Stacking the Shelves #78

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought or received this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi everyone! I’m here with another stacking the shelves post with the books I bought or received this week. I received a few beautiful editions of a new favourite this week, and I also picked up a book for myself.

Goodreads | Waterstones

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

I picked this one up finally with a gift card that I had, as I’ve had my eye on the Waterstones exclusive paperback for a while and I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book!

Goodreads

My lovely friend Amy gifted me two copies of Gallant this week, the Illumicrate edition and the Barnes and Noble edition, with help from her friend Sam. Thank you so much to both of you, I love these copies and it’s so exciting to add to my V.E. Schwab collection!

What have you bought or received this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #76

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought or received this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi everyone! I’m doing so much better with book buying at the moment – there’s only one book I bought in the past week that I can remember, and it was a pre-order.

Goodreads | Forbidden Planet

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.
Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.
Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?

I received my second copy of Gallant, the signed Forbidden Planet edition with these beautiful black sprayed edges.

What have you bought or received this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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ARC Review: Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Goodreads | Pre-order on Waterstones

Sixteen-year-old Olivia Prior is missing three things: a mother, a father, and a voice. Her mother vanished all at once, and her father by degrees, and her voice was a thing she never had to start with.
She grew up at Merilance School for Girls. Now, nearing the end of her time there, Olivia receives a letter from an uncle she’s never met, her father’s older brother, summoning her to his estate, a place called Gallant. But when she arrives, she discovers that the letter she received was several years old. Her uncle is dead. The estate is empty, save for the servants. Olivia is permitted to remain, but must follow two rules: don’t go out after dusk, and always stay on the right side of a wall that runs along the estate’s western edge.
Beyond it is another realm, ancient and magical, which calls to Olivia through her blood…

Thank you so much to Titan for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As I’m sure many of you know, Addie Larue is my favourite book ever and I was so excited and honoured to receive a proof copy of this book! I was a little hesitant going into this one as the next book after Addie Larue, but I’ve read a few Schwab books since and I’ve definitely enjoyed them all for different reasons.

Schwab does an incredible job of writing such different plots but including the same feel and atmosphere in the writing itself. I can always feel when I’m reading a Schwab book, if that makes sense. Gallant is a YA story following Olivia, an orphan who only has a journal left of her mother. She then receives a letter from her uncle, inviting her to his estate, Gallant. When she arrives, she finds her uncle has died and the house is occupied by her cousin and the servants of the house. She remains at the estate, but is warned not cross the wall on the outskirts of the estate.

This book is kind of a mystery, kind of a horror, kind of a paranormal. It is a beautiful mixture of genres and I loved the atmosphere. It creeped me out in ways that I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as I was reading it, and I definitely had chills. It also reads kind of like a fairytale, and was reminiscent of The Secret Garden with darker undertones.

This book was very character driven and has a slow plot, but I still found it very quick and easy to read. It’s full of illustrations and extracts from Olivia’s mother’s journal, which I loved and were so beautifully complimentary to the story.

I really loved this book and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read it, and my only complaint is I wanted more. This book just didn’t feel long enough to me in places, and I wanted more detail, more emotional connection to the characters and more of the book overall. Although I don’t think anything will beat Addie Larue, or will be difficult to beat, I did still really enjoy this one.

★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Extraordinary (#1.5) by V.E. Schwab

Goodreads | Waterstones

Torn from the world of ‘Vicious’, where death is not the end, only the beginning of extraordinary powers… Three new “EO”s must grapple with their new abilities… and with those who would hunt them down! Featuring unseen character design galleries from Andrea Olimpieri and story commentary from V.E. Schwab! 

Although this book is 1.5 in the Villains series (setting it between Vicious and Vengeful), this book can be read before, during or after the series. My boyfriend Mark read this without having read any other books in the series and actually really enjoyed it, but it will give you minor spoilers for the other two books.

I read this book a couple of days after finishing the two main novels in this series, and in a way I think this was a bit of a mistake. Still being super connected to the original story did leave me feeling disconnected and disappointed with this story. The story of Extraordinary not only shows Victor and Eli, but also introduces 3 new characters. I have no problems with this at all, but I do have a problem with how much these three new characters (Charlotte, Felix and Marshall) reflect Victor, Mitch and Sydney from the main series. I just couldn’t separate their characters in my head and couldn’t help but feel disappointed I wasn’t reading about them.

I do wish I’d waited a little to read this, as I definitely feel like I’d have a different experience if I didn’t have the emotional connection to the found family character group in the original story. But I’d definitely like to re-read this in the future as I did really like this story as a standalone and it feels like a great balance of a new story that still reflects the original.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Vengeful (#2) by V.E. Schwab

Goodreads | Waterstones

Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine.
But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought—and will use her new-found power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other.
With Marcella’s rise, new enmities create opportunity–and the stage of Merit City will once again be set for a final, terrible reckoning. 

