Tag Archives: Mythology

Fast Five Friday | Mythology

fast five friday

I love blogging and writing and recommending books… but I know that I tend to get a little long-winded in my blog posts! FAST FIVE FRIDAY is a means for me to recognize some favorite books and round them up for recommendations without talking your ear off.

FAST FIVE FRIDAY | MYTHOLOGY

I am currently reading WONDER WOMAN: WARBRINGER on audio and there’s so much mythology throughout this book that affects the whole plot! It made me think back on some other mythology adaptations/retellings and that was a fun inspiration for today’s Fast Five Friday!

American Gods road trip

What: American Gods
Who: Neil Gaiman
Why: You want mythology? You’ve got it ALL in AMERICAN GODS! Mythology and gods from all over the world make up this complex and interesting novel. Plus the TV show is awesome too. 
Where: Goodreads | Review

What: Gameboard of the Gods
Who: Richelle Mead
Why: I wasn’t quite sure where this would fall-genre wise when I picked it up — dystopian? Sci-fi? Fantasy? Well, it’s a little bit of everything but surprisingly, mythology seems to be its driving force!
Where: Goodreads| Review

What: Antigoddess
Who: Kendare Blake
Why: Modern-day adaptation of mythology meets great sass in ANTIGODDESS. I actually really enjoyed this book but haven’t finished the series yet. I need to do that…
Where: Goodreads | Review

What: The Red Pyramid
Who: Rick Riordan
Why: Rich Riordan may be the king of mythology adaptations and this is the first and only book I’ve read of his so far! I picked it up for the Egyptian mythology angle and it was really enjoyable! I still have the second book waiting for me on audio.
Where: Goodreads | Review

What: The Thief
Who:  Megan Whelan Turner
Why: This was another book where I didn’t realize how much mythology would play a part but I loved the unique mythology of this world and how the reader got story-time throughout to catch up on the history and legends!
Where: Goodreads | Review


That’s my fast five for today! Have you read any of these mythology adaptations? What’s your favorite retelling of myths and legends??

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) – Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) – Laini TaylorTitle: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor
Publishing Info: March 28, 2017 by Hachette
Source: Audible, Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 18, 2017
Related Posts: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1), Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2), Night of Cake and Puppets (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2.5), Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3)

Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

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When you write a series as epic as Daughter of Smoke and Bone and then your next release gets delayed even more (to make it that much more perfect, that is), it could be really, really hard to live up to the hype of the book… But Laini Taylor had no such problem with STRANGE THE DREAMER! To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect because I hadn’t know what to expect with Daughter and it constantly surprised me so I knew I was ready for some more magic of the same quality!

STRANGE THE DREAMER was actually quite similar to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE in some ways. There was a distinct separation from the humans and the magical beings, some bad blood to draw up that tension, and a star-crossed romance, so in that respect, I did wish that STRANGE THE DREAMER did venture out on its own plot-wise and away from the world of Eretz. The books aren’t of the same world but Laini Taylor did say that they’re of the same multi-verse and may cross paths one day, but for now, two totally different things so I was hoping for a bit of a difference in big picture.

That really is the only “disappointment” I have about this book, which isn’t really a disappointment so much as something else I was looking for. STRANGE THE DREAMER really swept me off my feet with Laini Taylor’s ever-gorgeous writing. She’s one of the authors whose writing style I just love to read and I just get lost within the pages (along with Maggie Stiefvater and Neil Gaiman who also hold that magical ability to suck you into their books). The world is amazing and gorgeous and I love that the humans are even still in a different fantasy world, not Earth as we know it, to add that extra sense of magic and wonder.

All of Laini Taylor’s characters are poetic and deep. From Lazlo Strange, the dreamer whose nose was broken by a volume of fairy tales, to Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares with a gentle softness. They compliment each other and bring a wonderful balance to the book, and each character serves a real purpose to the story. Every character is so unique and Laini Taylor does an amazing job at bringing each one to life. I always feel like I’ve really gotten to know each one of them!

I won’t really get into the story itself because like all of her books, it’s one to experience, but I just loved being wrapped up in her stories again. I’ve missed that feeling of being so involved in a story and being in kind of a reading slump, it was wonderful to enjoy something so much again!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Pretty prose. Some authors just have a knack for story-telling and putting gorgeous words on the page and Laini Taylor is one of them. It doesn’t always work with such vivid descriptions but I could read Laini Taylor’s details forever.
Left Me Wanting More: Uniqueness. The only thing I would have asked for was to have more of a different big picture plot than DoSaB!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This is such a beautiful book and a wonderfully heart-breaking start to a new series (only two books! We think). It’s a must-read!

