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All the Crooked Saints – Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: October 10, 2017 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: ALAAC17, Amazon, Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 13, 2017
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

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Every Maggie Stiefvater read is such a unique experience and it’s something I love and wholly appreciate. It does, however, lead to some unpredictability for whether I’ll be wholly invested and re-read the book a million times (THE SCORPIO RACES, THE RAVEN CYCLE) or just really not connect with it (SHIVER). Unfortunately, ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS was not a hit for me.

This book is absolutely character driven, as are all of Maggie’s books that I’ve read, but this book was SO character-driven that I didn’t really feel like there was much of a plot. That’s okay — I don’t always need that — but I needed it with this book, especially with so much magical realism in the concept of miracles and how that affected all of the characters.

I was especially sad that I didn’t connect with really any of the characters. The potential was there but there were so many that the focus got spread out and we didn’t get to see that core development that I love so much. No wait. Strike that — because there are tons of characters in The Raven Cycle and I still love every single one of them, even the freakin’ crazy ones. So yeah… I guess it just wasn’t there for me.

The concept was interesting but ultimately didn’t take me anywhere and I didn’t feel like I got anything special from the book. I’m glad I read it because it’s Maggie and I will read whatever she writes but I’m pretty bummed with this one. At least with SHIVER I could tell it was more the concept of wolves that I wasn’t loving but this didn’t seem to really move, even for a character-driven book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Reading outside of my comfort zone. I definitely wouldn’t have picked this one up if it wasn’t Maggie Stiefvater. While The Raven Cycle and THE SCORPIO RACES are also in the realm of magical realism, this book bore a different feel of the genre and it’s not one I usually connect with.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I don’t need ACTION for a book to be enjoyable but I just kind of felt like I didn’t understand what the end goal was of this book.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s Maggie, so it’s worth trying, but I think you’ll know right from the start whether you’ll enjoy it or not. I tried to see if I would enjoy it more along the way and it just didn’t come together for me.

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BOOKS LIKE ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS

          

By Your Side – Kasie West

By Your Side – Kasie WestTitle: By Your Side by Kasie West
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 16, 2017
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

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So it’s been a while since I finished this book before I started writing my review (two months, actually. Oops. Life has been busy, okay!?) and this is one of those books where my feelings about it change the further I get away from it. Some books I end up loving even more after the fact but BY YOUR SIDE sort of sticks out as one that’s fizzling out the more time that passes. When I first finsihed BY YOUR SIDE, it wasn’t a Kasie West favorite but it was cute and fluffy and just what I needed at the time… But the more time I spend away from the book, the more I realize how unrealistic it seemed which is such a shame because although Kasie West’s books are cute and light, they still have a sense of true, honest characters and some wonderfully realistic family and friend situations.

Let’s start with the good stuff. I did love Dax and how he came around to Autumn! I really liked seeing him let someone in and I’m a sucker for that boy-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks vibe. I didn’t totally love his story because I felt like it was maybe a bit too melodramatic for the current context and I thought he could have used a bit more personality… But he was definitely my favorite character of this book. I just love Kasie West’s romances and I always love a good bad-boy type finally opening up and falling for someone. It’s so cliche sometimes but it’s such a heart-warming trope that I’ll never get sick of it (as long as it’s done well). I instantly loved Dax and his whole vibe.

I also enjoyed the way that the book wrapped up. While I didn’t really love the journey to get there, I liked that it ended on a harmonious note and could have been incredibly dramatic. I actually kind of didn’t see that coming and I liked the way that Autumn’s friendships resolved, which is always something I enjoy in Kasie West’s books.

Now for all of the things in the middle that left me wanting…

I didn’t feel as much personality as I have from some of Kasie’s other female leads. While I appreciate how the book highlighted someone with an anxiety disorder, I didn’t really feel like it was realistic. Granted, I don’t personally deal with anxiety to that extent but I know several people who do — both socially/situationally and generalized anxiety — so this just didn’t really feel natural to me. While I appreciated that it was in the book, I’m not sure that it’s the most accurate portrayal. I did like that a plot point wasn’t how she discovered the extent of her anxiety but rather that she hadn’t told her friends about it because she didn’t want to be treated differently. I liked that she wasn’t embarrassed by it but just didn’t want to be treated like she was emotionally fragile, but on the flip side, that’s exactly the kind of things I would tell my friends and that they could support me on. It seems like she doesn’t really have a very good relationship with her friends if she can’t even tell them about her anxiety and panic attacks and they can’t even tell that she’s getting anxious and removing herself from situations.

It’s funny because in my initial reactions upon finishing, I wrote down how much I lvoed this friend group and how much her friends ended up supporting her… but that didn’t really happen until the very end of the book. Her friends left her in a library, didn’t notice she was missing, and hadn’t noticed for years that she gets anxious in certain situations and that’s why she’s leaving. They’re all too self-absorbed to notice, I guess. I did like the way that the book ended with these friendships but looking back, I feel like Autumn was not with the right group of friends. Too many of them seemed like they were not even interested in what Autumn was feeling and I felt like she was forcing her way into this friend group.

And let’s not even talk about how the main characters were locked in a library and neither one was like, “Dream come true!” Come on. You’re appealing to bookworms, here…

It’s weird how time changes your perspective on things. I’m not changing my rating because I did enjoy the book while reading it but I think this was the Kasie West book with the biggest problems and while I love all of her books, this one is at the bottom of my list. It’s a bummer because Kasie is one of my queens of contemporary! I’m hoping for better with the next book that’s coming out so soon!

Oh, and I happened to read it during the actual weekend that the book took place so high five for good timing! It just made it that much more fun.

Autumn // Character obsessions: Her crush, her friends, Dax
Soooo, Autumn. She fell pretty flat for me. She was a decent enough character to read about but she didn’t have nearly as much personality as Kasie West’s usual heroines! I always love Kasie’s strong, spunky, proud females and Autumn was much more subdued and shy to the point where she didn’t even feel comfortable with her friends.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Kasie West. This wasn’t my favorite but I will forever be a fan of her books! BY YOUR SIDE was not nearly as fun as her other works but I still enjoyed it while I was reading it.
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. Kasie West’s books can have deep or serious issues but they usually don’t feel so melodramatic. It wasn’t the anxiety but the way it was handled and portayed, amongst other things. I just really wish it had been a little bit different.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I still enjoyed the book and the less-than-happy thoughts didn’t hit me until later. Some loved it. Others didn’t. It’s worth a try!

