Currently Reading & Watching: Part III

October has been a crazy month and while I’ve been reading a lot, I’m also doing a lot of work on the book tours, my actual job, and other adult things. You know, like cooking, cleaning, crying because I’m stressed – the usual!

Anyways, I wanted something light to post today, so here’s what I’m currently reading and watching!

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DNF Review: Sanctuary

I received an ARC of Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher from Penguin Teen through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t think I’ve ever written a DNF (did not finish) review before, so this is a first. Usually when I DNF a book, it’s not an ARC I’ve been given by the publisher for review, it’s one that I decided to read on my own. After the whole debacle on Sunday regarding an author calling out a reviewer for DNF-ing and posting a “bad” review on Goodreads, I am a little nervous to post my thoughts.

But, the whole point of reviewing books are to review them, good or bad. So I’m gonna talk about why I DNFed this book and what my thoughts are. Surprisingly, they’re not bad at all!

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Judging a Book by its Cover

I did this a few months ago under a different name (Making Assumptions About Books I’ve Never Read) but I thought, hey! New books, new covers, more things I haven’t had a chance to read yet – why not!?

I’m always catching myself making assumptions about books and what they’ll be about based on the cover. Usually I go for aesthetically pretty covers because I think they’re pretty (duh), which means that sometimes I buy a book without even knowing what it’s about. It’s pretty ridiculous and I really have to stop myself form doing it! Today, I am going to be making assumptions about what these books are about based on their cover and title alone. I will post the actual synopsis under my assumption so you can laugh at me at how badly I guess these books!

All of these assumptions are written BEFORE I read the synopsis and paste it below. Let me know how well you think I did on guessing these!

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NetGalley vs. Edelweiss

I didn’t realize that I didn’t have a post scheduled for today so I’m kind of writing this last minute – SORRY!

I am having trouble finding posts other than reviews to write right now because I have been a reading machine. So far, I’ve been reading a new e-book every 1-3 days which means I’ve gotten through a lot of books so far this month. Which means a lot of reviews! I’m sorry if you’re looking for other content because I might have to post a lot of reviews, especially since a lot of them are upcoming August and September releases and I want to get them out near release date.

Any way – I wanted to talk about two different platforms that I use to review books: NetGalley and Edelweiss. If you don’t know what these are, they are a way for booksellers, librarians, authors, and reviewers to get their hands on upcoming book releases for purchase or review. And when I mean purchase, I mean for their library or their store. Bloggers can also receive books on these sites, but are not quite as lucky to get them as a librarian or bookseller would be.

Today, I’m going to be reviewing them and I have a lot to say – especially about Edelweiss!

First off, acceptance rate. NetGalley, by far, beats Edelweiss in this for me. While it’s hard to say how many books I’ve been denied on Edelweiss since once they archive them, they disappear from the site, the ratios can’t even compete.

For my primary NetGalley, I currently have 11 books to read and review and I have reviewed 39 so far. So far, I’ve been denied 63 books and I am currently pending and waiting on 16.

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Meanwhile, on Edelweiss, I have been approved for 2, currently pending 9, and have been denied 24. Although, technically I have been approved for 4 because I was initially denied for The Boundless, then received it through a blog tour. And I was denied for Wench but then re-requested it and received it through the publisher.

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Just from that alone, I have a better chance of getting approved through NetGalley than on Edelweiss any day! But I’ll put some (poorly done) math below! Approved / (Pending) + (Denied)

Chance of getting approved on NetGalley: 63%

Chance of getting approved on Edelweiss: 6%

Yeah, my math is probably flawed, but just looking at the percent difference makes me want to cry!

Moving on, website layout.

Personally, I like NetGalley’s look and request option more than Edelweiss.

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NetGalley is pretty simple. In your bio, you include your stats and anything that the publisher should take into consideration when looking over your request. That’s your place to shine! Then you would find the title, click on it and it brings you to this page. Then you select all the things that made you want to select the book and hit request! Although in that case, it was read now since it was an excerpt, but you get the idea! There’s also books you can Wish For, and for those you just click Wish For It and hope that you’re one of the lucky people to get it!

Edelweiss on the other hand is more complicated.

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At the top, the part I cropped out, it includes your saved profile and your profile strength.

In your profile you have a bio just like NetGalley that the publishers see, which should be as detailed and extensive as you can. You want to shine. But Edelweiss also wants you to write a whole thing on why you’re requesting the book. Which I feel is utterly pointless if our bios include the same information.

I’ve tried writing it very professionally (like my bio), very casual, included stats, didn’t include stats, any combination you can think of and it never gets me any closer to getting the book for review.

And then, if you get approved for a book, the actual review process is totally different.

NetGalley rates things on a 5 star system, you can copy that review over to your connected Goodreads, tweet that you reviewed this book, and provided tags/information to the publisher.

Edelweiss does their score out of 10 stars and includes multiple things you can rate. Writing, originality, overall, etc

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Plus, there are icons to choose to shelve the book, write notes to the publisher, share your review and more.

While NetGalley’s is more user friendly and a bit simpler, I actually appreciate Edelweiss’ system. I like that I can provide an overall rating as well as more specific ratings to explain why that might be. Then you have other icons to choose to tag, shelve, and what not which makes it a lot more organized than NetGalley.

Another thing I really like about Edelweiss is that you don’t have to have been approved for the book to review it, unlike NetGalley where you can only write reviews for books you’ve been approved for. This makes it a lot easier to increase your stats if you end up getting the book before release another way (like NetGalley or a giveaway) or if it’s still up after release!

Overall, I like NetGalley WAYYY more than Edelweiss. Not only for the fact that I actually get approved for books on their site, but because it’s a cleaner, simpler site to use. Although, I wish NetGalley had the option to re-request the book, like Edelweiss. That would save me so much heartbreak.

Which site do you like to use more?

 

 

Unpopular Book Opinions

I really couldn’t figure out what to post for today, so I’m just going to do some ranting and give my unpopular book opinions! These opinions are solely my own and are not meant to hurt, insult, or offend anyone.

Okay – let’s go!


I’m gonna start off with something easy . . .

I hate the Hunger Games

I have probably said this, like, a thousand times, but I really don’t like The Hunger Games. I tried to read it when I was younger and was absolutely bored to tears after almost 100 pages. Then I tried AGAIN a few years later at the request of one of my friends, and still couldn’t get past 100 pages. It was just boring and I didn’t like it. I know this is a huge favorite in YA, but I actually hate it. And no, I’ve never watched the movies either.

ARCs are over-valued

I am pretty active in the book community which means I do a lot of buying, selling, and trading and let me tell you, some people really over-value their ARCs. If you don’t know what an ARC is it stands for Advance Readers Copy, which is basically a bound manuscript sent to reviewers, book sellers, and librarians for early review. This helps boost sales before and after the book is published and generally helps the publisher.

But there is a whole thing, especially in YA and adult Fantasy/Science Fiction, where certain popular authors or certain books will be WAY over valued. People will only trade these books for other “unicorns”/rare books or really expensive items. Technically, trading is supposed to be a way for people to get receive ARCs for review from other people, but people turn it into a collecting nightmare.

Trading ARCs for finished copies/other purchased items is the same as selling them

On the topic of ARCs, here’s another opinion! ARCs are free books given for review and they are not meant to be sold. This brings into the ethical question of – if it can’t be sold, does trading it for an item that was purchased count as “buying” the ARC. AKA, if someone buys a book I want in exchange for me sending the ARC, does that mean they bought the ARC? In my opinion, yes.

Some people will ask for REALLY EXPENSIVE stuff for an ARC. I saw someone trading an ACOTAR by Sarah J Maas ARC asking for a copy of a book valued over $250. How is this any different from just selling it?

It’s not.

You can hate/disapprove of an author and still enjoy their work

Before anyone comes for me, hear me out.

In the example of J.K. Rowling, some people may not have realized before how awful she is as a person. Once they found out, they feel pressured to denounce her and her work entirely which puts people in a dilemma. Do they continue to enjoy something that they have for years and risk being cancelled or shunned or do they denounce the work they have found a connection with and love, ultimately giving up a part of themselves?

I hate the idea that some people have to feel like they can’t love things because the author is awful. I agree that once it is known they’re awful, we shouldn’t continue to support them (ie. purchasing items, buying their books, movies, etc) but we can continue to enjoy the things we did before. If you love Harry Potter and reread the books or rewatch the movies you own every year, feel free to continue to do so. But don’t think I condone a continued support. Nor do I believe in overlooking a problematic author simply to enjoy their work. I.E. – If you are looking for a new book and found one you’re interested in, but the author is a known racist, don’t buy their book!

E-Readers and Audiobooks are BOOKS. 

Why is this one even a debate? Books are books are books. If you listen to a book, you’re reading. If you’re using an e-reader, you’re reading. If you listen and read the book at the same time, you’re READING.

It’s so silly how people get pressed over HOW people are reading. I have friends who are blind or have very bad vision that require e-readers to enlarge texts because large print books are expensive. Or they listen to audiobooks. I also have friends who just simply enjoy listening to audiobooks or prefer e-readers over physical books. That doesn’t make them any less of a reader. And it doesn’t make people a “better” reader simply because they only read hardcover books!


I may have to make a part two to this post another time, because I don’t want to rant forever. But you get the point!

What are some of your unpopular opinions? Do you agree or disagree with anything I said?

July 2020 Wrap Up

Every time I do these wrap up posts, I feel like I barely read anything, but then I compile it together and I shock myself. This month I read 11 books, which is about the same as last month, although two of them were graphic novels so they weren’t as time consuming as the other longer or more wordy novels. I have linked all reviews for these books in the title, so if you’d like to see my thoughts, feel free to click the link and check them out!

Book I Read:

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Crave by Tracy Wolff

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Genre: YA Fantasy

Goodreads

 

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Warmaidens by Kelly Coon

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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North and South by Gene Luen Yang, etc

Genre: YA Fantasy (Graphic Novels)

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Imbalance by Faith Erin Hicks, etc

Genre: YA Fantasy (Graphic Novels)

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Ignite the Sun by Hanna Howard

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

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Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Goodreads

 

I’m hoping to have a good reading month for August, especially since I have to focus on a lot of ARCs I received through NetGalley. While I wasn’t intentionally trying to do the ARC August Readathon (hosted by Octavia and Shelly @ Read. Sleep. Repeat.) I basically have only ARCs on my TBR that I need to read and review, so I guess I’m participating!

If you want to see what my August TBR is, check out my TBR post here.

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My Favorite OTPs of All Time!

If you don’t know what OTP stands for, it means One True Pairing – aka, couple goals! There are so many adorable couples in literature and they just continue to make me believe that love is real. At least, I hope.

So today, I wanted to talk about my favorite couples and my all time favorite OTPs! This is not ALL of them, but the ones I couldn’t leave off this list, so if you don’t see your favorite couple, I’m sorry!

***Warning – this post may contain spoilers!!! Read at your own risk! I also will be doing my best to track down the artist for all fan art featured in my post, but if I incorrectly name an artist, I would appreciate the correction. Thanks!

Aelin + Rowan

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Is anyone surprised that I included Aelin and Rowan? I love their relationship and while it doesn’t start off well (Heir of Fire), as they grow together I fall in love with them as a couple. Aelin’s snark to Rowan’s cool exterior is a favorite of mine and it reminds me of my own relationship. Though that isn’t to say Rowan won’t stand up for Aelin and protect her when she needs it – if she needs it. They’re just so fun to read about and their love is so fierce.

Artist: Gabriella Bujdoso

Annabeth + Percy

Percabeth | Shipping Wiki | Fandom

 

The Lightning Thief was one of the first books I read that was a fantasy novel (and ultimately got me into reading) so I hold a special place in my heart for Percabeth. Their relationship, which grew from literally nothing, made me feel so happy as a kid! I read the entire series in middle school and haven’t had a chance to reread them since. I’ve heard their relationship develops more in the spin off series as well, so I may have to do a Lightening Thief reread and then read Heroes of Olympus. Either way – their relationship is so wholesome and wonderful and now I miss them!

Artist: Viria

Feyre + Rhysand

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Okay, if you thought I was going to mention Aelin and Rowan and NOT mention Feyre and Rhys – why? I love Sarah’s books and the relationship between Feyre and Rhys is literally so cute. Sure, he was really mean in the first book as an attempt to try and protect her, but he completely redeemed himself in ACOMAF and ACOWAR! He helped Feyre through her trauma and depression, allowed her to gain independence by teaching her to read and write, and allowed her to fall in love with him before letting her know they were mates. I mean – COME ON!!! Their relationship is so sweet and wild, I just love them.

Artist: Stephanie Brown (@OffBeatWorlds)

Tessa + Jem

brych — You are Jem—my Jem. Always my Jem. ...

 

The Infernal Devices is my favorite Shadowhunters series and oh man, did I root for Jessa. While I was happy that Tessa ended up with Will at the end, her relationship with Jem seemed more genuine and loving compared to Will. And (SPOILERS) – when she finally gets to be with him in the future books, it makes me so happy! The events that went on in the Infernal Devices trilogy still haunt me and in the end, I think she should have ended up with Jem.

Artist: @xiannustudio (Redbubble)

Magnus + Alec

Alec/Magnus Fanart - Alec & Magnus Fan Art (42373526) - Fanpop ...

 

Magnus and Alec were one of my first ships as a reader. I wanted them to be together so badly and when they finally confessed their feelings, and Alec was comfortable telling other people, I was so happy! They just have such a great dynamic and are the cutest couple! Every interaction between them, and with them, is so sweet and funny and just great. (SPOILERS) – when I found out they had kids together I was so happy for them! I knew they would be great parents and they seem so happy and UGH! My heart can’t take it, I just love their relationship.

Artist: @kotartus_ (Instagram)

Katara + Aang

Aang and Katara's first kiss was low-key the most romantic ...

When I first watched Avatar: The Last Airbender as a kid, I wasn’t a huge fan of Aang ending up with Katara. I wanted them to explore Katara’s relationship with Zuko and see how everything pans out. Now that I’m older, I’m all for Kataang! I love how their relationship is first based on friendship and they provide a good balance of personalities. Katara is caring, tough, sometimes hotheaded, and an overall good person which pairs nicely with Aangs calmness, rambunctiousness, and kindness. As we see in the comics, while a bit gross, they are a great couple together and genuinely love each other. It’s hard to find a match that not only brings out the best in you, but also compliments and helps your “weaknesses”. Overall, such a great couple and they’re kids are awesome too!

Artist: Viria

Korra + Asami

Legend of Korra' Creator Draws Official Korrasami Art

Honestly, I love the idea of Korra and Asami together, but I’m really upset we didn’t get a single moment of them until the END OF THE FREAKING SHOW. I wanted more screen time with their relationship and less of this back and forth with Mako. (though, don’t get me wrong, I adore Mako!) I think this couple was cheated out of great on screen moments and now, all I’m left with is fan art. But seriously though, I think Korra and Asami make an adorable couple and, like with Aang and Katara, really balance each other out well.

Artist: Bryan Konietzko

Maia + Edan

Rachele Raka on Instagram: “More #spinthedawn ...there is still ...

This was a slow burn romance that I could not handle. Spin the Dawn took my heart, threw it against the wall, patched it up, and then sliced it in half with this relationship. Edan’s love for Maia isn’t obvious at first, but once they start to get to know each other, I’m done for. Edan is so sweet, Maia is so caring, and together they make an adorable couple. I love their interactions before they finally cave in and express themselves – sarcastic relationships are great sometimes! And don’t get me started on Unravel the Dusk!

Artist: Rachele Raka @doodlingraka

Alucard + Rhy

Rhy and Alucard from the Shades of Magic series. Ouch my heart ...

Alucard is a snarky, SOB sometimes, but he’s a total softy for Rhy! Every moment between them had me laughing or smiling like an idiot because, while not perfect, their relationship is just so endearing. Reading A Darker Shade of Magic, I just wanted the moments between Kell + Lila, and Rhy + Alucard. Nothing else. Just a total love fest between these characters! I love the moments between these two characters and it’s so obvious they’re in love with each other, it’s tormenting.

Artist: @ace-artemis (Redbubble)

Zafira + Nasir

Hafsah Faizal on Twitter: "Woke up today to this gorgeous art of ...

