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Skyward (Skyward #1) – Brandon Sanderson

Skyward (Skyward #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: November 6, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Amazon, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: February 5, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
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), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Spensa's world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what's left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa's dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with that of her father's—a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa the daughter of a coward, her chances of attending Flight School slim to none.

No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.

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Well, this is awkward. I seem to be one of the only people so far who hasn’t really loved or enjoyed this book. SKYWARD was just…. fine. I’ve read all of Sanderson’s major published works (minus some of the latest Alcatraz books since I’m not a big MG reader) and this one fell really flat for me. I’ve come to know Sanderson’s writing and no matter what kind of book he’s writing, there’s still that typical style that packs a novel with punches and sass. SKYWARD did have some enjoyable moments and it did have its great sassy characters, but nothing really stood out for me while reading.

I felt like SKYWARD, in short, was slow. I kept waiting for things to get interesting and they kind of never did until the very end, by which time my interest was long gone. I’m used to picking up more things along the way and I kept trying to grab those pieces as I read but the “clues” either felt really obvious or weren’t divulged at all, making for a frustrating reading experience. It almost felt like he toned down the world-building for this, and I won’t say it’s *because* it’s YA but it felt like he aimed to write this younger than his adult novels, which is fine and that appeals to the actual teen audience, but I also felt like it was a little too muted. I really missed a lot of his incredible writing style where there are so many layers to the book and I just didn’t really feel it here. The big plot twist (towards which the whole book is building) happens at the very end, but even then I didn’t quite love it. I felt like all of the flight school and repetitive mentions of how the main character’s father was a coward was overkill. There were a lot of action sequences with fighting off the bad guys where I felt the book could have benefitted from other important pieces of plot or world-building.

I also didn’t love the character relationships here either. I did like the friendships created but I still didn’t feel connected to them, like these characters were really a squad. They did come together and I enjoyed it, but I don’t know… they just never felt totally cohesive where I wanted to shout “#squadgoals!”, you know? I liked that this book didn’t really have a romance because I really don’t need a romance to enjoy a book. Things did start building in a certain direction but I also think I would have enjoyed it more if that tension had started building a little bit more in book one. I don’t need characters to get together right away but that development felt slow to me also. I wanted to see more on-screen time with the two we know are building towards a love interest to really build their relationship for me and there were only small portions of that here with the two of them alone. I did see the chemistry but it was in too short of a timeframe.

SKYWARD was a fine read and it wasn’t a bad one by any means, but compared to the other books I’ve read from Brandon Sanderson, it’s by far my least favorite. I just felt like it could have used a lot more development and a lot fewer details and fight scenes. I’m sure I’ll continue the series because it’s Brandon Sanderson and that would be hard NOT to continue but I’m also really bummed that I didn’t love this book and it’ll be hard to go into the next book with an open mind.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Space Adventures. I really, really love adventures in space, especially ones that take us to new corners of the galaxy.
Left Me Wanting More: Advancement of plot. Brandon Sanderson has the great concept of some serious twists but I wanted it to lead up to it a little bit more. I felt like there was some poor hinting and then it just happened. I wanted more of that adult-feel with the plot development and it felt too easy or quick.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It was enjoyable even though it wasn’t a favorite of mine. A lot of people seem to still like it so I’d say give it a shot!

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BOOKS LIKE SKYWARD

             

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) – Holly Black

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) – Holly BlackTitle: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black
Publishing Info: January 8, 2019 by Little Brown
Source: ALAAC18, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 8, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Red Glove (Curse Workers #2), Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

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I have such mixed feelings about The Folk of the Air, mostly because of how much everyone loves these books and all of the hype. I’m plenty interested and I love the clever, well-thought out twists that really make these books so interesting but there’s just something that I keep missing and I think it has to do with the characters.