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BOOKS LIKE BY YOUR SIDE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    26 kisses

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) – Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) – Leigh BardugoTitle: Crooked Kingdom (The Dregs #2) Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Amazon, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 12, 2016

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

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** No spoilers for CROOKED KINGDOM but there will be spoilers for book one, SIX OF CROWS so if you haven’t read SIX OF CROWS yet, avert your eyes! ** 

CROOKED KINGDOM was one of my most-anticipated reads of the year because naturally, anything Leigh Bardugo has me jumping up and down with anticipation! I actually really enjoyed this book more than SIX OF CROWS and I think part of that was because I was already so immersed in this world after being able to read SIX OF CROWS twice and then let all the characters settle in and my love for them grew as I waited for CROOKED KINGDOM!

I felt like CROOKED KINGDOM had a little more of that heist aspect which was definitely established in SIX OF CROWS, but the job in CROOKED KINGDOM really did have a different feel! The overall tone felt a little lighter and had a little more fun snark whereas SIX OF CROWS felt a little bit more serious. I also absolutely looooved the addition of the extra crossover to the original Grisha Trilogy. I won’t say exactly how it does crossover so anyone who hasn’t read CROOKED KINGDOM can still be surprised and excited, but I will say that I was just delighted by the connections made to the Grisha Trilogy in this book and how it played into the plot of CROOKED KINGDOM. It was so much fun and involved some of my favorite things from the original trilogy. It’s not something that people will miss out on if they haven’t read the Grisha Trilogy yet but it does make it more fun to see that connection!

I really just connected to this more than I did with SIX OF CROWS. I mean, I loved them both, but I think reading, and then re-reading, and then letting those characters sit with me over time really had my love grow even more and so I felt so much more of a connection. And of course, reading the second book in a series also allowed me to sink into the work and think about it for months and months before the book’s release. I just felt like I got to know everyone and everywhere just a little bit more and now that the group was established, it really felt so much more cohesive too. To be fair, they were always pretty cohesive but I loved the way the group settled and they all just belonged together.

Leigh Bardugo is just a master. From plot to romance to action, she can write any aspect of a book and totally nail it. The Grishaverse is one of my favorite places and I’m so happy to have been able to read these stories. I’m actually really glad that this was a duology and not more of a series because it closed out so well (which amazing job, Leigh!) and it didn’t need to be dragged out into one or two or more books. I would always love to read more but I like that it was wrapped up so quickly and neatly! It felt perfect.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I actually didn’t like the audio narrators as much this time around. I was really bothered by the fact that they didn’t pronounce things all the same and some were just straight up pronounced wrong. With a cast of 6 audio narrations, that’s kind of (aka really) important.
Anyway! I thought that CROOKED KINGDOM had more heists AND more humor AND more cross-over than SIX OF CROWS and I looooved it. The crossover was simply fantastic and I actually wish I had read it instead of listening because of one of the characters who appeared and the narrator didn’t to them justice.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Two-book series. I’ve become a pretty big fan of duologies and duets! I really like being able to get more of a story or world but not have a series drag on forever. I love how neatly this was wrapped up!
Left Me Wanting More: Crossover. Don’t get me wrong — the crossover was fantastic. I just can’t get enough! I love the original trilogy so much that I’m always up for more!

Addiction Rating
Buy it, treasure it

Leigh Bardugo is queen and her books are amazing. BUY THEM. READ THEM. LOVE THEM.

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BOOKS LIKE CROOKED KINGDOM

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA    REBEL OF THE SANDS

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) – Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: September 6, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 25, 2016
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.
As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

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I’m actually fairly disappointed with this book which makes me very sad because QUEEN OF SHADOWS was literally one of my favorite books of 2015 and I’ve fallen so in love with Sarah J. Maas’ books. Admittedly I did have a harder time finding time to sit and read this one but I did read 400 pages more or less in a weekend to finish and still wasn’t captivated. This surprisingly felt like that “second in a series slump” that I so often hit with trilogies, possibly because it’s the second book in the second half of the series.

I didn’t feel as engaged with this book at all. I had met all of these characters in QUEEN OF SHADOWS but so many were secondary characters there and I didn’t quite feel that solid transition from supporting to main character. The stories felt disjointed and not as detailed and alive as in QUEEN OF SHADOWS. I did love Elide and Lorcan the most because there was a lot to discover there and their personalities really started to shine. I felt less drawn to Aelin, which was so incredibly disappointing. She should have grown more, as she had been in previous books, and really started to come into her own as the rightful Queen of Terrasen, and I just felt like her character became very tired and less important with all of these other new main characters to follow. I also somehow lost that magic with her and Rowan and I just didn’t even feel that connection anymore.
I really didn’t feel as connected to Manon in this book either, which is a shame because I loved in her QUEEN OF SHADOWS and I was so excited to see where her story was going. I mean, I’m hoping it connects back to the main story line in the last book because otherwise, Manon should have just had her own series, to be honest. I enjoyed what was happening with her and her Thirteen (and others) in EMPIRE OF STORMS but I’m still not 100% sure why it’s so relevant to Aelin and her story. I can only assume the pieces all fall into place in the last book but I’ve been waiting for three books now, really, to see how this ties in and why it’s so important to have Manon’s whole point of view, so hopefully we’ll see that in the last book.
I also felt like Chaol was completely thrown away and that was incredibly frustrating, and I wasn’t even a Celaena/Chaol shipper. I don’t understand why he was such a main character only to switch a romance (which I was fine with, actually) to Rowan and then totally cut him out of ALL of book five. I understood quieting his role down, as he may not be playing as major of a role, but I don’t really understand what his purpose was then if he’s just getting totally pushed to the side. I guess Sarah J. Maas can write whatever she want, of course, but it just seemed like a big injustice to his character.

I feel like Sarah J. Maas incorporated some tired tactics to keep this story going and not a lot of new stuff happened here. The things that did carry the story over, which are the things I’ve loved from her in the past, weren’t really refreshed enough for me and I had a hard time remembering some of those things from other books, especially references to the novellas. I read those a long time ago and I didn’t have the time to reread an entire series for this book so it would have been nice to have some more details and updates on the events in the novellas that appeared in EMPIRE OF STORMS. I also think more details would have been very beneficial to those who haven’t read the novellas. I spoke to friends who haven’t read the novellas and they actually felt less lost than I did since they didn’t know it was a reference back to the novellas but I also think the characters, the history, and the plot could have been so much richer with those little updates.

