Thursday, December 27, 2018

Sevenwaters Trilogy Video Review

Hey, everyone! In this video I'm discussing the original Sevenwaters trilogy by Juliet Marillier. This is my personal favorite fantasy series. It surpasses Harry Potter in my love and I think it is absolutely brilliant. The characters have snuggled their way into my soul and Sevenwaters is my home. The landscape and the magic grip me. The romances make me swoon and the villain(s) really grind my gears. So, here's my video gushing all about this fantastic series.

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I gave all these books 5 stars and if you are looking for a fantasy series that involves fae and characters with powers then this is a great one to check out (particularly the last novel).

Have you read the Sevenwaters trilogy? Are you interested in picking them up if you haven't? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Child of the Moon by Jessica Semaan

Child of the Moon will be published on January 8, 2019!

Child of the Moon by Jessica Semaan

3.75 stars

“You are not a victim. You are closer to God in your pain.
              For your pain is the source of your creation. And creation
              is divine. Your pain is the source of healing yourself and
              others. And healing is divine.”

Poetry is hard to review. It’s personal, introspective, and often times it’s more for the writer than the reader. It’s cathartic and meant to be freeing. Child of the Moon is a process that seems to show that. The beginning is very bitter and angry. I could feel the resentment at the trauma Semaan faced and I was put-off. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t feeling this poetry book because of its bitterness. Then, I kept going and I connected more, especially in the last section—Flower Moon. I believe this is because I am more in the same healing process of the Flower Moon than of the opening—Blood Moon. I had once been bitter and enraged, but now when I think of that person I once was because of the trauma I experienced I want to weep (and shout praise to God for healing me past that brokenness). I am happy I read this because I am big believer in talking about trauma. I believe that the trauma we experience makes us who we truly are down to our core. Vulnerability is so important and I find that we live in a society where everyone wants to be vulnerable, but not actually go past the trauma. Meaning we share our trauma, but not the process of healing. The trauma is ugly enough to compare like our latest Instagram selfies, but God forbid, we compare the ugliest thing we as humans experience—healing. Healing is ugly, but even more beautiful. Because you can’t get to beauty until you’ve faced ugly. Semaan does that with her poetry collection and I respect her for that. I needed a day to ruminate and think about this collection and I like it more and more the further I get away from my first impression. Also, the art in here is colorful and so great. 

The problem I have with this collection is the simplicity of the poems. My biggest complain is that the vast majority of the poems are lists. I love lists, but I don’t think it always works in poetry format. Your list could be the realest and truest thing out there (Healing #1 & Healing #2), but that doesn’t make it a poem. It makes it a powerful image that will be pinned on Pinterest. She also has a tendency to write a lot of two-lined poems. It’s all very tumblr and quick. I’m not opposed to this form of expression, but it isn’t really a poem, more of a reflection of a conceptual idea. The only poem I liked that did this style was “Faith”.

Poems I Recommend:
When you can’t love yourself
When your home is a faraway land (my favorite)
Sitting with the child of the moon
What they called you
You are not a victim
Alone by the creek

“It’s never too late to bloom.”

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

Art Scale: 5

Plotastic Scale: 3.25

Cover Thoughts: I like the cover a lot, but I’d love it so much more if some of the striking art that’s inside was exhibit on it.

Thank you, Netgalley and Andrews McNeel Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.  

Are you excited to read Child of the Moon? What poetry books do you recommend? Let me know down below in the comments!

Friday, December 21, 2018

The 5th Wave Trilogy Review

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

First book in The 5th Wave Trilogy

5 stars

"Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity's last war, then I am the battlefield."

There have been four waves. Four alien invasions that have decimated the Earth with each brutal invasion. It has left the human inhabitants broken and untrustworthy. The 5th Wave has arrived and with it something far more sinister than what the remaining humans could prepare for. Cassie Sullivan is on the run. Hiding from any other creature who looks like a human and is hunting her down. She refuses to become another victim. Everything changes when she meets Evan Walker and now the promise of rescuing her brother seems possible. As we follow multiple points of view, we discover that this world is not only ravaged by aliens, but the humans who inhabit it. What does the 5th Wave bring and who will ultimately be destroyed? I read this novel in October 2015. This was one of the novels that stuck with me that year. I wanted everyone to read it because Yancey’s writing style had gripped me to my core and made my heart ache at the promises of upcoming destruction for characters that I loved. So, it is December 2018 as I write this review and I have completed the trilogy. A lot of time has passed since I cracked open the pages of this heart-stopping novel. I remember feeling so exhilarated and mystified because the pages were beautiful. Scattered with stars, but sprinkled with words that hit my younger soul in a place I didn’t know I needed to be hit. Is this the best novel I’ve ever read? No, but for some reason when I look at it, I have such an intense feeling of excitement. Excitement over what I felt as I flew through the pages and didn’t know where Yancey would take me. Excitement over how much darker this story was (and I’m trash for a dark theme and characters with enough darkness in their hearts to need a psychological evaluation). This book is full of foreshadowing to where the series is planning to go and I didn’t realize that when I read it, but it’s all there. It’s all laid out. I’m sitting looking at my annotated copy and the first page hints to where The Last Star ends and my mouth is hanging open because that makes me love The 5th Wave all the more.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

