This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

“I mean, most people want to escape. Get out of their heads. Out of their lives. Stories are the easiest way to do that.”

I’ve had three experiences with V. E. Schwab’s books. The first was The Archived duo, which was interesting enough to read; then came Vicious, but considering I’d been in a terrible slump, it was left to try again another day; finally, in the past few weeks, I read This Savage Song and was convinced to not only go back to the book I abandoned, but also read the others.

There is a city overrun with monsters and war, and that city is separated by its heirs, August Flynn and Kate Harker. The former just wants to be human, whilst the former wants to be as ruthless as her father. But after an assassination attempt, and despite the line that divides them, the two must come together and flee for their lives.

First off, the world-building, otherwise known as a stable balance between not enough and too much. It wasn’t overwhelming for me to understand, and the creatures and settings were what made this so impressive. That itself also never strayed into graphic detail; it wasn’t needed, holding onto an underlying creepiness and intensity to keep one hooked. I’m still asking myself the questions about what the sequel will hold which, even though the story can end as is, doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to the future instalment.  Continue reading

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

“It’s beginning to feel like he’s shuffling his way through the seven deadly sins, in ascending order of my favourites.”

When first hearing about The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue I did the forbidden and judged the book by its cover – assuming it would be the typical drama – until I delved into reviews and found out it was part of the LGBT genre. Pleasantly surprised would be an understatement of how this novel turned out, more so impressed and highly enjoyable.

It takes place in England (and Paris, Barcelona, among several other countries), following Monty, the bisexual lead, Percy, the other lead and gay black man, and Felicity, sister of Monty and follow adventurer to their story. Amidst their tour of Europe and what was supposed to be time for drinking and fun, they become dragged into a whirlwind of danger and risk, romance and conflict, turning their trip into one harrowing and unforgettable quest.

To begin with, there are trigger warnings to be aware of, including racism, sexism, homophobia, slavery, and child abuse, the former specifically shown using slurs. Whilst I sometimes believe these issues can be shown without using that language, in this case, it is in moderation and consideration of the context they’re used in. In terms of approaching sexuality, it is clear that is one of the reasons why this book has been well-received, taking into account the impressions and laws of society during that time and still managing to make the relationship between Monty and Percy (and their sexualities) open without making it so modern that it feels out-of-place for that time. Continue reading

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The Guilt of a Burnout

Exactly what it says on the tin: the inevitable emotion of guilt when facing a burnout.

Ridiculous, yes? You’ve been writing a story, absorbed by excitement and curiosity, until come a while down the line you’re stopped by the burnout. Boredom and exhaustion replaces the positivity, and yet despite the knowledge that it isn’t your fault, part of you still feels guilty for allowing it to happen.

My burnout has lasted a week. I’d decided to attempt a novelette – a way to build myself up to a novel one day, what with writing short stories only for the better part of a year – and had a solid idea. At first, with any new shiny thing, you can’t stop thinking or writing about it, but then it creeps its way in, taking you by surprise because you thought there’d be no way, with your enthusiasm, it would happen again. But it does. And yet again all the shit washes over you. You’re frustrated, restless, unable to write a single sentence without hating it (if you can write one at all), distracted by stress so even when you try to relax you can’t. You wonder if you’ll ever make it out. You did before, but maybe not this time.

What do you do? Do you bite the bullet and carry on, even though each word you type is almost painful? Do you take a break, even though sometimes it doesn’t always work, returning to the dreaded document with less motivation than before? I attempted both, and of course it hasn’t helped since I’m writing this blog post. But, ironically – if it is ironic, I’m hazy on the definition still – writing this blog post has helped. Not entirely. I’m still not keen on returning to my novelette, or any writing for that matter, but at least by writing something different offers some refreshment. Continue reading

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