“We’re all searching for someone whose demons play well with ours.” ~Meghan Coates”
J.C. McKenzie, Conspiracy of Ravens
Title: Conspiracy of Ravens Author: J.C. McKenzie Publisher: JCM Publications Genre: Urban Fantasy Publication Date: October 21, 2019 Synopsis:
Raven Crawford knows better than to venture into the seductive world of the dark fae or agree to any of their salacious promises. She plans to pay off her debts so she can get on with her life and stay far away from the denizens of the Underworld.
Unfortunately, her numbskull twin steals from the most tempting and lethal fae of them all. Now, Raven must help the Lord of Shadows get back what her idiot brother stole. Her only weapons? Just a little ingenuity and a whole lot of snark. It’s suicide for sure, but she’ll do anything to protect her twin.
Raven Crawford’s life has been a mess, for as long as she can remember. She’s broke and stuck working as a waitress, trying to pay off an ex-boyfriend’s debt, attempting to be independent of her mother and stepfather. She is different from her family of shifters, being half-fae as well as her twin brother. Unfortunately, trouble becomes her when she learns that Bear, her twin brother, steals from a powerful fae, the Lord of Shadows. And now, Raven finds herself with a deal with him to help save her twin brother. What has she gotten herself into?
Dark Fae Lords, Shifters, Magic? I’m all in of course. But Conspiracy of Ravens just didn’t give me as much feels as I expected. I am fantasy trash, to be quite honest and I love me some good world building and rich, complex characters.
Well, let me start with what I loved about Conspiracy of Ravens. I really absolutely love the family dynamics in this book. Raven is living independently of her family, she never met her real father and was raised by a stepfather who was a shifter, Fox. Despite that, they had such a great relationship and even considers him her real father. She had great dynamics with her stepbrother and stepsister, playful and really had the older sister role down to a T. Her affinity to her twin brother, Bear, was also fantastic. She knew him well, and even if she found out he had secrets kept from her, Raven still loves him, and fought for him. Really really loved that.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the Norse Mythology entwined with the Fae, Magical world in an urban setting. Though at first this really confused me, a lot. Maybe the expectation I had was different as I’ve been reading Fantasy for the past few weeks. Although, reading an Urban Fantasy that is set in Vancouver, Canada was very refreshing as well. Going back to the Norse Mythology, Odin was the ruler of this world, and he was the one who stopped the fae from attacking the world and humans. And in this world, shifters, fae, magicians, they were very normalized. They weren’t hiding either. And it didn’t mean that they were accepted fully as well. Which was a very interesting part of the book.
The thing that I didn’t completely like about this book is the insta-love. I am a big sucker for romance but man, the romance in this just rubbed me the wrong way. The moment Cole walked in the diner, Raven already had the hots for him. Plus the unexplained extreme attraction towards him as well. I felt like the romance just overpowered the rest of the plot and dominated the story too much.
Personally, and you might already know this, but I LOVE complex characters and Conspiracy of Ravens didn’t give that to me. I felt like the characters lacked depth and complication. I wanted to see more sides to Raven, Cole, Bear, and the rest of the cast. There are also times where a character was built up to be a crucial part of the plot then dropped off the story, and resurfaced near the end that just got me confused. Although, this seems to be a trilogy, I have high hopes for the next book.
Overall, Conspiracy of Ravens was an enjoyable read. It was light, sarcastic at times, Raven’s POV was funny as well. It is by no means an innovative story, but the added twists and aspects gave more flavor and flair to a familiar Urban Fantasy-Romance stories.
“We put names to the unexplained. Cast it as something to either fear or worship. And yet just because a thing can’t be seen doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”
Luanne G. Smith, The Vine Witch
Title: The Vine Witch Author: Luanne G. Smith Genre/s: Young Adult, Fantasy Publication Date: October 1, 2019
A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.
For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.
Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.
One thing I am absolutely in love with is wine. And the moment I saw The Vine Witch on bookstagram, I couldn’t help but be grabby hands because Magic + Vineyard + Wine = Y E S! The cover is an attention grabber, and the blurb just sounds so mysterious and intriguing!
