Be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price: Reviewing The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! As always, I hope you are doing well. I am on a serious reading kick right now. Maybe it’s because I have stumbled across a bunch of YouTube videos of people reading up to 100 books in year. I wish I could be that productive but we will settle on a few for now. This is not my first time reviewing a book by V.E. Schwab and you are welcome to read my reviews of her other novels. Let’s add another to the list then, shall we?

In a moment of desperation, Addie LaRue made a deal with a devil. She will live forever but she will never be remembered. For three hundred years, Addie has survived and traveled with the devil at her heals. Everything changes when she meets Henry, who remembers her. Now, Addie seeks to uncover the truth of her curse and to try to undo it at all costs.

If you want a slow burn romance, then this is the novel for you. V.E. Schwab always takes great care when it comes to fantastical details while still keeping a focus on the relationships between the characters. The magical realism made this novel all the more enjoyable. While romance is normally not my jam, the relationship between Henry and Addie was endearing as they were both fleshed out on their own. When they came together, their relationship was endearing. The book is fairly long but the pacing is steady, with most of the chapters being between one to five pages long. It is certainly reminiscent of a fairy tale, which made the novel all the more appealing. Overall, this is another winner from Schwab when I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Fighting, Fury, and Madness: Reviewing Baptism of Fire (Book 3 of The Witcher Series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hello everyone! I’m back way sooner than I thought with another book review. I tend to read up to four books at the same time and just kind of rotate through them. Not to brag or anything, but I have a bit of free time on my hands. Being that I am in a “winter break” of sorts, I’m hoping to put out at least one or two more reviews before the end of January. With any luck, I’ll find out if I have been accepted into a PhD program or not. Enough of my rambling, let’s talk about The Witcher.

War has swept across the Continent and every kingdom is out for blood. Recovering from an injury, Geralt must rely on an odd group of travelers to help him find Ciri, who is being hunted by the villainous Emhyr. Meanwhile, Yennefer is caught in a tangled political web with her fellow mages as they try to protect the future of magic. Everything is at stake as the world descends into chaos and fire.

This book is probably my favorite so far in The Witcher series. It had a lot of traveling that was rather reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings and battle scenes akin to Game of thrones, all the while maintaining its own unique world building. I felt that the story was evenly distributed among the main characters with each having their own high stakes. Even the more expository parts were interesting as it was Sapkowski really investing the readers into the magic system and fictional history he has so carefully crafted. I personally really enjoyed this entry in The Witcher series and will continue to highly recommend this series (and the Netflix show). Maybe I’ll even give the video game a shot one day.

To be a woman is to be a sacrifice: Reviewing The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Hello and Happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping we have a year full of pleasant surprises and better fortune. But now, I am coming to you with my first review of the year. I wanted to review this book back in October because it seemed more appropriate for the spooky season but I decided that spooky season can be all year long if you don’t care about anyone else’s opinions. Let’s kick off 2022 with The Year of the Witching.

Immanuelle Moore has struggled all her life to fit into Bethel, a strict religious society where the Prophet rules with an iron fist. Immanuelle was born of a relationship between her Bethelan mother and a father of a different race, which makes her very existence a sin. Because of this, Immanuelle does her best to remain faithful to the Father and follow the Holy Scriptures so that she might be accepted. That is until she stumbles into the Darkwood and finds her mother’s journal, which she learns that she is connected to the witches that live in the Darkwood. With this knowledge, Immanuelle sets out to uncover the corruption of the Church and the Prophet before Bethel is destroyed by its own secrets.

The Year of the Witching sets out to make a statement and a statement it makes. Henderson creates a chilling atmosphere with horrifying revelations about the society of Bethel. You certainly feel for Immanuelle’s struggle and root for her as she uncovers the horrific truth of the male – dominated religion that she is surrounded by. I could write an entire essay about the themes of this book. It gives a lot to think about, particularly if you know anything about cults or cult – like organizations. If you are interested in the Salem Witch Trials, then this book is right up your alley as it delves in to the relationship between women and religions. I don’t want to go on for too long or spoil anything so I will end this with saying that I ended up loving this book and I definitely recommend this for all of you witchy types out there.

