Vengeful

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genres: Science Fiction
Pub date: Sep. 2018 (read Nov. 2018)
Series: Villains #2

I didn’t think it was possible, but Vengeful is like 5 times nastier than Vicious! Our favourite characters are back, along with some new ones, and they are out for vengeance. This book had an interesting dynamic in that I would say the new characters were actually more interesting than the existing characters. Vicious explores that line between good and evil and whether your intent impacts the morality of your actions. It became very clear in Vicious that both Victor and Eli were bad people. They make really bad decisions, resulting in horrific consequences, and they don’t even feel bad for it. Eli is driven by his belief that EO’s are inherently wrong and that it is his duty to remove them to protect innocents. In contrast, Victor is motivated to get rid of Eli to protect EO’s, but also for his own personal form of revenge. Both are dangerous men who commit evil deeds, but somehow Schwab still gets you to care about them.

Vengeful introduces two new main characters, Marcella and June. June is really interesting because she is a but of a mystery and we don’t even really know what her motivations are, yet we still cheer for her despite all the bad things she does. Marcella is more straightforward and makes for a deliciously evil character. She is straight up driven by selfish motivations, yet they are born out of a lifetime of being a woman and being constantly pushed to the side. Power has always belonged to men and they don’t want to give it up, but when Marcella gains some truly horrifying abilities, she is finally poised to take power for herself. Her intent and her actions are evil and you know she really does need to be taken out, yet a part of you still really wants to see her succeed in her bid for power. To finally take what has been denied to her gender for so long.

So I was really into the new characters and how Schwab constantly makes you evaluate your feelings for these characters. Victor kills so many people in this book to protect his anonymity that it became hard to see the good in him, whereas Eli’s experience in EON is so horrible that I really wanted him to escape, despite how dangerous I know him to be. I also liked Sydney’s development in this book. She struggles with the realities of her sister’s death and clings to a hope that she might one day be able to bring her back. She’s a growing girl stuck living with two grown men, and she’s stuck in a body that no longer reflects how she feels on the inside. I love Sidney’s relationship with Mitch and I loved him just as much in this book as I did in Vicious, but I felt he could have been developed a little bit more.

Overall though, I don’t think this was quite as strong as Vicious and I do have some criticisms. I thought the disjointed structure worked well in the last book, but this book was so long (too long), that I don’t think it worked as well in this one. Vicious really only switched between the present and 10 years ago, whereas Vengeful had a running 5 years of plot that it was constantly moving between. it got a bit confusing and it took pretty much the entire book for the plot to finally reach present day, which I found frustrating. Overall I didn’t think the plotting was as strong. Honestly, Victor’s story was extremely repetitive and I didn’t feel invested in it at all, plus it never really had a conclusion. Eli’s storyline was stronger, but overall I don’t think Victor and Eli carried this book. It was really carried by the other characters.

Mostly I just wasn’t sure what the plot was. We never really know what Marcella is plotting and it took a long time to finally figure out where the story was going. Victor’s entire story felt like the beginning of a story arc. Like I kept waiting for him to figure shit out so that the story could move on, but it just never happened and I felt like he didn’t really have a story arc at all. So overall, I thought the characterization and themes were really strong, but something about the plotting just seemed lacking. I still really liked it and the conclusion was pretty open-ended, so you never know, we might be getting a third book out of this.

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Vicious

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genres: Science Fiction
Pub date: Sep. 2013 (read Nov. 2018)
Series: Villains #1

I have a weird relationship with Victoria Schwab. I really liked her Darker Shades of Magic trilogy, but for some reason it took me absolutely forever to read. I still don’t know if it was just bad timing and I was really busy, or if it the story was somehow slow paced (despite not being slow paced). I know, it sounds weird, but it took me forever to get into the books.

Then I read Our Savage Song, which is the first book in her duology, and I just didn’t feel it at all. I think I gave it 3 stars at the time, but in retrospect I was very uninspired by the book and decided to abandon the series without reading the second one. Vicious sounds a lot different than her other books though, and I’ve heard lots of people say they like it even better than the darker shades trilogy (high praise indeed!), so I was curious to pick it up.

Vicious was totally different from what I was expecting, but I can absolutely see why people like it so much. I was enthralled with the story from start to finish. The plot was mildly confusing at first with the jumping back and forth in time, but I definitely could never accuse this book of being slow paced. I don’t know what I was expecting from Vicious, but it wasn’t a story about near death experiences gone wrong. Plus it was extremely Vicious, which I know, I know, it’s baked right into the title, but the story was a lot nastier than I was expecting and I loved it.

