Review: “Queen of Air and Darkness” by Cassandra Clare

4.5 stars

Warning: the following contains spoilers for previous books of Cassandra Clare including The Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices trilogy, all the short stories, and the first two 

What if damnation is the price of true love?

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the blight that is destroying the race of warlocks.

Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.

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“As we all have an infinite capacity to make mistakes, we all have an infinite capacity for forgiveness.”

OH MY GOSH SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK I CANNOT CONTAIN IT!!! Leave it to Cassandra Clare to always hook me with her books. At this point, I’m a Shadowhunter reader for life, as long as she keeps writing, I will keep reading, I’m too invested in these people to turn my back now. Leave it to Cassandra Clare to give me yet another heartbreaking and page turning story. I could not put this book down but that’s not surprising seeing that this is my favorite Clare trilogy to date.

The book starts back up pretty much right after the events of Lord of Shadows in the Council Hall. The first few chapters are quite somber in the wake of Livvy and Robert’s deaths. All the characters have their own little ways to deal with their deaths which is a part of the catalyst that starts off this book. There isn’t much I can say about this book without spoiling it because at this point, I just want to rant about this book, not actually review it.


SPOILERS SPOILERS LOTS OF SPOILERS Don’t read past this unless you want to be spoiled!

As feared, the new Inquisitor is not someone sympathetic to Julian and Emma’s case, he isn’t sympathetic period. Horace Dearborn, leader of the Cohort, becomes Inquisitor in the wake of Robert’s death. That puts him, Zara (UGHHH I HAAAATE HER SO MUCH) and Manuel in charge of the Clave.

Julian, who I was afraid was going to go completely crazy and try to raise Livvy from the dead, goes to Magnus and turns his frikkin emotions off *insert side eye here*. The poor boy’s got no chill. So for half of the book, we have a Julian who’s basically a robot. And if you thought Julian with feelings was ruthless? Wow Robot Julian really one ups him.

And then the different storylines start of our main characters. Horace finds out about Julian and Emma being in love and sends them on what pretty much is a suicide mission: to retrieve the Black Book from the Unseelie King and bring it back to Idris. Ty decides he is going to try and raise Livvy from the dead with Kit’s help and Kit reluctantly agrees. Helen and Aline are back home and are now trying to run the Los Angeles Institute while Helen tries to get along with the kids. Drusilla is lonely and is always trying to be taken seriously by her older siblings and their friends but is usually left with Tavvy to babysit. And you have the threesome: Mark, Cristina and Kieran who are all just really confused about their feelings. Like really confused.

So Emma and Robot Julian are now in Faerie with a map that shows them where the Unseelie Court is. And then comes the idiot Dane Larkspear who was one of the guys sent to kill Julian and Emma but is instead killed by Robot Julian who under normal circumstances probably wouldn’t have killed him. I don’t know though, both Julians are pretty brutal when it comes to people who threaten their families. They keep going but do they end up in the Unseelie Court? No. Julian takes the two of them to the Seelie Court because he wanted to make a deal with the Seelie Queen.

That was really where you see how different emotionless Julian is with the real Julian because Julian would never have kept such a dire plan from Emma. And she says the same to him.


The focus on alternative dimensions kind of took me by surprise. I liked being in Thule and seeing how the world would have turned out if Clary hadn’t killed Sebastian during the Dark War. But I also thought the mention of several alternative dimensions opened too many doorways for this world. I always commend Cassandra Clare for expanding the Shadowhunter world so well and bringing up alternative dimensions could end up going very wrong.

I’m guessing The Wicked Powers series (focused on Kit and Ty) will involve alternative dimensions somehow.

Mark, Kieran and Cristina

“The sky was a road and the stars made pathways; the moon was a watchtower, a lighthouse that led you home.”

