Blog Tour: Victoria Schwab's Perfect Day IRL


Victoria’s Perfect Day IRL
It all starts with tea.
Actually, it starts by sleeping late and yet miraculously waking early, which is impossible I know but this is my perfect day so I’m going with it. Then there’s tea, a banana, and some peanut butter. Okay, to be fair, that’s how all my days start—I’m quite particular about breakfast foods—but this would be a perfect cup of tea. Then I’d sit down to the computer, and the words would just…flow. Without having to shore myself up against self-doubt, without checking email and websites and other forms of avoidance. I’d write all morning, and get my words down before lunch. Then I’d watch an episode of the Flash, eat a sandwich, and take myself off to a coffee shop with friends. We wouldn’t talk much, just sit and read and be alone together (can you tell I’m an introvert). While we’re sitting there I’d see someone sitting alone in a booth, reading my book, a small smile on their face, and that moment would make everything—all those days of doubt, all the deletions, all the wondering if I’m doing the right thing—worth it. I’d swing by a bookstore on the way home, and sign some stock of my newest book, and then go home, take my dogs for a walk and think about what an amazing job I have, and answer some emails before settling in for the night to watch a show and read a book.
And here’s the thing: that day above, that’s just about a perfect day. And I’ve had it. Maybe not all at once, maybe not in that order, but I’ve had all the pieces, and they add up. Because I’m lucky enough to do this crazy, amazing, hard, wonderful job, and I’m grateful for it every day.
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A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic, #1)A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 teacups


Every night of the year, the market lived and breathed and thrived. The stalls were always changing, but the energy remained, as much a part of the city as the river it fed on. Kell traced the edge of the bank, weaving through the evening fair, savoring the taste and smell of the air, the sound of laughter and music, the thrum of magic.

I’m already a Victoria Schwab fan after reading her good vs evil superhero urban fantasy novel – Vicious – so I couldn’t wait to get reacquainted with her addictive writing style, complex characters and wonderfully-conceived fantasy worlds. As it turns out, A Darker Shade of Magic was even more than I’d expected.

This book feels more like traditional fantasy than Vicious with the style, the invention of a new language, the large cast of characters, the magic, and the focus on royal/political dynamics. And yet, to use the word “traditional” anywhere near this novel is an injustice because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

The characters are weird and colorful, somehow without feeling gimmicky. We have a protagonist – Kell – who is strong and badass enough to root for, but also complex and layered enough for us to truly care about and relate to at times. Plus, he has a coat that has many sides, which he turns around depending on how he wants to look – insane, unique, wonderful. Schwab’s imagination clearly knows no bounds.

We also have a cross-dressing pirate who happens to be a tough, infuriating and lovable female character – Lila. And a promiscuous prince, villains who are blood slaves, evil twin rulers and much more.

And then there’s this bizarre world that just played on every one of my senses. The author asks us to believe in a setting that is incredibly farfetched and yet she breathes life into this world with evocative language and makes the unbelievable something we can picture in our heads. She shares little stories from this world’s history to flesh out the picture:


The infamous Krös Mejkt, the “Stone Forest,” was made up not of trees but of statues, all of them people. It was rumored the figures hadn’t always been stone, that the forest was actually a graveyard, kept by the Danes to commemorate those they killed, and remind any who passed through the outer wall of what happened to traitors in the twins’ London.

What’s all this about the “twins’ London”? Well, in this world there are four different versions of London that only the Antari like Kell can move between. Technically, there are only three these days because Black London fell, consumed by its own misuse of magic. The others are Grey London (the one we know), Red London (the one Kell is from) and White London (ruled over by the sadistic Danes twins).

Everyone, it seems, is out to use magic for their own selfish goals in this book. And when a mysterious relic from Black London – a relic that should have been destroyed – reappears, Kell and Lila must do what they can to protect it from all those who wish to claim it as their own.

Nothing short of a wild, fast-paced adventure.

