September 2020 Wrap Up

WrapUp9
Hey friends! I know we are almost midway through October, but it has been such a busy month for me (and hopefully you’ve been enjoying the other content on the blog)! But September was a bit of a mixed reading month for me! I was able to read ten things, but not a single one earned five stars from me! 🍁

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Such a beautiful story about culture and identity and loving all parts of yourself and your heritage. I also loved the themes of healing and art, too. Truly this was such a good read and an amazing way to start my month!

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong ⭐⭐⭐
Publication: November 17th 2020
A Romeo & Juliet loose retelling set in historical Shanghai? Whew, that premise! I wish I loved this one as much as most of my friends, but it was still a fun read with lots of discussions about colonization and microaggressions and Western lenses that PoC have to face even in their own Eastern countries

The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare & Wesley Chu ⭐⭐⭐
A fun addition to the Shadowhunter world, but I truly didn’t love this nearly as much as the first book! But being back with the original gang always feels good and makes me happy. Also, domestic Magnus and Alec make my heart burst.

Beach Read by Emily Henry ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I couldn’t believe how much I loved this, and how much this cover and synopsis really leads you to believe this story will be something different. This dealt with important themes of grief and healing, and truly was a book about writers block and how sometimes things in life will uproot everything.

Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor ⭐⭐⭐
I truly wanted to love this so much more than I did, but I was still so very happy to be on an ownvoices blog tour celebrating Filipino mythos and culture. Sadly, I’ve just had some not amazing experiences with the vampire resurgence this year!

Dragon Unleashed (Fallen Empire #2) by Grace Draven ⭐⭐
Whew, I cannot believe how much this let me down. This book was truly ungodly boring, which was so surprising because the first book was so action packed! Hopefully I will learn my lesson and DNF books that can’t hold my interest, even if I loved a previous book in the series!

Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic #1) by Maya Motayne ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was the Dragons and Tea September pick and I really loved this one! This is a magical story all about identity and language and… colonization (truly a theme of books I keep picking up)! I thought this book was so very beautiful, and the grief and abuse depictions were very heartbreakingly raw.

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Sapphic witch queen must fall in love with the girl she is forced to sacrifice to save all her people? The angst, the yearning, the hunger of my dreams. I really loved this one and again, the grief and abuse depictions were important and also very raw and unapologetic.

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This book was my favorite of the month! From a girl who can’t remember all her memories after being sick, to a man who will stop at nothing to find his love (while also picking up the cutest companion of all companions), and two sapphics again winning me and my heart completely over. This book was everything and I promise a full review soon!

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco ⭐⭐⭐
Publication: October 27th, 2020 
This was the hardest book for me to rate. The range of things I feel for this book is very unreal. Listen, the atmosphere of this? The settings? The premise? I couldn’t get enough. Dare I even say close to perfect? And the plot had me so very invested in every single way. But this actual story and the plot conveniences, the characters and their lack of critical thinking, the obvious plot twists? The Lord might be testing me. The whiplash I felt while reading this was a full experience and deserves a star rating of its own, truly.


What was your favorite book of September? Or even so far in October? I hope you all are having happy reading, and I hope we both have a lot more five star reads for our October reading! 🎃

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Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon | Drumsofautumn Backlist Review

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“He has a part of me, and I’m the one with a gaping hole that can’t be fixed.”

Our Year of Maybe is an incredibly well done book about unrequited love and friendship break-ups, a topic that I think way too little YA books focus on.

This book has many layers to it. One of the core events of it is Sophie donating her kidney to her best friend Peter, who she is also in love with. They grew up together and are basically each other’s only friends, but we realize throughout the book that their friendship is not perfect and both of them struggle with what they give and want out of it.

Sophie is dyslexic and Jewish. Peter’s dad is Jewish and Peter is trying to connect more with Judaism. He is also bisexual and chronically ill.

“Our lives have revolved around Peter always. He is the earth, and I am the moon. There was never enough I could do to get him to love me the way I wanted, to see me as more than just a moon. I have never been enough, and he has always been too much.”

I was first and foremost interested in this book because I really enjoy books that focus on music and so having a main character who plays piano and another who is a dancer was an incredibly intriguing concept to me.

