The Halloween Book Tag

Thank you so much to Kirstie @ Upside-Down Books for tagging me! If you guys don’t know her blog, you should check it out! She is an incredibly lovely blogger ūüôā

Carving Pumpkins: What book would you carve up and light on fire?

cover its a wonderful death

Okay, so I’d never actually burn a book…but I really didn’t like¬†It’s a Wonderful Death. I had really high hopes, and it ended up being cliche and boring. Bummer.

Trick or Treat? Which character is a treat and which character is a trick?

cover the thief

Trick: Gen

Not because he’s a villain of anything, but because he is the dictionary definition of a trickster.

cover the scorpio races

Treat: Sean Kendrick

Because Sean Kendrick is freaking dreamy.

Candy Corn: What book is always sweet?

cover the unexpected everything

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

This book is one of the sweetest, cutest stories ever. I laughed, I cried, I smiled. It was awesome.

Ghost: What character would you like to visit you as a ghost?
[no spoilers]

cover the raven boys

Noah from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Because…well…I love him. (Among other reasons)

Dressing Up in Costume: What character would you want to be for a day?

cover the wrath and the dawn

Shazi from The Wrath and the Dawn by Rene Ahdieh

Because HER CLOTHES. And her personality. And Khalid. Okay, so everything.

Wizards and Witches: What’s your favorite Harry Potter moment?

I absolutely loved the moment after Harry takes his Defense Against the Dark Arts OWL when the examiner asks Harry to show his Patronous. It was a really badass moment.

Blood and Gore: What was a book that was so creepy that you had to take a break from it?

cover the dead house

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

I have a very conflicted relationship with this book, but the one thing I can say for sure is that it was RIDICULOUSLY CREEPY. So. Freaking. Creepy. If you want to know more, you can read my very conflicted review.

My tags


Happy Halloween! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Do you have any book recommendations?

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I enjoyed this story a lot more than I expected, though I wish the writing had been a little different.

3.5/5 stars

cover-frankenstein

synopsis for reviews 2

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Add it on Goodreads.

my thoughts for reviews 1

Like 99% of the classics I read, I¬†read this book because of school. I can’t say that I had low expectations for the book, because I had honestly no idea what to expect. I knew that Hollywood portrayed the Creature wrong…and that was it. I was pleasantly surprised by Frankenstein, though.

I’ll start with the positive. I genuinely enjoyed the plot of this book. Having known nothing about the plot beforehand except that the Creature comes to life and everything goes wrong, I found the actual plot original and complex. There is so much more going on in this book than “whoops, bringing the dead back to life is a mistake.”

There were surprising moments and the story built to a strong climax. I loved the approach the story took to discussing good and evil, as well as how it left some moral questions unanswered.

The Creature was a fascinating character, and his complicated relationship with Victor¬†was unexpected and nuanced. I absolutely hated Victor, but I admire Shelley for how completely she got me to hate him. Both characters grow¬†significantly¬†throughout the novel and I never felt like I didn’t understand their motivations.

Looking just at the overall plot of the novel and the two main characters, Frankenstein was a really solid novel. Unfortunately, the details are where I start to like the book less.

First off, waaay to much time passes. Seriously, the book spans like six years, with most of that time just being Victor passed out from his bad decisions or loitering, trying to decide what to do next. If you cut out all the waiting around parts, the plot is paced pretty well, but I could never get fully invested in the story because so much of the story¬†wasn’t¬†the main plot.¬†

Also, the writing bothered me. I knew it was a “classic” going in, so I wasn’t expecting it to read the same way a novel written today would. I can forgive the novel for its wandering sentences and obsession with figurative language‚ÄĒin truth, I actually enjoyed those parts.

However, the story is told in a forcibly “tell” instead of “show” manner. For me, it felt like certain chapters were trying to suck all of the excitement out of the plot in the way they were told. For a book that is entirely in first person (though the narration changes), it feels like it’s written in third person‚ÄĒby which I mean that¬†something¬†is constantly separating me from experiencing the action up-close-and-personal.¬†

Overall, I’m glad I read this book. It is one of my favorite books I’ve read in for high school, both from a plot standpoint and a literary analysis standpoint.¬†I would recommend this book to people who¬†enjoy “classic” writing, or who are at least able to forgive a story for slower pacing.

Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me In A Haunted House

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is a Halloween-themed freebie. I thought about featuring horror/thriller novels…and then I remembered I am a total scaredy cat and that I don’t read horror/thriller novels.

Instead, I am imagining that some of my favorite characters and I have been dropped in a haunted house. I’m not talking about a touristy, fun¬†haunted house; I mean a literal, oh-my-gosh-I’m-in-the-middle-of-a-paranormal-novel haunted house. (Not that I believe in hauntings, but they’re fictional characters, so¬†anything is possible.)

So that they would protect me

1. Lysandra from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

Okay, so I’d want the entire cast of TOG by my side. But if I can’t have all of them, I want Lysandra. I think her particular skill set would be really freaking¬†useful.

2. Vin from the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson

Yeah, I’m not going anywhere near something unpredictable and scary without a Mistborn by my side.

3. Katsa from Graceling by Kristen Cashore

And as long as¬†I’m surrounding myself with fantastical warriors, I might as well bring Katsa with me. She would 110% make sure that I survived.

So that someone could talk to the ghosts/monsters

4. Suze from The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

It just seems pragmatic to make sure that I have a person who can talk to ghosts with me in a haunted house. Plus, Suze has dealt with a lot of crazy stuff, so she’d be able to keep her¬†cool.

5. Gemma from the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray

Gemma doesn’t talk to ghosts, per se, but she has dealt with a TON of paranormal craziness, so I think she’d¬†be helpful for dealing with the haunted stuff.

 So that someone would figure out how to get us out

6. Gansey from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Am I the only person who would want Gansey’s obsessive research brain with me in a haunted house? Because it sounds like a solid plan to me.

7. Lilac from the Starbound Trilogy by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman

Lilac took a while to grow on me, but now I appreciate her for what she is: a total badass. She has been through it all¬†and¬†she’s brilliant, so I would definitely trust her to get me out of there.

To counter my fear with intense sarcasm

8. Shazi from The Wrath and the Dawn by Rene Ahdieh

So, yes, Shazi’s archery skills would also be nice, but honestly, I just want her their to keep making jokes to distract me from everything else. Also the idea of Shazi sassing a ghost is¬†funny enough that I would endure a haunted house to see it.

9. Adina from Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Adina’s deadpan, take-no-shit personality would totally calm me down.

So that I would not be the only one screaming

cover sisterhood of the travelling pants

10. Carmen from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

I can’t be the only person freaking out, looking like an idiot among a ton of battle-hardened fighters, right? I just read this book, and I am 110% sure that all of the characters would do¬†just as badly in this situation as I would. I’d take Carmen because I liked her personality the most.


So what do you think? If you were in this situation, who would you want with you?

Book Review: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

I read this book years ago, and after reading a series of tear-inducing fantasy novels, I decided I needed this cheerfulness in my life again.

4/5 stars

cover sisterhood of the travelling pants

synopsis for reviews 2

Carmen got the jeans at a thrift shop. They didn‚Äôt look all that great: they were worn, dirty, and speckled with bleach. On the night before she and her friends part for the summer, Carmen decides to toss them. But Tibby says they‚Äôre great. She’d love to have them. Lena and Bridget also think they‚Äôre fabulous. Lena decides that they should all try them on. Whoever they fit best will get them. Nobody knows why, but the pants fit everyone perfectly. Even Carmen (who never thinks she looks good in anything) thinks she looks good in the pants. Over a few bags of cheese puffs, they decide to form a sisterhood and take the vow of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants . . . the next morning, they say good-bye. And then the journey of the pants ‚ÄĒ and the most memorable summer of their lives ‚ÄĒ begins.

Add it on Goodreads. 

my thoughts for reviews 1

I can’t tell you how happy I am that this book was as good as I remembered. After being slightly overwhelmed with my recent reading choices, this book was a perfect dose of real life.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is four stories in one, one for each of the friends as they explore their first summer apart. Each summer takes unexpected twists and forces the characters to face parts of themselves they had previously ignored. It was never hard to keep their stories straight, and I liked how the narration jumped back and forth between stories often.

Carmen’s story was incredibly relatable. She¬†thought her summer was going to be filled with father-daughter bonding time, only to find out that her father is remarrying and that she is a guest in his new perfect life. She feels rejected, and even though she knows she’s being petty, she doesn’t want to take the high road. And you know what, I didn’t blame her, because I understood what she was feeling. Every part of her story grabbed me, until I couldn’t tell where her emotions ended and mine began.

