Book Reviews

I Met VE Schwab!

Last night, I went to an event at Brookline Booksmith for a talk & signing with the one and only Victoria Schwab.  I’m still covered in glitter, so I thought it’d be fun to talk about my experience!

But the beginning!  Because what is a story about meeting an author without the story of discovering that author?  It’s actually been really cool with Victoria since most of my discovering her has been documented on this blog.  In–OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS IT’S BEEN ONE YEAR!  My auto-buy authors blog was posted on October 18th of last year!!!  Okay, so this is super cool.  In October of last year, I posted two blogs: Auto-Buy Authors and my usual wrap-up review.  The idea of auto-buy authors are authors that you automatically buy their books without sometimes any previous knowledge of what they’re about.  (Spoiler: no one was surprised when Maggie Stiefvater was number one on my list.)  I did a list of 7 people, all of whom I owned more than 7 books of and had read most, if not all, of the books that I owned.  I also decided to include three extras—-Victoria Schwab, Leigh Bardugo, and Alwyn Hamilton.  These three were all authors that I’d only read one or two and only owned one or two, but that I was so confident that I liked that I knew they would become auto-buy authors as time went on.  To quote myself:

Seriously, I love the Shades of Magic trilogy so much, and I can’t wait for the new series to come out in that same universe.  I can’t wait for all of her things.  I just started reading This Savage Song, and it’s freaking amazing.  I put Vicious on my Christmas list, and I just want to read everything by her.  Someday, when I have enough money, I’ll just do an entirely Schwab book haul, and it will be glorious.

Well, I did it.  I now own all of Victoria’s books, and I’ve read them all finally.  At the time, I had only read the Shades of Magic trilogy, though, and I knew in my heart of hearts that this was going to be an author that I fell in love with and followed for a very long time.

In the first line of my review for This Savage Song, I wrote “Dear VE Schwab, just take all my money, BYE.”  And like, yeah?  Please do?  As soon as I finished This Savage Song, I ordered Our Dark Duet and promptly had a party when it arrived.  I LOVE the Monsters of Verity duology so, so much.  For the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about nothing but August Flynn, so I’m thinking I may need to reread those soon.  In November of last year, I read the sequel, which was another 5-star review and quickly becoming my norm for Schwab’s books.

I was hooked.  I knew I wanted to read everything else by her.  I was already asking for Vicious for Christmas, and I’d added her to my preorder authors.  Sometimes, I preorder sequels, but there are a few authors that I immediately preorder when I find out they’re coming out with a new book.  They’re mostly the same as my auto-buy authors, but there are a few others besides, too, and I knew that as soon as Victoria announced a new book, it was going in my Amazon cart.

But, before that, December 2017.  I compiled my Top 10 Reads of 2017, and among them was A Darker Shade of Magic, the first in the Shades of Magic trilogy.  My review for it was:

Wow.  It took me about two and a half weeks to read the entire series, and since that fateful month in July, I’ve read two more Schwab books and purchased another two.  The way she combines magic, fantasy, realistic characters, gorgeous words, and story is just out of this world.  Schwab is a master storyteller.  This is the perfect kind of book when you’ve read Harry Potter a million times and want to read something similar, but with more stakes and more of an adult world.

And it’s so true.  To this day, the Shades of Magic trilogy stands out as one of my favorite series, and I am so unbelievably excited to dive back into that world.  I’m hoping to reread it soon, as well, and to return to my boys Kell and Holland.  It’s just honestly so well done.

Fast forward to February, when I finally (finally!) read Vicious, and I’m still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor:

OH WOW.  Just–wow.  So much wow.  Expect this one in my wrap-up of 2018 at the end of December.  This is going in my top 10 favorites of 2018.  This is going in my top something favorites of all time.  I LOVE THIS BOOK.  I love Victor Vale so much, holy goodness, it’s like a meaner version of Holland that storms around in all black and laughs at your pain.

This is still true.  Expect Vicious in my Top 10 Reads of 2018.