My Favorites of 2021

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and doing your best to enjoy the holidays. I wanted to put out one more book review before the end of the year but, unfortunately, I am under the weather. Instead, I thought I would out out my annual list of favorites. It was nice being able to get out a little bit this year. That being said, 2021 was still not a fun year by any means. I did just apply for some PhD programs so I have my fingers crossed that 2022 will finally yield something even better. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my list. I wish you only the best for next year. Call me an optimist but I think we all deserve better for another year.

Books:

  • If We Were Villians by M.L Rio
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Devolution by Max Brooks
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno – Garcia
  • The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
  • The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  • It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  • Heir to the Empire and Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn

Movies:

  • The Green Knight (dir. David Lowery)
  • The Suicide Squad (dir. James Gunn)
  • In the Heights ( dir. Jon M. Chu)
  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage (dir. Andy Serkis)
  • Shang – Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (dir. Destin Daniel Cretton)
  • Black Widow (dir. Cate Shortland)
  • Eternals (dir. Chloe Zhao)
  • Spider – Man: No Way Home (dir. Jon Watts)

TV Shows:

  • WandaVision (Disney+)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)
  • Loki: Season 1 (Disney+)
  • Marvel’s What If?: Season 1 (Disney+)
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Season 1 (Disney+)
  • Hawkeye (Disney+)
  • The Witcher: Season 2 (Netflix)
  • Midnight Mass (Netflix)
  • Castlevania: Seasons 1 – 4 (Netflix)
  • Squid Game: Season 1 (Netflix)
  • Only Murders in the Building: Season 1 (Hulu)
  • Ghosts (UK Version): Seasons 1 – 3 (HBO Max)
  • Doom Patrol: Season 3 (HBO Max)

Music:

  • Flowers for Vases/Descanos by Hayley Williams (album)
  • Death by Rock and Roll by The Pretty Reckless (album)
  • Chemtrails Over the Country Club by Lana Del Rey (album)
  • Fearless (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift (album)
  • Cry Forever by Amy Shark (album)
  • If I Could Make it Go Quiet by girl in red (album)
  • SOUR by Olivia Rodrigo (album)
  • Scaled and Icy by Twenty One Pilots (album)
  • Blue Weekend by Wolf Alice (album)
  • Distorted Light Beam by Bastille (single)
  • Who Hurt You? by Jensen McRae (EP)
  • Cure for Me by AURORA (single)
  • Happier than Ever by Billie Eilish (album)
  • Solar Power by Lorde (album)
  • Soundtrack to an Existential Crisis by au/ra (album)
  • Screen Violence by CHVRCHES (album)
  • If I can’t have love, I want power by Halsey (album)
  • Mercury – Act 1 by Imagine Dragons (album)
  • Blue Banisters by Lana Del Rey (album)
  • Ruin by The Amazing Devil (album)
  • 30 by Adele (album)
  • Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift (album)
  • = by Ed Sheeran (album)
  • Planet Her by Doja Cat (album)
  • Renegade (feat. Taylor Swift) by Big Red Machine (album)

The only way to learn is to live: Reviewing The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Hi everyone! How’s everything going with you? Well, I hope it’s good. As I might have mentioned before, I typically don’t pick books to read based on their popularity. Sometimes, the hype is worth checking out and that is why I picked up The Midnight Library. This book has shown up on just about every “top books of 2021” list and, while I have been burned before by those lists, I was intrigued enough to give this one a chance. So, let’s talk about The Midnight Library.

Nora Seed has lived a miserable existence full of regret and self – pity. One particularly bad day spurs Nora to take drastic measures. She finds herself in the Midnight Library. This library, however, is full of books that show her the other lives she could have lived if she had made different decisions. With the help of the enigmatic librarian, Nora decides to explore the possibilities and see how they have affected her and those she cares about. But she must make a decision before time runs out, answering the question: what is the best way to live?

