Most Anticipated: January 2019






Most Anticipated is a feature wherein I talk about new releases. This isn't an exhaustive list by any means, just the titles I'm most excited about. Guys, January is going to be awesome! So many sequels, follow-up novels, and more!


The Girl King by Mimi Yu [Goodreads]
Sisters, war, ambition, betrayal. Why are you hitting all my buzzwords at once? One of my best friends read this and LOVED it so I know it's going to be amazing. And I really, really like the cover.

The Wicked King by Holly Black [Goodreads]
I haven't actually read The Cruel Prince yet (although, I'm writing this October so maybe by the time it goes up, I will!) But that doesn't mean it's okay to exclude this from the list. Any new Holly Black title is going to excite me.

Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner [Goodreads]
If you read Unearthed then YOU KNOW about that crazy ass ending. I need to know what happens and I need to know now!!

In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire [Goodreads]
I love this series so much. I didn't think the 3rd was the Best Ever, but that doesn't matter. When I heard the world was going to be expanded, I basically literally jumped for joy. The writing, the world, the characters, the premise--everything about this series is amazing.

Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon [Goodreads]
I didn't even look at the blurb before snagging this arc and adding it to this list. I loved Solomon's debut to absolute pieces. It was just so authentic and realistic, the portrayal of surviving teenage girlhood and the beautiful and diverse representations of the Jewish faith and culture. I can't wait for more from this author.

The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale [Goodreads]
This is a Medusa retelling!!! MEDUSA. How often do you see THAT? I simply CANNOT WAIT.

Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh [Goodreads]
Finally! I read an early copy of the first book so I've been waiting a while for this release. I am very interested in what's going to happen next, and I kind of feel an f/f/f love triangle brewing which makes me very excited.

Come Find Me by Megan Miranda [Goodreads]
I've enjoyed all the Megan Miranda books I've read so far, so I have high hopes for this. It sounds SO creepy, with weird alien messages and missing people. I hope it lives up!

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne [Goodreads]
If you haven't read The Hating Game yet, what the heck are you waiting for? It's one of my all-time favorite romance novels. I didn't even need to check the blurb or anything before I pre-ordered this. I am sooooooo hype.

What new releases are coming in January are you most excited to read?

Book Review: Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Book Title & Author: Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Published by: Simon Pulse on January 15th, 2019
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟
Synopsis: 

From the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone comes a stunning contemporary novel that examines the complicated aftermath of a kidney transplant between best friends.

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

Review:
I was really nervous about this book because my feelings about Solomon's debut were so conflicting, but I always give authors a second or even third chance and in this case, I am really glad I did. I still had some conflicted feelings about this book, but overall, I enjoyed this more than I enjoyed the author's debut and that to me, says that the author has grown as a writer since her first book came out.

I was fully expecting to relate more to Peter. We both have chronic illnesses (though his is his kidneys and mine is my heart) and he's bisexual. Wait, before I continue on, I want to massively praise Solomon for making Peter bisexual. There aren't enough bisexual boys in books and I really hope that changes. Well, I want more bisexual characters period, but definitely more bisexual boys please. I also liked that Peter was Jewish. I've actually looked into converting to Judaism in the past 6 months or so, so I was really excited to see how Peter dealt with it.


Sophie is also Jewish, but she's more into the Jewish religion than Peter's family is. Sophie's the reason I had such complicated feelings about this book. Being willing to donate an organ is a big freaking thing and I don't want to discount that at all because her willingness to do that was totally awesome. But I had a nagging feeling that the only reason she was doing this was so Peter would magically fall in love with her and all her pining away for him would not be in vain. 

I had a strong suspicion that what Sophie desperately wanted was not going to happen. Especially once Peter met Chase. I think I might be in love with Peter and Chase as a couple. Their first kiss was probably my favorite first kiss this year. It was perfection and I could not stop smiling. These two are definitely on my shortlist for favorite literary couple of the year.

Sophie's attitude towards Peter's new life was really bothersome to me. I understood that she felt left out of stuff, but Peter had finally gotten a kidney and his life didn't have to be so sedentary anymore. Sophie should have been thrilled about that, but instead she pouts and whines about how Peter never has time for her anymore and that his new friends are more important than she is. Really, she should have taken the opportunity to develop new friends, new routines and new activities, and to some extent she does, but never without wondering where Peter is and why he is doing whatever he's doing.

I wish I could remember who called their relationship codependent, because it was and I had been trying to put my finger on the correct word for the majority of the book. Sophie and Peter's friendship was very codependent and after he got his transplant, Peter seemed a lot more willing to break free of it than Sophie was.

