BOOK REVIEW: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab

BOOK REVIEW: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. SchwabTitle: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Published by Tor Books
Published: October 6th 2020
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 442
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
Goodreads

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

Schwab is one of my favorite writers. I love the way she uses language to create worlds, and I love the connections between characters she develops. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is one of my favorite reads of 2020, and even though it’s been a few weeks since I’ve finished reading it, I can’t stop thinking about it in both good and not so good ways. I understand some of Schwab’s reasoning about choosing not to include very overt and specific historical things due to a fear of not writing it correctly, but they were still choices. I’ll try not to spoil it too much, but be forewarned that there might be spoilers below!

Addie LaRue made a deal with the devil to escape a life she doesn’t want, and an aftereffect of the deal is that no one remembers her. Throughout her life, throughout hundreds of years, she travels the world but the parts Schwab wrote about are so obviously eurocentric and white. There is no mention of the slave trade, not even in passing, and no mention of the civil rights movements occurring throughout the last hundred and fifty years. Is it because Schwab didn’t find it comfortable to write about or include, or is Addie so self-centered that she is only concerned about her day-to-day life and influencing artists rather than seeing what she could do, however small and incremental (as she does with the artists’ lives with whom she engages), to the grander scope of society? I feel like it’s a little of both, and I just wish there was something. Addie can’t be photographed, make any kind of physical written mark or brush stroke, but she can influence people in their art?? This is the main frustration I had with the book because it paints such a soft, sanitary version of the world. I know that’s not the point of the book, but I do wish history in its terrible reality had been included more.

But to me, Addie’s plight, her desire to be herself and live as she wished resonates a lot with me on so many levels. I often feel invisible, wanting to be recognized but finding myself stopped short by some invisible force.

“I do not want to belong to someone else,” she says with sudden vehemence. The words are a door flung wide, and now the rest pour out of her. “I do not want to belong to anyone but myself. I want to be free. Free to live, and to find my own way, to love, or to be alone, but at least it is my choice, and I am so tired of not having choices, so scared of the years rushing past beneath my feet. I do not want to die as I’ve lived, which is no life at all.”

Addie lives each day being forgotten by other people until Henry, the boy from the bookshop, remembers her. Everything she has known up until that point is thrown into a topsyturvy mess, and she spends a lot of time figuring out what that means while also falling in love with Henry. Knowing Schwab’s style from books in the past, I had an inkling about where the story would go, and it lived up to all of my expectations. I loved the ending because it felt like the right choice for her. All she wanted was to be known for who she is, not for who she could be; and for Henry, there were a lot of could bes involved.

Even with my frustrations about the history included in this book, I still enjoyed it a lot. Schwab’s style has grown and evolved since I first started reading her work, and I’m looking forward to what comes next. This is a novel that is best read without knowing too much about it (and I know I probably spoiled it a lot in this review), but the day-to-day explorations and trials Addie faces as someone who can’t be remembered resonated with me a lot, and a reread of this book is likely in my near future.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Favorite Books of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is “Favorite Books of 2020.” I thought it would be difficult to pick ten, but once I went through my Goodreads, the final choices weren’t too difficult. I did choose books released in 2020 and earlier as I read two due out in 2021 that I loved but I didn’t feel like they fit this list. I will list them at the end as bonuses! These are in no particular order!