I thought the plotting was fantastic. I think the jumping back and forth between timelines worked really well in this story and I liked how the story felt like it was split in two. The first half is really Victor and Eli’s origin story. To give you a quick synopsis, this is basically the story of two college roommates who do their thesis on EO’s – people with ExtraOrdinary powers. But through the course of their studies, things go horribly wrong and the two students end up as enemies. The first half of the book is very much the science of their studies and how things go so horribly wrong between them, whereas the second half is much more action oriented with both men trying to get revenge on each other.

I thought the world building was fantastic in explaining where EO’s come from and all the different superpowers the characters have are really interesting. The characters were also fantastic and I loved Victor’s little ersatz family with Mitch and Sidney. Eli and Serena were great antagonists and I loved how clever the story was. That Schwab makes you really care about some pretty broken characters who make questionable, and often bad, decisions.

March Summary

I struggled a bit at the end of March to finish my Monthly Challenge, but overall it ended up being my most successful reading month! I read 3 Fantasy Novels for my monthly challenge, a few advanced reader copies of books from Netgalley, and several audiobooks. Here’s my March Summary:

Books read: 13
Pages read: 4,425
Main genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Favourite (new) book: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Favourite re-read: Beartown

I started off the month with a few ARC’s, which are early copies of books that publishers share with a limited number of readers to provide early feedback before the books are released. I’ve been getting more ARC’s from Netgalley since I started my blog and I’ve been starting to build some relationships with publishers, which has been a lot of fun for me!

The two ARC’s I read this month were The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore (which came out in early March) and Us Against You (which comes out in June). The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore was a short read about several girls that get lost in the woods at a summer camp when they were 12 and how it affects them later in life, which I really enjoyed. Us Against You is the sequel to Beartown, which was my favourite book of 2017, so of course I had to re-read Beartown this month as well. I loved Beartown just as much the second time around, but sadly I didn’t love Us Against You as much. I wrote a pretty in depth review about it and I did still really like it, it just couldn’t hold up to the masterpiece that is Beartown. But I’d still recommend reading it and I’m hoping for a third book!

Next I read 2 of books for my monthly challenge, The Thief and This Savage Song. I really liked The Thief, which is a fast read, and I’m excited to read further into the series, but I didn’t really like This Savage Song very much. I have it 3 stars, but as time passes I’m starting to like it less and less and I think it might be more of a 2.5 star read. I can’t quite pinpoint what I didn’t like about it, I just never really got into it and I didn’t think it was that engaging.

I had great success with Audiobooks this month though! I haven’t listened to any audiobooks since November (probably because I stopped running and I recently started again), but I got back into them this month. I was bored with the one I was listening to and I was never motivated to listen to it, so I decided to ditch it and start fresh, which was a great idea because I finished Before We Were Yours this month and absolutely flew through I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter and The Authentics.

Before We Were Yours was an interesting historical read about the birth of adoption in Tennessee, but I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter totally blew me away! I didn’t really expect that much from it because I’d read the main character was pretty unlikeable, but I loved the audiobook narrator for this one and I thought the main character was just so well portrayed. I picked my last audiobook, The Authentics, because it had the same narrator and similar themes to I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, but while I liked it, it definitely wasn’t as strong a book.

My Book Club’s book of the month was The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld. I gave it the highest rating of the group with a 7 out of 10, but the general consensus of the group was that we liked it, but didn’t love it. It has a fantastic setting and atmosphere, but the mystery plot leaves a little to be desired. I also read The Marrow Thieves this month in an attempt to read another of the Canada Reads shortlist before the debates. The other book I read from the Shortlist was The Boat People, and while I gave them both 4 stars, I liked The Marrow Thieves more. I thought the writing and story were both great and incredibly moving.

I snuck in a poetry reading this month as well and read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. This is her debut novel, but I read her other book, The Sun and Her Flowers, last year and really liked it. I didn’t like Milk and Honey quite as much, but it was still a nice, fast read.

Finally, I thought my last book of the month was going to be my final challenge book, The Fifth Season, because it was taking me forever to get through, but I managed to cram in a reading of Avenged over the Easter weekend (the sequel to Ruined). I didn’t love The Fifth Season as much as I was hoping because it was a pretty heavy read and it took me a while to get into, but I’m optimistic about the rest of the series. Avenged was almost as much fun as Ruined, which I loved. I know the Ruined series is not even on the same level as the Fifth Season, which is quality fantasy writing and world building, but I can’t help but love it because it’s just so fast-paced and fun!

This Savage Song

 

 

 

 

 

Rating: ⭐⭐
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Read: Mar. 2018

This Savage Song is the second book in my March Challenge to read 3 fantasy novels and the first book that has disappointed me this year as part of my monthly challenges.

