Salutations everyone! I hope you’re doing well and that your day is being gentle with you, whenever you may be reading this! Today, I’m back again with some more mini reviews. If I’m being honest, mini reviews have been a big help with holding myself accountable for getting a lot of my reviews out. They’ve also been allowing me to breathe a bit easier. I tend to write really long reviews (looking at my review of Famine) and sometimes I can stress myself out over it by A LOT. But I digress. January has been blessing me with so many good reads and all the reviews you’re about to read were all five stars reads for me! So I hope you enjoy my thoughts and feelings on these books! ♥
➼ The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
Buddy Read with Destiny ♥
✨ Gallant ★★★★★
Content/Trigger Warnings: Feelings of isolation, starvation, assault (physical and sexual), depictions of abuse, abusive relationship, death, grief, loss of loved ones, drugs, substance abuse, prostitution, sexism, explicit sex, depictions of depression, suicidal ideation, attempted suicide, scenes of war, brief mentions of cancer in the past
“Stories are a way to preserve one’s self. To be remembered. And to forget.”
I can’t believe I’ve been sitting on V. E. Schwab’s work for so long! If you didn’t know – hi, hello, I am baby to Schwab’s books! My first book I ever read by Schwab was Gallant and I fell madly in love with that book. So it should come as no surprise that I’m sitting here, being soft and squishy over another book by Schwab. I’m not going to lie, this book was a very emotional, fantastic way to start off 2023. It was everything. It gave me feelings of the movie, The Age of Adaline, in some ways and even still this book touched parts of my soul. This book has truly kicked the new year off with a bang!
“Never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”
✨ Addie (Adaline) LaRue – Born in a small town with all the expectations placed upon her, but Addie is a dreamer, full of curiosity and wonder. Big dreams of seeing the world, to really live outside of this small town that expects so much of her. So when Addie turns twenty-three, everyone hopeful that Addie will finally slow down, be tamed by marriage, she quickly finds out that time isn’t something she’ll ever have to worry about, ever again.
“She has gone so long without roots, she doesn’t know how to grow them anymore.
So used to losing things, she isn’t sure how to hold them.
How to make space in a world the size of herself.”
✨ Henry – A writer, working in a book store in New York, trying to live his life to the fullest. And one day he meets a girl with seven freckles, and he remembers her.
“His heart has a draft. It lets in light. It lets in storms. It lets in everything.”
✨ Luc – A god, one that you should never pray to after dark, unless you’re desperate enough to pay an unknown price.
“I am not some genie, bound to your whim.” He pushes off the tree. “Nor am I some petty forest spirit, content with granting favors for mortal trinkets. I am stronger than your god and older than your devil. I am the darkness between stars, and the roots beneath the earth. I am promise, and potential, and when it comes to playing games, I divine the rules, I set the pieces, and I choose when to play. And tonight, I say no.”
When it’s clear her time is almost up, maybe, just maybe, Addie is that willing to pay the unknown price as she runs into the forest, late one night. Willing to risk everything if it means she can escape her fate, to see her dream through, and to have a life that is truly hers. Over the course of three-hundred years, we’ll watch Adaline struggle, grow, love and fall apart. Starting in the place it all began, the small town where she was born and ending in 2014 America. We’ll watch Addie yearn to be remembered, desiring to leave some for of a mark, doing everything within her to gain knowledge and experience the world like she truly wanted, even if it hurts more times than not.
“Being forgotten, she thinks, is a bit like going mad. You begin to wonder what is real, if you are real. After all, how can a thing be real if it cannot be remembered?”
I want to take a moment to highlight Henry because I think he truly deserves a spotlight on his character. I honestly didn’t expect to love Henry as much as I did, but oh, did his character hit my heart so hard with all the feelings and emotions. I have never wanted to go feral and protect a character as much as I did with Henry. While I think Addie and Luc felt very realistic (yes, even Luc, despite him being a god), there was something so raw about his character. I think readers are going to feel that ‘hits close to home’ kind of feeling with his character. Being unsure of what you want out of life, feeling something is wrong with you, or feeling like you’re not good enough, not doing enough… Feeling like no one will ever be able to love you with their whole chest, to love you unconditionally… Henry as a character hits the nail on the head and even more so if you’re in your twenties, fresh out of high school, starting life. It hits like a ton of bricks and Schwab didn’t hold back when she wrote Henry’s character and the way he struggles with mental health. And I’m so glad, so grateful Schwab let us fall in love with Henry as much as we get to fall in love with Addie.