I wish we had seen more of Sophie's sister, Tabby because in a lot of ways, Tabby was a lot more grown up, responsible & mature than her older sister Sophie was. Granted that probably had to do with getting pregnant at fifteen. Tabby's situation, while not uncommon, seemed a little too idyllic, and not representative of a lot of families. She was very lucky to have the support of her family, her baby's father and his family.

Final thoughts: This book packed a lot into it, but it was done really well and I look forward to seeing what Solomon writes next.

Book Review: The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

Book Title & Author: The Similars by Rebecca Hanover
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire on January 1st, 2019
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2
Synopsis:When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.
The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn't care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver's exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.


Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver's face.

Review:
Oh boy, let's see if I can do this crazy-awesome book justice, because it really deserves it. I was nervous about this one because I've been disappointed in the first next year book I've read. I wanted to be totally obsessed with this book, but I was terrified I'd be disappointed. But I wasn't. I was totally thrilled with this book. 


It took me on a wild roller coaster ride that just never let up. I love books where I get pulled into the story immediately and that's exactly what happened with this one. It started off really promising and before I was even a quarter of the way through it, I was hooked! Love when a book can do that. Especially a book that has science fiction elements, murder mystery elements and boarding school elements. Boarding school in particularly is a buzz-phrase for me. If I see a book takes place at a boarding school, I'm gonna wanna read it. That's just the way it is.

Emmaline was a fascinating character. My heart broke when I learned of her losses. Yes, she had lost more than her best friend in her lifetime and that was hard to read about. She seemed to have a good friend in Prudence though, so at least she had someone to turn to when things got really hard. I couldn't imagine how Emmaline was feeling when Oliver's Similar appeared at Darkwood. Obviously it wasn't easy for her and it also wasn't easy for the Similar, Levi, as well. Both of them struggled knowing that Levi's face & his DNA was the same as a dead boy's.

I loved the element of the Ten students. It actually reminded me a little bit of Dead Poets Society, one of my all time favorite movies. It was like a secret society, only it wasn't secret. It was exclusive, only the brightest students who earned the highest "stratums" or scores would be inducted into the Ten. It didn't really surprise me how many of the Ten's family members had also been Tens in their times at Darkwood.

Some of the Similars got really fleshed out, and we got to know them well. Levi, Pippa and Maude were all really fleshed out and I could see them in my mind. Then again, Theodora, Jago & Ansel were not as fleshed out as I was hoping they would be. I don't know a whole lot about those three as opposed to Levi, Pippa and Maude. I wanted more information on Theodora, Jago & Ansel. I wanted to know so much more about them other than who their Originals were.

I really want to just keep talking and talking about this book because it gets even better and crazier as the book continues. But, I want to avoid spoilers and there's a lot that I could spoil about this book.

Final thoughts: If science fiction or boarding school or murder mysteries are you thing, you need to pick this book up when it's released.

Alexia's November Book Haul

Hi everyone! Sorry I've been sorta absent from the blog lately. At the beginning of November we got a nasty surprise and that was that our landlord was going to be selling the house we're currently living in. So, we started looking for a new rental. And then, my grandma surprised my mom & I by saying that she & her husband were going to help us buy a home.

Needless to say, we've been frantically house shopping for the last 3 weeks. It's not as straightforward as one might think because I am in a wheelchair, so I need a house with lots of open space. I don't wanna be trying to squeeze between a couch & a kitchen counter.

Obviously, I haven't been reading a whole lot. Hoping I can read again once we've found a place and are in escrow.

Thanksgiving was PERFECT this year. So thankful for that because last year's sucked. I hope all of you who celebrate it, had a great thanksgiving as well.

eARCs For Review
A Place for Wolves by Kosoko Jackson
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
From the Publisher
How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Hope your November was awesome!

Bookish Bingo: Winter 2018-2019

I'm writing this a few months ahead of time, so I apologize if any information is out of date or weird. If everything has gone according to plan, I had a baby a few days ago! Needless to say, I'm a little busy.

If you don't know, Bookish Bingo is a seasonal feature wherein we try to expand our reading horizons a bit and cover as much of the bingo card as possible. You can only use one square per book, and all books must be read in December, January, or February. To participate, leave a comment below. Here is the card:


As always, here are some ideas for the categories!