I understand Mark being in love with Kieran through their shared history and after everything they have done for each other. I also understand Mark and Cristina being in love, they have had their moments. Cristina was the first person Mark connected with after he came back home from the Wild Hunt. Kieran and Cristina I’m still not sure about, to me it seems like it’s more that they’re attracted to each other and not that they are in love with each other.

Helen and Aline

“But even if they fit differently now, they still fit like sisters.”

Oh I felt so bad for Helen for most of the book. She’s finally home and trying to take care of the kids but the kids are lashing out because she’s not Julian. Helen was trying so hard with the kids but it’s understandable why they were weary of their older sister at first.

I absolutely loved Aline and how she always stood up for Helen. We don’t know much about her yet except for the fact that she is Helen’s wife but I loved whenever she was in the scene.

Thule Livvy

“I whisper your name, Ty. I whisper the most important thing:
I love you. I love you. I love you.”

OH MY GOSH this broke my heart!!!! Especially since it’s kind of the opposite in Thule and Livvy is the only one of them who’s survived. Like I said before, I liked spending time in Thule with Livvy. I missed her! Is that weird to say about a character? Thule Livvy helped heal Julian’s heart a little bit as well otherwise he would have blamed himself for her death for the rest of his life.


“Making promises you can’t keep is worse than making no promises at all.”

I SO CALLED IT! The minute they started talking about the First Heir in Faerie, I knew Kit was the descendant. And he’s got fairy magic!

Kit as a character I’m not really attached to yet. I like him but I don’t love him. I did understand him in this book not being able to say no to Ty and going along with his plan. Especially since Kit was hoping the plan will fall through.

Tessa was so excited when he agreed to go live with her! I’m happy for her but also heartbroken for Ty who’s lost both Livvy and Kit now. But we know the fifth series is about him and Ty so maybe they will both be in a Scholomance together?

Julian and Emma

“Sometimes when you start a war, you want to make pancakes.”

I love these two characters individually. Julian is great, I love him when he’s with his siblings and his family dynamic. Julian is probably the male Shadowhunter MC I started liking the quickest (yes, even over Will. It took me two and a half books to start loving Will). I also love how savvy Julian is with others, I love clever characters who outsmart their opponents and Julian is it.

I thought his plan for Livia’s Watch was genius (I started tearing up when he announced the name of the rebellion). It was also nice to see him take charge even among heroes like the original TMI characters, and it was also great to see them take Julian seriously.

“Faith isn’t never having any doubts; it’s having what you need to overcome them.”

I also love Emma, she’s my favorite out of the three Clare female MC’s we’ve had so far. I never liked Clary and I didn’t start loving Tessa until Clockwork Princess. Emma I liked right away from the get go of Lady Midnight. I will say however, in this book especially, it seemed like every decision she made was based on the fact that she loves Julian which got old for me.

“As long as you exist and I exist, I will love you.”

I do ship them and I’m happy that Julian and Emma are together but their relationship was probably my least favorite of the book. Maybe because I got very tired of Julian pining over Emma for the past two books and vice versa.

I was more invested in pretty much every other relationship but theirs in this book. I got tired of their love story especially after Magnus takes the spell off of him, it’s just them pining after one another for pages and pages on. Even Kieran and Cristina, whose relationship kind of just showed up from nowhere, was a more interesting dynamic.


“Don’t remain silent about what you want, or you may never get it.”

Awww Dru is such an underrated character! She’s old enough to want to be in on the action but young enough where everyone tells her not to. She always ends up babysitting Tavvy and though she loves doing that, she wants to feel more useful. I love that Kit tried to include her in their plans because he saw how lonely she felt.

I don’t think she got the praise that she deserves when she freed Jia and the Rosales brothers from prison. Dru was pretty badass in this book. I also love how she chose to stay back from the fight to be with Tavvy, that shows a lot of character growth in her part. I can’t wait to see what the Wicked Powers has in store for her!

Magnus and Alec

“Be good, my archer boy. Come back to me.”