Don’t get me wrong — I actually love all of the characters, even the horrible ones. Jude is awesome, strong, and so true to herself. Cardan is terrible but also softening towards Jude and I love their hate-to-love relationship….. And yet, I feel like I just don’t connect to Cardan as much as I’m wanting to. I don’t think a book needs to have split POVs to connect to both main characters by any means, but I’m noticing the same issue I had in THE CRUEL PRINCE where I don’t feel like we spent enough time with Cardan and actually getting to SEE who he is. We’re told he’s cruel, doesn’t like to do work, doesn’t want responsibility, etc and there are instances that show that but I just feel like I don’t get to see that hidden layer as he softens to Jude. I guess because he still kind of doesn’t. They do both still hate each other and yet there’s an obvious attraction. It still just felt so icy and shut off and I still feel like I didn’t get to know him as much as I want to.

The plotting, as always, is amazing. The big twists and reveals are mostly saved for a big finale, where everything in the book ties together for the grand next step in the plot to steal the throne. I love seeing everything come together like that and the surprise to the characters as well as the audience. I kind of love how even though Jude has been planning things for a long time, it’s not revealed to the readers so everyone gets a good surprise! I do still have the same issue that I had in THE CRUEL PRINCE, though, where I wished that I had a hint of where things were going or some sort of other… thing to keep me engaged. I mean, I still was engaged in the story and I was invested so it’s hard to explain. There’s just a little something that was missing in both books that kept me from being wowed and I don’t know what it is.

I do think I became more invested in everything in THE WICKED KING and I actually really liked the ending, as world-changing as it was. You just never know where Holly Black is going to take you and as much as I can guess where things might go in books, I really don’t expect any of these monumental changes. It is quite exciting and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cardan. I started to get the Cardan appeal a bit more with this book! He had some really great moments and I felt more connected than the first book!
Left Me Wanting More: Movement. The ending of these books hold so much excitement but I just feel like I want things to keep moving forward and not just rush to happen all at once at the end.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s a suuuuper popular series that so many people love. I’m stuck on not understanding that love as much but it is still a solid series.

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BOOKS LIKE THE WICKED KING

             

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) – Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) – Holly BlackTitle: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black
Publishing Info: January 2, 2018 by Hachette, Little Brown
Source: ALAAC18, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: June 4 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Red Glove (Curse Workers #2), Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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This was probably one of this biggest reads of 2018 and the hype was REAL. I definitely enjoyed it and there was a lot to appreciate here BUT I think the hype also got me a little bit.

I really loved getting to know Jude but I also felt like I wanted to get to know her a little bit more outside of the current events. There were several places in this book where I knew I felt like I was missing something and I just didn’t know what it was. I don’t know why I felt a slight disconnect from Jude but I did. We did get her backstory but… I don’t know. I think I just wanted more of a personal connection that I just didn’t get somewhere. I did love her personality and her ambition. She had a great balance of ferocity and loyalty.

This book was broken up into two parts and I really did wish that there was something more in the first half to really bring me into the story more. There was a lot of really great set-up but the pacing was just a bit off for a trilogy, I think. It felt like we were setting up a much longer series with so much more backstory and character development in the beginning. It wasn’t a bad thing but it was definitely a different pace. Gah, it’s so hard to explain because this was just such a different sort of book all together. It was a slightly slower pace but not in a bad way — it was in a way that allowed the characters to show us who they were and allowed the world to really get set up before the action set in. I think I just expected more action, or rather, an important piece of the action, to happen earlier on.

I also really, really wanted to get to know more of Cardan and his story in the first half. I really liked that Holly Black didn’t rush the romance and had plenty of action and development in the end, but it almost felt like Cardan wasn’t really important until the end of the book. He was a significant part of Jude’s life in the beginning as well, but I wanted to see more of him and more of the reasons why he was so important much earlier on.

I really did love all of the events in the end of the book! There were soooo many things and I loved how everything unfolded in so many ways. I don’t know if that was an intentional nod to The Princess Bride but I 100% was there for that. I think the set-up for THE WICKED KING was absolutely excellent and I think book two will be stellar! I’m really excited to see where things go from here.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Holly Black. I haven’t read ALL of Holly Black’s books but I’ve read a few and it’s so interesting seeing how different they all are! No matter the subject matter, I can see the same sort of tone throughout all of them but they’re all so unique! I also love how clever each book is.
Left Me Wanting More: Swoons. I don’t ACTUALLY need more swoons, but I was expecting more the way everyone talks about Cardan. He was an interesting character but once again, I didn’t really understand what the big deal was (as happens a lot with reviews/Instagram).