We start off with Elena Bourenau, a cursed witch that found herself breaking her curse, and is able to find her way home to Chateau Renard. She vows to get revenge from her curser and get her life back together but then finds that her home is no longer really hers. She meets Jean-Paul Martel, businessman, dashing, mysterious and ambitious but also skeptic towards witchcraft.
First of all, Luanne Smith’s writing is so beautiful. There are times that I can almost smell the fragrance of wine, taste the food from the boulangeries, the way she sets the atmosphere in her writing is so vivid that I can sometimes picture myself in these french vineyards myself. The magic is also very interesting but I was wanting more in terms of the how the magic system worked.
And though I quite enjoyed the first half of the book, I found the second half quite dragging. I wanted more world building and see the characters blossom more. It was a good read but could have been so much more. The romance was also very insta-lovey. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for romance but there could have been more interactions, more moments before “the realization”.
I really had a great time reading The Vine Witch and can see that there is going to be a second book, so I’m looking forward to more.
Title: Angel Mage Author: Garth Nix Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books Publication Date: October 1, 2019 Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Synopsis: More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.
A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.
Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.
But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.
The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else
As a child who grew up reading Harry Potter, I was really into magical worlds, which I carried on until now. One of the books I’ve read was Sabriel by Garth Nix and I remember thoroughly enjoying the first 3 books in the Old Kingdom series, so when the opportunity came to be able to join a Garth Nix blog tour, I signed up right away and I have no regrets!
Garth Nix is so well-versed with world building in fantasy novels and he did not disappoint in Angel Mage. The book had a medieval vibe to it that went perfectly with the theme of the book, mages and angels. And even with the medieval setting, Nix’s world was very gender-equal, you mostly see women in the seat of power, a very racially diverse and colorful cast, which I absolutely loved. Props to Garth Nix for such a great setting and a vivid world setting that I could see scenes playing out in my head due to the details in his writing.
Another aspect of Angel Mage that I absolutely loved is the unique magic system. Selected people – also known as Mages – have affinity towards Angels and can make icons to call on to them. But there are also people who can be trained in the art and can call on to these angels for whatever they need, but at a cost for the summoner. Aside from the magic, the religion also heavily relies on this system. One would think that the Angel theme for this book would be somewhat like the famous Angel books a couple of years back, but the Angels here were used in such a unique aspect and very original.
My favorite part about this book is the characters. Lilath’s character was so rich and interesting. I love a good villain, and Lilath’s determination, craftiness and will-power had such a good progression, I was so captivated with her journey. At the same time, I absolutely fell in love with the four main characters – Simeon, Henri, Agnez, and Dorotea. The moment they all met, the fun started. I enjoyed all the funny interactions and conversation, and their journey was also very exhilarating to see. I also loved seeing their individuality, their personal ambitions and wants and motivations. They were very much like the Three Musketeers!
Although this a very information heavy book, I can understand how it’s not for everyone. There were times when the pace was very slow but if you’re willing to overlook this, then I highly suggest that you pick up Angel Mage. Personally, it reminds me of Mistborn or The Gilded Wolves, where there’s a crew or a group of friends out on a quest. If you enjoy these kinds of books, then you will enjoy this.
Special thanks to Jana of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, Katherine Tegen Books, and Garth Nix for a chance to be a part of the blog tour. Check out the full schedule on this blog post!
Personally, I love listening to music while reading hence, here’s a playlist I made while I was reading Angel Mage!
“He had found his place in the world, he felt, and the slant of his progress through life would now surely be ever upward.”
Angel Mage, Garth Nix
“You are my sister, my brothers. And always Musketeers, whether you will or not.”
Angel Mage, Garth Nix
“You know the old saying ‘What you don’t see doesn’t exist’?” “No,” said the others. “That doesn’t even make sense”
Angel Mage, Garth Nix
“You are my strange siblings, who I never thought to have, and value most highly.”