I was so hesitant to go into this one after the first book in the series ended up being my first 5 star read of 2022. But even though I didn’t quite end up rating this one 5 stars, it was pretty darn close. I loved the first book so much and this one is no different. The audiobook was, again, brilliant. The short chapters kept me hooked and the addition of a new character in Marcella kept the story interesting and fresh. I love the way Schwab manages to hook me with a new story – whether that is within a book I’m already reading or the start of a new one – with just a few lines.

This book picks up soon after the first book ends, and I like how it feels like both a new plot line and so familiar because of the first book. I also love the relationships between the three main characters – Victor, Sydney and Mitch. Mitch warmed my heart so much in this book and is such a soft character, and I loved the found family aspect that shone throughout.

Maybe we are broken. But we put ourselves back together. We survived. That’s what makes us so powerful. 

I continued to love our main characters and the morally grey aspect of Victor and Eli, which I feel works when balanced out with the love I had for Sydney and Mitch. I felt so worried in this book about what would happen to the side characters rather than the two main ones.

The reason this book didn’t quite reach 5 stars for me is because the ending felt a little rushed. I also felt like we were set up to feel so much for these characters and I actually wanted a few more tense moments with them. The ending left me wanting more and wanting something just slightly different to what we received – but I do understand Schwab wants to leave the story open for future projects.

And as for family—well, blood is always family, but family doesn’t always have to be blood.

Although I had a few nit-picks with this one, the concerns I had were so minimal and I still absolutely adored this series. It’s such a creative one that I know I’ll be recommending to everybody!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Vicious (#1) by V.E. Schwab

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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?

It’s time to talk about my first 5 star read of 2022, and it’s no surprise that it’s a V.E. Schwab book! I’ve been slowly making my way through buddy reading some more of her books with Alex, and I’m so glad we finally picked up Vicious. Schwab has this incredible skill of writing completely unique stories with a writing style that feels equally different in each book/series and familiar. I love diving into new books by her and picking up a new story knowing I never know what to expect.

This story is different from anything by Schwab I’ve read before, and I really loved the premise. This one is a gritty story following two college roommates who become extra-ordinaries, and ten years later are trying to track each other down as enemies. The chapters switch between many different time periods, from present day to 10 years before and pretty much anywhere in between, and I was so surprised at how easy it was to follow – it really requires some skill to write like that.

Plenty of humans were monstrous,

Schwab writes amazing morally grey characters and I loved reading about them in this book. Although I can never decide whether I want to root for the characters, there are definitely a couple of characters in this series who I liked, and I want to get behind as I go into Vengeful.

The writing in this is immaculate, and I absolutely loved the audiobook too. The narrator did an incredible job of reading this and fit the book so well. I couldn’t stop listening to this book and I found myself becoming so involved in the story easily.

and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.

I firmly believe this is the superhero book that everyone needs. The short chapters make it addictive, with a fast paced plot and easy-to-read writing. I know I’ll be recommending it to everybody!

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: A Conjuring of Light (#3) by V.E. Schwab

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Goodreads | Waterstones

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.
WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay. 

This book is the final and concluding in a 3 part series from V.E. Schwab, and one I’ve been meaning to read for a very long time. I’ve been listening to this entire series partly on audiobook and partly reading the physical copies, and I have to say the audiobooks improved drastically as the series went on. I also read these with Alex, and it was great to have the motivation to read these as the last one is particularly chunky!

I really loved how the plots varied throughout this whole series. The first one was so different it almost stood as a standalone, and the other two seemed to have a more continuous plot, but still felt separate enough to keep things interesting. It definitely meant the whole series kept a fast pace and felt interesting throughout, rather than one feeling like a bridge book between the other two.

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. 

I loved the characters and I definitely grew closer to them as the series went on, but it was also the most disappointing part for me. I just felt like I could have had an ever so slightly closer connection to them, and I just wanted to feel more emotion towards them in parts when I really felt like I should have done. I still loved the characters, but I couldn’t help but compare them to Six of Crows, another third person point of view fantasy with a found family aspect.

This last book did feel quite long, but it was well balanced. In places it almost felt like it was a little too long, but it definitely didn’t feel like a slog or a struggle to read in any way. The writing was absolutely amazing and was probably my favourite aspect of the entire series – these books have some brilliant quotes!

But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed reading this series but it didn’t quite reach 5 stars for me because I wanted to feel slightly more emotional than I did. However, I’d still highly recommend them!

