Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

Title: Awa and the Dreamrealm: Dreamweavers Book 1
Author: Isa Pearl Ritchie
Publisher: Te Ra Aroha Press
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publication Date: November 1, 2019

What if dreams are more real than waking life?

Life is already complicated enough for Awa Bryant when she starts having weird dreams – waking dreams – and strange coincidences start appearing in her real life. 

She meets dreamcharmer, Veila, a quirky glowing creature who helps to guide Awa through the mysterious Dreamrealm.

At first the Dreamrealm is a glorious escape from Awa’s daily struggles but something is not right… Soon Awa discovers she has a bigger quest, and everything she cares about is at stake. Will she be brave enough to face her fears and save her friends?


Personally, I have not read any middle grade books recently and Awa and the Dreamrealm was such a refreshing change to the usual Fantasy books I’ve been reading for the past few months. This book was such a fun read, it was also easy to follow as well.

As I was reading, there were moments where I had to stop and think, was this how a middle grade book is nowadays? Then I remembered myself during those times as well and I realize how great the book is on how it tackled certain important themes of kids emerging into teenhood: teasing/bullying in school, attraction to the opposite sex, change in family dynamics, moving to other places, forming friendships, and more.

During the start of the book, I wasn’t a big fan of Awa’s mother. I just felt that she was somehow detached and that she just allowed Awa to do what she wants and have all sort of feelings all by herself. Eventually, I grew to like her specially towards the end when she fought for her child and spoke up against the oppression her daughter was experiencing. I also liked how involved Awa’s dad was even though he lived away from her.

I really enjoyed the parts when Awa was in her dreamworld. It just felt whimsical and fun, specially when she was allowed to think of anything she wanted and do anything she wanted. Personally, I want to experience flying in my dreams, sounds really wickedly cool! The characters inside the dreamrealm were really interesting too! Somehow, Veila reminded me of Joy from Inside Out, but not in every literal sense. Veila was described as someone who looked like Awa but she was smaller. And everytime Awa was lucid dreaming, Veila was there to talk to her and tell her all about the dreamrealm.

The parallelism from the dreamrealm to Awa’s real life was also a fantastic part of the plot. She was encountering all types of personality inside the dreamrealm and was learning how to deal with them inside her dreams that she was able to apply in her real life interactions in school. That was absolutely fantastic for me.

Although there were moments that I felt confused and frustrated, specially when Veila kept beating around the bush about Awa’s importance in the dreamrealm, what exactly was expected of her and how she was going to achieve that goal. And some questions were still unanswered even towards the end of the book but then again this is a series so I expect to learn more in the future books.

Overall, I would say that this was a great first book for a middle grade series. I think it’s unique, fun and imaginative. I think kids and their parents will enjoy this a lot and would make for great conversations on issues that maybe troubling to them to speak up on.

Book Links:
Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on this blog tour! Thanks to Isa Pearl Ritchie and Te Ra Aroha Press for the e-arc copy! Follow the blog tour on the schedule below:

about the author

Isa Pearl Ritchie is a New Zealand writer. As a child, she loved creating imaginary worlds. She has completed a PhD on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. Her second novel, Fishing for Māui, was selected as one of the top books of 2018 in the New Zealand Listener and was a finalist in the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction Book 2019. Awa and the Dreamrealm is her first book for young people.

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Kindle copy giveaway!

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize. Only 1 winner will be selected from all entries in the blog tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

Thank you to NetGalley and 47North for the e-arc in exchange of an honest review

“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.

Angel Mage by Garth Nix Blog Tour

Title: Angel Mage
Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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!

Grab your own copy of Angel Mage:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

creative content

Personally, I love listening to music while reading hence, here’s a playlist I made while I was reading Angel Mage!

favorite quotes

“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

author information

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.

Author Links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco Blog Tour

Title: The Never Tilting World
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: 15 October 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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.”

Rin Chupeco, The Never Tilting World

Grab your own copy of The Never Tilting World:

 Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

creative photos

the never tilting world playlist

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!


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.

Author links:
Author website | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Thank you to Shealea of Shut Up, Shealea, Caffeine Tours, Harper Teen, and of course Rin Chupeco for the chance to be part of The Never Tilting World blog tour. Check out the full schedule below:

to learn more about the tour and blog links, visit Shup Up, Shealea’s Follow Along post

There’s also a Twitter Chat hosted by Caffeine Book Tours on October 19 at 9AM EST or 9PM PH Time! Join us through this link if you have the time!

Book Reviews: Marrow Charms by Kristin Jacques

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.

Book Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

“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.

Book Review: Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

People were messy. They were defined not only by what they’d done, but by what they would have done, under different circumstances, molded as much by their regrets as their actions, choices they stood by and those they wished they could undo. Of course, there was no going back – time only moved forward – but people could change.

For worse.

And for better.

It wasn’t easy. The world was complicated. Life was hard. And so often, living hurt.

So make it worth the pain.

Victoria Schwab, Our Dark Duet

Our Dark Duet is the sequel to Victoria Schwab’s dark YA novel, This Savage Song. If you want to know my thoughts on This Savage Song, you can check out the previous post, but for this one, I’m gonna move right along.

The story starts a few months after This Savage Song. Kate Harker is hunting monsters, and she’s good at it. August Flynn once wanted to be human, but now he has to play a part. And, the war is only beginning. Kate is in Prosperity with a gang of her own, fighting monsters but she finds herself needing to head back to Verity, while August is in Verity pretending to be the monster he really is.

The book starts with Kate and August’s inner thoughts on their struggles. August wonders about doing the right thing and doing what needs to be done for the sake of the city, he also hears his dead brother’s voice in his head, encouraging him what to do. On the other hand, Kate is battling with herself inside and out, she’s pushed everyone away and is looking for trouble by battling monsters in Prosperity, as her way to cope with loneliness and sadness.

Then, a new monster comes to town and she is not what they expected. I won’t spoil the surprise because this new monster is one of the best parts of the book.

Again, my love for Victoria Schwab’s characters goes to extreme lengths. I thoroughly enjoyed Kate’s character arc where she is trying to battle her demons, figuratively and literally. She wants to save her town, and save everyone she loves. Kate is a strong-willed, brave, and smart character. Honestly, she typically gets into so much trouble much like typical YA characters but Victoria Schwab did a great job of having the reader know who she is beyond the first layer.

August has been one of the most interesting characters in YA I have ever met. The progression of his character from TSS to ODD is really spectacular. From being innocent and pure, he had to let go of his inhibitions just to live up to expectations and for the greater good. But at the same time, he struggles with that reality and his inner self. Aside from that, I truly love his distinct character, playing music to reap souls of people, the texture of his skin, how he get tallies on his body counting the days he’s been in control, and how a Sunai is born from the ashes. Overall, August Flynn is my smol bean and I will protect him with all my heart.

This Savage Song and One Dark Duet is a very character driven book, the plot isn’t really something revolutionary or spectacular. The world and the characters are great. The monsters are familiar but also unique. But if you are into character driven books, this one is definitely top shelf for me.