Today, I’m reviewing an adult contemporary/historical fantasy (Surprise! I don’t review adult books here on the blog often), a YA and a MG contemporary fantasy, and a MG steampunk fantasy. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Illustrator: Julia Lloyd
Published by Macmillan Audio on October 6, 2020
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Length: 17 hours and 10 minutes
Source: Library, The Publisher
My content rating: Adult (Themes of Suicidal Thoughts, Drug Use, Violence, Some Sex)
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.
I know I don’t review many adult books here on the blog anymore, but I couldn’t resist mentioning this one. And since so many of my YA blogger friends read V.E. Schwab, it seemed natural to include a review for her adult title.
I absolutely loved this book! First of all, Schwab’s lyrical prose is utterly gorgeous. The book flips back and forth between Addie’s early life in the 1700s to her life in the present day. While I’m not typically a huge fan of historical fiction, the fantastical element (and beautiful writing) lured me in, and I found myself swept away by Addie’s story from the very beginning. Her “invisible” life is beyond intriguing, and I loved the way Schwab included aspects of this curse I didn’t immediately think of. There are so many repercussions, not just the obvious ones. Once Henry comes into the picture I found myself drawn to him as well, and I especially loved the mystery of what his particular curse entailed (I did figure out pretty quickly that he had one, but the details are enticingly scattered throughout the story). By the end of the book, I was left feeling both breathless and deeply moved. This sweeping saga takes a little more patience than your typical YA fare, but fans of Schwab will not be disappointed!
Narration: I ended up listening to the audiobook version (even though I’ve had an ARC on my shelf for ages—sigh). Julia Whelan’s narration style is perfect for both the lyricism and modern dialogue in the book.
***Disclosure: I won an ARC of this book from the publisher. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer
Published by Macmillan Audio on November 3, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: 14 hours and 14 minutes
Cover Artist: Vera Brosgol
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
In this contemporary romance with a bit of magic, chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, during a night out with her friends, she slips on a spilled drink and hits her head, only to wake up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire — Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Over the course of a summer, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed... love and hate.
Instant Karma is an alluring enemies-to-lovers YA romance with a dash of the supernatural added into the mix. Prudence is used to getting things done, her way. She has no time or patience for slackers, which is exactly how she sees her biology partner Quint. So when the teacher gives them a C on their final project because of a lack of cohesiveness, Pru isn’t just mad, she’s determined. She is going to work with Quint—or work around him—and raise her grade, no matter what. This leads to her volunteering at a marine animal rescue center and learning a whole lot more about both Quint and the delicate ecological balance of our world than she bargained for. Sometimes I read enemies-to-lovers books where it’s hard for me to root for the guy in the relationship because he just comes off as a jerk. This was not the case here; in fact, Pru is definitely the less likable character and it took me a while to get on board with her because she’s so self-centered and controlling (and sometimes downright mean). But it says a lot about Meyer’s writing that she took a truly flawed character and got me invested in her story anyway. The true story is about Pru’s growth as a human being and how she starts to realize that maybe others have more to offer her than she gave them credit for. Honestly, the whole karma part of the storyline is relatively small and probably my least favorite element, but it was woven into the plot in some interesting ways in the end. If you’re a fan of Meyer’s writing and also enjoy contemporaries, I recommend giving this book a listen (it’s narrated by Rebecca Soler, who narrates all of Meyer’s books. LOVE her!).
Inkling by Kenneth Oppel
Illustrator: Sydney Smith
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers on November 6, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Middle Grade
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: MG (Some minor violence)
From the acclaimed author of The Nest, The Boundless, and Airborn comes a brilliantly funny, breakout book about a boy who discovers an ink blot that's come to life! Perfect for those who love Hoot and Frindle and sure to be a hit with kids everywhere!
The Rylance family is stuck. Dad's got writer's block. Ethan promised to illustrate a group project at school--even though he can't draw. Sarah's still pining for a puppy. And they all miss Mom. So much more than they can say.
Enter Inkling. Inkling begins life in Mr. Rylance's sketchbook. But one night the ink of his drawings runs together--and then leaps off the page! This small burst of creativity is about to change everything.
Ethan finds him first. Inkling has absorbed a couple chapters of his math book--not good--and the story he's supposed to be illustrating for school--also not good. But Inkling's also started drawing the pictures to go with the story--which is amazing! It's just the help Ethan was looking for! Inkling helps the rest of the family too--for Sarah he's a puppy. And for Dad he's a spark of ideas for a new graphic novel. It's exactly what they all want.
It's not until Inkling goes missing that this family has to face the larger questions of what they--and Inkling--truly need.
Kenneth Oppel has given us a small masterpiece of middle-grade fiction. Inkling is funny and fizzy and exciting, and brimming with the kind of interesting ideas and dilemmas that kids will love to wrestle with. And Sydney Smith is creating wonderfully inky illustrations to bring the story to vivid life. Get ready. A little ink blot is about to become your new favorite character!
This gleefully illustrated adventure tells the tale of artistic musings come to life! When Ethan struggles to complete the art portion of a group project for school, he feels like a failure. After all, his dad is a renowned comic book artist; surely Ethan should have inherited some of that talent. But his dad hasn’t created anything recently either—not since Ethan’s mom’s death, which has left his dad reeling. Then one day, a magical inkblot comes to life from one of Ethan’s dad’s sketchbooks. The inkblot is an answer to a prayer for Ethan as it helps him complete the art for his project, and it just might be able to jumpstart Ethan’s dad’s creativity as well. The pacing in this book is great–Inkling’s capers are highly entertaining and the illustrations throughout the book are equally fun. The plot involves plenty of suspense (especially when Inkling ends up in some serious danger), but Ethan’s and his dad’s struggles with grief are also woven into the story in surprising and thought-provoking ways. The end result is a book brimming with both adventure and heart!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Kingdom of Secrets by Christyne Morrell
Published by Delacorte Press on August 3, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Cover Artist: Emma Cormarie
My content rating: MG (Some minor violence)
When her father is arrested for a crime she committed, Prismena will do anything to save him, taking her on a high-flying and shadowy adventure in this middle-grade fantasy debut.
In the kingdom of Oren, Prismena longs to fly hot-air balloons, but her father insists she keep her feet on the ground. When he's arrested for a crime he didn't commit--and one that Prismena did--she must decide between following the rules and following her heart.
Her decision will catapult her on an adventure that challenges everything she knows about her identity, her kingdom, and even her beloved balloons.
Full of danger and intrigue, this middle-grade adventure story defies genres. I suppose you could call it a steampunk fantasy for kids? The setting is a world that seems inspired by the Victorian era, and there’s no magic involved in the book; instead, ingenuity saves the day!
The story revolves around a revolution and two girls who could not be more different. Prismena has always been a rule-follower (at least outwardly–she does have a stash of inventions that her father wouldn’t approve of), while Abi feels so strongly about her cause she would risk anything. The two of them together make an unlikely (and initially unfriendly) pair. The book builds to an exciting climax filled with revelations, betrayals, and inventive solutions to seemingly insurmountable setbacks.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***