Reading about Thule Magnus and Alec KILLED me!!! Magnus is my favorite character in this saga and one of my absolute favorites of all time. Alec killing Magnus and then killing himself?? Even in an alternative dimension, WHYYYY CASSANDRA!!!!

Loved the conversation when Julian and Emma were explaining what happened to them and Magnus got very angry at Alec for doing killing himself yelling about what would happen to their children. And Alec being like, we didn’t have children in that world!! 

I was scared for Magnus in this one, we’ve never seen anything this fatal happen to Magnus ever (I guess other than Edom). I didn’t think Clare would kill him off but after Robert and Livvy, I was concerned.

Alec being Consul was unexpected but I’m so glad! He has earned it and he would make a fine leader. This also means we will definitely be getting more Malec in The Wicked Powers series so YES!

“And when one day people look back on me and what my life meant, I don’t want them to say, ‘Alec Lightwood fought in the Dark War’ or even ‘Alec Lightwood was Consul once.’ I want them to think, ‘Alec Lightwood loved one man so much he changed the world for him.’ ”

WE FINALLY GOT A MALEC WEDDING YESSSSS. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT FOR A DECADE. It was perfect! Jace accompanying Alec. I love that Catarina and Ragnor were fighting to see who gets to accompany Magnus. And the vows!!!! I was full on sobbing the entire time. It was beautiful!

Ending with the Cohort

Am I the only one who kind of wishes that they just let those stupid kids kill themselves? They’re so extra I cannot. Never have I ever wanted to punch a character in the face so hard than I did Zara frikkin Dearborn. I HAAATE HER SO MUCH.

Though I do love the idea of the new Shadowhunter Academy being in Luke’s farm. And the new Council being in New York! Alec will pretty much have to build the Shadowhunter council back up from and I’m sure he’ll do a great job. I’m very excited to see how the new government looks. 

Have you read this? Are you going to? Who is your favorite character in this series?


Review: “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” by Hank Green

4.5 stars

The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

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The book that finally got me out of my massive reading slump, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. Going into this book, I was hesitant. I love Hank Green as a person, I’m an avid follower of the Vlogbrothers and everything they do for charities every year. And of-course I’m a fan of Hank’s brother, John Green’s, books. So when Hank announced his book, I was nervous that I wouldn’t like it. That was all for naught though because An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was absolutely remarkable.

April as a main character is not perfect. She’s a character with a lot of flaws, most of which she will admit to having and it made her that much more relatable. She has commitment issues, she’s reckless, a little impulsive, but she’s lovable despite her flaws.

April May, after a long day at work, encounters this giant statue in the middle of a New York street. She first walks right pass the statue but then decides she would be more appreciative of street art so she gets her best friend Andy to take a video of her fake interviewing the statue she then named Carl. Little did she know, there were hundreds of other Carls who appeared at the exact same time in other cities around the world. Her video quickly goes viral because she is the first to upload a video with Carl and thus starts April May’s adventure.

This was also a very real despite being science fiction. The book talks about the effects of social media and all the positives and negatives that come from it. It talks about the effects of fame and how it can be addictive and lonely and how much it can change a person over time. We get to see April’s rise to fame. April May goes from a person who really isn’t into social media to someone who thinks obsessively about every video and every tweet she sends out. I thought that was relatable to everyone who has ever grown even a small following online, you end up thinking about what kind of posts will get the most likes, what will end up the most popular, etc.

We also see how April’s rise to fame affects her relationship with the people around her. Her relationship with her girlfriend Maya is probably the best example of that. It’s also a good juxtaposition to see how the people who knew her before she was the famous April May react to her as opposed to the people who met her after her video went viral.

I am so glad I loved this book. Hank did an incredible job balancing the sci-fi aspects with every day life. The book works well as a stand-alone but there are a few questions left unanswered which paves the way for the sequel.

Mini Review: “A Reaper at the Gates” by Sabaa Tahir

3.5 stars

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

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**Note: A Reaper at the Gates is the third book in the Ember in the Ashes quartet and the following review will contain spoilers for the first two books. 