I’m mostly disappointed in the elements that were used in both the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series. When writing two Fae series at the same time I think it’s super important to keep them very different and I don’t think these two are, which is especially disappointing because that was something I noted on the positive side after reading A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES. I had actually really liked that Feyre and Celaena/Aelin were so strong and yet two very different personalities. The more I read of both series, the more they really blended in concept and plot direction.  I felt like A COURT OF MIST AND FURY had too many elements from QUEEN OF SHADOWS and now reading EMPIRE OF STORMS, I noticed some twists that were already used in ACOMAF, and that was really disappointing. The ending became totally anticlimactic because it borrowed an exact same situation from ACOMAF and I was just so let down that it didn’t seem like an original idea.

EMPIRE OF STORMS was still enjoyable and I am still interested in the Throne of Glass series, but admittedly, I’ve lost a lot of faith in Sarah J. Maas at this point. I feel like this just didn’t have as much substance and character as previous books in this series. I loved QUEEN OF SHADOWS and to feel like this after EMPIRE OF STORMS is a major let down. I’m just very upset after finishing this book and even more so after reviewing it because I feel like I’ve really started to fall out of love with this series after EMPIRE OF STORMS and I’m losing faith in Sarah J. Maas.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Aelin // Character obsessions: Terrasen, Rowan, freedom, power.
I actually lost so much interest in Aelin this book and I don’t know how this happened. She just felt like she actually lost so much depth and really, she lost all her spunk. I get that she’s more serious now that she’s fighting for control of Terrasen but I kept missing all the sass and banter and FUN that we saw from Aelin in previous books. She felt so flat in EoS.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New characters late in a series. I’m not an author so I can’t tell you what is good/bad/iffy to introduce late in a series but I really enjoyed new characters Elide (who was previously in the series but a small role) and Lorcan. When they’re done well, they bring a new and exciting element to a series and help fit even more pieces together. I actually did love a few (well really, I loved all of the new characters) but I also had a hard time with why they were really important to have MAIN character roles. I did like Elide and Lorcan because of their connection and romance but others I really wonder if they needed to be lead roles and what they brought to the book, even though I enjoyed getting to know them.
Left Me Wanting More: Terrasen. I thought this book was going to be all about Terrasen considering where QUEEN OF SHADOWS left off and we barely even saw it. I was really missing that because the whole quest for QoS was leading there and that was not where we left off in EoS.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I mean, I still recommend reading the book. I fell so in love with the series in the first four books but this one felt like it was too much filler and not enough happened. Lots did HAPPEN but it didn’t all feel really relevant and I felt like there was a lot of time spent building up romances that didn’t need to happen too.

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BOOKS LIKE EMPIRE OF STORMS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

TRUTHWITCH    THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN

Crooked Kingdom Blog Tour | Matthias Is…

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Welcome to the blog tour for
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo!

I basically have two super-huge fandom loves and Leigh Bardugo’s books are one of them! Leigh Bardugo’s books are special to me for so many reasons but I’ll always remember that the Fierce Reads tour in 2012 was the very first author event that I ever went to and I bought SHADOW AND BONE because of that tour! I fell in love with the book and have been obsessed with everything Grisha ever since! (As you can see, the love for all things Grisha is STRONG!)

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I’m so excited to be on the CROOKED KINGDOM blog tour today, sharing some thoughts and quotes about one of my favorite Dregs characters, Matthias! Matthias Helvar is almost sort of the straight-man for the group of thieves, cons, and misfits. Even after being accepted into the group as one of them and eventually accepting that he really does sort of fit in with these “heathens”, as he affectionately calls Nina at once point in time, Matthias is still the person who (ineffectively) tries to be the voice of reason and morality. I think I love his story the most in SIX OF CROWS because I think he goes through the largest personal transformation. The only reason he survives in Hellgate is because he’s so intent on exacting revenge on the girl who got him there… who happens to be Nina. He also used to be a member of the Druskëlle, a group of Fjerdan “witch hunters” who hunted down those with Grisha powers. Matthias really stuck with me throughout this book because I loved seeing all of the changes within him. The Dregs crew springs him from prison so he owes them for his freedom and agrees to work with them… And the more time he spends with them, the more they grow on him. He realizes that Grisha powers doesn’t make someone a bad person. Those hard edges soften and he begins to let people in. And he starts down the load and beautiful road of one of my favorite tropes, a hate-to-love romance, with finally letting that vengeance grudge against Nina go and letting her into his heart. I loved watching Matthias find his place with this band of misfits, him being one himself after not being able to return to the Druskëlle. I also love watching his gruff demeanor soften and all of the glorious, glorious banter that occurs between Nina and Matthias throughout the  book as they really grow fond of each other.

My task on today’s blog tour stop is to share some things about Matthias by completing the sentence “Matthias is…” so for those of you who said TL;DR to my love-professing paragraph above, check out these short and quick descriptions of one of my favorite SIX OF CROWS characters, Matthias Helvar!

This beautiful Matthias image is by Kevin Wada!

This beautiful Matthias image is by Kevin Wada!

MATTHIAS IS… a convict.

“A gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost Grisha, a Suli girl who had become a killer, a boy from the Barrel who had become something worse.”

Matthias is broken out of Hellgate prison, a convicted man after Nina essentially got him stuck there.

MATTHIAS IS… traditional.

“Why don’t Fjerdans let girls fight?”
“They don’t want to fight.”
“How do you know? Have you ever asked one?”
“Fjerdan women are to be venerated, protected.”
“That’s probably a wise policy.”
“It is?”
“Think how embarrassing it would be for you when you got trounced by a Fjerdan girl.”

Matthias is a bit more traditional in his ways of thinking and not as modern and progressive as the rest of the Dregs. Nina is pretty much a badass, sassy, and whip-smart. She keeps Matthias on his toes and calls him out when his antiquated thinking is getting him in trouble. Matthias learns a lot from the strong women he meets along the way of this story and really starts to understand that women are so much more than things to be protected. (Or witches.)

MATTHIAS IS… reasonable.

“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.”

I love how Matthias is essentially the voice of reason for this crew. I’d say he used to be a bit pious in his former Druskëlle days and he still carries around that notion to make things “right” and “respectable”. It cracks me up to watch the rest of the Dregs crew throw morality out the window and Matthias appalled reactions to it!

MATTHIAS IS… strong.

“Matthias and Wylan seized the rope to pull him up. Jesper wasn’t sure how much Wylan was actually helping, but he was certainly working hard.”

Matthias is the brute force of the group. Where others have strength in wits and education, Matthias has more strength in physicality.

MATTHIAS IS… passionate.

Then he cupped her face in his hands. “Jer molle pe oonet. Enel mörd je nej afva trohem verretn.” Nina swallowed hard. She remembered those words and what they truly meant. I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath. It was the vow of the drüskelle to Fjerda. And now it was Matthias’ promise to her.