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BOOKS LIKE STRANGE THE DREAMER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    shadow and bone

Bone Gap – Laura Ruby

Bone Gap – Laura RubyTitle: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Publishing Info: March 3, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Mythology, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 11, 2016

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

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BONE GAP has been highly praised and sounded incredibly intriguing, often being marked as “magical realism” by several of its readers, so when I saw the audiobook pop in my options from Hoopla, I knew I really wanted to read it! I’ve been getting into magical realism more and more lately and it sounded like something I was definitely in the mood for, especially with its positive feedback.

I guess the biggest thing that stuck with me after finishing the book is that I’m not really sure in what category to put this book! It ended up being on a sort of Raven Cycle plane where it’s kind of magical realism, kind of mythology, and kind of its own genre. BONE GAP felt like took a while to get to the “magical” parts but there were some things that were constantly developing that finally blossomed into their full potential towards the end of the book, sort of causing that magical reveal. I do have to say, though, that I was hoping for a bit more of that throughout the beginning and middle. It definitely had a unique feel and was unlike anything I’ve ever read but I still struggled — as I have with a lot of books lately — in feeling connected to the overall concept in the earlier portions of the book.

The ending of the book seemed like a little too much at all once. The portions of the book with Roza were certainly leading there, and the reader is fully aware that what’s happening to Roza certainly isn’t normal, but the ending almost left me with more questions than answers in some respects. One big issue I also had with this book was my own interpretation of the synopsis.

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised.

I accidentally took this statement literally, and with so many mentions of magical realism, I was assuming that the gaps were literal gaps in the corn field — like a Field of Dreams sort of concept — and people ended up disappearing. I mean, the town is named Bone Gap so I thought the gap was literal. Whenever I have misinterpretations like that, it really takes me a while to adjust, so that was more of a personal problem and I had to really refocus.

The bright, shining piece of this book for me what the interesting cast of characters! Finn, Sean, Roza, and Petey are such complex and interesting characters, with many different relationships to tie them together. I loved all of the different forms of love that are included in this book and how many different layers there were to each one. Each personality was so different too! The characters all have their strong points and each one really helps the others learn and grow. It’s a beautiful, tangled web and I really enjoyed each character that the book featured!

BONE GAP was cleverly written and wonderfully layered. The whole concept (aside from the magical aspects) was built upon a reveal that I didn’t even see coming until it was almost revealed and it was wholly unique and a little heart-breaking. I was impressed with Laura Ruby’s creativity, depth, and ability to plot out the whole book in ways that I hadn’t imagined. I always feel like it’s super impressive when I’m able to be caught off-guard because being an avid reader, I’ve just read so many different things that it’s always impressive to see even more originality in a book.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Incredibly unique concepts. I love being able to read a book unlike anything else I’ve read before! In a blogging world where I’m constantly looking for read alikes, it’s very, very cool to read something that I can’t even compare to anything else.
Left Me Wanting More: Clarity. I had the minor (well, maybe more than minor) issue that I misinterpreted the synopsis and unfortunately, it did affect how I read the book. I also had the moments in the book itself where I just wanted a little bit more information on the world and the details.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Sadly I didn’t love this book but I also didn’t dislike it. It was a smooth read from start to finish but I do think that some things could have been described a bit more. Others have totally loved it though! I’m definitely interested in reading more from Laura Ruby and I’m excited to see what else she comes up with!

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BOOKS LIKE BONE GAP

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    SHADOWLANDS

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

THE RAVEN KING is coming out early 2016 and I’m re-reading all of The Raven Cycle on audio before it comes out. I need a refresher on details and feels before I head into the last book of the series and oh boy, are these books sure giving me a heavy dose of both!

Since I’ve already done one formal review of THE DREAM THIEVES back when I first read it, I’m switching things up a bit with a bit more feeling and a little less analyzing with “10 Things I Felt About” THE DREAM THIEVES!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Dream Thieves by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Mythology, Magical Realism, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 5, 2015
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 Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?
Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.
One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.
And sometimes he's not the only one who wants those things.
Ronan is one of the raven boys—a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan's secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface—changing everything in its wake.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THE DREAM THIEVES