Angel Mage, Garth Nix
“The Maid of Ellanda had returned to Ystara, and soon all would be well.”
Angel Mage, Garth Nix
Garth Nix has been a full-time writer
since 2001, but has also worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book
editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a
part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve.
Garth’s books include the Old
Kingdom fantasy series, comprising Sabriel, Lirael; Abhorsen; Clariel and
Goldenhand; SF novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes; and a
Regency romance with magic, Newt’s Emerald. His novels for children
include The Ragwitch; the six books of The Seventh Tower
sequence; The Keys to the Kingdom series and others. He has
co-written several books with Sean Williams, including the Troubletwisters
series; Spirit Animals Book Three: Blood Ties; Have Sword, Will Travel; and the
forthcoming sequel Let Sleeping Dragons Lie. A contributor to many anthologies
and magazines, Garth’s selected short fiction has been collected in Across the
Wall and To Hold the Bridge.
More than five million copies of his books have been sold around the world, they have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and USA Today and his work has been translated into 42 languages. His most recent book is Frogkisser! now being developed as a film by Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky Animation.
Title: The Never Tilting World Author: Rin Chupeco Publisher: Harper Collins Publication date: 15 October 2019 Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Synopsis: Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.
Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.
While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.
But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.
A demoness is what men call a goddess they cannot control.
Rin Chupeco, The Never Tilting World
First, let me just say I’ve been looking forward to reading The Bone Witch by Rin, but I had wanted to wait for the final book to come out before I started. I have been ecstatic to start reading Rin’s works because my friends have mentioned how great her world building and characters are. Lo and behold, some weeks ago, I was selected to be part of The Never Tilting World blog tour, and had the chance to meet Rin Chupeco herself during a book signing event in our local bookstore, Fully Booked. And there, I received my arc copy because Shealea also went for the signing.
I had the pleasure of meeting Rin Chupeco and listen to her talk about how she was a Filipina, who lives in Manila, but is internationally published. How the dream of being an internationally recognized writer is possible, without being in a foreign country. It was very uplifting and admirable. Here was a Filipina woman writer who made a name for herself in the international stage. So, I am so honored to be part of this blog tour.
Harper Teen suggested that this book is Frozen meets Mad Max, but Rin actually suggests that it is more Avatar: the Last Airbender meets Mad Max and I can’t agree more. The Never Tilting World is told in multi-perspectives, and two worlds.
In Aranth, there is no sun and the world is threatened by Ice and Water. Here, we follow TianLan, a talented healer/ranger and bodyguard, and Odessa, daughter of the goddess Asteria, a bookish but has an unknown illness sweetpea, both in a complicated The Bodyguard-esque lowkey f/f love affair, both determined and headstrong.
The second pair we follow is from the Golden City, where there is no water, only heat, sand, and sun. We meet Haidee, daughter of the Sun Goddess Latona, another sweetpea who wears her heart on her sleeve, with a great love for animals and mechanics. Then there’s Arjun, a hunter of the Clan Oryx, a cinnamon bun that needs to be protected with an amputated arm but can be BIG ENERGY fire-wielding strong man.
An attack in Aranth leads Asteria to plead to Lan to go on an expedition to the Brighthenge, also known as the endless abyss in the middle of the two worlds where the dark scary things crawl out of. Meanwhile, in the Golden City, the Silverguards are hurrying back to the castle with titan-like creatures at their tail. And with the sudden danger, a mirage appears to both Haidee and Odessa that urges them both to head to Brighthenge, where the eternal light and eternal darkness meet, and on their way there, the run into a band of cannibals, monsters buried in dark and deep places, storms, and, unwarranted dangers lurking in every nook and cranny.
“Some people are pretty good at masking their insanity.”
Rin Chupeco, The Never Tilting World
First thing that I really commend on this book is the world building. It is thoroughly done and well laid out. And the amazing part is the parallelism in the two worlds, where each perspective tells you the similar things happening in each world, but also working towards the same goal. Both sides of the world is very much unknown and unexplored by the main characters for the most part, but the plot didn’t make it feel too barren. I really enjoyed how it felt as if I was discovering what was out there along with the characters as they made their way to Brighthenge.