Features Technology:
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
- The Takedown by Corrie Wang
- Warcross by Marie Lu

Winter Release:
- Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
- The Disasters by MK England
- King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Male Main Character: (can be dual POV with one MMC and one FMC)
- The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
- In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
- Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

Set in Europe:
- I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski
- Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepard
- The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke 

Co-Authored:
- Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
- Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson
- Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Animal on the Cover:
- The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
- And the Ocean was Our Sky by Patrick Ness
- The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

Disabled MC: 
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
- The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
- Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Spin-Off:
- Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson
- Slayer by Kiersten White
- Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

Religious Minority MC: (Muslim, Jewish, etc)
- Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
- Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
- Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

2019 Debut:
- We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia 
- Enchantee by Gita Trelease
- Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway 

Most Anticipated: December 2018






Most Anticipated is a feature here wherein I talk about exciting upcoming releases. It's not an exhaustive list by any means, just the next month's new titles that I personally can't wait to check out. December is a notoriously slow month for book releases. With all the holidays and everything, it's no wonder. There are only four titles to talk about today so let's get to it.


All the Wandering Light by Heather Fawcett [Goodreads]
I really, really enjoyed the first book to this duology, Even the Darkest Stars. It was incredibly original and had the most amazing sense of setting basically ever. I've been dying for this sequel to come out, too, since the first book ended on quite the revelation.

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton [Goodreads]
Every time I see this cover I think it's Natalie Portman lol. Anyway, this is a series of interconnected short stories that examine humanity through the lens of genetic modifications, androids, and things of that nature. It seems a little daunting for this reader; I don't read much hard sci-fi, if any, but it still sounds like a great read.

This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher [Goodreads]
I loved Pitcher's first thriller, The S Word, so I'm obviously pumped for this. The friend who told me about it also says it's in the same vein of One of Us is Lying, which I really wanted to like. I know this author won't disappoint me though, and hopefully I'll have read this before this post even goes live!

The Disasters by M.K. England [Goodreads]
Not gonna lie, what pulled me to this in the first place was the cover. The colors are just striking. Also, it's queer! Like I said earlier, science fiction is not my go-to genre, but this sounds almost reminiscent of a Han Solo type character and obviously I need that in my life.

What December releases are you looking forward to reading?

Blog Tour: How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett

  Rockstar Book Tours
Hi guys, and welcome to our tour stop for How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett. I am super excited to be on the blog tour for this book. Sit back, read my review and don't forget to add this book to your Goodreads shelves. Oh, and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!


Book Details
Title: HOW SHE DIED, HOW I LIVED
Author: Mary Crockett
Pub. Date: November 13, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 416
🌟🌟
🌟🌟

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonAudibleB&NiBooksTBD

Synopsis: I was one of five. The five girls Kyle texted that day. The girls it could have been. Only Jamie--beautiful, saintly Jamie--was kind enough to respond. And it got her killed.

On the eve of Kyle's sentencing a year after Jamie's death, all the other "chosen ones" are coping in various ways. But our tenacious narrator is full of anger, stuck somewhere between the horrifying past and the unknown future as she tries to piece together why she gets to live, while Jamie is dead.

Now she finds herself drawn to Charlie, Jamie's boyfriend--knowing all the while that their relationship will always be haunted by what-ifs and why-nots. Is hope possible in the face of such violence? Is forgiveness? How do you go on living when you know it could have been you instead?

Book Review
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. It looked interesting and like one I would enjoy, but I wasn't sold on it immediately. My reading has been non-existent this month, so I was worried that the first book I read this month would be a disappointment. I wasn't expecting a book like this. Sure parts of it were dark and sad, but it was also full of forgiveness and realizing that it was okay to live life like normal and be happy that you were still alive.

I've dealt with what is called "survivor's guilt" myself, so I understood our main character and her struggle with it. She was one of a handful of girls the homicidal maniac texted on the day he eventually killed Jamie. How could she not feel so much guilt for still being alive when sweet Jamie was dead? I could not even imagine what she went through, knowing that if she had just met up with Kyle Paxton when he asked, she would be the dead one. Not Jamie.

Our main character goes through a lot of conflicting emotions in this book and Crockett does an awesome job at showing us, rather than telling us. As the reader, I could see our main character going through so much, along with the other girls. The only other one that we get to know really well is Lindsay, and I really liked her. Her home life & parental involvement was a sharp contrast to our main character. Lindsay's mother was barely around and I couldn't imagine going through all of this and not having the parental support. At least our main character had support from her parents.

I was not sure how I'd feel about our main character's romance with Jamie's boyfriend. I was worried our main character was going to be hurt by him. I was also worried that it would be toxic & troubling because both Charlie and our main character had been through so much since that fateful day. I actually really liked them together. Sure, Charlie pulled disappearing acts sometimes, but he always came back.