I then went on to interrupt my review every so often with just “THIS BOOK” because I couldn’t possibly describe how much I loved it.  How much?  “I can’t.  I’m as happy as when I read Six of Crows for the first time.  This bookkkk, you guys.”

I’m not lying when I say this was easily one of the best books I’ve ever read, and holy magic, I need Vengeful (the sequel) like an actual burning need, like I’m going to wither away and die without it.  The writing?  Phenomenal.  I mean, it’s VE, we already knew this, but come on.  The characters?  WOW.

So, last night, Victoria was talking about how stressful writing Vengeful was for one very particular reason—-it had to follow A Conjuring of Light, the finale of the Shades of Magic trilogy.  Now, ACOL was, apparently, the best received of the three and considered the best book she had written so far.  So Vengeful was going to be the book that came out after ACOL, and Schwab said that the fear that it wouldn’t live up to its predecessor was at times debilitating.  If my review for Vicious doesn’t tell you how well Vengeful ended up doing, then.  Well.  I don’t know what to tell you, but we’ll get to my review for Vengeful in a second and it’s WOW.

After reading the Shades of Magic trilogy, I read the Monsters of Verity duology, and I really, truly thought nothing could beat SOM.  Just—-no way.  It’s so good.  I think it’s safe to say now, though, that the Villains series really stands on its own.  I don’t want to compare the two series because they’re so vastly different from one another and I love them so much in such different ways.  In 3-5 years, when the next one hopefully comes out, I’ll be right there preordering and in line to hear her talk about it all over again.  These books amaze me.

In June, and later August, it was time for a little TBT.  There were two books in Victoria’s early career that I hadn’t read yet—-the first two books in The Archived series.

All month, I’ve been lamenting that I haven’t read a book that just swallowed me whole, and boy, the universe listened.  My last two books of the month were ones that I absolutely devoured.  The first is officially the last series I haven’t read by Schwab, and I’m so sad about that.  Luckily, I still have the sequel to read and Vengeful comes out soon, but damn.  There is a reason I’ve read literally everything she’s written.  Schwab’s style of writing gives you no choice in the matter–you are pulled in, hook, line, and sinker, and you’re only allowed a small breath at the end before it’s plunging back into a new one.  She creates these incredible worlds with characters that I want to be friends with and protect.  She is truly one of the great YA writers.

Those are the opening lines for my review for The Archived, and my review for The Unbound contains a lot of capslock and flailing.

And then we arrive at September, where I have two Schwab books to read, City of Ghosts and Vengeful (finally!).  I had both of them preordered, and both were 5-star reviews.  I ask you this: did I like Vengeful?  You tell me:

I loved this so much.  I can’t even describe how much I loved it.  As always, I wanted to take my time with it, live with Victor for a while, but I was just so anxious about his well-being that I binged hardcore.  I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to dress up like Wednesday Addams or Victor for my Wednesday M&G.  We’ll see.  But!  How was this awesome?  Okay, so obviously I love the characters, and if you’ve read Vicious, you’ll also still love the characters.  They’re just so fleshed out, which is so impressive when you think about the structure of these books and how it could have totally led to kind of one-dimensional characters, but instead, they’re, like, six dimensions.  Don’t look at me like that, I just love these people a lot, okay.  The writing is HELLA GOOD.  I’m talking damn, I was laughing during murder, you guys.  I’m not even exaggerating.  It’s the right amount of intense and wild combined with sad and plot-building, and just UGH.  So good.  Read this damn book now.

I promise, that’s the last time I’m going to quote myself.  Did Vengeful deliver?  Holy heck yeah.  Vengeful is easily one of the best books I’ve read in 2018, and the only reason it’s not going on my Top 10 for this year is because Vicious will be on that list.  It’s just–wow.  Victoria is just wow.  I am so in awe of her talent, and moreover, of her humanity.  I watch her Insta stories every day, and I feel so blessed that we get a look inside of her life and her creative, wild, weird mind, and she is just truly an upstanding human being.