I’d say Matthias is one of the most passionate of the bunch! While many of the others in the Dregs crew have worked on hardening themselves and shutting themselves off to feelings, Matthias lets his emotions dictate his actions in so many ways. He joined the Druskëlle and let his passion for witch-hunting define who he was. He allowed his rage to consume him and drive his life forward when all else was lost in Hellgate. And he made a vow to Nina to protect her at all costs when she won his heart.

MATTHIAS IS…  a tulip.

“I wonder what Matthias would have to say about that outfit.”
“He wouldn’t approve.”
“He doesn’t approve of anything about you. But when you laugh, he perks up like a tulip in fresh water.”
Nina snorted. “Matthias the tulip.”
“The big, brooding, yellow tulip.”

In all ways that Matthias is a brute and brooding and fierce, he’s also just a little yellow tulip that perks up whenever Nina is around.

LEIGH BARDUGO ON MATTHIAS

Oh, Matthias, my big blonde tulip. So Jay Snyder narrates Matthias’ chapters in the Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom audiobooks, and he has this fantastic movie trailer voice. In Crooked Kingdom, Matthias is really wrestling with his feelings for Nina and his ideas about propriety, and I could not get Jay’s voice out of my head. It always left me giggling. I’d just imagine Jay in the recording booth, looking up from his script and saying—in that super gravelly Optimus Prime voice—”Really?”

I 100% agree with Leigh! I LOVE Jay’s voice. It’s perfect for Matthias and kind of dreamy to listen to. It’s makes his personality come alive that much more — and I can’t wait to see what Leigh Bardugo has in store for Matthias in CROOKED KINGDOM after that snippet!!

Author Links/Info

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Full International Blog Tour Schedule
Each blog features different original blog content as well as exclusive content from Leigh Bardugo about the main characters of The Dregs crew!

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY: Anyone who comments on all 12 blog tour posts (US and UK) by 11:59 PM EST on Monday, October 3, will be entered into a raffle for a special Grisha Prize Pack thanks to the team at Macmillan/Fierce Reads! Check out the full schedule below to see where you need to head to be entered!

September 21:
JESPER is…
UK: FANTASY FACTION
US: Two Chicks on Books 

September 22:
WYLAN is….UK: BENJAMIN OF TOMES
US: The Irish Banana Reviews

September 23:
MATTHIAS is…
UK: JESS HEARTS BOOKS
US: The Book Addict’s Guide

September 24:
NINA is…
UK: MUGGLENET
US: Adventures of a Book Junkie

September 25:
INEJ is…
UK: BOOKSMUGGLERS
US: Across the Words

September 26:
KAZ is…
UK: WINGED REVIEWS
US: The Midnight Garden


Thanks so much for stopping by for this Matthias-filled post! Hope you enjoyed the exclusive content from Leigh Bardugo and don’t forget to visit the  other stops on the blog tour to enter yourself in the raffle to win a Grisha prize pack!! 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) – J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) – J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack ThorneTitle: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Publishing Info: July 31, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 4, 2016
Related Posts: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter #1), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2), The Hogwarts Library, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7)

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

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Obviously there are a lot of mixed emotions before starting the infamous eighth Harry Potter book. Naturally I was excited — because it’s Harry freakin’ Potter — but I also just didn’t quite feel as excited as I thought I should be. Before picking up the bound version of the play (since I guess we really shouldn’t be calling it a book as it was never intended to be an actual book), I knew there were a few things that were hindering my excitement that I ultimately expected to affect my overall enjoyment of the experience (and in fact, they all did play a part in that). I knew that J.K. Rowling was involved in the plot and creation of CURSED CHILD, but ultimately, it was not her writing on the page. I knew that I was going to be reading a rehearsal script for the play and that the formatting might throw off my experience. And I knew that I’d be reading about adult Harry, Ron, Hermione, and company and I didn’t know if I’d like where their characters were in their adult lives since we had some pretty cheesy things happen in the epilogue of DEATHLY HALLOWS, and that actually was J.K. Rowling’s writing.

The short version of this review is that CURSED CHILD was kind of all over the place for me. The overall plot was interesting and I really, really loved certain parts but other parts of it just seemed so… I guess amateur is the best word I can think of at the moment, although that seems quite harsh. We’ve grown to love J.K. Rowling’s stories and how detailed they are and there were just certain things about CURSED CHILD that didn’t seem like they were plotted out very well. Other parts seemed completely random and totally uncharacteristic of the series. The overall concept of this story of the next generation was a really interesting concept but seemingly poorly executed. This was like cramming multiple books into one book (or I suppose, one play) and concepts were sort of flying all over the place. It was really fun to see things from the original series turn up but other times, the references back to the original series was very cheesy or just plain inaccurate. Small inaccuracies in some parts (it was “Happee Birthdae” not “Happy Birthday”), and some big timeline disagreements in others but it’s Harry freakin’ Potter. You don’t think the fandom will pick up on these? (They totally did.) It was just things like that that really made me feel like this was sloppily put together and that these playwrights who put the CURSED CHILD play together were missing some really core feelings and elements of the series.

I knew that I was going to be reading a script when I started and it was definitely a unique experience but I think the format lost a LOT in translation. There was less atmosphere, less dialogue, and less development which obviously you’ll get through the actors of the play and you won’t see in a rehearsal script. I just felt like I lost so much not READING those reactions, nuances, tone of voice, sensory descriptions — I mean, really a little of everything that brings the world of Harry Potter to life. Some of that is included in the script notes but the atmosphere is greatly lost because of the format. I mean, obviously this was specifically adapted for a play and that’s how they wanted to tell this story… But I really, really wish it had been developed into an actual book instead of just giving us the rehearsal script. There was so much more of this story to tell! Things would have been a lot less cheesy if they had been developed or explained. (Although some things I’ll never get over. They were just weird.) Everything felt really, really rushed and I would have rather had a simpler plot with more development instead of bursting from scene to scene. There was no time to really absorb anything and that also left very little room for character development. I don’t care if we already know the majority of these characters — they still need to have a personality.

