Tag Archives: Novellas

Mini-Review: Cruel Crown (Red Queen #0.1 – #0.2)

Mini-Review: Cruel Crown (Red Queen #0.1 – #0.2)Title: Cruel Crown (Red Queen #0.1 - #0.2 by Victoria Aveyard
Publishing Info: January 5, 2016 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 7, 2016
Related Posts: Red Queen (Red Queen Trilogy #1)

Two women on either side of the Silver and Red divide tell the stories no one else knows.
Discover the truth of Norta’s bloody past in these two revealing prequels to #1 New York Times bestseller Red Queen.
Queen Song
Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.
Steel Scars
Diana Farley was raised to be strong, but being tasked with planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected. As she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital, she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation—Mare Barrow.
Plus a Glass Sword sneak peek!
An exclusive excerpt of the hotly anticipated second book in the Red Queen series, Glass Sword, transports readers to the world of Silver tyranny, a Red dawn rising, and one girl’s resolve to break down the system that will hold her back no longer.

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I wanted to check out CRUEL CROWN before I started GLASS SWORD as a sort of memory refreshed and to throw me back in that world. Even though I had only liked RED QUEEN and not loved, I still found myself sucked in that world so I figured it was a great opportunity to read the novellas! The two novellas in this bind-up (in my case, audio bind-up — thanks, HarperTeen, for the review copy!) were QUEEN’S SONG about Coriane, the first wife of King Tiberias and STEEL SCARS which was about Farley.

QUEEN’S SONG ended up being incredibly interesting but it did have quite the slow start for me. I felt like it took a little bit to really establish what the overall plot of the novella was and me and my bad memory didn’t quite remember what had happened to Coriane as we had learned it in RED QUEEN. I remembered the gist but I had a hard time remembering details so this was actually a great chance to see things from Cori’s POV. I really liked her a lot and although I didn’t connect with her personality as much as I had hoped, her story did keep me hooked the whole time. The ending was really interesting and I loved how there was a little twist there.

STEEL SCARS did not go as well. I had an incredibly hard time getting into this story at all. I wasn’t sure where it was going and I just really didn’t care about Farley’s story at all. I felt like not a whole lot was happening and to be totally honest… I didn’t even bother to finish it. I didn’t feel like it was important to the overall plot of the RED QUEEN series and I was just so bored.

I’m glad I ventured into the novellas but I also don’t feel drawn to pick up more should more come out. I guess that could change if I end up loving GLASS SWORD but now I’m sort of meh about starting GLASS SWORD too. Kind of a bummer that the novellas ended up having the opposite effect on me than I had hoped.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dystopian. Technically this series is more fantasy than dystopian but it always has that dystopian feel for me. I’ve really fallen out of love with dystopia lately but the RED QUEEN books have had me hanging on.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I just felt like QUEEN’S SONG took a while to go anywhere and STEEL SCARS didn’t have much going on at all.

Addiction Rating
Skip them

Unless you’re a BIG fan of the series, I wouldn’t really recommend these two novellas. They didn’t really go well for me and I just wasn’t as hooked as I had hoped.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE CRUEL CROWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 CATCHING FIRE    THRONE OF GLASS

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

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


Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of HellTitle: Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: March 31, 2015 by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 25, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

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

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

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


Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of HellTitle: Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: January 26, 2016 by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Source: Amazon
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 4, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

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


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

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

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

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

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

Mini-Reviews: Brandon Sanderson Novellas | Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History, & Shadows for Silence in the Forests of HellTitle: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: December 3, 2013 by Dragonsteel Entertainment
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 7, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

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


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

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

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


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

Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection) – Marissa Meyer

Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection) – Marissa MeyerTitle: Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: February 2, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Retelling, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 2, 2016
Related Posts: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2), , Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5), The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5), Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1), Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3), Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1), Renegades (Renegades #1)

The enchantment continues....
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

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By now, we all know how much I love The Lunar Chronicles so it was definitely a bittersweet read for me knowing that this was the very end of new content for the series. (Although now we do have graphic novels to look forward to so that helps!) Some stories worked better for me than others and I had really hoped for more than just one piece of a story that took place after the end of WINTER. I suppose I should have known since we were talking about only one epilogue here but really everything else came before CINDER happened. Actually, correction: I was looking for more present-day to post-WINTER stories… Like stories from another character’s POV or extra tidbits or deleted scenes. Once story was Kai’s first meeting of Cinder from his POV so that was fun but you know me — I’m just greedy for more new things! Anyway, here are my thoughts for each short story!

 

THE KEEPER: This was such a lovely way to kick off this collection of stories! I know that STARS ABOVE is an anthology of some previously released stories and some new ones and I loved that it started off with a new one! I believe these go in chronological order according to the Lunar Chronicles time line (that would make sense) so it was awesome to see even more backstory before GLITCHES. Without giving away spoilers, THE KEEPER mainly tells the story Michelle Benoit and when Scarlet first permanently locates to her grandmother’s house. It spans about seven years from when Scarlet is six until she is thirteen. I loved this added backstory and extra knowledge! It was also fun to see how Scarlet acquired some of her trademarks like her hoodie… and gun.

GLITCHES: This isn’t a new story (I first read it on Tor.com a few years back) but I wanted to read all of the stories, no matter if they were old or new. This one really tugs at my heartstrings! It’s the story of when Cinder first arrived at the Linh residence and (among other things), my heart just breaks for her. She didn’t choose to be a cyborg and she’s categorized as inhuman just because has some robotic limbs and enhanced abilities. I always love learning more about Cinder… And I’m reminded again how awful Adri is.

THE QUEEN’S ARMY: This is another story that I’ve already read thanks to its release on Tor.com! It’s definitely a much different experience reading it now than when I first had. I feel like my first read, I didn’t really know this was about Wolf somehow? Maybe I didn’t know his real name until later and then it dawned on me… Either way, obviously I have everyone’s full stories now so I am quite aware! Again, this is another situation — like THE KEEPER — where knowing what I know from WINTER (and the rest of the series), my heart just goes out to these characters even more. I feel so bad for Ze’ev and what was done to him and it’s wild to see the beginning of his story and what leads him to his job with the Queen’s army and ultimately, how he ends up with Scarlet. Quick and enjoyable.