But as I was getting into this book, I absolutely stayed for the friendship dynamic. While I wouldn’t necessarily say the music aspect fell flat, it completely took a backseat with all of the other stuff going on in this novel.

“And that’s the horrible truth of it all, isn’t it? Peter could slash me open and steal my other kidney, and I would let him. If it would keep him alive, I’d dig it out for him myself.”

The feelings both of these characters have for each other are messy and I loved every second of reading about them trying to figure things out. What really works about this book is that both fuck up and both say mean things to each other. But it doesn’t feel wrong but more like everything they say and do is inevitable and rather like something that needed to be said for a long time, even if it might hurt.
Especially Sophie’s thoughts were always brutally honest and it was so interesting to see her grapple with the hopes she had of the kidney donation bringing her closer to Peter.

Sophie’s unrequited love was unbelievably well written and it really made me question if I have ever read it as such a main theme in a book. While I love romances in books, my own teenage experience came far closer to what Sophie was experiencing and I know that this is a book that I absolutely would’ve needed.
I definitely wish that this was something that would become much more common in YA.

“I love you,” I whisper to him before we’re taken into the operating room. “Me too,” he whispers back, and my last thought before I surrender to the anesthesia is: You have no idea how much.”

But this book is not only about how the relationship between them changes but also them reflecting on their friendship in general, and recognizing that it hasn’t been very healthy for a long time.
They realize how they depended on only each other for so long, that they never looked outside to see if there are other people they wanna be close with. Both Sophie and Peter come out of their shell with other friend groups and it is great to see them develop and really understand themselves for the first time.

There was also a very cute m/m romance in Peter’s storyline. While the relationship between Sophie and Peter is definitely the main focus of this book, the romance between Peter and his other love interest was super well developed and very lovely to read about.
And for anyone that is now wondering – no, this book has no cheating! There is definitely some slightly questionable behaviour but for me personally everything got talked about and resolved in such a way, that it made sense for the story line.

“That’s why uncertainty is so safe: I can wrap myself in this potentially unrequited love and never risk getting shut down.”

I feel like YA is more and more featuring sex scenes that are not fade-to-black and still manage to be absolutely YA appropriate and I think that this book knocked it out of the park with that.
It had a male/female and a male/male sex scene and in both consent was a really important factor and especially in the male/female sex scene there was a focus on asking your partner what they enjoy.

It also talked about the female main character owning a vibrator and masturbating AND the male main character masturbating and how this had previously been affected by him being chronically ill. I was truly impressed by these aspects being included as I find it really important to normalize these things.

“It’s easy to fall in love with someone who’s a master of their craft. Peter at the piano has an intensity I’ve always admired. An electricity, like if I touched him in the middle of a Rufus Wainwright song, he’d burn my hand.”

We also have Sophie’s sister, who is a teen mum and not only did I enjoy her as a character a lot, it was also great to see her relationship with Sophie and how they grew much closer and understood that they both individually have completely different struggles to deal with that are each valid in their own right.
In general both Sophie and Peter had super interesting family dynamics as well and the parents were very present in both of their point of views.

“He didn’t owe me his love, and I didn’t deserve it because of the sacrifices I made. That’s not a friendship. Peter and I were unbalanced for a long time.”

Overall, I am so very happy that this book exists and I definitely would want more recommendations for these kinds of stories.
This book portrays a super messy and unbalanced relationship but the issue is talked about and resolved in a way that does not make it questionable or problematic but simply an important addition to all the Contemporary Happily Ever Afters out there.

I definitely highly recommend this for anyone that loves strong relationship, friendship and family dynamics!

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✨ Lea posts a review on Meltotheany every Friday! Read more of her reviews HERE! ✨

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong | ARC Review

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ARC provided by Netgalley
Publication: November 17th, 2020

✨ Reviews you should check out: Xiran’s, Lili’s, CW’s 

“Anyone can be the master to a monster should their heart be wicked enough.”