A Reaper at the Gates is the long awaited sequel in the Ember quartet. I liked this book but I have to say, I am a bit disappointed. A Reaper at the Gates didn’t captivate me as much as the first two books did. It was one of those books that I liked well enough but did not feel compelled to pick back up once I put it down.

Helene is definitely the shining light for me in this book. Her chapters kept me engaged while Laia’s and Elias’ did not. And we also get to learn more of the backstory for Harper and he has started to become one of my favorite characters.

There are a few things this book does really well:

  • We get a better glimpse of the world the books are set in, how vast it is, the different types of people. We get to go beyond the Empire to Marinn and see what the other nation is like
  • All three main characters go through a lot of character development in this book. Most of the book has the three MC’s separated so they all have their individual story lines so they each shine through in their own ways
  • We learn more about some side characters I’ve been wanting to get to know better
  • The villains. Sabaa is really good at creating multi-dimensional villains who aren’t evil just to be evil, they all have their reasons behind doing what they do. We learn more about the Keris’ and the Nightbringer’s backstories and because of that, I can never completely hate either of them

Things that could’ve been better: 

  • Some new magical elements were introduced (like a warlock leading a navy against the Empire) and the characters, who were so distraught by the presence of anything supernatural in the first book, didn’t seem to bat an eyelash. And yes, maybe they have just gotten used to their world being weird and unnatural by now but I wasn’t buying it. It seemed like Tahir started adding magical elements for the convenience of it to further the plot without giving a good enough explanation
  • This one is more of a personal preference: I was hoping the main characters would have more interactions in the book but it was mostly just the three of them going through their individual story arcs. This gave them opportunity to grow as individuals but the chapters just started to drag on towards the middle

Have you guys read the book? What did you think?

Mini Review: “Leah on the Offbeat” by Becky Albertalli

4 stars

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

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** NOTE that since this is the sequel to Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, it will contain some spoilers from the first book

Leah Burke – she’s spunky, confident, and unrelenting. I loved Leah in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and she did not disappoint in her own book. That said, Leah is not perfect. She’s highly opinionated and at times that can come off as rude and obnoxious. But she also usually calls herself out for her behavior or her friends do.

In Leah on the Offbeat, Leah is trying to figure out her feelings for Abby Suo.  She’s also trying to figure out when and how to tell her friends she’s bisexual – she knows they will be supportive but it’s also a huge step for her and she doesn’t know if she’s ready to take it just yet.

The romance in the book is pretty cute – especially when we know how Leah feels about Abby sooner than she herself does. I think a dual perspective would’ve been better for the book just so we could get a glimpse of what Abby was thinking during some of their  scenes together.

The highlight of the book for me was definitely Simon and Bram. THEY ARE THE ABSOLUTE CUTEST TOGETHER and my heart melted every time those two were together in the book. It was so nice to revisit these two after the first book!

Have you read this book? Are you planning to?

Review: “The School For Good and Evil” by Soman Chainani

4 stars

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

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In the world of The School for Good and Evil, two kids – one Good and one Evil – are kidnapped every year from a village to go study in the School for Good and the School for Evil respectively. The brightest students who graduate from the School for Good go on to become the princes and princesses of fairy tales. The brightest from the School for Evil go on to become the villains, the nemesis of said princes and princesses.

Sophie, tired of her mundane life, tries to be Good so she can be kidnapped and live out the rest of her life in a fairy tale. She does charity work, feeds the poor, gives advice, tries to always look like a beautiful princess. She even made friends with the village outcast Agatha, a Gothic, grumpy girl who lives in a graveyard and doesn’t like talking to other people. Sophie is sure that this year, it would be her and Agatha who would be kidnapped. Sophie for the Good school and Agatha for the Evil one.