Cassie Sullivan is a heroine I love rooting for. She is smart and cunning. She’s analytic and weary to trust those who could potentially harm her. Plus, she is a survivalist who thinks about hygiene. Do you know how rare that is in a YA novel? No one wants to acknowledge that girls need deodorant and tampons, but this girl does and she is well-equipped. One of my biggest nitpicks about Cassie though is her incessant need to moon over her first crush, Ben, and she moons over him so much that it is obvious that he must be alive because why else would Yancey spend pages upon pages on her mooning over someone who is dead when he could be alive to rile up a love triangle? Also, can we take a minute to appreciate my notes: "Trust is an anchor and a detonator". (DANG, YOUNGER ME. That’s deep.)

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 5

Zombie’s point of view was hard for me to get through. He wasn’t always the most captivating, but he plays an integral role in this story and while I wasn’t always interested when things did get intense, they got INTENSE. All these kids in the compound training to kill aliens go by nicknames, but we don’t know who exactly Zombie is (but it is so obvious who he is that it is not even funny). I like him, but I don’t love him. I do love Evan, however. I was swooning over him like nobody’s business. According to page 179, this is where Cassie and Evan became a new OTP for me. This makes me laugh because I don’t really ship characters hard like this anymore (every now and then I do), but this love for romance that I had makes me smile. In my heart of hearts before this I suspected many things about Evan and I turned out to be right, but I still love him. I scream on the inside when I think of page 371.
“I open to him, a flower to the rain.”

Swoon Worthy Scale: Zombie-3.5 Evan-5

The Villain- My favorite POV was the Silencer. That was creepy and unsettling. This is a very humanizing portrayal of an alien parasite. It was disturbing and I felt like I was in the mind of a stalker (which I was because he was hunting his prey). I loved it.
“To rid his new home of humanity, he had to become human.”
Also, the villains in this are so multilayered and hard to pin down until about halfway through the novel. This is a darker novel and it doesn’t shy away from having horrible things done to kids for other peoples’ gain.

Villain Scale: 5

“We have survived the death of our childhood.”

Sammy, Cassie’s younger brother, is adorable. I love seeing the world fall apart through innocent eyes of someone so young. It also shakes me up where he goes throughout the novel because to be so young in a world like this means to be someone else’s pawn. His POV is so important to this story and it added a wonderful layer. The other kids we encounter in Wonderland are so complex. There’s Ringer, Teacup, Poundcake, and so many others. It’s so heartbreaking because these kids don’t have their names anymore because they’ve been stripped down to one word that describes them. They’ve been dehumanized and their names are a connection to who they once were and so that means they can’t use them.

Character Scale: 5

Alien invasions sound horrifying, but the invasions in this novel had me scared a bit. They are so easily done. For instance, one of the waves consists of wiping out the vast majority of the population through birds because they are the most common animal on Earth and fly around. Now that’s scary. The 5th Wave is a brilliant novel. It’s predictable at times, but at others, it packs a punch in the plot twist department.

“What doesn’t kill us sharpens us.”

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of these covers. I do love the yellow on this one, but it is not a gripping cover.

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey Narrated by Phoebe Strole & Ben Yannette
Second book in The 5th Wave Trilogy

4.25 stars

*Spoilers for The 5th Wave (book 1) in this review*

The end of The 5th Wave showed us that the aliens are destroying humans through other humans. The best way to get rid of humanity according to them is to rid humans of their humanity and in turn make them killing machines who will strike first think later. Cassie Sullivan and her companions have lived through some of the worst of the waves and they are still pushing through the 5th wave. The crew must decide whether to stay put for the winter and wait for Evan Walker’s return or to set out in search of other survivors. Now they are sitting ducks because attack is inevitable. The question is when will it come and how long do they have to prepare? The basic consensus around The Infinite Sea is that it suffers from second book syndrome and that you should stop reading after The 5th Wave. I disagree. The hard-honest truth is that this is not a better novel than The 5th Wave and I don’t think it was ever trying to be. The Infinite Sea is its own novel and because of that, fans have dragged it through the mud. I almost never picked up this novel despite how much I loved the first novel because of my fear of not liking it. I listened to the audiobook and that made my experience of this novel so enjoyable. Do I think I liked this book more because of that? Heck, yeah. In fact, if you were struggling to gain interest in The Infinite Sea before, let me recommend changing your reading medium to listening because it’s a much more intense experience. The narration is fantastic and with so many alternating POVs it makes for a fun ride. I love Yancey’s writing. For me it’s one of the best things about this trilogy. He’s a strong and consistent writer who knows how to construct simple sentences that pack a punch and are loaded with thought-provoking ideas. His storytelling is great and while there are times when it took me some time get invested, once I was invested, I was in it for the long haul.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.5