★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: A Gathering of Shadows (#2) by V.E. Schwab

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Goodreads | Waterstones

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.
Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

I’ve been reading this series as a buddy read with Alex which has been so much fun so far. Once again, I partly listened to this one on audio and the audiobook for this one was so much better than the first book. Instead of just having one narrator like in A Darker Shade of Magic, we have a male and a female narrator in this one and it really helped the story. I found it a lot easier to focus on the audiobook with multiple narrators and I wasn’t distracted by the voices.

We start the book on Lila’s point of view which I loved. Even though this book is in third person, there’s definitely a distinct separation between the characters that are being focused on and the narrator does change in the audiobook depending on it. I definitely have found myself enjoying Lila’s points of view more.

Kell would say it was impossible. 

Something I found myself absolutely loving about this book and the series in general is the fact this book has a very separate plot line from the first book. I often find second books in series can fall into being a bridge book between the first and third book, or just continue on and drag out the plot from the first. Without spoiling this book as it is the second in the series, this book follows a game called the Element Games or the Essen Tasch, which was so much fun to read about.

I found this one very fast paced again, which I’m glad about because the third and final book in this series is thick and I’m glad I’m not too daunted about going into it. I really like the characters but as with the first book, I did want a little more tension between them and a little more interaction to keep me interested in their relationship.

What a useless word, in a world with magic.

Overall, this was such a good second book in a series and there’s so much to enjoy. I’m very excited to finish off this series and see where A Conjuring of Light goes!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: A Darker Shade of Magic (#1) by V.E. Schwab

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers – magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There’s Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There’s Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London…

Apparently I’m on a morally grey character kick at the moment, but I’m so glad I finally picked up this book. I actually tried to read this one a couple of years ago, but I got around 60 pages in and realised it wasn’t quite the right time for me to pick it up. I’m so glad I waited, as I definitely enjoyed it more now I’m reading more fantasy as I understood it a lot easier!

There’s definitely something so unique about Schwab’s stories and I loved the concept of having multiple London’s that each had their own features. I read this one with Alex and I read the sections so quickly each day. I read a mixture of physical reading and listening to the audiobook, which was a mixed experience. The audiobook was good, but the narrator didn’t quite fit for Lila’s parts and I did prefer reading it physically.

I’d rather die on an adventure

The plot was super quick to get through and full of action and adventure which I loved. I can already tell this series is going to be a quick and entertaining one to read as we go on! I really like the characters as even though they’re very morally grey, I like the portrayal of their vulnerabilities and they seemed very real to me.

I like how the romance didn’t take centre stage in the story and didn’t feel very lovey-dovey, but I did miss a sense of tension that might have come with the closeness of the characters. I feel like one of the only things missing out of this book was the stakes sometimes feeling lower because of it.

than live standing still.

I’m super excited to see where this series is going to go and I’m so happy to be reading something else by V.E. Schwab!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Bridge of Souls (#3) by V.E. Schwab

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Where there are ghosts, Cassidy Blake follows … unless it’s the other way around?
Cass thinks she might have this ghost-hunting thing down. After all, she and her ghost best friend, Jacob, have survived two haunted cities while travelling for her parents’ TV show.
But nothing can prepare Cass for New Orleans, which wears all of its hauntings on its sleeve. In a city of ghost tours and tombs, raucous music and all kinds of magic, Cass could get lost in all the colourful, grisly local legends. And the city’s biggest surprise is a foe Cass never expected to face: a servant of Death itself.

I’ve read this whole series with Alex from Alex’s Books on YouTube, and I’ve had so much fun! Neither of us had read the final book in the trilogy, Bridge of Souls before, and were super excited to finish off the series. I honestly believe this one was my favourite in the series and the adventures of Cassidy and Jacob get more entertaining and heartfelt with every book.

All of these books score 10 points for atmosphere, and this one was no different. I loved the setting of New Orleans and I feel like V.E. Schwab has written all of these books so visually. Just as with Edinburgh in City of Bones and Paris in Tunnel of Bones, I could picture New Orleans perfectly, especially the French Quarter.

Death will come for us again, one way or another.

The characters are such a joy to read about and I love the friendship Cassidy has with Jacob, who is a ghost. This made for an interesting part of the story as we found out more about their dynamic. I even got a little teary and emotional at the end of the book. I also love how Lara has remained a friend throughout this entire series!

This was another one day read for me, as all of these books have been. I read each one on audio and physical format, and this one was no different. I love the writing in all of these and found each hard to put down. All of these books have been creepy, but this one was by far the creepiest. I love the level these books have achieved in being just scary enough to still be very enjoyable to read, with just the right amount of chills.

We can’t live in fear of it. That’s no way to live at all.

I wish there was going to be more books in this series as I’d definitely read more about their adventures, but we shall see!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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