Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Year Published: October 6, 2020

Date finished: May 7, 2022

“Be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price. And no matter how desperate or dire, never pray to the gods that answer after dark.” ~Estelle

This was a marvelous book full of magic, anticipation, heartbreak, and love. Once you are pulled into the story, it’s hard to stop reading.

When the book first came out, I had wanted to read it and so checked it out from the library. I got a few pages in and couldn’t get into it. My mind just wasn’t there. The book expired and I waited a year to recheck it out (because I was busy). When I checked it out, again, I was busy, so the book expired and I missed my chance. I checked it out one more time and told myself that if I can’t get to it this time, then maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Luckily, I had just finished a book and had reading time on hand, so I gave it another chance.

How I wish I hadn’t given up the first time because this is a wonderfully written book. It opens with Addie in the early 1700’s. She’s young and curious and wants to know about the old gods from an old woman neighbor. As Addie becomes an adult, her parents want her to get married, but she’s not ready—especially not ready to marry a man who recently lost his wife and has two young children. On the day of her wedding, she runs into the woods and asks the gods to help her.

“I want a chance to live. I want to be free. I want more time.” ~Addie

The darkness speaks to her and tells her he can’t grant her what she wants, but she is determined and tells him he can have her soul when she is done. He agrees and her wishes are granted.

Addie lives a very long life. She finds things to do and places to see, but it’s lonely because no one remembers her. One day, she goes to a bookstore and meets a man named Henry. When she returns a book to exchange for another, Henry remembers her, and that changed everything.

“Everyone wants to be remembered.” ~the darkness

I truly enjoyed this book. The characters were well thought out, the dialogues were beautifully done, and the storyline was executed excellently. I might say that it did start out a bit slow, but it picked up pretty fast. It was a strangely thought-provoking story. It made me think about what I’d wish for if I were granted a wish in exchange for my soul. I’m not sure I’d wish for anything, but it’s very tempting. One thing I really liked about the book is that there are references to artwork that Addie is in, a few are done without her knowing it like the painting of her on the shore by a famous painter. I loved the way they were presented. It really piqued my interest because I almost thought they were real, that they were actually of her!

Who should read this book: The book reminded me of Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and the movie, The Age of Adaline. I found some similarities between those books and this one. So, if you’re into any of those stories, you’ll probably enjoy this one. The character “darkness” reminds me so much of the main character, Lucifer, in the T.V. series, Lucifer. For some reason that’s how he appears in the book to me, however, I don’t think darkness is meant to be portrayed as the devil. He feels more like the reaper. Also, the book is being made into a movie, so if you’re anything like me and prefer to read the book before seeing the movie, you might want to get on it.

Btw, I ended up buying a hardcover. Just couldn’t help it.

Book Review: General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms

Title: General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms
Author: David Bush
Genre: Fantasy
Year Published: October 28, 2020

Date finished: February 14, 2022

It’s been a while since I’ve read an anthromorphic story and it’s mainly because I haven’t found one that I liked. General Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms by David Bush was an excellent read that portrayed animals with humanistic traits very well. I was surprised at how well this was done.

The story is about a cat named Miaow and written from the perspective of Miaow for the most part. Miaow tells us his life story and how he came upon a two-legged creature (a human) named General Jack. General Jack takes good care of Miaow and Miaow grows to respect him and love him. The story is set in a world before our time, where war was prominent, and winning battles meant control/power over all the other animals. Miaow was very strategic in the way he fought and planned his attacks. He knew which animals to befriend and which ones to stay away from. However, he wasn’t perfect and made mistakes at choosing certain animals to help him. Later, the story is told from another perspective: Miaows grandson. The grandson tells us about what he thinks of his grandfather’s legacy and of General Jack as well. It’s very fascinating.

Overall, this was an excellent read. There were some minor structural errors but not anything to stop me from reading. The story itself was well thought out and the pacing was perfect for a YA story. The information at the end of the book about all the real wars and bible references were phenomenal. I learned a lot just from that section. It was wonderfully organized and explained, and to use all that information to create such a beautifully told story is a plus. Well done and well worth the read.

Who should read this book: Anyone who enjoys stories where animals are given humanistic characteristics such as “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” “James and the Giant Peach,” and “Watership Down.”

Book Review: The King’s Death

Title: The King’s Death
Author: Ed Cannon  
Genre: Fantasy
Year Published: May 31, 2019

Date Finished: January 5, 2022

I didn’t read the first book because this book could be read without having read it. In this story, Silik becomes king and must defeat the enemy. He is granted help from magical healers who are able to provide information as to how to take down the enemy. Silik needs all the help he could get and because he is respected by members of the previous king’s entourage, he has the upper hand. It still wasn’t easy for him though. There were still evil forces in the works that could take him down.