Another aspect of this book that I love is the elemental magic system! I am a sucker of these kinds of magic system, most of the characters have an element they master, but the goddesses can manipulate all the elements and they have “gates” they can open to harness energy and amplify their talents. I absolutely love this creative and unique magic system in The Never Tilting World!
The character development is the cherry on top of the beautiful whipped cream of this pie. Although, I adored one goddess over the other, I did enjoy both their arcs in this book. As they made their way to Brighthenge, there were many obstacles, internal and external for our protagonists. There’s Lan who’s suffering PTSD and mourning the loss of her friends while trying her best to protect her charge. Odessa has an unknown disease she has been suffering for a while, extremely sheltered and protected but determined to prove herself. Haidee who wants to be a mechanika and has a genuine want to help others, and uncover the truth of the past. Finally, Arjun who has suffered the unknown past and is determined to earn his revenge. And eventually, all their paths converge into one destiny. To save Aeon from destruction.
The book is told in a first person POV by 4 perspectives. And personally, I don’t enjoy 1st person POVs but I really enjoyed being in the head of each character, as well as seeing things unravel in their view point. The way Rin Chupeco told the story worked so well that the chapters felt so well woven, I was always looking forward to the next chapter. I even ended up playing a game with myself on whose POV I’ll be running into next! Personally, I love Arjun’s voice because 1.) sarcasm is my language of love and, 2.) he’s really funny and sweet, what a cinnamon roll.
Though there were moments that felt quite dragged out, I felt that these were important and necessary to have that deeper connection with the characters. Some people might not enjoy this, but personally even if they can be quite tedious at time, I understand how important they are to get a solid character jump off the pages. It also took me a while to understand the magic system, I wished there was a bit more to go into how the “gates” worked. And hopefully, we’ll get more in the sequel to this duology.
The Never Tilting World is a story about power, destiny, revenge, love, friendship and family. It is a unique and epic world that will have you swept away from the beginning. Rin Chupeco wrote such a brilliant book that makes you question the truth, will have you smitten with her amazing characters, and get you to love the rich world she wove together. And throughout the book, Rin leaves breadcrumbs for the sequel of this duology that will leave you with questions on what happened in the past and what’s going to happen next. In a way, I’m happy I got the chance to have the chance to read it in advance, but at the same time, having to wait for next year to get answers is thoroughly frustrating!
“…If we need another way to cure the world, we’re going to do it together, without anyone else suffering for it.”
Here’s a playlist I came up with as I was going through The Never Tilting World. I hope you enjoy how I curated the playlist!
Bio: Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.
Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.
Radio Silence is my favorite YA contemporary book. There’s a big heavy statement for a bookworm to ultimately say, but there it is. I absolutely love this book that I do not even know where to begin. This was such an excellent story about making friends, exploring sexuality, and taking life by the balls and saying “I’m in charge”.
about radio silence
What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances is been a study machine with one goal. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. Then Frances meets Aled, and for the first time she’s unafraid to be herself.
So when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is caught between who she was and who she longs to be. Now Frances knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys disappeared…
Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
Engaging with themes of identity, diversity and the freedom to choose, Radio Silence is a tor de force by the most exciting writer of her generation.
“I wonder- if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”
Alice Oseman, Radio Silence
How’s the brew?
I’ll be honest, I’m a huge binger. Once I find something that I absolutely enjoy, (from authors, to music, directors, movies, you get the idea) I obsess over. So, when I found Kat (@paperbackdreams) on youtube with her refreshing humor and content, I was hooked. I binged her videos and was brought upon her obsession with Radio Silence.
And because in almost all of her videos, she couldn’t shut up about Radio Silence, I decided, it was time to read. Now, I have quite a few bookstore options where I live, and my work allows me to visit plenty of areas with bigger stores. And would you believe, around the metro, I couldn’t find a single copy of the book. Not. A. Single. One. And that was hella frustrating. So, I resorted to my good ol’ friend, Book Depository. The wait was killing me and I absolutely had to read Radio Silence. And the book gods heard my prayers, the book was available on audio on Scribd. I started reading in May, which was somewhat great timing for me and finished it right after my birthday.