I had mixed feelings about Schwab’s Darker Shade of Magic series because while I did like it and thought she had some really great characters, I never really felt that engaged while I was reading it. But afterwards, even though I hadn’t totally loved the series, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and think fondly of Kell, Lila, Rhy, and the whole London gang.

I don’t know if that will be the case with this series as well. Again, I liked the characters and I did fly through reading this, but I was never super into the story. Maybe I just don’t love Schwab’s writing style? I honestly don’t know. This is another beloved series, but despite all the monsters and the high stakes, I just never got into it.

This Savage Song is an urban fantasy that I pictured as being set in America, but now I can’t actually remember if it was or not. Either way, it’s a kind of post apocalyptic world where monsters have risen up out of the darkness and the country has been divided into 6 different realms, all separated by the lawless “waste”. Verity is one of those realms and Verity City is fractured in two between Harker and Henry Flynn (North City and South City). Harker has made some kind of deal with the monsters whereby they won’t harm anyone who pays to be under his protection. On the other side, Henry’s Flynn Task Force is trying to rid the city of evil.

Kate Harker has been kicked out of boarding school after boarding school and her father has finally allowed her to return to V-City. However, the truce between North City and South City is fracturing, so Henry sends his adopted son, August, undercover into North City to get close to Kate and see if they can use her to their benefit. Kate and August become close, everything goes to hell, and suddenly they find themselves fighting for their lives across Verity City.

The book did have an interesting ending and there’s only 1 more book in this series, so I would like to read it, but I think it’s going to fall pretty far down on my list as there are a lot of other books I’d rather prioritize. I did still like the book, I just didn’t really see anything that special about it. Oh well.

March Reading Challenge

I have to admit, I’m pretty pleased with myself and how my January and February challenges have gone. If I hadn’t challenged myself to read them, I don’t think I would have got to any of the books on my February challenge, and they were all really good, so I’m glad I finally set aside time for them.

It can be kind of hard to pick them up sometimes. I like being able to just pick up and read whatever I’m feeling in the mood for, which can be a challenge when I’ve already set myself 3 books for that month, plus my monthly book club read. But it has been paying off, so I’m going to try and stick to it for now.

I’ve got a huge list of challenge ideas, so every month I’m torn about which one to pick, but I’ve been wanting to just do a generic Fantasy challenge, so I decided to go very broad on my March picks. I’ve got a huge pile of fantasy novels at home, so it’ll be nice to set aside some time for them. So my March Challenge is:

Read 3 Fantasy Books

Like I said, I’ve got a huge stack, but I do still want to be intentional about which ones I pick, so I’ve settled on 3 that have all gotten great reviews and that I’d like to finally get to. My only concern is that these are first books in multi-book series, so my TBR will only grow and I have a feeling I’ll be trying to fit some sequels in there too. My March picks are:

  1. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
  2. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  3. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

The Thief is a older fantasy series that was first published in 1996 and had 4 books, but the author just published a 5th book last year, so it seems to have been getting a lot of hype again. To be honest, I don’t actually know what any of these 3 series are about, but they’ve been on my TBR for ages because they’ve all gotten such great reviews. I know The Thief focuses on a thief (duh) who the King has released from prison to try and steal something for him and I believe each of the books in this series are from a different point of view, but are all political fantasy-type novels about a place called Attolia. So I’ll see how accurate my description is and report back!

The second book I want to read is the first in the Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin and is called The Fifth Season. Again, all I know about this series is what’s in the goodreads synopsis, but it’s about the world ending and it sounds brutal! I’ve heard so much good stuff about this series and I’m excited to read it because it falls more within the adult fantasy/science fiction genre, whereas most of the fantasy books I read are very much YA fantasy books.

And finally, I’m planning to read This Savage Song, which is the first book in Victoria Schwab’s OTHER series. I read the Darker Shades of Magic trilogy last year and at the time I wasn’t as obsessed with it as everyone else seems to be, but I think I may have just read it at a bad time (mid-summer when I was super busy), because even though I didn’t love it, I can’t stop thinking about it. I keep recommending it to people and I feel like I want to re-read the whole thing. So I’ve decided to try her other series, which is a duology, but has likewise received fantastic reviews. This book has monsters! And embarrassingly that is the extent of what I know, but I promise a full synopsis in my review!

I feel like I should start reading these books right away to leave time to fit in some sequels in between them, but I just received an ARC for the Beartown sequel, Us Against You, which was my absolute favourite read last year, so I definitely have to read that and potentially also re-read Beartown before I can get around to these. So I think this may be a very successful reading month. Winter is almost over in Vancouver and transition seasons tend to be my best reading months because I’ve finished up my winter activities, but the hiking season hasn’t started up yet, so here’s too lots of books!