There’s a lot to take in, in this story. The pacing is fast with mostly telling of who’s doing what. You don’t really get to know the characters too well. I’m not sure if that was intentionally done or if it was just overlooked. Either way, the story itself was still very enjoyable. There was a sense of fear that Silik may not succeed in defeating the enemy. Even he himself, at times, gave the feeling that he may not survive. I’d say, Silik was the most well-thought-out character. He was concerned for those he knew and tried to protect them as much as he could. The action and fight scenes were great. I truly enjoyed them and wanted more.

Overall, this was a great read. The lineage chart, the breakdown of the laws of magic and types of gods were beneficial and excellent to have as reference. The map was well-illustrated and easy to understand. If you’re into fantasy with magic and good versus evil, you don’t want to pass this one up.

Who should read this book: If you enjoy slow moving, fast paced writing (telling), with lots of characters, this one’s for you.

Unboxing: “Gold Spun” YA Fantasy Novel

I finished reading Gold Spun by Brandie June and am getting ready to post the review. In the meantime, I decided to do an unboxing of the book and created a new YouTube channel to share my book unboxing. I don’t get a lot of physical books to review so I’ll probably add reviews (?) or other things related to books on this channel. I hope you’ll subscribe!

Book Review: For the Wolf

Title: For the Wolf
Author: Hannah Whitten
Genre: Fantasy, Grimdark
Year Published: June 2021

Date finished: May 12, 2021

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten is a dark fantasy about a forest that takes from the living. The main character is a nineteen-year-old girl named Red who has a special power within her and she’s afraid to hurt family with this power she doesn’t think she can contain. The forest is where she thinks she could do more to help her family and the town’s people. Secondary characters are her sister and the Wolf.

At first, I thought this was going to be a retell about Red Riding Hood, but it is far from it. The only thing similar to that story is pretty much Red’s crimson cape. However, there are other fairytales that are depicted in this story in a sort of retell, such as Beauty and the Beast. It’s done well with its own unique twist, so it keeps you curious.

Overall, I thought it was a good read. It’s slightly on the fast-paced side with some excellent world building. At times I felt Red appeared a little younger than her age, so I wasn’t super clear if this was going to be a young adult novel or not. About halfway through, it was clear it wasn’t young adult just by the writing style and the grimdarkness of it.

Who should read this book: If you’re into fairytale retells or just fairytale style stories, this is for you. There is magic, romance, friendship, family. There is also a love triangle but it’s subtle and done very well, I’d have to say.

Note: This book was sent to me for free to review, but the opinion is purely my own.

Book Review: Exile

Title: Exile
Author: Martin Owton
Genre: Fantasy
Year Published: 2019

Date finished: April 20, 2021

Exile by Martin Owton is a fantasy novel about a man named Aron who was exiled from his home and ends up being asked to protect an earl’s son. Things seem to go smoothly until a brawl ensues and suddenly nothing is going as planned.

This was a good read. I enjoyed the world building. It felt dark and dreary and medieval. No one could be trusted which I felt really made this story exciting. The main character was likeable. He came across almost perfect until danger hit and then his faults appeared. I thought that was well done. Some of the other characters were also nicely developed.

This is one of those stories where the pacing is consistent, and the actions aren’t so overly exciting all the time. There are exciting and action-packed scenes that are thrown in at the right time to create that tension and rush, but it’s kept to a minimal. I found that nicely done.

The only thing that bothered me, and it might not be an issue for you, was that I received an ebook copy from the author and for some reason the spacing was off. At times, the book was double-spaced, and other times, it was single-spaced. I also found a lot of grammatical errors. Often, if there are between one and three, I’ll let it go because that’s not enough to need to mention, but when there’s about six plus, it can get annoying. Normally, when I come across this many errors, I won’t continue reading, but the errors were found later in the story and I’d already invested time into the characters. This was so unfortunate because it impeded a smooth read. Other than that, the story itself was excellent.

Who should read this book: Anyone who enjoys a good story with a hero and magic. It’s rare to find a simple fantasy these days without too much gore or too much romance and whatnot. I find that sometimes stories get too complex or there are too many subplots, and the end doesn’t really tie everything together. This book is your clean-cut, simple fantasy with a touch of grimdark magic, and with an ending that leaves you satisfied.

Book Review: The Phantom of Faerie Mountain

Title: The Phantom of Faerie Mountain
Author: E.M. McIntyre
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Middle-grade
Year Published: 2015

Date finished: April 9, 2021

The Phantom of Faerie Mountain, by E.M. McIntyre is a young adult/middle-grade fantasy story about a fourteen-year-old girl named Abby who finds herself in a world of magic and mystery.