The audiobook was really quite exciting, it’s a full cast and the voice actors were really great at telling the story. It was so immersive and I felt as if I was there with the Frances and Aled. As if I was Frances’ friend and she was telling me the events of her high school life. It was very dynamic and animated that I really suggest reading the audio as well. You can even read the physical book with the audio just for maximum effect.
My problem with audiobooks is that sometimes, I have a tendency to tune out the words and after a while, I have to tell my brain to actively listen. But because Radio Silence had such a fun narrator, I really enjoyed listening to it and actually ended up stopping what I had been doing just to listen. Aside from the engaging audiobook, Alice Oseman wrote this book in such a simple and yet complicated way. There was a basic premise, where Frances is determined to be Head Girl and go to Cambridge, and is completely obsessed over a podcast called Universe City, then she becomes friends with the maker and writer of the podcast called Radio. But beneath this top layer is complex roots that tackle friendships, individuality, sexuality, mental illness, expectations, and so much more.
“Every time I thought I’d worked out what I really enjoyed, I started to second-guess myself. Maybe I just didn’t enjoy anything anymore.”
Alice Oseman, Radio Silence
pouring a steaming cup
So, we get to the possibly spoiler-y parts as I gush about my favorite characters, particular details about the book and plot. But I will put spoiler warnings, I promise.
The number one thing that stood out to me about this book is the diversity. Radio Silence is practically the book that has the most colorful characters ever. We have Frances who is biracial (Ethiopian-American), Aled who is getting to know himself and his sexuality, Daniel who is a Korean immigrant, Raine who is an Indian, there is a whole lot of sexuality exploration in the between these characters. As much as I want to divulge information, it can be considered punishable by law… if spoiling was against the law.
Another thing about Radio Silence is the timeliness and authenticity. It spoke so much truth about the reality of millenials now. And what I mean by that is living in such a digitally wired life. Now, it’s quite normal to make friends on the internet, finding people who have the same interests as you, and sharing your talents online. But there’s also the dark side where people’s remarks and comments are hurtful and mean, how the internet can also be such a toxic place that can be detrimental to your mental health. How someone’s words that they typed into the world wide web can actually affect the person receiving the words thrown out there.
It also discusses the expectations of our parents and elders. As a Filipina millenial, I was lucky enough to have parents who were understanding and supportive. When I was younger, I was always under the impression that I had to be a doctor and I had to please my parents and follow their wishes. Always had the thought that I had to enter the top university in the Philippines or I would be a big disappointment. And I was fortunate enough to study what I was interested, enter the university of my choice, and work in the field that I want. And I know a lot of friends who didn’t have the choice that I had. Radio Silence tackles this sensitive aspect of growing up and making life changing decisions in such a beautiful and delicate way, I just have no words of how much I felt for that moment. I don’t wanna give away too much because, you need to read this book. I swear.
More often that not, I’m not a big fan of YA contemporaries because of Familial Relations. But in this book, Frances’ mother was such an excellent character. She was the supportive, loving and sweet mother that everyone deserves. Frances’s mom accepted and had her daughter’s back for all the decisions she had in life, she was encouraging even. And let’s be real, this is all everyone wants from parents while we were all on our way to adulthood. Another familial relationship is finding your own family. That family doesn’t have to come from blood relations only, you can find family through your friends as well.
Another excellent aspect of Radio Silence is how it encourages us to be our authentic selves and cultivate the multiple aspects of our being. What do I mean by that exactly? Let me explain from a personal point of view. When I was in high school, I used to write short stories and poems. And my mother appreciated that artistic part of me, she even encouraged me to continue writing. My father on the other hand, did not. He wanted me to concentrate on my studies, to be an engineer like him. Through this book, Alice Oseman shows us that we should definitely grow that artistic aspect of ourselves, regardless if we know what we want to be or not. That we should not just be defined by one thing in our lives, and to fight for these talents and art. Aside from that aspect, the book also sheds light on Mental Illness. It’s such a pressing issue, specially with the awareness in this generation. The characters in this book are so realistic that it shows the mutliple aspects of how mental illness affects a person. That it’s ok to love yourself first before giving yourself to other people. When I got to this part of the book, I realized why this book is so well loved because it is so well represented and can mean so much to everyone.