These Violent Delights is an ownvoices story starring a Chinese heiress who recently moved back to Shanghai and is willing to do anything to prove to her father that she is ready to rule the Scarlet Gang. But in 1920s Shanghai, the city has many foreign occupiers from the British, to the French, to Americans, to Russians, etc (more about colonization later in the review). And the rival gang in the city is the White Flowers who are ruled by the Russians, and as of now the gangs ruthlessly kill each other while trying to assert dominance in their territories, but they might have to work together when a monster comes from the sea and attacks and kills anyone regardless of their hierarchies and districts. Oh, and it’s also a loose Romeo and Juliet retelling.

Remarkably interesting set up, true? I was so very intrigued, and I was not disappointed. I loved all the overarching important themes in this book and how this author unapologetically wrote about them. The monster might be a made up thing for this story, but the real monsters are the people who take land and culture while also trying to control every aspect of the people they are stealing from’s lives. And those are very much real and still thriving in 2020, and scarier than the scariest of book monsters. 

“You destroy me and then you kiss me. You give me reason to hate you and then you give me reason to love you. Is this a lie or the truth? Is this a ploy or your heart reaching for me?”

I really loved Juliet and I was always compelled to learn more and more about her and her family. The Romeo in the story is named Roma and he is also the heir to the White Flower throne, hopefully. Both of their fathers are not completely sold on their leadership, which is why they are both trying to prove so much. It is also why they have this common ground (and a common, but bloody, past) with each other. I think most of you will enjoy their dynamic, especially being rival heirs who once were maybe more. And I really enjoyed them dancing around each other, discovering clues, and just having to work together again before the city is completely destroyed.

“This place rumbles on Western idealism and Eastern labor…”

This book also very much talks about communism and how white people like to still romanticize the political theory. Meanwhile, so many countries have been completely torn apart by it. This book really shows how people will use communism to help them take over PoC’s land and cities in the name of equality when they are just stealing. The monster (and a contagious disease that people need a cure for) in the book very much plays a part in this. I will say too that this book was very unexpectedly gory. If you are a bit squeamish, you might want to take a bit of caution with this one, because the author does not pull back with incredibly detailed descriptions.

“They believed themselves the rulers of the world—on stolen land in America, on stolen land in Shanghai. Everywhere they went—entitlement.”

Okay, let’s talk about colonization. Seeing Juliet feel like a foreigner in her own country? Her feeling like she must be more Americanized for people to hear her and listen to her? Being sent away to America, “forced” to get an education in American, using the name Juliet, dressing more American, speaking English and with a minimal accent at that? Heartbreak, truly heartbreaking. But this is a reality that so many Asians are forced to live even in 2020 (even my biracial white passing self). The world has always tried to tell us that Westernized voices are the ones that get heard, and if you want people to listen to you then you have to at least appear to be a “model minority” from the East. But I don’t even have words for how extra heartbreaking that is in your own country.

This book also has some really good queer representation, with a brewing m/m romances between side characters that I think will be very much developed in the next book, but also with a trans girl side character who completely won me over. Obviously, it is ownvoices for the Chinese representation, and one half of the m/m relationship is Korean!

“Juliette Cai feared disapproval more than she feared grim on her soul.”

Overall (and again), I loved the themes of this book and I truly did love Juliet. I just felt like I didn’t love the plot with the actual monster in this book. I also felt like a lot plot points built up and just went nowhere, even though I’m sure they will be talked about in future books. I also didn’t love the romance, because I just didn’t love Roma. I think this book did a lot of talking, and not showing us, things about the characters. And the ending of this book really left me wanting so much more, but not necessarily in a good way. I still recommend this completely for the themes alone, and I think it is a very impressive debut. You can also tell that this story means a lot to the author, and her family and culture, and it is a tale that deserves to be read (and a history you shouldn’t let your Westernized education ignore). This is truly the highest of three stars from me, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Trigger and Content Warnings: lots of blood depiction, lots of gore, violence, death, murder, loss of a loved one, general plot around a disease that is contagious, talk of drug use and addiction, self-harm and suicide because of the “monster” in the book, colonization, racism (and lots of microaggressions), lots of talk of communism, brief mention of human trafficking and kidnapping, brief mention of loss of a pet, brief transphobia microaggression in the past (regarding choosing a name/identity), and just in general I think this book could be a tough read for you if you experience entomophobia (a fear of insects) so please use caution!