“It is just a storm, he tells himself, but he is tired of looking for shelter. It is just a storm, but there is always another waiting in its wake.”
And while I love Addie and Henry a whole lot, we have one more character we still need to talk about, Luc, the god Addie made a deal with. Now, I do love Luc’s character. However, surprisingly, I didn’t love him as much as I thought I would. Also, let me emphasize that the relationship between Luc and Addie, their three-hundred-year deal, is not a healthy relationship, at all. There’s a huge power imbalance between the two of them and Addie has to constantly fight to gain even the tiniest bread crumb of power for herself. We see the way Luc and Addie’s relationship morphs, grows, and constantly develop over the course of time. The reason why I didn’t like Luc as a character as much as I thought I would, it’s the fact of wanting more. Honestly, I would have loved a third perspective. I think Schwab could have written Luc’s third perspective so we could have seen his side of things. My wanting to know more of him, dampened my love for him a bit, but as a whole character, I do love him. When I think of god who fall into the grey area of not necessarily good, but not whole heartily evil, Luc comes to my mind. I also want to point out that I think Schwab left out Luc’s perspective for a reason. Everything she did with crafting and building Luc’s character felt like a deliberate way to make him charming, to be alluring, and make the reader still love him. The fact is, abusers/abusive people can be all those characteristics about them and at the end of the day still be abusers.
“You didn’t come.”
“You didn’t call.”
She looks down at their tangled hands. “Tell me, Luc,” she says.
“Was any of it real?”
“What is real to you, Adeline? Since my love counts for nothing?”
“You are not capable of love.”
He scowls, his eyes flashing emerald. “Because I am not human? Because I do not wither and die?”
“No,” she says, drawing back her hand. “You are not capable of love because you cannot understand what it is to care for someone else more than yourself. If you loved me, you would have let me go by now.”
Luc flicks his fingers. “What nonsense,” he says. “It is because I love you that I won’t. Love is hungry. Love is selfish.”
We do see Addie, Henry, and Luc all come together, watch their stories begin to unfold and how they’re all connected. And that’s all I’ll say about that. I think it’s best if you venture into the book yourself to find out want happens. What I will say, this was a wild ride and every step of the way had my breath catching in my throat.
“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives–or to find strength in a very long one.”
Overall, there’s so much more that I want to say, that I definitely shouldn’t say because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, dear reader. As I mentioned, it’s been a hot minute since a book pulled the rawest emotions from within the depths of my soul. A book that has caused me to reflect on the things I crave, what my soul truly yearns for, what it really means to be remembered. Even now my eyes are watering because this book just touched the softest parts of me. I think this book really hits the human experience, captures it in all of the rawest ways, and I think if you’re like me, reading this book when you really need it, it’s going to unravels your tangled heart. And before I forget, quotes upon quotes! I wanted to dedicate so many notebook pages just to quotes. Truly, I wish I would have read this sooner because I think this is going to be a forever favorite read of mine.
Thank you, Addie LaRue. I will always remember you. ♥
Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexual abuse, child abuse, death, brief mentions of famine, alcoholism, drug use
“This is where my lesson was learned: pain is to be expected, courage is to be welcomed. There is no choice but to endure. There is no other way than to renounce self-doubt. It is the time of the Dawning in more ways than one. The sun can rise, and so can I”
This book has been on my ‘want to read’ list for what feels like ages and after much time has passed, I finally got my hands on a hardback copy! I knew I would love this book, but I didn’t expect it to pull so many emotions from me. At the end, I not only loved this book, but oof, my heart! I think this might be the most beautifully haunting book I’ve read thus far.
Before I give my initial thoughts, I want to put a heavy, HEAVY emphasis on the themes of sexual abuse in this book. This is a consistent theme throughout these pages and as far as the physical book copy goes, there are no mentions of trigger warnings. Like I have listed above, I just really wanted to spotlight this in case anyone was considering picking this book up. To give you the gentle reminder to check in with your mental health before picking this book up.
