shine.

Schwab’s writing is absolutely beautiful, she’s able to evoke the feelings from all three London’s with scary ease. She takes the typical fantasy tropes and manipulates them into something completely new and unique. I can see each of the London’s in my minds eye, they’re all very distinct to me. They almost seem to have a personality of their own.

The only reason that this book got 4 instead of 5 stars is that it didn’t have that spark. I know, I know. It’s stupid. But it didn’t and I don’t know why. Technically this should be a 5 star read for me, but for now it isn’t. However, I definitely still do want to read the sequel and find out more about these worlds and these characters! I can’t wait to see where Lila and Kell end up next!

A Darker Shade of Magic

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When my family asked what books I wanted for Christmas, I knew that this one had to be on the list. I’ve seen it so much around BookTube and Bookstagram and not only do most people seem to really enjoy it but the blurb sounds so interesting and I love the concept. I am so glad I went for it!

I gave this book 4/5*, but I can see myself giving the series as a whole 5/5* if this quality of writing is kept and if I love the following books just as much! The exploration of magic and humanity within this novel is in-depth and deeply developed, which makes the world feel that much more alive.

In case you weren’t already aware, the setting of this novel is that there are four different worlds overlapped with one another. Four different versions of London with minor differences such as river names, buildings locations, and the level of magic that is present there. There is grey (essentially our world), red, white and black. It used to be relatively easy for travel to occur between the different worlds, but then something happens within the black world that cannot be controlled, and so in an effort to prevent this from spreading to the other worlds and having four times the impact, black London is shut off and the three remaining London’s become more distant and much harder to travel between, with only certain limited individuals having the ability. As you’ve probably guessed, we follow one such individual and his experience coming from the red world but seeing the other two also. I won’t say any more to avoid spoiling this book for you, as Victoria Schwab has done so amazingly with this plot.

If you enjoy magical fantasy reads (Harry Potter lovers!) then this is definitely one to pick up. It isn’t a copy of any book I have read before (yes that includes HP) and the magical elements mixed in with a well-developed plot and interesting characters makes this such a must-read book!