3
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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Maëlys❤

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska


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(This was such a thoughtful birthday gift from Pamela!)

“Witches. Murderers. Queens who chained boys to stone pillars and drowned them on full-moon nights.”

The Dark Tide centers on an island that relies on a yearly human sacrifice by the witch queen who must fall in love to protect them, except the last few sacrifices haven’t worked because the wrong hearts were broken and now the island cannot stay afloat. Once a year, the witches come and give magic to the island town mortals if they are able to impress them, and if they are brave enough to leave their homes while the witch queen seeks a new sacrifice. Yet, the boy who was the one to disrupt the spell that was saving them all gets picked again, but there is a girl who is unable to let his life be at risk again.

Eva – The new witch queen, who can’t seem to feel anything since her sister passed away. Yet she must pick a new sacrifice for St. Walpurga’s Eve, and when she sees Thomas Lin, the only boy to ever escape his sacrifice, she knows that she must pick him.

Lina – Left her home to search for her brother, Finley (who left their home to try to get a healing spell for her), but when she sees Thomas get picked, she and Finley go to try to retrieve him.

“There was a deep and ravenous hunger inside of her. Sometimes she wasn’t sure if she wanted to kiss him or eat him whole.”

But when they get to the Water Palace (which is truly the coolest palace of all palaces), Lina realizes that a life must be sacrificed, she offers Eva her own life in exchange for Thomas’, which Eva accepts. And in the days leading up to the drowning, Lina does everything to think of another way, while her and Eva get closer and closer. And stakes get much higher because we know that Eva must fall in love with Lina for the protective magic of the sacrifice to work.

As for the sexual representation, I’m not sure if it is ever stated that Eva only likes women (or if the author has said something somewhere) but I’ve seen many reviewers say she is a lesbian! Lina is on page attracted to multiple genders, but a label (like pan or bi) is never used. Regardless, this is very, very beautifully sapphic and my gay heart was very, very full. As for other representations, there are PoC side characters, and I think Lina could also have OCD but it is never stated on page again.

This book very much talks about grief and loss and how those feelings can take over every aspect of your life when you lose someone you didn’t think you could live without. This book also talks about how you are allowed to feel everything, even anger, while grieving, because sometimes life will just never be fair. There is also a good discussion on how you can love someone so much that you would sacrifice everything for them, even if they have treated you badly in the past.

“Do not let anyone make you feel like you owe them forgiveness. Not even family.”

Yet, this is ultimately why I gave this book four stars. I feel like Lina’s past with Finley was never addressed for more than that little talk of how his anger has scarred her for a lot of her life and how it even was the reason her ankle was hurt. There is a beautiful talk about how family members are not worthy of your forgiveness just because they are your family, but I feel like nothing came of this very important subplot about abuse. Especially since Lina and Eva both kind of bond over them both having someone taking advantage of them and their kindness, yet Eva’s gets a full narrative arc.

“You can have the city or the person you love, but you cannot have both.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this so much. The atmosphere was truly decadent, from this sleepy little island, to the witches bonfires when they visit the town once a year, to the palace and all the hidden rooms and magic, I could never get enough of any of the settings in this book. The premise of a witch being forced to sacrifice a new love once a year to save their home was heartbreakingly beautiful. The talk of hard sibling relationships and what people are willing to do for the people they love had me completely hooked. The writing in general was so lyrical and beautiful and left me speechless (and with way less page tabs)! The romance (and first kiss, holy shit) between Lina and Eva was amazing, I only wish we could have gotten even more of it. This book just had so many keywords and themes that worked for me and I truly had an amazing time while turning every page. Oh, this book also has a really cute sea monster who loves dance, and it made my heart very happy, too.

Trigger and Content Warnings: loss of a loved one, human sacrifices, drowning, self-harm for blood for spells, blood depictions, violence, magical compulsion, grief depiction, brief mentions of abuse, and I felt like there was a lot of talk of drinking alcohol throughout this book, so please use caution if that could be a trigger for you.