Narration Scale: 4

Cassie continues to be a character I root for. She wasn’t my favorite thing about this story because she was frustrating in her choices at times, but I still think she’s a strong character. I do believe that her development suffered a bit in this novel because of the severe tragedy and upheaval she faced in the last one. She didn’t have time to process and because of that it left for a lot of unnecessary arguments. Ringer has a POV in this one. I’ll be honest, she was my least favorite part of this novel. She made this novel harder to get through and a bit infuriating. Her choices were selfish and she is prone to recklessness masked under “using her mind to stay alive”. I was also not a fan of where her story went. After I first finished the novel, I was peeved, but I’m not as angry anymore because after reading the last novel it had to go where it did to progress to the end.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: Cassie- 4.25 Ringer- 2.5

Ben is still kicking. I can’t say how I feel about him. I like him. He’s like that candy that you don’t really like eating, but keeping eating anyway because you are craving something sweet. That’s Ben Parrish. Evan is my sweet baby and this novel was all about him. I was living for it. His chapters were my favorite and I was so invested in his story.

Swoon Worthy Scale: Ben- 3.25 Evan- 5

The Villain- We meet a Silencer named Grace. She was annoying. Mainly because she was trying to seduce Evan and I was not having that. I still wanted him to be with Cassie and this girl was pushing it with her psychotic rampages. Colonel Vosch is the bane of my existence. He just loves to torture people and I don’t have time for it. It was just annoying. These aliens are doing the most and I am not a fan. (Mainly because I feel bad for these kids. They need a break.)

Villain Scale: 4.25

Teacup is a small precious flower who needs to be protected at all costs. Naturally, this means that Ringer almost kills her in the first couple of chapters. Good job, Ringer. Megan was another cute introduction, but I felt so bad for her because she has a bomb planted in her throat by the Others. Sammy is a scary killing machine, but he’s still adorable. It’s weird because he wants his teddy bear but also has a gun. Poundcake is an underrated character. I love his comments and he was so brave.

Character Scale: 4.5

This novel goes hard. People die. Important characters. Plots are revealed and thickened. It’s all very frustrating and brilliant at the same time. I know that The Infinite is not a hit with the fans, but it was a hit for me.

Plotastic Scale: 4.25

Cover Thoughts: Not a fan.

The Last Star by Rick Yancey Narrated by Phoebe Strole & Ben Yannette

Third book in The 5th Wave Trilogy

4.5 stars

I’m not going to give a preface of what this novel is about because it’s the final book in this trilogy, so it has a lot going on. The ultimate thing to know is the Final Wave is coming. Honestly, I’m not sure how to review this one. The beginning of this one was slow for me. I was having trouble getting hooked, but I did get invested. It gains its footing and once it does, it goes and then there is a lot of intense action. Yancey creates this dark world filled with dark situations. It should seem hopeless but these characters have a bleak and hopeful attitude towards the future. They aren’t completely lost and it made this novel hard to read at times because Yancey likes to kill characters. He doesn’t mind taking out characters that you may be attached to. The audiobook for this one was captivating. I was on the edge of my seat at times and anticipating what was going to happen next. This novel went there. It went there.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.5

Narration Scale: 4.25

Usually I’d talk about characters in a review, but to be honest, I don’t know what to say. This review is hard for me to write. I have to talk about spoilers. The ending scene of this novel because that for me is what made me love this novel. So, if you don’t want to be spoiled, then don’t click the tag. Cassie makes the biggest sacrifice in this novel—herself. I hated Allegiant’s ending because that character felt so unnecessary, but this was brilliant. At the end of the novel, Cassie is plugged into a system that gives her 10,000 people’s memories and emotions. The Mothership comes down with the Final Wave of bombs to decimate all of humanity’s art and civilization (without those things humans will eventually forget and stay in the primitive state of killing). As Cassie sees it, she realizes that she isn’t alone because she has all these people inside of her and she has just killed Evan after her became a monster (completely overtaken by the 12th System- killing machine). She had switched clothes with Ringer and finds a pill that goes off with a person’s breath. She says the prayer that she would always say with Sammy and then bites the pill. She destroys the Others and the ship. She sacrifices herself and it makes sense. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful because she has been coming to this point this whole time. The point where her needs are put aside for others. That is always who Cassie has been at her core. I cried, but I also applauded Yancey for going there. He went there. He killed a character I loved since the beginning and who was the driving force between this story. I didn’t hate him for it because it was brilliant. Also, it seems kind of silly that Ben and Ringer live together with Sammy and Megan and Cassie (Ringer’s daughter), but I honestly don’t mind it. Evan surviving was unexpected, but I’m happy he didn’t die as well because that would have been too much.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: Cassie- WOW Ringer- 4

Swoon Worthy Scale: Ben- 4 Evan- 5

Villain Scale: 5

Character Scale: 5

Overall, The Last Star is a hard book to review. I do love this book. Mainly because of the ending. I can’t say much else about it, but that. The ending was one of the best in a trilogy that I’ve ever read. If the beginning was as strong as the ending, I’d have more to say, but that ending was just astounding.

Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: It’s the best of the covers, but still not good.