 

If you haven’t read We Hunt the Flame, you absolutely need to. Not only is the sequel releasing March 2021, but the enemies to lovers romance is SO GOOD! Technically, they’re not a couple, but I have a feeling they will be and I will ship them until my dying breath. Zafira is so sassy and strong, I love the power behind her character. And Nasir? He’s an ass, but I know he has a good heart. Every interaction with them you see their chemistry and I’m tired of waiting – THEY NEED TO BE TOGETHER NOW!

Artist: @monolimeart (Instagram)

Elias + Laia

Laia and Elias" Greeting Card by adamarart | Redbubble

 

I’m so happy the final book, A Sky Beyond the Storm, releases in December because I have been waiting FIVE YEARS for these two to be together! And I swear, if they don’t end up together, I will actually cry. Sabaa likes to torture her readers by giving them a great romance for characters that are destined never to be together and it is so frustrating!! I just love these characters and I want them to be in a relationship so bad! I guess we’ll have to see if that happens.

Artist: @adamarart (Redbubble)

Lei + Wren

Pin on Digital Artwork & Drawings

 

So, I read Girls of Paper and Fire, but I haven’t read Girls of Storm and Shadow yet (I KNOW, I KNOW!) so I’m just going off of the first book for these. But still! I was rooting for these two the moment they met and I love their relationship. These two are in a horrible situation, but the fact they found comfort and love with each other made me so happy. I was nervous for them the entire time though! I can’t wait to read the next book and see what happens to them. I hope nothing bad . . .

Artist: @pinktofu_art (Instagram)

Here are all of my couple goals! Some are not technically couples, but I think they should be. I’m sure my list will change through the years to add more people, but here are the ones I could narrow down right now.

What are some of your favorite OTPs?

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Review #2: Avatar: the Last Airbender Comics (4-6)

I finally finished the last few collections and wow, I have thoughts!

*Warning, this may contain spoilers for Legend of Korra, so if you haven’t watched the show, be warned!

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Smoke and Shadow synopsis from Goodreads:

The Fire Nation is threatened by a prophecy told by the Kemurikage–mysterious figures thought only to exist in legend: “remove Zuko from the throne or the country will perish!” Unrest is brewing as the New Ozai Society prepares to make its move against the crown, and children begin to go missing from their homes under mysterious circumstances! Avatar Aang and his friends are doing everything in their power to save them–but will it be enough?!

North and South synopsis from Goodreads:

When Katara and Sokka return home to the Southern Water Tribe, they are shocked to find that it has gone from a small village to a bustling city! Malina, a Northerner, is behind the change and plans to unify the two groups, but Gilak, a Southerner, leads a fierce rebellion to stop her. In the face of these two opposing tribes, Katara will have to make peace with her nostalgia and distrust to save the home she loves from being permanently torn apart.

Imbalance synopsis from Goodreads:

When Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph return to Earthen Fire Industries–the factory owned by Toph’s father–Aang is surprised when their arrival is met with a cold shoulder. As soon as the team is asked for help at a business council meeting, the reason for the slight becomes clear: a massive bender-versus-non-bender conflict has gripped the town and is threatening to turn violent. In order to heal the divide and save the town, Aang and the team will all face tough decisions about power and identity that could tear them apart.

Okay so – gold. This whole series is just pure gold. I feel like this review is going to be very short and very repetitive because I only have nice things to say about the show and the comics honestly! But I’ll do my best to get some kind of review out of this.

Book 4, Smoke and Shadow, Aang is in the fire nation as Sokka and Katara move on to the Southern Water Nation to visit their family. I’ll start off by saying I loved the way the Kemurikage are drawn in this book. It really amplifies the spookiness of what is going on as they are kidnapping children and taking them hostage. We get more time with Zuko and other friends like Mai, Ty Lee, and others. Without spoiling, we also get to see another character that’s been missing for a bit. While not ideal it is nice to see the gang back together, even if said gang is fighting.

Book 5, North and South, I think is on the same timeline as Smoke and Shadow, just showing what Katara and Sokka have been up to. If you haven’t watched Korra, I would definitely be warned cause there’s some spoilers coming. I loved how this book sets up the conflict between the Northern and Southern Water Tribes. As we see in Korra, the water tribe is now a large city instead of the small town that Katara and Sokka left. And it kind of foreshadows the sibling rivalry we experience in Legend of Korra book 2 which I thought was smart. Overall, I really enjoyed getting to see the water tribe and Hakoda again!

Book 6, Imbalance, is the final book in the comic series for Team Avatar and I loved so many aspects of this book. Warning, another Korra spoiler! I loved how the set up the situation of a town with benders and nonbenders, and the benders are from different nations which would ultimately lead to Republic City. Plus getting to see the little island Aang creates as Air Temple Island where I assume he and Katara raised their children. It was just heart warming and made me a little sad even. I also thought it was interesting that they had the bender vs. nonbender conflict. We see how years of “superiority” have lead to benders feeling like they are better than others and creates this overall conflict. I’m sure this scenario relates to many other issues going on in our world today even and I appreciate how this is discussed.

Overall, I thought this was a great end to the comics. I legit cried at the end of it because I know what comes later for Team Avatar and how their lives ultimately turn out. It was bittersweet getting a continuation on this series and I’m addicted! Now I just need to read the Korra comics and the Kyoshi books!

Obviously these books are starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me. Team Avatar for life!

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ARC Review: A Wicked Magic

This book was given to me for review by the publisher and Fantastic Flying Book Club. After hearing all the awful things that FFBC was doing, I formally left the tour. I was supposed to post my review for their blog tour, but instead, I will simply be posting my review for the author and the publisher.

Today, I am reviewing A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens, a debut YA paranormal novel about two teenage witches who unwillingly band together to fix the magical mess they’ve made. This title releases on July 28th, so be sure to preorder a copy today!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.

Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.

During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?

Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.

When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?

Set in the atmospheric wilds of California’s northern coast, Sasha Laurens’s thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.

I really enjoyed this book. It was magical and fun with some very interesting characters. The beginning pulled me in quickly, but I found that the middle was pretty slow. I felt like the beginning and end were well thought and executed, but the middle was lagging in terms of action. It began to feel repetitive as the same issues rose up for Dan and Liss that they had to work through.

Alexa’s story on the other hand got my attention. I wanted to read more about her and what was going on with Lorelai’s investigation. The whole first half of the book was focused on Dan and Liss’ situation with occasional sections on Alexa – but in the second half we get to see her a lot more and that’s when things get interesting.

Focusing on the plot, this book was so good. The actual events that go on and what these girls have to face was insane and super creepy. I wish I had read this book for Halloween with the amount of creepy, eerie things that happen. I also was a bit upset about who Alexa ended up with, because I was kind of rooting for someone else. On the other hand, she ends up with a really sweet girl and seems really happy.

For the characters, we see a lot of growth between the three, especially for Liss in my opinion. Honestly, I didn’t like Liss’ character at all in the beginning, but after finding out more about her home situation and her motivation for things, I just feel sorry for her. The changes she goes through made her into a much healthier person and I loved seeing her growth. Dan also goes through a much needed change and comes out a healthier, hopefully happier, person.

One thing that I think the author was trying to make cannon was Dan’s sexuality. We know Liss is straight (or at least very interested in her boyfriend Johnny) and Alexa is gay, but we never learn about Dan. Not that it’s important, but I can’t help but wonder where the author was going for her. See, in the book, Dan comes across as ace (asexual) or somewhere along the ace spectrum. But it’s never confirmed, denied, or really discussed. Part of me wants an answer, but it doesn’t really affect the story much whether or not she is. I’m just curious, I guess.

Overall, this book was written beautifully and it dives into things like self harm, depression, abusive home life, and other important conversations like that. These issues are discussed and handled carefully and I appreciate the work the author put in to represent these topics well. Though the middle was really slow for my taste, I think this book was still awesome. I loved learning about how magic worked in this world and pairing it with real teenage problems.

I think a lot of people will not only enjoy this book, but learn that things aren’t always what they seem. So, I’m giving this a starstarstarstar // 5 stars!

 

 

ARC Review: Wicked As You Wish

I received an exclusive advance copy of Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco from Fairyloot and I loved it! My review is not in affiliation with Fairyloot and I paid for the box the book came in.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

When a hidden prince, a girl with secrets, a ragtag group of unlikely heroes, and a legendary firebird come together…something wicked is going down.

Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left encased in ice when the Snow Queen waged war. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.

Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them.

A new hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala must unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.

I was worried, going into this book, that I wasn’t going to like it because a friend of mine didn’t like it and DNFed it really early. But once I started reading it I was immediately sucked in! There is a lot of American history and politics at the start (because this world is set in an alternate universe from ours), but it quickly moves along quickly.

The plot is immaculate. I mean such good plotting and storytelling goes on in this book. Even with all the crazy politics that have to be followed, and there are some crazy politics in this world, it’s so captivating. Especially once we meet the Snow Queen’s minions.

With a diverse cast of characters we’re off to save the world and the kingdom of Avalon from the evil Snow Queen. One thing I really like about this world is that it’s not only a magical version of ours, but incorporates actual fairytales into the history. Snow White, Sleeping Beaty, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Robin Hood, King Arthur, any and all fairytales you can think of are real people in this world, just not all at the same time.

Our rag tag team is so much fun too and each personality adds another layer to our group’s overall personality, and makes the team that much more interesting. I love a lot of the jokes between these new friends and I kinda miss them. Each has their own weapon and their own skill to help Prince Alex, or just Alex, as well as their own distinct trait/thing that they add and feed off of each other.

Because this is a political fantasy, if you don’t want to read about American politics then I would avoid this title. But, I would recommend looking past the few pages of political history for this epic fantasy if it really bothers you. I personally loved the history and the discussion of America’s current political climate and thought it helped me connect with the story and the characters better.

Overall, this book is really good! I can’t wait to read the next one, especially after that ending! This was a solid starstarstarstar.5 // 5 stars!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir or Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

July 2020 Mid Month Update

I feel myself slowing down this month. I can’t seem to finish books as quickly as I usually would and I’m stressed. Especially since I have to read two books by next week for a blog tour. After that though, I can read what I want – so hopefully once the stress is gone I can read what I feel like and get back into the swing of things . . . hopefully.

Books I read:

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Reviews for these should be up or coming up soon, but I liked all of them so far! Especially Crave by Tracy Wolff and Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco. I’m on such a fantasy kick right now I can’t seem to branch off!

Books I’m reading:

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I’m about 25% into A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens and just starting The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty and Spinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy. I’m doing a tour for Splinters of Scarlet and was supposed to do a tour for A Wicked Magic, but that fell through. Nonetheless, I’m obviously still going to review A Wicked Magic on the day I said I would, which will be Monday! I hope to finish these two soon, so fingers crossed I can get my two review books done in time!

Books I want to read:

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Some of these are a mix of review books, like Ignite the Sun by Hanna C. Howard, Hush by Dylan Farrow, and To Sleep In A Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini – while the others are just for fun! I’m trying to mix it up during the month so I get a good balance of requested/required reads and for fun reads each month. Not to say that I don’t want to read my review books (I wouldn’t have asked for them if I didn’t), I just like to add some other books that are more flexible. So if I end up not in the mood or mindset to read them, I can push them aside guilt free!

What are some books you’ve read this month? Any you’re excited to read?

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If you liked this post, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Warmaidens

Warmaidens by Kelly Coon is the sequel to Gravemaidens and releases on October 20th, 2020. If you have not read Gravemaidens yet, feel free to check out my spoiler free review here. This review will be spoiler free, but I cannot guarantee it will not spoil content from Gravemaidens

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Warmaidens is the dark, action-packed conclusion to the heartwrenching Gravemaidens fantasy duology. Kammani and the maidens are now going to war against the ruler who tried to entomb them.

Just a few moons after escaping the tomb in Alu, Kammani and the other runaway maidens have found refuge in the city-state of Manzazu. There, Kammani has become a respected healer, especially among the warriors she’s brought back from the brink of death. Now that the nightmares of Alu are fading, she can finally decide whether or not to take Dagan’s hand in marriage.

But when an assassin murders a healer he believes is Kammani and attempts to kill the displaced queen of Alu, the maidens realize they’ve been found.

Hungry for revenge, Manzazu’s queen wants to strike back at Alu with her fiercest weapons—her scorpion warrior maidens—but Kammani knows that war harms more than it heals. To save the innocents and any chance of a future with Dagan, Kammani must take down Alu’s ruler before their lives burn up in the flames of war.

After reading Gravemaidens, I wasn’t sure how there was going to be a sequel. After reading it, I now realize there was a lot more that needed to get done after the maidens fled the tomb. 

I really enjoyed Gravemaidens and was excited to hop back into this story. Warmaidens takes place nine months after they escaped the tomb and fled Alu to Manzazu. In those nine months we see the changes these characters have gone through, especially in Kammani’s sister, Nanea. Nanea went from a wishful thinking child to a more mature women very quickly. Escaping death might do that to you. 

I found myself not liking Kammani in this book in comparison to Gravemaidens. I’m not sure what about her rubbed me the wrong way, but I was really frustrated reading through some of her thought processes. It was always brought back to being a healer and wanting to not do any harm. I felt like that was her only personality trait and it was so repetitive. Any time something happened that she was involved in, it was always brought back to this thought point. I wanted more out of her personality than that and I thought we lost some of her from Gravemaidens.

I can say though that I appreciate her growth through this book a lot. Her ability to change her viewpoint allows her to continue to develop her relationship with Dagan and Nanea in a more loving and fulfilling way. It was so sweet. 

Another thing I didn’t really care much for are the fighting scenes. Again, not sure what about them rubbed me the wrong way, but I wasn’t a fan. Except for the final fight scene – that was intense! I also didn’t like the pacing. It was a quick book, but it felt like it dragged at some points. It ended up being the same sequence of events. Plan, attack, fail, retreat – over and over again and it got repetitive. Maybe that was the point as Kammani is stuck in this loop and tries to find her way out and save herself and her friends? But it was rough reading. 

Plus, with all the jumbledness of their failed attacks and other people’s interference, the book felt jumbled as well. I liked the character growth, I liked the ending, and I liked certain scenes, but the book has some issues. 

Warning: there are remarks of rape and an attempted rape. There is also a comment of someone being “broken” after losing an arm. This definitely was hard to read through and didn’t feel right, so I did want to make note of that. Other possibly concerning things discussed are child brides and the common mention of the lack of rights for women. I understand why this was included in the book and it is discussed, but this might be upsetting so I wanted to include it. 

Overall, it was an interesting book. I wanted to reach inside the story and nicely smack some of the characters but unfortunately, I can’t. But, it was a quick read that nicely wrapped up the series for me, even if there was a lot going on. So I think I’m gonna give this a starstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Review #1: Avatar: The Last Airbender Comics (1-3)

This review is going to be for the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic book collections. I thought about writing reviews for each, but honestly – that’s too much, even for me. So here is my overall review of the first three comics!

These comics take place immediately after the end of the show, Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The comics, in order, are:

  1. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise
  2. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search
  3. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift
  4. Avatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow
  5. Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South
  6. Avatar: The Last Airbender – Imbalance

Today I will be reviewing Avatar: The Promise, The Search, and The Rift!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads for The Promise:

The Avatar’s adventures continue right where the TV series left off, in this beautiful, oversized hardcover of The Promise, from Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko! Aang and friends must join together once again as the four nations’ tenuous peace is threatened in an impasse between Fire Lord Zuko and Earth King Kuei! As the world heads toward another devastating war, Aang’s friendship with Zuko throws him into the middle of the conflict! Featuring annotations by Eisner Award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and artist Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four), and a brand-new sketchbook, this is a story that Avatar fans need in an edition they will love!

And the synopsis from Goodreads for The Search:

The biggest mystery of Avatar, the fate of Fire Lord Zuko’s mother, is revealed in this remarkable oversized hardcover collecting parts 1–3 of The Search, from Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko!

Featuring annotations by Eisner Award–winning writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and artistic team Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four), and a brand-new sketchbook, this is a story that Avatar fans need in an edition they will love!

And finally, the synopsis from Goodreads for The Rift:

Avatar Aang and friends honor an Air Nomad holiday that hasn’t been celebrated in over one hundred years, but when cryptic visits from the spirit of Avatar Yangchen lead Aang to a refinery operating on land sacred to the Airbenders–they soon find themselves in peril as a dangerously powerful ancient spirit awakens with vengeance and destruction on its mind!

This collection of The Rift Parts 1-3 features annotations by Eisner Award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and artists Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four), with a brand-new sketchbook section!