  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – I was so engrossed in this world, and it made me want to read more portal/historical fantasies.
  • Sin Eater by Megan Campisi – This alternate Tudor history captivated me from the get go and almost a year later, I’m still thinking about this.
  • Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – Magical libraries? Yes, please. This also reminds me of like… Robin McKinley’s world building and style a little bit, and I think that’s one of the things that has kept me coming back to Rogerson’s work. I can’t wait for her next one!
  • Middlegame by Seanan McGuire – This was something unlike anything else I’ve really read before, and I’m intrigued by the concept of twins and their connections.
  • Little Weirds by Jenny Slate – I don’t know why this made me sob so much, but I related to a lot of things about Slate’s personal life that she’s revealed in this essays, and I eventually want to add a copy of this to my shelves since this was a library read!
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – I knew this would be a favorite before I even read it, and it lived up to all of my expectations!
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I keep recommending this to people because it appeals to so many different readers. I’d been intrigued by the concept since it’s announcement, and when I got around to reading it, it just surpassed every hope I had for it. If I truly had to choose, Mexican Gothic is my second favorite read of the year.
  • Fable by Adrienne Young – I love YA pirate fantasy, and this was a delight for me to read. I don’t usually immediately run to request the sequel after reading, but I did for this one and I’m glad the release dates between the duology are not far apart!
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse – My favorite book of the year, hands down.
  • Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey –  I’ve enjoyed every book by Gailey, and this was no exception! A post-apocalyptic wild west in which librarians are spies and transport contraband on the fringes of society??? YES.

BONUS!

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – This was so much fun and really evoked the fun, campy, science vibes of The Martian (which I thought was lacking in Artemis). I don’t want to spoil it too much, but the characters in this are hilarious and great.
  • The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey – I read this a few months ago and literally think about it once a week because this domestic sci-fi thriller is just that good. Gailey can do anything and I’ll read anything they write.

What are your favorite books of the year?

 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books on My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is “Books on My Winter TBR” and some of these have been on some form of a TBR at some point or another, and I’m going to read them by the time the winter season is over!! It’s time to stop distracting myself and get to reading what I’ve been gravitating toward.

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – I think I read this when it first came out, or likely flipped through a lot of it. It wasn’t until I watched the show again recently that I wanted to read the book again. I know a lot of people think the book by itself isn’t necessarily helpful, but the show helps cinch it all together and make it make sense. One of the phrases I’ve really liked from the show is “do you want to take this into your future,” and I get really stuck on the sentimentality of things, so that question has helped a lot. Besides, I really want to get a handle on my life before I make a move, and there’s so much stuff I don’t want to take with me into my future.
  • My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh – I am in such a mood for historical romance, and this fake dating one with a SCHOLAR sounds right up my alley.
  • Any Rogue Will Do by Bethany Bennett – This cover is just so pretty?? I just need to read it.
  • Culture Warlords by Talia Lavin – This was sent to me by Hachette after I requested it because it’s been on my radar since I started following Talia Lavin on Twitter a while back. It seems like an infuriating, yet important read.
  • Real Life by Brandon Taylor – This has been one of my most anticipated reads because Brandon Taylor is such a delight on Twitter, and I’ve heard endless good things about this.
  • A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday – Is it really Christmas if you don’t read a cute Christmas book? I grabbed this off the ARC shelf at work in October but decided to save it until December! It’s up next on my to-read list!
  • Simmer Down by Sarah Smith – This was such an impulse buy after finding out it’s a romance centering on a food truck, and it’s high time I read it!
  • Ex-Libris: 100 Books to Read and Reread by Michiko Kakutani – Books about books are some of my favorite books to read, and the illustrations in this are to die for.
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – I’ve been wanting to read this ever since Schwab mentioned it years ago, and to be honest I’ve already started it and it’s already drawn me in.
  • Persephone Station by Stina Leicht – The other day I remembered this comes out in January and it hit me that January is only a couple of weeks away. This popped up in a Netgalley email and I wanted to read it just for the cover! The description says it’s for fans of The Mandalorian and Cowboy Bebop, and those are two things I like, so this will be the next digital arc I read!

I realized I didn’t do a fall TBR, nor did I read anything off my summer TBR, and this is the moment of changes, so I’m going to be better about reading all of these.

What is on your winter TBR?

 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Anticipated Reads Cover Love

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is “Cover Freebie” so I decided to look up some books I’ve been hearing about recently and books I’ve been waiting a while for their release and collected all of the covers!