Have you read any of the books in The 5th Wave Trilogy? Did you continue or give up on it? Let me know your thoughts down below in the comments!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Books I've Read in 2018 #37-40

Hey, everyone! Today I'm talking about some more books that I read in 2018 and they were more misses than hits for me, but I did find a new favorite that was unexpected. Also, sorry for the loud noises in the background. My parents were cooking and they are not quiet individuals. 

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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold 5 stars This novel is depressing. It's hard-hitting and wonderful. We follow Susie Salmon before she is murdered by her neighbor and the impact it has on those around her. As much as this story is Susie's it's even more about the people connected to her during her life and how her death has impacted her family, friends, and the community. The audiobook for this is amazing and I can't recommend it enough.
Heaven by V.C. Andrews 3 stars I read this for Peters Book Club and it's been years since I've read Andrews. I used to eat them up like candy when I was in my younger teenage years. Andrews is full of over the top drama and tragedy. Seriously, you will never meet a more down-and-out character than one in a V.C. Andrews novel. She loves to torture her characters and this one was just weird. It got real weird when after Heaven is sold to a rich family and her "step-father" starts making eyes at her and they "fall in love". BLEH. 
 The Luck of the Bride by Janna MacGregor 3 stars This HR isn't bad, but it is so run of the mill. It didn't blow me away or sweep me off my feet. It wasn't the worst I've read recently, but it was bland and pretty forgettable. Check out my review here
The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland 2 stars DNF I wanted to love this with all my heart. It follows the step-daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte. It should've been rife with intrigue, but it was boring and lacked life. The pages were dull and left a lot to be desired. I just couldn't connect and felt like if I continued I would've hated this with a passion. Check out my review here.
Recommend the Most:
The Lovely Bones because it is not at all like the movie and it will touch your heart in some way. I know reading about a murdered girl and her family dealing with tragedy afterwards sounds like a horrible way to spend your free time, but I promise it is worth it. This book is beautiful.
Books Reviewed: 2
Books Rated Over 4 stars: 1
New Favorites: 1
Books That Changed My Life: 1
Owned: 2
Have you read any of these books? Are a fan of any of them or plan to pick any of these up? Let me know down below in the comments!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Salt by Hannah Moskowitz

Salt by Hannah Moskowitz

3.25 stars

“It’s different when a hunt’s starting. We’re not the kids who were just bickering at each other; we’re not brothers and sisters or orphans or people. We’re weapons.”

Indi and his siblings—Beleza, Oscar, and Zulu—have been hunting down monsters of the sea on their own since their parents went missing. As they sail around the Mediterranean and hunt down the monsters waiting for human prey, they are also looking for the parents and the possible monster that is responsible for their absence. Indi doesn’t want to hunt monsters. He longs for stability and for something more. It’s causing tensions to rise between he and his older sister, Beleza. Will Indi be able to escape the dangers of the sea before its too late? I love the concept of Salt. We follow orphaned sea-monster hunters. It’s like Supernatural in the Mediterranean and I was totally here for it. The concept is a lot of fun, but the execution is… forgettable. The writing isn’t spectacular and lacks greatly in world-building. You are just thrown into these grand monster battles with little to no context and I didn’t really feel immersed in the story. I didn’t really care why these kids were risking their lives to save humans who didn’t know any better because I wasn’t fearful enough of the monsters they were chasing. I didn’t believe they posed much of a threat because Moskowitz didn’t paint a world that need monster hunters to protect the seas. Moskowitz is a writer of simplicity which works well for a lot of stories, but not this one. I craved more complexity in character development and in world building.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3.25

“Salt is in our blood.”

The main character is Indi. He’s an interesting character. He isn’t a captivating presence on the page and he is definitely one of those people who fades into the background, which is why I think it’s interesting that we follow his narrative. He is always quick to do the courageous thing in battle, but complain about it or fuss at Oscar for doing the same. He’s far too contradictory for me. I wasn’t necessarily bored by him, but I found it hard to root for him.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 2.25

The real star of this show is Indi’s older sister, Beleza. She’s a character I would have loved to follow. Her narrative would’ve been complex and dripping with a dichotomy of complexity—guilt, self-sacrifice, love for her family, obsession, and a thirst to save others. She was hands down the most interesting character Moskowitz has written in this novel. It’s a tragedy that it wasn’t from her POV.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 4

“My big sister is monster venom.”

I loved the family dynamic. I love following hunters who chase monsters as a family because it always makes the stakes higher. The stakes were high here because two of the hunters were young children, one being elementary school age. I really liked Oscar’s character and I thought it was a pity that because Indi dismissed him, he basically got little development besides having the delinquency of a potential pirate. I loved Zulu. She was absolutely adorable and a totally baddie. She is barely even able to read and she’s out there shooting arrows from a crossbow into a mile-long beast. That’s awesome. I wasn’t a fan of Indi’s love interest (?) who is more of a friend with benefit then roommate then lover who also has a boyfriend at the same time. I just wasn’t feeling her character, but it was cool that we met a lady pirate.

Character Scale: 3.5

I think Salt has the potential to excite a lot of Supernatural fans. It isn’t a bad novel and the concept is a treat and I believe is worth reading alone. This is a short novel and it is definitely not a waste of time. Overall, I think this novel has its fault, but it is endearing and has a fantastic family dynamic.