When Sophie is dropped into the School for Evil and Agatha in the School for Good, she is sure it’s a mistake and spends the next few months trying to correct the mistake so they can attend their respective schools. Meanwhile, Agatha hates the School for Evil and her ultimate goal is to go back home with her best friend, Sophie.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. Both Sophie and Agatha go through two incredible journeys of self discovery. They both find out more about themselves than they knew before – and not all of what they learned were things they liked.

This book tells a compelling tale of good vs. evil and what makes someone truly good. Is it their actions or their intention behind that action? Sophie, who is always trying actively do good, doesn’t understand that the intention behind an action counts just as much as the action itself. I did’t like Sophie but that was the point of her character. She is selfish, vain and manipulative and wants her happy ending without caring for others. Agatha on the other hand only cares about her and Sophie’s safety, she just wants to go back home with her best friend.

The dynamic between the two girls was also very well done, they both have different priorities so they hold on to their relationship in different ways. For Agatha, Sophie and safety are the priorities. To Sophie, a happy ending is her priority. And because of their individual concerns, they both have different things they want to get out of their friendship, love and companionship vs loyalty and support.

The School for Good and Evil was a solid introduction to the series. I’m excited to see what’s next in store for Sophie and Agatha.

Have you read this one? Is it on your TBR list?

Mini reviews: “This Savage Song” and “Our Dark Duet” by Victoria Schwab

Is it too late to change my 2018 goals to one post a month because it seems like that’s the direction I’m heading in now. Anyway, on to the rant, I mean *ahem* review.

Victoria freaking Schwab destroyed me AGAIN. I am never trusting this woman again. Never! NEVER AGAIN!


*deep breath* You know I really need to take up a safer hobby, a less mentally exhausting one. BECAUSE THIS SERIES YOU GUYS OH MY GOSH

Okay, okay, deep breaths again. Whew.

All right, so I am reviewing both books in the Monsters of Verity duology at once because I read them together. Our Dark Duet review is going to have spoilers from This Savage Song so don’t read that one if you haven’t read the first one.

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5 stars

“You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re monster or human. Living hurts.”

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

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Victoria Schwab creates a world where every sin (murder) committed creates a monster. The more tragic the deaths, the more powerful the monsters. August is one of those said monsters, one of the most powerful ones, but all he wants is to be human. Kate’s dad is a ruthless businessman who keeps people safe by making deals with monsters. Kate wants to be just like her father, she wants to be feared and respected, (but she’s actually kind of a cinnamon bun?).

I LOVED this book, much more than I thought I would. This was a gripping and terrifying world. The imagery, the world development, the details were all spot on. Yes it’s a book about monsters but it’s believable.

I love how Kate’s and August’s relationship developed. Keep in mind, this is not a romance, but rather a deep friendship. Unusual circumstances bring August and Kate together and they realize there is more to the other side than they thought. They’re reluctant partners in a quest to save their world but become so much for each other.

The book, like most of Schwab’s, question humanity and what it means to be human. What it means to be a good human. And whether or not some sins are more forgivable than others.

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5 stars

“I know it hurts,” she said. “So make it worth the pain.”


KATE HARKER isn’t afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she’s good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.



Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims’ inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

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And there goes Victoria Schwab stealing my heart and soul once again. WHYYYY do I open myself up to such pain. Our Dark Duet was an epic conclusion to the duology, it was everything I expected and more.

The first third of the book, we see August and Kate going upon their lives. August has accepted his fate as the Sunai leader and captain of Henry’s FTF force. Kate has become a bad-ass monster hunter in another province but must return to Verity when her new target goes for her old hometown. The two MC’s have started to fulfill different roles and they’ve come a really long way since the beginning of the first book.

August no longer wants to be human. It seems like he was becoming his biggest fear. Kate was starting to figure out her niche in life, carving her own path instead of aspiring to be her father’s daughter.

The villains were all  wonderful, some of them complex and some just monstrous because it’s what they are. Sloan just wants to rule all of Verity and want to defeat Henry at all costs. Alice wants to kill August and Kate for revenge. And the newest monster who both sides fear just feeds off of chaos and conflict.