The only thing I would say this book needed was a bit more character development for the secondary characters. Our main character, Charlie and Lindsay were all developed well, but the rest of them could definitely have had more development. Overall, this book was really good, definitely a "quiet YA" that YA contemporary lovers need to read.


About the Author
A native of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Mary grew up as the youngest of six children in a family of misfits. She has worked as everything from a history museum director to a toilet seat hand model.

In her other life, she's an award-winning poet and teaches creative writing at Roanoke College in Virginia.

If you tweet at her, chances are she will tweet back.



Giveaway

Tour Schedule
Week One:
11/12/2018- Here's to Happy EndingsReview
11/13/2018- A Dream Within A DreamReview
11/14/2018- Novel NoviceExcerpt
11/15/2018- Bri's Book NookReview
11/16/2018- Pretty Deadly ReviewsReview

Week Two:
11/19/2018- The Desert BibliophileReview
11/20/2018- Lifestyle of MeReview
11/21/2018- Moonlight RendezvousReview
11/22/2018- Savings in SecondsReview
11/23/2018- Cindy's Love of BooksReview

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Merch

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
This week we're talking about bookish merch on our wish lists!

Bekka's Picks
 
1. A Marauders Map book sleeve

I've wanted one of these since book sleeves started becoming a thing. I don't really know why I haven't gotten one except that I really can't bring myself to buy a book sleeve. I've gotten a few from subscription boxes and I haven't ever used them, so I think it'd be a waste of money. But I wants it.
 
2. Marauders Map blanket

Basically, give me all the Marauders Map things. This one I will probably get myself this year around Christmas if I get an Amazon gift card. I've been eyeing it for ages now and it's time to treat myself.

3. These Six of Crows candles
 
It's a pipe dream, it'll never happen, but I'd pay BIG bucks for them if Macmillan ever decided to sell these. I really have to wonder why publishers don't get in on the merchandise game a bit better. Officially licensed Six of Crows swag is all I need in my life.
4. This pin set
 
I don't even super ship Ron and Hermione but I am obsessed with this set. This shop has a bunch of other OTP level couples in this style and I want so many of them. They have a Leia and Han set that I absolutely need as well.
5. This art print
 
I am obsessed. I've been obsessing over this for months. Look how stunningly beautiful it is. I would absolutely buy a full tarot deck by this artist. This is another one I will probably bite the bullet on very soon because I can't stop staring at it. 

 
 

Plan With Me Book Tag

The Plan With Me Book Tag was created by What's My Page Again on YouTube

1. Pay Day - a book you would buy right now, cost doesn't matter!

I haven't even read this yet but I am still so salty that I'll forever have to live without the UK hardcover of Uprooted. If I had the means, I'd buy a copy right now, but people are NUTS if they think I'm paying those outrageous prices for a used copy.

 2. Pay a Bill - a book you'd get rid of right now

I have an ongoing stack of books to unhaul at basically all times. Right now, that stack consists of the Throne of Glass series.

3. Dr Appointment - a book that makes you feel better when you're down

So this is not the most lighthearted book in the world, but it's just so good. And sometimes it feel so, so good to read a well-written, well-crafted book. Especially during a rough week like this one, it's great to read something written so well that you just ease into it. So that's what I'm doing. Rereading for like the fifth time.

4. Meeting - a book you felt obligating to read because of the hype

  By hype I mostly mean "my friends screaming at me inceassantly" but that counts, right? I knew I couldn't put it off much longer so I read it earlier this year and it was amazing. I'm really glad I finally got to it and that it lived up to all the hype built up around it.

5. Lunch Date - a book or series you fell in love with after a friend recommended it to you

Well I guess I could just say Code Name Verity again, but I won't. How about The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang? This is honestly probably my favorite graphic novel of all time and I wouldn't have read it without Gaby and Gillian screaming at me about it.

6. Work Week - a book that was hard to get through

This was so astoundingly bad it's actually hard to believe. I thought it would be bad, but it was a thousand times worse than I ever imagined. It was painful to read, all the way from the writing to the world-building. 0/10 do not recommend.
7. Gym Day - a book that got your heart pumping because it was such an exciting page-turner
So I didn't LOVE this or anything but I could not put it down. I remember thinking about it even when I wasn't reading. There are a ton of heart-pumping and heart-stopping scenes in here too. Also, we need more YA horror and this is great for scares. 
8. Date Night - a book with your favorite romantic couple
I'm just going to make a really quick list. I can't just pick one.