  • EMOTIONAL. Let’s be honest. My re-read of THE RAVEN BOYS stirred up all kinds of feelings and I was prepared to be emotionally wrecked again.
  • INSIGHTFUL. I actually didn’t feel as emotionally wrecked as I had thought (though some parts just killed me — looking at you, Blue & Gansey…) but I did feel like there were a lot of answers and there was a lot more set-up for BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE which was really interesting to see having read the first three books already.
  • IN-THE-KNOW. Like THE RAVEN BOYS, there were sooo many more clues and little things that I was able to pick up on knowing what I know of the series. It was so much fun to see those things and how much more sense they make, as well as how something small really does make a huge difference! (I wonder what I’m missing that’ll be important in THE RAVEN KING…)
  • MORE CONFIDENT. One of the big things I took away from THE DREAM THIEVES during my first read was that the ending was a bit confusing. I think I just didn’t quite wrap my head around what was happening and I was so excited to be reading the book and finishing it that I think I rushed through the ending and ended up confused on the details and these aren’t books you can rush. Knowing it was coming, I paid much more attention and listening to audio really helps because my eyes can’t skip across the page and miss something!
  • FORGETFUL. Not gonna lie… I remembered the things that stood out to me and forgot a lot of the details that actually happened in this book. BUT it was that much more exciting to re-read it! Like the Gray Man. Totally forgot how his story even closed in this book!
  • CONFUSED. … at why Kavinsky’s voice sounded like Christopher Walken on this audio hahaha. It did not seem like an appropriate voice for him, but okay.
  • IMPATIENT. I just didn’t want to put this audiobook down! This series is just so engrossing and all-encompassing.
  • RONAN-CENTRIC.loved learning so much more about Ronan in the book… In a way, it made me feel less and more for him. It’s sort of like the more you know about something, the less mysterious it is BUT those moments of Ronan affection really make you realize exactly how important and extraordinary they are.
  • SHIPPY. With all of the fan art and non-canon things I see floating around Tumblr, it was definitely important for me to re-read and experience each and every one of these relationships again. Not that I have anything against non-canon things but it does muddy things up a bit in my head sometimes!
  • CONTEMPLATIVE. I just keep thinking about ALL the things we learn in this book, what we already know from THE RAVEN BOYS, and what readers will learn in BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE and omg. It’s overwhelming. HOW WILL THIS END. I also fear for Gansey. 

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Re-read it!

You MUST re-read these book if you’re a fan of the series at all. I can tell you they just get even more magical.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE DREAM THIEVES

     THE ACCIDENT SEASON        PAPER VALENTINE

Re-Read: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

Re-Read: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: September 18, 2012 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Magical Realism, Mythology, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 25, 2015
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 Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

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I really fell in love with The Raven Cycle over the past few years and with the pending release of the LAST BOOK in 2016, I knew I just had to start re-reading them. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did! (And something I highly recommend for any fan of the series!)

Re-reading THE RAVEN BOYS was such a magical experience and the book was even better knowing all of the things that I do now. It was so much fun to have insight on some little things that I’m sure I didn’t even pick up on the first go around (mostly likely because there wasn’t any significance yet). It was so amazing to relive this story from the beginning, especially having the knowledge of what happens in THE DREAM THIEVES and BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE.

The feelings once again were fantastic. I had a sort of notion in my head how things had happened in this book (after reading the other two, things sort of get muddied since obviously plots start changing and relationships evolve) and it was so great to see exactly how Blue met her Raven Boys and how these relationships started versus how they’ve developed and where these characters have ended up. The friendships and subtle romanticisms in this book are just delightful and it was so great to see the beginnings of these characters knowing exactly how much they grow throughout the series.

Maggie Stiefvater is absolutely brilliant with words. The prose is lyrical and really just flows so wonderfully, carrying the reader through book. I remember when I first read THE RAVEN BOYS, I had no idea what I was getting myself into (in a good way, of course). The only Maggie Stiefvater book I was familiar with was SHIVER at the time and the writing was much different, in my opinion, so I was a bit surprised to see how much more complex THE RAVEN BOYS was. My first read through took me just a bit to get used to the writing style but knowing the exact feel of the books now made it that much more magical for me as a re-read.

I won’t get super detailed since this was a re-read for me but I WILL urge you re-read this series as well if you’re a fan. It’s just such a wonderful experience to go through this story again from the beginning and I immediately wanted to jump into THE DREAM THIEVES! It was so hard to pace myself and not just binge the rest of the books but hey, THE RAVEN KING is still quite a few months away!

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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!

raven boys gr updates

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Noah // Character Obsessions: Friendship, camaraderie, subtlety.
I think the most interesting character for me to revisit was Noah (for obvious reasons for those who have read the series… no spoilers for those who haven’t). It was really fun to revisit his story again for the first time and to see how he interacted with everyone throughout THE RAVEN BOYS.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Lack of genre? I really love the blend of genres… or really lack of ability to put this series into a category. It’s not strictly paranormal or strictly mythology or contemporary or magical realism or urban fantasy. It’s sort of all of them or sort of none of them.
Left Me Wanting More: JUST MORE. I just need more, more, more of this series. I almost started the second book immediately after because I jUST COULDN’T WAIT. But ultimately I managed to pace myself.