The book is dark and compelling and keeps you at the edge of your seat at all times. Also deeply emotional and moving because you’re rooting for these characters from the beginning to the end.

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OH MY GOSH THAT ENDING! I wasn’t expecting it and it shook me up so hard I’m still thinking about it after a month. I was expecting Kate to be injured but live because I needed her and August to be together forever 😥 .

But the ending was poetic. Kate dies by killing the monstrous version of her, overcoming her inner conflict against herself. And August reaps her soul so she could always be a part of him, alive or not. Reading that scene broke my heart but it was also realistic in that situation. There was very little chance both main characters would’ve gotten out of there alive and though most YA MC’s always beat the odds, it’s refreshing to read another take. (Am I only saying this to reassure myself so I wouldn’t burst out crying? Who knows?).

And Ilsa’s death scene also killed me. I loved her! But I was expecting that so it didn’t take me by surprise.

All the side characters, new and old, were great. I loved August’s team because it was so clear they cared a lot about him. And Soro was a great addition to the family, I didn’t know how I felt about them until the end scene. But I can see that Soro is now trying to  understand that sometimes people do desperate things for a good cause and that not all “sinners” need to die.

One thing I wanted more of is August’s scenes with his adoptive mother because they don’t interact much in the two books.

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Have you read this duology? If not, GET TO IT


Review: “Love, Hate & Other Filters” by Samira Ahmed

4 stars

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

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Maya quote

Trigger Warnings: Suicide, Islamophobia

A huge thank you to Soho Teen and Edelweiss for a free copy of this awesome book!

I wish I hadn’t waited so long to review this book because I’m sure I won’t be able to remember everything I want to talk about.

The book follows Maya, a Muslim-American teen who wants to one day make films. She is very unapologetic about her love for her hobbies and her opinions on certain issues like sexism and prejudice. The main conflict of the bombing doesn’t happen for a good chunk of the book which I liked because we get to see what Maya’s every day life looks like and how much it changed afterwards.

The family dynamic is very realistic. Maya’s parents are first generation immigrants so there is a cultural barrier between her parents and herself. Her relationship with her mother is strained, neither one understands each other’s perspectives (or likes it). Her mom wants Maya to be the perfect Indian daughter: quiet, obedient, married young to another Muslim-Indian. Her mom doesn’t understand Maya’s goals and dreams, Maya doesn’t understand why her mom can’t leave her ideals back in India and just support Maya. I liked reading their scenes together because you understand Maya’s frustrations with her mother, and most of us have been in similar situations (if not as drastic as Maya’s) so we’re able tot sympathize with her.

Maya has a great relationship with her aunt (her mom’s sister) who she sees as the opposite of her mother. Her aunt is unmarried, lives alone and is on her way to become a famous graphic designer. Her aunt is breaking the Indian cultural norm and inspires Maya to do the same.

I have to say I was a little disappointed by the lack of care Maya gives her religion. Yes her parents are Muslim and she experiences Islamophobia but there isn’t much in the book that show us shes’s Muslim. I do understand that not everyone is religious and people have their own ways of participating in their faith. But I wanted there to be something more than just her parents tying her to Islam, especially since I went into the book expecting a Muslim main character.

Personal preferences aside, the book itself is great. Maya is a good main character, she’s passionate and driven, and does what she wants to do. And I loved both love interests, Kareem and Phil were both sweethearts. I liked the plot and how it dealt with issues of racism and Islamophobia. A book like this was long overdue and I’m glad Samira Ahmed decided to write this story.

Have you guys read this? Do you want to?

Mini reviews: Warcross, Wonder Woman and Gentleman’s Guide

I’ve read all three of these books a while ago and didn’t want to write individual full reviews so mini reviews it is! All of these had been on my TBR list for a while and fortunately I loved all three of them!two lines

29385546“Warcross” by Marie Lu

4.5 stars

“Every locked door has a key. Every problem has a solution.”