As someone who worries about the future, this book helped me put a lot into perspective. Nora’s journey is one that most people can relate to, which is why many of you will be able to connect with this book. Haig explores a lot of interesting philosophical questions but doesn’t do so in a way that is depressing or confusing. Haig shows that life is indeed a mixed bag of both good and bad in a way that realistic. Though the novel has a quick pace, it still fits in many valuable and touching moments involving a relatable protagonist. Overall, I was impressed with this book and can confirm that this novel is worth the hype. The Midnight Library is relatable, touching, and profound in its exploration of life’s possibilities.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this…: Reviewing Dark Force Rising (Book Two of the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn

Hi everyone! I hope you all are coping well with the stress of the holidays. Ugh. It’s a lot. I’m trying to get through my TBR list before Christmas because I basically only asked for books. I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted, really. Besides that, I wanted to continue this particular trilogy so let’s talk about Dark Force Rising.

Grand Admiral Thrawn’s campaign against the New Republic continues after acquiring what remains of the Imperial Fleet. Meanwhile, Han Solo and Land Calrissian try to uncover treason within the Republic Council and find themselves caught in a much larger conspiracy. Leia Organa Solo finds herself alone as she must gather more allies for the New Republic’s cause. Luke Skywalker, on the other hand, must contend with a Dark Jedi who wants to bring him to the dark side. It is a race against time before Thrawn launches his most powerful attack.

Upon delving into the world of Star Wars, I have discovered people either love the space politics and detail backstories or they just want lightsaber fights. This book contains mostly the former. Personally, I found the book to be very slow at points with the endless negotiating scenes and the political espionage. I am sure a bigger Star Wars fan might appreciate it a bit more than I. I still enjoyed the book, though. There were a lot of emotional stakes that made the world all the more interesting. I am still going to recommend this series to any Star War fan but, be warned, it is a bit long winded.

Something Severed and Something Joined: Reviewing The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Hi (again) everyone! Wow, another book review so soon after the last one. I’m not sure how that happened but, sometimes, determination wins. There’s nothing that gets me quite like the drive to finish a book when I have other things that need to be done. You know that whole struggle. This book has been sitting with me for a while now and I have wanted to finish it so badly. I have also wanted to discuss it so let’s talk about The Essex Serpent.

After the untimely death of her husband, Cora Seaborne decides to journey to the Essex coast. While there, she begins to hear rumors that the legendary and fearsome Essex Serpent has returned. Cora become determined to find proof of the creature’s existence with the help of the skeptical vicar, William Ransome. As the two search for the truth behind the legend, they find themselves drawn closer together and, soon, Cora must make a difficult choice as her past catches up with her.

For a while, I have been looking for a good historical fiction novel and this one definitely fit the bill. Perry’s writing is an ode to authors like the Brontes. It is a loving ode to Victorian era literature while also subverting many of the tropes. The novel certainly carries feminist undertones and rebels against how Victorian society is normally depicted while also being historically accurate. The novel is about human connection overall, which I greatly appreciated. I was pleasantly surprised by The Essex Serpent and would definitely recommend as a slow burn read for the cold weather.

All Desperate and Dark Things…: Reviewing The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Hi everybody! So here’s the thing: I can either finish a book in a day or it takes me several months to read a book. There is no in-between. I am sure a good majority of you can relate. This is not because I don’t like the book or anything, but it is simply because my brain is just weird like that. I am always, however, a sucker for a good mystery novel. They rarely fail me. If you want to, you can check out my review of Stuart Turton’s first novel, The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. Now, I shall review Turton’s sophomore novel, The Devil and the Dark Sea.

It’s 1643 and Arent Hayes, former mercenary and soldier turned bodyguard, is about to board a ship that may or may not be leading to his friend, Samuel Pipps’ execution. Arent is determined to prove his friend’s innocence and save Pipps’ reputation as the world’s greatest detective. Among the other passengers is Sara Wessel, a noblewoman determined to escape her cruel husband. As soon as the ship sets sail, strange events begin to occur. A demonic symbol begins to appear all over the ship, a leper stalks the crew, and passengers claim to hear an evil voice. Once people begin to die mysteriously, it is up to Arent and Sara to unravel the mystery themselves and come face to face with evil, from both past and the present.