4
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Buddy read with
LandiceMaëlys, & Lea! ❤

September Book Haul | 2020

I feel like September was the first month since quarantine that I’m actually able to do a monthly book haul! (Obv, I did for my birthday as well, but that was a bit of a special and blessed occasion!) I feel so honored and so thankful to be able to write up this post, and I can’t wait to share these titles with you, because some of them I’ve already read and loved, and some of them I am so very excited for! 

Purchased Books ♡


Books Sent by Publishers ♡


eARCS from Publishers ♡

What was your favorite book that you hauled in September (or even so far in October)? Is there anything on this list that I haven’t read yet that you want me to prioritize? Please let me know! And thank you so much for reading! Sending you lots of love and all the stories that make you feel seen! 💕

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#5OnMyTBR | Magic

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#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook
You can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. 🐝

I feel like lately all I’ve wanted to read are books centered around magic, so this week’s topic really excited me! But I decided to make it extra exciting (and extra teasing @ myself) and only pick books that aren’t being published until 2021! Special and magical shoutouts to Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive #4) by Brandon Sanderson and How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air #3.5) by Holly Black though!


Winterkeep (Graceling Realm #4) by Kristin Cashore 
January 19th 2021 by Dial Books For Young Reader

“Four years after Bitterblue left off, a new land has been discovered to the east: Torla; and the closest nation to Monsea is Winterkeep. Winterkeep is a land of miracles, a democratic republic run by people who like each other, where people speak to telepathic sea creatures, adopt telepathic foxes as pets, and fly across the sky in ships attached to balloons.

But when Bitterblue’s envoys to Winterkeep drown under suspicious circumstances, she and Giddon and her half sister, Hava, set off to discover the truth–putting both Bitterblue’s life and Giddon’s heart to the test when Bitterbue is kidnapped. Giddon believes she has drowned, leaving him and Hava to solve the mystery of what’s wrong in Winterkeep.

Lovisa Cavenda is the teenage daughter of a powerful Scholar and Industrialist (the opposing governing parties) with a fire inside her that is always hungry, always just nearly about to make something happen. She is the key to everything, but only if she can figure out what’s going on before anyone else, and only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.”


What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo
February 2021 by FSG

“Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather’s tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak.

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. “I read this in the cards,” her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn’t see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help.

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.”


The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman
April 6th 2021 by Simon Pulse

“Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years.

The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there.

When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all.

As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.
From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes an incisive, action-packed tale that explores big questions about technology, grief, love, and humanity.”


One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
May 6th 2021 by Piatkus

“Cynical twenty-three-year old August doesn’t believe in much. She doesn’t believe in psychics, or easily forged friendships, or finding the kind of love they make movies about. And she certainly doesn’t believe her ragtag band of new roommates, her night shifts at a 24-hour pancake diner, or her daily subway commute full of electrical outages are going to change that.

But then, there’s Jane. Beautiful, impossible Jane.
All hard edges with a soft smile and swoopy hair and saving August’s day when she needed it most. The person August looks forward to seeing on her train every day. The one who makes her forget about the cities she lived in that never seemed to fit, and her fear of what happens when she finally graduates, and even her cold-case obsessed mother who won’t quite let her go. And when August realizes her subway crush is impossible in more ways than one—namely, displaced in time from the 1970s—she thinks maybe it’s time to start believing.

Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is an epic, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time.”


Afterlove by Tanya Byrne
June 10th 2021 by Hodder Children’s Books
 
“Ash Persaud is about to become a reaper in the afterlife, but she is determined to see her first love Poppy Morgan again, the only thing that separates them is death.

Car headlights.

The last thing Ash hears is the snap of breaking glass as the windscreen hits her and breaks into a million pieces like stars.

But she made it, she’s still here. Or is she?

This New Year’s Eve, Ash is gets an RSVP from the afterlife she can’t decline: to join a clan of fierce girl reapers who take the souls of the city’s dead to await their fate.

But Ash can’t forget her first love, Poppy, and she will do anything to see her again … even if it means they only get a few more days together. Dead or alive.”