This was a really fun read! Abby is a curious girl with a big heart. She’s not afraid of danger and will do whatever it takes to find out the truth. She also learns some secrets about her own family and herself.

This is a great story for young readers. It would also be a great bed-time story to read to the little ones. The dangers, the friendships, the talking dog, etc. all play an important role in Abby’s journey. I really liked Rory’s character. I loved his accent.  

Who should read this: Everyone. It’s the kind of book that takes you away from reality and into a fun magical world. There’s no gore or deadly violence so all can enjoy it.

Book Review: Gideon the Ninth

Title: Gideon the Ninth
Author: Tamsyn Muir
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Grimdark
Year Published: 2019

Date finished: March 25, 2021

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is a dark fantasy about a sort of princess, known as the Reverend Daughter, and her guard/soldier/protector. They were invited to an event where the game was about who wins and who dies. The soldier, Gideon, initially had no interest in being a part of this. She had her own plans to escape the House, but the Reverend Daughter found a way to keep her from leaving. The event was super brutal and extremely gory.

A couple of things I really enjoyed about this book:

  1. The writing is beautiful. The prose is very unique and left me completely amazed.
  2. The relationship between Gideon and the Reverend Daughter was superb. It starts out with both women detesting each other. One would not give in to the other. With the Reverend Daughter having most of the control, she was able to force Gideon to do as she says. The two eventually began to understand each other and eventually got on good terms. I thought this was nicely done.

One thing I want to point out is that the style of writing can be difficult to understand. I found myself looking up quite a few words. The story style reminds me of Dune by Frank Herbert. It’s a very complex storyline with layers and a lot of characters to remember. The world was fascinating. It’s got swords, magic, skeletons, trains, futuristic things.

I really enjoyed this book. I believe the relationship leaned toward LGBT, but it wasn’t in-your-face. I didn’t get that impression at all. It was subtle. You knew, but it wasn’t forced.

Who should read this: All lovers of fantasy, magic, future worlds, and horror and gore. The worldbuilding is extravagant. It’s a really amazing book.

Book Review: Dark Lover

Title: Dark Lover      
Author: J.R. Ward
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Erotica
Year Published: 2018

Date finished: March 10, 2021

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward is an urban fantasy erotica romance about a vampire named Wrath who was asked to turn a half human half vampire woman into full vampire. Before he even considered doing the job, he’d already fallen in love with her. There’s more to the story but this is basically what I got out of it.

The romance came on quickly. There was no doubt between Wrath and the woman. The erotica was subtle. I’ve read erotica where the erotica was the focal point. Not so in this story. There’s a relationship.

Overall, I enjoyed it. This was my first urban fantasy vampire romance novel. The only other vampire story I read was I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, but it was in a totally different genre (sci-fi apocalyptic dystopian) so the two can’t be compared. Dark Lover was a fun and fast paced read. What I liked most about it was the relationship. It was refreshing to read something in the romance area where the couple didn’t fight with each other. Wrath was very protective and a gentleman—something I haven’t read in a long time where romance is part of the plot.

Who should read this: If you’re into romance/erotica romance, hot and steamy guy, and a world where vampires are the norm, this is for you. The writing is excellent and easy to read. It’s the kind of book you want to escape into.

Book Review: The Lost Queen

Title: The Lost Queen
Author: Signe Pike
Genre: Fantasy
Year Published: 2018

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike is a novel written through the eyes of Languoreth, the daughter of Morken, a high chieftain in the Kingdom of Strathclyde. We follow Languoreth from ten-years-old until her mid-thirties.

The story takes place in 550 AD (6th century) in what is now Scotland. It is basically a different version and angle of the legend of King Arthur (Uther Pendragon). The focus isn’t on the legend that we are familiar with, instead it is about the family who took in the young Uther. In the book Uther is known as Gwenddolau and we only get glimpses of him. The focus is on Languoreth and her struggle between desperately wanting to help her brother, Lailoken (who is a warrior as well as the spiritual advisor to Gwenddalau out in the Borderlands), and her family in Strathclyde.

I found the first half of the story a little slow. It didn’t pick up until halfway, but when it did pick up, it was amazing. I loved it. I’m a die-hard King Arthur/Merlin fan and anything having to do with this legend, I pretty much eat it up. I really enjoyed this angle from a queen who played a huge part in the lives of those warriors.

To me, Languoreth is a little bit of Catelyn Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire and Aelswith from The Last Kingdom. What makes her different is that she’s not so strong mentally when it comes to relationships. She has a hard time letting go. She has this ideal image of what love is and for some reason it creates unnecessary conflict. I can’t relate to her in that sense, but I do love her character.

The book is well written with flowy and beautifully orchestrated words. It’s like a magical piece of artwork. It’s just brilliant.