Lena’s story was more simplistic. I loved that she is intensely introverted, and I thought that her relationship with her own beauty was a really interesting addition to her character. Like Carmen, I felt Lena’s emotions alongside her as she spends the summer with her unfamiliar relatives in Greece. Looking back on her plot line, though, I wish that a little more had happened.

Bridget’s story was the most intense. She’s the extrovert of the group, wild and determined in a wholehearted way that I associate more with fantasy protagonists than contemporary ones. While I couldn’t relate to her character as much as I could to the others, her story was written in a way that at least made me understand what was going on in her head.

I cared about Bridget, and I was genuinely worried for her as she chased down the coach she had a crush on at her soccer summer camp. Her plot line was rough and unforgiving, never romanticizing or condemning her actions, just letting the story speak for itself.

Finally, Tibby’s story was the most emotional. Stuck at a crappy job while her friends are off exploring the world, Tibby sought solace by making a documentary about her summer. She ends up befriending a preteen with cancer who pushes her to reevaluate her life. It sounds cliche, but it really wasn’t. Instead, it felt real and important, and I know that plot line will stick with me for a while.

There is something gloriously refreshing about this book. It is teenage girls being teenage girls, with no extra glamour. This isn’t a book about cute meets or perfect¬†romances; it’s a book about real life happening to four people at once. If you’re expecting an entirely cheerful book, then I should warn you that I quietly cried through the last quarter of the book. Fundamentally, this is a book that will grab your heartstrings, for¬†happiness and for sadness.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a story about friendship and real life. It isn’t solidly happy or sad, it is more complex than that. For me, it was exactly what I needed to read right now.

Book Review: Empire of Storms (TOG #5) by Sarah J. Maas

My heart. Is. In. Pieces.

5/5 stars

cover empire of storms

No spoilers for EOS, but I can’t avoid spoilers for the previous books. Sorry!

synopsis for reviews 2

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

Add it on Goodreads.

my thoughts for reviews 1

This book was amazing. There was not a second of this book that did not completely enthrall me. And that ending‚ÄĒI SOBBED.

I knew this book would break my heart, and right on schedule, it did. But that’s not to say that EOS¬†only¬†broke my heart. It made me laugh, grin,¬†and curl up into a ball of happy feels just as often as it destroyed me.

I love Aelin. Her character is a force of nature. She’s brilliant and brave and strong and selfless, but most of all, I¬†believe¬†in her. She’s not one of those incredible characters that is too perfect for real life. Even when she is raising armies and battling the forces of evil, she still feels human. She is larger than life and intensely realistic¬†at the same time.

Elide also became a stand-out character for me in EOS. I had liked her in QOS, but it wasn’t until this book that I truly fell in love with her. She is a great compliment to Aelin, strong and determined like the queen, but with¬†a very different underlying personality. I loved that she is simultaneously an introvert¬†and¬†a hero, a combination you don’t see a lot of in YA.

Lorcan was an interesting addition to the story; I didn’t expect him to be a part of the plot, but I ended up enjoying his presence. I am fascinated to see what happens with his character in the next book after that ending.

Manon’s character grew on me a lot. I had always liked her well enough, but it was in this book that she finally won me over. I’m trying not to spoil anything, but if you’ve read it, you probably know the moment I’m talking about. (I cheered.) Aelin and Manon working plotting together is my new favorite thing, especially if Lysandra is also involved.

Lysandra remains one of my favorite characters in the series. If possible, she becomes more badass in this book. I loved her interactions with Aedion, how they showed a different side of her that helped round out her character. Aedion himself continued to grow on me; I think I have finally let go of my initial (and somewhat random) annoyance at his existence.

Dorian has been a weird character for me. I always liked him more than Chaol (#sorrynotsorry), but in recent books his plot line had felt kind of tacked-on to the rest of the action. In this book, however, we get to see him interact with Aelin and the rest of the gang and grow into his own. His story finally melded with the rest of the book, and I started to like him again. I love how broken and imperfect he is; he has come such a long way from the cheery prince that he was in the first book.

I cannot say that I love Dorian and Manon together. It was fascinating to read, adding a dark and reckless vibe to the story, but I feel like their relationship needs to do more to convince me that the relationship should last.