Plotastic Scale: 3.5

Cover Thoughts: This cover is gorgeous. The sail boat, the stars, the darkness of both the water and the sky. It’s mesmerizing.

Thank you, Netgalley and Chronicle Books, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 
Are you planning to read Salt? Who are some of your favorite monster hunters? Let me know down below in the comments!

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

4.75 stars

“The circus arrives without warning.”

The Night Circus follows a circus that travels in the night. Its colors are black and white and the magic inside is unlike anything you will ever see. There’s an illusionist whose illusions are more grounded in reality than they seem. A fortune teller whose tarot card readings prove true once you leave the curtains. A contortionist who can bend in ways that seem impossible for the human body. The thing is that Le Cirque des Rêves is as magical as it seems. It’s the structure for an epic tournament between two powerful magicians—Celia and Marco— and the impact that magic can have on those who invest in it of their own free will or just happenstance. The game must go on and it doesn’t care who it hurts, including the two young contestants who have fallen for one another. I read The Night Circus when it first came out years ago. I remember I was scrolling on Amazon and I saw this book in my recommended section. The cover was beautiful and mesmerizing. My mom gets Doubleday catalogues and when I saw this book inside, I begged her to buy it for me. I was so excited. I remember cracking it open and preparing myself for a sweeping love story steeped with magic. I got those things, but not in the way I desired them. If I’m being honest, this story was far too sophisticated for me when I was eleven-years-old. I knew in my heart that I would return to this story and give it another ago one day. It was something I knew in my bones and I believe that’s why this book made it through twenty unhauls and stayed tucked away on my shelf waiting to be picked up again. I think rereading books that you don’t always like, but have appreciation for is important and this is one of those instances where I’m proven right. I’m not discrediting my younger self’s opinion by any means because I was valid in my opinions. I do still think this book is confusing and at times it takes shuffling around to get everything sorted out. I, however, do love time jumps and stories told out of chronological order usually hold a dear place in my heart. So, that’s a huge change from my original opinions. My biggest problem, I remember, was the love story between Marco and Celia. It wasn’t nearly dramatic enough for little ole me, but oh did this romance tug on my heart. It’s quiet and stunning. It creeps up slowly and then the little comments of endearment become comments with intention and love behind them. My heart was squealing and I just felt fluttery. There was something there in this quiet, slow-burning passion that ignited my heart to ship these two people.

Morgenstern’s writing is exquisite and magical. There are no other words for me at this moment than utter astonishment. The Cirque des Rêves has become a place I want to get lost in. I want to wander under the Labyrinth, cause mischief with Poppet and Widget, gorge on delights, and see the spectacle unfold. The different points of view was a brilliant way to show that this dual severely impacted countless of lives over decades. It was more than just a game. My heart races at thinking how well-crafted each chapter was. Amidst the countless POVs we have these small little second person passages that walk you through the circus and I loved it. It was so brilliant. It was like walking into rooms and seeing another level of the story unfolding. The writing is truly a labor of love and I’m betting money that Morgenstern is an illusionist whose skill is in words.

I also listened to the audiobook by Jim Dale. Jim Dale is the same man who narrated the HP series. He is FANTASTIC. The voices and the atmosphere of his tone illicit a whimsical and dark presence that made feel as if I was entering the circus at all times.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

Narration Scale: 5

Celia is an interesting character. Her childhood is depressing. She was groomed and basically tortured into becoming a stronger magician by her father. She is quite strong in both magic and in heart. She runs the circus and is its heartbeat. She isn’t a favorite character for me, but there is something about her that I really love.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 4.5

Marco is a bit more complex. I kind of want to hate him because he led Isabel on for so long while being in love with Celia. He wasn’t with Isabel at the time, but he didn’t tell her that he didn’t feel the same way. It caused unnecessary drama. I do like Marco though. Besides that one major flaw. He is kind and noble. Not a favorite and not the dreamiest of men, but he’s a good man who just made a bad mistake that lead to people dying.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 4

The Villain- I’ve always seen Prospero and Mr. H as the villains. They have created countless duels that have wrecked peoples lives and they go to great lengths to keep this game alive. The game itself is a beast of its own. Magic is a deadly thing when pacts are made.

Villain Scale: 5

Oh, the characters. There are so many and I love them all. Widget and Poppet are my favorite. Especially Poppet who can read the future in the stars. Bailey, a young boy destined to be a shepherd who loves the circus, was a character I didn’t like when I first read this, but this time around he stole my heart. He reminds me of King David (yes, that David). He was a shepherd destined for more, but in this case, he just happened to be in the right place and was chosen. Tsukiko is also a character I originally wasn’t sure about, but as an adult I see this incredibly woman who has been broken by the game. Isobel is a character that I pity. I like her, but she is so tied to her love for Marco that I have trouble differentiating her outside of that. I wish that she would’ve bee more than just the girl who loved Marco and read tarot cards. I loved Chandresh. He was always there and he seemed to be incredibly mischievous and insightful to the circus and its going-ons. Friedrick Thiessen also hurt my heart. He’s a brilliant clock maker who is a rêver, someone dedicated to following the circus, and he’s so sweet. He’s that nice guy who you want only good things to happen to, but ends up meeting a tragic end. These characters stole my heart this time around in a way that they hadn’t before. They made this story for me.