After my rewatch of Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix, I had to read the comics. I had been wanting to read them for years and it made sense to read them now that the show was fresh in my mind. Since these comics pick up right where the show left off, it really was like another season, just printed instead of animated.

Since I had watched Korra several years ago, I knew that Aang and Katara end up together, but seeing their fresh relationship in the comics is really cute! And Toph and Sokka’s reactions to it make it that much cuter.

For The Promise, we get to see Zuko as the new Fire Lord and what happens to the Fire Nation after Ozai is overthrown. I really liked the story line and the overall changes that happen in this world. How separate nations can not only live together, but become integrated into their own world – kind of like how our world is now. You can have people from different nations living in different areas of the world and people aren’t restricted to loving people solely from their group.

For The Search, I was just happy to find out what happened to Zuko’s mom! We never got resolution from the show and to finally know what happened to her is so nice. Plus all the stuff that comes afterwards. I thought her story was not only really cool, but also really sad. We get a lot of backstory into Zuko’s relationship with his mom, her relationship to Ozai, and how this all affects Azula as well.

For The Rift, we get some closure for Toph. We know from Legend of Korra that Toph teaches other people how to metal bend and in this story, we see her first students at her new school. And we also find out about some history with the last airbender Avatar along with some other cool things in the spirit world! The thing I love the most was this one scene with Toph, which I will not spoil, because it just gives everyone some much needed closure and it’s really sweet!

Overall – I’m a huge Avatar nerd. I love the show, I love the comics, and I love the spin offs! After I finish the rest of these comics I am definitely reading the Korra comics and the Kyoshi comics too! I just need more Avatar in my life overall. I don’t even have to rate these because it’s very clear that these are all a starstarstarstarstar // 5 stars for me!

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I haven’t read many comics in my life, so I’m just gonna suggest you watch Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legen of Korra because they’re great shows. Also, read the comics!!!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Review + Blog Tour: Mayhem

I am so excited to be a part of the Mayhem blog tour through Wednesday Books! I was lucky enough to win a copy of Mayhem by Estelle Laure through the Wednesday Books giveaway, Nostalgia Hour, a couple months ago and when I saw the opportunity to jump on this blog tour, I had to take it!

Book Information:

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Here is the synopsis through Goodreads:

A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

Review:

When I read the synopsis I knew I had to read this book. Feminist mash up? Inspired by The Craft? Sign me up! I was so excited to read this book, until I start reading it. This was a really intense book that I honestly didn’t expect and I have a lot of thoughts on it. 

One thing I wish I knew going into this book was that the beginning (and some of the tones in general) are pretty heavy. In the final draft there will be a note from the author discussing some of the more serious topics in this novel, but I didn’t get a letter or a warning for the ARC. There is a lot of heaviness to this book, including rape, suicide, assault, murder, and drug abuse. I didn’t realize how intense this book was until I started reading, but Laure does a great job in discussing these issues and not just using them as a shock factor or background. While I would have liked to know those topics would be discussed, I think the author did a good job in discussing them.

I will include Laure’s note, which will be printed in final copies, below in the Author Information section.

The beginning was a bit “slow” in a way as we’re introduced to Mayhem and Roxy, as well as their past. We learn about why Roxy left Santa Maria and why they’re returning home after all these years. I like how Laure mixes in the past with the present to give one cohesive story. Though, I found that the plot of the book didn’t start until more than halfway through.

I wanted more of The Craft, feeling wise, and I didn’t get it. The majority of the book felt like a contemporary novel as Mayhem deals with her and her mother’s past once they return to Santa Maria. The fear of Mayhem’s step-father coming after them, relearning how to feel safe, dealing with her mother’s addiction – it’s a lot for a teen. And honestly, if that was the whole book, I would have been satisfied. The focus on Mayhem and her mother’s relationship, and working through their trauma, would have been a beautiful book.

But once the magic is added in, about 50% through, it changes the feel of the story. I liked the magic, though I didn’t understand it fully. My only complaint is that since the magic and this new storyline comes in late, I wish we had more time with it.

The main climatic event is fast and it left me unsatisfied. I wanted more to solving the mystery, more to the magic, and more in general.

Overall, I like the story and I loved watching Mayhem and Roxy reconnect. I thought the murder mystery was a cool aspect, though it wasn’t really touched on much. And the magic had so much potential, but it just felt underdeveloped unfortunately. Though I do love Laure’s writing and the Mayhem’s overall journey.

In the end, I would give this book a starstarstar.5 // 5 stars.

Author Information:

AP Estelle Laure_Credit Zoe Zimmerman

Author Bio:

Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Author Note:

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. I wanted girls who feel powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass.

Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also terrifying. I know I’m not the only one who had a scary childhood, and

I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying to access forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate, I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure

Related Links:

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Pre-Order the book here!

 

Book Blogger Problems

Anyone who blogs knows that there is a lot that goes on behind the screen. Posting often (especially multiple times a day) is exhausting and trying to write original content people wanna see? Even more exhausting. So, heres some of the problems I face as a book blogger.

Time Commitment

When you take up blogging, it can take up a lot of your time. Not that it’s wasted time, it’s not, but if it’s between reading, writing, blogging, sleeping, eating, etc – it can be overwhelming. I find it easier to take a day or two out of the week and write reviews and posts just to make it easier. Usually I’ll do about 3-4 in one sitting because once I’ve committed the time it’s easy to just roll with it!

Translating Ideas to the Page

I have a hard time translating ideas to the page sometimes. I’ll think of a super fun blog post or try to write a review, but I can’t get the emotions or idea from my head to the page. It is so frustrating. I just want things to get on the page, in the exact way I thought it, and people understand what I’m going for. Is that so much to ask for?

Feeling Inadequate

One of the biggest things I struggle with is confidence. Confidence in my writing, my ideas, and in myself. I try to write as true to me as I can, but it’s hard sometimes because I just want to make fun content I like that other people will like. And when I see other people’s blogs with higher follower counts and high engagement, it sometimes cracks my shell. I’ve even questioned, does anyone even cares what I write about? The honest answer is most likely no, but I try to ignore it. In the end, I’m not those other people and I can only write what is true to me – but it’s hard to ignore sometimes.

Being “Original”

I’m well aware that it’s very hard to be “original” as a book blogger. If it’s a tag, it’s most likely been done already. Reviews can all sound the same. And posts you think are gonna be a hit – something no one has ever seen – has been done and it flops. 

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So creating content that doesn’t feel overdone but is still fun and engaging? Really hard! It’s one of my biggest worries honestly. That I’m not only talking to myself, but that my content is so boring and unoriginal, no one cares about it.

I try to mix things up while also having some familiarity to my stuff, but no matter what I do, I’ll probably always worry about this.

What Are Words?

And, the biggest problem of being a book blogger? The actual writing. Especially spoiler free reviews that you just want to go on a full on spoilery rant about but you shouldn’t. Sometimes I sit down to write and it’s like no ones home. I could barely start this post honestly. And don’t get me started on editing! You guys get the cleaned up version of my posts. The hot mess I have to edit and deal with? Agonizing!

Through it all, I love it

Though there are a lot of things that are tough about blogging, I still love it. It gets me excited to read because I have a chance to sit down and write down all my thoughts and sometimes, people listen. I don’t have too many book friends, so getting to gush about stories I love, and rant about the ones I don’t, makes me so happy as a reader. And I love getting to interact with people through my blog and Twitter. I don’t know what I would do, or who I would be, if I didn’t have my blog. So thanks for sticking around with me!

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If you liked this post, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

 

July 2020 TBR

June was a good reading month for me! Although I didn’t necessarily follow my intended TBR. I’ve put Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare on my TBR for the past three months and it just hasn’t happened. I find myself getting approved or buddy reading other books, so it will have to wait for now.

I only ended up reading half of the books I wanted to read and one of those books ended up on this months TBR. I totally ignored Touch of Gold and Curse of Gold by Annie Sullivan, which I shouldn’t do. I do need to read those soon. Maybe I’ll try to fit at least Touch of Gold into this month’s TBR so I can read Curse of Gold before release.

Here’s my TBR for July 2020:

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Most of these are books I received for review or I need to read in order to review other books. A Wicked Magic is for a book tour, They Wish They Were Us is a buddy read, Warmaidens, Ignite the Sun, and Hush are all NetGalley reviews I need to read. I hope I can get through all of these and stick to my TBR but we’ll see. I tend to abandon my TBR apparently.

But, I still want to continue my reading streak and get all of these books (and then some) read before the end of July!

What are some books on your TBR? Any you’ve been putting off and want to get to?

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If you liked this post, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Villains I love and love to hate

The best stories have a good plot, diverse characters, and a villain you can’t help but love. The more interesting a villain, the more I enjoy a book, and sometimes it’s hard to get that perfect balance of evil and likable. So, here’s a list of some of my favorite villains!

A Villain I LOVE

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The Darkling is such a charming, charismatic person you can’t help but love him. Every interaction Alina had with him had me anxiously waiting to see what happened next. He believed in his mission, he loved Alina, and he wanted to change the world. Those conditions and attributes combined created a villain I loved. I didn’t want to hate him, and I sort of understood his intentions, but we all knew they were skewed.

 

A Villain I love to HATE

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Maeve as a villain is someone I love to hate. She’s evil, vindictive, and had a lot of motivation for her actions. I still hated her though. By the end, I could see how she wasn’t the true villain of the story, but her actions in the series allowed for our true villain to appear. Man I hated that guy lol

 

 

A Villain I hate to LOVE

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Corien, who we get to learn more about in Kingsbane, is such an evil guy. And when I mean evil, I mean evil. But also such a good antagonist. I mean everything he does makes me want to smack him on the head and then we get to the kissy kissy scenes and I’m swooning. Damn him!

 

 

A (kinda) Villain I LOVE

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The premise of this book is that there are no heroes or villains. We just have anti-heroes really and that means I can love all my boys the same! Victor, our protagonist (I guess you could call him) doesn’t want to be a hero – he wants revenge. And Eli? Well, he wants to be seen as a hero, but I guess murder isn’t a good way of going about that as he eradicates everyone with a super ability. This pair of equally grey characters is such a fun read.

 

And a Villain I just HATE

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OOOOHHH LET ME TELL YOU. I hate Marcus, I hate the Commandant, and I HATE the Nightbringer. Oh my gosh I hate these characters with a passion. And it’s not even because they’re bad characters/villains, it’s because they’re so EVIL that I just want them out of the way so my cinnamon roll Elias and my baby Laia can FINALLY BE HAPPY. GOSH I GET SO UPSET.

 

I find myself loving books with morally grey villains, or at least charming villains, because they make things so much more interesting. Like how can I even be mad when your messed up plan actually makes sense? How can I hate you when you’re so lovable and charming?! It can be so frustrating.

What are some villains you love and love to hate? Let me know in the comments!

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ARC Review: Divine Blood

I received a copy of Divine Blood by Beck Michaels in exchange for an honest review. This book releases today, so be sure to purchase a copy from Amazon, or wherever you get your books from 🙂

My friend Alexa, whom I’m sure you all know by know over at Writing the Universe, read and loved this book! She told me everything she loved and how she couldn’t wait for me to read it! Unfortunately, I wasn’t as much of a fan as she was.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The Shadow demon nearly took everything from Dyna, and it would soon return for more. When she discovers a way to fight back, she must go on a perilous journey and risk it all for those she holds dear.

Along the way, she meets Cassiel, a Celestial Prince with magic blood and wings as black as his heart. He wants nothing to do with Dyna until he learns she could lead him to a place he has been searching for all his life.

But reaching their destination is not as easy as they thought, nor are they the only ones who search for it. With danger at every turn and harrowing secrets between them, the quest will require much more than determination. They must fight for what they desire—or die trying.

For fans of Throne of Glass and Lord of the Rings comes a new debut series with remarkable characters, a budding romance, and gripping action. Divine Blood is the first book of an enchanting dark fantasy that explores the depths of loss, acceptance and the true meaning of courage.

The prologue/first chapter sucked me into this book. I was ready and excited for an incredible journey to save her village! But as we creep further into the book, the pace drops and I felt like it was dragging. I wanted a steady build up into pure action, but as we moved along, I didn’t feel a steady progression.

I don’t mind slow build ups, as long as there is something to fill that void, like side journeys and character build up. We get a lot of side journey’s as our characters work to get what they need, but it was the character moments that I struggled a bit to get through.

I think my biggest issues were the characters, overall. Their personalities seemed to change between POV. Dyna, for starters, comes across as a sure, confident girl who is ready to protect and defend her home. But then in Zev’s eyes she’s a weak toddler who can’t even walk by herself without getting into trouble. And then Cassiels’ POV, she’s clumsy, baby-ish, and yet enchanting.

It’s like I’m reading about three different people. Now, I’ll admit, the way a person perceives themselves is different from how others see them, so I get that difference. But even between the two men, it’s two different people.

I think that disconnect made it more difficult for me to enjoy the story. I found myself liking the action scenes and the plot, but the slower moments between characters was a bit harder to get through. But I stuck it out, and I thought the remaining 40% of the book was amazing! It was action filled, the plot progressed, and it set us up for the rest of their journey. We even meet new characters who add another dimension to the characters and their stories, which I really liked. I couldn’t put it down as our heroes, and our villains, worked towards their goals.

For the most part, I really liked the book. I thought the plot was interesting and new. We had a clear goal for each character on what they wanted and what they were willing to do. I genuinely got excited at the end of the book wanting to know what is coming next. And I think I’m definitely going to buy and read book 2 when it releases in December.

Overall, I would have to give this book a starstarstar // 5 stars. I think that’s a neutral enough rating. There were some things I didn’t like in the story and other things I loved, so this feels like a natural resting place for my thoughts.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. 

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Books I Regret Buying

I am shamelessly copying my friend Alexa, Writing the Universe, on this post but I have permission, so it’s fine!

We all have those impulse buys – you know the ones – the cover you can’t resist or your friend told you to buy it. I have several of those and while I may not have those copies anymore (because I got rid of them), I’m going to cover what books I regret buying.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Series

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I did not read this book at all. I bought an entire hardcover series and The Tales of the Peculiar signed copy and never read them. I eventually ended up selling them. I had heard great things about the first book, but I never got around to reading it, so there was no point in holding onto it. If I decide to read them in the future, I have friends who will willingly give me a copy to borrow or the library. I don’t see a point in owning this series anymore.

Illuminae/Gemina

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A friend gifted me Gemina without checking if I had read the first book, which I didn’t. So I purchased Illuminae and tried to read it. I really tried. The constant switch between formats actually made it harder for me to understand what was going on because I am a person who analyzes everything on a page, so on some pages I would take five minutes looking over anything before moving on. And then forget what happened. Maybe in the future I’ll try to read this monster of a series, especially since everyone raves about it and I loved their other series Aurora Rising, but at this moment, I regret having them. They’re taking up a lot of room on my shelf and collecting dust.

The Hunger Games

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I never read The Hunger Games. My friends read it in middle school/high school and always recommended it to me since I was a fellow reader. And it didn’t seem that interesting to me. But with constant persistence, eventually, I caved, and got a cheap/almost free paperback copy to read. I read five chapters and stopped. I hated it. I was bored to tears and honestly didn’t care about the book. So I sold the copy and moved on.

The Gilded Wolves

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I got two copies of this book, one from OwlCrate and the other I had preordered not realizing I was getting it in my OwlCrate. I have since sold the OwlCrate edition because I DNFed this book. I got over 100 pages in and I couldn’t get into it. I want to give this book another try because I love Roshani’s other series, The Star-Touched Queen, but this one was boring. I wanted a Six of Crows heist novel and I wasn’t getting that. It was frustrating. My friend Grace, who has a similar taste in books, loves this novel (and she’s the person I sold my OC copy to), so I feel like I need to give it another chance. But as of right now, I definitely regret buying this book.

Three Dark Crowns/One Dark Throne

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Before anyone comes for me, I loved these books! So it is less of a, “oh my gosh, I’m so mad I bought these, I hated the books or I never read them!” and more of a, “I don’t have the complete series and part of me wants them as e-books”. I read the first book in college in a day. Like I took it to all of my lectures and read them in that day and LOVED it. Now I have the first two books signed and I don’t own the last two books. And I kinda regret buying the first two instead of just getting a box set or getting them on kindle. I don’t know what to do!