Cruel Beauty - Nyx and Ignifex
Dark Triumph - Sybella and Beast
Legendary - Tella and Jacks
The Demon King - Raisa and Han
Gemina - Hanna and Nik

9. Vacation - a series you'd want to binge if you had all the time in the world

A Song of Ice and Fire for sure. I've had A Game of Thrones on my TBR multiple times but I just never get to it purely because of its size. There's nothing really stopping me from setting aside the time to just do it, but there's a mental block there for some reason that I am just unable to get over right now.

10. To Do List - a book you've been meaning to get to

This was one of my most-anticipated of the year. I mean, it's the finale. And I just haven't made myself sit down and read it. I am honestly terrified of what's going to happen in here and I know I need to just buckle down and do it. I will. Soon. I swear.

   

Bekka's October Book Haul






Hi everyone! How was your October? That kind of just flew by, didn't it? I feel like I blinked and the month was just passed and we hardly did anything I wanted to do. We only just made it to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch in the last week. Rosie didn't even paint her pumpkin, we didn't carve ours, we didn't get any mums for the porch, we didn't watch any scary movies. I don't know where the time went. I'm just happy that we actually made it to trick-or-treating, honestly.


My little Rosie the Riveter 

Anyway, now it's November, which is truly the best time of the year for me. At least this year. We are officially in Baby Month, and we kicked it off with some preterm labor over the weekend. Thankfully baby is still in, for now. 
 
I'm also getting SO EXCITED for Christmastime. I'm ready to decorate and wrap and watch holiday romance movies on Hallmark, and mostly I'm ready for good food. My birthday is also this month but we're not gonna talk about that.
 

Book Haul

October was such a great month for book acquisitions. I got so many titles that I'm so, so excited for. Let's get into it.

 For Review
Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig
Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau (THIS WAS AMAZING)
Last Girl Lied To by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale
Ransacker by Emmy Laybourne
Squad by Mariah MacCarthy
This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher
The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi

Purchased
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo - LOOK AT THIS SPECIAL EDITION AH
On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
Graceling by Kristin Cashore - ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL SPECIAL EDITION
The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu

eBooks for Review
The Girl King by Mimi Yu
You Are the Everything by Karen Rivers
The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra
The Best Lies by Sarah Lyu


Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist Books We Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
This week we're talking about older books we want to read

Bekka's Picks
 1. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. This is really high up on my TBR right now because a few of my friends are reading the series and absolutely adore it. I've been waiting until I'm in the exact right mood for it, though, and I think that time is coming.
2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I love historical fiction, particularly about the Tudors. I am what I am, and what I am is Tudor trash. But the thing is, this is supposed to be a trilogy, but only 2 of the 3 books are out! And it's been years. I want to read this but I'm scared! What if the final book never comes out.
3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Another one that comes highly recommended by all my friends and basically everyone in the world? I feel like winter is the perfect time to read it though, so it's coming soon for sure.
4. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. To be honest, I'm intimidated by a lot of adult fantasy. I'm obviously more in YA, where there are shippy feelings and everything is fast-paced. So being that this is adult fantasy and very, very long, I haven't read it yet. Even though it's supposed to be amazing.
5. Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach. If I'm intimidated by adult fantasy, it's nothing compared to adult sci-fi. I am not science brained and I have a hard time visualizing sci-fi concepts. So much of it flies over my head. But everyone loves this, especially one of my best friends, Jessie. So I want to read it! Sometime, I swear!

Book Review: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury on October 23rd, 2018
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 992
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
🌟🌟
Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

There will be spoilers for the entire series including this newest book. Read if you dare!

God. Where to even begin?

Back before the dawn of time (in blogging years anyway) I picked up a pretty well-hyped book, Throne of Glass. Everyone was stark-raving mad about this thing, and frankly, I was not terribly impressed. But I liked it enough to read book 2 and that's when my love for the series really took off. Over the last six years, I have invested so much into this series--time, energy, and oh my god, the money. I loved this series so much, I basically preached the Word of Celaena to anyone who would listen. And then Empire of Storms happened. There was a severe drop in quality, from the craft of writing all the way to the nonsensical plot and character development, that book was a mess. I suspect this degradation in quality started in Queen of Shadows but I was still blinded by love at that point. All this is to say, this will be a very negative review of a book in a series I once loved. I wasn't always a hater, I didn't read a gigantic series just to talk shit. I genuinely loved these books for a long time and I feel pretty betrayed by this entire mess. 