And finally, my most favorite part of Radio Silence is the friendships. The conception, fun and happy times, the struggles, misunderstanding, arguments, the hard parts, disappointments, sacrifices and selfishness. Aled and Frances’ friendship was so beautiful written, and platonically lovely. These two are the exact definition of a platonic soulmate. Alice Oseman showed us that friends can have good times, amazing moments, but they also have arguments and misunderstanding that stem from miscommunication or misreading of the situation. It rehashed a lot of my own issues with former friends and former people in my life, and makes me believe that my platonic soulmate is out there somewhere waiting for me as much as I was waiting for that person too.
I’d like it if someone were to rescue me very soon. Oh, I’d like that very much. I’d like that. I’d like that very much indeed.
Alice Oseman, Radio Silence
the taste and aroma
Radio Silence succeeded on making me happy, sad, nostalgic, lethargic and full. It was definitely a roller coaster ride going through the pages of the book. I’ve finished university and has been working for a couple of years now, definitely a full-fledged adult but the feelings Radio Silence evoked from me changed me in several ways.
After reading Radio Silence, I was encouraged to start writing and blogging again. It made me realize that the only person hindering my healing is myself and it has helped me slowly let go of things I was holding on so tightly to. That sometimes, there won’t be an answer or the answer won’t be what you expect or want to hear and that you should be okay with that. It also made me remember that life will always have good and bad times, and just because you feel like it’s always bad, you should celebrate your successes, no matter how small they are.
This book made me realize that, there are times when you feel how the weight of your world is so heavy, it seems like it will always be heavy but it doesn’t have to be heavy, and it’s okay to share the load. If you’re unsure about the future, that’s okay. You don’t have to. Take your time and make choices for yourself. It also gives me hope that, if you shout or send out words loud enough, someone will listen.
Thanks to NetGalley and Parliament House for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Marrow Charm Author: Kristin Jacques Genre/s: Young Adult, Fantasy Publication Date: October 1, 2019
‘In his pursuit of the occult, the Third Reich opened the Gate to a realm of magic and brought the world to ruin. The Gate was eventually closed, but They were already in our world and They were hungry.’
-The Lost History, Library of Avergard
Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.
Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.
The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.
And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.
For a Dystopian-Fantasy book, I never expected Marrow Charm to have such a lyrical, beautifully descriptive prose. It was probably one of the most excellent things I liked about this book. Kristin’s writing style is poetic but not tedious in any way. On the contrary, aside from being lyrical, the book is also dark, broody and atmospheric. It sets the overall tone and mood of the book. It also gets gory and creepy at times, which sets it at a different bar from the usual YA books. The horror themes are sensational, I specially love how Kristin describes the monsters, how they look and the terror they bring to the protagonists.
Another aspect of Marrow Charm that I enjoyed is the family relationship. Azzy and Armin are orphans, who were taken is by Brixby, the Apothecary of the Heap. The familial bond between Azzy and Armin are so admirable and beautiful, I absolutely adore these connections within YA books.
I’m gonna be honest, with the blurb I saw on GoodReads was so different compared to the actual story of the book. The blurb mentioned something of opening Gates but found very little to no mention of such things. However, the plot and story were really great despite this. I really enjoyed the fast paced plot and the unique world building, but would have loved for a deeper backstory on how the world ended. The magic system was also fascinating, but also needed more explanation and information.
Another aspect that I found iffy was when the perspectives suddenly shifted to multiple instead of only Azzy’s. I found it confusing and a bit of a whiplash at first because I wasn’t sure what head I was looking over at, but eventually I got over it due to the fast-paced nature of the book and the constant danger everyone was in.
