Review: Vengeful (Villains #2) by V.E. Schwab

Goodreads: Vengeful (Villains #2)
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

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.

Holy heck. What can I even say?! I loved Vicious but I’m surprised to say that I might love Vengeful even more?! I just finished reading it earlier today (when I wrote this on Saturday) so my thoughts are still a jumbled mess but I’m going to at least try writing something semi-coherent. Also, sorry but there will be spoilers for Vicious as this picks up after that!

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Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn – #BookReview

Goodreads: Love Lettering
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid…

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late…

Oh my heart… I can’t even with this book and how it’s made me feel!!! I knew I was going to enjoy this but I didn’t think that I’d fall so hard and fast (after a slightly rocky start) for Meg and Reid, and their love story. Swoonsh, indeed! I literally just finished this book two minutes ago (when I reviewed this on Monday…) and my heart is still soaring and I don’t know if I’ll be able to write a coherent review but I’m going to try anyway!

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#TopTenTuesday: Five-Star Predictions on my TBR!

It’s that time of the week again, friends! We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: books on my TBR I predict will be five star reads!

I’ve just been thinking about the books I’ve been reading lately and… I’m kind of shook to realise that I haven’t really been giving out a whole lot of 5★ ratings to my reads lately. It’s funny because prior to joining the book community I’m pretty sure that the majority of my ratings were 4★s or 5★s… It makes me wonder whether I’ve not become more critical of the books I read or am I just not as easy to please as I was before? These thoughts actually made me realise how difficult this week’s TTT prompt is for me. It took some stewing over my want-to-read list but I think I’m happy with these predictions…

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Under the Cottonwood Tree: El Susto de la Curandera – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview

Goodreads: Under the Cottonwood Tree: El Susto de la Curandera
Publish date: 15 December 2019
Publisher: North Fourth Publishing
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Panda Rating:

In the deep confines of the beautiful and majestic Rio Grande bosque, a fable is told of a simpler time concerning the rich tri-cultural communities of New Mexico. Join brothers Amadeo and Carlos Lucero in this enchanting story of magic and adventure. Discover how the power of love and family triumphs and turns an old witch back into a healer.

This was an absolutely delightful tale of family, friendship, grief and love that is richly infused with Mexican folklore and culture. I knew I would love this graphic novel the minute I started reading it! This was a very fast-paced read and I easily read it one sitting (mostly because I didn’t want to put it down). The personal touches in both the foreword and afterword made me enjoy this more, as reading the history of how this story came to be and the authors’ personal connections with their own curanderas showed how much the story meant to them.

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Great Alone
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Rating:

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

Kristin Hannah is fast becoming an absolute favorite. This was my second book of hers, the first being The Nightingale, and both have been solid five star reads for me. She has a way of making me feel a deep emotional connection and investment in her characters and their lives. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a big crier and in this book, once the tears started at about the 80% mark, they pretty much kept flowing until the end. Hannah paints an enchanting and terrifying portrait of the Alaskan wild, and a family that struggles with the darkness in their lives that mirrors their surrounding environment.

“This state, this place, is like no other. It is beauty and horror; savior and destroyer. Here, where survival is a choice that must be made over and over, in the wildest place in America, on the edge of civilization, where water in all its forms can kill you, you learn who you are. Not who you dreamed of being, not who you imagined you were, not who you were raised to be. All of that will be torn away in the months of icy darkness, when frost on the windows blurs your view and the world gets very small and you stumble into the truth of your existence. You learn what you will do to survive.”

It’s a beautifully written, intensely atmospheric and heartbreaking story of family, love, hope and survival. I thought Hannah’s writing style in this was a lot more descriptive than in The Nightingale, but it isn’t over done and you don’t get bogged down with all the information about a place you almost can’t imagine because of how wild and foreign it is. The writing really helped me immerse myself in the Alaskan setting, which obviously plays a very significant part of the story. I honestly can’t imagine this book being set anywhere else.

“… home was not just a cabin in a deep woods that overlooked a placid cove. Home was a state of mind, the peace that came from being who you were and living an honest life.” 

As much as the setting makes the story, so did the characters and I really loved (almost) all of them. Leni was a beautiful main character. Her growth throughout the story was so wonderful to experience that at times I almost felt like a proud little mama hen. That said, it was also very sad. She deals with so much loneliness and isolation, and endures many trying moments with her father, but she always proves how strong and resilient she is by finding new ways to survive. Leni’s tender and innocent love for Matthew (and his for her) was a bright light amongst the dark tones of the story, even when it set me on edge sometimes because I just knew something bad was going to happen (I was right 90% of the time btw). On the other hand, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated with Cora. I’m sorry if it sounds harsh, but Cora was weak and what made it worse was that she would often be purposefully provocative in public! Why would you not only put yourself in that situation but risk putting your daughter in danger with that kind of destructive behavior? Cora and Ernt’s relationship was so incredibly toxic and felt extremely suffocating at times. They were such selfish and immature characters and my heart really broke for Leni because she was such a good, loving and kind daughter.

Although the Allbright’s take center stage, I thought the other characters were also well developed. Matthew Walker, Large Marge and Tom Walker were such heartwarming characters and I became so attached to all of them. We learn about their ‘before-Alaska’ lives and their family history which really made connecting with them even easier. Though sometimes that made this an even more difficult read to get through because there’s so much emotion involved, and it already isn’t an easy read to begin with. A lot of bad things happen through the majority of this book, but I will say that the heartache, frustration and fear is so incredibly worth it in the end. 

There was so much life in this novel, I know that I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. Kristin Hannah is a wonderful storyteller and I’m sorry that I don’t have better words to describe what an amazing book this is and all the things it’s made me feel. You just have to read it for yourself, but be prepared for your feelings to get put through a shredder! Content warning: physical abuse, alcoholism, PTSD

Have you read The Great Alone? Loved it? Hated it? Meh about it?
Leave a comment below and let’s chat! 🙂