Addiction Rating
Read it!

THE CRUEL PRINCE was really enjoyable and quite the interesting read. I really liked the politics behind everything and it had a really great, mature tone.

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BOOKS LIKE THE CRUEL PRINCE

              

Series Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

With the release of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie on Netflix, I figured it was finally time to read the series! I at least wanted to read the first book before I watched the movie and I’m definitely glad I did! It made me appreciate the movie even more and I always like having that knowledge base before starting a book-inspired movie!

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanTitle: To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han
Publishing Info: April 15, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible, Audiobook borrowed from library, Book Outlet
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: June 19, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

This is my first time reading TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE after much, much hype! It was definitely cute and there was quite a lot that I liked about the book. After hearing so much love for this book/series though, I didn’t really see what the hype was about. It was a cute contemporary with some great family interactions, a cute fake boyfriend situation, unexpected turns, morals, and diversity.

I’m wondering if maybe the swoons for Peter K come more in the rest of the series as well because it took me a while to get there. I actually really appreciated how all of the romance was handled. There’s a bit of love triangle but it wasn’t one that was annoying. I really didn’t know how the ending would play out and I really enjoyed it!

I was surprised to see that it ended in a cliffhanger and I definitely do want to continue on! I’m hoping to fall more in love with the series.

Series Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanTitle: P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han
Publishing Info: May 26, 2015 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: June 20, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

Well, I’m still not getting the appeal here and it’s such a bummer! I was ready for a cute, fun, smart series and it’s a weird thing because it… is… cute and fun and smart. But there’s also a sense of immaturity that just kept me from really enjoying it to that special level.

I’m also not understanding why everyone is swooning over Peter K (which I feel like I need to call him Peter K because of people’s swoons except Lara Jean doesn’t even really refer to him that way). I like him, yes, but it’s not to a super swoony level. He and Lara Jean keep having these stupid misunderstandings that could be avoided if they just talked to each other, which they said they would do.

I think the biggest thing about the series so far is that it’s just not the feel I expected. For it being a series there just doesn’t really feel like a clear direction or plot. And this is another weird thing in that’s not unrealistic. It actually feels like real life with spliced in moments of drama that are maybe too dramatic. There was a normal amount of things happening and then there was this whole weird Gossip Girl concept that was going on here. I enjoyed the realistic parts of the book and the drama was just mehhhh.

I do still want to read the last book but I guess I’m not really expecting anything different. It’s been cute and fun but I’m not getting the hype for it so far.

Series Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny HanTitle: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han
Publishing Info: May 2, 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: August 22, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Lara Jean is having the best senior year.

And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Meh. Even after watching the movie, I’m still not in love with the series. I forgot how much Lara Jean annoys me in the books, always butting into things that she wasn’t asked to do and muddying things up for other people. It was nice of her dad and Trina not to corral her but I think she needed to be corralled a bit to let her grow up and learn that not everything I about her. Her voice is just very immature, even for 18, and that bothered me still.

One thing I like and dislike all at the same time is that these books are an accurate portrayal of high school meaning…. not a lot happens. The premise of this last book was waiting for college admissions, deciding where to go, and what happens when couples stay together or go away separately, but there wasn’t really a story, per se. Things happen, there’s a timeline, but there’s not really much of a plot so while I find it realistic, it is a bit boring. We read to experience a story and this didn’t really take me anywhere. I guess you could say it’s more character-driven, which it is, but even the characters didn’t really seem to grow throughout the series because Lara Jean is pretty much the same since book one.

I’m glad I read them but I don’t get the hype and the love.

SERIES THOUGHTS

When it comes to TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE hype, I think I’m sticking with the movie. The concepts were really cute and the characters were fun, but I just had such a hard time with Lara Jean! She just felt so immature and her inner dialogue was hard to enjoy for me. With all the time we spent with Lara Jean, I was really kind of disappointed that we didn’t see what actually happened with her and Peter once they decided about college. The third book didn’t feel like a very good conclusion and while others really enjoyed this series, it was just okay for me.

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Addiction Rating
Consider them

These books were worth the read but I didn’t fall in love with them like so many other people did. I’m really glad I read them, especially reading the first two before the movie, but the movie definitely has a bigger piece of my heart!

