Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (5/17/22) – Gallant

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve only started reading V.E. Schwab’s books since last year, when I read the Shades of Magic trilogy and loved it (for the most part). Since then, I’ve had most of her other books on my TBR, including this one. It unexpectedly came on hold at the library recently (originally I was probably at…#43 on the waitlist or something💀), and so I jumped at the chance to read it. What I got was a lush and atmospheric fairytale and an ultimately satisfying read!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Gallant – V.E. Schwab

Olivia Prior knows little about her past. All the clues she has are in her dead mother’s journal, which seems to chronicle her descent into indescribable madness. After graduating from the Merilance School for Girls, Olivia has nowhere to go, until she is invited by letter to Gallant, the Prior family home. She is met with hostility by her estranged, distant relatives, but soon discovers a dark secret: every place in the world has its shadow, but the shadow at Gallant may be larger and more unpredictable than any of the Prior family could have expected.

TW/CW: animal death, ableist language (outdated), blood, murder, loss of loved ones, violence

Strange, dark, and atmospheric, Gallant is a lovely gem of a modern, Gothic fairytale. It’s only my third or fourth (though I remember next to nothing about This Savage Song) foray into Schwab’s writing, but it’s enough to almost put her at auto-buy/checkout status for me!

Where Gallant excels is the atmosphere surrounding it. Even though the supernatural aspect of the book isn’t explicitly shown until the last third or so, there was a consistent air of darkness that hung around it. Every description, from Olivia’s experience at the Merilance School to the mystery of the Gallant house, was filled with dark and creeping prose. It called to mind so many pieces of media that I love—I know Coraline (and Neil Gaiman in general) and Guillermo del Toro have been common comparisons, but they absolutely fit the bill. Reminded me a lot of Courtney Crumrin too.

But what created this atmosphere was all V.E. Schwab’s writing. She has such a unique way with words, and her specialty with crafting immersive settings is much of what made Gallant a success for me. Everything from Olivia’s mother’s descent into madness to the supernatural occurrences converging into Olivia and her cousins was described in such an artful, deliberate way that I could almost feel the dark atmosphere like misty fog on my skin. It’s hard to think of a writing style as unique and layered as V.E. Schwab’s.

However, I still had some complaints. From reading the Shades of Magic trilogy, I felt like the plot itself was what dragged some of the books down. The same was true for Gallant; although the setting, characters, and general premise were set up and well-executed, the plot itself felt nebulous at best, clinging to the singular plot thread of Olivia moving from the girl’s school into her mysterious family home. Everything sped up in the last third of the book or so, and the elements of that section were some of the most interesting—I wanted more!

Additionally, I would’ve liked to know when the book takes place in the first place—there wasn’t a concrete establishment of that. From bits of the worldbuilding and some of the language (particularly the outdated language that surrounded Olivia’s mutism), it was implied that it could’ve been anywhere from the 1800s to the early 1900s. Not necessarily essential, but it made some aspects confusing. (Same problem I had with Encanto—no way I would’ve known that it was set in the 50’s if I hadn’t googled it.)

All in all, a dark and immersive fairytale from an author that I’d love to read more from. 4 stars!

Gallant is a standalone, but V.E. Schwab is also the author of several other book series, including the Shades of Magic trilogy, the Villains trilogy, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

October Wrap-Up 🦇

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

October is usually one of my favorite times of year, but this year was one of a lot of self-reflection. Last October was—and still is—a painful stretch of terrain to look back on, but I’m glad to say that I’m in a much better place now. Plus, fall!

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

King of grunge GIFs - Get the best gif on GIFER

Since last year, I’ve had lots of time to heal, and even though the particular anniversary of the most unpleasant part was rocky, I’ve had a nice month overall. October is one of my favorite times of year, what with the confluence of Halloween and all the good feelings I associate with fall, and I got to enjoy that part to the fullest. There’s been hardly any snow at all (and what little snow we had didn’t accumulate), and the leaves have been extra bright and crunchy.

I had a lot of fun this month too! I dyed my hair, I got pumpkins, I got to watch two amazing movies (Dune and The French Dispatch) in theaters, and I just got back from LA! We went to see Danny Elfman perform the soundtrack of The Nightmare Before Christmas on Friday night, which was MAGICAL. We stopped by the La Brea Tar Pits museum and Amoeba Records too, which were both amazing. Plus, even though I only got to wear it for a few minutes after getting back to the airport, my Kaz Brekker costume was a lot of fun.