Addiction Rating
RE-READ IT!

You HAVE to re-read these books if you’re a fan of the series! It’s so incredible to see this story start over from the beginning and relive this magic!

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BOOKS LIKE THE RAVEN BOYS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

WHITE CAT     GRAVE MERCY

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

American Gods – Neil GaimanTitle: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Publishing Info: June 19, 2001 by HarperCollins
Source: Gift
Genres: Adult, Mythology
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 23, 2015
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neverwhere, InterWorld (InterWorld #1)

    Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, AMERICAN GODS takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You'll be surprised by what and who it finds there...

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For February, I read AMERICAN GODS with my lovelies from On the Same Page! Alyssa is a huuuge Neil Gaiman fan and thanks to her suggestions I’ve read a couple of his books and really enjoyed them all so far so I was really anxious to pick up AMERICAN GODS which also incorporated something that I’m extremely interested in — mythology.

The book follows Shadow, a now ex-con with nothing left to lose so he joins the mysterious Mr. Wednesday on a quest to gather up some other, er… mysterious persons (*whispers* gods) for an epic and un-elaborated upon showdown. Right away, the book grabbed me and felt a little dark — a good kind of dark (wait, is there a bad kind?) — and I was sooo interested in what was about to go down! The only problem was… I quickly hit a lull in the action. I knew right away that this was going to be a book I would really have to pay attention to and that’s not a bad thing. It was more that I knew Neil Gaiman’s story telling would be very intricate, along with several subtle clues to pick up along the way (I missed a lot but Alyssa is a mythology pro and she clued me in) so it wasn’t something I could rush through. I tried to take my time but there was a section in the beginning that I was really struggling to get through. Thankfully it passed and I was once again totally hooked!

Mythology is actually kind of hit-or-miss for me as far as adaptations and retellings. I always have high hopes and I guess I never really know what to expect. Usually the more I know about the myths and the gods, the better the adaptation goes for me but I think the great part about AMERICAN GODS was that it wasn’t just a retelling of the story of X god in a modern world. These were the real and true gods, brought over to America by their believers and then abandoned, not sure what to do in this new world with no followers anymore. It felt like a totally original idea and an original story, not just adapting one that has already been told many times before. Instead of knowing what happens and seeing how the tale was interwoven into the plot, I was following a completely new plot and had no idea what would happen next! I was always excited to see what new god or character would pop, how they fit into the plot, and what could possibly happen as a result of their presence there. Not to mention how Shadow might fit into everything and why he was chosen for this mission in the first place (literally one of my first thoughts when I started reading).

Naturally, Neil Gaiman let everything unfold at the perfect time. Everyone slipped perfectly into place, their roles and motives carefully revealed when the time was right. The magic never felt unnatural or hokey and he had me believing that these gods could really be walking among us, the mortals and non-believers of this world none the wiser.

It’s hard to say too much about the book because as I said before, it’s one best explored as you read it, allowing the story to present itself naturally. If you feel a bit of struggle, push past it because this book was definitely worth it! I’m really glad I read with Alyssa and Amy because I might not have read it on my own (one of the things I always enjoy about the books we read for On the Same Page)!

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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!

American Gods GR updates

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Shadow // Character Obsessions: Laura, assisting Wednesday, going with the flow.
Shadow was a really interesting character. I really liked his laid-back demeanor despite his ex-con status. He was really fun to follow around in this book and I love what we get to know of him!

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Kept Me Hooked On: A modern take on mythology. I really loved this modern take on mythology without the book being a retelling. I really got to see the stories and histories in a different way and it also made the gods feel much more real.
Left Me Wanting More: Smoothness. Really, the book was smooth. I love Neil Gaiman’s writing — BUT there was that one lull that really took a big hunk of enjoyable time away from the book for me. I still loved the rest but I wish I hadn’t fallen into the doldrums there!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was SUCH an interesting story! I really enjoyed how creative this book was on so many levels and I just really am finding Neil Gaiman’s writing wholly captivating.

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BOOKS LIKE AMERICAN GODS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE RAVEN BOYS     THE NIGHT CIRCUS

On the Same Page: American Gods by Neil Gaiman | A Reading Roadtrip

American Gods road tripFor February, On the Same Page (Alyssa, Amy, and myself) read AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman as our book of choice. Neil Gaiman is a favorite author of Alyssa’s (like ALL-TIME FAVORITE) so I always feel a teensy bit of pressure when a favorite is involved! AMERICAN GODS was a new read for all of us, though, and it seemed like we all really enjoyed it! There were so many different aspects to the book that really struck my fancy and although travel really isn’t the main focus of the book, it definitely still plays a very large role and you could even argue that without travel, the book wouldn’t have had a purpose (since without travel, these gods would have never had a spot in America). Shadow and his boss Wednesday travel all over the continental United States running errands and completing tasks to fulfill Wednesday’s final end goal (which remains a mystery throughout most of the book) so besides the variety in characters, there’s also a large variety in setting.