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BOOKS LIKE TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) – Alexandra Bracken

In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) – Alexandra BrackenTitle: In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) by Alexandra Bracken
Publishing Info: April 24, 2018 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Amazon, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Date Completed: April 23, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1), Passenger (Passenger #1), Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2)

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

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Mehhhhh. I just did not enjoy the conclusion to this series at all. I’m so far past my dystopian fascination that I just wasn’t really interested after so much time went by but. I really did want to finish the series but I was worried about all of that going in.

Aside from the genre qualms, I really did feel like this series didn’t really need to be a trilogy. I think it could have done fine at two books, maybe even one depending on editing. Things felt incredibly dragged out in IN THE AFTERLIGHT and there were a lot of things that I thought could have been addressed in NEVER FADE, and things that I really wanted to be addressed the previous book, like more about the cause of the abilities. As far as action and content, I think a lot could have been cut to be a two book series but I guess trilogies were really hot at this point in time.

The thing I feel with a lot of dystopians nowadays is that that everyone feels whiny and everyone feels SO dramatic. I get it — it’s the literal end of the world, but things like that tend to need a bit more comic relief or a little less “dude that I love is my life and soul.” Teenagers are dramatic as well bu sometimes it’s just too much for me.  Ruby took on a lot of this for me and characters like Chubs and Vida were more fabulous and provided some of that relief, but the drama still took the spotlight. Liam was maybe TOO good for my tastes. It felt a little too polarizing for Liam to be GOOD and Cole to be the BAD boy. At least Cole had more going on. The villain became a bit too villainous and everyone was just so black and white when I would have loved more human grey areas, as is natural. I found myself just wanting to be done so I could finally be done and move on. If I hadn’t listened to these as audiobooks, it would have taken me forever or I may have not even finished.

But at last, it’s done and I am happy that I did finish the series. Dystopians have just lost their sparkle and appeal to me. I’ve read so many books since I fell in love and out of love with dystopian that it’s just all so tropey to me. Plus, this was Alexandra Bracken’s debut series and I think her writing was still growing. (Although I didn’t love Passenger either…)

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Kept Me Hooked On: The last of my dystopian loves. I really did LOVE dystopians — hardcore — back in 2011 and 2012. I wanted to inhale them. I liked heading back to THE DARKEST MINDS after all these years.
Left Me Wanting More: Developed characters. I just didn’t feel like anyone had depth! I actually feel like Chubs was the more relatable character. I didn’t connect with Ruby, Liam was too good, and everyone was so black and white.

Addiction Rating
Finish it

I think it’s worth finishing the series to find out why everything happened but I just had a really hard time with it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE IN THE AFTERLIGHT

              

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) – Alexandra Bracken

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) – Alexandra BrackenTitle: Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken
Publishing Info: October 15, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Audible, BEA 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Date Completed: April 18, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1), Passenger (Passenger #1), In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

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After many, many years, I finally re-read THE DARKEST MINDS and then continued on with the rest of the series. I hadn’t loved THE DARKEST MINDS on my re-read as much as I did the first time around and it’s been a long time since I’ve really been interested in dystopian so I had no idea how the rest of the series was going to go for me.

A FIVE QUESTIONS REVIEW

In an attempt to do a quick review style, and not get hung up on a traditional sense, here’s a review in five questions!

WHO? NEVER FADE separated our crew for a bit and you know how much I struggle with that. I enjoyed getting to know more about Ruby and following her story more in this book. We also learn a whole lot more about the Children’s League and their loyalties as well as meeting new characters who play an important part like badass Vida and sweet Jude. And then, of course, there’s Cole who teaches us a whole lot about… well, I guess I won’t get into all of that because of spoilers!

WHAT? The actual concept of the disease played a lot bigger part in this book and I liked how that added to the overall series development. I was glad we got to know more about why the kids started developing abilities but I also wish that we had gotten a bit more in this book as well. We also get to know more about Reds and what happened to them, and if any of them really still exist.

WHERE? A lot of this book takes place with the Children’s League and their territory. There are a lot of mixed feelings about them and their cause and I felt myself going back and forth trying to pick apart the true intentions.