The Mortal Gods

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Because I loved Three Dark Crowns so much, when I saw a signed copy of this at BookCon I jumped on it! Only to realize I never purchased the first book and at this point, I probably won’t! Since I’m moving, I need to reduce the number of physical books I have so I most likely will be purchasing more kindle books than physical books for the time being. Except for special editions of course! But that leaves me with a signed copy of book 2 having never read book 1 . . . So that’s a bit frustrating.

Into The Still Blue

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I saw this book on BookOutlet and didn’t even think to check the synopsis. I bought it, it arrived, and it’s the third book in a series . . .

I need to be better about purchasing books out of order, cause clearly I can’t trust myself to do the proper research! Yes, I bought the third book in a series by accident and no, I have not purchased book 1 or 2 at this point. I think I still have this book sitting on my shelf and it needs to go. Maybe I’ll get the e-book of Under the Never Sky, but who knows when that’s going to happen?

All in all, I’m grateful I don’t have too many books sitting on my shelf that I’m not going to read. I have either re-homed them or sold them, so I’m not out too much. But I’m sure this won’t be the last experience I have regretting a book I bought. Maybe I can do a series on this if it continues to happen (let’s hope it doesn’t!)

Thanks to Alexa for the idea! What are some books you regret buying?

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April Mid-Month Update

March was crazy and April is following closely behind for me. This month I have focused on the books currently sitting in my NetGalley queue and other giveaway books I’ve won. I’ve also allowed my self to read some TBR books this month to keep it fresh and motivate me, as well as some buddy reading! Here is my mid month update on what I’ve read, what I’m reading, and what I plan to read for April!

What I’ve read:

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What I’m reading:

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What I plan to read:

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I’m currently buddy reading The Kingdom of Back and Goddess in the Machine with some friends, which is why it’s taking so long for me to read them. If you follow me on Goodreads, then you’d see I’m reading about 50 pages a day for each of them. I am also almost done with Where Dreams Descend and plan to start The Vanishing Deep next!

I’m hopeful that I can read the rest of these books by the end of the month, but it might change depending on how I’m feeling. Most likely, one or two of these will need to be pushed into May but again, I’m hopeful that I can get through them all. Now one of these books is HUGE (cough cough, SJM, cough cough)! I’m excited to dive into two of my favorite authors, especially since most of my friends have read their books already and are waiting on me to finish. I love Astrid’s debut novel Four Dead Queens and I’ve been hearing great things about The Vanishing Deep!

As I set up my May TBR, what are some titles you’re looking to read? I have a few ARCs, some new releases, and old TBR books I’m hoping to get through. I also want to push myself to read more books this month and next month so I can get ahead for my reading goal.

Don’t forget, I am currently co-hosting a giveaway with Writing the Universe! You can enter through the Rafflecopter we have set up (entries will only count if you enter through there!). I will link the post to our giveaway – please feel free to check it out and enter!

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I Need to Rant

Okay, I’m not normally a ranter.

Alright maybe that was a lie, but I don’t rant on my blog often. Today I feel like I need to get this off my chest and maybe that will be the catalyst to turn this around.

I am finding it extremely hard to find a book that I want to read right now. After reading several amazing books this month (check out my latest reviews!!) nothing seems to catch my attention the same way.

As of today, I am currently reading three books: Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles, The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu, and Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson. While I’m enjoying them for the most part, I am .01% away from DNFing Goddess in the Machine and I’m just trying to get through Where Dreams Descend because this is my 3rd? 4th? attempt trying to finish it. The only book I’m not pulling hair to get through is Kingdom of Back at the moment.

Now, the most annoying problem is, is that normally I would love all of these books. They fit right into my favorite genres and have amazing plots, characters, pacing and tone is great. But, still, I just can’t love them.

I’m worried that not only am I about to fall into a reading slump, but my slump will turn books that I should love, and probably would love, into books that I can’t stand. And I’m so frustrated with this! The second I get myself into a reading frenzy I can’t bring myself to like the books I’m getting through. I can’t figure out what is causing this or how I can fix it, so I guess be prepared for some not great reviews on these books because my stupid brain can’t detach the stress of life and wants me to hate them.

And I really want to like them.

I’ve found myself in these slumps before and it usually marks the end for my reading. I get through a couple really good books and then BAM! I can’t reading anything else for a month and I’m stuck. Really frustrating for a book blogger. I’m hoping I can turn this around and keep going since I have been doing much better with finishing and reviewing books in a somewhat timely manner right now, but we’ll see.

Anyways, that was my rant. I’m just frustrated with my brain and my reading at the moment. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for staying with me. 🙂

Okay, I’m going to get back to reading and hopefully get myself out of this rut.

Review: Aurora Rising

I received a copy of Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I know, I know, I’m late on this one, but better late than never right? This book has been sitting in my NetGalley queue for like a year now and I finally read it. In less than 24 hours. Why did I wait so long!?

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

So first and foremost, OW. Like, OWWW. I wasn’t expecting my heart to be ripped clean from my chest like that and honestly, I’m hurt. I know Jay is well known for his ability to sever heart strings and murder his readers, but damn Jay! Damn Amie! You didn’t have to destroy me like that! So yeah, the ending hurt. I was definitely holding back tears and this is my warning to you.

Besides that, WOW this book was amazing. I’m a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy books and this one filled my heart with joy (you know, until it was ripped from my chest). We had a rag tag group pushed together and struggling to work with each other. We have sass and lots of it. An epic space adventure. Spy work. It was everything I could have asked for and more.

There really wasn’t much I didn’t like about the story. It was fast paced and had me sitting on the edge of my seating waiting for the next twist and turn. Even the cheesy moments, and there were a few, didn’t make me roll my eyes. I was elated reading them and shipping characters together.

Overall, a total win for me. star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman’s other series, Illuminae.

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ARC Review: Night Spinner

I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Before the massacre at Nariin, Enebish was one of the greatest warriors in the Sky King’s Imperial Army: a rare and dangerous Night Spinner, blessed with the ability to control the threads of darkness. Now, she is known as Enebish the Destroyer―a monster and murderer, banished to a monastery for losing control of her power and annihilating a merchant caravan.

Guilt stricken and scarred, Enebish tries to be grateful for her sanctuary, until her adoptive sister, Imperial Army commander Ghoa, returns from the war front with a tantalizing offer. If Enebish can capture the notorious criminal, Temujin, whose band of rebels has been seizing army supply wagons, not only will her crimes be pardoned, she will be reinstated as a warrior.

Enebish eagerly accepts. But as she hunts Temujin across the tundra, she discovers the tides of war have shifted, and the supplies he’s stealing are the only thing keeping thousands of shepherds from starving. Torn between duty and conscience, Enebish must decide whether to put her trust in the charismatic rebel or her beloved sister. No matter who she chooses, an even greater enemy is advancing, ready to bring the empire to its knees.

So the beginning of this story was kinda boring. I don’t say it because I’m expecting great action from the start but it wasn’t until about 30-40% of the way through the book that things got really interesting. There were some seriously slow moments in the story that had me going “do I even want to finish this”? Well, I read the whole thing and I really enjoyed it. I thought the plot was good and loved the aspect of the world. Besides the slowness there were some things I wasn’t a fan of – like the main character’s demure. She kept repeating how weak and small she is even though previously she was one of the strongest and most confident warrior. It wasn’t very believable that someone’s personality would change that drastically. Would I believe they would doubt themselves more? Yeah. Would I believe they wouldn’t take as many risks? Yeah. But to go from warrior to a soft noodle didn’t comprehend for me or for the character.

Another thing I wasn’t a fan of was the unanswered plot point. I won’t spoil it, but this point was made over and over again but after every twist, turn, and reveal, this question still was not answered. I hope it will be answered in future books because I’m curious why it was brought up so frequently with no answer or follow up. Besides that, I liked the book. Some characters annoyed me but you don’t get a long with everyone you meet and that’s fine. 

Overall, I liked the book. Once you get past the beginning and the backstory has been explained it picks up a lot. There were still some dull moments which is why this isn’t a higher rating for me, but generally a good book. I would give this a This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is star-1.pngThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is star-1.pngThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is star-1.png//5 stars.

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If this story sounds interesting, I would check out Everless by Sara Holland.

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Top Five Favorite Characters … of ALL TIME

We all have a book crush. I have several. They could be friend crushes, relationship crushes, or even – holy cow that’s a well developed villain crush. Here are my top 5 FAVORITE characters of ALL TIME!

#1 Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices

First and foremost, you will see a trend between my favorite characters. They’re all sassy little shits and I love them for it. Will for instance is just someone who needs a really big hug. All the crap that he goes through with Tessa and Jem breaks my heart and while I was rooting for Jessa, I ended up loving Till by the end. 

#2 Altair from We Hunt the Flame

This guy. OH MY GOSH this guy cracks me up. The sass level is off the charts with him and it makes every encounter 100% better. Every conversation with Zafira and Nasir is one of pure enjoyment for the reader. And he has a big heart to go along with it, so while the sass might be high, the love is higher.

#3 Rose Hathaway from Vampire Academy

So I looked up to Rose growing up. Her take no BS attitude mixed with her love for her friends was something I admired. I wanted to be tough and kick ass while also being a strong and loyal friend. I think I emulate a lot of those qualities in my relationships today and have become 100% a ride or die friend. Also, the relationship between her and Dimitri is FIRE!

#4 Gideon from Gideon the Ninth

So Gideon is an interesting person. Her internal monologue is not only hilarious and entertaining, but so unique. It was like the author just wrote down her own thoughts for every weird situation and boom! There’s Gideon’s inner monologue. Her reactions and relationships to the people are her also make her not only entertaining, but somewhat of a softy. I think there’s a trend going on here?

#5 Reid Diggory from Serpent & Dove

Last, but certainly not least. My witch killing baby – Reid. This man is the definition of a big baby who likes to pretend he’s tough in front of everyone, but is a total softy. And he’s hilarious. While being prude isn’t a bad thing, his reactions to Louise and her wild antics are hilarious. Like, have me rolling on the floor hilarious. And his interactions with her, especially as their relationship develops, makes my heart happy.

Overall, I have a type. I love the tough cookies with big hearts, who are also hilarious. Humor is necessary for my favs. And while I have plenty of other favorite characters, who also sit in a similar trope, these (so far) are my all time favorites. I love them to death and totally have book crushes on them.

Who’s your biggest book crush?

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Review: Lobizona

Lobizona was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020 and it did not disappoint. If you haven’t read Romina’s other series, the Zodiac series, you need to check it out! I snagged an ARC of her new series and here are my thoughts!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Reading Manu’s story brings up issues of immigration through a fantastical lens, as well as a realistic one. The separation between the real world and the fictional is a thin line that is crossed about 1/4-1/3 of the way through and highlights similar issues between these two worlds. Between the review version (300 pages) and what seems to be the final version (400 pages) there is a lot of details that could have been added, moments that changed, or even new scenes that I didn’t get in the review, but I hope are there. I feel like the beginning, which takes place in Miami, is more fleshed out than the fantastical world. It’s not clear whether it’s due to lack of explanation, or that it’s a completely different world these characters are living in, but I felt a bit lost. 

In some moments I find myself not fully comprehending what Romina wants me to see or getting confused on the technicalities of what Lobizóns can and can’t do. It made it difficult to fully immerse myself during those moments and I felt pulled away. With 100 pages being added to the final copy, I assume, and I hope, that the fantastical world is fleshed out a bit more. If so, then I think the book is going to connect and resonate a lot more with readers than it would right now.

Overall, I really liked the story. I’m a fan of Romina’s work in general and I’m excited to see this new story come to light soon! I would rate this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars but I’m excited to see if I like the finished copy even more.

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How to Deal with Book Festival FOMO

If you’re like me, you cannot afford to go to every major book festival every year. Whether that’s from not being able to afford it or not being able to get off work, it can suck. YallFEST, ALA, BookCon, NoVaTeen, Texas Book Festival, YallWEST, National Book Festival, and ApollyCon are just some of the annual events hosted in the US and it can suck not to make any of them.

I have been lucky enough to attend one or two festivals each year with last year marking three (usually within my area): NoVa Teen Book Festival, ALA, and YallFEST.

But as ALA Midwinter passes, and I look at everyone’s hauls, I get sad and wish I could have gone. Or convince myself that I could have afforded to go (I really couldn’t).

So how do I deal with FOMO?:

  1. The easiest and the hardest is avoidance. I skip passed all the haul photos and special things people managed to grab – it will makes me feel like crap and sparks the green monster inside. So best thing to keep me happy to move passed it.
  2. Look at my past convention/event items I’ve received. Someone out there is super jealous I managed to grab that book or item and I should be happy to have it.
  3. If you haven’t gotten a chance to attend one yet, make a plan! Plan to go one year and make it something to look forward to. I planned for over a year to go to my first BookCon and it made the experience amazing, I didn’t even care what other people I got. I was just happy to get to go with my best friend.
  4. Try to be happy for them. This could be their first event/the only one they can go to/whatever the scenario. And while their excitement could be seen as bragging, I don’t know what they had to go through to get there.

 

FOMO sucks for everyone. Hopefully my tips will get you through another year of festival madness!

What are some things you do to get through FOMO? Leave a comment down below to let me know.

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ARC Review: Foul is Fair

Macbeth meets Kill Bill in this crazy intense retelling featuring badass witches and murderous women. If you’re looking for a revenge story with a satisfying ending, here is your next read!

I received this book for review through an eARC from NetGalley as well as a physical galley from the publisher.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Elle and her friends Mads, Jenny, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Elle’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Elle as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Elle transfers to St. Andrew’s. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

First and foremost, as a trigger/content warning, if you have a history or are sensitive to materials containing abuse/assault/sexual assault – please be careful reading this. The main character is brutally assaulted and the images she remembers can be very detailed and gruesome. It was hard for me to read at some points and triggered feelings/emotions from my own past that I was not looking to experience nor did I want to open up about.

Besides that, if we are looking at this book solely as a Macbeth meets Kill Bill retelling – holy hell this book is great! Our MC is her own mix of witch and Lady Macbeth with her coven not too far behind. Her clever plans to get back at the boys who wronged her leaves you speechless – 1) at how brilliant some of the ideas are and 2) badass she is.

Most (if not all) of Jade’s motivation in this book is revenge and while it was a bit much at the beginning, it soon opened up into a conversation about victims and how they deal with what they’ve been through, which was a good thing to start mentioning. While I’m sure going after those who have wronged you is a great motivator, it was a little repetitive and kind of boring as that was the ONLY motivator. Jade is a fleshed out character, but I didn’t just want to hear “revenge” going through her brain but more of a focus on the other things that may have motivated her.

One thing I loved about this book was the fact that the other characters, such as Mack or Duncan, clearly relate to their Macbeth counterparts and it’s really interesting how the author so easily mixed these roles into a teenage school hierarchy. It was also cool to read the similar plot progression and events translate from the play to this story, with its own twists of course.

One thing I did have an issue with was timeline. One plot point is getting Macbeth with Lady Macbeth, which happens in a day. And the entire book events occur in two weeks, which honestly isn’t a lot of time. The intricate plan Jade/Elle comes up with is not something that a 16 year old girl could come up with in one day nor execute in less than two weeks. I wish the story had taken a bit more time and spanned it a bit farther than what we got. Maybe a month or two instead of two weeks?

Overall, I loved the idea of this book but a little “eh” on the execution. The writing was gorgeous but I wanted more out of the “retelling” and more development out of the characters. I understand how hard it is to make characters you’re trying to recreate also emulate who they are recreated from, but I wasn’t 100% satisfied. I would give this book a star.pngstar.pngstar.png.5//5 stars solely for time line issues, slightly underdeveloped plot, and the gang rape plot line.

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If you like revenge plot lines with strong female leads, check out The Grace Year by Kim Liggett.

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New Years Resolution: Book Edition

Last year SUCKED when it came to reading. The start of the year I was reading 15 books a month and then after that it DIED. Crashed and burned. Hit the iceberg and sank. I was lucky if I managed to read a book that month, must less two. I failed to hit my reading goal and missed it by a long shot.

This year, I want that to be different. I find myself having bad habits because I want to be able to have books for review or I feel like I have to read something because it’s releasing soon. This causes me to stress about it though and I find myself avoiding reading, but I don’t want to feel those pressures anymore and enjoy the reading process. Here are some of my reading New Years resolutions:

  1. I want to stop caring about what I’m reading and read what I want to. If a book isn’t vibing with me, that’s okay. I’ll feel comfortable putting it down and starting something else. I can always come back to it right?
  2.  JUST PICK UP THE BOOK AND READ. Take 5 minutes every day at least to read. If you can’t do more than 5, that’s okay. You read something today and that’s progress.
  3. Reviews can be short and sweet or long and ranty. Whatever the book makes you feel, that’s okay to write. You don’t have to follow a formula or talk about specific things – write about what spoke to you or what didn’t.
  4. Branch out. Read different genres and sub-genres! There are so many amazing books out there you just need to pick them up and read them.
  5. Stop spending so much money on books. You’re lucky enough to get free books at work, you have books at home, and you can always go to the library. You don’t have to buy every single book – even though you want to.