CARSWELL’S GUIDE TO BEING LUCKY: This story doesn’t quite bowl me over, which is funny because it’s Throrne! I think I want more sarcasm and humor whereas this shows more of his natural charm (also endearing but not as snarky and funny). I do like this story though! It shows a nice soft side of Thorne that even he didn’t know he possessed. I love his obsession with Rampions. I feel for him and his relationship with his parents. His background really sets him up for the person he becomes (or I suppose it’s a good backstory from what we already know of “Captain” Carswell Thorne)! Very endearing and lovely.

AFTER SUNSHINE PASSES BY: Awwww, I feel so bad for Cress! I do love how really everyone is getting their own back stories here… But I’m also anxious for the epilogue!!! Ahem. Anyway, this was another new one and we see little nine-year-old Cress, as we learn from the books, heading off to her satellite. Most of this has already been laid out in CRESS but it was very touching to see it directly from Cress’s POV. Sybil is heartless, as always, and I just felt so bad when Cress got left there for the first time! Nine is YOUNG. The little song in here was quite delightful and that’s where this story gets its name.

THE PRINCESS AND THE GUARD: I think this was the longest novella so far and I absolutely loved it! Obviously this is the story of Winter and Jacin, their childhood together, and the events mostly lead up to WINTER. We find out exactly how Winter got her scars and witness the specific event, learn more about her decision not to use her Lunar gift, and more about the incident that led to that decision. I also fell even more in love with Jacin. I LOVE his protectiveness of Winter and I think a big part of that is because they’ve also always had a good friendship… and you know how much I love best-friend-to-more stories! He also has some pretty smooth moments. I was so glad to see more of him and even more of Winter’s and Jacin’s friendship/relationship. Absolutely touching.

THE LITTLE ANDROID: This had even more Little Mermaid parallels than I remember! Maybe I was looking for the more thoroughly this time now that I knew how the story went. Still not quite my favorite, possibly because the main focus isn’t one of the main characters though we do see mention of Kai and an actual appearance of Cinder herself. I think I would have liked a longer story so we could enjoy more plot! But isn’t that always my request with short stories from my favorite authors!?

THE MECHANIC: “The mechanic that was going to change everything”… Little did he know! This story was just plain adorable. It’s Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s point of view and I just loved his instant attraction to Cinder not in spite of but because she was different from the other girls that usually fawn over him. You know me, I love a good tomboy and it’s always great to see a character appreciate a tomboy and love her for who she is! This was just adorable to see and I love how many little things are slipped in there that made me think of the rest of the series and smirk. Just you wait, kids!

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW: This epilogue was absolutely PERFECT. It was everything I could have dreamed of and just filled my heart with so much happiness. I had several guesses for who was getting married but this actually wasn’t the first wedding I expected but it was of course, absolutely perfect. I truly teared up during the ceremony because it was just so lovely and I’ve become so invested in these characters throughout the series. It was also so wonderful just to see everyone all together again and NOT in grave peril! Their friendships are truly touching and I just love this crew and I always will. What a fabulous way to close out the series.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Anthologies & collections. It’s so great to have a bind-up of all of these novellas in a beautiful hardcover! I’m usually not one to read a bunch of short stories but I think that’s growing on me!
Left Me Wanting More: New content. There were a bunch of new stories included but I was super duper hoping for more content that took place during/after the series. That epilogue though!!!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I always love more additions to The Lunar Chronicles. These books just make me so happy and the epilogue was the absolutely perfect way to wrap up this series!!

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BOOKS LIKE STARS ABOVE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

GRAVE MERCY    STEELHEART

Mini-Review: Firstborn | DNF Report: Proof of Forever, An Ember in the Ashes, The Eye of the World

It’s time again for a collection of mini-reviews and reports with feedback on a few things that I’ve read recently (or started reading and chose not to finish)!

Mini-Review: Firstborn by Brandon Sanderson | DNF Report: Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
DNF Report: An Amber in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir | DNF Report: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan


Mini-Review: Firstborn | DNF Report: Proof of Forever, An Ember in the Ashes, The Eye of the WorldTitle: Firstborn by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: July 20, 2010 by Tor Books
Source: Read for free on Tor.com
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 29, 2015
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), 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)

Of the son of a High Duke of the interstellar Empire, much glory is expected.
And expected.
And still expected, despite endless proof that young Dennison Crestmar has no talent whatsoever for war. But the life Dennison is forced to live will have its surprising lessons to impart-

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FIRSTBORN is a bit misleading for a title if you’re a fan of Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy (and companions). It actually has nothing to do with that series whatsoever so don’t be too surprised if you start this and feel totally lost! I actually did know that it was not related when I first started reading but I still felt lost in the beginning of FIRSTBORN. I’ve read all of the Mistborn books published to-date and a few Sanderson novellas plus his YA series, The Reckoners, and yet reading a new story from Sanderson, I never quite know what to expect.

Since this was an independent short, it was a bit hard to just jump into the story where it began. It’s quite a different world from anything I’ve ever read from him so it took me a while to adjust to the feel, the characters, and the general conflict. The story was interesting once I got a firm grasp on it but I think the world building and character development would have really benefitted from a full novella instead of just a quick short.

I wasn’t totally in love but there were some really nice twists packed into a very short story! That’s one thing that Sanderson always seems to accomplish. I wasn’t wholly satisfied with the way the story closed but overall, it was enjoyable. I think I had wished for more since it didn’t quite wow me but I’m glad I read it!


Mini-Review: Firstborn | DNF Report: Proof of Forever, An Ember in the Ashes, The Eye of the WorldTitle: Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
Publishing Info: June 2, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Time Travel
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 27, 2015 | DNF at approx 25%

Before: It was the perfect summer of first kisses, skinny-dipping, and bonfires by the lake. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe knew their final summer at Camp Okahatchee would come to an end, but they swore they’d stay friends.
After: Now, two years later, their bond has faded along with those memories.
Then: That is, until the fateful flash of a photo booth camera transports the four of them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed.
Now: The girls must recreate the past in order to return to the present. As they live through their second-chance summer, the mystery behind their lost friendship unravels, and a dark secret threatens to tear the girls apart all over again.
Always: Summers end. But this one will change them forever.


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When I first heard about this book, I was REALLY excited for the concept. I always love time-travel novels so I was really anxious to pick this one. Looking back, I probably should have thought about this a bit more… It’s not so much time travel as traveling back into one’s past. The time travel elements I seem to enjoy the most are individuals who physically move through time (so for example, like Back to the Future when even if you travel back/forward in time, there is still a past-you who exists in that time period). PROOF OF FOREVER was much more like (in fact, almost identical to) the Hot Tub Time Machine concept — going back into one’s own past and actually reliving that chain of events as oneself instead of being able to view it as an outsider. Long story short, this concept just felt incredibly cheesy and kind of irritating to me as a reader.

I actually loved Hot Tub Time Machine but the concept worked for me, I think, because it was a comedy. It’s poking fun at itself (I mean, how goofy is that) so it all just sort of works. PROOF OF FOREVER has a contemporary feel but it’s much more on the serious side so without that humor, the concept really just fell flat for me and I couldn’t help but make comparisons to the movie the whole time I read. I really tried not to but there were too many parallels that really stood out for me.

The book also read very young for me. Each girl’s voice sounded a lot younger than… 17? 18? And I’m of course assuming each girl will learn some valuable life-lessons and to grow throughout the book, but they were really hard to relate to in the beginning and I didn’t feel the desire to witness that change. The four different POVs also felt very unnecessary. The different voices were all written in third person so it felt awkward to have that POV shift. It sort of felt like it was originally written in first person and then was changed to third? It works for some books but it just didn’t seem like the right choice for this one (or at least it just didn’t work for me).

I found myself not enjoying the writing really at all and I didn’t really care to see what happened to the characters. I was discussing with someone else who was reading at the same time and ended up getting the rest of the scoop from her to see if I even wanted to continue and I’m kind of glad I didn’t. This one just was not the right match for me.


Mini-Review: Firstborn | DNF Report: Proof of Forever, An Ember in the Ashes, The Eye of the WorldTitle: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir
Publishing Info: April 28, 2015 by Penguin
Source: ALAMW15, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 5, 2015 | DNF at approx. 25%

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


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This was a tough decision for me. There’s been lots of hype about this book — even before its release — and I was so excited for Steve West and Fiona Hardingham to narrate that I pre-ordered the audio. I NEVER pre-order an audio. Ever. I was so excited to listen to them narrate, claiming I could listen to them read the phone book and I would still just love the sound of their voices… But then I went and ate my words because I just didn’t feel the desire to keep listening to this book even with two of my favorite narrators bringing it to life. (There’s also possibly the issue that I LOVED Steve and Fiona so much in The Scorpio Races that they will always be Sean and Puck to me so it was just too hard to adjust to them narrating something new.)

I think I could have fallen in love with the audio and adjusted to my favorites narrate something new but… really the story wasn’t grabbing me either, and if you don’t get along with the heart of the story, there’s really no hope for narrators saving it. I actually really loved the first couple of chapters. The beginning was exciting, lively, and suspenseful.. but from there my interest waned and somehow the sharpness of the book started to slowly dull.

I didn’t really like either of the main characters very much. Laia seemed very blah and one-dimensional and it seemed like her personality flip-flopped a lot. She went from being paralyzed with fear to being take-charge. She was terrified and then brave. I suppose that is how real life works and we force ourselves into situations when life makes us do so but the transition or decision to go from terrified to brave just didn’t feel natural. It seemed like a light switch was flipped instead of seeing that internal conflict and Laia pushing herself to work past her fear.

Elias was all right but again, seemed very blah to me. He was excellent, he was special, and of course all he wanted was to be normal. To NOT be where he was, to not be related to who he was… Of course things go deeper than that but it felt like Laia was exactly one side of the spectrum and Elias was Laia’s exact opposite. She felt weaker, he felt stronger. She was outcast, he was in the midst of the elite. They felt a bit too polarized and it just sort of irked me.

I also wasn’t a fan of a few of the plot points. Too many things felt familiar or tired, like I had read it all before. I made some direct parallels to other books and other things just seemed to convenient. (Oh look, a random prophecy that came out of nowhere! And of course it involves the boy who doesn’t want it! And it comes with very, very specific rules! How convenient!) I just felt like I had read it before and it was done better.

I really struggled to put this one down because so many people had loved it… But I shared my feelings on social media and found that there were a lot of people who really didn’t as well. The ones who felt similarly to the way I was feeling said it really didn’t get much better for them. Others said they chose to DNF as well. I was hoping I could get back into the story but I think I would continue to have the same issues. I just think this book wouldn’t get much better for me so I should devote my reading time to something I would enjoy more.


Mini-Review: Firstborn | DNF Report: Proof of Forever, An Ember in the Ashes, The Eye of the WorldTitle: The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan
Publishing Info: November 15, 1990 by Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 5, 2015 | DNF at approx. 40%

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

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I picked up THE EYE OF THE WORLD for a couple reasons — firstly that Alyssa was loving it and she’s been giving me great fantasy recs lately and secondly that Brandon Sanderson eventually picked up this series after Robert Jordan’s death. Where I went wrong though is that Alyssa actually didn’t recommend this one to me. She and Amy were reading it and I wanted to join in the fun too but I didn’t realize she had a very good reason for not recommending it to me too. It’s just not a Brittany book.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the book but it’s just not my type of pacing, really. It felt slow and I even through the action scenes, I never really got into it. Part of it is that it’s the whole “journey” concept. It’s been compared to The Lord of the Rings (I guess) in that sense and that was one of the reasons I really couldn’t get into that series either (yes. It’s true). I’m not sure why that’s one of my issues but there’s something about it that prevents me from really getting into the book.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t liking the story but it always felt like it dragged. And for a 30-40 hour audiobook to drag. Ummm, that’s not good. I took the time to make it all the way to 40% and finally put it on hold after much debate. Then FINALLY four months later, I decided it’s time to DNF. I don’t have the heart to continue with the book and I shouldn’t have to PUSH to finish when I’m not enjoying it. This series is HUGE so what’s the point of pushing to finish a book if I’m not even going to continue the series? Just seems silly.

Again, not a bad book but I should have opened my ears before choosing it and not just picking it up because I didn’t want to be left out in my group of friends. SILLY. Also another case of a favorite narrator not being able to save a book. Don’t rely on that, friends. It doesn’t work.


Have you read any of these yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I know there were soooo many mixed reviews about AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. Do tell!

Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether

The time has come to put together a few mini reviews of some books I’ve read recently! Today I’ve got a novella, a Stephanie Plum novel, and a DNF “report” (since I don’t feel I read enough to merit an actual review). As usual, I just wanted to share some quick thoughts since these aren’t quite long enough for full reviews!


Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: TetherTitle: The Audition (Seraphina #0.5) by Rachel Hartman
Publishing Info: June 19, 2012 by Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 25, 2015
Related Posts: Seraphina (Seraphina #1)

The Audition is a free prequel to Seraphina available online. It takes place a few weeks prior to Seraphina, covering Seraphina Dombegh's audition to become Viridius's assistant and thus Glisselda's music tutor.

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I really just adored SERAPHINA so I was delighted to see THE AUDITION in the end of my book when I finished! I really appreciated this story because it was an extra glimpse at the friendship that I grew to love between Seraphina and Glisselda. I always love little snippets that allow me to get to know the characters more that I’ve already come to know and love.

The story wasn’t really much but I loved every little bit of it. Glisselda is the same opinionated and strong-willed girl she always is and it’s really fun to see how her little pranks in THE AUDITION sort of shape her and prepare her to become the political schemer that I see her becoming in SERAPHINA and hopefully in future books.


Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: TetherTitle: Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: January 6, 2009 by Macmillan
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 28, 2015
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

Evanovich fans rejoice! Stephanie Plum is back in town, along with her sidekick Lula, her Grandma Mazur, and an ever-widening cast of freaks, criminals, deranged felons, and lunatics looking for love. And just when Stephanie thinks her life can't get any more complicated, in walks the mysterious Diesel. A man who seems to show up at the most inconvenient moments. This time, he's the instigator for Stephanie's new adventure, which involves camping in the Pine Barrens with Lula, and perhaps even a sighting of the Jersey Devil...so hang on for a Stephanie Plum novel that is sure to send chills up your spine--it gives new meaning to the words hilarious, and "spooky."

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I’ve read every Stephanie Plum book there is so far but I have to admit that they ARE getting a bit silly. This “Between the Novels” book was supposed to come before 15 but because the audio wasn’t available, I read FINGER LICKIN’ FIFTEEN first and then came back to this one (since I know the in-betweens really don’t follow the main plot much anyway).

I’m actually glad I read FIFTEEN first. PLUM SPOOKY was… a bit too much. Monkeys, magic, vampires, head cases… Oy vey. (Honestly it was the monkeys that did me in. Monkeys that act like humans? Nah. No thanks.) I always love stories with these characters and Stephanie still cracks me up but sometimes the ploys for laughs are just too silly and this book actually turned me off a bit. Will I keep reading them? Yes. I still own the rest of the novels in paperback (they were one of my first book collections aside from Harry Potter that I actually kept and owned and took the time to keep purchasing) and Stephanie Plum will always be a friend of mine! I just hope they don’t get TOO much sillier. I can handle wacky and fun but let’s keep it a tad realistic, huh?


Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: TetherTitle: Tether (Many-Worlds Trilogy #2) by Anna Jarzab
Publishing Info: March 10, 2015 by Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 10, 2015 | DNF at approx. 33%
Related Posts: Tandem (Many-Worlds Trilogy #1)

Tether, the sequel to Tandem, continues the captivating tale of rebellion and romance that spans parallel worlds.
Everything repeats.
Sasha expected things to go back to normal once she got back on Earth. But now that she knows parallel worlds are real, and that an alternate version of herself exists in a world called Aurora, her old life no longer seems to make sense . . . and her heart breaks daily for Thomas, the boy she left behind. Troubled by mysterious, often terrifying visions and the echoes of a self she was just beginning to discover, Sasha makes the difficult decision to journey once more through the tandem.
Thomas is waiting for her on the other side, and so is strange, otherworldly Selene, Sasha’s analog from a third universe. Sasha, Selene, and their other analog, Juliana, have a joint destiny, and a new remarkable power, one that could mean salvation for Selene’s dying planet. With Thomas’s help, Sasha and Selene search for the missing Juliana. But even if they can locate her, is Sasha willing to turn her back on love to pursue a fate she’s not sure she believes in?

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“Everything repeats.” Oh boy, did it feel like book one repeating in so many ways… Firstly, I had some issues when I started TANDEM last year. I had a really hard time getting into it, keeping the worlds straight, and getting a grip on the characters. I finally got into the book maybe halfway through so I was hoping to pick up with TETHER where I left off in TANDEM but it sort of felt like starting all over again. I was once again lost and the worlds felt foggy. Sasha felt flat. I felt very bored, spending over 100 pages of set-up trying to get into the book and it just wasn’t happening.

A third analog is introduced in this book and I was just ugh, not a fan. She really felt like Juliana Part II and didn’t feel unique at all. I was still trying to spend time getting to know Sasha and Juliana because it was a struggle in TANDEM and here comes another character who is… just like them. Things didn’t really pick up within 100 pages and I put the book down about a month before I DNFed to see if the desire came back to read it and I found I just didn’t care how it ended. It was time to call it a day and quit this series which was sad because I LOVE parallel universe books. This one just really didn’t feel quite developed.

Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen

Naturally at the end of the year, I read a bunch of novellas to help me meet my reading challenge (no shame) but also because I got a bit restless in reading and needed to actually finish a few books. Here are some mini reviews  for a few of those books!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: October 11, 2012 by Tachyon Publications
Source: Audible
Genres: Fantasy, Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 25, 2014
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), , 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)

A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.
Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.
Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.

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THE EMPEROR’S SOUL took me a while to get into and I’m not sure why. The usual Sanderson genius was there but I think I was just incredibly restless when I started listening to this audio and I just wanted to zip through it. (Always a downfall of mine.) I really did like the different setting and Eastern influence — there’s an afterword in the book too which explains how Sanderson came up with the ideas for this novella’s magic system and it’s really quite fascinating how he pulled that little bit from actual history.

I really enjoyed the characters and how Shai’s story developed. I liked her a lot. I think I was thrown off because I was listening to the audio and although yes, Vin is a main character in the Mistborn books, I’ve only ever listened to male narrators for Sanderson books before (thanks, Michael Kramer!) so it was kind of weird listening to a female narrator.

Things really got going in the end and the action picked up a lot! I love how the story ended and it was definitely riveting. I know that this takes place in the same world as Elantris but Nikki also said it’s not really quite the same concept so I’m doubly excited for Elantris and seeing where that book will take me!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
Publishing Info: December 12, 2014 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Children's & Middle Grade, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 15, 2014

Audible's 2014 Narrator of the Year Julia Whelan performs one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved fairy tales, The Snow Queen. This classic tale is a fantastical fable of two dear friends - one of whom goes astray and is literally lost to the north woods, while the other undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. This charming, strange, and wonderful story is a timeless allegory about growing up and the challenges of staying true to one's self, and it served as the wintry inspiration for the blockbuster hit Frozen.

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Yes, this is “advertised” as the inspiration for Frozen and I know, I know — I knew it wasn’t going to be Frozen. I probably sound totally uncultured by hoping it was going to be like Frozen and it’s not haha! But hey, I love the Disney movie and as most of us know, I don’t do terribly well with original versions of fairy tales.

So THE SNOW QUEEN. It was very short and really not what I was expecting. I knew it wasn’t going to be like a Disney movie, but since that was all I really had to go on, it was a bit surprising in a way. I was thrown off by the fact that it was broken up into seven parts — seven different “stories”. Really it just was not captivating to me at all — and that has nothing to do with the fact that it wasn’t Disney-fied. I tried to focus but my brain was just not having it. I think I could have connected to the story but the way it was told felt roundabout and like it dragged on, and that’s not a good feeling to have for an audiobook that I can finish in a day!

I actually really did find myself interested in the actual story of the magical broken glass but for some reason I just couldn’t get into it. I’m actually really not that into Juila Whelan as a narrator either so that probably didn’t help. This one just wasn’t for me.


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: July 1, 2012 by Independent
Source: Read for free online
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 16, 2014
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), , 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)

The Eleventh Metal is a Mistborn short (really not longer than a few pages) originally created for the Mistborn Adventure Game for people who have not read the series. It delves into Kelsier's time shortly after becoming a Mistborn. This sort of begins his obsession with the Eleventh Metal and what it can do, also showing some of his training on becoming a great Mistborn fighter. 

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There is no Goodreads description for this one so that little section up there is my own — I LOVED this short story. Of course after binging the entire Mistborn series, I was dying for more, especially in the original world (I love you, Alloy of Law, but I miss the original crew). I was SO HAPPY to see Kelsier again and it’s almost comical to read a short like this when I know what I do now about the eleventh metal and what comes after that. It was so incredibly nice to spend more time with Kelsier though and I just LOVE getting more backstory from original characters. It’s so cozy to hop back inside of that world again!

This one was really only a couple of pages (if spanned out into pages — I read it on Sanderson’s website) so there’s not a WHOLE lot to say about it but I highly recommending taking the few minutes to read this if you haven’t and you’re a Mistborn fan!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: Snow White And Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede
Publishing Info: January 1, 1970 by Macmillan
Source: Library
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 28, 2014

THE FAIRY TALE SERIES — Created by Terri Windling — ONCE UPON A TIME... — ...fairy tales were written for young and old alike; it is only in the last century that they have been deemed fit only for children and stripped of much of their original violence, sensuality, and power to frighten and delight. — Patricia C. Wrede, the best-selling author of Caught In Crystal and other beloved fantasy novels, brings Snow White and Rose Red back to an adult audience, in this romantic and magical retelling set in the enchanted forests of England at the time of Queen Elizabeth.
Tor Books is proud to present the latest offering in the Fairy Tale Series -- a growing library of beautifully-designed original novels by acclaimed writers of fantasy and horror, each retelling a classic tale such as Snow White and Rose Red, Briar Rose, and Tam Lin in interesting -- often startling -- new ways.


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I read SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED with Alyssa & Amy for our December On the Same Page read (it’s one of Alyssa’s favorites) and after not liking Amy’s favorite, I was terrified. I got a couple pages into the book and was like, “Holy cow. That’s a lot of thee & thou & thy.” But as I read on, it really wasn’t as daunting as it first seemed. I’m not used to the language so yes, it did affect my read a little bit because I had to concentrate more, but overall, the book was very enjoyable!

SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED is actually one fairy tale I remember reading as a kid (at least I THINK I read the original…) and it stuck out in my mind. I really enjoyed Patricia C. Wrede’s adaptation and how she changed the tale in little ways to make it her own story and these changes actually really helped me grow attached to the book too. I’m notoriously hesitant about fairy books but after falling in love with books like Heir of Fire and A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’m definitely coming around so I was so happy to see that not only was it something that I wasn’t afraid of in SWRR but also something that I enjoyed.

I loved the characters and they totally made the book for me. They were SO much fun with so much personality. I’m glad I was pushed to read this one with Alyssa & Amy because I would not have done it without them!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: June 23, 2009 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 29, 2014
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

Unbuckle your belt and pull up a chair. It's the spiciest, sauciest, most rib-sticking Plum yet.
Receipe for disaster: Celebrity chef Stanley Chipolte comes to Trenton in a barbecue cookoff and loses his head - literally.
Throw in some spice: Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she'll talk to is Trenton cop Joe Morelli.
Pump up the heat: Chipotle's sponsor is offering a million-dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.
Stir the pot: Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help find he killer and collect the moolah.
Add a secret ingredient: Stephanie Plum's Grandma Mazur. Enough said.
Bring to a boil: Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, aka Ranger, during the day. Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, and five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, and solve Ranger's problems and not jump his bones?
Warning: Habenero hot. So good you'll want seconds.

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I usually write up full reviews but really once you review a Stephanie Plum book, you kind of review them all as far as plot goes! Don’t get me wrong — I really enjoyed it! These books are always so quick and easy to read and I finished this audio VERY quickly. The plot never really changes — Stephanie needs to pick up bad guys. She’s constantly back and forth between Morelli & Ranger. Lula and Grandma muck things up. Cars blow up. Stephanie gets covered in something (flour, sauce, paint, etc). Good guys win in the end. Yet somehow Janet Evanovich still manages to write these books in a way that’s always entertaining to me! (If sometimes over the top)

This one was a bit more entertaining than the last. I felt like it wasn’t as goofy (although it still had its moments of course) but the plot felt more concrete and more mystery than just chasing bad guys and hunting down skips. I really enjoyed the plot (an actual murder mystery!) and sure, things got goofy, but it was all-around enjoyable and I will keep on reading this series!

Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2) – Brandon Sanderson

Title: Legion (Legion #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Completed: December 13, 2014
Source: Audiobook purchased from Audible
Find it Online: Goodreads // Amazon
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) // The Well of Ascention (Mistborn #2) // The Hero of Ages (MIstborn #3) // The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4)

     Stephen Leeds, AKA ‘Legion,’ is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his ‘aspects’ are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.

Title: Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2) by Brandon Sanderson
Completed: December 13, 2014
Source: Audiobook purchased from Audible
Find it Online: Goodreads // Amazon
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) // The Well of Ascention (Mistborn #2) // The Hero of Ages (MIstborn #3) // The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4)

     Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the new story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there’s a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous…
What follows is a visionary thriller about the potential uses of technology, the mysteries of the human personality, and the ancient human need to believe that death is not the end. Legion: Skin Deep is speculative fiction at it most highly developed. It reaffirms Sanderson’s place as one of contemporary fiction’s most intelligent—and unpredictable—voices.
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Well, let’s first say OOPS. I was so excited about getting the free ebook from Audible for LEGION: SKIN DEEP that I didn’t realize that was book two in stead of book one in this series of novellas (also an issue I have when series titles end up being book titles too) so I listened to the second one first and the first one second. Actually, I think I ended up liking LEGION: SKIN DEEP better because of that! (Though I would have liked it better either way… Okay, I’m just rambling.

Anyway — I really enjoyed these novellas! They were a bit more science-fiction than fantasy with a psychological twist. Since I actually read the second one first, I got more info about Stephen Leeds than is divulged in the first book (obviously) but I didn’t really feel lost either. His aspects were incredibly interesting and there were some hints at what exactly they were — or weren’t — that kept me guessing. I really loved the various characters — both real and imaginary — and it was really interesting to see how the scenes unfolded when Leeds was the only person who could see and interact with this aspects.

SKIN DEEP had much more of a plot than LEGION (it was much longer as well) so that was my favorite of the two. I sort of just felt like I was catching up and there wasn’t a whole ton of substance to the original novella besides the introduction that I’d already received (plus some plot, but the fact that I had the bulk of this knowledge about the aspects kind of slowed the book down a bit for me — my own fault, obviously). Reading these two really had me craving more, though! I can’t wait for the next novella and I love that I was able to read (listen) to this so quickly!

Even though they were novellas, they still had plenty of plot (especially book two) and I was really hooked on the second book! I love that it was a bit more mystery and sci-fi than fantasy this time around and I can’t wait to see where else this series plot goes because so far I’m definitely intrigued and very excited!

Audible also offered me a free clip to include in my review for anyone who’s interested in the books and also the audio! Check out a little slice of LEGION: SKIN DEEP below!

LEGION: SKIN DEEP audio sample

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Stephen Leeds // Character Obsessions: Mysteries, his aspects, logic.
I really like Leeds. His character is so interesting and I love the concept of the aspects. It’s not quite schizophrenia, not quite dissociative identity disorder… So what is it? Ooh I can’t wait. I really loved this character overall and his though process — along with what his aspects provide to him — really was fascinating.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Novella SERIES? I’ve never read a novella/short story series before! It’s really interesting and so much fun to zip through and not feel weighted down by another series. (I mean, I LOVE series, but I’m still in the middle of so many!!) It’s a very cool concept!
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I actually got a lot of plot in the second book but the first felt just a bit slow; however, after finishing LEGION: SKIN DEEP, I cannot WAIT for more of this little series!

Addiction Rating
Read them!

If you’re not quite a fantasy person, these are some great Sanderson books to try out. I love his writing and cleverness and these were really fun mysteries with a psychological twist!

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

          SHADOWLANDS           FORGOTTEN

The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 – 0.5) – Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 – 0.5) – Sarah J. MaasTitle: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1 - 0.5) by Sarah J. Maas
Publishing Info: March 4th 2014 by Bloomsbury Childrens by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 13, 2014
Related Posts: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1), Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4), A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5), A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out

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** In full disclosure, I actually read the novellas individually but for conveniency’s sake, I’m reviewing as the full book, The Assassin’s Blade; therefore, I am missing the one novella that was not available for purchase outside of TAB **

I had been meaning to start THRONE OF GLASS for a long time and was juuuust about to start it when Nikki from There Were Books Involved advised me to read the novellas first. See, this would haven’t been my first read of THRONE OF GLASS. I had actually tried back when the book first came out in 2012 and made it about 80 pages before my book was due back the library… But I hadn’t been really interested it in. I had found it a bit hard to get into and I think I wasn’t at a point in my reading life at that point in time where I could really appreciate fantasy as much as I do now. When Nikki advised me to read the novellas first because they actually helped her appreciate THRONE OF GLASS that much more, I decided that was definitely the best route for me.

The funny story is… I was only able to borrow some digitally from my local library so I had to purchase the others… and ended up accidentally reading them out of order (I read the third one first and the first one third). It didn’t really affect my overall opinion too much, but more of a funny little story which obviously wouldn’t have happened if I was actually reading THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE. Oh well!