And when I say I expect all of these to be five stars, I am saying it with my whole entire chest, okay? Like, the highest of hopes. Ahhh, so excited (and so very gay)! Which one of these are you most excited for? 💗

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab | Drumsofautumn ARC Review

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

“It is the kinder road, to lose yourself. Like Peter, in J .M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. There, at the end, when Peter sits on the rock, the memory of Wendy Darling sliding from his mind, and it is sad, of course, to forget. But it is a lonely thing, to be forgotten.”

I have absolutely never made a secret of my love for Victoria Schwab and I think most people were well aware of the fact that THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE was my most anticipated release of 2020.

When I got an ARC of this in April, I could barely believe it. Getting to read mine and so many other’s most anticipated book of the year by my favourite author six months before its release is truly one of the most exciting things that has happened to me.

And I am not even going to tease you. This book was absolutely everything. I loved it with every fibre of my being and it somehow managed to even exceed my expectations which had been quite high in the first place.

But that is precisely the reason why it took me such a long time to write this review. How do you put the beauty of THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE into words? How do you express how meaningful this book is and how much of a bright light it is and will be in so many people’s lives, especially in current times? Honestly.. I have no idea.

“He is all restless energy, and urgent need, and there isn’t enough time, and he knows of course that there will never be. That time always ends a second before you’re ready. That life is the minutes you want minus one.”

But I will try my hardest to write about my thoughts and feelings about this book to the best of my ability, knowing damn well that what I say could never live up to the masterpiece that this book is.
The only way for you to really understand is to just read the book yourself.

This is also why I am not going to give you much of a synopsis of this book. I honestly often struggle with giving a good synopsis in my reviews anyway but for Addie LaRue I genuinely just think that the best way to go into this book is knowing as little as possible.

If you are intrigued by the thought of a story about a desperate girl who makes a pact with an evil god who ends up cursing her to be forgotten by everyone she meets, until 300 years into this curse, someone remembers her, you simply need to give this book a try.

“Addie is so many things, thinks Henry. But she is not forgettable. How could anyone forget this girl, when she takes up so much space? She fills the room with stories, with laughter, with warmth and light.”

Since Schwab has been my favourite author for a couple of years now, I have been following the journey of the creation of Addie LaRue and knew about the fact that this book has basically been in the making for 10 years. I know that this book means a lot to Schwab and I think that you could absolutely tell while reading this story. It really seemed like Schwab poured so many parts of herself into this story and I think that there is vulnerability to all of these characters because of that.

It is interesting to me in general how story-wise, this book is very different from other books by Victoria Schwab, while in some ways being so very similar too. Because at their core, all her books are character driven. They are always about what it means to be human. But because this book is exclusively set in our world, this aspect shines even more than it usually does and the speculative element that exists really only helps to express precisely that.

All the characters in this story are so very realistic, with so many layers to them. They read so much like actual people that I sometimes find myself surprised about the fact that they are not.
Their motives and actions in these stories are so human and relatably written. I think that even if you are very different and cannot relate to the characters themselves, this story is written in a way that makes it so very easy to understand why these characters behave and act the way that they do.

“They say people are like snowflakes, each one unique, but I think they’re more like skies. Some are cloudy, some are stormy, some are clear, but no two are ever quite the same.”

Addie herself is truly one of the most intriguing characters ever written. She is one of those characters that you call strong because she is so flawed and vulnerable but she chooses who to be vulnerable with and it almost becomes a powerful tool for her throughout this story.
The way she takes her story and her fate into her own hands, even though it seems like it is not hers at all, is so incredibly powerful. She uses her vulnerability, her anger, her sadness to her advantage and her becoming aware of these feelings is what makes her become a stronger person.

This book was very cleverly crafted when it comes to going back and forth in time and it really helps Addie’s character development stand out so much more. It is fascinating to follow Addie on her journey to come to terms with the deal that she has made, to understand and know the consequences and what it means for how she lives her life and then to see her turn so many of the things that are seemingly obstacles into advantages for herself.

“Seven freckles. One for every love she’d have, that’s what Estele had said, when the girl was still young. One for every life she’d lead. One for every god watching over her. Now, they mock her, those seven marks. Promises. Lies. She’s had no loves, she’s lived no lives, she’s met no gods, and now she is out of time.”

