Dark, Twisty Madness // REVIEW: Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Title: Vicious (Villains #1)
Author: V. E. Schwab
Publication Date: September 24th, 2013
Publisher: Titan Books
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 1/2 of the Villains series
I Got A Copy Through: Bloomsbury India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. 
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
I am OBSESSED with dark and twisty characters that make you question your own morality/ principles and V. E. Schwab has written an ENTIRE BOOK filled with them.

Vicious was a villain origin story that transitioned into a villain-against-villain story that was just pure, twisted madness. It was a rollercoaster of a book where I was frantically turning pages to find out what had happened between Eli and Victor ten years ago and what would happen between Eli and Victor in just a few hours.

THINGS I LOVED:

1)      THE STRUCTURE AND PLOTTING: One of the BIG reasons I enjoyed Vicious was the way it was plotted. It flipped from past to present and from Eli to Victor to Serena to Mitch to Sydney, each filling in the blanks of what happened ten years ago and then flashing forward to today. It was the kind of book that kept you on your toes and I REALLY enjoyed it.

2)      I LOVE THE CONCEPT OF BLACK-OUT POETRY, and I love how Victor used it. It was stripping superfluous, long books down to their bare minimum and I loved the truth and pain those words held.

3)      I definitely preferred Victor over Eli, but I wonder if I would think the same was if Vicious introduced me to Eli first. Reading about Eli through Victor’s eyes was probably the most biased opinion I could find but it was still interesting to read through Eli’s eyes later in the book.

4)      I LOVED the Victor-Sydney bond. It oscillated between EO meets EO and a father-daughter/ brother-sister relationship and I WAS LIVING FOR IT.

5)      If there was one thing I would have liked, it’s MORE time before the villainy things began. I feel like I didn’t get to know Eli and Victor nearly enough as friends/ rivals/ pre-med students before I was thrown into a villain beat villain rivalry. Also, for all Angie was described as being brilliant, she had no real contribution to the story and I wish she had.

Would I recommend this book? YES! It’s my favourite Schwab book so far and I can’t WAIT to dive into Vengeful. 
V.E. Schwab
Victoria Schwab (V.E. Schwab) is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say "tom-ah-toes," "like," and "y'all."

She also tells stories including the bestselling A Darker Shade of Magic series, the Villains duology, This Savage Song, This Dark Duet, City of Ghosts and more.
She loves fairy tales, and folklore, and stories that make her wonder if the world is really as it seems. 

Have you read any of V.E.Schwab's books? Have you had a chance to read the Villains series? Tell me what you thoughts of it in the comments below.
I can't wait to hear from you.
 

On Writing The Last Book In A Series - Guest Post by Helen Scheuerer

On Writing The Last Book In A Series…

When Aditi offered me the opportunity to write a guest post on writing the last book in a series, I was relieved. The third and final book in my trilogy, WAR OF MIST was done and finally, I had a space to talk about all the turbulent emotions I was feeling about the conclusion of this wild ride.

I went in blind when I started writing The Oremere Chronicles. I didn’t really understand how big a commitment writing a series was. Completing one book is a big deal, but three…? Every time I placed a finished book on my shelf I was in a bit of a daze, but finishing War of Mist (the third and final book) was even more surreal. In part, I was so glad to be at the end of the road - I’d been with these characters for over three years and I was starting to feel restless (not to mention exhausted). But then, there was another part of me that was sad the journey was ending. I kept having realisations throughout the process like, this is the last time I’ll be writing the first draft of an Oremere book, or this is the last Oremere copyedit I’ll do.

When Aditi and I first floated the idea of this guest post, she used the term “bitter sweet”, and that’s actually a perfect summary. This series has been such a massive part of my life and has offered so many opportunities, but at some point, every author has to learn to move on.

I’ve been asked about writing the final chapter and what it felt like a fair bit lately. It’s something that’s difficult to describe without sounding like a mad person. The last chapter in War of Mist drained me emotionally. I suppose it’s a lot like saying goodbye to friends you’ve known for years, and being proud of who’ve they’ve become and what they’ve achieved. It’s knowing that they’ll be out in the world somewhere, but you probably won’t see them again. Told you I’d sound like a mad person…

One thing I don’t think a lot of people realise is that an author changes drastically over the course of writing any book, not to mention a series. You grow not only as a writer, but as a person. I’m vastly different from who I was back in 2016 when I first started writing Heart of Mist. Over those three years or more, I’ve had numerous jobs, I’ve travelled, moved house three times, lived alone, moved countries and gone full-time as an author. All of those things and everything in between influence an author’s writing and productivity, and change how they feel about their craft and their finished books…

What I’m trying to say, is that writing the last book in a series is a unique experience. It not only makes you reflect on the books you’ve written, but also the time that’s passed over the course of writing and publishing the series. And while The Oremere Chronicles is the first series I’ve written, I imagine the sentiment will be the same, no matter how many I publish down the track.

