A Lesson in Vengeance: Book Review

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee is a young adult new release that’s been pitched by the author as ‘dark academia but make it lesbian’. We follow Felicity Morrow, who after the death of her ex-girlfriend, has finally returned to Dalloway School. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds. As Ellis Haley, a prodigal and methodic writer, turns up at Godwin House, Felicity is roped into researched the Dalloway Five. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.

I want to start by speaking about the characters. Felicity and Ellis were such great characters. They felt so real to me, they had personalities, flaws, and motivations that weren’t just driven by the plot’s demands. There were parts of them that were twisted and complicated and I just wanted to sit down and untangle it all.

The entire plot is brilliant and wicked. It’s a great concept that was executed really well. There were a few points that took me by surprise and I loved how they were executed.

I really enjoyed Victoria Lee’s writing style. It’s a combination of sophisticated and also very haunting. The writing style created a brilliantly twisted atmosphere and characters. You can tell how intelligent Ellis and Felicity are by their choice of words – not just dialogues. The words are chosen deliberately to create tension. Even in scenes where there wasn’t much happening, the vibe itself had my heart racing.

The most well-done part of this book is the atmosphere it creates. The vibes that the characters, the writing style and the plot give are so dark. Which contributes to making this a true ‘dark academia’.

My only complaint was the slow start. This took me a little bit to get into but my patience paid off. Despite the slow beginning, when it kicked off, it kicked off.

Going into this, I was under the impression that this was more fantasy than suspense (thanks Goodreads). This did disappoint me a little, but that’s a me problem and not a book or writing problem. I’d recommend going into this not expecting a fantasy element but more dark academia and suspense.

In closing, this is an incredible book that you must pick up. If you’re looking for something that’s dark academia, sapphic and has gothic vibes this is it for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Comfort Reads: Book List

Everyone always asks me why I buy so many books. Short answer: so I can re-read them. There are some authors and stories that I find myself reaching for more than others. These are my comfort stories.

Disclaimer: there’s going to be A LOT of Jennifer L. Armentrout

The first set of books in my list, is the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I know what you’re thinking, but Hasnita, these covers are atrocious and you only judge a book by it’s cover.

That’s how much I love this series.

In Obsidian, we meet Katy who’s just moved to Virginia with her mum and is stuck with a hot, brooding neighbour. Who happens to be an alien. Daemon infuriates Katy and drives her up a wall. Until they’re attacked and Daemon ends up freezing time to save them, marking Katy as a beacon for other aliens.

This series is amazing, the first book isn’t the best, but I love the rest. This is my ideal series: so much humour that your stomach hurts, endless amounts of sexual tension and pent up angst, and supporting characters that are just as exciting.

I have gone back to re-read this series whenever I need something funny and exciting and this always satisfies. Just typing this makes me want to pick it up and read it. If something is holding you back from picking this up, just do it. TRUST THE PROCESS. Daemon is still one of my top book boyfriends. Daemon in Origin makes me faint.

Two Jennifer L. Armentrout series back to back, what’s wrong with me? Candidly, a lot. This is an oldie that’s a goldie.

A Greek Mythology fantasy where the descendants of Hematoi (children of Gods and Mortals) are divided into Pure-Bloods (who have godlike powers) and Half-Bloods (who either protect Pure-Bloods or live as their slaves).

Alex, a half-blood, is training to be a guard for the Pure-Bloods but her chances of slumming start to look higher when she falls for Aiden (a pureblood). Fun fact: relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

This book has always been compared to Vampire Academy, and I do agree. If you enjoy one of these series, you’ll probably enjoy the other.

I love this series so much. I love how badass Alex is, and I just love everything about Aiden. Another one of my top book boyfriends who has survived the strife of time. This series has forbidden romance, kickass action and incredible world building. It is also so funny like anything Jennifer L. Armentrout writes. What more could you ask for?

If you’re a YA reader, you’ve heard of Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. This book starts with Celaena Sardothien, a notorious assassin currently chained and slumming it in a salt mine prison. When the Prince turns up and offers her freedom in exchange for participating in a competition, it’s a no brainer. She agrees. But as the participants start dropping dead and weird (understatement) things start occurring, Celaena has to figure it out before she’s next.

This is my all time favourite fantasy series. I would die for these characters. I just want to say, this story goes places. It’s so funny, witty and the romance arcs are swoon-worthy. It’s such a fun series that I always go back to. It always delivers. Despite the parts that make me sob.

While we’re on the topic of Sarah J. Maas, I’ll mention A Court of Mist and Fury, the second book in a new adult/adult fantasy series. This book specifically is one I find myself reaching for frequently. This is a nicely wrapped bundle of enemies to lovers and found family – two of my favourite tropes. If I had to choose one book to read for the rest of my life, this would be it.

Wait For You by J. Lynn/Jennifer L. Armentrout is a new adult, contemporary series that follows different characters in each book. This is full of characters I will never stop gushing over, adorable romance and witty scenes. This is done while dealing with intense backstories and hard topics. Even when I’m not reading, I’m reading this.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead was one of the first series I fell in love with. I read this in early high school and couldn’t get enough of these characters. A well-developed world of vampires, forbidden romance, amazing friendships and so much great banter. It’s action packed and full of badass characters.

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is an oldie that I’ll never stop picking up. Alex Fuentes is a masterpiece and one of my first fictional crushes. This is high school rivalry tied up with enemies to lovers and a sprinkle of ‘forbidden’ romance.

I love all of these stories so much. What’s a comfort series/books that you find yourself reaching for? Have you read any of these? Let me know so we can scream together.

Before We Were Blue: ARC Review

I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.

Before We Were Blue by E. J. Schwartz is a young adult, Sapphic contemporary releasing on September 14th 2021. At a treatment centre for eating disorders, Shoshana and Rowan rely on their friendship to survive the drama of the treatment life. As the girls’ friendship develops into something more, their destructive tendencies force them to make a decision: their relationship or their recovery.

This was by no means, an easy read. In fact, I had to take a few breaks while reading this. However, I’m glad that it. This is an important story that needs to be told and read. E. J. Schwartz did not shy away from gritty parts of eating disorders. It’s the unadulterated truth. From what I’ve gathered from other reviews (from people with an ownvoices experience), the handling of eating disorders was done well. From someone who didn’t have a personal experience with it, I felt like I learnt a lot.

This is very much a character driven story. And the characters are flawed and complex. Shoshana isn’t hard to love, I was rooting for her the entire time. She’s definitely flawed, but I loved reading about her growth. Rowan, on the other hard, definitely takes time to get used to. Initially, I really didn’t like her. But the more you learn about her, the more you see why she is the way she is. The character development for both of these characters was done well.

I expected the LGBTQIA+ representation, but the asexual aspect surprised me. It’s not one I’ve read about much but I really enjoyed it.

So many hard topics are dealt with in this and I think they’re done well. I would recommend checking the content warnings because this deals with sexual assault and more. The only thing I found a little unsettling were some of the lines seemed very anti-Semitic. I don’t think I know enough to comment on this one though.

I loved the way the story ended, it was really satisfying but believable. It showed that recovery doesn’t look the same for everyone and it’s not always linear.

Because this is a character driven story, this felt quite slow. Since it deals with hard topics, I kept having to take frequent breaks. This is as a combination, made it hard to pick back up.

This is a really important and I highly recommend it for anyone that enjoys character driven story.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.