Review: Monsters of Verity Duology by Victoria Schwab

Alexis, wearing a green flannel, holds a up a Kindle copy of This Savage Song in front of a fenceline and an autumn forest.

Alexis:

I have to admit: Schwab’s books are either a hit or miss for me, and I’ve avoided reading more of her books for that reason.

But I think This Savage Song, the first in the duology, is my favorite of hers so far!

It follows two juniors in high school named Kate and August, in an apocalyptic America that’s been divided into territories and overrun with monsters born from violence.

Kate is the daughter of Harker, who rules one side of the city of Verity, and August’s father is Flynn, who rules the other side. Kate does her best to get kicked out of every boarding school her father has dumped her in, in an attempt to come home to Verity. When Kate finally returns to Verity, August is enrolled into her high school, his enemy’s high school, in order to spy on her.

But here’s the thing: August isn’t actually human, no matter how hard he tries to be. He’s a Sunai, and he can reap souls through music, with his violin. 

I loved the gritty, urban feel of this book. Schwab’s writing style definitely works the best with this kind of book (as opposed to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, which is a lot less punchy and to the point, and instead very flowery). And I’m always a sucker for a dual POV.

August was by far my favorite character in this book. I loved his personality, and how he tries his best to balance who he wants to be with his monster side. And his musical, monster-y superpower was so interesting to read about. He’s such a wholesome and well-rounded character.

Kate is a great character, too. Schwab did a great job of writing how her past trauma impacted her and continues to influence her character. She’s a strong badass with a soft side, and she and August’s personalities mesh well together. 

Though a long book, the pacing was great, and I loved the survival plotline. 

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 

Our Dark Duet

I flew through this book because I wanted to know what happened. That being said, it just felt a little disjointed, especially in comparison to the first one. The gritty vibes were all there, all good, and I really liked Kate’s character arc.

I liked August’s character arc, too, but I felt like we didn’t get to see his transformation, while we got scenes in the beginning explaining and detailing how Kate got to where she is.

The plot was a little bit frustrating, mostly because there was one monster that appears and is never explained/explored enough, so that I was left with a lot of questions. But mostly, I enjoyed this book overall…if it wasn’t for the ending.

It was a very specific kind of ending that I really, really don’t like. It’s totally a personal preference, but for me, it just kind of ruined the story.

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐

Overall, if you’re looking for a gritty, YA urban fantasy, definitely pick this up! Now, the question is: should I finally read A Darker Shade of Magic?

Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

A Kindle copy of Sorcery of Thorns is being pulled out of a black bookshelf, with a candle resting behind it.

Alexis:

Sorcery of Thorns is one of those books that I had no interest in reading. Why? For some reason, I got it into my head that I wouldn’t like Rogerson’s writing style. But when I saw that the e-book was available through my library, I thought, Why not?

The beginning was a little slow, and it took me a while to get into it. But this story really is a love letter to books, and I love the way Rogerson describes the beautiful libraries. I love how the books are alive, sometimes lovely and sometimes gruesome. I love how Elisabeth, the main character, can talk to the books. 

The characters in this story really shine. Nathaniel is a sorcerer who Elisabeth stumbles upon (actually, she nearly kills him when she accidentally topples an entire bookshelf). His dialogue is hilarious, and his character is so well-rounded and fun to read. His demon/servant, Silas, is an equally great character, as stoic as Nathaniel is snarky; it also helps that he can turn into a cat.

Despite the wonderful characterization, sometimes I wanted to know more of Elisabeth’s internal thoughts, but if you’re looking to read about a tall, bookish, sword-wielding character learning to navigate the world around her, she’s your girl.

This was so close to being a 5 star read. However, the story did go on a little long. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of how Rogerson executed the ending, which felt like a deus ex machina, on top of being rushed in comparison to the rest of the book. However, I loved the characters and I enjoyed reading this so much!

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

DNF: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

A Kindle cover of Girl, Serpent, Thorn, is held up in front of a Good Morning mug and a small pot of yellow flowers.

Alexis:

The goods news: I’m officially done with grad school! I don’t graduate until next week, but I finished classes, my comprehensive exams, and turned in my thesis! I feel like I’ve been in school forever, so it’s a bit strange but exciting at the same time.

The not-so-great news: I had to DNF Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust. It’s been on my TBR for a long time, so I was excited to pick it up. It’s a Persian retelling of Sleeping Beauty, which sounds right up my alley.

This is not a bad book by any means. However, I just don’t think it’s for me.

The pacing was rather slow, which I don’t mind as long as I enjoy the characters. But I got 50% through the book and realized I didn’t care as much about the characters as I should. The writing style also wasn’t my favorite, and I had a hard time visualizing the world and a lot of what was going on. The actual plot was interesting, but I kept having to put this one down, and I decided it was best to DNF.

Maybe I’ll try picking up a physical copy sometime, and see if that helps move things along!

Review: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Alexis:

I don’t usually read romance books, but I’ve had so much intense reading for class lately that I needed a fun book to read as a distraction!

The Spanish Love Deception follows Catalina, a Spanish woman living in NYC. Her sister is getting married back home in Spain, and Lina promised to bring her boyfriend as her date to the wedding. The only problem: she doesn’t have a boyfriend. But her coworker, Aaron, convinces her to take him along, and pretend to be her boyfriend.

What I liked:

The dialogue was fun, snappy, and playful. Lina and Aaron are foils to each other in many ways; Lina is loud and talkative, and Aaron is serious and quiet. Their relationship is fun to read about, and I enjoyed the dynamic between them, as well as Lina’s dynamic with her family.

The romance takes a while to happen (definitely a slow burn) but it was written well (it does get steamy!)

What I didn’t like:

The book went on a little long. I definitely think 100-200 pages could’ve easily been condensed or cut out. Because of this, the writing, including Lina’s internal narrative, often feels repetitive. We see Aaron’s description literally every chapter; I got a little tired of reading about his blue/ocean eyes and huge/bulky physique.

That being said, if you’re looking for a fun romance, specifically enemies to lovers, an office romance, and the fake dating trope, consider picking this one up.

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