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I hope this will help me reach my 50 book reading goal for this year and if all goes well – it will.

I will be victorious!!!

What are your 2020 reading goals?

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My NetGalley Waitlist

As a reviewer I am not big enough or lucky enough to go to every convention or receive physical ARCs, so I use NetGalley for my ARC review fix. If you haven’t heard of NetGalley before, it’s a site that allows you to request and download e-books. Some of them are released titles but a lot are unreleased titles, so if you are a newbie blogger or dipping your toe into review ARCs, this is a great place to start!

I’ve been using NetGalley since January 2018 and here are some of the books I’m currently pending on NetGalley for:

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Links to each book listed down below.

  1. All the Stars and Teeth
  2. The Shadows Between Us
  3. Night Spinner
  4. Witches of Ash and Ruin
  5. The Raven and the Dove
  6. Unravel the Dusk
  7. Incendiary
  8. Lobizona
  9. Of Silver and Shadow
  10. Girl, Serpent, Thorn
  11. We Are Blood and Thunder
  12. The Midnight Lie

I’m currently crossing my fingers that I can even get one of these to approve! I currently have to read and review Foul is Fair, Sensational, and Aurora RisingIt seems like Foul is Fair is going to be my next serious read and then we’ll go from there!

One thing I hate when I look through NetGalley, is all the rejections – especially since I’ve hit 25 declined books so far. Hopefully that number doesn’t rise anymore!

Do you use NetGalley and if so, what are your current reads from it?

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2019 Wrap Up: A Year in Books

Wow, who can believe that 2019 is coming to an end and we are about to emerge into the 20’s!? I can’t.

2019 was the year of new beginnings for me:

  • I graduated college that winter and was now free from school
  • I got my first full time job!
  • I bought my 3rd car, because my 2nd car died 😦
  • I started blogging regularly
  • I went to a lot of amazing conventions and met so many authors
  • And I read a lot of books!

This year was awesome and new, yet very hard. There were 3 unfortunate deaths in my family, people I loved were going through some rough transitions, but in the end, we have all ended the year on a strong foot and I’m excited for 2020 – if not also terrified.

To wrap up this year, let’s look back at all the amazing books I read and are set to finish by the end of the year:

  1. The Wicked Deep
  2. The Similars
  3. Grim Lovelies
  4. Queen of Air and Darkness
  5. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
  6. Truthwitch
  7. Spectacle
  8. A Reaper at the Gates
  9. Windwitch
  10. This Book is Not Yet Rated
  11. Courting Darkness
  12. The Waking Forest
  13. The Cerulean
  14. Furyborn
  15. The Dark Descent of Emily Frankenstein
  16. The Devouring Gray
  17. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe
  18. The Everlasting Rose
  19. Killing November
  20. Smoke and Key
  21. The Things She’s Seen
  22. Kingsbane
  23. We Hunt the Flame
  24. Wilder Girls
  25. Treason of Thorns
  26. Spin the Dawn
  27. House of Salt and Sorrows
  28. A Curse so Dark and Lonely
  29. Diamond City
  30. A Heart so Fierce and Broken
  31. A Crown of Coral and Pearl
  32. The Bone Houses
  33. Tiger Queen
  34. There Will Come a Darkness
  35. The Gilded Wolves
  36. The Grace Year
  37. Serpent and Dove
  38. Kingdom of Souls
  39. Gideon the Ninth
  40. Wicked Saints
  41. Queen of Nothing
  42. Ruthless Gods (in progress)
  43. Sensational (in progress)

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My goal for 2019 was 100 books, but with working two jobs and other things getting in the way, that did not happen. I’ll be lucky to get to 50 at this point, but that’s okay, because most of these reads have been well worth it!

Here is my year in review:

Favorite Book:

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This was one of my favorite reads of this year. There seems to be a dichotomy over this book, with some people not liking it, but I loved it. The story was new and interesting, the characters had a wonderful relationship, and the world sucked me right in. I could not put this story down!

 

 

Least Favorite Book:

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This was unfortunate, but this was my least favorite read of the year. While I liked the plot of the story it was the main character that I couldn’t connect with. I had some issues with pacing as well, but overall I couldn’t connect with her story or her personality and that made it almost impossible to get through. This story is amazing and unique, and you should definitely give it a try, but just wasn’t for me.

 

Most Surprising Read:

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I was so excited for this trilogy to end – until I actually read the ending. I was not impressed with the ending and felt like it could have been much better. My biggest thing was the personality change in Jude and the big dynamic change between two characters. Overall, I still enjoyed the ending but I didn’t love it.

 

 

Most Anticipated Read of 2020:

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There are so many amazing books coming out in 2020 and I’ve had the pleasure to have already read some of them. One of the early 2020 books I’m super excited about is called Diamond City and it is AMAZING! It’s like Throne of Glass met Six of Crows and it is so good. If this book isn’t on your radar, it needs to be!

 

 

Overall, this year has been filled with amazing books, events, and people – not a bad year to end the decade with!

If you’re interested in ending the year off right, check out my end of the year giveaway! This is as a thank you for reading 100 blog followers and it includes a 2019 ARC, 2020 ARC, a finished copy, and a bunch of swag! You can click here to enter!

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Review: Queen of Nothing

So, it’s over. The Cruel Prince trilogy has concluded and there are no more books coming out.

i’M NOT CRYING – YOU ARE!

Okay, anyways, moving on. I’m honestly so sad about this. I love Holly Black and basically anything that she writes and to have an ending to this dark, wonderful series breaks my heart – BUT, it also means we have some answers.

Don’t worry though, this review will be spoiler free as the book hasn’t even been out for a month and most people haven’t even read it yet. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on Queen of Nothing by Holly Black!

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Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.

Now, first things first, one of the first things I noticed when I started reading this book was a complete tone difference. Maybe it’s because it’s been 17 months since I read Wicked King – maybe it’s because Jude is sad about her situation – or maybe Holly wanted to cut down on the wickedness to wrap up the book?

Honestly, I’m not sure. But there was a clear tone difference for me which I thought was weird. I felt like I was stepping back into the world but with a different lens on what was happening. It didn’t make the book unpleasant or ruin anything it was just … different.

Besides that, the only other issue I had was the convenience of certain scenes where someone should have lost but they don’t. Or things turned out the exact opposite from what the reader would think but with little explanation how. Holly has graced us with trickery, like in books 1 and 2, but the tricks weren’t as elaborate in book 3 as the other two and I was left with a lot of “Huh???” reading through situations.

Now, what Holly does do right are some wicked “HOLY COW” moments that I didn’t even see coming and they were AWESOME. This book is a great conclusion to the series and it feels like a solid ending, but somehow I wish for more. Did I want another 100 pages of action – yeah, or some more epic scenes that left me breathless – yeah, but did I still love this book with my entire heart – yeah!

Most of my complaints are opinions and there honestly wasn’t much in the story that left me unsatisfied. Which is why this book is still a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 star read for me. I said it before, I love what Holly writes and this book is not a disappointment.

Honestly though, I wanna know your opinions on the covers. Which one do you like the most? Comment below and let me know your favorite! Mine is a tie between the OG cover and Owlcrate for very different reasons.

                      OG                                                  B&N                                         Owlcrate

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out titles like Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, and  The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

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My First Time at YALLFest: My Thoughts and Honest Review

I am loving these long titles recently. Sorry to anyone who can’t read the whole thing and is thinking, “what in the world?” at these. Next time I’ll make sure the title is an entire paragraph – that will be fun!

So, I went to YALLFest 2019 last week (more like 2 weeks now but whatever) and let me say, wow. It’s on the same craziness scale as BookCon with just a 1/50 of the booths and the people – also it’s outdoors. I went with my friend Grace and we were so excited. Grace is a veteran at this, having gone multiple years in a row, but this being my first time, I basically relied on Grace to lead me through the event with no issues. There were no issues thankfully.

Day One – Friday:

Friday is mostly a signing day so we went and got some books signed (to rephrase, Grace got some books signed and I stood in line for her) and then we wandered around Charleston. Grace had won tickets to the Red Carpet Preview hosted by Penguin Teen which we went to after meeting some wonderful authors. On our seats were these cute tote bags containing stickers, tattoos, a preview of 2020 books, and an ARC of They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman.

The event was a lot of fun and included authors such as Ally Condie, Renee Ahdieh, Tochi Onyebuchi, and other fantastic authors! If you ever go to YALLFest and want a fun panel to go to, Red Carpet Preview was awesome and I highly recommend it.

Day Two – Saturday:

The day started off at 4:30am when our alarm went off and we woke up for the day. We waited in the car in front of the museum (where the ARC square was located) at 5:30pm until we saw other people arrive. We parked and waited outside from 6:00am until 9:00am when the Fierce Reads booth opened for their ticket drop.  I grabbed tickets for Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan and Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust.

9:01am – after tickets were acquired, I went right to the Fierce Reads booth next door where they were selling finished copies of books. As they stated in their email, if you purchased certain books you got some ARCs included. So in addition to tickets to two ARC drops later in the day, I also snagged ARCs of The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves #2) and Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles.

After that, rushing over to Epic Reads to acquire another book, everything started to blur. For most of the day I ran around to different drops that were happening for books I knew I really wanted and occasionally stepped in line for mystery items. Besides running around to different drops, my friend and I also attended the I Love YA A Waffle Lot! event hosted by HMH Teen.

The event was a lot of fun and hey, free waffles! I took some photos at their Instagram station, pictured below:

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Towards the end of the day, Fierce Reads offered another promotion like the one from the morning, buy a book and get an ARC. I bought two books, Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok. Included with those books were the ARCs to the sequels of each, Ruthless Gods and Sensational. It was a nice surprise for everyone as they cleared out books and ARCs from other events.

The ARC square closed at 4pm, with raffle winners being announced at 4:30pm, for the most part. I didn’t win anything but that’s typical. Finally, after a long day of running and waiting in line, we headed for the car.

To sit down for an hour until our final event.

We went to the Smackdown event at the Music Hall and it was very interesting. I didn’t know what to expect at this event but I was still somehow surprised at the different segments they hosted. There was singing, dancing, shoving hand into mayonnaise, and a lot more.

It was a great way for Grace and me to relax and have some fun at the same time. The drive home was bittersweet because 1) the event was over which means we were going home soon but 2) yay for beds and sleeping!

After ordering pizza and marveling at our hauls, YALLFest was over!

Here are some crappy photos of my haul from this year, taken in the hotel after a 15 hour day! Enjoy!

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Overall, it was a fun festival to attend. It’s a bit annoying that the event is outside because rain or shine, you’re going to feel it, and with the cold it was brutal. The ARC square is also very close together so lines would often intersect or be side by side, which got confusing as the day wore on. The last real complaint is that there is absolutely no food nearby. If you are not prepared to bring some snacks or a lunch with you, and you’re trying to stay on top of ARC drops during the day, you are going to starve.

Besides the usual festival complaints, I really enjoyed meeting everyone at YALLFest and I am planning on going again next year for the 10th anniversary! Now that I know what to expect, and how to optimize my time, I’m excited to see what next year holds for us!

Did you attend YALLFest this year? If you did, what was your most exciting find?

If you didn’t go, what would you have been on the hunt for?

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Life Update: New Job, Reading Slumps, and More

So as you can tell, I haven’t posted in a while. There is a completely valid reason for that but I still feel like I have to explain myself so here goes: life got really busy. I hit a hardcore reading slump in September/October that I couldn’t get over – hence why it took me two months to read Gideon the Ninth. On top of that I started a new job at the end of October in addition to my current full time job. So yeah, it’s been hectic.

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First off, yay for new jobs! I recently accepted a part time position at Barnes and Noble which is where I now work in addition to my other full time job. Unfortunately, my full time job cut my hours (yayyy) and so in order to make up that loss, I got another job! And thankfully it’s at a place I’ve wanted to work at for forever.

Getting a second job isn’t always fun or easy but my coworkers have made the experience amazing. I’ve met other writers there who are working on AMAZING manuscripts that I can’t wait to read. Heard some funny and not so funny stories and found a group of people who love books as much as I do. Overall, it’s been an awesome place to work and I’m excited to help people find amazing gifts for their loved ones.

Plus that employee discount 😉

Besides that, I just recently got over a reading slump. I FINALLY finished Gideon the Ninth (FINALLY!!!) and read Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan in 24 hours. (Let me know if you want me to write a review for that – I feel like it’s been discussed a lot so I don’t want to be too repetitive). And I’m currently reading Sensational by Jodie Lynn Zdrok at the moment, which comes out in February 2020. I’m hoping that another slump won’t hit for a few months because if it does, I will scream. Not sure what I’m going to read next, probably Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan (aka, Wicked Saints 2) because I received it at YALLFest and hello, I have to read it after the mess that was Wicked Saints. After that, I have a lot of new releases and ARCs to read so hopefully I have plenty of reading material before the next major slump hits!

Along with a reading slump, I was also hit with a writing slump. Now that I work two jobs, I doubt I will get much writing done this month but I’m going to try. I bought a new calendar which will hopefully help me manage my time better but we all know there are no guarantees with that. And I’m excited for the Holiday season!

What are some major updates in your life? Any amazing news you want to share? Comment below so we can celebrate together!

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Review: Gideon the Ninth

Guys … guys … GUYS!!! I finally finished a book! Holy cow! For the first time in 2 months I finished a book and thankfully, it was a good one. Here’s my review for the new adult fantasy series, Gideon the Ninth.

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Here’s the description from Goodreads:

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

First off, this book has a slow start. I’m gonna say it, because it almost ruined the rest of the book for me, but it’s a slow beginning. There’s a lot of sassy, witty banter but it’s mostly history explanation and getting the character where they need to be. Then the fun begins.

I loved basically everything in this book, it was a perfect match for my taste. Snarky, sassy characters who are assholes but soft for certain people (eventually). Funny, witty banter. Amazing, intensive fantasy aspects such as necromancy and the ability to control the dead and their bones. Like what? It was everything I was looking for, plus lots of gay stuff. It was awesome.

There wasn’t much I disliked minus the beginning, although it was hard to fully understand everything happening. There were moments throughout the book where the explanations of events or items or even places didn’t click in my brain. That could be a me thing, but it made it frustrating trying to imagine what’s going on. I wish the word choices/images used were a little clearer. I’m not sure if it was what the author was saying or how she was saying it, but I got lost a few times.

Overall, I loved this book and it’s a definite star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png//5 stars for me!

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones for a similar YA title and Red Rising by Pierce Brown for an adult novel.

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Tag: Autumn Tag

I was tagged by Alexa over at Writing the Universe to do the Autumn Tag! Link directs you to her answers if you’re interested! Autumn and winter are my favorite seasons so I genuinely enjoyed this tag and I’m excited to see what I have in common with everyone! Let me know in the comments below what connected with you and what we share in common!

Hot chocolate – what is your comfort book? hot cocoa.jpg

For sure it would have to be Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. This book was one of the first series I really got into in middle school/high school and it floods me with memories of my grandmother’s house during Thanksgiving. This familiar series is one that I can easily pick up and dive back into that world with ease.

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Besides writing, I love to sing. I’m big into music, specifically singing and playing the flute/piccolo. I’ve been playing the flute since 4th grade and the piccolo since 11th grade and picking up the instrument is like an extension of my body. When I’m not playing the flute, it’s singing. To listen to a song and relax as the words flow out is something I do all the time to make myself feel more at ease and it’s fun.

Falling Leaves – changes that appear bad but you secretly love? leaves.jpg

I don’t think I have any drastic changes in my life that I can reflect on much less love. The changes I have experienced have been subtle or gradual, so not much to love or hate at the moment thankfully.

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I just recently got into yoga, specifically hot yoga, with my friend. And I went non-dairy and meat free as well for my health. I’ve gotten a lot of “oh me too”‘s and “that’s great”‘s but there have been a few looks of “why?” which is annoying. I’ve been going to yoga 4-5 times a week on average and with the diet change, I feel amazing. So whatever.