WHEN? There’s a little time after the end of THE DARKEST MINDS and we pick up with Ruby after she’s been working with them for a while.

WHY? This book is clearly a bridge to the finale and it did feel like a middle book. I don’t really like when series separate main characters like this one did so it kind of really stuck that middle-book feel.

This story was okay but I did notice myself tiring of the dystopian factor already, even before book three. I had a hard time wanting to finish the series but it was so close anyway. NEVER FADE wasn’t as appealing as THE DARKEST MINDS and it kind of didn’t go in the direction that I was expecting, but I also should have expected it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Liam. Liam really is one of the best parts of this series. He’s so good and he truly has a good heart which is so refreshing compared to the nice guy who picks fights or turns bad.
Left Me Wanting More: Book One Feel. I missed the chemistry between Ruby and Liam from the first book, which I loved so much!

Addiction Rating
Continue on

The series is worth continuing but this really wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVER FADE

              

The Magician’s Land (The Magicians #3) – Lev Grossman

The Magician’s Land (The Magicians #3) – Lev GrossmanTitle: The Magician's Land (The Magicians #3) by Lev Grossman
Publishing Info: August 5, 2014 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: March 6, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Magicians (The Magicians #1), The Magician King (The Magicians #2)

Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose, he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, but he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, and a new Fillory--but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.

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I have a hard time with endings so this was a little bittersweet! I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more with the set-up but I actually appreciated how well the beginning set up the ending without the reader knowing it. I always really love when authors have everything come full circle and this book did that for the book itself and also for the series. It really shows how well an author can craft plot and really know where the series it headed right from the beginning.

I actually also really appreciated that we get to see exactly why Quentin is the main character of this series. Up until 75% of the way through the final book, it still seemed like this series could have been about Julia or even Eliot or Janet, but we finally get to see in the end why this is Quentin’s story and what made this so magical and a perfect fit for him, so I’m really glad we got to that point! It’s interesting to see how the series follows all of the main characters but then how the focus really comes back to Quentin in the end.

It was quite interesting starting the TV show after this book and having finished the whole series. Obviously this review isn’t about the show, but watching something that’s inspired by the series and doesn’t follow the exact storyline also gave me more appreciation for how things wrapped up in the end and put things into perspective. The show really focuses on all of the characters and since I read the series, I already have that feeling that Quentin is the main focus but he’s really not in the show — it’s everyone. Actually, I guess the series really still spotlights Julia, Eliot, and Janet (who is Margo in the TV show) and they have their own stories as well but it’s just so interesting to note the similarities and differences.

The TV show was actually the inspiration for me to read this series (so I could watch the show) but there was something that I really connected with in terms of the whole feel here. I wouldn’t say it’s one of my all-time favorite series but there really is something that tugs at my feelings and it has that sort of obsession quality, so even though it’s not the greatest and best, I still have so much love for it!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult fantasy that’s not high fantasy. Is this low fantasy? Urban fantasy? What do you call it? I’m horrible with genres like that. But I loved that this was magical and fantastical but it wasn’t a WHOLE fantasy world. It has that sort of Harry Potter feel that takes you away to a magical land but the real world is still there, and I really loved it in an adult setting instead of children’s or YA.
Left Me Wanting More: Character interaction. I’m actually thinking back on this having read it months ago but I feel like I wished the characters had been together a little bit more for some of their timelines… But there were other character reunions that I also loved!

Addiction Rating
Try it!

I just really enjoyed this series and the TV show honestly made it even better. They’re different but really great in their own ways and I loved the original story of The Magicians.

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BOOKS LIKE THE MAGICIAN’S LAND

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    ALEX VERUS

The Magician King (The Magicians #2) – Lev Grossman

The Magician King (The Magicians #2) – Lev GrossmanTitle: The Magician King (The Magicians #2) by Lev Grossman
Publishing Info: April 9, 2011 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: March 4, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Magicians (The Magicians #1), The Magician's Land (The Magicians #3)

Quentin Coldwater should be happy. He escaped a miserable Brooklyn childhood, matriculated at a secret college for magic, and graduated to discover that Fillory—a fictional utopia—was actually real. But even as a Fillorian king, Quentin finds little peace. His old restlessness returns, and he longs for the thrills a heroic quest can bring.
Accompanied by his oldest friend, Julia, Quentin sets off—only to somehow wind up back in the real world and not in Fillory, as they'd hoped. As the pair struggle to find their way back to their lost kingdom, Quentin is forced to rely on Julia's illicitly-learned sorcery as they face a sinister threat in a world very far from the beloved fantasy novels of their youth.