WAR OF MIST, the epic conclusion to Helen Scheuerer’s The Oremere Chronicles is slated for release July 25. You can add it on Goodreads here

Title: War Of Mist (Dream of Mist #1)
Author: Helen Scheuerer
Publication Date: July 25th 2019
Publisher: Talem Press
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 3/3 of the Oremere Chronicles
Pre-order on: Amazon
Blurb Description: Toxic mist drives all life to the brink of destruction and the conqueror queen, Ines, has her talons in the kings of the realm.
Bleak, having discovered her true heritage, must now scour the lands for the one thing that might save them all. 
But the search is a treacherous one – and it will push her to the very limits of endurance. 
Amidst secrets, lies and the intricacies of battle, Bleak and her companions learn just how far they’ll go for the ones they love. But will it be enough?
As deadly forces grapple for power across the continents, families, friends and allies unite to take one final stand.
Explosive revelations, heart-wrenching betrayals and breathtaking magic soar in the epic conclusion to Helen Scheuerer’s bestselling trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles. 
 
Helen ScheuererHelen Scheuerer is a YA fantasy author from Sydney, Australia. Heart of Mist is the first book in her high fantasy trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles. It explores themes of identity, belonging, loyalty, addiction, loss, and responsibility.

Helen is also the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit (www.writersedit.com), an online literary magazine and learning platform for emerging writers. It’s now one of the largest writers’ platforms in the world.

Helen’s love of writing and books led her to pursue a Bachelor of Creative Arts, majoring in Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong and a Masters of Publishing at the University of Sydney.

Helen is now a full-time author living by the beach.

Say hi to Helen in the comments below! Did you enjoy her post? Do you have questions for her? Make sure to post them below!

Lush, Magical and Absolutely Perfect // REVIEW: The Kingdom Of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

Title: The Kingdom of Copper (Daevabad Trilogy #2)
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Publication Date: January 29th, 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager UK
Part of a Series?: Yes, Book 2/3 of the Daevabad Trilogy
I Got A Copy Through: HarperCollins India (THANK YOU!)
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabadand quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.
Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her familyand one misstep will doom her tribe.
Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the maridthe unpredictable water spiritshave gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.
And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad's towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve. 

Before diving into the Daevabad trilogy, if someone asked me what my favourite book was, I’d stare at them AGHAST. HOW COULD I, A READER, PICK JUST ONE FAVOURITE BOOK? It was an impossible task. Ask me today, and I will SHOVE The Daevabad Trilogy in your face.

I’ll say it again, just for clarity: The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper are the best books I’ve ever read. EVER.

*pauses for dramatic effect*

To say that I was DESPERATELY WAITING for The Kingdom of Copper ever since I was in the middle of its prequel, The City of Brass is an understatement. I NEEDED TO READ THIS BOOK. And then, after I actually got it, I was scared of starting because this meant I WOULD HAVE TO WAIT FOR ALMOST A YEAR FOR THE NEXT BOOK. Long story short? The temptation got to be too much, I dove in and now I’m broken.

MY THOUGHTS:


1.       If I had to pick one of the reasons I love this series so much, it would have to be because of Ali and Nahri. Not just their beautifully constructed and developed characters, but the fact that these books are about good intentions and providing a better life to the people in their magical city that they are in that other rulers forget about in an attempt to gain or retain power. I don’t think this adequately covers what The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper hold within their pages but these books are FIERCE in breaking prejudices, in their explanation of centuries-old hatred, politics and family ties and in creating a world so lush, I actually want to live in it. To put it bluntly, this book is real and magical all at the same time and I AM ENTRANCED BY ALL OF IT.

2.       I just want to circle back to Ali and Nahri again. I am in LOVE with them as individual characters – their spirit, their hopes, and their shrewdness. Even within two books, I can see how much they’ve grown and I honestly just want to hug both of them.

3.       I usually read descriptions once in a book. They barely register in my head, but when it came to The Kingdom of Copper, I made sure to read descriptions again and again all so that I could feel like I was a part of this world.

 
4.       THE POLITICS. THE WORLD BUILDING. THE WAR. THE MORALLY GRAY CHARACTERS. THE INTRIGUE.

5.       A special mention to Jamshid, Muntadhir, Hatset and Zaynab who were WONDERFUL secondary characters and I WILL MISS THEM SO MUCH AFTER THE NEXT BOOK.