I also didn’t feel like the characters were well-represented at all. Part of it may be because they’re so much older… But a lot of them felt far off from their younger counter-parts (although I’ve changed exponentially since I was 17 so… fair enough in some respects) but I hated that Ron came off the way he did. He was such a lump and a putz with little personality and he was essentially was Hermione’s lesser half. Hermione was a stronger personality, as she usually is, but I feel like even she lost a lot of her logic and wisdom… How do you LOSE wisdom over the years? Harry was always a bit all over the place for me so that was about the same and Ginny was a total movie Ginny, not book Ginny. (Ugh.) The main adult characters (the aforementioned) seemed so stiff and one-dimensional which is hard to bear after spending a full series with them, reading the series multiple times, and watching the movies over and over. We know these characters. They are our childhood. They are our friends. We grew up with them. To see them underdeveloped and misrepresented in a sequel like this just felt so uncaring. There were also a few characters from the series who make appearances (though I won’t reveal who they were) and some were AWESOME and some were confusing, to say the least.
There was a weird sexual tension between the Albus and Scorpius (which I thought was just me at first but there are tons of THINGS all over Buzzfeed and Tumblr about this so I’m not alone) and I honestly thought it was going to be revealed that one had a crush on the other, or that they both shared romantic feelings. That would have been fine expect for the fact that it didn’t happen and I was confused by them always bringing up hugging and the deep friendship feelings which when described really sounded like something more than just a deep platonic friendship bond.

It was so great to see the future for Harry Potter but I just really feel a little let down by a short story. Some of it was so much fun. Parts made me cry. Some made me laugh. But I also had moments where I scratched my head, questioned a lot, and even laughed out loud (not in a good way). Some of it was suuuuper cheesy and I can see why people said it read as fanfic. Overall, it felt messy and rushed and the more I think about it and discuss it, the more I realize that I’m more disappointed than excited about the development. I would have loved to see this really developed in a novel or in a series. We needed so much more time with Albus to understand him a little better. I would have loved to see this great friendship between the two boys and their complicated friendship with Rose (oh, and don’t get me started about her role in the end of the book. An even cheesier way to wrap things up. Yay). I always love more time at Hogwarts. I would have loved to see those little clues along the way to the big reveal. I was okay with what the plot WAS (except for some parts) but it really just needed way more development. I kind of feel like if it can’t be done well, best to leave it alone, and I don’t think CURSED CHILD did justice to this series at all.

We did beg for an eighth book though… so I guess beggars can’t be choosers?

But now can we beg for an Ilvermorny series, pretty please? (Will I ever learn my lesson?)

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Albus // Character obsessions: Fighting with his father, being moody, wallowing.
Albus really took after his father (if we’re talking about moody Harry from OotP). It was hard to read about him at times because he was presented as moody, difficult, and misunderstood right off the bat. Sure, I can handle that just fine BUT it didn’t seem like there was a justifiable reason for him to be so outright surly and that was the hard part. He seemed to be negative all the time.
Ron // Character obsessions: Food, following, fancies.
So Ron now runs the joke shop (did they say what happened to George? Heart isn’t into it?) but Ron is apparently the joke of this play. After everything he’s been through, the friendships he’s formed, the courage and strength and pride he found in himself, why is Ron such a putz in CURSED CHILD? He’s the butt of the jokes, makes lots of corny jokes that people laugh at just to make him feel better, and he has no personality at all. He’s basically the husband of Hermione Granger while Hermione is off being Minister of Magic (which was clumsily put together too) and it was just such a let down. He lost all that magic and sparkle that I loved in his character and was such a lump.

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Kept Me Hooked On: NEW Harry Potter. I’ll always be excited for new Harry Potter and CURSED CHILD was so exciting.
Left Me Wanting More: Magic. To put it simply, I needed more of that Harry Potter magic. It was missing from the plot, the writing, the characters, the structure. Really just everything. This didn’t do it for me at all. I won’t pretend it doesn’t exist but I feel like it needs justice and there should be a new story (NOT a play) to follow it up to make some things right. (Not just because I’m greedy. It can’t end like that.)

Addiction Rating
Read it… with hesitation

I still think this is worth the read for Harry Potter fans. Despite my lengthy, griping review, I actually did enjoy the experience. It was mediocre for me but I can’t NOT read a book that’s set in the Harry Potter universe (that’s an official work of J.K. Rowling). I think I’ll be more excited for Fantastic Beasts, though, as it’s far removed from the original series as far as plot goes.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

(Click the cover to see my review!)

NANTUCKET BLUE    alanna

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: May 3, 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: New Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 25, 2016
Related Posts: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5), Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.
With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

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** Warning: This is NOT a spoiler-free review like I usually write. I won’t give away twists from the very end but I WILL be discussing things that happened throughout the beginning and middle of the book! **

I was pleasantly surprised when I read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES last year because going into it, I knew it was a story with a strong fae presence. By this point in time in my reading career, I wasn’t new to fantasy but I was still a bit picky about what sort of fantasy I liked and fae did not fall into that category of selected themes… But knowing how much I loved Sarah’s Throne of Glass series and the fae presence there, I dove into ACOTAR and loved it! It had a bit of a BREAKING DAWN ending so I wasn’t quite sure where the second book would go but naturally I had very, very high hopes for it since I hadn’t been let down by a Maas book yet!

I won’t sugar coat it — it actually took me a really long time to get into the swing of this book. I was enjoying the plot but the beginning felt so incredibly dramatic and I just didn’t feel like things were moving forward. There was a lot of time spent on Feyre’s PTSD from her time Under the Mountain and I absolutely understand and don’t think that her traumatic experience should be just brushed over. I do felt like there was too much time dwelling on it though. ACOMAF isn’t a short book and I think some pages could have been saved and still gotten the point across throughout a few sections in the beginning. If the book were more character-based instead of plot-driven, it might have been more appropriate but the plot really seemed to suffer because of this and this isn’t the first time I felt this way in a Maas book either. I understand that these characters have gone through something that truly does change them but I felt like I was reading about totally different characters when I started ACOMAF. Feyre and Tamlin were just not themselves and I think had ACOTAR ended with a bit more of this shadow or if it had slowly creeped in throughout ACOMAF, it wouldn’t have been as much of a surprise. I just really felt like I was thrown into a totally new environment and it was really hard for me to adjust to, especially since I had read ACOTAR over a year before I got to start ACOMAF.

I continued to have issues with Feyre throughout the book. I don’t know why but she was just really bothering me. Instead of snarky, witty comebacks, I felt like everything with her was taken as an insult and she was constantly being defensive and kind of hated everyone. It was really hard to watch her interact with characters and I started to latch onto new (or new-to-the-spotlight) characters like Rhysand and his gang. It did make me extra thankful for Rhys coming onto the scene and shaking things up, though! The interactions between Feyre and Tamlin were just unbearable and painful to read. Then I ended up on the flip side where although I didn’t want Feyre and Tamlin to still be together, I also felt really weird that Tamlin was almost totally absent from this book. He was there in the beginning and I won’t speak of the ending but this book was straight up about Feyre and Rhysand and it almost felt like a waste that we spent all that time building up a romance between Feyre and Tamlin in ACOTAR to have it totally change. I absolutely love where it went but it’s confusing to understand why the Feyre/Tamlin romance was so important and developed in ACOTAR and why Rhysand wasn’t more of a main character throughout that courtship to really get his foot even more in the door.