I thought about including the mythology aspect in my post but as much as I enjoyed seeing all of the gods that appeared in the book, mythology really isn’t my forte. I always enjoy reading about it but I don’t have the strong well of knowledge to expand upon it in a post so I chose quite a different route (no pun intended) with a “reading road trip”, so to speak. A great portion of the book takes place in the Midwest (and there are many places not in the Midwest as well, but that seems to be where AMERICAN GODS spends most of its time) and that happens to be something I know a lot about! So come on a road trip with me, Shadow, and the gang with a brief collection of highlights from AMERICAN GODS!

First up, a complete map of all of the spots Shadow visited throughout AMERICAN GODS! I remembered quite a bit of these but this American Gods fansite (frowl.org) was a BIG help in filling in the blanks to what I had missed so I didn’t have to go back through the WHOLE book to track them all down! As you can see, this book really does span the whole country, for the most part!

AGmap

Now let’s pretend I’m sending you off on an AMERICAN GODS road trip! YAY! You can’t visit ALL of the places on the map (I mean… you CAN but they’re so all over the place)… But you literally can’t visit every place from the book because some don’t really exist. For those, I’ve taken small liberties to get you as close to the real thing as possible! I’m also a planner so the order of YOUR road trip will not necessarily be the order in which the characters took the trip. They weren’t exactly practical about how they went where… So let’s pretend you live in the center of the United States…

** MINOR spoilers for AMERICAN GODS below! I’m including facts from the book and nothing will give away major plot points but if you want to be kept in the dark, skip to the pretty picture of the map! **

  • Lebanon, KS: Ahh, the center of the United States. Really! Here is where some characters met for errr… a very important thing (also a major spoiler so I cannot say) but it’s the center and therefore, neutral ground.
  • Cherryvale, KS: The birthplace of actress Louise Brooks. Passing through due to Shadow’s interest!
  • Cairo, IL: Home of Mr. Ibis and Mr. Jacquel, where Shadow stayed for a while
  • Rock City, Lookout Mountain, GA: An important gathering place for the book!
  • “Eagle Point, IN”: A fictional place… For the sake of the road trip, I’m just estimating it’s around Indianapolis to make it easier!
  • St. Louis, MO: Where Shadow’s plane is redirected on his way home to Eagle Point and where the story more or less begins.
  • El Paso, IL: Shadow drops off Sam Black Crow
  • Chicago, IL: Shadow meets the Zorya
  • Madison, WI: Madison is mostly just an in-between point where they catch a plane to head west… but you’ll probably need to pass through to get to…
  • The House on the Rock, Spring Green, WI: A very interesting scene involving the World’s Largest Carousel and Shadow meets a few new important characters
  • “Lakeside, WI”: Lakeside is also a fictional place, but it’s extremely close to the UP so I estimated pretty far north and east in WI (PS — go camping there. It’s gorgeous!)
  • Minneapolis, MN: Another stop, where a… car switch happens. It doesn’t sound interesting but what’s going on at the time is!
  • Sioux Falls, SD: Some more pivotal moments in South Dakota and we get some more insight on what the gods can do
  • Lebanon, KS: Back to Lebanon, KS — the center of the United States. You’re home!

AGRT

 So what do you think? Would you take the road trip? Have you been to any of the locations from AMERICAN GODS before?

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Thanks again for checking out this month’s feature for On the Same Page! We had a blast reading AMERICAN GODS and sharing our thoughts with you! And don’t forget to check out Amy & Alyssa’s posts today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places) // Amy (Tripping Over Books)

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) – Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) – Robin LaFeversTitle: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin Lafevers
Publishing Info: November 4, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: ARC
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 7, 2014
Related Posts: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1), Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2)

    In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.   She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

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** This is an honestly, truly SPOILER-FREE review of MORTAL HEART! Only details are how I felt about things and never exactly WHAT they were. Too many incredibly special moments and reveals to spill the beans in a review! Enjoy! **

Not that I didn’t love the other two books (because I did) but I have been waiting for Annith’s story since we first met her in GRAVE MERCY. You guys… MORTAL HEART does not disappoint. In fact, for as much love as I had for the first two books, my love for MORTAL HEART soared above and beyond my expectations. It has the answers to everything and I mean EVERYTHING.