I love mystery and I love historical fiction, so this book was a perfect combo for me. Though the novel is rather long, the pace is fast. The writing is atmospheric and every chapter leaves you wondering what the heck could possibly happen next. I love the way Turton endears you to the characters so quickly. The stakes are high right from the beginning, which only makes the read that much more satisfying when you get to the end. The book, fortunately, did not become too convoluted as some mystery novels tend to do. If you need a good mystery to hunker down with as the weather gets chilly, I would definitely recommend this one as it is very difficult to put down.

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…: Reviewing Heir to the Empire (Book 1 of the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn

Hello everybody! I hope everyone is enjoying the nice fall weather and getting just as excited for spooky season as me. I have a few horror novels that I am saving for October. Before I get into this review, I need to backtrack just a bit. About midway through lockdown, I decided that I was going to revisit the Star Wars franchise, but not the main movies. I initially began with The Mandalorian then fell deeper down the rabbit hole with Star Wars: The Clone Wars, then I began to read various Star Wars comics. I decided to take the plunge into Star Wars literature as I had heard good things about many of the novels associated with the movies since I need to read every book under the sun. Now, join me as we journey into the famous Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn.

It’s been five years since the Empire fell. Since then, Princess Leia and Han Solo have gotten married and are expecting twins. Luke Skywalker has become a fully fledged Jedi knight. Together, the three have been working to build the New Republic and bring peace to the galaxy. However, a new threat is on the horizon. Grand Admiral Thrawn, a brilliant and ruthless warlord, has taken control of the remnants of the Empire and plans to wipe out the burgeoning New Republic and, with a newly discovered power, he will stop at nothing to bring back the Empire.

I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with this first novel in the trilogy. Zahn’s novel feels as cinematic and action – packed as any of the movies in the Original trilogy. I am not sure how cannon these books are but I certainly liked how such classic characters like Luke, Han, and Leia were further developed. Thrawn is a great character on his own and he especially made me want to keep reading this book. You don’t need to know a ton about Star Wars lore going into this novel as Zahn creates a whole new journey to follow. I would definitely recommend this to the casual and die hard Star Wars fan alike as it is an immersive and exciting book that I wanted to finish so I could read the next one immediately.

Half Pleasure and Half Pain: Reviewing The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

Hi everyone! I promise that I’m still doing my best to bring you book reviews but life keeps interfering. You all know how it is. I wish I could just shut the world out and read and read and read, but I have things to accomplish. You all don’t need me to ramble any more so let’s talk about The Betrayals by Bridget Collins.

Leo Martin was once a promising student at Montverre, a prestigious academy with a long history involving the grand jeu. The grand jeu is a complex game involving art, math, philosophy, among other subjects, which Leo excelled at until tragedy struck. After his career in politics is ended by a small action, Leo is forced to return to Montverre only to find that his once beloved school has changed. The most highly sought out position is now held by the first woman, Claire Dryden, who resents Leo’s presence. As the Midsummer Games approach, Leo must come to terms with the tragedy that befell him so many years ago and face an even more uncertain future.

Even as I am writing this review, I am still not entirely sure how to feel about this novel. It took a while for me to properly enjoy it but that is merely my opinion. From a technical standpoint, Collins crafts an intricate world with as many moving pieces as the grand jeu which takes center stage. This is very much a character centric novel and I certainly did feel that emotional pull. The world around them, though, I had a hard time truly appreciating. This book might take me another try for me to fully appreciate it. I found the pacing to be slow but that worked towards the overall plot. It was certainly dramatic, though, and I did enjoy that. I would definitely argue that this is a “dark academia” kind of novel. Though this was not my new favorite, I did certainly enjoy the drama and the aesthetics of The Betrayals.