As far as writing goes, I’ve been writing my other WIP on and off. I hit 100 pages recently, but I feel like it’ll be too short…plus, and I’m fighting the urge to edit my main WIP. Maybe NaNoWriMo will sort things out.

We’ll see.

READING AND BLOGGING:

I read 18 books this month! As far as the quantity goes, it’s been my worst reading month of the year, but it doesn’t really matter. I can mostly chalk it up to a) school, b) more long books than usual, and c) at least two reading slumps, but I still read a whole lot of stuff that I’d been looking forward to. Plus, there were some single-issue comics in there too. And I’m still on track to complete my Goodreads goal, anyway.

1 – 1.75 stars:

Amazon.com: Horrid eBook : Leno, Katrina: Kindle Store
Horrid

2 – 2.75 stars:

Caster : Chapman, Elsie: Amazon.co.uk: Books
Caster

3 – 3.75 stars:

Project Hail Mary: A Novel: Weir, Andy: 9780593135204: Amazon.com: Books
Project Hail Mary

4 – 4.75 stars:

Amazon.com: Steelstriker (Skyhunter Duology): 9781250221728: Lu, Marie:  Books
Steelstriker

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH: A Conjuring of Light4.5 stars

Buy A Conjuring of Light: A Novel: 3 (Shades of Magic, 3) Book Online at  Low Prices in India | A Conjuring of Light: A Novel: 3 (Shades of Magic, 3)  Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

SONGS/ALBUMS THAT I ENJOYED:

pretty solid album
this song played while I was getting my hair dyed, and needless to say, I’m obsessed
our ears are blessed by another snail mail single
this one constantly gets stuck in my head and I love it
NEW SUKI WATERHOUSE BOTTOM TEXT
Okay The French Dispatch was an INSTANT 5 stars for me and I love this cover too

DID I FOLLOW THROUGH WITH MY OCTOBER GOALS?

Selbetti 2021 GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
  • Read at least 20 books: 18.
  • Post more than just Goodreads Mondays/Book Review Tuesdays (schoolwork permitting, of course, schoolwork first): did that! See the posts I’m proud of section for them.
  • Celebrate SPOOKY SEASON accordingly: yep. Only got to wear my Kaz costume for 10 minutes, but it was great.

GOALS FOR NOVEMBER:

𝓉𝒾𝓂𝓂𝓎 — Timothée Chalamet in The French Dispatch (2020),...
  • Read at least 20 books
  • Enjoy Thanksgiving Break!
  • Keep the progress on my current WIP

Today’s song (Halloween edition):

okay seeing this live sung by Ken Page himself was AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE

That’s it for this month in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: October 11-17, 2021

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.

Even though I’ve been dwelling on some unpleasant things this week, it’s been a surprisingly good couple of days. A year ago now, I was in a really rough patch in my life, and all I can do now is be grateful that I’m in a happier place and that I’ve grown and healed in the time since then.

Reading was a little slow this week, but I had some good reads, both for fun and for school. (A lot of sequels this week, for no reason in particular…) I also held my meeting for my school’s book club, and it was so much fun to talk about The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea with everyone!

Though it’s been a little on-and-off, I’ve also gotten lots of writing done for my current WIP this week! I’ve discovered that dreamlike sequences are a lot of fun to write; this WIP has a whole lot of them, and adding in all the detail has been one of my favorite parts of writing this story in particular. Also, after I’d written a certain scene, I realized that I unintentionally made an overt Yellow Submarine reference…absolutely embracing that though

yellow submarine the glove gif | WiffleGif
my current WIP without context

Other than that, I’ve been drawing a handful of aliens, enjoying my newly dyed hair, listening to the new Snail Mail and Suki Waterhouse, and losing all self-control around the bowl of candy corns sitting on my dining room table. I love October.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) – V.E. Schwab (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Buy A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel: 2 (Shades of Magic, 2) Book Online at  Low Prices in India | A Gathering of Shadows: A Novel: 2 (Shades of Magic,  2) Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

A Neon Darkness (The Bright Sessions, #2) – Lauren Shippen (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ )

A Neon Darkness (The Bright Sessions, #2) by Lauren Shippen

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley (for school) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Brave New World: Aldous Huxley: 9780060809836: Amazon.com: Books

Each of Us a Desert – Mark Oshiro (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue - Kindle edition by Schwab, V. E..  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3) – V.E. Schwab

Amazon.com: A Conjuring of Light: A Novel (Shades of Magic Book 3) eBook :  Schwab, V. E.: Kindle Store

The Stars Now Unclaimed (The Universe After, #1) – Drew Williams

Amazon.com: The Stars Now Unclaimed (The Universe After Book 1) eBook :  Williams, Drew: Kindle Store

Caster – Elsie Chapman

Caster (Caster, #1) by Elsie Chapman

Today’s song:

SHE’S BACK SHE’S BACK we need an album

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (10/12/21) – A Darker Shade of Magic

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’d heard of this novel now and then before reading it, but it managed to escape my periphery for years. It then got selected for November’s pick for my high school’s book club, so I decided to pick it up before the library ran out of copies. I had no expectations, but I was surprised at how dazzling of a book it was! Automatically on my favorite books of 2021.