My experience is a little different compared to most readers. A lot of reviews I’ve seen have been for the audiobook and sadly, I can’t make any comments about the throat singing that is featured in the audiobook. However, I love the fact that the extra mile was taken to feature throat singing and I wish more Native/Indigenous literature, in audiobook format, went that extra mile.
“There are secrets hidden in our flesh. Our cells being born and dying with the same force that makes galaxies form and deconstruct.”
Prepare for a haunting, bone chilling reading experience as this book isn’t for the faint of heart. Set in the northern parts of Canada, we read passages of mixed media, of surviving in the Great North. Told in first person, we’re taken to a place where empathy for others is scarce and one must do whatever it takes to survive. A place where sexual abuse is common and part of a young girl’s “normal” sexual development, where death looms in this disguise of ice, and where fox populations can get immense that they starve and start attacking children. No, this place is cruel in more ways than one, but also chillingly beautiful. Tagaq recounts everything clearly, like it happened yesterday, and with almost a young girlish wonder. Though at times disconcerting with how you should feel after such passages.
Though this book is haunting and beautiful, it’s incredibly powerful, jarring, and incredibly important. If you miss the dedication, this is a reminder that this book is dedicated to Murder & Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, 2S and to residential school survivors. This dedication is an echoed reminder, constantly, throughout this book and just adds to the various amounts of emotions you’ll experience while reading/listening. Tagaq does an incredible job taking those important themes, weaving them throughout the book with culture and mythology.
Overall, I’m being careful not to say too much when it comes to this book. I think the best way to read this book is going into this is just knowing the content warnings and then diving in. Will it make sense? Possibly not. Will you feel like you’ve been swept in a whirlwind of things unfolding? Absolutely! As an Apache Native, did I fully understand everything I was reading? Not always, but oh was I swept away by everything this book is, everything laced throughout, and yes, I did cry more than once. This book will stick with me for a long time and even now I’m still thinking about it. I do want to recommend the audiobook, though, especially now knowing that there is throat singing. I think it’ll add an element that the physical book is lacking. So do check it out especially if you’ve never heard any throat singing before.
➼ I Am a Cat Barista, Vol. 1 by Hiro Maijima
What a purrfect manga to pick up after a long, stressful day! Pun intended! Truly, this was such a lovely manga to curl up and unwind with. Like drinking a big mug of hot chocolate on a chilly winter day, this book warmed my heart. Can you tell that I need more slice of life manga in my life? Because I sure can!
There’s a café that only appears to those who truly need it. Worn out from work, stressed and overwhelmed by school, or various other things that may make us feel heavy. Staffed by the talking cat barista, who everyone refers to as Master, which pays homage to his position as the only barista at the café than anything else. Offering a place where patrons of the weary and troubled can take the time to rest a while, and receive advice with the Café Hachiware’s Special drink.
If you love slice of life manga then this will be the great read for you. I went into this book not really looking for a solid storyline, but something more casual, cozy, and light-hearted. And that’s exactly what I got! As I mentioned above, this was the perfect light read to unwind with and I’m glad I chose to read this at night, as I was settling down for sleep because it helped me relax.
If I had to fault this book for anything that I think other readers won’t enjoy, it would be the fact that there’s not a big difference in each chapter. The only chapter that really stands out the most is chapter 5: Ashio Miyako and Her Lost Cat. This chapter stands out the most due to the main character, the cat barista doing something outside of just giving sage advice and a beverage to serve the person’s woes. Otherwise, all the other stories take on the pattern of someone comes in, sits down, gets some wisdom and the special beverage, and then you move to the next chapter. I will say, the chapter where the cat barista goes to meet a friend also stands out. That chapter was interesting and I hope in future volumes we get to see their friendship explored a little more.
Overall, this was the kind of manga I’ve been looking for recently. A light-hearted, cozy read that I can unwind with, but also can see myself rereading in the future. This was the perfect fit for me! Again, if you like slice of life books then I definitely encourage you to pick this manga up! It’s so cute, so wholesome, and just lovely to read!