And then there’s Rowan. Words cannot describe how important Rowan is to the story. Yes, he’s a big ball of swooniness, but he is also exactly what Aelin needed as she grew into her own in EOS. I loved finally reading a YA story where the romance is incredibly important to the characters’ growth without¬†being the only reason they grow. Aelin and Rowan complement each other really well, but they each have their own individual characters as well‚ÄĒwhich only strengthens the romance between them.

Wow, there are a lot of characters. I didn’t even start to touch side characters (though those were also the perfect balance of interesting without overpowering the story). The beauty of EOS, though, is that the massive cast of characters doesn’t stop the story from fully exploring each one’s personality and arc. Of course, that means that the book is ridiculously long, but it also¬†gives it the emotional power needed to break my heart in every possible way.

I don’t know what to say about the plot of EOS, mainly because¬†so much¬†happens. The plot is fast-paced and addictive. All of the subplots weave together well, better than in previous books, creating a continually powerful¬†narrative. I never wanted to put the book down, though I had to force myself to take a break from the story so I could get schoolwork done.

The incredible thing about EOS is that it feels real. I have read countless stories of wars, revolutions, and diplomatic sparring matches, but none of them made me feel like I was actually in the middle of power plays between entire nations.

EOS just has this indescribable feeling of enormity.¬†I¬†could feel just how important every decision was, that each move Aelin made would affect hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t know how SJM did it…but it is awe-inspiring.

I need to talk about the ending, though I’m not going to spoil anything. Basically, the ending is a series of intense reveals that change the way that you see the entire series, and then a heartbreaking cliffhanger that sets up what will surely be an amazing sixth book. I sobbed for the last hundred pages, literally unable to control myself. I almost wish that the book had had a few more chapters, just to give me some time to absorb everything that was revealed in the last pages. As it was, I was left tear-stained and ruined, with a gaping hole in my chest that won’t be filled until the next book is released.

I know, that sounds overly dramatic. Trust me when I tell you it is an understatement.

I would recommend EOS to anyone who has enjoyed the TOG series so far. If you didn’t like HOF or QOS for character reasons, then I would honestly say don’t read EOS. You probably won’t like it, and it seems kind of pointless to put yourself through so many pages for such a little reward. But if you enjoyed HOF and QOS, READ EMPIRE OF STORMS RIGHT NOW. And then we’ll cry together.


Have you read EOS? If you have, have you recovered yet?

Top Ten Characters I Would Name a Cat After

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I LOVE this topic! I am a total cat person, and there are so many book characters that I would name a cat after.

As a personal side note, my cat is named Muzgle, which is partially a nod to “Muggle” from Harry Potter. You can see pictures of her begrudgingly posing with books on my bookstagram.

1. Katsa (from Graceling by Kristen Cashore)

cover graceling

I mean, c’mon. You just have to. She’s a badass warrior AND her¬†name literally has “cat” in it.

2. Kendrick (from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater)

cover the scorpio races

I was going to say Puck or Sean, but then I thought of naming a cat “Kendrick” and I decided that I’m kind of in love with the idea.

3. Ink (from The Twixt series by Dawn Metcalf)

cover indelible

This is one of those series that is just weird enough that I like it. While it isn’t one of my all-time favorites, I love the world-building, and I would totally name my cat after the super-mysterious love interest.

4. Adina (from Beauty Queens by Libba Bray)

cover beauty queens

Adina is literally the queen of sarcasm. Since most cats basically have her personality, naming a cat after her would be both appropriate and catchy.

5. Lara Jean (from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han)

cover to all the boys ive loved before

This would have to be a really classy, polite cat to live up to¬†Lara Jean’s name. This cat would be the one that seems to always fall asleep in an Instagramable pose.

6. Sarene (from Elantris by Brandon Sanderson)

cover elantris

Sarene is brilliant, strategic, and a little bit ruthless. All characteristics of cats ūüėČ

7. Vin (from Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson)

cover mistborn

Vin is literally described as a mix between a noblewoman and a cat. She is one of my favorite main characters ever, and if you haven’t read Mistborn yet, go read it already so that you understand her awesomeness.

8. Steris (from The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson)

cover the alloy of law

It’s possible that I have to admit that all of Brandon Sanderson’s female characters are part cat. I started out this Mistborn sequel series hating Steris’s guts, but she grew on me to the point that I would totally name a cat after her.

9. Gansey (from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater)

cover the raven boys

How could I make this list without Gansey?¬†This would totally be the cat that insists on lying in the middle of whatever book you’re reading or whatever homework you’re doing to “help.”

10. Shazi (from The Wrath and the Dawn by Rene Ahdieh)

cover the wrath and the dawn

I don’t know how I got to #10 on this list without remembering Shazi! This cat would have a really loud “meow” and would definitely be an outside cat.


Well, I feel like a Crazy Cat Lady now.

What do you think of these names? Have you read any of these books?

The Goodreads Book Tag

I was tagged by Kirstie @ Upside-Down Books! Now, I don’t actually use Goodreads, for reasons that I’ll explain in a discussion post when I finally get around to writing it. I have an account, but I basically only use it to keep track of random TBR books. Still, I love book tags, so I’m doing this one, I just have to tweak my answers a bit.

What was the last book you marked as ‚Äėread‚Äô?

cover empire of storms

Like Kirstie, I just finished Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas and I AM NOT OKAY. If you’ve read that book, then you understand the broken mess that my heart is right now.

What are you currently reading?

cover sisterhood of the travelling pants

Needing something happy after EOS, I’m reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I read the book a while ago and I am having fun rediscovering the world (and it’s nice to read something that isn’t physically painful).

What was the last book you marked as TBR?

cover-girl-against-the-universe

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes was the last book I marked as TBR on Goodreads. I think I read a really positive review of it.

What book do you plan to read next?

I’m a total mood reader, so it’s hard to know. I’ll probably¬†continue the Traveling Pants series.

Do you use the star rating system?

Again, I don’t review books on Goodreads, but on my blog I use a star rating system that is basically the same as Goodreads (though I use half stars). So yes, kind of.¬†

Are you doing a 2016 Reading Challenge?

I didn’t start a challenge officially with Goodreads, but I have unofficially set a goal of 60 books for myself. That’s less than I’ve done in previous years, but considering 2016 contained AP season for my junior year AND college application season, I knew that this year would not be a great reading year for me.

Do you have a wishlist?

No. I usually just randomly buy books when I’m in the mood for it. It would probably be a good idea for me to keep a wishlist. As it is, I basically have a random list in my head and a (very inaccurate) TBR list on Goodreads.

What book do you plan to buy next?

I¬†am mostly focused on buying/preordering sequels right now. I want Blood for Blood and Gemina most, and I’ll probably buy them soon.

Do you have any favorite quotes? Share a few.

Oh, I have so many favorite quotes. Don’t get me started…but now that you have, here are a few:

  • ‚ÄúI do not want to pass the time. I want to grab hold of it and leave my mark upon the world.‚Ä̬†‚ÄĒ The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
  • ‚ÄúShe wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.‚Ä̬†‚ÄĒ The Raven Boys¬†by¬†Maggie Stiefvater
  • ‚ÄúIf I am the pawn of the gods, it is because they know me so well, not because they make my mind up for me.‚Ä̬†‚ÄĒ The Queen of Attolia¬†by¬†Megan Whalen Turner

Apparently all of my go-to favorite quotes right now have to do with destiny/choice.

Who are your favorite authors?

Again, I have a lot of favorite authors. The three I just quoted‚ÄĒLibba Bray, Maggie Stiefvater, and Megan Whalen Turner‚ÄĒwill always hold a special place in my heart.

Have you joined any groups?

Nope. I would have to remember Goodreads exists more than once a month for that to work, probably.

My tags:

RiverMoose @ RiverMoose Reads

Amy @ Every Book You Need to Read and More

Annike and Zo√ę @ Twin Tales

Eve @ Twist in the Tale

And you, if you want to do it!

The Snack Food Book Tag

I wasn’t tagged to do this tag, but I saw Freadom @Freadom Library¬†do it¬†a while back and I have been meaning to do it ever since. This tag combines two of my favorite things: snacking and books.

Chocolate-covered Pretzels

A book couple you never thought would work\get together

cover uprooted

On the surface, the couple in Uprooted seems impossible. But the story 110% convinced me and now they are one of my favorite ships ever.

Pringles

An addictive book you can’t get enough of

cover fire

Fire by Kristen Cashore is completely addictive. I have read it at least three times and I will undoubtedly read it again. The romance is the definition of adorable and the plot is twisted and intricate and heart-wrenching.