Little Peach by Peggy Kern

Little PeachLittle Peach by Peggy Kern
My rating: 5 of 5 teacups


“You only missin’ if somebody looking for you.” Kat’s words slice through the air. “Understand? We ain’t missin’, Peach. We just gone.”

I cannot give this heartbreaking, awful little book any less than five stars.

This 200-page story really really affected me. I managed to just about keep it together until the end of the last chapter, but then I read the author’s note about why she’d decided to write about this topic and the tears started to pour. It’s so powerful and horrific. I couldn’t look away.

This is one of those books that grips you immediately. There’s no warm-up period – from the very first chapter we’re thrown into Michelle’s life and we feel every bit of her pain, fear and hope. The author knew exactly how to get me emotionally invested and I soon found myself picking this book up at every opportunity – even for brief moments like when waiting for the kettle to boil.

It has the short, powerful punch of books like Living Dead Girl, only this was a much more detailed, multi-layered story that introduced us to a number of characters who demanded our sympathy. I doubt many readers will make it through this book without feeling sad, furious and scared for these young girls.

In this book, Michelle runs away to New York to get away from her drug addict mother and the leery eyes of her mother’s boyfriend. When there, she gets taken in by a kind man called Devon who gives her food, buys her clothes and treats her with fatherly affection. Even though I knew what this story was about, the author is good enough to make the reader become seduced by Devon and the life he offers. We’re right there inside Michelle’s mind, sharing her hopes that now everything is going to be alright.

Not surprisingly, though, it isn’t.

She soon meets Devon’s other girls – Kat and Baby – and finds herself caught up in the world of child prostitution. It’s a very dark novel, made even more so by the truths that linger behind the fiction. This really does happen. And it’s so awful because Michelle, Kat and Baby are all such well-developed characters. I felt so much sympathy for them but was delighted when the author made them strong, clever and sneaky individuals who were far more than just victims.

In the afterword, the author attempts to answer the question of what people can do about child prostitution in the United States. She gives this advice:
Outrage is a good place to start. Awareness is a good place to start. Compassion is perhaps the most important component we can bring to this issue.

Well, Ms Kern, I think your book will deliver a lot of those three things to all the people who read it.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

All the RageAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
My rating: 5 of 5 teacups


You know all the ways you can kill a girl?
God, there are so many.

This story… these characters… those words… Courtney Summers has done it again.

I don’t think, on the whole, I am a person who is afraid of much. I’d even go so far as to say I have a somewhat reckless, risk-taking personality at times. But I am scared of a few things… you want to know what one of my biggest fears is? Telling the truth and having no one believe me. Honestly, I think that’s truly terrifying. Knowing you’re being honest, knowing what you know, and being powerless to do anything about it. That’s the first reason this book affected me so much.

What I mentioned above is a running theme behind the scenes of this story, but Summers incorporates many other elements that she excels at. For one, the author has an incredible understanding of teen girl politics – as shown previously in Some Girls Are. I should mention this book is nasty, graphic and contains some coarse language, but I guess that’s high school for you.

…how can you put something so golden, a girl who can barely open her eyes or her mouth – how can you put something like that in front of them and expect them to be better people?

Summers’ writing improves with every book she releases, writing scenes with words that manage to somehow be beautiful and horrific at the same time. But most of all, she has a talent for getting inside the thoughts, feelings, worries and insecurities of teenage girls. She paints unlikable characters and still breathes humanity into them, something that so few authors can do successfully.

As well as all of this, All the Rage also looks at small town life and the alliances that can exist within small communities of people. It makes it easy for your crimes to be overlooked if you’re friends with the right people, or be called a liar if you’re not.

I want to explain to you why I think her books are so different from other YA “issue” novels that deal with angsty teens, but it’s difficult to do without just pushing one of her books into your hands. I guess there’s something very raw, painful and honest about her stories that still steers clear of emotional manipulation. Even the characters we are supposed to find sympathy for are complex and flawed in their own way. I like that.

I hope she writes more soon because, as you may have guessed, I’m an unapologetic fangirl.