I’ve followed the romances in Sarah J. Maas’ books quite well, I think, considering they’re not always simple and straightforward. I know some people who have issues with love triangles or already have their OTPs with the first love interest really have trouble moving with the characters as they fall out of love or move from one interest to realize that their true match is someone else and I feel like I’ve followed along with that fairly easily. I can see where people feel like the romance in ACOMAF is a love triangle and I guess to a certain extent it is, but Feyre also does not have interest in both men at the same time. It is quite complicated though so if you’re sensitive about triangles, you almost definitely won’t like the romance.

I personally loved the development of Rhysand as a love interest, especially once Feyre really started to struggle with Tamlin. I found it telling that at the hardest points in their lives, Feyre and Tamlin drifted apart and just couldn’t find a way to even communicate instead of being able to rely on one another and get through a hard time together. That doesn’t always mean that you shouldn’t be with someone but in the case of story telling, it’s a pretty big sign that the main character isn’t where they should be. I’ve heard this complaint from other Maas readers but this is the first of her books where I really felt like the romance started to take over the book. While I did love the new Rhysand/Feyre development, I felt like there was a lot of back and forth between them before anything major (finally) happened and that could have been cut down to some more meaningful interactions instead of repetitive, similar situations that happened more than a few times throughout the course of the story. Their romance actually is a very important part of the plot so it’s not like I wanted it to be downplayed but I just felt like so many points of the large general story were pushed aside to develop the romantic moments and it started to turn more romance story than epic fantasy — and yes, there are some cheesy romance book-worthy moments. Let’s just say this is NOT A YOUNG ADULT BOOK, friends. There are some very explicit scenes so if you have teens or are directing/teaching teens who are reading this series, you may not want to put this book directly into their hands. (Not that I’m saying censor them but. Ya know. Read it first so you know what you’re giving them.)

The sections where the plot progressed were really quite delightful. Sarah J. Maas is still a master at layering stories and it’s so interesting to see how much of a previous book comes back in a different light in a subsequent book. There were so many moments that the reader is able to recognize from ACOMAF and see from a different character’s perspective or reassess it with more information and it makes the story that much deeper! Once things started to really take off around halfway through and a little thereafter, the book was simply addicting and I couldn’t wait to see where the entire plot of the series was going! Sarah really does have an amazing ability to craft an overall series arc and it’s so fun to watch that develop. The ending positively floored me and it was hard to remember why I had been so frustrated for a while throughout earlier sections of the book. So many things were revealed, actions taken, and trusts betrayed that I just really didn’t know what was coming. The twists and surprises were epic and once again, I was left in utter anticipation of the next book!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Performance: Very good! I might not seek out more narrations from her but I did like her narrator of ACOMAF.

Jennifer Ikeda was a great narrator for Feyre! I think her demeanor really worked well with the character (or she adapted her demeanor very well to Feyre’s tone) and she was great with the quips and sass and rudeness. There were times I wasn’t totally into her narration but overall she was very good. I’m not sure if I’d seek her out but if there was another book I wanted to listen to, I’d definitely listen to her again.
view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Feyre // Character obsessions: Freedom, Rhysand, independence.
Feyre was just so hard to get along with throughout the beginning of the book. I remember significantly noting that I liked how she was strong and fierce but her character did NOT feel like Celaena from Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Once Feyre started to heal and move past her PTSD, she was understandably hardened from it but then she absolutely started to feel like the same character as Celaena and I was a bit disappointed. That essence that made her feel different was gone and I loved the badassery but and took that over the weird, rough Feyre that I couldn’t get a hold on.

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Kept Me Hooked On: New Adult non-contemporary. Most of the New Adult books I read (when I do read them) are of the contemporary romance variety due to that being the main market for NA. It’s interesting to read New Adult as a fantasy! I guess it’s not really that much different than YA or Adult fantasy but it feels so much different when actually classifying it as such!
Left Me Wanting More: Focus on the plot. I’ll tell ya. I was really missing the plot in the beginning. The beginning and middle were quite character-focused which I don’t have an issue with… when I’m not expecting the book to be plot-driven. It really took me a while to adjust.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

The ending was just fantastic and really kind of made up for the rocky times I had in the beginning. If we have similar reading tastes, just beware of possibly having the same issues here!

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BOOKS LIKE A COURT OF MIST AND FURY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE WINNER'S KISS    shadow and bone

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I remembered that I hadn’t yet written a review for THE RAVEN KING (nearly two months later) and when I sat down to write it, I just couldn’t put this book into real sentences. THE RAVEN KING was full of so many moments, so many things, and so many swoons that I just really had a hard time organizing them into long strings of perfectly formed paragraphs. Instead of struggling, I decided instead to switch over to my non-traditional review format with “10 Things I Felt About This Book” and let the feels fall where they may!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Raven King by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: April 26, 2016 by Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: Paranormal, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 29, 2016
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), All the Crooked Saints

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.
Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THE RAVEN KING