And then there is Henry. Sweet, precious, “I need him protected at all costs”-Henry. I think that Schwab has a very special ability to write these wonderful, “cinnamon-roll” male characters and Henry is just another great example for that.
But Henry isn’t just a sweet love interest. He isn’t just there as the guy who remembers Addie. He has his own fleshed out storyline and it truly is so, so heart-wrenching but beautifully written too.

“It would be years before Henry learned to think of those dark times as storms, to believe that they would pass, if he could
simply hold on long enough.”

And these two lives and storylines come together so very well. The impact that Addie and Henry have on each other’s lives is absolutely beautiful to read about and their dynamic is fascinating. I think that the relationship between these two could’ve been weird because Henry is obviously someone who has very special place in Addie’s life, only just for the fact that he remembers her, but Schwab wrote the story in a way that made their dynamic incredibly well balanced.

And on top of those amazing relationship dynamics, I loved the casual queerness of this book a lot. Both Addie and Henry mention very clear multiple gender attraction and that they’ve been with partners of different genders. While there are no labels used in this book, from the context it definitely reads like Henry is pansexual. We also have a whole bunch of side-characters who are queer and POC.

“She leans back against him, as if he is the umbrella, and she the one in need of shelter. And Henry holds his breath, as if that will keep the sky aloft. As if that will keep the days from passing. As if that will keep it all from falling down.”

And then there is the relationship that Addie has with Luc, the evil god that she made a deal with, and there is so very much to unpack in their dynamic. He still visits her regularly and in the beginning it is very clear that even though Addie wants to defy him, he is the one who leads the game, however much she thinks she has him figured out. But with time we see Addie starting to understand the rules and how to play Luc’s game, so that you get a feeling she starts to get under his skin too.

“You have grown teeth, he said, and Addie will show him how sharp they have become.”

The character of Luc is intriguing and mysterious and Schwab’s way of portraying him is incredibly clever. We see him from the perspective of Addie, and he can be oh-so charming, which makes it very easy to fall for him.

But there is obviously a huge, unbalanced power dynamic between these two and while there are scenes between them that seem romantic, Schwab never lets us forget about who Luc is and the power he possesses, even when there are moments where Luc seems more human or it looks like Addie has the upper hand. At the end of the day, while this is a relationship with a god, it portrays the very human experience of an abusive relationship with those same manipulative cycles.

“She sees the truth, and he doesn’t know how, or why, only knows that he doesn’t want it to end. Because for the first time in months, in years, in his whole life, perhaps, Henry doesn’t feel cursed at all. For the first time, he feels seen.”

All those amazing characters and relationships are supported by the breathtaking prose in this book. I truly think that this is one of the most beautifully written books that I have ever read and I highlighted so many paragraphs (as is also evident by the heavy use of quotes in this review) because I simply could not get enough of the words that Schwab used to weave this story together.

This storyline in and of itself is so stunning as it is but there is something very special about the writing that really makes this book stand out so much more. To me, this is truly one of the most unique books out there.

“And despite the doors and walls between them, she can feel the weight of what she left behind, and she wishes she could have stayed, wishes that when Henry had said Wait, she had said, Come with me, but she knows it is not fair to make him choose. He is full of roots, while she has only branches.”

But genuinely, even after everything I just said, my review could never live up to the beauty, could never ever describe the masterpiece that is THE INSIVIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE. Not only is this easily one of my favourite books by Schwab, it is also my favourite book of the year and one of my favourite books of all time. And while I am biased towards lots of Schwab’s other works, I believe that, objectively, this is the best book that Schwab has written so far.

Truly all that is left for me to say is thank you to Victoria Schwab, for once again providing me with yet another favourite book and a story that makes my life a better place. I am immensely grateful to the joy (and pain) her words have brought me and especially this book in these times. I will not stop thinking about this story for a long, long time and I am already looking forward to rereading this so many times in the years to come.

I will always remember Addie.

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✨ Lea posts a review on Meltotheany every Friday! Read more of her reviews HERE! ✨