Trail mix

A book with a variety of characters

cover elantris

My go-to answer is Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, but I felt like I should talk about a book that I don’t mention all the freaking time, so I’m going with Elantris. The book has three main characters and a ton of supporting characters who all add to the incredible story that is¬†Brandon Sanderson’s debut.

Fruit Bowls

An unpredictable character

cover empire of storms

AELIN. I am reading Empire of Storms right now and all that I know is that I cannot know everything that Aelin has up her sleeve (and I love her for it). Side note: EOS is destroying me right now, someone send help.

Nut bar

Your go-to book

cover the scorpio races

I have a ton of go-t0 books, mainly because I am a reread fanatic. But when I really need a book to calm me down and cheer me up, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater is my ultimate happy place.

Popcorn

A character you can’t help but like

cover salt to the sea

Emilia in Salt to the Sea. I was basically in love with her character from page one. She has led an incredibly awful life but she is smart, kind, and resilient anyway. I wanted to give her a hug and a high five all at the same time.


Since I wasn’t tagged, I’m not going to tag anyone. If this seems like something you’d like to do, consider yourself tagged!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

What is your favorite snack to eat while reading?

Book Review: Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle #2) by Libba Bray

An amazing continuation of the Gemma Doyle series with creepy paranormal elements and even stronger characters.

4/5 stars

cover rebel angels

synopsis for reviews 2

Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma‚Äôs visions intensify‚Äďvisions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain…

The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms‚Äďor out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma‚Äôs willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother‚Äôs greatest friend‚Äďand now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.

Add it on Goodreads

my thoughts for reviews 1

Rereading this series was honestly so much fun. I love knowing that the books that blew me away when I was younger are still impressive, even after I’ve read hundreds more books.

The defining characteristic of these books is the idea of imperfection. If you like stories where the characters make the right decisions and everything fits together nicely…this isn’t your book. But honestly, imperfection is so much¬†more interesting.

Gemma and her friends are as imperfect as always in this book. They have the power to bring magic into the real world and they use it to make their lives better, even if it’s an illusion. It’s somewhat frustrating to read, because as the reader you¬†know¬†that magic won’t solve their problems, but I have to admit, I would do¬†exactly the same thing¬†in their place.

We get to see Gemma’s character grow more. She is trying to be a better person, taking on responsibilities in the realm and being a nicer¬†daughter in the real world, but she cannot get over her jealousies and fears completely. She has magic, and she’s a teenage girl, and¬†she’d rather have everything seem perfect than have to deal with life’s imperfections. I don’t blame her for her weaknesses, though, because her character is written so vividly that I could feel exactly what emotions drove her to make her choices.

Ann’s character becomes a larger part of the story in Rebel Angels. Her dreams of being accepted into rich society come true‚ÄĒwith magic, of course‚ÄĒand it reveals fascinating parts of her character. As with Gemma, Ann¬†has her pettiness and her fears, but they are portrayed so well that I understand her instead of hating her.

The realms become more sinister in this book, no longer the flowering garden that Gemma discovered. Pippa returns to the story, giving the plot creepy, uncertain undertones.¬†Dead but alive, Pippa brings both joy and fear to the plot, and Gemma’s distrust of her threatens the group dynamic.

Gemma’s¬†new task in the realms is to find the Temple, where she can bind the magic and restore order to the realms. New visions and a friendship with an insane girl named Nell help Gemma on her search while keeping the reader on their toes, uncertain of who they can trust. The search for the Temple is a good mystery that adds suspense and terror to the plot.

As with the first book, however, Rebel Angels is about more than the realms. Gemma’s life in the real world is just as important a part of the story as her quest in the realms. I loved that Gemma leaves Spence for the winter holiday; this¬†changed the focus of the story from her education to her place in polite society and showed a different side of Gemma. She is simultaneously desperate to be accepted and disgusted with the society.

Her courtship of Simon Middleton was one of my favorite parts of the book. More than just a love interest, Simon represents a crossroads for Gemma, forcing her to choose between being the Good Girl and being herself. Simon’s own imperfections are¬†an interesting commentary on rape culture‚ÄĒsomething I missed the first time I read this series but that I appreciate now.

Gemma’s father’s addiction is a major part of this book. The plot line is unforgiving and painful, showing Gemma the worst side of her family right when she wants nothing more than for everything to be perfect. These scenes were some of the most emotional ones of the whole book.