Oh wow, this was a good book. Marie Lu never disappoints! Warcross is the first virtual reality book I’ve read and I have to say, I am a fan. It doesn’t hurt that the protagonist Emika is a hacker and as someone who’s studying computer science, hacking has always been something I’m interested in.

If you’ve read Marie Lu’s Legends trilogy and remember Alaska in Champion, Warcross is an even grander version of that. I wanted her to do a spin-off of that book series just to get to know the Alaskan society more and Marie Lu has answered my calls.

Emika, after a little hack gone wrong, finds herself as a wildcard in this year’s Warcross games. The technology in this book is so well weaved into the story, I was impressed (and also very concerned about where our world is headed).

  • Emika and Hideo were the cutest together
  • There were two huge plot twists, I saw one coming but the second surprised me
  • Seriously, the technology, SO GOOD
  • Emika has rainbow colored hair and it’s mentioned one too many times

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29283884“The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee

4 stars

“God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.”

I loved this book but I was very conflicted while I was rating it. After I finished The Gentleman’s Guide, I just sat there and thought, what the heck did I just read? I went into the book expecting a historical contemporary and it was that but there were elements of other genres thrown in that I wasn’t expecting (like fantasy).

Monty was a complicated character, at times I loved him and at times I wanted to punch his guts. He is bisexual in a society where not being straight was absolutely unacceptable. He is in love with his best friend. He’s also irresponsible, takes his inheritance for granted and gets drunk for a living. He takes his white male privilege for granted, and at time his comments made me want to slap him. But Monty goes through a lot of character development in the book and he learns to get better at listening. He changes for the better and we get to see these changes unfold.

  • Felicity (Monty’s little sister) was my favorite! I loved that girl so much!
  • Percy was also great and I loved him too
  • Felt like there was too much happening sometimes

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29749085“Wonder Woman Warbringer” by Leigh Bardugo

5 stars

“You can’t live in fear. You make things happen or they happen to you.”

I had high expectations going into this book after absolutely loving Wonder Woman’s movie and my expectations were met and then some. This was SO GOOD. Yes it has some clichés but it’s a superhero story retelling so it’s bound to have them. That’s not to say Bardugo didn’t put her own little twists and turns into the coming of age story of the infamous Diana Prince.

I’ve said this before but only Leigh Bardugo can introduce five new characters in a book and make me care about every one of them. Even though the book is about Diana growing into her Amazonian self, it’s also about friendship and dedication and doing what’s right. Also I LOVED the diverse casting, that’s not something I see often in superhero retellings (every main character but Diana was a POC).

The story picks up once Diana gets to New York with Alya. Diana starts to question a lot of the racism and prejudice that happens in society. I also love her cluelessness when it comes to technology and confusion to slang and modern film references.

Female superheroes are just empowering. In this book specifically, Diana is Wonder Woman but you have two other strong female characters. Alya is intelligent and brave and fierce. Her best friend Nim is hilarious and loyal and as fierce as Alya.

  • Also, FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS! GIMME MORE! Alya and Nim’s relationship is the sweetest!
  • Nim is a fat bisexual South-Asian character and I absolutely loved her!
  • Tyler is also a sweetheart
  • So usually I see plot twists coming but I did not see this one coming

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Have you read any of the books mentioned? Are you planning to?

Review: “Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green

4.5 stars

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

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Turtles All the Way Down

Trigger Warnings: OCD (obsessive thought spirals specifically)

Turtles All the Way Down is a hard book to read. It feels very personal in a way only an #ownvoices book can feel. The antagonist in this book is Aza’s own thoughts and Aza goes through a constant struggle of trying not to let her OCD get the better of her but is sometimes forced to comply with her thoughts anyway.