Character Scale: 5

Revisiting The Night Circus was something I was bound to eventually do, but I didn’t know I’d be encountering it as an audiobook. I think that is what made me fall so head over heels with this story a second time. It has its faults and there are times in the middle where it lagged and the pacing is slow because the dual its takes decades to unravel, but I appreciated it in a way I hadn’t years ago. Overall, I have been on the meh-side and the fan-side of this novel, but I think I’m more of a fan this time around. I’ll be keeping my copy of this novel on my shelf and I think it’ll be something I return to again one day. This reread was a success because my mind changed, but also because I fell in love with storytelling again.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: This is one of my all-time favorite covers. All of the covers for this book are spectacular, but the clock and the circus in the hand is so symbolic and I just adore it.

Have you read The Night Circus? Which side are you in- love or hate?  What was your favorite part of Le Cirque des Rêves? What are some of your favorite dark fantasy novels? Let me know down below in the comments!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Books I've Read in 2018 #32-36

Hey, everyone! It's been forever since I sat down a filmed a video talking about books. I missed it and I got to film a couple today. So, here's one of the ones that I was able to film today. I forgot how fun it was to just make videos and discuss books. I love the process of it so much!

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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter 5 stars This is dark, gritty, gruesome, and at times disgusting. I absolutely loved it and I think it may be all-time favorite suspense/psychological thriller. 
Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes by Karin Slaughter 3.25 stars This is the prequel novella to Pretty Girls and it's depressing because we follow the sister that ends up going missing from the novel. It's heartbreaking, but not as gripping as the novel it's tied to.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan 4 stars This is fun and I see why it's so beloved. I enjoyed it for what it is, but I don't think it's a groundbreaking novel. I did enjoy the Greek mythology and I think it's a well-done integration into the story.
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku by Fujita DNF @ page 53 (1 star) I wasn't a fan. The idea was cheesy and cute, but not cute enough or cheesy enough to win me over. Check out my review here.
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut 4.5 stars I haven't read a Vonnegut since high school, but this reminded me that I still love him. He's a satirist and this is hysterical dark comedy at its finest. I can't tell you what it's about because it would probably spoil everything. Just know it has Eliot Rosewater (yes, the one from Slaughterhouse-Five) and Kilgore Trout.

Recommend the Most:
Pretty Girls is the best of this bunch and it's one of the best novels I read this year. It is definitely more the reader who likes darker plots, characters, and can handle gory situations. Slaughter is one of my new favorite authors and I'm going to kindly shove this down your throat (which is not a pun, I promise).
Books Reviewed: 1
Books Rated Over 4 stars: 2
New Favorites: 1
Books That Changed My Life: 1
Owned: 2
Have you read any of these books? Which ones are you most interested in? Are you a Karin Slaughter fan? Let me know down below in the comments!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Newborn on Her Doorstep: Harlequin Manga by Ellie Darkins & Yuki Mizusawa

Newborn on Her Doorstep: Harlequin Manga by Ellie Darkins & Yuki Mizusawa

3 stars

Lily wakes up to find a newborn on her doorstep one morning and her world changes. Her best friend’s brother shows up and a romance ensues. The plot obviously isn’t the most sophisticated, but this is a Harlequin romance turned into a manga, so it provides exactly what it promises. I was a little thrown off because the reader is just thrown into the story and things are just going, going, gone and the pacing is incredibly fast (too fast for a romance, in my opinion). The writing isn’t gripping, but the story is cute enough to fly through. I really like the art style because it’s your typical shojo manga.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

Art Scale: 4

Lily is the main female character and I really liked her. She’s level-headed most of the time and she was all for communication and overcoming hardships, which I was all for and then she decided to run away. I still liked her despite this annoying change of character.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 3.25

Nic is rich and handsome plus he has a heart for saving children from unfair working environments. He also takes Lily to fancy restaurants despite her having a baby, a trip to Rome, and being romantic as all get out. He checked all the boxes for swoony and while I wasn’t head over heels for him, I was definitely rooting for him.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 3

Kate, the friend of the heroine and brother of the hero, cracks me up. I aspire to be as meddlesome in people’s lives as her. I’m also obsessed with babies in manga and anime because they always look so freaking adorable. Obviously, Rosie was the highlight of the whole story.

Character Scale: 3

Overall, this story is cute. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the manga and the story, but it was a nice little thirty minute read and it gave me some feels. My inner romantic was fed by cuteness and babies. I think this is something worth checking out if you want to fill your stomach with cheese.

Plotastic Scale: 2

Cover Thoughts: It’s cute. Not amazing, but I do love the yellow flowers and the pink together.

Thank you, Netgalley and Harlequin, for providing me with a copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review.

Are you interested in the Harlequin Mangas? What are some of your favorite manga and anime with swoony romances that can give me feels? I want some recommendations, please! Let me know in the comments down below!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

3.5 stars

June Hardie is your typical seventeen-year-old girl living in 1951. She has a boyfriend, comes from a good wholesome family, goes to school, and is learning how to cook. Except nothing is as it seems and the truth is her boyfriend is just another ploy for her father to have a booming business, her family is stilted and she hates her mother as much as her mother seems to hate her, all she wants is to go to college, and cooking doesn’t please her. Writing is her passion. June loves to write about the aliens that are torturing and rearranging her heroine. June Hardie can’t stop writing her story. Everything went wrong one morning and she woke up to find her parents replaced. Her parents are her parents now she is trapped in the Institution alongside girls who all have seemed to have encounters as strange as June. The Institution doesn’t want to help June and the girls have no hope of getting out the easy way. Getting better doesn’t seem to be an option. That synopsis that I wrote is a lot and it’s not even half of this story. This story is wild and there is far too much going on. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, but that’s what I like about Lukavics she packs a lot of social commentaries into a horror setting (usually not present day). I’ve always been fascinated by the 1950s housewife. I’m a huge fan of Revolutionary Road and I’ve written countless essays on the topic for literature classes, so this was right up my alley. It is all very Virginia Wolff combined with Sylvia Plath thrown into an outrageous horror setting. Lukavics’ writing is palpable and addicting. She is a well-crafted horror writer who knows how to intrigue and shock the reader. I wasn’t able to put this book down and felt like I just had to know what was going to happen next. The problem, however, was that I wasn’t a fan of the ending or the conclusion. It was lackluster, but I’ll speak more about that towards the end of my review.

“June thought of the story she wrote, thought about the aliens, always taking people away and changing them and trying to put them back as if nothing had happened. But nobody was ever quite right after coming back.”

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3.75

The main female character is June. I’ve noticed a pattern with Lukavics’ main heroines. I can’t stand them. They are usually very contrived women who are appealing to my inner feminist in the sense of me being like, “YAS, girl! Down with the patriarchy and the stifling confines of society, but also can you stop creeping me out?” The last heroine I encounter from her in Daughters Unto Devils was demon-possessed and wanted to murder her siblings. This girl wants to murder everyone and some point “satisfyingly” taints her family’s homecooked meal with her blood. It was weird, y’all. She has a lot of weird imaginings where she sees herself in the most horrifying and gruesome visions and she enjoys them. It’s a little too weird for my liking and she just feels skeevy. I felt like I was encountering a psychopath (and I kind of was, but no spoilers because it’s not that simple). She wasn’t a horrible character, but I wasn’t rooting for her. I just wanted to know what the heck was going on and why she was in this weird situation in the first place.

“She loved stories like that, the ones that made you realize how very created our ideas of safety and basic rights were.”

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 3

There is some girl group power in the Institution, but I didn’t really buy any of their friendships as a group dynamic. Everyone kind of seemed to be doing their own thing and was out for themselves. Eleanor is June’s roommate and she is one of the major characters in the Institution and is eventually June’s lover. I honestly wasn’t buying the romance because it all of a sudden happened, but it was different to see a lesbian romance in a horror story outside of American Horror Story. I just wasn’t buying it and also, that ending. How cliché. June’s family was a lot to take in. I didn’t like them and I’m not supposed to, but I kind of wished that their dynamic wasn’t so tainted. Also, the plot with her brother, Fred, escalated. I was supposed to believe he was this evil man, but really he was just a stand in for defeating the patriarchy in familial situations, which I’m not against, but I would have preferred more character development to get me to hate him.

“This wasn’t supposed to be a nightmare house, it was supposed to be a place built to make people feel better.”

Character Scale: 3.5

The Villain- Joya… Nurse Joya. She is like Sister Mary Eunice minus the nun costume and she’s less demonic and more Lovecraftian. This was all very Lovecraftian and I wasn’t against it because intergalactic feuds are interesting, but also, I know nothing about anything. I have more questions than answers.

“She savored her gift from the land of stars and voids.”

Villain Scale: 3.5

So, this horror novel is incredibly feminist and I loved that. It has a lot of wonderful commentary on the 1950s, suburbia, women writers, mental health treatment, hysteria, lobotomies, and family confines and expectations. I love all these things and it was a treat to read, but I have to talk about that ending and how I can’t really wrap my head around it, so here’s a quote that references Virginia Wolff and I’ll leave you with that before I give spoilers.

“Maybe having to exist in a single room forever wouldn’t be too awful of a thing.”
All along June’s story was about herself and her own alien abduction at ten-years-old. Which makes sense to me because I suspected that must be the case because she knew too well how she wanted her character to be tortured and she just kind of was able to get it all down at unearthly speed. I don’t know anything about the aliens who abducted her or why. Then the whole thing about Joya and the other nurses being one entity and race that eats people to survive – they are basically earth bottom feeders and the aliens want to destroy them. It’s all very all over the place. The showdown was kind of cool and different from what I expected. But the ending, June has all these powers from her abductions (mind control, manipulation, healing, etc.) and she manipulates her fiancée into being her slave forever and then murdered her brother because he ruined her chance to go write and he had to go because reasons? It was just weird. I was unfulfilled and just felt kind of knocked off my rocker a bit by where the story decided to go. I just don't know exactly how I feel. Do I like this or hate it? No, but I am confused on processing my thoughts.