  • TERRIFIED. Oh boy, I was just plain terrified to read this. The end of BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE left me with so much anticipation AND I hyped myself up for it so I was nervous that somehow it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.
  • IN LOVE. I am so head over heels for this gang. I’ve never read a friendship that was so amazing and so all-encompassing like it is for Blue and her Raven Boys. Too many times, someone starts to get jealous and it ends up fracturing a friendship and while that was still present in this series (naturally. It happens to the best of us), it was taken to a level where the characters didn’t want it to affect the friendship and they did everything they could to keep the group together instead of letting jealousy take over. I love how much these characters wanted to be together and how important they were to one another.
  • IN DENIAL. THE RAVEN BOYS starts off with the prediction of Gansey’s death so it’s no spoiler that it’s heavy in everyone’s minds during THE RAVEN KING. I was in total denial that it would even happen so I pretty much spend the entire book convincing myself otherwise even though Maggie said it was definitely happening.
  • ACTUALLY FEARFUL. There were some ACTUAL scary moments in this book! I don’t read books about ghosts when it’s taken at a horror angle. I’m way too much of a chicken. There were some very, very creepy things that happened in this book and I will not lie to you — I cried actual tears of fear. I mean briefly, but yeah, it was scary!
  • IMPRESSED. I know Maggie Stiefvater had this all sorted out before she even started but I’m always so impressed to see an author bring a series together for a great conclusion. It was really neat to see how all of the pieces fit together and see so many things from all of the previous book find an explanation in THE RAVEN KING.
  • UNPREPARED. I just really, really, REALLY was not ready for this series to end. Confession? I actually felt SUPER weird once it was over. The cliffhangers from the previous books were so intense and interesting that it was really weird to leave this book with a note of finality. I mean, obviously we needed to but it didn’t leave me with that series hangover feeling because I wasn’t ready for it to end like that.
  • SHIPPY. I won’t spoil anything but obviously in a big conclusion, we get some big ship answers and conclusions as well. I was totally feeling them.
  • ANXIOUS. The hardest thing about reading a huge series finale is that A) everyone is so in love and B) there is no ARC so everyone reads the finished copy all at the same time. In a series like this, I was especially afraid of spoilers and they were so hard to avoid!
  • HOPEFUL. The way the book ended, there was a whisper of hope that maybe, just maybe, we might get more words about this gang in the future. I’m hoping for an adult Raven Cycle book,.
  • SATISFIED. This was such a satisfying conclusion. I actually was a bit — disappointed is too strong of a word but the best I can think of at the moment — at a big moment at the end because it felt too… happy? I mean happy things happen in this book but I think I was expecting a devastating moment and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I actually somehow hoped for it a little bit but I guess things really did work out quite well and it just wouldn’t have been the ending that it was had the book not played out like it did. Cryptic, I know, but how do you talk about the ending of a book without spoiling it?? 

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Buy it and read it, of course!

This is still one of my all-time favorite series. I really can’t wait until it’s time to re-read the whole series again knowing how it all ends!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE RAVEN KING

             UNDER THE NEVER SKY

Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

I happen to have read two novellas/short stories from Brandon Sanderson recently and I decided to combine them into one set of mini-reviews! I grabbed the audio of PERFECT STATE  and SILENCE FOR SHADOWS IN THE FORESTS OF HELL in a recent Audible sale and managed to squeeze them in between full-length novels. Then I immediately ran to read MISTBORN: SECRET HISTORY after finishing THE BANDS OF MOURNING because A) that series is addicting and B) I always want more answers and backstory to the Mistborn universe! Below you’ll find some brief thoughts on each.


Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of HellTitle: Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: March 31, 2015 by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 25, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2)

God-Emperor Kairominas is lord of all he surveys. He has defeated all foes, has united the entire world beneath his rule, and has mastered the arcane arts. He spends his time sparring with his nemesis, who keeps trying to invade Kai's world.
Except for today. Today, Kai has to go on a date.
Forces have conspired to require him to meet with his equal—a woman from another world who has achieved just as much as he has. What happens when the most important man in the world is forced to have dinner with the most important woman in the world?

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PERFECT STATE was a lot of fun! I really liked the whole concept of “meta fiction” (I recently discovered this term!) in which the main character is essentially playing out their life through a simulated world (think The Matrix or even a VR world like in READY PLAYER ONE). PERFECT STATE follows the story of Kai who is the ruler of his own (fictional) world and now the time has come for him to interact with other actual humans and do his duty to reproduce in order to keep the population going.

These quick novellas from Sanderson are always so hard to rate! I know his amazing world-building and I always go into these novellas excited to read more Sanderson and I’m left wanting so much more! I could easily read a whole novel or series about this world and these characters! It would have been a fantastic series if that were the case. It’s classic Sanderson through and through — great world, witty characters, interesting intersection, creative twist. I loved the characters and I wished I could have spent more time in all of these different worlds!
I also really loved the combination of fantasy and sci-fi. It was really neat to see the two collide like that! I’ve really enjoyed everything that Brandon Sanderson has written, no matter the genre, and I will keep reading everything that crosses my path!


Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of HellTitle: Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: January 26, 2016 by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Source: Amazon
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 4, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2)

Mistborn: Secret History is a companion story to the original Mistborn trilogy.
As such, it contains HUGE SPOILERS for the books Mistborn (The Final Empire), The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages. It also contains very minor spoilers for the book The Bands of Mourning.
Mistborn: Secret History builds upon the characterization, events, and worldbuilding of the original trilogy. Reading it without that background will be a confusing process at best.
In short, this isn’t the place to start your journey into Mistborn. (Though if you have read the trilogy—but it has been a while—you should be just fine, so long as you remember the characters and the general plot of the books.)
Saying anything more here risks revealing too much. Even knowledge of this story’s existence is, in a way, a spoiler.
There’s always another secret.


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MISTBORN: SECRET HISTORY was incredibly mind-blowing. I can’t really say TOO much about it because it’s incredibly spoilery for those who haven’t read MISTBORN yet or even those who haven’t finished THE BANDS OF MOURNING yet. This short story takes place just after the rush of events as MISTBORN is ending and continues to span throughout the rest of the original trilogy, setting things up for the Wax & Wayne era.

Sanderson’s world building is astounding. I love that he’s been compiling this story little by little as he’s been writing the series and finally shared it in this novella. I agree that it may have been too much to mix in with the series chronologically and I was happy to read this all from one POV!

Honestly? I got a tad lost in the middle. Well, not lost but I just have a hard time adapting to new ideas/places/people without enough anchors to hold me to an original character/story. Maybe I’m just not well-versed enough in the Cosmere? But I was having a bit of a hard time wrapping my brain around some of the sections in the middle just because we’re dealing with such higher forces (without giving any spoilers away) and a nearly new concept which I would have loved to spend more time with! Could be that these things/concepts/whatever also appear in other Sanderson books that I just haven’t read yet and that’s why I’m not picking up on it as much! Truly, the things you find out in this short story are so amazingly fantastical that I actually want to re-read the whole series and have MISTBORN: SECRET HISTORY in hand so I can read them on the same timelines. I also want to go back and read sections of this again so I can really grasp what’s going on. Some things did  seem to be tied to other books set in the Cosmere so I really need to read those soon!!

There were some amazing moments between original Mistborn characters that just totally warmed my heart and really put a happy ending on everything. I loved tiny glances at different POVs (especially Kelsier’s) as scenes from the endings of MISTBORN, THE WELL OF ASCENSION, and THE HERO OF AGES appear in the novella. I loved seeing some of my favorite characters and getting even more answers as to what happened to them and exactly how things played out since we get a different perspective here.

Always a joy to read, some MIND-BLOWING knowledge that has me dying to pick up more books (not like that was an issue anyway. I already have reads planned out!), but now I can’t believe how long I’ll have to wait for new Mistborn books! AHHH!

Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of HellTitle: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: December 3, 2013 by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 7, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2)

When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: "Don't kindle flame, don't shed the blood of another, don't run at night. These things draw shades."
Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself.


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I think this is one of my favorite Brandon Sanderson novellas to date. (Though I think LEGION is right up there but in a totally different way.) SHADOWS FOR SILENCE IN THE FORESTS OF HELL (whew, that’s a long title for a short book) was instantly engaging for me! It took just a minute or two before I figured out who the focus of the novella was (you know me — I don’t re-read synopses before starting a new book) and then once I was there I was totally there. It was a short story but I was instantly captivated. Although it’s set firmly in the Cosmere, the characters and setting actually really reminded me of Patrick Rothfuss’ THE NAME OF THE WIND — which I also adore — and so I think that familiarity (even though totally unrelated) really helped me get a feel for things quickly which is something that I do have issues with sometimes in novellas.

The characters, action, and plot were all great! As usual with a short story, I was left wanting so much more world-building and backstory but in the sense that I was interested and invested, not that it was lacking. I felt like I had a nice grip on the concept of what was happening and the characters were interesting and showed a nice depth.

I think if you’re interested in picking a novella of Sanderson’s this is one I’d highly recommend on starting with! The audiobook was also great (and cheap) and it was perfect for a little change of pace between full-length novels.


Are you a big Sanderson fan? Have you read any (or all) of these? I can’t get enough of the Mistborn books!!

No More Confessions (Confessions #3) – Louise Rozett

No More Confessions (Confessions #3) – Louise RozettTitle: No More Confessions (Confessions #3) by Louise Rozett
Publishing Info: January 25, 2015 by Independent
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 25, 2016
Related Posts: Confessions of an Angry Girl (Confessions #1), Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend (Confessions #2)

For Rose Zarelli, freshman year was about controlling her rage. Sophomore year was about finding her voice. With all that behind her, junior year should be a breeze, right? Nope. When a horrific video surfaces, Rose needs the one person she wants to be done with, the person who has broken her heart twice—Jamie Forta. But as the intensity between them heats up, Rose realizes she isn’t the only one who needs help. The thing is, Jamie doesn’t see it that way—and that could cost them both everything.

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I’ve been a big fan of the Confessions series since I first read CONFESSIONS OF AN ANGRY GIRL back in 2012 on a whim. I was so impressed with main character Rose and Louise Rozett’s character portrayal and I’m so glad to see that continue throughout the entire series so far. I was thrilled to hear that NO MORE CONFESSIONS was still being published despite the series’ original publisher apparently dropping the series because these books are incredibly realistic, meaningful, and actually quite quick to read.

NO MORE CONFESSIONS went surprisingly quick for me! It looks like it is shorter than its predecessors but I also love that it wasn’t jam-packed full of unnecessary situations just to fill the pages. NO MORE CONFESSIONS gets straight to the point and sticks to the heart of the story which revolves around Rose, her family, and her relationship with bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold, Jamie Forta. I somehow forgot a lot of what went on in book two (it’s been a while!) but I easily fell back into Rose’s world and felt so comfortable picking up where I left off.

One of the things I love the most about this series is how realistic each character and situation feels. I love that so many reactions are based off of a character’s internal debate or personal involvement with a situation. It’s less conflict because of misinformation or unnecessary drama. These characters have gone through some really tough stuff but not so far that it becomes potentially unrelatable. I feel like if I haven’t experienced something that they’re going through, I know someone who has or feel a degree of connection somehow through my own experiences. The book addresses death, grief, addiction, relationships, friendship, and so much more in a way that really allows readers to connect on many levels. I love how relationships on all levels have changed and evolved throughout the book.

I really like how Rose’s friendship with her best friend Tracy has changed so much from the first book as both girls grow up, experience different things in their lives, and start to become individuals. They do drift a bit but they’re still friends and it was great to see that evolving element in their friendship, even if it does mean they’re not as close anymore. We’ve all grown out of friendships or have spent less/more time with a friend over the years and it was really nice to see that happen over time and not because of a blow-out fight. Situations like these are really well-represented throughout the course of this series and how people naturally change over the years. Some changes have happened quickly after major events but I really appreciate the slow and gradual changes that an individual might experience and how Louise Rozett really brings that aspect of growing up to life.

The ending of NO MORE CONFESSIONS was great. Rose and Jamie both converge and diverge — they’re really coming together as a couple but their current life situations don’t seem to be on the same path. Rose is looking at colleges since her senior year is drawing near and their relationship once again comes into question, proposing a big decision for the two characters on so many levels. Again, Louise Rozett does a great job at representing this and how a character might indirectly reaction to potential changes without that full-on confrontation. It’s just so beautifully represented in each book.

I forgot how much I loved this series and it was so wonderful to read another book about Rose, Jamie, and the wonderful cast of characters that supports them. This is some really great contemporary if you’re looking for that extra realistic element and I really hope there’s a Confessions #4 to really bring this series to a close (I’m guessing it would be the last one since we’ve been progressing through Rose’s high school years). I’m dying to see what happens after this book because NO MORE CONFESSIONS was just wonderful!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

no more confessions gr updates

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Rose // Character Obsessions: Family, singing, Jamie.  
I’ve always like that Rose has felt very mature, even at 14, but it’s also great how she’s matured since the first book. I’m loving her character growth and how she’s able to see things from other people’s perspectives now. She’s still quite the teenager and goes through some typical teenage experiences but she’s also gained some real wisdom over the course of this series.
Jamie // Character Obsessions: Work, protecting himself, alcohol.  
Jamie has always been a little rough around the edges but NO MORE CONFESSIONS really brings some of that rawness to the surface. Jamie’s never been really good at handling emotions or stressful situations and you see some of the pressures really take a toll on him this book. It’s so hard to watch him go through that but I also really liked how it was represented. It’s especially hard to see that his bad boy exterior is so much more than that and he’s really hurting inside.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Character development. I just love each and every one of these characters. It’s amazing how Louise Rozett brings them to life! They all feel so incredibly really and I just get so invested.
Left Me Wanting More: Conclusion. I truly hope there’s one more book! I NEED to know what happens to Rose and Jamie after this book and where the story goes from here.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I think this is a highly underrated and unknown series and it’s one I’ve loved from day one. It’s always so delightful to read these again (even though the topics are not always delightful) and see such realistic representations of every day life.

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BOOKS LIKE NO MORE CONFESSIONS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

I'LL MEET YOU THERE    SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL