Review: “Crooked Kingdom” by Leigh Bardugo

22299763~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

Warning: This is the conclusion to the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo and the following contains spoilers for the first book.

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

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

Goodreads Link

~o~My Review~o~

No Mourners?
No Funerals

I’m dead. I died. I cannot possibly write anything that will thoroughly justify this book. This was the best thing I’ve read this year, quite possibly the best thing I read since I finished The Darkest Minds trilogy and I adore those books.

The plot was complex. The characters were phenomenal. This book met all expectations and more. SO GOOD!

I had forgotten how much of a vicious, conniving and manipulative little devil Kaz was. Kaz is a mastermind. Crooked Kingdom gave his character a level of depth that was touched on in Six of Crows but not explored too deeply. That goes for all the characters actually, every one of their story lines were explored and advanced with such intricacy,

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It was just so good! (I need some new adjectives).

I said this about Six of Crows, and I’ll say it again. Out of all the YA authors (who I’ve read), Leigh Bardugo is the absolute best at multiple POVs. All her characters have a distinct voice and a distinct personality that usually doesn’t happen with multiple protagonists. No one gets put in the background which seems to happen in most YA series. Everyone has a role and brings something to the table.

EVERY SINGLE SHIP! Every one of them are dynamic, and perfect. They all grew and emotionally matured and figured out what each of them wanted in a relationship.

Not only the romantic relationships but the character relationships in general were executed perfectly. The different friendships between the characters went more in depth in this book, Kaz/Jesper, Inej/Nina, Inej/Jesper, even Kaz/Wylan to a certain extent. Their relationships were complex and just felt authentic. Bardugo doesn’t just tell us they’re friends and expect us to believe it but she shows us.

Okay, much cannot be discussed in this review without completely spoiling you. So if you haven’t read the book, get it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE because you will be blown away to bits and pieces.

~o~Spoilers~o~

“They don’t know who we are. Not really. They don’t know what we’ve done, what we’ve managed together. So let’s go show them they picked the wrong damn fight.”

I pretty much loved all parts of this book and this is about to be a full on, semi-coherent rant. Without any logical order. Full of spoilers. So feel free to skip. 😀

“We were all supposed to make it.”

I didn’t think it would happen. I, like Jesper, fully believed that they would all make it out. I’ve been too coddled with other YA series. My poor Matthias. My poor darling Nina!

“You don’t win by running one game.”

Oh, Kaz. Just, where do I even start? Kaz is so amazingly clever, I am constantly in awe. And he’s just so manipulative I don’t know whether I want to hug him for his intelligence or stab him because he’s a horrible human being. I swear, every fifty pages, my thoughts were: Kaz is SO mean but I love him so much. 

“No matter the height of the mountain, the climbing is the same.”

Oh, Inej. Her faith in Kaz is seriously questioned, especially in the beginning. It’s so great to see how far this girl has come. After everything she’s gone through, her optimism towards her Saints is astounding.

Inej and Kaz are two very broken people who love each other and I have very high hopes that they will work out one day. Kaz is a better person because of her and Inej knows it. But she also gets that it isn’t her responsibility to “fix” him and she won’t try to.

Them holding hands in the end!! After I thought about it, it made sense that these two didn’t kiss. They both have long ways to go yet and they need to heal from their past first before they take a big step towards the future. But at-least we know they’re still working together and it’ll definitely happen someday (or so I choose to believe).

“A chemical weevil,” said Jesper, “But Wylan still hasn’t named it. My vote is for the Wyvil.”
“That’s terrible,” said Wylan.
“It’s brilliant,” Jesper winked. “Just like you.”

Oh, Jesper and Wylan’s relationship developed quite a bit. Many of their scenes were just pure comedic relief and then there were the deep profound ones that are still ringing in my head after a week of finishing the book. They helped each other and gave each strength when they needed  it. Wylan made Jesper  realize he shouldn’t hide his talent. And Jesper makes Wylan more confident in his abilities.

(One of my favorite scenes were when Matthias was watching Jesper flirt with Wylan and he sympathized with Wylan because he knew he was out of his depth just like Matthias was with Nina).

“I am grateful you’re alive”, he said. “I am grateful that you’re beside me. I am grateful that you’re eating.”
She rested her head on his shoulder.
“You’re better that waffles, Matthias Helvar.”
A small smile curled the Fjerdan’s lips.
“Let’s not say things we don’t mean, my love.”

Oh, these two! AFTER ALL THEY’VE BEEN THROUGH!!!! After how much Matthias had changed??? WHYYYYYYYYYY

From a logical perspective, Matthias’ death makes sense. If one of the six had to die, Matthias is the obvious choice because he was the most disliked character in Six of Crows. He was my least favorite too but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love him. It’s like how Half-Blood Prince is my least favorite Harry Potter book, least favorite doesn’t mean I don’t absolutely love the book, I just love it a tiny bit less than the others. Same with Matthias, I loved him but just not as much as the other five. But my first reaction to his death was just extreme sympathy for Nina. What would happen to her now? After everything these two have been through? Their relationship could’ve meant so much! They needed to get their happy ever after but instead, Nina gets to take her true love’s dead body across the ocean to his home country, full of people who hate her. That’s another thing! Their relationship would’ve been good for their two countries too! They could’ve been ambassadors of peace together or something of that sort. That whole scene was just completely depressing.

There were SO MANY memorable scenes in this book. 

All those scenes with Nina and Inej bonding. Their friendship in book 1 wasn’t really shown properly but it’s clear in this book that they truly love each other.

Wylan’s mom!! I was shocked when I read that part! And of-course Kaz knew, that conniving little snake.

Jesper’s dad was such a good sport throughout this book. That man had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Alys’ scenes were hilarious! Once she started singing, she just never stopped.

Nina can raise the dead! Oh my gosh!! The scene where she tried it with Matthias but she let go because she knew it wasn’t the same with his soul gone (insert crying gif here).

Kaz brought Inej’s parents to Ketterdam. Awww… And in the end when he asked if his tie was straight.

And many, many more that made this book one of the best I’ve ever read.

Review: “A Torch Against the Night” by Sabaa Tahir

25558608~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

Warning: This is the second book to the Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir and the following contains spoilers for the first book. 

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

~o~My Review~o~

“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”

Oh my gosh! This was SO GOOD. Okay, okay, let me just get my thoughts together.

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All right, I think I’m good. All things aside, I thought A Torch Against the Night was the perfect sequel. The characters were true to themselves, there was more world building and we got to see much more of the Fantasy aspect of the Ember world.

The second book starts off almost immediately after the first where we last left Laia and Elias off down at the crypts. They are now runaway fugitives who are on a time limit to get to Kauf prison to get Laia’s brother out of prison. Back in the Empire, the loathsome Marcus is now Emperor with Helene as his Blood Shrike. The Commandant continues to be her despicable self though she isn’t as present in this book as she was in the last one.

ATAtN is not as action packed as Ember in the Ashes but it’s more Fantastical. We see old and new magical creatures appear, still with an aura of mystery surrounding them. And action packed or not, it’s still a page-turner.

Laia and Elias’ relationship develops nicely in this book. And though I like Laia, I would still prefer Elias with Helene but Laia is growing on me. Laia has come a long way from the terrified girl she was in Ember. She is braver and much more confident.

My favorite thing about this book by far were the Helene pov chapters. I don’t know why some people dislike her so much when in my opinion, Helene has the most depth out of all the characters in the series. Helene is now her own biggest enemy because she doesn’t know who or what she fights for anymore. And she is just so precious!

We also see most of the side characters in the first book appear again (the ones who we left alive in the first book anyway). And though I had forgotten a few of them, we got recaps of what had happened to them in Ember. 

Overall, it was an absolutely glorious book that everyone must read. If you haven’t read the first book yet and are a Fantasy fan, please do.

~o~Spoiler Alert~o~

I HATE Marcus with every fiber of my being and I need to see him die a slow and painful death in the hands of Helene. He destroyed that poor girl completely. I hate him like I hate Umbridge. Just. UGH

That reveal with Keenan? I was NOT expecting that. Maybe because we don’t yet know what all the rules of this world are. We really didn’t know much of anything about the Nightbringer before ATAtN. I never liked him though so it goes to show that I’m a good judge of character 😀

The whole idea of Elias being a Soul Catcher is something that’ll take time to get used to. Better than him dying I guess?

All right, I guess that’s it. I hope you didn’t read the spoilers if you haven’t read the book.

 

Series Review: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

17675462173473891737850817378527

I read all four books in the series in a row so I decided to do a whole series review at once.

Overall: Say hello to one of my new favorite series of all time. I cannot believe it took me two tries to get through the first book. WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING? The Raven Cycle series is wonderful and magical.

The first book hooked me when I started. I can’t decide what genre The Raven Boys would fall into: Fantasy? Sure. Paranormal? Kind of. Does it have magic and magical elements? Yes. But it feels so real!

The characters Stiefvater created are magical. I have found yet another friends circle I would love to be a part of, up there with the trio of Harry Potter and the Argo crew from Heroes of Olympus or the Black Betty gang from Darkest Minds.

The books (and characters) get better and better as the series continues. Except for Ronan who is pretty much perfect all the way through. I highly recommend this series to anyone!

Let us continue. The later books have spoilers for the previous ones so don’t read those if you have yet to read the books before it.


17675462~o~Rating~o~
4.5 tp

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”

Blue started off as my favorite character. Blue, the only non-psychic in her house full of psychic women, longed to witness the extraordinary herself. There was Gansey on his quest to find and wake a sleeping king. Ronan who is wild and angry at the world for his father’s death.  There’s quiet and shy Noah who always pops in and out of the story. And then we have Adam, who lives with his abusive father in a trailer park and works his butt off to have a better future. I quickly grew to love Ronan and Gansey. Adam, I had lots of problems with. I thought he was too prideful and ungrateful starting off; in his mind, every sign of genuine concern from his friends was pity and a helping hand was charity. I sympathize with his situation but just, his principles are annoying to say the least.

Blue has always been told that she would kill her true love if she ever kissed him. And even though this comes up in this book, it is not a main plot point. The Raven Boys is not a romance, it is a mystery and adventure and a story of a bond forged by an unlikely group of teenagers.

Click here for Goodreads link. 


~o~Rating~o~17347389
5 tp

“While I’m gone,” Gansey said, pausing, “dream me the world. Something new for every night.”

The Dream Thieves was even better than The Raven Boys. This book felt more like Ronan’s book than the others though everyone had a presence. In the end of Raven Boys, we find out that Ronan can pull things from his dreams. That’s explored more in depth in this one.

Click here for Goodreads link.

***Some spoilers ahead for this one***

I actually don’t remember most of the details since I read these all in a row. I did think this book was better than the first one, but just slightly. And a bunch of random thoughts coming:

I love how every time some creepy thing happens, everyone is automatically like, “Knock it off, Noah.” 😀 Not in those exact words.

Mr. Gray grew on me quite a bit. He is a brilliant villain and quite a sympathetic one. I though he was much better character than Whelk. By the end of the book, he really isn’t the villain anymore. I thought what he did was very noble and deserving of Maura.

We learn more about the psychic women living in 300 Fox Way and I have to say, I love the trio (Maura, Calla and Persephone). They’re a very close knit group of women who have a firm set of beliefs and isn’t afraid to show them to others.

Adam has been going through a lot but I still haven’t gotten fond of him. He’s just a little too rash in my opinion.

Ronan has earned his place as my favorite character. He’s so sweet! Well, not really. But we understand him and why he does stuff a lot more in this book.


17378508~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

“I think it’s crazy how you’re in love with all those raven boys.”

The third book to the Raven Cycle series or as I like to call it, the book where Adam finally redeems himself and earns his rightful place in this ferocious but loyal team of nutcrackers. Why nutcrackers you ask? I don’t really know.

So, Blue’s mother has disappeared down a cave. The search for Glendower continues. Adam is still Cabeswater’s hands and eyes though he is learning to understand Cabeswater more thanks to Persephone. Noah is still dead and decaying. The Gray Man had teamed up with the heroes. There’s a new villain in town – the Gray Man’s former boss and the person behind the murder of Ronan’s father – Greenmantle. And his extremely cunning wife Piper who really cares for nothing.

Ronan and Adam started teaming up more and I LOVE THEM. Same with Gansey and Blue. I wasn’t sure about them at first, but they won my heart.

And I loved the Gray Man even more in this book. You can really tell how much he cares for Maura. And him and Blue teaming up was great.

Click here for Goodreads link.


~o~Rating~o~17378527
4.5 tp

“What a strange constellation they all were.”

The Raven King was an awesome conclusion to this wonderful series! An almost perfect one. I wanted more but what I got was great. All of these characters have come such a long way, I feel like like a proud mother.

Adam especially has gone through a lot of self-reflection, A LOT, and he’s finally letting the others be his friend. *long applause*

Maura and Artemus (Blue’s dad) are now out of the cave. And so are Piper and Neeve who have woken the third sleeper (a demon) who they were NOT supposed to wake. Artemus is useless. Persephone is dead. Glendower is now or never.

Click here for Goodreads link.

***Lots of spoilers ahead***

A moment for poor Gansey who’s life’s work pretty much meant nothing. Glendower is dead and they did not get a favor. BUT he found his best friends and true love in this fantastical journey and had the adventure of a lifetime. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

All these unexpected Pynch moments!! I was squealing like a broken rubber duck! I love them! Same with Bluesy. They get a happy ending! I am joyous.

This is also the book that made me like Declan. He’s pretty good after all.

Artemus is a tree? I was honestly pretty confused about that whole thing.

The involved addition of Henry Cheng was starting to worry me because I’m too used to our exclusive band of Raven Boys but he grew on me just like he grew on Gansey and Blue. I think he would be good for the group, especially with Noah pretty much gone now.

All in all though, I couldn’t give this book five stars because there are SO MANY unanswered questions.

  1. What the heck happened to Noah? So, he’s the one who, all those years ago, spoke to Gansey and sent him on his search for Glendower. Okay… why? What’s the purpose? And what happens now? Does Noah decay completely? Is he finally put to rest? Is he finally actually dead?
  2. Whatever happened to Matthew? Did the sacrifice work? Is he okay?
  3. Is Blue’s curse gone? Does this mean she can now kiss Gansey without killing him again? I NEED ANSWERS
  4. Whatever happened to that deal Gansey made with the principal about Monmouth Manufacturing? Was Helen successful in digging some stuff up about him?
  5. Will Artemus forever be inside that tree? Does this mean Blue can also be a tree? Does that mean Blue is half tree and half human? I just don’t know anymore.

I mean, I really enjoyed this book so I don’t want to bump the book down to four stars but more closure would’ve been nice.

Review: “Lady Midnight” by Cassandra Clare

25494343~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

~o~Review~o~

“Every story is a love story.”

OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH, OH MY GOSH, THIS WAS AWESOME! I was feeling so hesitant to read yet another series by Cassandra Clare thinking it would again be the same recycled characters just with different names and different locations. I am so, so glad I picked this up because it completely exceeded all my expectations.

I never thought of Cassandra Clare as one of my favorite authors because her writing never struck me as something special. Her stories are fantastic, her stories are the reason I read these books, but her writing never really impressed me. Until now. From the first chapter of Lady Midnight, I could see how much the writing has improved. And her world building does not ever cease to amaze me. The way she connects everything and how much, whenever she introduces something new, it makes sense. Every aspect she creates always just adds more to this world and never contradicts.

This book also felt a lot more mature. In the other two series, everyone would always joke around every few pages no matter how grave the situation which was cut down on this book and I appreciated that a lot. It made the comic relief more effective.

Even though Lady Midnight is the first book, since it is set in the Shadow world, you should most definitely read the Mortal Instruments series and The Infernal Devices series before reading this. There are lots of references to old characters and story lines and the enjoyment of the book would just be better. I think I missed out on some stuff because I hadn’t read Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy which also connects to this book.

**Note: the following contains mild spoilers for the TMI and the TDI series. 

We see the Blackthorns and Emma in City of Heavenly Fire. I admit, I was annoyed at Clare for putting them in there when I was so anxious to find out what would happen to Clary and gang. But it was interesting going into Lady Midnight and remembering them from five years ago in CoHF and seeing how they turned out.

“The Law is annoying, but it is also flexible.”

-Emma Carstairs

Emma’s story isn’t like Tessa’s or Clary’s.  She wasn’t suddenly plunged into the Shadow world, not knowing anything about it. She grew up as a Shadowhunter, she fought in the Dark War against Sebastian Morgenstern, she’s already a warrior long before this story starts. I liked her a lot. A lot more than Clary, maybe more than Tessa (haven’t made up my mind yet). She is driven by her want of revenge against whoever killed her parents. She’s reckless, a little impulsive but will give up the world for her parabatai Julian.

And Julian is VERY different from the typical Cassandra Clare male protagonist (you know what I’m talking about: brooding, angst-ridden and full of snarky remarks about everything). I can’t believe I’m saying this but I think I might like him more than Will Herondale (SHOCKING, I know. I did say might). He’s gone through so much! Julian had to kill his own father at age twelve because Sebastian had turned him. His older sister Helen was exiled for being part faerie and Mark, his older brother, (also part faerie) was taken by the Wild Hunt. Julian basically became a parent to his four younger siblings at twelve. He would do anything for them. His little siblings became his kidsHe learned to care and cook for them, he fixed their problems, stayed with them when they had nightmares. He loved them with the intensity of both a father and a mother. He has little time to care for himself. Clare has a lot of characters in her books who have gone through a lot, but Julian’s story was the only one that made me tear up. But, even though he’s so sweet with the kids, he would tear you apart if you threatened any of them or Emma.

This book also deals with mental health issues in the shadow world which was great. It explained why we never really see mentally ill Shadowhunters and the explanation made complete sense.

A lot of the characters from the two earlier series show up and every time they did, I would just start jumping up and down in my seat, muttering incomprehensibly (which is a problem when you’re in class and people start staring). But I loved seeing them and how they’ve been doing five years after CoHF!

Lots of spoilers ahead guys. Don’t read if you haven’t read the book yet. Unless of-course, you weren’t planning on reading it anyway which you really should.

~o~Spoiler Alert~o~

“Lex malla, lex nulla. A bad law is no law.”

Let’s just start with the Blackthorn motto. A bad law is no law. Now that is a motto if there ever was one. We can see from the start the Blackthorn family is not very fond of the Clave. I just thought this was hilarious.

The Blackthorn kids are absolute darlings! I became so attached to them and now I’m terrified something will happen. I’m so sure one of them is going to die and I don’t these poor kids to go through another huge loss.

Livia and Tiberius (both 15) are gems! I believe Ty falls somewhere in the autism spectrum, he thinks differently than the rest, but he is super smart and very resourceful. Livvy, his twin sister, is the one who understands him more than anyone, and she grounds him. I thought Livvy was great and she’s very protective of her brother. (And her weapon is a SABER. How awesome is that?) The twins are the Institute’s computer/research experts even though they’re technically not supposed to have computers. And they both worry about Julian and how they were keeping him from having a life of his own which I thought was very sweet.

Drusilla (Dru) is 13 (I believe) and she often finds herself not knowing where she fit with the family. Emma and Julian are always together and the same with the twins. That’s probably why we don’t really see her that much in the book and when she’s with the others, she’s usually the quiet one who listens. I hope we get more of her in the next book.

And Octavian (Tavvy) the baby of the family (he’s 7 or 8). Tavvy is the most adorable little creature! You can see a lot of Julian’s paternal instinct in all the scenes with him and Tavvy and I just wanted to jump into the book and give them both a hug every time!

Alright, so Mark comes back. He hasn’t aged in the Wild Hunt and still looks sixteen and after being away for so long, was having a hard time adjusting to the Institute. Especially seeing how his siblings had aged five years and he hadn’t been there to see them. I didn’t like him at first mainly because of the little arguments between him and Julian. Julian wanted his big brother to come back so much because then, he would finally get to rest and and share his responsibility. But Mark just ended up being another person Julian had to take care of.

And then comes Kieran. I don’t dislike him at all. I understand why he betrayed Mark, he wanted Mark to come back to the Wild Hunt and this was the only way he could think of. His plan backfired and I actually felt bad for him. I am fairly sure he will show up again some time in the series.

“For whither thou goest, I will go”

Alright, alright. Parabatai. We have known forever that falling in love with your parabatai is forbidden. We never found out why until now. And I keep saying this but the explanation makes so much sense! Being a parabatai makes you stronger, the closer your bond is, the stronger you are. So of course that means parabatai who are in love would be intimate and therefore stronger than any other. And according to Jem, that power would drive you mad. But I don’t want to believe that. I need to know how Julian and Emma get around this! I am so scared for them right now!

Random Thoughts:

Christina is AWESOME! I loved her!

I did NOT see the whole Malcolm Fade plot twist. I was so surprised because I can usually ALWAYS predict plot twists.

Alec and Magnus adopted two kids???? Where the heck was I??? (Max and Rafael)

I love how Emma talks to Clary about once every month. I’m so glad they kept in touch!

Clary and Jace run the New York Institute now!! And Izzy and Simon got engaged!! I AM SO HAPPY!

I was not very proud of Julian at the end about what he did to Nightshade. But like I said before, he really would do anything to keep his family together.

I wonder what happened to Cameron.

So… Kit is a Herondale. I’m guessing he’s a direct descendant of Will and Tessa. I wonder where Clare will take this.

Annabel woke up. She’s going to  be the next villain isn’t she? Maybe she’ll try to reincarnate Malcolm this time. Though are we sure he’s dead? I mean, he is a powerful warlock.

A big round of applause for Church! At this point, I’m pretty sure that cat is immortal.

Review: "An Ember in the Ashes" by Sabaa Tahir

27774758~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

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.

~o~Review~o~

You are an ember in the ashes. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED THIS BOOK! LOVED IT! Loved the characters. Loved the plot. Loved the setting. Basically, loved everything.

Okay, okay. How do people write all these well thought out book reviews on books they love? All I can think is

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Books like these are part of the reason why I love reading. It was absolutely fantastic! The synopsis might sound like just another YA Fantasy/romance but it was so much more!

I loved that through most of the first half of the book, Laia is shown as a frightened and cowardly girl. Unlike other YA heroines, she doesn’t just suddenly find a well of hidden bravery within her and start killing people as she pleases.  She doesn’t have extraordinary intelligence or strength; she’s more of just a victim of her circumstance. She starts by taking baby steps as she gets more used to what she must do.

Elias is the Martial Empire’s top soldier but he hates being one. He was forced to join when he was young and now he is eagerly awaiting graduation so he can leave the Empire’s rules once and for all. He was also fantastic! He grew up in a tribe with a foster mother and was taken by the Empire at five. Because he didn’t grow up with other Martials, he sympathizes with the lower classes. He wants things to be different but instead of wanting to change it, he wants to escape from it.

I think they were both awesome characters! Neither have a hero complex and would rather save themselves than the world. But both are loyal to their friends and would do anything for them.

My favorite character though was Helene. She is Elias’ best friend who is also training to be a soldier. (The Empire only takes one girl soldier per year so Helene is the only girl in their year). She is loyal to the Empire, she believes in their rules and regulations even though she wishes things could be a little better. Considering she grew up with Martials in their society, I thought she was kinder than people give her credit for. And I loved her relationship with Elias!

The book kind of has a love triangle/square but not really. The book isn’t that focused on the romantic aspect so if you hate love triangles, don’t worry. It’s more focused on their two individual lives and it feels natural whenever their paths connect.

READ IT! RIGHT NOW!!

Review: "Clockwork Princess" by Cassandra Clare

~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

Warning: Clockwork Princess is the third book to the Infernal Devices

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Danger and betrayal, love and loss, secrets and enchantment are woven together in the breathtaking finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

THE INFERNAL DEVICES WILL NEVER STOP COMING

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

~o~Review~o~

I finished the conclusion to the Infernal Devices and I’m still not sure how I feel about this book. Reading this book was definitely an emotional roller coaster. All in all, I think Clare did a wonderful job concluding this series. The ending, for me, was unexpected but I liked it

The book starts with Tessa preparing for her wedding with Jem. The threat of Mortmain is still hanging over the Shadowhunters but they haven’t heard of him in a while. I love books where you get to explore the minds of the side characters as well as the main characters because it gives them a certain depth. This is something I really liked in this book and this book series in general.

I am completely in love with this book! And if you haven’t read it yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

~o~SPOILER ALERT~o~

I don’t even know where to start. I think all the characters tied in to the story very nicely. I liked how Clare wrapped up the stories of the side characters. I felt the ending for the side characters were a little “too” perfect with Gideon ending up with Sophie and Gabriel with Cecily, but I didn’t mind it. I like happy endings, however cliche like. I thought Gideon and Sophie were really cute. I am also glad Charlotte was appointed Consul; she would be absolutely perfect!

Alright, *deep breath* to the trio. Like Tessa, I absolutely LOVE both Jem and Will so much! In most love triangles, the guys will do anything for the girl (which is still the case here) but I love how Will and Jem will also do anything for each other. They’re not just best friends, they’re brothers; they’re more than brothers, they’re blood brothers. Their souls are tied together.

I really liked the scene from Charlotte’s point of view when we see how Will and Jem first met when they were twelve. Jem is all Will had for five years, the one person he had allowed himself to show affection for because he was already dying. (Off topic but when I found out Will actually wasn’t cursed in Clockwork Prince, I felt so bad for him! For all these years he thought no one loved him and he pushed everyone away. Seriously, if I was a Shadowhunter the first I’d do is go after that stupid blue demon). Anyway, we get to see just how much Will and Jem mean to each other which was just so… touching (why can’t I think of a better word?).

After the fighting scene with the automatons, Tessa is kidnapped and Jem is very badly injured. Will, instead of going after Tessa immediately (which is no doubt what most other YA “heroes” would do if the love of their life was kidnapped by a psychotic witch), he sits besides Jem for hours because he knows Jem will need his strength from the parabatai rune. Yes he wants to go after Tessa but he couldn’t stand the chance of his best friend dying even though he had years to grasp that idea. Does that not want to make you bawl?!

Jem on his “deathbed” finally finds out Will was also in love with Tessa and tells him to go after her. Will hesitates because he knows Jem will most likely die without him but he goes anyway.

The scene in the stable when Will’s parabatai rune starts hurting and bleeding was so intense! Jem was dead, I couldn’t believe it! Honestly, I actually started admiring Clare at that point for killing off a well-loved main character. I had started grieving for Jem already. But then we find out, no, he’s not dead. He turned into a Silent Brother. Okay, I’m not going to lie, that did sort of make me roll my eyes. But I did get used to the idea pretty quickly.

I think the final battle between the Shadowhunters and Mortmain was short but enough to satisfy me. I liked that in the end, Tessa is the one who kills Mortmain. I think that was ideal. Her turning into her clockwork angel surprised me, I guess I was underestimating her power. Either way, I loved how she crushed Mortmain with “her” hand. Imagining that scene made me unusually cheerful.

Now, to the Epilogue. That Epilogue killed me, resurrected me with the resurrection stone, then killed me again.

As I understand, the epilogue was very controversial. Something I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about was how Tessa was immortal and Will was not. I knew that Will was going to grow old and die while Tessa will remain in her youth but I guess I didn’t really grasp the idea until I read the epilogue. One part of me really disliked Cassandra Clare for writing about Will’s death. I didn’t want to witness Will growing old and dying. But I do understand and I praise her for writing it. I don’t think I’ve ever thought reading about a death was beautiful, but Will’s death scene was BEAUTIFUL.

Jem sat down his bow, and came toward the bed, drawing back his hood, so she  could see his closed eyes and his scarred face. And he had sat down beside them on the bed and taken Will’s hand, the one that Tessa was not holding, and both Will and Tessa had heard Jem’s voice in their mind.

I take your hand, brother, so that you may go in peace.

Will had opened the blue eyes that had never lost their color, over all the passing years, and looked at Jem and Tessa, and smiled, and died, with Tessa’s head on his shoulder and his hand in Jem’s.

Wasn’t that just the sweetest thing?? I also love how Magnus comforts Tessa after Will’s death. He tells her that the first you love who dies is always the hardest. Poor Magnus, did I mention how much I love Magnus?

Jem finally finding a cure and ending his bonds to the Silent Brothers was understandable. He went to the Silent Brothers for Will and Tessa and because he wanted to live for them. If a cure was found, of-course he would use it. Jem and Tessa ending up together was nice. I believe Will would be happier than anyone else to see the two people he loved the most being happy together. I also feel very sorry for Tessa right now; Jem is now a mortal and he is also going to grow old and die. At-least she has Magnus; he’s someone who can understand her.

 

Review: “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo

23437156~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

~o~Review~o~

OH MY GOSH THIS WAS SO GOOD I CAN’T EVEN! I loved EVERYTHING about this book. The characters. The setting. The plot. The dialogue. The writing. EVERYTHING!

Six of Crows has been getting a lot of hype lately in the book community so I decided to take a risk and buy it (which isn’t something I usually do unless I really like an author). And if you can’t tell already I LOVED IT.

This book takes place in the Grisha world from the Grisha Trilogy also by Leigh Bardugo but you do not have to read the trilogy to read this book. I haven’t read the original series (I started to a while ago but didn’t get far) so I went into this world blind and not knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised.

Six of Crows has five different perspectives of five VERY different characters and every one of them was written wonderfully. Usually when you have more than two or three point of views, some of the characters start to seem flat and unnecessary but not here. I fell in love with all the characters in this team of misfits even though some of them are far off from being good people. Bardugo did a great job explaining their background and the events that brought them to Ketterdam.

The romance in this book is more teasing than anything else. It’s not a big part of the plot; it’s there but barely. The writing is great! One of the best I’ve seen in YA fiction. The setting is descriptive but never bores you. It’s action packed without any dull moments. Basically, it’s what they call “a page turner”.

READ IT!

~o~SPOILER ALERT~o~

Me, usually when reading books: *frustrating sigh* would you guys please quit kissing and go defeat the giant army out to get you?

Me, during this book: Guys, I don’t care who comes to kill you next, WOULD YOU PLEASE JUST GET TOGETHER. Are you seriously going to make me wait until SEPTEMBER to find out what happens?!

Can I just say that Nina and Matthias are SO CUTE! And Inej and Kaz! And Wylan and Jesper!

Inej had better come back in one piece. And Nina better not go crazy. And Wylan better get his face back. Well… I guess I’ll hibernate until September.

Review: "The Things They Carried" by Tim O’Brien

~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

~o~Goodreads Summary~o~ 

They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.

~o~Review~o~

They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.

No review that I write will, in any way, justify what this book is. In an interview, Tim O’Brien said that a true war story should capture “your heart and stomach and the back of the throat”. And it did.

I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.

Tim O’Brien is a veteran from the Vietnam war. The Things They Carried reads like a memoir, it even has a character named Tim O’Brien in the book, but it is categorized as fiction because the author has stated that most of the stories in the novel are not true. That said, the stories are so real it’ll take you to Vietnam with this group of drafted soldiers who are fighting in a war they don’t want to be in.

The novel is written in a series of short stories that seem unrelated at first but intertwine as the book continues. Some of the lines O’Brien writes are so incredible that you want to put the book down and just process his words.

It took him twenty years after the war to write this book and it’s clear how much he still thinks about those days. This is an excerpt taken from his interview:

I think young people, in particular, need to understand the complications and the ambiguities of these things, and to hear it from someone who has not only gone to a war, but devoted a lifetime to suffering from it.

This is a horrible review for a wonderful book. Take my word for it if you will and read it.

Here’s a link to the interview I keep bringing up if anyone cares to watch: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics-jan-june10-obrien_04-28/

 

Review: "Lies We Tell Ourselves" by Robin Talley

20579291~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

~o~Review~o~

Colored people aren’t the same as whites. They aren’t as smart. They haven’t accomplished the things we have. They aren’t as good as we are.”

I’ve been reading too many sad books back to back. This can’t be healthy.

This book was horrifying in the sense that everything that happens in the book no doubt had also happened to someone in real life during this time period. Lies We Tell Ourselves takes place in a Virginia city where schools were ruled to be integrated for the first time. We learn in school how chaotic this time period was, and we celebrate in class when we learn about the end of segregation. But we rarely focus on the huge emotional toll it took for those few black kids who first went to attend a former all-white school. They had to dodge taunts every minute of every day; it was physical and emotional torture. The teachers were just as racist as the students even if they were less direct about it.

This book brings to light two big issues: racism and prejudice against LGBT+ groups. As if being black wasn’t bad enough during this time, Sarah Dunbar also had very “unnatural” and “sinful” feelings for girls. Sarah’s strength is inspiring, especially her ability to keep her head high when her world is falling apart.

Linda’s story is also a heartbreaking one. She struggles with forming her own opinions of black people with an abusive father who is very set against racial integration.

I wanted to jump into the book and give both girls a big bear hug. Read it!

Review: “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender” by Leslye Walton

~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~ 

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

~o~Review~o~

“To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost.”

Wow. Just wow. I don’t know how to describe this book. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is just as the title suggests: it’s a strange and beautiful book. And filled with the sorrows spanning three generations starting with Ava’s grandmother. I loved it!

The writing is wonderful. Every character was given a thoughtful back story. Every single one. Though the title only mention Ava, the book is mostly third person because the story also follows everyone who is around Ava. To understand her story, you’d first have to understand the stories of her ancestors and neighbors.

“Love, as most know, follows its own timeline. Disregarding our intentions or well rehearsed plans.”

This book is categorized as Magical Realism. Ava is born with wings. But despite all the magical elements, the characters’ stories feel very real. The love stories were heart breaking and not at all like a typical Young Adult novel. Some parts of the book was actually painful to read because of how well Lesley Walton describes the sadness that comes with love and losing loved ones.

“And that might just be the root of the problem: we’re all afraid of each other, wings or no wings.”

It’s also a tale about what it means to be different. And the Roux-Lavender family was very strange indeed.

This book is magical. Stunning. And all the synonyms of “wonderful” in the dictionary. Go read it!