The first thing, and easiest thing, I'm going to tackle really quick is the writing. I don't know what's happened to SJM but she's completely divorced herself from the English language. For every full sentence with a working subject-verb relationship, there are at least 5 fragments to follow. She doesn't understand how a clause modifies the subject before it. She doesn't understand how to link clauses. She doesn't make sense. I basically read Kingdom of Ash twice because I kept having to go over and over what was written because it was so lacking in clarity. These books are written in a limited third person point of view, and yet the point of view was constantly switching from character to character, even within the same paragraph. There were words used incorrectly, words that didn't belong at all and should have been caught in copyedits, and nonsensical metaphors. This book was written by a lunatic. It was absolute mayhem.

I also have a real problem with how SJM creates "tension." She does this by either 1) pulling away from the most important scenes and plot points just to create dramatic effect, or 2) by just keeping the reader in the dark. She doesn't actually build suspense, but rather lies to the reader or ignores a problem altogether. I do not want to read about a character nearly dying, just to take a break and go to a sex scene. That's not tension, it's fucking annoying.

So, plot choices. I will reluctantly concede that it seems like SJM planned this book a lot more than she planned Empire of Storms. That book lacked focus in a major way, with weird unrelated events just strung together. But at least in Kingdom of Ash I felt like everything was working towards one goal. That said, some of these choices were just dumb. There's no getting around it. For instance, Maeve is a complete idiot. She has Aelin captured, right where she wants her. And, knowing her friends are definitely going to be searching for her, Maeve still leaves Aelin with Cairn in the middle of an army camp and heads off by herself in search of some wyrd collars she heard about. She didn't even investigate the claim, she just left, leaving the window wide open for Aelin's escape/rescue. Mighty convenient for the queen of the fae, who has survived thousands of years, to suddenly be stupid right when the plot calls for it. This is not the first or the last time the books have relied on Maeve dropping the ball intelligence-wise.

There are a LOT of conveniences, borderline deus ex machina moments as well. People showing up just in the nick of time. Magic randomly working differently than it always has. Some of the most egregious moments were toward the end. Aelin and her army were a WEEK away from getting to Orynth where the main battle was happening, and all of the sudden the Little Folk show up with the actual Lord of the North and show them some short cut that gets them there just in time to save the lives of some friendly faces. Then a little later Aelin opens a portal to the "hinterlands" in the north where the Lost Fae of Terrasen were waiting to come and help vanquish the enemy army. Let me make it clear that these fae were not mentioned by Aelin and her crew even ONCE throughout the whole novel. One thousand pages and they finally showed up in the last 100 to help save the day. (Also, speaking of late introductions, what made SJM think it was okay to introduce dryads in the last 100 pages?)

The one plot-thing I think we've all been waiting for was the forging of the lock and sealing the gate. Wow, what a contrived mess that was. So for those wanting to know, Dorian and Aelin forge the lock together. They go through some portal that takes them to a crossroads where all the worlds in existence meet. While there, they give their magic over to forging the lock. This drains them of their super-awesome, extraordinary powers. Then, for some reason, Dorian's father shows up and gives them some spiel about "Nameless is my price." That's right!! NAMELESS IS MY PRICE, which is written on the Amulet of Orynth so I'm not sure how Elena missed it, apparently has always referred to Dorian's father, the nameless King of Adarlan. We learn that Erawan wove some spell (??) to erase the King's name. So the King offers himself up in Dorian's place and helps Aelin finish making the lock. Then for NO REASON WHATSOEVER, Aelin tries to get the gods to leave Elena behind, and also leave Erawan behind. WHY. The entire point of forging the lock and sealing the gate is to get rid of Erawan! Especially considering they need the Fire Bringer to kill him if the gods won't. I am seriously at a fucking loss on this one. Why in god's name would Aelin ever risk leaving Erawan in Erilea?? Of course, the gods betray her anyway, but what the actual???

In the end, forging the lock and sealing the gate takes almost all of Aelin's magic and her human form. Which makes total sense, I know. Why it wouldn't take her actual MAGICAL form is lost on me.

(ALSO REAL QUICK LET ME JUST SAY THAT I WASNT EVEN READING AN ACOTAR BOOK AND RHYS STILL SHOWS UP AND SOMEHOW RUINS THINGS.)

Okay. Deep breath. Let's talk about the characters.