Enjoy this week’s review!

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) – V.E. Schwab

my library copy on my windowsill ft. a cool filter

Kell has lived a life caught between many worlds—in a literal sense. As a fabled Antari magician with the ability to travel between worlds, he works as a royal ambassador for his homeland of Red London, traveling between his home, Grey London, and White London. Black London fell long ago.

A chance encounter with an artifact containing dangerous magic and a skilled thief named Delilah Bard throws Kell off course. Now, he must wrestle with magic that could potentially swallow his home–and an alliance that could result in his undoing.

GIF - Strange Strange City City - Discover & Share GIFs

TW/CW: murder, blood, graphic violence, public executions

Going into this book, I had little to no expectations. I read This Savage Song about four years ago and remembered next to nothing about it, and so I had no sense about how I would feel about V.E. Schwab’s other books. To my surprise, A Darker Shade of Magic hooked me almost instantly with its unique characters and dangerous magic!

Schwab’s writing was the star of the show here, no questions asked. Her prose was so immersive that I could feel magic in the air, smell rain and ash, and see a river tinted red as though it were all surrounding me. Each London had its own intricate mythology, and each was fleshed out to the degree that none of them felt rushed over. (I have no sense for Black London, though, but I have a feeling I’ll learn more about it in the coming books. Hopefully.) Her imagery is nothing short of magical (no pun intended), and the worldbuilding to support each London made the environment that much more believable.

The central plot of A Darker Shade of Magic was a little bit weak, but it made up for it with tons of action and snappy dialogue. Having a good portion of the plot center around a ✨magical rock✨ is dangerous in and of itself, and even though this ✨magical rock✨ had some serious ✨magical consequences✨, it did feel a bit like a sorry excuse for a plot. Lucky for us, there’s far more than that; Schwab supplies the book with enough political intrigue, fantasy lore, banter, and intense conflict to make the plot full enough to sustain a gripping story. And gripping it was–yeah, I know I just griped about the ✨magical rock✨, but I seriously couldn’t put this one down.

For the most part, I adored the characters! Kell was a fantastic protagonist. From his distinct appearance (MAN I need to draw him) to his quiet loyalty to his magic prowess, it’s hard not to love him. Yeah, he’s more than a little edgy, but it was lovable in a Kaz Brekker kind of way. All of the supporting characters were similarly charming, bringing all sorts of unique elements to the plot.

All of them except for Lila.

Lila…

I loved almost all of the other characters, but I hated Lila. She fell straight into the “not like other girls” trope, and most of her mannerisms didn’t fail to make me cringe. What I didn’t care for in particular was her motivations. Nothing Lila did made any sense. I get that she’s a teenager, but wouldn’t leading a life of crime and starving on the streets give somebody some semblance of direction in life? Every decision that she made hinged on the fact that there would be no consequences, and most of it was fleeting, shallow, and far too spur of the moment.

The worst example: why she wants to travel through all of the alternate Londons with Kell? “Because I’m bored.”

SHUT Blank Template - Imgflip

…okay, maybe I’m giving her too little credit. Maybe that was a cover for her actual motivations. But do we know any of these motivations? NOPE. Thus why her character made no sense. The only upside is that I imagined her looking like Maeve from Sex Education with a cool fantasy outfit.

20th century women — ramimalec: EMMA MACKEY as MAEVE WILEY in...
this is Maeve, for reference

All in all, though, an immersive and luscious fantasy that hooked me in from page one. 4.5 stars!

vague gifs | WiffleGif
@ Lila

A Darker Shade of Magic is the first in the Shades of Magic trilogy, followed by A Gathering of Shadows (book 2) and A Conjuring of Light (book 3). Under this pseudonym, V.E. Schwab is also the author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and the Villains series (Vicious and Vengeful).

Today’s song:

the instrumental part at 2:31 was stuck in my head earlier this afternoon and it took me a good hour to remember what it was from

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!