  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik – I have actually never read anything by Naomi Novik (yet!!), but I love magical schools and this seems to be right up my alley.
  • In the Quick by Kate Hope Day – This is compared to The Martian and is about a female astronaut’s life and a love affair that threatens the rescue of a lost crew, and I’m intrigued? The cover of this is interesting, too!
  • The Gilded Ones by Naima Forna – I think the date of this one got pushed back, but a young woman who prays for her blood to be a certain color and fate intervening looks like it will be something I’ll like!
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – This seems like it’s on everyone’s lists this fall, but I’ve enjoyed every book of hers I’ve read, and this one looks to be one of her more ambitious endeavors.
  • The Mask Falling, by Samantha Shannon – I’m a book behind in this series, but I’m looking forward to a reread of all of them soon as I got an arc of this! I love binging series, I’ve noticed, so the more I can read at once, the better.
  • Malice, by Heather Walter – This comes out like two weeks before my birthday next year and it’s a f/f retelling of Sleeping Beauty, one of my favorite fairy tales, and I just want this in my hands now.
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers – Becky Chambers writes amazingly wholesome and heartfelt science fiction, and I’m very happy to see they’re continuing the Wayfarers series.
  • The Heiress Gets a Duke by Harper St. George – I love stuff set in the Gilded Age? Like give me all the things.
  • The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec – A banished witch who falls in love with Loki??? I love ancient myth retellings, and this one popped up on my radar the other day and stuck.
  • Wild Women and the Blues, by Denny S. Bryce – This ties together a film student in 2015 and a chorus girl in 1925 in Chicago, and I’m looking forward to reading a lot of jazz age books this decade.

Are any of these on your radar? What are you looking forward to reading most?

BOOK REVIEW: A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

BOOK REVIEW: A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. SchwabTitle: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Series: Shades of Magic #1
Published by Tor Books
Published: February 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Goodreads

Kell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.
There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

 Some thought magic came from the mind, others the soul, or the heart, or the will. But Kell knew it came from the blood.

Blood was magic made manifest. There it thrived. And there it poisoned. Kell had seen what happened when power warred with the body, watched it darken in the veins of corrupted men, turning their blood from crimson to black. If red was the color of magic in balance—of harmony between power and humanity—then black was the color of magic without balance, without order, without restraint.

As an Antari, Kell was made of both, balance and chaos; the blood in his veins, like the Isle of Red London, ran a shimmering, healthy crimson, while his right eye was the color of spilled ink, a glistening black.

I feel like there are so many reviews and praise of this book everywhere that I am going to make a list of all the things I like about this book.

  1. The writing. It’s concise, sharp, witty, and engaging. Sometimes I feel like I’m reading a book word for word, but Schwab manages to make reading absolutely effortless and a heck of a lot of fun.
  2. LONDON. Like I mentioned in my last post, if there’s a book set in London, I’m sold, please give it to me to read, and this series has FOUR LONDONS. FOUR!!! The world building never seemed confusing to me, didn’t seem forced, and I found it one of the most effortlessly magical worlds built in my recent reading experiences!
  3. Kell’s magical coat. I want a coat with that many sides and that many pockets. Just think of the snacks and books I could carry with me if I had a coat like that??
  4. Lila’s lifelong dream of being a pirate. Who doesn’t want to be a pirate?! And her missing eye? Is she possibly an Antari?? omg
  5. It’s violent and stabby and bloody.
  6. The magic. It seems simple and not very complex on the surface, but by the end of this, I feel like so much more can be explored in the scope of the magic, and I hope it is in the rest of the trilogy!
  7. The characters. They’re so varied and engaging and sassy and everything I like to find in a cast of characters.

I waited to read the second until the third one was released, and now that I have all three, I’m reading the rest of the trilogy this year! It’s an incredibly hyped trilogy, but I find it’s well deserving of the hype it receives.