THE ASSASSIN AND THE PIRATE LORD is the first novella of the bunch (and the one I ended up reading third. Oops) and I’m actually kind of glad I ended up reading it out of order. I really loved all of the novellas but I think this one was my least favorite. Since I read the third one first, I already knew essentially what happened here and it wasn’t that it was anticlimactic but more so that I had already seen a more mature Celaena — even two novellas later — so I grew a bit impatient with her at times. It wasn’t a huge deal for me, but I did notice it a bit. I also felt like the plot was probably the least interesting out of the four that I read and felt more like a string of sequences than something that really flowed. It did have quite a bit of important foreshadowing in there, though, and it was really great to get that foundation for both the world and the characters. This was also an extremely important story because it really sets to motion absolutely everything that leads up to THRONE OF GLASS.

The second novella (skipping over the one that is only in TaB… so technically # 0.3) is THE ASSASSIN AND THE DESERT. I think I enjoyed this more than THE ASSASSIN AND THE PIRATE LORD because Celaena really starts to learn things about herself and is both mentally and physically pushed to the limits on so many levels. It’s easy to know who you think you are but once you’re put in extremely trying situations, you start to see the person you really are and what weaknesses emerge. It was heartbreaking too, because I think Celaena really opened up and discovered a lot about herself but then both of those things made her close herself off again. I really loved the relationships in this novella a lot and I think it was a really important piece of Celaena’s background that we got to know.

The next novella was THE ASSASSIN AND THE UNDERWORLD (that I accidentally read first) and I just fell in love. It was so intriguing and so complex for a novella! I really felt like I got to know all of the characters so intimately and each of the characters — as well as the plot lines — really begin to grow. There were TWISTS and things I did not see coming and it was probably one of the best novellas I have read in a long time (maybe ever?)… That is until….

THE ASSASSIN AND THE EMPIRE — HOLY CRAP, you guys. This novella BROKE me. It was flat out amazing and also set up a lot for THRONE OF GLASS but there were so many things I didn’t expect and so many things that completely floored me. If you read the main novels first — as goes for any of these novellas — you already know what happens in the end but I got to experience all of that backstory first hand and it was… well it was a wild ride. This is one of THE best novellas I’ve ever read and all of these are worth the read, whether you’ve already read all of the books so far in the series or not.

My overall opinion of the novellas is that they’re must-reads for fans of this series. I know a lot of people actually aren’t a fan of novellas but these four (and I’m assuming the fifth that I haven’t read yet) all fit together to really kind of form a whole new story in one book. I read them all before I started THRONE OF GLASS which you don’t have to do, but I really enjoyed it because these are all prequel novellas and I really felt like I was reading the series in chronological order. Given what I’ve learned so far in CROWN OF MIDNIGHT, I think it’s important to read these novellas before book two because there is a lot of history explained there that really makes more sense and draws on more emotions if you’ve read the novellas first.  

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Celaena // Character Obsessions: Clothes, books, training, fighting, Sam, and erm… kiling.
Celaena is totally badass. She’s not always my favorite heroine in terms of the way she handles herself and reacts to certain situations but I really respect her and hell. It’s not like I could ever be in her shoes. I really enjoy her stories and I loved learning about her past in these novellas.
Sam // Character Obsessions: Working his way up in the ranks, loyalty, pride, Celaena.
Oh, Sam Cortland. I just loved him. I thought he was the perfect balance for Celaena in so many ways. I actually think he’s still one of my favorite characters in the entire series so far.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Prequels. Even though I read this before I started the series so it was like “starting at the beginning” for me, I just love prequel novellas. I’m sure authors have tons of background that they probably have to write down in order to really round out some of their characters so I love reading that extra information and getting that info in a novella!
Left Me Wanting More: Connection with Celaena. I actually really grew to like her a lot more in each novella the more I got to know about her, but it wasn’t a little bit hard to really feel like I related to her in the very beginning.

Addiction Rating
READ THE NOVELLAS!!

If you’re a fan of this series at all, I think the novellas are really important to both world building and character development, but especially character development for me. There’s so much history in them and I think it’s really important to know and see it firsthand.

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BOOKS LIKE THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

Graceling    The winner's Curse

 

Showcase Showdown [1]: Novellas

A few days ago, we were discussing novellas with The Selective Collective (inspired by the release and Sandie’s recent read of the Four/Divergent novellas) and we ended up having a whole giant discussion about several different aspects about marketing, reading, and purchasing novellas. Sandie told me, “Hey B! This could be a really good idea for a post!” so I told her I just may take her up on that offer… Taking it a bit further, I realized that this could easily be a repeating discussion so hopefully this will just be one of many!

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I’m actually a big reader of novellas. Sometimes I feel like I’m not getting any reading done and I’m in the mood for something quick and interesting and novellas are the perfect way to satisfy that itch. There seem to be a lot of different opinions on the existence of novellas and their purpose and as we were discussing, it seemed like the more we talked about them, the more issues popped up… Here are a few of the gripes we noticed:

  • There are SO many novellas nowadays. Are they really all necessary? Are authors pushed to write and publish novellas or is it just that more publishers are putting out additional content because it is doing so well?
  • Novellas should not be “necessary”. I think — at least amongst our little group — that this was something everyone agreed with. Not everyone likes novellas. Not everyone reads novellas. And not everyone wants to pay for novellas. Usually they’re just extra information about characters or scenes but we noted a few series where plot actually progressed and people who hadn’t read the novellas were confused.
  • Pricing can be an issue. Sometimes I don’t want to pay $4 or $5 for a novella. I can get a paperback for that price, depending on the book. If it’s something that I REALLY want to read, I will buy it, but that is a deterrent sometimes. I’m not saying all novellas should be free because there’s still a lot of hard work that goes into to writing and putting out this extra content… But I think pricing needs to be taken into consideration. I really like the collection of Sarah J. Maas novellas as THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE and I think the novellas are both worth the money and the series have a big enough fan base to warrant and actual hardcover copy. There were debates on the DIVERGENT novellas because of the content (some weren’t as impressed) but I think DIVERGENT still has quite a large fan base full of people who are dying to own them as a physical copy. Others have been printed in paperback, I know, and others only available as digital copies. It seems like people are very picky about spending money on novellas and since they’re short stories, it seems to be more of a debate as to exactly how much they should cost.