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THE MAGICIAN KING was absolutely a better book than THE MAGICIANS. I felt like THE MAGICIANS was just pieces of a story all cobbled together and didn’t really follow one long thread to make it feel like a cohesive novel and THE MAGICIAN KING actually feels like a story, moving with purpose. It’s an interesting series to get the hang because it’s not like there’s one obvious conflict that carries throughout all three books, as is often the case with trilogies, and yet they’re also not independent of each other. I did like the developments here and where the story went, delving further into the magical world and the elements of Fillory.

I think the thing I enjoyed the most about this book was Julia’s story. Honestly, it was much more interesting the Quentin’s and if you read any review of THE MAGICIANS, you’ll probably read how whiny and unappreciative Quentin is of his time and experiences at Brakebills. It really didn’t bother me as much as it could have but I felt like Julia’s story was much more interesting. THE MAGICIAN KING introduces Julia right off the bat as a completely changed person. There’s something much more unearthly about her and the book spends its time going through flashbacks of Julia’s life after that fateful day when she was presented with the Brakebills entrance exam, working its way forward to explain how she got the way that she is. She has many more hardships, a much more developed personality and story, and the more interesting side of the magical developments. That was really the biggest draw to me and this book.

I also liked the reappearance of several characters, plus a few new ones along the way. I had actually forgotten a few of them with the show clouding my memory and I enjoyed seeing them again! I’m also looking forward to seeing what they do with the TV show. I already know it doesn’t follow the books closely since we started getting way into Julia’s story right away and it doesn’t follow the events from THE MAGICIAN KING either, but I definitely wanted to read the books first and get a feel on the “real” story before moving on to an adaptation. Both are interesting and I’m appreciating both in their own ways!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Book-to-TV adaptations. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how the book and the TV show differ here! I really appreciated both individually and I’ve also enjoyed comparing the two.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection to the first book. I actually preferred THE MAGICIAN KING to THE MAGICIANS and I liked how much more it developed, but I wish the books really flowed together more.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

I thought this was the best book in the series. I think if you hated THE MAGICIANS, you may still not enjoy this series as much but I do think this book got better!

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BOOKS LIKE THE MAGICIAN KING

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    ALEX VERUS

Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) – Pierce Brown

Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) – Pierce BrownTitle: Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) by Pierce Brown
Publishing Info: January 16, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: February 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Red Rising (Red Rising #1), Golden Son (Red Rising #2), Morning Star (Red Rising #3)

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

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WELL. This book has given me quite a number of confusing feelings. MORNING STAR was my favorite book of the Red Rising original trilogy and I’m not ashamed to admit that part of the reason was all of the stunning punches that Pierce Brown packs into those pages. I wouldn’t say I was let down because that’s silly and harsh but the twists of the first three books did really set up for IRON GOLD to follow suit and I just didn’t feel as floored by the plot. I guess it makes sense with IRON GOLD really being the new start and taking place ten years after MORNING STAR, that it restarts the three-act process and reestablishes stories from the beginning, setting a new series arc into motion. I’m back at square one where I was with RED RISING where I enjoyed it quite a bit but there was still that smidge of something that I was missing where I didn’t QUITE love it.

That being said, Pierce Brown is an amazing, AMAZING character creator. These characters are some of the most in-depth fictional characters that I’ve ever met. There are things that I hadn’t even though about, running through so many emotions, turmoils, and logical thoughts, that really just don’t make it into the pages of books. These characters carry grief and love and purpose well beyond the pages that we witness. One thing that I love is that for example, as Darrow grows, his grief grows with him. His heartache changes based on the things he’s learned in life. His view of people like Eo and his father and Mustang and Pax constantly change based on his experiences and that’s something that really hit me in the gut reading this book. So often we see characters who carry their grief along but it’s just this empty hole that can be all-consuming… and that’s absolutely true, but Darrow and Ephraim and Lyria and Lysander — they all experience these things so deeply and go through so much that their lives change perspectives and change the way they look at their past. It just feels like Pierce Brown is able to take this to a layer that I’ve experienced very few times and I’m wholly impressed with the emotion that it leaves behind.