My only complaint about this book would be that it is a little long. It is paced well, but that pacing is a long walk to the climax. I love that the length of the story allows every character to develop and every subplot to be complex, but it also makes the book a little slow at times.

I would recommend Rebel Angels to anyone who read A Great and Terrible Beauty. The story gets creepier and realer, destroying the few remaining niceties that existed in Gemma’s life. The combination of paranormal and historical plot lines makes this series unique and a must-read.

Book Review: Nevernight (Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff

EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that this book contains harmful racial themes and imagery. This review was written before I realized this, and my current view of the book has been severely hampered by not only the racial problems, but by the author’s unwillingness to own up to his flaws. I do not¬†plan to continue the series.

For a comprehensive breakdown of the problems and Kristoff’s responses: http://anjuliewritesstuff.weebly.com/blog/racism-author-accountability-and-nevernight


An addictive fantasy novel that is complex and badass in equal measures.

4/5 stars

cover-nevernight

synopsis for reviews 2

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic‚ÄĒthe Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she‚Äôll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church‚Äôs halls, the bloody secrets of Mia‚Äôs past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Add it on Goodreads

my thoughts for reviews 1

From page one, I was in love with Mia’s character. She starts off the book your typical badass, hard-as-stone protagonist, which I loved. But as the story progresses, her softer side starts to show, and it made her a really unique character that I loved even more. She is¬†ruthless, bloodthirsty, and vengeful, with a twisted set of morals and an unpredictable merciful side. I loved that though I expected¬†her to be exactly the same protagonist I had read about a dozen times, her personality managed to break the mold.

The plot of Nevernight surrounds Mia’s training as she tries to become initiated into the Red Church, basically an assassins’ guild.¬†I loved that Mia actually didn’t know everything already. Sure, she’s been trained for years already, but she isn’t a natural at anything in the training. I wouldn’t say that the fact humbled her‚ÄĒnothing can do that‚ÄĒbut it definitely made the plot more interesting.

The one thing that sets Mia apart from the rest of the assassins is her darkin powers, which allow her to manipulate shadows. In a refreshing turn from the Chosen One mold, Mia’s powers do not earn her the respect or awe of her teachers. She does not receive special training for her powers, and though she actually is more powerful and special than the other initiates, she is never treated that way.

I loved Mia’s powers anyway. Her control over the shadows was interesting, especially because they were¬†not a perfect weapon. Mr. Kindly, her shadow cat, was one of my favorite characters‚ÄĒhe’s Sass Incarnate‚ÄĒand his ability to take away her fear added more layers to her character. Nevernight explores the ideas of courage and fear in a way I haven’t seen other books, never getting excessively preachy about the need to face your fears to be strong.

Nevernight’s world building is¬†really¬†complex, but also fascinating. The world has a complicated history, a nuanced government, a layered mythology, and an almost sci-fi physical organization.¬†However, the way Kristoff wove the world building in‚ÄĒwith footnotes and slang, mostly‚ÄĒmade it easier to absorb. I still feel like there is more to learn, but I also trust that the footnotes will remind me of whatever I need to know for a particular scene.

I have a love-hate relationship with the footnotes. They are long and usually happen right in the middle of a scene. It would annoy me that I needed to stop in the middle of the action to read the footnote…but then every footnote is hilarious, so by the end I was not annoyed anymore.

The rest of the characters of Nevernight are also a mixed bag for me. There are some obvious pros: 1) There are a ton of interesting and strong female characters. 2) Mia has feelings for Tric without falling in love with him, a refreshing plot twist in the YA world.

Unfortunately, I feel like a lot of the side characters were missed opportunities. I could tell they were part of larger subplots, but those subplots never really emerged. I trust that some of them will be important in the second book, but I wish that they had been more influential in the first one.

Nevernight was addictive, pure and simple. I read most of it in one day, unable to put it down (which screwed me for homework, but that’s okay).¬†There were lots of surprising moments. And yet, the pacing was missing something. As much as I could not stop reading the book, I still wanted more from it. Hopefully the second book will grab me more completely.

I would recommend Nevernight to fans of assassin stories, who are willing to read about ruthless and unforgiving characters. Though it was not perfect, I loved Nevernight and I cannot wait for the next book.