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Babies. Every time I see or interact with them, my heart just melts. And then the baby fever begins. Also hearing about people’s accomplishments – especially ones they’ve been working towards for a while. It just gives me joy to hear other people are feeling joy so that’s always wonderful!

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I’m not big into horror novels or films so I don’t really have one to mention or talk about. The scariest I would go is City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab. I do like murder mystery novels though! One of my favorite murder mysteries is Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – and I’m excited to read her new novel, The Vanishing Deep!

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My favorite things to eat change depending on my mood. Right now, my favorite things are these Kashi granola bars, the chocolate chip chia ones (AMAZING!) and fresh berries with honey. I could eat them all day, every day and so far, that goal is accomplished!

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Cardigans, sweatshirts, and loose long sleeved shirts are my go to with leggings. That’s essentially all I wear during the fall/winter – which is why they’re my favorite seasons! Specifically, I am obsessed with my long sleeved, black, Phantom of the Opera shirt and my maroon pink leggings. Best outfit combo for a cozy fall day.

Fire – a book or film that burns your soul fire cracker.jpg

As of right now, I’m OBSESSED with Serpent and Dove and There Will Come A Darkness. I’m currently in a reading slump due to how amazing these stories are because nothing can compare at the moment. I hope it passes quickly though so I can continue reading these amazing new releases and ARC’s I have!

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I feel like every Disney and Pixar movie trailers are so misleading. Of course they take the most iconic sound clips or images, but some of those don’t end up in the film. For Frozen, I thought it was going to be a completely different movie based on the trailer and I find this keeps happening with every Disney movie. The trailer gives me an idea of one thing and then when I actually go see the movie, it’s completely different. Why are they trying to confuse me!?

I don’t really have anyone to tag because the only person I can think to tag already tagged me in this one! So feel free to do this tag yourself and let me know your what your answers would be! I hope you enjoyed this tag!

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To DNF or not to DNF

To DNF or to not DNF? It’s a difficult question to answer sometimes and one I had to ask myself recently with Gideon the Ninth. I find myself refusing to DNF because by the time I come to the realization that I don’t like a book, I’m over halfway through. At that point, I feel like I have to finish it. I mean, I’ve come so far, so why not? And then of course there are those books that I cannot get through, no matter how much I want to, and I have to put it down.

With Gideon, it’s the case of good book – wrong time. Love the story and the characters but it’s not a vibe I can get with right now. I wish I could get through this story and enjoy it, but I find myself falling asleep and getting bored. It’s unfortunate really because I want to like it, but I just can’t.

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So how do you decide whether or not to DNF a book? Well, that’s a matter that’s up to you reader. What is your limit? Usually I say if I can’t get into a YA book within 100 pages, then I give up on it, because it’s not going to get better after that. Sometimes I’m wrong, but that’s usually the page limit of when awesome stuff should be happening. With Gideon the Ninth, it’s a longer, adult novel, so this page count method doesn’t typically work. For adult fiction, I give it until the 25% mark to see if anything interesting happens, and DNF if not.

Some people are against DNFing, and will not give up on a book at all. I have those moments as well, but I also don’t have time to read books I don’t like or I’m not feeling. I think that whatever works for you is what works best! If you refuse to DNF, then don’t DNF. If you can’t get into a story and DNF, then more power to you! – read something you’re gonna love.

What are your thoughts on DNFing a book? Are you for or against and what is your criteria to meet?

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Halloween/Fall Reads You Need to Add to Your TBR Now

I love fall. It is absolutely my favorite season out of the four and that means I read a lot of fall and Halloween related books during this season.

These books are top notch to put you in a fall, spooky vibe so if you’re looking for something to make you check under your bed an extra time, check out these reads!

1. Bone Houses

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Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.

2. The Grace Year

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Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

3. The Tenth Girl

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Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

4. Gideon the Ninth

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The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

5. Tunnel of Bones ***

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Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.***

 

*** This is the second in a series – the first is called City of Ghosts

6. House of Salt and Sorrows

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Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

7. Spectacle 

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Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

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I am such a fan of horror, thriller, and spooky reads. Let me know which ones spark your interest this Halloween season! And if you have any recommendations, pass them here! I tried to focus on books published in 2019 – so let me know which other 2019 reads I missed.

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Making Assumptions About Books I’ve Never Read

I always find myself judging a book by its cover or even by the synopsis, which then determines if I read it, and I’m usually wrong. There have been so many times I have assumed what a book is about, then I read it, and I am so wrong! Like Serpent & Dove – was completely wrong about that book and what it was going to be about. So I’m curious how right I am in guessing the plot of a book based on its cover and title. Let’s see how well this goes . . .

Here are five books I’ve never read before, don’t know the plot, and I have to guess what they’re about. Let me know how right I am! All of these will be released reads so people will have had access to read/borrow them.

1.

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So I see a castle, a person wearing a robe, fire, and crows, and of course the title is The Merciful Crow. Based on all of that, I think this book is about a society focused around birds, specifically crows, who have magical powers or status. The magical people have become too powerful and now the world is ending (hence the fire and person standing with arms open). In order to save their world, they team up with the crows to fight back and … I’m not sure. There’s definitely a hierarchy though because of that castle. Maybe the royalty is ruining/ending the world?

NEXT!

2.

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So American Royals has a cover of a woman, wearing a beautiful shirt/dress, nice nails, and sunglasses. So obviously this book is about an average woman who falls in love with a prince/princess and is thrown into the world of royalty. She struggles to fit in, hates everyone, and almost leaves it all. Except her love is much too strong to leave and they eventually work it out – the end! I’m assuming this is similar to Crazy Rich Asians – which I shouldn’t assume, but that’s the only thing I could think of. Or its about royalty and their crazy, fabulous life! I’m not sure.

3.

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So obviously, the story is about someone inside their house. I would assume this a thriller novel or a murder mystery. I’m going to guess that this book is about a girl, a teenage girl, who is being stalked and has to hide from a murderer in her home. The entire book is a back and forth between present and past as she looks back on that horrible night. She may or may not be dead. Or I’m totally wrong and this is a slumber party novel! I guess we’ll find out!

4.

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Soooo I’m gonna go with clones. This is totally about clones and government control. You think you can choose your destiny and be your own person, but you’re actually a robot clone slave to the government who need you to be involved in a secret project. As they call the troops, you’re like, what the heck? I didn’t even know I was a part of this mess until now. All my friends are dying (cries). All I know about Kristoff books are that people die and most people cry, so I’m going with that.

5.

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So I know this is something about Russia/Russian myth? I think this is about a girl assassin in Russia who runs into a boy assassin and they have similar targets, but they can’t let the other person get it because if they do they lose money. Or maybe this is more magical, like blood magic stuff and they have to destroy the world? Based on the blood I know theres fighting and death in here, but I’m not sure exactly how it relates. And wicked could mean a lot of things, like they’re bad people or they’re wickedly good at what they do. This one is really hard because I genuinely have no idea. I think I’m going to go with more magic stuff mixing with the end of the world, but they kinda want to save it?

So how well did I do? This was embarrassing but still a lot of fun, so I hope you had fun with this too! Let me know what I may have gotten right and what I got absolutely wrong! Comment below what books I should guess next.

I tag Alexa over at Writing the Universe to do this challenge and let me know how it went!

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Tag: Book Blogger Confessions

I saw this on LauReads blog and wanted to do it, so here it is! (post I saw linked)

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Answer these questions truthfully.

1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

The Gilded Wolves was one that I just couldn’t get through. Not sure if it’s due to the book or because of me, but I just couldn’t get through it, no matter how many times I’ve tried to pick it up.


2. Which book is your guilty pleasure?

Throne of Glass because it fulfills all of the things I want in a book and I can reread it at any time, no problem.


3. Which book do you love to hate?

I hated The Hunger Games and I have no shame with that. I don’t think I will ever like that series.


4. Which book would you throw into the sea?

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. If you love yourself, don’t read this book, ever.


5. Which book have you read the most?

I don’t reread a lot of books, but The Mortal Instruments series is one I’ve picked up the most at 3 rereads!


6. Which book would you hate to receive as a present?

Anything John Steinbeck. Or Hunger Games. Or non-fiction. I think there’s a theme here…


7. Which book could you not live without?

1984 – it’s so good and if I didn’t have it on hand to read during hard times, I don’t know what I would do.


8. Which book made you the angriest?

Empire of Storms/Tower of Dawn because THE ENDING. And I had to wait almost 2 years to find out what happened.


9. Which book made you cry the most?

It’s between Clockwork Princess and Lord of Shadows – of course Cassandra Clare makes me have full blown sobbing sessions over her books.


10. Which book cover do you hate the most?

I hate film covers. When Twilight and City of Bones film covers came out I hated them so much I started a boycott with my friends.

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I tag anyone that wants to do this!

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If you liked this post please like this, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Review: Serpent & Dove

So while I read Serpent & Dove pre-release, it is now out in the world! So pick it up because this book is so good, especially if you’re a fan of Throne of Glass! There’s witches, witch hunters, magic, and good old fashioned enemies to lovers – now lets find out why I love this book so much!

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Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

First and foremost, AELIN AND ROWAN VIBES. The relationship between Louise (Lou) and Reid is one that makes you want to hit someone because you just want them to finally kiss. Louise is a snarky, bad mouth witch who doesn’t care what others think of her, she’s there to protect herself and her best friend Coco. Reid is a disciplined Chasseur, aka a witch hunter, who follows orders, doesn’t take bullshit, and hates witches. Ironic. The two together is just a mash of snark, sass, and hatred – it’s great. Every time they interact, it just makes my heart warm because “the mean one is soft for the other mean one” – awwww. While it is definitely not a good relationship at first, it evolves into something so sweet and heartwarming, I just love them.

Second off, the plot is wonderful. It’s action filled, fueled by wants and needs, and written beautifully. I’m a definite fan of this story. Shelby brings you along on a journey that has you on the edge of your seat for the entire ride. I was up until 2AM finishing this off because I had to know what happens next – I couldn’t put it down. And the uniqueness of the witches was also wonderful; there are different types and groups, it’s not a general witchiness. Love it!

Third, Ansel is my sweet little baby and I love him. As a Chasseur in training, he is put on babysitting duty for Lou and his innocence is just so endearing. He’s a friend I would love to have and his willingness to defend those he loves is a trait I love the most about him. He is just such a fun character to watch grow and progress, especially in comparison to the other Chasseurs.

This book is such a fun, exciting read – it pulls you in from the first chapter and getting to read both Lou and Reid’s POV makes it that much better. I can’t imagine what book 2 has in store for us. Especially after that ending!

As you can tell, I adore this book and it’s a star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png / 5 read for me! If you want sass, action, romance, witches, and personal growth – what are you waiting for? Go pick it up now!

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If this book sounds interesting, check out Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas or Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Tag: 20 Question Book Tag

So this isn’t cheating, because Sara over at The Bibliophagist tagged everyone who hasn’t done this tag yet, but no one actually tagged me. I don’t care, I’m still doing it! Join me in the revolution!

Here’s the 20 Question Book Tag!

1. How many books are too many in a series?
It really depends on the books for me. I usually say 4 is a good maximum number – unless you’re Sarah J Maas or Cassandra Clare. Then you can kinda do anything!

2. How do you feel about cliffhanger endings?

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This is my face when I get to the end of a book and there’s a cliffhanger. I love to hate them.

3. Hardback or paperback?

Hardback all the way! 99% of the books I have (excluding ARCs) are hardcover books – they’re a guilty pleasure.

4. Favorite book?

That’s like asking someone who their favorite child is. The expected answer is, I don’t have one. But obviously it’s Twilight.

Just joking – I have 5 favorite books for each subgenre, there’s no way I can make a decision on that. Lets just say Four Dead Queens, A Curse so Dark and Lonely, Throne of Glass, Diamond City,  Furyborn, and An Ember in the Ashes are my all time favorites as of right now.

5.  Least Favorite book?

This is tricky to answer because I can dislike a book now and love it later. This one I couldn’t love it even if you paid me, my all time worst is The Grapes of Wrath. I had to read this my junior year of high school and every other scene is a description of the desert. John Steinbeck likes to torture his readers and I thoroughly hated this book and still hate it to this day.

6. Love triangles: yes or no?

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Only if they’re done really well and actually have an importance to the plot/character development. Otherwise – nah.

7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?

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Got 100 pages in and still couldn’t get into it. Put it down and still haven’t picked it back up.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

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I love this book so far. It just came out on September 3rd if anyone hasn’t discovered this book yet!

9. Last book you recommended?

Uhhhh I don’t even remember the book I read last week at this point – I’m pretty sure it was There Will Come A Darkness or The Grace Year.

10. Oldest book you’ve read?

Not counting biblical texts, Beowulf. 

11. Newest book you’ve read?

Diamond City because it doesn’t even come out until January/February of 2020.

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12. Favorite author?

Uhhhh again – favorite child question! There are so many authors I love and will love forever. I’ll put down Sarah J Maas, Cassandra Clare, Claire Legrand, Brigid Kemmerer, and Sabaa Tahir. And like 50 other amazing authors AHH.

13. Buying books or borrowing?

Buying because I’m selfish and want to keep them all.

14. A book that you disliked that everyone seems to love?

Hunger Games lol. Also never got into Illuminae…

15. Bookmarks or dog ears?

Bookmarks you monsters. Always bookmarks.

16. A book that you always reread?

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This whole prequel series I could read over and over again.

17. Can you read while listening to music?

No. I’m so easily distracted I would hear a song I love and start singing. Then all of a sudden its three hours later and I’ve sung the entire Waitress: The Musical and Hamilton soundtrack and my book is forgotten. So short answer: no.

18. One POV or multiple POVs?

Multiple because you know some awesome stuff is about to go down and multiple people need to tell the story so I can become attached to all of them and cry even harder! Also most fantasy novels now have multiple POVs and I’m all for it.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Usually over multiple days because I work, but occasionally one sitting if I have a few hours to kill and nothing distracting me.

20. Who do you tag?

Everyone because I love to include people. But Alexa from Writing the Universe better do this tag or I will be sad.

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I hope you liked this silly post, I know its a much needed diversion from the numerous reviews. If you liked this kind of stuff, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

ARC Review: Tiger Queen

This was the first Annie Sullivan book I’ve read. The author of Touch of Gold has released a new story about Princess Kateri, who is fighting her way through suitors in order to win her place as Queen. If she fails, she has to marry her competitor and he will take the throne.

Meanwhile, the wells are drying up and there are thieves stealing the water from the people. What the hell, am I right? But things aren’t as they seem – who really are the good guys?

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Heres the synopsis from Goodreads:

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

First and foremost, I love retellings. This book is a retelling of a short story and I’m all for it. It’s a bit slow to get into plot wise but it definitely starts to pick. One of the things I like about the plot is that its familiar but still original. There’s the oppressive family, a crisis, an unlikely love interest, and of course – a strong willed female main character, but theres a lot of originality to it as well.

Following a formula doesn’t mean a book is bad, it’s following a path that is common and familiar. Sullivan adds a unique and fantastical backstory to this world and brings an intense story. I genuinely enjoyed reading Kateri’s story and was silently rooting for her during my read through!

One thing I had a problem with was pacing. Some moments that were slow I wanted to speed up a little, other moments were too fast. Since this was an ARC I read, the pacing may have changed and scenes may have been extended or shortened, so it’s hard to take my word or judgement on that one. I also had an issue with Kateri’s dad. To me, he felt too villainy. Like unrealistically evil personally. I wanted a bit more of a humanistic approach to him instead of some person who was always awful. Villains are understandably hard to write, but it was hard to read scenes with him, it was just a bit too much.

Overall, I liked this story and I think it’s a great YA read. A strong female lead, morality is judged, and good triumphs – or does it? I would give this book a star.pngstar.pngstar.png.5 / 5 stars.

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If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

My Experience at ALA

This past weekend (June 22 – June 24) I attended my first ALA convention in Washington DC. Being a first timer, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for it, but I was definitely excited!

Arriving an hour before the floor opened on Saturday, my friends Alexa, Morissa, and I stood in a calm line of about 100 people while we patiently waited for them to let us in. When 9:00am rolled around it was a calm wave of people checking badges as we descended the escalators down to the exhibit floor.

Within 1 hour I had filled my backpack and a large tote bag with books. It became so heavy, I had to transfer them to tote bags and check them in. We were so exhausted from all the books we were carrying, and the walking around, that we left early.