For some reason I just wasn’t connected it IRON GOLD like I had hoped, even after binge reading the first three books. I still felt taken out of this world because of the character shift (Darrow’s first-person to four different first-person narratives) as well as the shift in purpose, maturity, family focus, and so much more. It was an adjustment for a while and I did enjoy the other POVs but there was still something that wasn’t quite cohesive for me. It picked up with POVs started merging and things really got interesting and then it seemed like everyone started to fall back apart again and things lost momentum.

Also like RED RISING, there were a lot of new characters who weren’t necessarily BRAND new but who we started to see take on more prominent roles. I’m not sure if it’s an audiobook thing but sometimes I have a hard time keeping track of all of the names and families (though that did seem to be a RED RISING issue and I read that in print) so there were times I forgot who was related and why they were important. I don’t think I would have changed anything because obviously their stories are so very important, but it was something that took me out of that experience enough to be noticeable.

Overall, the writing is just brilliant but I think IRON GOLD may be my least favorite book so far. That may change as the series progresses and I get more of a grip on this new story arc but I don’t feel as invested as I did with the previous story arc… but this same exact thing happened with my reading experience with the Red Rising books. It took until GOLDEN SON to really start to connect with everyone and everything and then MORNING STAR blew my mind, so there’s still the overall series experience to look forward to. This is only part one (or part four… I feel like Star Wars here) of much more to come and there’s a lot left to experience, that much I know!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Series continuations. It was really interesting to see these characters grown as adults and how they deal with the aftermath of everything from the original trilogy!
Left Me Wanting More: Twists. Is that greedy? There are just so many great twists throughout the first three books and I just wanted more!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Obviously if you’ve ready the original trilogy, I recommend it! It wasn’t my favorite of all the books but I’m interested in where this set of books goes!

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BOOKS LIKE IRON GOLD

          

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) – Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) – Alison GoodmanTitle: The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman
Publishing Info: January 26, 2016 by Penguin
Source: Audible, Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Date Completed: February 21, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

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I had heard a lot about THE DARK DAYS CLUB and seen it around many places and actually didn’t pick it up until I had read a little bit more about it. Demon hunting in the regency era? Heck yeah that sounded interesting, so I grabbed this book in an Audible sale!

THE DARK DAYS CLUB started off interesting for me and then quickly hit a really big stall. It was such a weird read for me. I knew what I was getting into and yet the pacing really took me by surprise. For the first 100+ pages, really nothing happened. There was a lot of set-up but not even the demon-hunting side of things. There was a lot of Regency Era story and set-up but honestly, that wasn’t why I picked up the book so I really wasn’t interested without the demon-hunting part.

Things really did finally start to pick up around 40% and I really did end up enjoying the end. I was hoping more would happen throughout the course of the book but it finally did hit its stride and I surprisingly do want to continue the series. I almost DNFed this book, actually, with so little taking place at the beginning but now that things have been established, I actually am looking forward to seeing what else happens.

I’m still  little hung up on the fact that it felt really slow to me so although I enjoyed the ending, I’m not sure when I might continue on in the series. I liked where things were going and yet writing this review quite a bit after finishing, I don’t really feel that pull to keep going.

I’m also not really sure about the love triangle here… but it did give me feels on both sides. I have a lot of thoughts. I didn’t really think it was necessary to throw in there and one part of it seemed odd to me. I guess all of these factors combined may have me skipping the rest of the series.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Regency era. I really don’t read a lot of historical fiction or paranormal/urban fantasy period books so this was interesting! I don’t think it’s my favorite time to read about but it was fun.
Left Me Wanting More: Action. This book did have some good action but the beginning and middle just really dragged. I actually wanted fewer pages instead of more of something.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

This is highly rated by many of my friends but it didn’t quite do it for me. It was an interesting read but I struggled with it in more than one way. Something for which you might want to check out reviews!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DARK DAYS CLUB