So, last night!

Met a hilarious, super cool author tonight after getting glitter-bombed, and I think it’s safe to say tonight was amazing. @veschwab was funny, engaging, and just all around one of the most badass Slytherins I’ve ever met. I’m so grateful that I got...

What am I covered in, you ask?  Well, friends, I was glitter-bombed.  I left work at 4PM, hoping to leave around 4:15PM since we had to go through Boston to get to Brookline, and I wanted to make sure we were on time and missing the normal Boston rush-hour traffic.  When I got home, there was a card waiting for me from Erin.  Before I even got to the card part, glitter exploded out of the envelope.  I was instantly covered in it.  And, because she’s evil, she glued the bottom of the card shut so I had to yank it open to read it and just BOOM more glitter everywhere.  Now, I’m actually a really huge fan of glitter, so I was super amped about this and definitely kind of spread it all around.

When I told Victoria I’d been glitter-bombed before I got here and that I thought it was an appropriate aesthetic for Marcella Riggins (one of the main characters in Vengeful), she agreed that Marcella would definitely rock glitter.

Unfortunately, we had to leave later than planned, but we did end up getting in Boston around 5:40PM for the 6PM event, so we hustled on over to the Coolidge Corner Theatre where Victoria would be in conversation with her publicist, who was on tour with her.  They chatted for a while, and then Victoria did a few Q&As that had been submitted.  The highlights for me were:

  • “Don’t arbitrarily kill your characters.”  Schwab spent some time talking about why she’d killed certain characters in her career, and how she took killing them very seriously (with one minor exception that I’m still laughing about).  She also reminisced that something happens when you kill your characters: “You can’t torture them when they’re dead!”  Very true, haha.  It got me thinking, though, as she continued to talk about only killing them if it moved the story forward, if it affected the story being told in some way, not just for the wow factor.  And really, I think I have the opposite problem, so I started thinking, huh, maybe don’t arbitrarily NOT kill your characters, Mary.  That said, there are some changes I need to make in my current novels.
  • “I wrote Marcella because she was a different kind of woman than I had written before.  And while she was intimidating to me because we’re very different people, I wanted to write her version of feminine power.”  WOW.  I always tried to kind of sit under that umbrella of write what you know, but this really opened my eyes a little.  I don’t have to write characters that make sense to me, but I can write characters that eventually make sense to me along the journey.
  • The whole story concerning the Vengeful rewrite.  After she submitted the first draft, her agent said, “This is a really good story.  But there’s another one hidden inside of it that’s great.”  Victoria then went on to delete her entire first draft before starting over from scratch, and that’s got me thinking a heck ton, let me tell you.  One of my novels, I’ve been having some serious doubts about, and you know, maybe that’s the right course of action.  Because sometimes this question is necessary.  “Is it worth it?”  Schwab answered her own question, and one of that I’m sure all writers have at some point, “I realized I had to write for me.  Vicious was my story, the thing that I wrote because as an audience of one, it was what I wanted to read.  So you have to write what you want to read before you write for others.  And after it’s published, it’s yours, but before that, it’s mine.  As long as you write for you first, it’s always worth it.”
  • I had an actual conversation with her!  And by that, I mean I didn’t totally blackout the interaction and panic.  I actually said words that weren’t pre-planned, and we laughed, and it was really, really wonderful.

^^^ That is the face of true joy right there.  Covered in glitter and talking to one of my all-time favorite authors.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

I met VE Schwab last night.  It was a lot of fun, and I honestly cannot wait for her next book (and tour).  She was so inspiring and lovely, and I just want to thank her, from the bottom of my bitter black heart, for existing.  You’re pretty damn awesome.

2 thoughts on “I Met VE Schwab!”

    1. I told her that I’d been glitter-bombed and I thought it was really appropriate because I was trying to go for a Marcella vibe, but that now my cats were covered in glitter, too, and she laughed because “you’ll never be rid of it now.” Haha, it was fantastic!

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