Oh my gosh, how do I even write this review without telling you all of the amazing plot points that I surely don’t want to spoil? Okay. No spoilers… I will just touch on things we learn!
We get to know more about Annith’s past. I have been dying to know more ever since we first met Annith so this was SO exciting. Not only do we get to learn more about her as a person, but having Annith’s story be the last in the series really ties everything together!
YES, there IS a romance and it is super swoony. I mean, did you have any doubt?  Mysterious, brave, broody… And he and Annith have great chemistry. The more I read about these two, the more I fell in love with their romance. It was truly awesome, incredibly deep, and also incredibly interesting.
There are mysteries galore! And even more importantly, we get all the answers!!! We’ve been wondering all along why Annith has been kept in the convent. There are hints at different characters being involved in different plots. There are plots of murder. There are family histories. And the reveals for each question that pops up is perfectly timed and utterly amazing.

It is really and truly hard to discuss MORTAL HEART without any spoilers because it’s the finale of this epic series and I immediately just wanted to discuss ALL THE THINGS. Robin LaFevers totally nailed it with MORTAL HEART and this is the book in the series that I really connected the most with. Annith was incredibly relatable, entirely badass, and fiercely determined. One thing that I loved was how Robin LaFevers really managed to create three entirely different heroines between Ismae, Sybella, and Annith but still keep many of the same basic qualities and ultimate goals. These girls had so much in common and the their stories all intertwine perfectly to create this series, but each one definitely felt like a very different person and a very strong personality.

The relationships in this book are just amazing. Of course the romance because WOW, but every relationship — the good and the bad — was just so perfectly shaped. The way Annith interacts with everyone — her feelings, her reactions, her decisions to trust — just felt so genuine and I really connected with her as a character. She had a lot to gain and a lot to lose all at once and so much of that was based on her relationship with her friends and Daughters of Mortain, with the convent, and with her possible enemies.

The plotting throughout the whole His Fair Assassin series is amazing. I enjoyed the first two books immensely, but with everything coming to a conclusion in MORTAL HEART, the action, the mystery, and the adventure really took off in this book and I could not put it down. If you loved the first two books, I don’t see how you can possibly be disappointed by MORTAL HEART at all. This book just floored me in all the best ways and I wish I could just soak in it forever.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a new 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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Just ignore the fact that this is all the same date……. I accidentally deleted the wrong edition of the book which wiped out my status updates BUT I did have them saved on my phone because I didn’t have access to the internet while I was reading! So I just uploaded them back when I had the chance. 

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Annith // Character Obsessions: Leaving the convent, training, answers.
Out of all of the characters in this series, Annith was definitely my favorite. I was so glad the series closed out with her story and that it was saved for the very end. She was such a pleasure to read about and everything that happened to her! Just shocking and amazing. I loved her spirit and determination.

To be honest, I want to talk about soooo many more characters but let’s discuss AFTER you read the book! There are so many surprises and reveals and pasts and secrets that I just can’t possibly say anything more about who we meet, who reveals what, and how their roles shape the book! 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction + fantasy blend. This series really combined some serious historical fiction and awesome mythology/fantasy aspects. I loved the mythology that Robin LaFevers invented for this book (oh yeah, we get more of THAT too!) and how everything just really fit so well for the time period. It was just perfect.
Left Me Wanting More: Of this series. It ended so perfectly but that’s the thing — it was perfect. I wish there was so much more but then again, I’m extremely happy with the way it ended.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT

Do not hesitate to buy this book and this series and cherish on your shelves! So amazing and definitely worth owning all three books. Forever.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE MORTAL HEART

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Shadow and Bone   Daughter of Smoke and Bone

The Immortal Crown (Age of X #2) – Richelle Mead

The Kiss of DeceptionCompleted: May 24, 2014
Publishing Info: May 29th 2014 by Dutton Adult
Source: egalley approved via publisher via Edelweiss // Thank you!!
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy/Speculative (Adult)
POV: Alternating Third Person (Justin/Mae/Tessa)
Find It Online:  Goodreads // Amazon // B&N
Related Reviews: Gameboard of the Gods (AoX1) // Vampire Academy Series

   “Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.
    Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.
    Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.” — From Goodreads

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I really enjoyed THE IMMORTAL CROWN! I’ll admit that I had a bit of a hard time during parts of the first book, GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I wasn’t always sure exactly what the overall feel was supposed to be since the only experience with Richelle Mead’s books that I had was all vampire-based. It took me a while to fall into the feel of this new series, but that was a definite advantage heading into THE IMMORTAL CROWN — I already felt connected to both the setting and the characters.

I haven’t been into mythology-based books lately because many of the retellings I’ve been picking up just haven’t been fitting my personal tastes or I didn’t feel they were adapted well. I had a very brief moment in the beginning of THE IMMORTAL CROWN where I was really unsure about where the gods would take this book and series, but as soon as that doubt creeped in, an instance popped up — a supernatural instance at that — and totally grabbed my attention, throwing my doubts right out the window.