By the end of Day 1, I had a full backpack and two full tote bags. It was honestly painful walking the two blocks to the hotel next door to retrieve my car. Poor Alexa was also drowning in tote bags and a full backpack as we made our way to the car.

Here is what my day 1 haul looked like when I got home:

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For Day 2, I learned from my mistake and brought a freaking suitcase to haul everything back. I still had my backpack and tote bags, but fortunately I didn’t need to dump everything until about 11am that day. The plan for Sunday was to avoid the massive amount of books that we received on Saturday and stick to the most important ones:

  • A Heart so Fierce and Broken
  • The Burning Shadow
  • The Starless Sea
  • Tiger Queen

We not only got everything that we were looking for (SUCCESS!) but everything else that we were “trying” to avoid. And by trying, I mean accepting every ARC or book that was handed to us with minimal resistance. It was hard to say no! It was also hard to avoid asking or taking one that was being given away. Getting ARCs is never this easy and it was too hard to pass up on hundreds of them being given away.

While I didn’t get every book I wanted to (and there were SO many that I wanted to get), I got about 98% of them and for me, that is a crazy success.

After Sunday, with the amount we had accumulated, Alexa and I agreed that we were absolutely going to skip Monday. Which meant we missed out on probably 100 more books, but we had accrued almost 100 each and it was too much. Which is something I never thought I would say.

Here is my weekend ALA haul:

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The most surprising thing for me was 1) THESE WERE ALL FREE (wtf) and 2) It was so calm and easy. In my experience with book conventions, it’s always a massive struggle to get books, especially ARCs. Everyone is fighting over them and it’s pretty ruthless. At ALA it was as easy as saying please.

One shocking experience I had was at the Harper Collins booth, where they displayed titles of books that they brought with them to give away during the weekend. All you had to do was walk up, name the titles of books you wanted, and say thank you. That was how easy it was to walk away with six titles from them. Same with Penguin. And Macmillan.

As the convention wore on, some publishers became a bit more reserved in giving out books since a lot of people in attendance were readers and bloggers – which I understood. The point of the convention was the give out titles to librarians and book sellers so they can order the books. While bloggers are important, we weren’t necessarily the priority.

Overall, the experience was very relaxed for all the ARC drops and giveaways, with the exception of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. That was probably the most chaotic part of the entire convention as hundreds of people were trying to get that book. Thankfully, being the first person in line as directed by one of the Penguin reps, I snagged a ticket. Originally, the signing line would be first come, first serve, but since people were lining up 3 hours early, (sorry) they had to change the plan. Everyone in line when tickets were handed out were guaranteed a book.

Skipping Monday was a hard decision, but leaving the convention with almost 100 books meant that I wasn’t going to have space to store them, much less read them, if I went for another day. It also saved us some gas and parking money!

Compared to BookCon, ALA was a calm, easy convention. It wasn’t hard to secure the titles you wanted, so long as you got there first. Nor was it an aggressive, blood thirsty mess. No one was hurt in retrieving books. The only disappointing thing was missing out on a title you wanted. But hey, you can’t get everything you want.

If ALA wasn’t in Chicago next year, I absolutely would go again in 2020. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can afford a vacation like that or the shipping costs for all those books. While it’s promoted as the Librarian conference, everyone is welcome to join ALA, as stated on their website. If you’re looking for a relaxed convention with books, friends, and cool displays, check it out! I will definitely try to go again soon.

ARC Review: Treason of Thorns

A friend of mine had an ARC of Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Waymouth that she graciously sent me to be able to read! It releases on September 10th, 2019 so keep a lookout!

I was so excited to read this story and see what happens! Unfortunately, it wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic kept both the countryside and Violet happy.

That is, until her father’s treason destroyed everything.

Now she’s been given a chance to return home. But Burleigh isn’t what she remembered. Wild with grief, Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain. As its tormented magic ravages the countryside, Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.

A house left unchecked will lead to ruin.

But I will not let it ruin me.

This synopsis sounded AMAZING to me! But I noticed problems within the first chapter. I thought the magic system in this story was crazy unique – the house has all the power and its Caretaker wields a key to help hone its power responsibly. I haven’t heard of a system like this before and it was really interesting to read. My problem with it though, was that I didn’t get a true sense of the magic system until more than halfway through the book. This not only made it confusing as to what was happening, but kinda boring. Which was unfortunate, because I thought the premise was really cool! It also made it hard to understand the issues going on with Burleigh and why it was having such a destructive response.

Reading this, I really wanted to see and understand more of the House’s magic system and then be thrown a problem, not the other way around. While I understand Laura wanted a sense of mystery, it didn’t connect with me and made it harder to enjoy the story.

Another thing that irked me was the repetitiveness of the main idea. Caretakers put their houses first, before anybody or themselves. Violet consistently repeats this in her head, out loud, to Wyn, and anybody who will listen. It gets a bit annoying after awhile. I understood the author was trying to make a point, and have Violet learn something by the end, but it was a struggle to read the same line/thought over and over again. It also occurred with several other ideas, such as the house magic, the house dying, saving the house, and other main issues with the book. It was like everything had to be repeated on every page lest the reader forget what is going on. It was so hard to get through, I almost DNFed at one point. Thankfully, more than halfway through the story, it redeems itself and gets crazy good. I absolutely loved the ending!

Besides those issues, I really enjoyed the story and thought it was a fun read. I did want to see more of the “side characters” we meet, because they brought a lot of personality to the story. It was a shame they weren’t included more. Especially since Violet felt a bit flat in some parts (might be the result of the repetition but who knows).

Overall, interesting new read that I haven’t seen before and think everyone should give a try once it has been published in September! I’m excited to reread and see what changes have been made.

I would give this book a star.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars, because the ending really did redeem the book and the other characters were so fun to read!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Book Haul: April

April was a big month for new releases and spending money on new books! I had a lot of trades and purchases that occurred this month (much more than last month) as well as several preorders! Some of these I have more than one copy that I got, so I will include how many I actually received.

Some of the ARCs I received this month are:

  • And I Darken by Kiersten White
  • Bright We Burn by Kiersten White
  • The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
  • Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
  • You Owe Me  A Murder by Eileen Cook
  • Everland by Wendy Spinale
  • The Spy With the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal (Goodreads Giveaway)
  • Diamond City by Francesca Flores (Goodreads Giveaway)
  • Fall, Or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson
  • The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
  • A Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth

Some of the Finished Copies I bought this month are:

  • We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett
  • The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman
  • How to Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow
  • Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
  • Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan x2
  • Enchantee by Gita Trelease
  • Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  • Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu x3
  • The Archived by Victoria Schwab
  • The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
  • The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine
  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

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After looking over how many books I’ve received this month, I have a feeling I’m going to have to sit down and stop spending money. Yikes!

If you have purchased, read, or are interested in any of these books, let me know! I’d also love to know what books you purchased for April – let’s share the love!

ARC Review: Wilder Girls

I managed to snag an ARC of Wilder Girls by Rory Power at NoVa Teen Book Festival this past March and I was so excited to read it! One of the biggest things that attracted me to this book was the gorgeous cover (can we just drool over this together?)! I hadn’t heard much about the plot but I was ready to jump in and read what was going to happen.

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

One of the things I really liked about this was the storyline – an apocalyptic sickness taking over the school and the entire island it resides on. Turning the girls into deformed monsters and killing everything in its path. I’ve read and seen apocalyptic illness stories before, but never like this. Usually they take on a zombie standard, but most of the girls remain the same and keep their sanity – for the most part. It was interesting to see how they changed overtime because of this illness and to read about their new normal.

The new social survival standard was interesting too. Loyalty was still present even in the dog eats dog world as the girls fought each other over everything. Even between friends, Hetty still has to fight to survive as she continues to look out for the people she cares for.

One thing I wasn’t a fan of was Hetty and Reese’s relationship. They weren’t friends but they were more than strangers and it was hard to accept that they were loyal or cared for each other. Hetty was much closer with Byatt and clearly cared for her deeply – so to make it seem like Hetty and Reese had an intense relationship felt false. While it’s clear their relationship changes, there are some aspects to it that don’t feel right or could have been developed more.

Another thing that was somewhat explained but I didn’t fully understand was the sickness itself. There’s some explanation of symptoms and what happening to them, but it doesn’t explain why some people survive while others don’t. Or what is actually happening to them. It kinda hinders the story for me as we continue to see the effects of this illness on everything. I think this will impact book 2 in two ways: 1) We’ll get more explanation of what’s happening or 2) We won’t and we’ll still be confused. Or at least I will be.

I think the story is an interesting take on something that has been done before. Strange illness kills the population and changes the landscape. Survivors have to figure out how to live in new world and continue to survive. It’s a plot that has been done before but Power does something different with it, which I liked. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t super impressed with the storyline and honestly, Reese and Hetty’s characters annoyed me. I would have loved to have read the entire story through Byatt’s perspective though!

Overall, I enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t a winner for me. The synopsis is a little misleading because it makes it seem like a grand adventure but most of the story takes place at the school. While there is a lot of action, it’s not as action packed as I hoped. I am definitely interested in reading what happens next though! Definitely a star.pngstar.pngstar.png.75/5 stars for me.

We Hunt the Flame

I won an advance copy of We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal from Goodreads and I am so thankful. This book is one of my most anticipated reads of 2019 and it ABSOLUTELY lived up to the hype. I knew I was going to like this book, but I did not expect the roller coaster ride of emotions that Hafsah included in order to KILL ME. I am deceased from this story. This book releases on May 14th, 2019 – so make sure to preorder now!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. 

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

So first and foremost – the setting is magical and gorgeous. Literally. The world has been abandoned by magic and as a result, leaves the Earth desolate and in distress. Where there was once a sprawling desert is now snow. Rich, fertile soil now barren. A seaport city is cut off from the ocean by a dark forest. The images Hafsah evokes just from the land is so amazing and intense I felt like I was there. I also felt the suffering that the people living there felt; the struggle of this relatively new land they have to navigate. Hafsah’s prose pulls you into the story and places you down with the characters and that means suffering with them too.

Onto her writing – it was so lyrical and amazing I’m stunned. I’ve always been a fan of lyrically descriptive prose. I want to see what the characters see because it helps me envision the story better and Hafsah does it in such a beautiful way; some scenes almost made me cry with how beautiful or intense they were. Because of this writing technique though, the beginning can seem a bit slow. Not to say that nothing happens, because a lot happens in the beginning with setting the characters up, but it can feel sluggish compared to the rest of the book. Honestly though, I didn’t mind it. I enjoyed getting to see and know everything that was happening in a descriptive way – it makes the world more real to me.

For her characters, there’s a lot I could say. 1) Love the distinct personalities that each character has. While there is a little overlap between two characters, each person is an individual – which doesn’t always happen. Even with multiple “main” characters (the important characters that are not the protagonists), everyone has a distinct voice and brings something to the story that nobody else could. 2) I ABSOLUTELY LOVE NASIR AND I JUST WANT TO CUDDLE MY CINNAMON ROLL. Okay – yes, Nasir is one of my favorite characters for one BIG reason: his evolution. The way he changes and morphs throughout the story is honestly the biggest reason I adore his character. I love the person he becomes by the end of the novel. I find myself loving the male characters more than the female characters too, including Zafira for some reason though.

The only issue I had with the story though – was Zafira’s repetitiveness. I found that this happened only with Zafira’s main POV and was a common thing about her thought process. She would think the same thing a lot: same phrases, analogies, sayings. It’s not horribly noticeable, but it was something I noticed and it irked me a little by the end. Thankfully, it wasn’t something that ruined the character for me because I still adore Zafira, even with her flaws. Actually, for her flaws. I find myself having trouble really thinking of things I disliked about the characters because so much of these dislikes are the quirks in their personality. It’s what makes them unique and I can’t hate that. I don’t hate it.

Finally, the plot. Loved it. I can’t think of anything wrong with the events that happened other than sometimes things would happen and not be explained very well. Or a character would conveniently black out so it’s hard to say exactly the events that occurred. While this wasn’t a common thing, it happened twice which is something I immediately noticed. I don’t mind plot points like that, but I hope to see a different or revised version of events in the final draft. I want to know how a problem is solved!

Overall, I ADORED this book, the characters, the plot, everything about this novel. I am stunned at how amazing it was for Hafsah’s debut and I cannot wait to read the second book. I would give this book a definite star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars! No questions asked!

Thank you again to Goodreads for picking me as one of the winner’s for this giveaway! Even if it was just a random name generator.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (out July 9th, 2019!)

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Kingsbane

I just finished Kingsbane by Claire Legrand and all I can say is WOW. Finishing the book left me hollow and broken – I’m not sure how I’m going to wait until next year for the final book. If you haven’t read Furyborn – the first book in the series – check out my review and pick it up! This review will still be spoiler free, but just in case, if you haven’t read it, check this out when you have!

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Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.

I read Furyborn back in February (technically finished it in March) of this year and I was hooked. Picking up from where we left off, Kingsbane hit me in the feels immediately. As we continue on Eliana’s journey, and Rielle’s history, I find myself understanding the struggle Rielle experiences in maintaining her appearance. It was hard to see her character consistently berated and tested by those around her while she keeps up her image and resists the temptation to smack them all down. I feel you girl. Meanwhile, with Eliana struggling to accept her truth, while helping the Red Guard, it’s clear she’s going through a similar struggle as Rielle.

The similarities between mother and daughter continue throughout the story up until the end. Which, by the way, destroyed me. To find out more of Rielle’s story, and Eliana’s journey, not only made their characters feel more realistic, but allowed the storylines of the characters around them to come to life more. In the first book, while I loved several of the side characters, they didn’t feel fully fleshed out until the second book. And while it’s hard to see the events leading up to Eliana’s world unfolding, it gives the perfect edge to the story and and still leaves questions to be answered.

Warning: if you hate crying and horrible middle book endings – you will not want to read this ASAP. Buy the book ASAP (because it’s gorgeous), but maybe wait until book 3 is closer to release. Trust me. I was not prepared. Overall, I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars. 1) I’m biased and ADORE this series and 2) this is a well written story with so many emotions, lessons, twists, and turns, it’s hard not to give it all of the stars! I think everyone should at least try these books (not everyone will love this series and that’s okay!) because I think they’re fantastic – if not crazy!

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If you like Kingsbane, you’ll love Courting Darkness by Robin LeFevers OR Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

The Best Travel Books

Vacations are a great time to sit down and actually finish those books that have been sitting on the shelf for months. One of the hardest things though, is finding books that are good vacation books. Not too cry worthy or emotionally scaring – something fun, relaxing, and maybe even thought provoking. Here are some of my favorite vacation reads so far! Let me know in the comments below some of your all time favorite vacation reads!

The Selection by Kiera Cass

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This YA Science Fiction/Romance novel is one that fulfills your swoon worthy, lovey vibes and also reminds you of life. The first book takes you on America’s journey through the process of being primped and picked for being a future Queen – even though she’s definitely not interested. This easy YA read is perfect for anyone 12+ and is something that most would glide through easily without utter destruction.

Everless by Sara Holland

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This heart racing, blood pounding YA Fantasy read is something I read on the beach last year and absolutely adored. The fast paced story kept me going, which made it very easy for me to read the entire book in one day. With all the time available on vacation – for the most part – this book is a great, gripping read with a few moments of shock or concern for the characters. Thankfully, this book isn’t heart ripping and makes for a great, quick, all day read while sitting in the sun or in your hotel room.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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This book is an amazingly funny, fantastical take on the classic story of Lady Jane Grey, the queen of England for 9 days! This historically “accurate” story of her rise and fall to power with the added humor of the time, makes this a great YA historical fiction/fantasy vacation read! I devoured this in one day and its lightheartedness made it easy to digest, leaving me happy and entertained!

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller 

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Looking for an action packed YA Fantasy about pirates and sirens that won’t leave you a puddle on the floor? This book isn’t entirely lighthearted, but Tricia’s story telling leaves you on the edge of your seat entertained, without being scarred. It’s an easy book to sit back, relax, and enjoy the events going on while on the beach – you might even see a siren in the distance!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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This YA Contemporary Romance is a light, delicate, and emotionally rewarding read that you can enjoy and then watch the movie on Netflix once you’re done! Lara Jean’s unfortunate love reveal to the five boys she loved before leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart. Especially during scenes between her and her family. This is perfect for a relaxing vacation where you can sit back, enjoy the loving family vibes, laugh, and finish a wonderful read! It’s hard to not love this book and all of Lara’s quirky friends and family.