Personally, I think the most important question this book poses is, what are the qualifications of humanity? As magic mutate and reconstructs human beings, do we call a cruel, normal person full of humanity, rather that someone who has changed physically but is compassionate and kind? Overall, I quite enjoyed it, there were personal preferences that made me read it a little slower and some scenes that got me wiggling in my seat as well. If you’re into YA and dark-atmospheric themes, I would definitely recommend for you to try it out.
“Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them. Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
V.E. Schwab, Vicious
It’s still September, (and here I am hoping I can publish this review in September) so it’s #Schwabtember and I joined in the fun by reading Vicious for the very first time. I know, wow you’re like so late to the party. But, to be honest, for the longest time I have been looking forward to buying this book but once I had it in my shelf, I get extremely anxious thinking about reading it. And it’s simply because the hype was so up there for this book that I was so scared not to love it as much. But alas, here we are and I am still, certified Schwab trash.
The monumental, big elephant in the room question that this book poses is, What makes a hero and what makes a villain? Is it the perspective of what makes such a person? And meeting Victor Vale and Eli Ever also had me thinking of this question, until the present time. Vicious was the delicious twist to my guilty pleasure of hero/villain trope, but instead got thrown into a blender, mixed in with a dash of x-men, science, morality, religion and a hearty serving of Schwab brilliance, and we have this masterpiece.
” If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?”
V.E. Schwab, Vicious
If you’ve read a A Darker Shade of Magic, you’ll know that that book is full of adventure, magic, and mystery. Vicious sets itself apart from the other Schwab books I have read so far, with a fast pace and a very character driven plot and I ate up every single moment of it. This book is a gripping and wicked tale of two friends, anti-heroes, superpowers and revenge. There is no big adventure, on the contrary, the events in the book spans out for only a couple of days, and flashbacks of the past. Every decision, every step that each character makes in Vicious affects their purpose, their future and the resolve of the story.
Usually, when we read books, we are used to finding affinity with the characters in the books. But in this case, I felt like the detachment works with Vicious. In a way, I was an audience to the thrilling events that unfolded with the characters decisions that ultimately led to consequences. Victor Vale and Eli Ever are some, if not the most morally gray characters I have ever encountered, so it was difficult to empathize with them, both of them were very ambitious individuals who was ready to embrace all the ugly and heinous things they will have to commit. At the same time, there was the constant intrigue towards Eli, what were the conditions of his past that drove him to what he was at the present time? I was craving to get to know him more beyond the mad genius that he was. And there was the rooting for Victor, even as he declared himself the villain, but there was still the I-know-you’re-good-((maybe))-so-I’m-rooting-for-you voice in my head.
The side characters of this book weren’t really like a filler role either. They were all equally important to drive the story forward. I specially love Sydney and Serena’s story. Where one sister is a necromancer, raising people and animals from the dead, and the other is a siren, she can command a person to do her bidding. The more that the story progressed, we see clearer of the motives behind their actions. Mitch was also a special snowflake, how he stuck around Victor and the irony of his character, really. I absolutely adored the dynamics between Victor, Sydney and Mitch.
Safe had ceased to be a place for Sydney. It had become a person. Specifically, safe had become Victor.
V.E. Schwab, Vicious
One of my favorite parts of this book is how Schwab formulated on how to tell it. She started with the present, Victor Vale got out of jail and he was looking for his dearest friend, Eli Ever, to destroy him. Then we see the beginning of their relationship, being roommates in Lockland University, how Eli got fascinated by EOs, and Victor following down the rabbit hole, then ultimately decided to play God that led to their present predicament. I really enjoyed how it wasn’t a quick give away on how things unfolded, but it was like Schwab left a trail of crumbs every chapter that led to the gingerbread house of revenge.
Ultimately, Vicious was such a great and refreshing read for me. I had different expectations but what I got was so much more than I asked for. And if you’re in the market for morally ambiguous antiheroes, then Vicious is the first choice in my bookshelf.