Would I recommend this book? YES. YES. YES. YES. BUY THESE BOOKS AND DIVE IN. If you love them a fraction as much as I do, let me know and I WILL FANGIRL WITH YOU THANKS.

An absolutely perfect novel filled with politics, magic, family, and characters you’ll love till the end of time. GO GET YOUR HANDS ON IT. 

S.A. Chakraborty
S. A. Chakraborty is a speculative fiction writer from New York City. Her debut, The City of Brass, was the first book in The Daevabad Trilogy and has been short-listed for the Locus, British Fantasy and World Fantasy awards. When not buried in books about Mughal miniatures and Abbasid political intrigue, she enjoys hiking, knitting, and recreating unnecessarily complicated medieval meals for her family. You can find her online at www.sachakraborty.com or on Twitter at @SAChakrabooks where she likes to talk about history, politics, and Islamic art.
HAVE YOU READ The City of Brass or The Kingdom of Copper yet?
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
 

An Innovative Genre-Bent Book // REVIEW: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Title: Four Dead Queens
Author: Astrid Scholte
Publication Date: February 13th, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Part of a Series?: No, A Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Penguin Random House International
Buy Links: Amazon IN || Barnes and Noble || Wordery || Foyles || Waterstones || WHSmith || Books A Million || Chapters Indigo || Google Books
Blurb Description: Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead. 
With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens. 
An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queensheralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.
I don't think I've ever read a fantasy/ murder-mystery novel before, and apart from the intense positive buzz and brilliant reviews from other authors I DEEPLY ADMIRE, I think the genre-bent element of the Four Dead Queens was what made me NEED to read this book.

I'm not the biggest murder-mystery fan, but SFF is my FAVOURITE genre and I'm always looking for new twists to it. 

Four Dead Queens in a nutshell: I loved the fast pace of the book, and the alternating viewpoints and learning about the quadrants and the queens, but I feel like the structure of the book was lacking THOROUGHLY.

IN MORE DETAIL:

1) So, OBVIOUSLY going into a book with one country divided into four different parts with four queens, four mottos and four personalities/ ways of life AND SOME OTHER VIEWPOINTS was disorienting. For the first 50+ pages, I was frantically flipping back from the page I was currently reading to the one where it was all broken down to make sense of the story. I don't enjoy ANY fantasy very much when I'm in the nervous/ what is this world stage and it was the same for Four Dead Queens.

2) After the initial 50-75 pages, I got a little more comfortable with the world and started enjoying the pace and the story. Filled with short, action-packed chapters in which there was almost always a twist, development or a shocking revelation which was enjoyable.

3) I LOVED learning about the queens and seeing the quadrants through their viewpoint. As the story (and their secrets) unraveled, the book got more and more interesting.


4) I did not, however, enjoy Keralie's viewpoints much, and she had A LOT of book-time.

--a) Her backstory was filled with holes in reasoning. If she destroyed the boat (and her family business) because of which they were struggling, wouldn't they be left with nothing at all and then would REALLY DEFINITELY, BE STRUGGLING? Isn't that why it's called a livelihood? It was this event that made her leave and become a thief and enforcer and I JUST STRUGGLED TO WRAP MY HEAD AROUND THE REASONING OF IT ALL.

--b) She, really, didn't seem like a master thief. No cunning, no drive, just luck and a plot with holes.
I guess I just didn't understand her character motivations and that was quite important to me.

5) MY GOD THE STRUCTURE MADE NO SENSE. And also, the device used on the assassin to carry out the murders. I found the science, or at the very least, THE EXPLANATION NOT AT ALL SOUND. I know it was intended to shock, but it just left me confused.


Would I recommend this book? Honestly, I'm still hung up on the fact that it was a fast-paced, twist-filled novel that is also genre-bent and YES, I would recommend it despite its faults.
Astrid ScholteRaised on a diet of Spielberg, Lucas and Disney, Astrid knew she wanted to be surrounded by all things fantastical from a young age. She’s spent the last 10 years working in film, animation and television as both an artist and manager. Career highlights include working on James Cameron's AVATAR, Steven Spielberg's THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN and HAPPY FEET 2 by George Miller. She’s a visual writer and aims to capture the vivid stories that play like movies in her head. When she’s not writing, she’s painting her favorite fictional characters and obliging her furry overlords, Lilo and Mickey.

FOUR DEAD QUEENS (Putnam, Spring 2019) is her debut novel.
Have you read Four Dead Queens? What did you think of it?
Have you read any genre-bent books that you would recommend? Tell me in the comments below.