While there are so many different genres and tastes when it comes to vacation reads, these relatively easy reads allowed me to relax and enjoy the ride. That brief moment of escape during my escape was sweet and occasionally enlightening. I enjoyed every story in their own ways and it allowed me to escape from my vacation for just a moment. I’m always on the hunt for some great vacation reads, so drop some suggestions below!

 

Killing November

I received an eARC of Killing November by Adriana Mather from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was also late on this one, but I read and reviewed it, so it counts!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim.

When I started this book, I was honestly so confused as to what was supposed to happen. We start off with November ending up at her new school, with no recollection of how she got there or where it is. With no information from her father, and the school an honest death trap, we are left with no information and just as confused as November.

As we move on, we meet November’s roommate and her twin brother, as well as the rest of her class, who are obviously not the friendliest people. The secretive private school gave me a “I’d Tell You I’d Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You” Vibe, but with some higher stakes. This book was fairly stereotypical, but the more the book progressed, the more unique it became. By the end, I was in love with the story and the characters. I honestly can’t wait for book two!

One issue that I had throughout the book was the push towards a love interest for November. It felt like the author was trying to force a relationship between these characters to add tension, especially since they can’t date at the school. It felt so forced and it was a bit uncomfortable to read honestly. If there wasn’t this romance, and other random romances in it, the book would be really good!

Overall, I enjoyed this read and I’m interested in reading the second one, if there will be one. I rated this star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars, because while I had trouble with the beginning and the romance, it was a fun, exciting read!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross.

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Smoke and Key

I received an eARC of Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. While I was a little late, I reviewed it in time for opening week, yay!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.

She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.

Then the murders start. Bodies that are burned to a crisp. And after being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she loses her life for good…

The first moment I picked up the book, I knew I would love it, but it was not the right time for me to read this. This short, creepy, fantastical mystery sucked me right in, but after finding out that a close friend died, it hit a little too close to home. To read about how Key died, and everyone around her, made me a little uncomfortable after dealing with a death myself, but it got easier as I read on.

This story is not just a mystery, but a good conversation on death and what happens after we die. Uncomfortable, I know, but an important conversation nonetheless. One thing I loved about this book was the simplicity of Under. When I read books regarding the afterlife, it tends to be a smokey city or unclear that the person is dead. In this story, Sutton makes it clear that they are in the ground and their city is meant for the dead.

Another thing I loved was how the mystery was slowly uncovered and solved. Death mysteries are fun with detectives, but to realize what is going on through flashbacks or memories is a “fun” approach. It was a nice break away from the typical detective mysterious I’m used to.

While it wasn’t the best time for me to read this story, I loved it. I read it that day and I enjoyed every minute of it. I would give this book a star.png star.pngstar.png /5 stars. It would probably be higher if not for the circumstances, honestly.

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Books I DNFed

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are just some books that are not for you. They’re not mean to be read right now, they’re not aimed at you, or they simply don’t float your boat. DNFing or Did Not Finish is not necessarily a bad thing – it can be when a book is genuinely terrible, but for the most part, it’s part of life. DNFing a book just means you could not connect with it, did not like it, or had trouble getting through it and so, you stopped. You don’t finish it and you move on.

Here are some of the books I DNFed and why!

Hunger Games

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I have tried reading this book multiple times and every time I have to stop. I can’t seem to get passed the fifth chapter and it’s just not interesting to me. I hear the hype around this series and want to like it, but I can’t. And I’m not sure I ever will. So unfortunately, this book will remain on the DNFed list for forever.

Ace of ShadesImage result for ace of shades

For this book, it had nothing to do with interest or plot, it was the grammar. I kept stumbling across spelling and grammar mistakes that were so constant and irritating, I had to stop. Now I’m not perfect. I misspell things and make grammar mistakes all the time; I’m not trying to stand a higher ground at all. The fact that an edited, published piece could have so many of these though – I can’t. I absolutely get that there will be mistakes and things that are missed, but this was a bit much. It was so distracting from the actual plot that I couldn’t get passed it. There were so many mistakes that I was over 100 pages in and had to stop. I might try rereading this in the future, but for now, I’ll pass.

Illuminae

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I really wanted to like this book. I really did. Everyone talked about how amazing it was but unfortunately, I couldn’t get into it. My biggest struggle with this book was its unique formatting. Going between text, images, binary code, messages, documents, and everything in between was hard for me to follow. My brain gets distracted easily already, so to go between formats made it hard for me to remember the plot and made me disinterested. I will try to reread it in the future and give it another chance, but for right now, it stays on the shelf.

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I genuinely LOVED this plot, the characters, everything about this book – but I can’t keep up. I have a feeling its one of those “not the right time” moments. I’m hoping that later on, when I try to reread it, I’ll be able to get through it. The sad thing is I loved reading this book, it just wasn’t what I wanted to read at the moment and I haven’t found that moment yet. I have a feeling this will be a good summer read, when I can sit and just power through it.

So far, I haven’t encountered a lot of books I can’t finish. I can usually get through books and finish them, even if I don’t like them. For some reason, these four books are an exception. I will try to reread most of these (except Hunger Games) in the future and give them a second chance. Every book deserves one.

What are some books you’ve DNFed?

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If you liked this, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

 

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe

Today, I will be reviewing The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie. I received an ARC of this book from another reviewer who would not have a chance to read and review before publication. So thank you Whitney!

Let’s dive in!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Who do you become when you have nothing left to lose?

There is something Poe Blythe, the seventeen-year-old captain of the Outpost’s last mining ship, wants far more than the gold they tear from the Serpentine River. 

Revenge. 

Poe has vowed to annihilate the river raiders who robbed her of everything two years ago. But as she navigates the treacherous waters of the Serpentine and realizes there might be a traitor among her crew, she must also reckon with who she has become, who she wants to be, and the ways love can change and shape you. Even—and especially—when you think all is lost.

Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched trilogy, returns with an intricately crafted and emotionally gripping story of one young woman’s journey to move beyond the grief and anger that control her and find the inner strength to chart her own course.

First off, I wanted to like this book. I really did. But the biggest thing I had an issue with was Poe herself. Her characters only motivation is revenge against an oppressed people who killed her boyfriend during a robbery. That was the basis of her whole personality, her motivations, everything she thought and talked about. It was a bit much. While revenge is a great motivator, the fact that it was the only thing interesting about Poe, besides her being an orphan, made it so hard to read what was going to happen. Besides that, I loved the general plot and overall idea! I thought it was a cool, science fiction young adult novel that reminds us that not everything as it seems.

It’s a quality book!

But the lack of personality in Poe, is not. Besides Poe’s lack of personality, every other character was super fleshed out and had pizzaz, spunk, motivations besides avenging someone. They seemed more fleshed out and realistic than her. While there was some interesting moment between Poe and the other characters, I really liked their interactions.

Another thing I had an issue with was Poe’s personality change. While it was sudden, like some authors in the past mistakingly do, it seemed off. The fact that the core of Poe was her intent on revenge made it hard to accept her growth, because it was so prominent throughout the entire book. It didn’t seem realistic that she could let that go over the span of a few days/weeks. And her aggressive nature suddenly turned demure was also hard to accept.

While I wanted the change, it honestly didn’t feel right.

Overall, I thought this book was okay. I kind of wished the author got a chance to develop Poe a bit more throughout the book, but besides that, it was interesting story. I would give it star.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars.

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If you’re looking for a science fiction voyage, check out Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston!

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The Devouring Grey

I received an e-ARC of The Devouring Grey by Christine Lynn Herman from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I ended up receiving a physical ARC too, which is how I read the book and what this review will be based off of!

Let’s get started!

Image result for the devouring grey

Here’s a synopsis from Goodreads:

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

The first thing that struck me about this book was the take on the stereotypical new kid in town. Violet is not some shy, awkward new kid moving to a small, close knit town. She’s a firecracker who is grieving and desperate to escape the loss of her sister. She comes to this new town and doesn’t back away from the people, but quickly embraces them and remains herself through it – which is not something that is usually done in these tropes, but I appreciated.

The second thing was the openness of the magic in the town. Everyone in Four Paths is aware of the Grey and the monster lurking inside. There is no secret that must be kept by the kids and their families regarding what they’re protecting the town from, which I thought was awesome. It also made it almost better that the “heroes” were not hiding the monster, but embracing it and making everyone aware. It also really helped the plot of the book later on and I thought it was very well done.

Third, the characters. I had a few issues at first with Harper and Justin’s character (mostly because I found them annoying) at the beginning, but began to love them as the story progressed – especially by the ending! I thought all of the characters were realistic, and even the secondary/side characters were fleshed out. The fact that she also includes bisexual main characters made this story less … vanilla. While the characters love lives are not very important to the overall story, including LGBTQ+ characters is important and realistic. And the fact that she doesn’t exploit a characters sexuality for plot/emotional gains shows why there should be more Own Voices stories. Herman does a great job giving her characters personality, and while sometimes they have annoying attributes, everything is cleared up by the end and I adore them!

Finally, the plot itself. The only thing I can say about it is – WOW! When I originally finished the book I was staring at it, my mouth dropped open, and angry that book 2 isn’t in my hands currently so I can devour it. The storyline of The Devouring Grey is not fully original (monsters, must protect town, kids save the day), but Herman’s spin on this concept surely is. The way she incorporates magic, witches, monsters, and real people made it so easy to get sucked into the story. I found myself not being able to put it down.

Overall, I adored this book. I thought it was well written, dark, funny, engaging and so many other words I could use to describe it. I gave this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, check out The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees!

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If you liked this review, please like this post, leave a comment, follow, share with your friends – anything is appreciated!

Furyborn

With the impending arrival of Kingsbane, I thought now was the best time to read Furyborn by Claire Legrand. I’m so glad I did!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

First and foremost, one of the things I loved the most about this book, and Legrand’s writing, is her ability to transcend centuries like it’s easy. Switching from Rielle’s POV to Eliana’s POV is seamless, not only from millennium to millennium, but from their previous chapters. The fact that Rielle’s chapter would end and Eliana’s would begin with no confusion was honestly amazing. I’m sure if I took out just Rielle’s POV and put them together, it would make its own cohesive story, same with Eliana’s. And that’s brilliant in my opinion.

Second, the character relationships are honestly goals. The interactions between Simon and Eliana were fantastic and every moment of banter between them made me love their friendship more. The way Legrand changes the relationships over time makes it not only seem realistic, but brings up a few issues that I’m sure most of us have gone through. Especially regarding trust.

Third, the imagery in this story was captivatingly beautiful. Ever turn of the page kept me enthralled and I had to read this book slowly to savor every description Legrand makes about the two worlds. Even in the most action packed scenes, she takes the time to thoroughly describe what is going on to and around each character, which is not something that always happens in books. It should also be praise that I took so long reading this book because it means I never want the story to end! And I don’t. When is Kingsbane out again?

To wrap things up, I loved almost every aspect about this book and I’m sad that I can’t experience for the first time again, or read its upcoming sequel yet. Overall I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars. It was honestly that good!

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand, the sequel to Furyborn, comes out on May 21, 2019!

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If this book sounds interesting to you, or you’re looking for something similar, I would recommend Courting Darkness by Robin LeFevers for a more medieval/historical fiction side of Furyborn and Seafire by Natalie C. Parker for the strong female lead with awesome magic side!

What’s the Deal with Spoilers?

Spoilers. A divided subject in the book community. On the one hand, they take away from the joy and excitement that a person may have for a mystery box, ruin the surprise in a book, or ruin the fun of finding out who the killer is. On the other hand, limiting someone’s freedom of speech is not okay, and telling people they can’t post spoilers is not something that can always be dictated by others. I’ve seen some interesting arguments regarding spoilers, but I think it’s important to look at them and determine what is a spoiler and what should classify as one.

A spoiler, in my own words, is information about a topic or item that is not obvious public information and effectively ruins the surprise of arriving at that moment. For example, someone posting about how sad they were a character died, when it is not common knowledge this character dies because the book has just been released. Typically spoiling occurs when an item or information is brand new and not many people have had the chance to view it yet. But this is where it can get a little less clear. When does a spoiler end?

Different people have different opinions on when something is no longer a spoiler. Some people say a month, others say six months, some say a year, and some say never. This divide on when information is no longer a spoiler is tricky, and one of the biggest issue in the book community.

In most of the book groups I’m currently in on Facebook, moderators put a one month spoiler ban on new releases, meaning no reactions/reviews/memes/nothing can include information about the current book. After a month, the spoiler ban is lifted or modified. For some groups, spoilers can be shared freely now. In others, there is a warning that is required for others who may not have had a chance to finish what they are reading, informing them that the information shared is a spoiler.

One of my biggest pet peeves with spoilers is what I call the “I don’t give a fuck” or “idgaf” period. This is the period of time immediately after the release of a book where most people are currently reading it or have not read it yet, and others who have read it early or quickly suddenly spoil large moments with no regards for anyone else. This “idgaf” period is typically in the first two weeks range of a book releasing where most people haven’t even had a chance to receive the book yet. Seeing spoilers on a book or book box during this time is honestly irritating for me and many other people.

After a certain amount of time though, when does information stop being a spoiler? For me, I would say three months. That gives people a good amount of time to receive their book or subscription, crack it open, and see what’s going on. In three months, the people who are anticipating reading or seeing it will have a chance to actually do that, especially since not everyone has the free time to read whatever they want, whenever they want.

So if it’s common knowledge not to spoil information immediately after release, why do people do it? Well – I don’t know. It could be because they are excited to share their opinions, they don’t care that others have not read it yet, or they could be oblivious and not realize it’s a spoiler. Whatever the reason, these moments suck for many of the readers who haven’t had a chance to experience the moment for themselves, and taking away that moment is a crappy thing to do.

Now, here’s where the problem comes in: if there is no set timeline on when a spoiler is no longer a spoiler then confusion is bound to happen and so is aggression. This comes about in aggressive comments by people who are upset or personal messages sent that someone is upset they were spoiled. Now if a certain amount of time has passed, these remarks are no longer valid and the person who is upset is unnecessarily aggressive – and this is where the problem lies.

The spoiler band wagon can be overly aggressive, especially when a good amount of time has passed from the release and should no longer be a spoiler. If the book community sets a timeline, then we can avoid confusion and hostility about spoilers and promote a more positive reading experience for everyone.

Now lets talk etiquette. 

When coming across a spoiler, especially in the “idgaf” period, it’s important to let the person know that what they’re doing is wrong, but in a non-aggressive way. Yelling at people, calling them names, or being utterly rude is not the way to go about the situation. Not only does that make the other person defensive, but it can create a mob mentality and others will join in. Being upset about a spoiler is okay though, but being abrasive or rude is not.

When it’s after the “idgaf” period, we enter the “beware” period. This period is the remaining two and a half months after a release when a person may encounter spoilers and can still justify being upset. In this period, it is still other people’s responsibility to be courteous to others about spoilers, whether by not sharing them or giving a warning. At the same time, the closer to the two and three month mark, the responsibility should shift onto the reader who wants to avoid them. If that means avoiding certain pages or groups who might share spoilers, then avoid them.

If it’s after the three month grace period then the spoiler worry is no longer on the sharer. People are allowed to post reactions, memes, jokes, photos, and more regarding to the books that are out and it is not their job to warn others or avoid spoiling others anymore. While some may still be upset at being spoiled, it is no longer their right to complain about them – except in certain situations.

  1. Someone is aware you are currently reading a book and spoils a big moment for you either on purpose or on accident
  2. Someone posts a spoiler for a series in a group that is focused on one topic (ex. a spoiler for The Wicked King in the ACOTAR group).
  3. Someone spoiling a book in a group chat/comments where a person is asking for opinions/thoughts on if they should read said book

Those are the only situations I would warrant upset regarding spoilers after this grace period. Besides that – it’s fair game.

Now, this is all my opinion. There are people who warrant longer or shorter grace periods, depending on their reading habits and consideration of other people. This is where the consistency should come in. The book community should come together and decide what is the “idgaf” period, the “beware” period, and the “free game” period. Without these time constraints, it is difficult to justify and end this debate.

Overall, spoilers suck and being malicious in sharing them immediately after release is a crappy thing to do. But being rude to other people, even when upset, is also a crappy thing to do. And getting spoiled after a certain amount of time no longer is the person posting’s worry, but the readers.

I think it’s important to open up the debate, so let me know what your opinions on spoilers are and the timeline and etiquette you think is far!