I feel like everything in this book really stepped it up a notch — the plot thickened, the characters grew on me even more, and many more surprising moments caught me off-guard, a few really flooring me (like the ENDING whaaaat!!!), really heightening my enjoyment of the book and the series overall that much more. I was enjoying The Age of X just fine, but the ending of this book especially really reeled me into the series and not just the book, making sure I would come back for more (and oh, did it ever).

The relationships in this book really made it for me, and not just romantic relationships. Justin and Mae have a great partnership, both feeding off of romantic/affectionate feelings, but also just working together really well as a professional team. I just adore Justin’s relationship with Tessa as a sort of mentor and guardian and even though he isn’t always the most responsible person, he always makes sure she’s safe and he really cares for her a lot. I also love how the relationships with the gods are really amped up in this book and start to come into play a lot more. It definitely piqued my interest and I cannot wait to see where this goes in the next book.

I think this series is growing the further I get into it and I’m anticipating a really great third book in this series! The more I get to know about the characters, the plot, the mythology, and the relationships, the more I just want of them all! I already can’t wait to continue on in the series, ESPECIALLY with where it left off!

THE VIEW FROM GOODREADS

“The View from Goodreads” is a new 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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Justin March // Character Obsessions: Religions, Arcadian agenda, Mae.
Justin cracks me up and fascinates me all at the same time. I love his charm and how he uses it — not even for women, but to really assess his “marks” and use what he knows about them to steer them towards his agenda. His thought process is fascinating and it was especially interesting to see how once his personal feelings for Mae (and his family) start to become more thickly involved, how that really affects Justin’s personal game, both mentally and emotionally.
Mae Koskinen // Character Obsessions: Rescue missions, exploring gods, Justin.
I love how Justin really started to break down Mae’s walls and how the reader was able to really pick up on more of her personal life even more in this book. Mae is fascinating to me — the praetorian aspect of it almost reminds me of Reboot by Amy Tintera… She has an almost cold and calculating air about her but she really starts to tap into her emotional side once she finds someone to help bring that out in her.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mythology. I haven’t been loving a lot of mythology lately. Heck, I wasn’t even convinced in the first 5% of this book… But I really like the way it’s been integrated in this series and I’m totally hooked now. I think I appreciate mythology much more when it meshes well with a more realistic aspect so it doesn’t seem to “out there” for me and I’m really enjoying where Richelle Mead is taking this series!
Left Me Wanting More: Banter. In a way, I liked that the romance was starting to become more emotional than physical, but I also liked the more volatile relationship that Mae and Justin had. I love banter and I missed that a little bit in this book!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed this book and really started to get into the series! I’m definitely looking forward to future books in The Age of X and I’m really starting to get into this the more I read.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Reboot       Antigoddess

Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty – Rosamund HodgeTitle: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Publishing Info: January 28, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 12, 2013

    Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
    Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
    With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
    But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
    As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

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Firstly, the cover of CRUEL BEAUTY may easily be one of my favorites. I would say favorites this year, but we’re barely into it… I still think it’ll take the cake! And secondly, people should REALLY not make comparisons to other books like that. It’s definitely an interesting adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, but I couldn’t see the Graceling comparison at all. That was a bit of a disappointment for me… But that wasn’t the reason why I was disappointed with the book.

Yep. I said it. CRUEL BEAUTY was not quite all I had hoped it to be. I know so many people ended up loving this book, but I was one of the ones who enjoyed it, but still had quite a few issues. CRUEL BEAUTY kicks off with Nyx before her wedding day, doomed to wed The Gentle Lord — a demon who has taken control of the kingdom. She’s trained to defeat him all of her life but still may not come out of this marriage alive. I was really very caught by surprise of all of the mythology in this book and… well, mythology really isn’t quite my thing or what I was expecting. Of all of the mythology retellings or mythology-heavy books I’ve read lately, I’ve only really enjoyed one and even that didn’t knock me off my feet so I was nervous right off the bat. I really don’t connect with mythology and I’m not familiar with all of the stories and deities so that tended to get confusing and uninteresting for me.

The other thing that really bothered me throughout the book was sadly Nyx herself. The first half of the book was very repetitive for me, Nyx griping about her plight to marry the Gentle Lord and then once married, to destroy him, but all the while, she’s extremely bitter about it. Nyx is bitter about her father having arranged this marriage for her to be the one essentially sentenced to die instead of her twin sister. She’s bitter with her sister for being the one her parents loved. She’s bitter with her sister for getting their mother’s looks while Nyx resembles her father. She’s bitter with her aunt for stepping in in her mother’s absence and stealing her father’s affections. It was a lot of bitterness and a lot of complaining and when I’m first meeting a character, heavy negative connotations tend to turn me off. It was very hard for me to find Nyx to be a likeable character in the first half of the book and it was really difficult to read things from her point of view.