I’ve read a lot of novellas these past couple years and a lot of people seem to be really hesitant about picking them up, so I’m going to do the natural thing. Compare them and pit them against each other. Ready for a Showcase Showdown?


THE HARDCOVER COLLECTION

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>> THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE vs. FOUR: A DIVERGENT STORY COLLECTION <<

These seemed to be the main two when hardcover collections come to mind since they’re some of the most recent ones. Having just read the THRONE OF GLASS novellas and hearing some not-as-positive things about the DIVERGENT ones, I’d say THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE is the clear winner. There are quite a few stories from Four’s POV but they don’t really seem to offer much in the way of extra character development or extra scenes. THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE features five different novellas that really add almost a whole extra book to the THRONE OF GLASS series. If you’re looking to purchase a shiny hardcover copy of your favorite novellas, make it THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE!


THE EXTRA IN THE HARDCOVER SPECIAL EDITION

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 >> CARSWELL’S GUIDE TO BEING LUCKY vs. THE DEMON IN THE WOOD <<

You know my love for Carswell Thorne as well as BOTH The Lunar Chronicles and The Grisha Trilogy… So this should be a hard decision. Actually, it’s a fairly easy one for me. Both of these stories are available ONLY in the special edition of the hardcovers of these books (the Target version of CRESS and B&N version of RUIN AND RISING) and before I tell you which one to choose, let me tell you that I actually did purchase both copies of these IN ADDITION TO the copies I already had because I had preordered from Amazon. I was going to get rid of my extra copy of CRESS but I can’t give it away. Anyway… Is it worth buying the extra copy or the special edition? It is for THE DEMON IN THE WOOD! I thought the Darkling short story was really, really good and so interesting. How does Thorne NOT win out, you ask? Well, I enjoyed the short but it wasn’t as impressive as I had hoped. It was cute and short and sweet, giving you a glimpse of teenager Thorne, but I didn’t feel like it added that much to his character to buy a whole second book. Borrow that one from your friends. Buy the one with the Darkling extra!


THE ONES ABOUT SECONDARY CHARACTERS

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>> NIGHT OF CAKE AND PUPPETS vs. ROAR AND LIV vs. HANA <<

Pitting three against each other this time! HANA was actually one of the first novellas I read and it was pretty interesting! I liked that it introduced us to her POV since she was a voice in the last DELIRIUM novel… But I’m picking two winners with NIGHT OF CAKE AND PUPPERS and ROAR AND LIV. Starting with ROAR AND LIV — Veronica Rossi’s novellas are some of my favorites and I’ve really enjoyed them. I love her writing and I think each novella just brings so much more character development and really allowed me to fall back into that world. I really, really adored NIGHT OF CAKE AND PUPPETS by Laini Taylor. Mik and Zuzanna are some of my favorite secondary characters EVER and the novella featuring these two was just plan adorable. Amy actually gifted it to me but I would happily pay for it. It was that good!
HANA was enjoyable but I didn’t really feel like it was all together necessary or that gripping. If you’re on the fence, I don’t think you’re missing too much by skipping it.


Well those are my choices! For those of you who have read them, would you agree? What novellas do you think are worth the read? Or are any of them worth it? Which ones turned you into a novella-supporter?

 

Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (#0.1) & Little Knife (#2.6) – Leigh Bardugo

Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (#0.1) & Little Knife (#2.6) – Leigh BardugoTitle: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: August 18, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 22, 2014
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

Before he ruled Ravka, before he was the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy with an extraordinary gift. In this prequel story to the New York Times-bestselling Grisha Trilogy, Leigh Bardugo takes us into Ravka's mysterious past, when Grisha lived as fugitives and the Darkling took his first steps on the path to power. Discover new territory in the Grishaverse, as well as two chapters from the soon-to-be-released Six of Crows.

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THE DEMON IN THE WOOD was one of the short stories I was most anticipating. While I love Leigh Bardugo’s Ravkan folk tales, I’m sure we were all dying to know more about The Darkling!

I think the thing I loved the most about this short story was of course, more information about The Darkling, but also seeing that point in his life where things really started to turn for the worst… We find out quite a few things in the epic conclusion that is RUIN AND RISING, but this delves a little bit more into the story of how he became the way he is and I love that it makes me a little bit more sympathetic to him. All evil villains have to have a reason WHY they’re evil, right?

I really loved the character interaction. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I heard that it was a Darkling short story and I felt like the characters featured and what we learned about them was just perfect. I also really enjoyed getting to know more about the origin of the First Army and the order of the Grisha. We know it was something that The Darkling started but didn’t know how the Grisha ended up where they are.

As always, I want more because I just can’t get enough of this world but this short story provided answers and rounded out characters even more than they were. All-around enjoyable and entertaining!


Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (#0.1) & Little Knife (#2.6) – Leigh BardugoTitle: Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: June 24, 2014 by Macmillan
Source: Read for free on Tor.com
Genres: Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 26, 2015
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

In this third Ravkan folk tale from Leigh Bardugo, a beautiful girl finds that what her father wants for her and what she wants for herself are two different things. It is a companion story to the third book of the Grisha Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, and the stories “The Witch of Duva” and “The Too-Clever Fox.”

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LITTLE KNIFE, I think, is my favorite Ravkan folk tale yet. I just loved how it felt like a short fairy tale or a fable and every time I read one of these, I just cannot praise Leigh Bardugo enough for her world building skills. Each tale shows a little history of Ravka and also seem to tie back into the most recent book and I always feel like each one makes Ravka seem more like a real place. These short stories just make it exist.

The Ravkan folk tales don’t allow as much in terms of character development but I feel like you can pluck out lessons here and there that directly correlate to a scene or a situation in the books. A character has learned that lesson or reference that folk lore or been to that place — it really just ties everything back together into one solid world.

If you haven’t read any of these shorts or folk tales, I highly recommend them if you’re a big Grisha fan!