I want to talk about Manon first because I think Manon is SJM's best character. She really stumbled into greatness with Manon. She went from a bloodthirsty, angry killer and was able to turn everything around, reunite her people, grow a soft spot, learn to love, and yet still keep that deadly, immortal, and cold air about her. If you want to know which character has grown and changed the most, while still remaining that actual character, it's Manon. Where others have completely lost themselves, she still remains true to who she is deep down, while embracing the new. I still find her sexual relationship with Dorian to be absolutely heinous and wildly out of character for the both of them, and I wish it wasn't a reality at all, though.

Speaking of Dorian, he's the most wildly inconsistent character of the bunch. I know he went through trauma in Heir of Fire, but he's an entirely different character from who he was in Throne of Glass. There really is nothing left of that Dorian at all. And while there were parts of him in this book that I found salvagable (like the self-sacrificing parts, the teamwork parts, the studying magic parts) I find him overall distasteful anymore and would like to throw the whole man away and start over. Like, for example, he learns to shapeshift in this book. Okay, cool. Except he shapeshifts into one of the witches--not just a random woman but someone who is actually there, actually exists--and then goes on to be wholly disgusting about it. His first thoughts are about masturbating, breasts, things like that. If I were that witch, I'd feel violated. Now, I know this is the author's absolutely OBSESSION with sex and porn, but no fucking thank you. The only time he felt remotely redeemable and like he was back on the right path was when he was with Chaol.

Chaol is another great character who got the short end of the stick just for being a mortal human. It was very clear that SJM got tired of writing him and didn't want to deal with the transition from Chaol to Rowan, so she just DESTROYED HIM. Now, I haven't read Tower of Dawn and I do not plan to, so I didn't get to actually see his development, but it's staggering how much he's changed--but this time it's in a good way. I know the basics of what he went through in the southern continent, and he rose from the ashes of the destroyed glass castle and came back better than ever. He still has that overwhelming sense of loyalty that makes him who he is, while also having gained the wisdom and clarity to face the challenges presented to him in Kingdom of Ash. I know everyone hated him because he was the dissenting voice against Aelin in Queen of Shadows, but I think he's the one with the most sense, honestly, and anyway thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

Lorcan is still a gross, ancient creeper, and Elide continues to deserve so much better than him. Lysandra is still on my shit list because of her shitty, deceptive plan with Aelin from the last book (her plan to use Aedion to breed, knowing full well he had been sexually abused in the past.) Yrene was pretty great, actually, though I thought the pregnancy stuff was SO heavy handed. Did Sarah recently have a baby? Anyone know? The other members of Aelin's squad were inconsequential. We barely knew them as individuals beforehand and that changed by maybe a fraction in this book. Rowan continues to be the most boring person alive.

So that brings me to Aedion. My precious bisexual teddy bear, who willingly gives up everything he has for the sake of Terrasen. I love him so, so much and he deserves a better author entirely. I mean, he was betrayed in a very disgusting way by Lysandra and somehow HE ends up being the one apologizing? I think the mcfuck not. He's the one character I have genuine emotions for and I hated the things SJM did to his character. He is a softie at heart. He's gentle and honorable. But when it came time to get physically intimate with Lysandra he ended up the exact same as all the other "males" in this godforsaken series (and in SJM's other series.) It was so gross to me to see him acting so out of character. It's like SJM knows only one way for men to behave and so they all act THE SAME. It's heinous.

Speaking of heinous, I hate the character that Aelin has become. Hell, Celaena would absolutely hate Aelin. Sam is rolling over in his grave. Despite her rhetoric for a better world and other people getting to use their voices, she's a tyrant. The arrogance that was once bravado to cover vulnerability is now just plain arrogance with nothing softer to temper it. There's absolutely nothing relatable about her at all anymore. At the beginning of this series, Celaena set out to fight against tyrannical empires, seeing what happens when too much power is held by one person. Now, at the end, she's queen of Terrasen, queen of the Little Folk, queen of Doranelle, and probably more that I totally forgot about. She's also spoken of conquering other territories if she ever gets bored in her long, immortal life. She has turned into the very thing she set out to eradicate. And all without the authorial self-awareness that's needed to pull this thing off. It's not a conscious decision by any means. It's just everyone blowing smoke up Aelin's ass because she's the best. For reasons.

Kingdom of Ash falls victim to more of SJM's gross porn. There were admittedly less sex scenes in this one than there were in Empire of Storms, and they were (mostly) less detailed, but it didn't make them any less gross or unnecessary. Like I said earlier, we would be ripped away from the action so we could see two characters have sex. Who cares about this? And all of the characters were so preoccupied with it. It's just... gross; I don't have another word for it. There's just no need for any of it. You can achieve the same things with a fade to black scene. And what is with all the characters noticing when someone has sex? Why does Aelin have to scent it on Elide? And why are Rowan and Aelin constantly fucking where they can be found? What does all this sex and sexual content add to the overall story of a young woman fighting to regain her kingdom? NOTHING. And the scenes are nasty anyway; they're poorly written and all blend into one another since every character is the same.

This review is getting long so let's cut to the chase on some other flaws. SJM is incapable of the following: banter of any kind; forming complete sentences; making a magic system that makes sense and is consistent; character motivations, especially when it comes to villains; giving characters distinct voices. It's just utter failure on all fronts.

It's a shame. This series started out beautifully, with such potential. The main three characters were excellent, the themes of fighting oppression and tyranny were great (and actually clear!) The magic was once consistent and made sense. But now? This is pointy-eared pornography with a heaping dose of Lord of the Rings plagiarism (everything from the creatures, the characters' titles, the battle at Helm's Deep, "Terrasen calls for aid!" and SO MUCH MORE.) It's so sad to me that a book series that once meant so much to me has turned into such derivative, contrived drivel. I feel bad for the fans who have hung on this long, because they deserve so much better than their favorite author is giving them. The only good thing I can say now is that it's finally over.

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Book Title & Author: Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake
Published by: Tor Teen on October 17th, 2011
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Pages: 316
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
🌟🌟1/2

Synopsis: Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

Review:
I've had this book on my TBR for a really long time, like for as long as I've been blogging, which is 5 1/2 years, but I only recently got a copy of it. I decided to read it last month because I thought it would be a creepy story, perfect for Halloween. I don't scare easily, so I was hoping that this book would scare me. I really wanted a scary Halloween read.

Unfortunately, the book didn't scare me, although the strongest aspect of the book was the setting. The way the story was told was very creepy, but I felt no chills, no reason to keep turning around to see what was behind me and no real feelings of fear and panic. In a book like this, those are the things I look for and in this case, I actually think it was the characters that weakened the book for me.

I couldn't really connect with Cas or Thomas or Carmel or any of the other characters in this book and I think that was the book's biggest problem. I guess I shouldn't have expected to connect with a ghost killer, but I was hoping. The simple title of "ghost killer" caused me to suspend reality a bit and that threw me off. I mean, logically I know ghosts are already dead, you can't actually kill them. I do actually believe in ghosts and I have seen them before, but Cas (and his father's) job of hunting & killing ghosts was definitely a struggle for me to accept & deal with.

The character development was also not as strong as it could have been and I think that was another reason that I couldn't really connect to the characters. I usually connect to well rounded & well developed characters and with the exception of Anna, I didn't feel like the characters in this book were all that well rounded or well developed. I actually really liked Anna though and she was definitely the most interesting character in the entire book. I was super curious to figure out how she was murdered and thankfully, we got that answered in this book.

Final thoughts: Aside from Anna herself, the characters were not well developed. The setting was creepy though. This book was just not my cup of tea.

October Wrap Up and November TBR




Books of the Month

Bekka





Alexia

Books Read

 

Sadie 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Nightingale 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Bloom 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Be Prepared 🌟🌟🌟
The Spite Game🌟🌟🌟

Our Year of Maybe 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Drowning Instinct 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Anna Dressed in Blood 🌟🌟1/2




November TBR 

Bekka


Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas. I'm more than halfway through and I had planned to finish before October was over but it didn't happen. I should finish really soon though. God willing.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. I know. This has been on my tbr for months now, but it's finally time. I'll need a post-Maas cleanse. 

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. A total impulse purchase after seeing it on Twitter. But it's a graphic novel so it should fly by and will be a good way to boost that GR challenge number.

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean. I don't usually reach for competition books but something about this one has been calling to me lately.

Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu. It's been a while since I've read a sad contemporary and that is my true comfort zone. I've been looking at this for months and finally bit the bullet and purchased it this week.

Alexia

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. I started reading this one months ago, and got about a quarter of the way through it. I was totally immersed in it, but then I had the first of 2 procedures done in the hospital and my reading fell by the wayside. Excited to keep reading this one.

The Fade by Demitria Lunetta. I was obsessed with her zombie duology several years back, and am very excited to read more of her words.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. Um, just LOOK at this cover? Plus it sounds SO GOOD. I cannot wait to read this book.

Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand. I'm a little apprehensive about this book, but I am a sucker for girls who fight for what they believe in.

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver. I'm really nervous about this one because I've struck out on most of Oliver's books, but I am a big sucker for murder mysteries. And it sounds like there's more than meets the eye with this one.


Are any of our books on your November TBR?