I’m not going to lie… I almost put down this book and didn’t pick it up again. The combination of my aversion to Nyx and a slow start (something that I continue to struggle with) made me almost DNF this book. I turned to my fellow bloggers who assured me that it did pick up and I really didn’t want to DNF only 30-40 pages in so I continued through and did find that to be true. Once Nyx ventures into the Gentle Lord’s castle, things really do start to pick up and I was definitely captivated by the mysteries that this castle holds. The moving staircases and doors reminded me of Harry Potter and we know that’s always a good thing! The rooms themselves were mysterious and I was definitely interested to see how much the house itself was alive, curious, and dangerous. But… (yep, there is a but) …. It just didn’t quite seem to fit together. There were questions left unanswered, mysteries that didn’t seem to serve any purpose, and the different aspects of the castle just didn’t seem to gel as one giant puzzle. I’m not sure what it was but I kept waiting for some big reveal or for all of these pieces to snap together and it just didn’t really happen for me.

I really enjoyed Ignifex (that would be The Gentle Lord) and his character development. I appreciated that at first glance, he’s just the big, bad demon lord, but like all good villains/antagonists, he has his own story that turns the tables a bit. At the same time, I would have loved to see so much more character development for him. I wanted more evil, more snark, more indecision as to whether Nyx should trust him or not. I wanted to fall in love with him and hate him at the same time. It just didn’t seem strong enough for what I was hoping.

Oh! I can’t believe I almost forgot about the love triangle. I mean, the sort of love triangle…? Let’s just say it’s a bit confusing and either way you put it, I was not really a fan. Both sides of this love triangle seemed a bit insta-lovey. I don’t really like using that term since I do believe in the whole attraction-but-not-quite-love-at-first-sight things, but it really did feel like Nyx fell for both of these parties way too quickly. Or not even quickly, implying that it happened early in the book, but just rapidly — a sudden change. Obviously I was rooting for Nyx and Ignifex to get over their whole death match thing and fall in love, just like Beauty and the Beast! You know it’s coming but the switch just seemed too abrupt. To go from STRONGLY loathing someone all your life to feel affection… I just didn’t get it.

The plot and general idea of the book could have also been awesome too but I felt like the book was written in pieces and somehow these pieces just didn’t quite all fit perfectly together. They all came back to create one story, but they didn’t seem like they fit well, and I’m also upset with the ending. Everything seemed to happen so fast and yet not. It was not a satisfying ending and just didn’t seem to work with how the rest of the book went.

I think overall, the book just felt very pieced together. The characters didn’t feel very developed. The world building could have totally blown me away but it felt very unfinished. Nothing felt cohesive. It was still an interesting read but this should have been a book that totally wowed me and it just didn’t do that much at all. I don’t think I’ve ever been so torn about a rating or a review because there was so much I had hoped for and did get some, but just not enough to really “wow” me.

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Nyx // Character Obsessions: Defeating the Gentle Lord, staying alive, figuring out secrets.
Nyx was really hard to get along with for me… I just felt like she was too negative for the majority of the first half of the book and it took too long for her to sort of soften. By the end of the book, I had a better opinion of her but it still wasn’t good.
Ignifex // Character Obsessions: Maintaining the castle, imprisoning and yet romancing Nyx, general demon duties.
really liked Ignifex when I first met him. He was evil. He was a demon lord. He had that crooked smile and easy snark. *fans self* But.. as the story went along, his character didn’t really get developed like I had hoped. He did get more layers to his story but I didn’t feel that emanate through his personality. I felt like we were told that this is his history but I didn’t really feel like his character really jumped off the pages like I wanted it to.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magic Castles. How amazing are magic castles? That was by far one of my favorite things about the book. The castle almost felt like a character itself (although even that “character” wasn’t as developed as I hoped).
Left Me Wanting More: Cohesiveness. My biggest issue with this book is that I felt like nothing really came together. There were plenty of interesting story lines, character possibilities, and sets of magic to explore, but nothing really felt like it came together. This book felt like it was written in large chunks and when those chunks were all merged into one book, they didn’t really quite work together.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

I feel like I’m the minority here who was somewhat disappointed in it. A lot of people totally fell in love with this world so I would say definitely give it a shot if you were as excited for it as I was. Just BE AWARE that there is a lot of mythology! That totally caught me by surprise and it kind of turned me off in its own way.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE CRUEL BEAUTY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Crewel        Everneath