The book does not glorify mental illness. Aza isn’t a great detective because of her mental health issue but the opposite to where her mental wellness often gets in the way of her goals. She is selfish without meaning to be, she is always stuck in her own head so she often overlooks other people’s problems. This isn’t intentional on her part, it’s just something she isn’t aware of for a long time. But she tries to do well and to be well and I was rooting for her the entire book.

One of my favorite things to find in a YA book is female friendships and Aza and her best friend Daisy have a great one. They have their ups and downs but when it comes to it, they try to understand each other and are there for each other when it counts.

The romance is not a big part of the plot and is more of a side story which is different from a typical John Green book and I liked it. Davis is the son of a billionaire who goes missing and there’s a reward for finding him. Aza and Davis used to go to camp together so Aza’s friend Daisy thinks that could help them solve the case. Davis is a sweetheart, he is witty and smart and like all other John Green love interests, deeply philosophical.

Turtles mentions a lot of artwork and artists and incorporates that into the story. I’m not someone who knows a lot about art but I did end up looking up some of the art that are mentioned. Aza describes her thought process by comparing it to a particular art piece of a spiral and how it goes on and on without stopping.

Technology use is also portrayed really well and that’s so rare! The characters used Google Maps to get to places, they texted each other constantly, their phones didn’t suddenly run out of battery. It was relatable and normal.

Mini spoiler for the ending ahead, skip if you hate spoilers!

Ultimately, the mental health portrayal felt real and debilitating but not hopeless and untreatable. Aza gets help from her therapist. She continues to struggle with it her entire life. She has her ups and downs, she gets better and she gets worse. There is no sudden treatment, she doesn’t sporadically “get well” but she learns to deal with it.

Have you read this one? What’s your favorite John Green book?


Review: “You Bring the Distant Near” by Mitali Perkins

5 stars

This elegant young adult novel captures the immigrant experience for one Indian-American family with humor and heart.

Told in alternating teen voices across three generations, You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture – for better or worse.

From a grandmother worried that her children are losing their Indian identity to a daughter wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair to a granddaughter social-activist fighting to preserve Bengali tigers, award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together the threads of a family growing into an American identity.

Here is a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

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You Bring the Distant Near quote

Hello everyone! I’m coming out of hiding to rave about this spectacular book that everyone should go read as soon as physically possible.

I LOVED this book so much! A book has never resonated so well with me; it’s been months since I read it and I still can’t stop thinking about You Bring the Distant Near. There’s FINALLY a book about Bengali girls, not one, not two but FIVE kickass Bengali girls/women who are awesome in their own imperfect ways. 

You Bring the Distant Near follows five characters spanning three different generations, their struggles, their joys, their dreams and their failures. But most importantly, it’s about their relationships with each other and their identities as immigrants in America.

The highlight of the book for me was definitely all the characters. The characters all have their individual character arcs where they grow at their own pace but they’re also all skillfully woven together in the overall story arc. Perkins is an expert at developing and writing characters in a way that leave no doubts of their authenticity. All five of them go on their own individual journeys trying to find their niche in society as first and second generation immigrants. I also just really love following characters’ stories from childhood to adulthood to make sure I know how they turned out so this book was perfect for me.

The cultural representation is something else I adored. Seeing common mundane aspects of Bengali culture reflected in a book made me very happy because it’s so rare to find in the media. Things like the parents listening to Rabindranath Tagore songs while cleaning the house made the book feel special in a way no other book has.

The book also doesn’t sugarcoat the negative parts of South Asian culture but instead takes the challenge head on by having the characters deal with it. Racism, misogyny, colorism and feminism play big important roles in shaping the characters. There’s also an emphasis of the characters trying to balance the two cultures, deciding what parts of Bengali culture to hold on to and what to leave, figuring out what exactly makes them American. That’s a story most immigrants (myself included) know well so it hits close to home.

All in all, I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who likes a well written and well developed diverse contemporary. And also a huge shout out and thank you to Shenwei @ Reading (AS)(I)an (AM)erica for sending me a copy of this back in July.

Have you read this book? What book characters do you resonate with the most?