Overall, I really enjoyed Nightingale and it has a lot of interesting facets that make it stand out from the horror YA genre. It’s not my favorite by Lukavics, but I do think it’ll find its fans. Especially those who love aliens and feminism and maybe Lovecraftian weirdness. This is one I definitely recommend!

Plotastic Scale: 3.25

Cover Thoughts: I live for this cover. The colors. The creepiness

Thank you, Netgalley and Harlequin Teen, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Are you planning to read Nightingale? What are some of your favorite YA horror novels? Let me know down below in the comments!

October & November Reading Wrap-Up + Last Round of Goals Catch-Up

Hi, everyone! Sorry that I wasn't able to post an October wrap-up earlier, but since I have finished my finals for the fall semester (WHOOP!) I decided to combine my wrap-ups from those two months. This semester was taxing and I was able to take away a lot of things and I have really grown a lot this semester. I didn't do a ton of reading, but I did get some reading done!

Books Read in October:
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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware 3 stars This is my first Ruth Ware and I wasn't a huge fan. I loved the atmosphere and the narrator has the creepiest voices (highly recommend), but the mystery was lackluster and I couldn't really get into the story. I wasn't captured in the way that I hoped I would be, but I don't regret spending time on this one. I just wasn't blown away.
You by Caroline Kepnes 5 stars Y'all, this book is as creepy as everyone said it was and Joe was a likable guy which made it even creepier. I loved this so much and the audiobook was funny, held me captive (HAHAHAHA), and is hands down one of the best listening experiences I've had this year. Truly terrifying and it never stopped shocking me. It kept going and it always packed a punch. (Also, I'm over halfway through the TV show and I love it.)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 4.25 stars I loved listening to this and it has great satirical commentary, but I didn't love it like I thought I would. It was great, but I wanted more and I'm not sure if I want to continue with the series because I felt pretty fulfilled by the ending. Is it worth continuing?
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han 3 stars This was so disappointing compared to To All the Boys I've Loved Before. It was cute and I love the family dynamic, but the drama was drawn out and this is a book that doesn't need to exist. Check out my review here.

Overall Thoughts (for October):
I read a total of 4 books in October (5 if you can't the textbook for social justice education that I counted on GR) and they were all audiobooks. I did read physical books, but I did not finish any. Okay, technically I read some of You physically, but I listened to it more than read it. It was a dual reading experience. Also, I'm kind of bummed that I didn't read in spooky books this year during the season, but You was scary enough. You is the book I recommend the most and it's not horror, so don't let it the fact that it is unsettling deter you because it's amazing!

Books Read in November:
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A Passage to India by E.M. Forester 3.5 stars This is one of those classics that I had on my TBR but never actually had intentions to pick up. I'm glad that my Brit Lit class forced me to though because I learned so much in our discussions and about British colonization in India. The novel itself is not particularly amazing, but it focuses on really important topics within the dynamics of oppression and racism.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan 4.25 stars This is not my kind of book, but I loved it a lot. I couldn't stop laughing at the antics of Nick's family and it has its faults, but it's so enjoyable. I wasn't a huge fan of the movie, but I did really like it. I'm looking forward to listening to the rest of the series!
White Teeth by Zadie Smith 4.5 stars This novel is spectacular. It's a fantastic social study of British people who have been impacted by colonization. The problem is that the characters don't hold your attention. Things happen to them and you are fine with these outrageous tragedies, but they don't move you. That's why I can't give this novel a perfect rating because as much as I loved it, I also felt disconnected to it.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton 2.25 stars I had been trying to finish this book for months and I was so happy that I finally did at the end of the month. This book has a fantastic premise about a man who wakes up in the bodies of multiple hosts every day to discover the truth behind a murder, but it was a slog. Check out my review here.

Overall Thoughts (for November):
I finished 4 books in November and they all had ties to British colonization and the effect of Western culture. Well except Evelyn Hardcastle, but it felt very British. The book I recommend the most is White Teeth. It's an absurd novel that spans multiple decades and Smith's writing is enchanting.

2018 Goals:
 -I want to finish at least three series (five doesn't seem doable). COMPLETED 4/3 
*I finished The 5th Wave Trilogy with reading two novels!
*Burn for Burn trilogy was finally finished!
*I read and started The Lord of the Rings trilogy in one month! 
*I finished the original Sevenwaters trilogy by Juliet Marillier with two novels read.
-I want to read five sequels (I don't have to finish the series). COMPLETED 11/5 
*Flawless by Sara Shepard is book 2 in the PLL series. 
*The Infinite Sea and The Last Star by Rick Yancey are the 2nd and 3rd book in The 5th Wave series.
*The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon is the fifth book in the Outlander series. 
*The Lord of the Rings: The Towers and The Return of the King are the first and second in the LOTR trilogy.
*Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian is the last book in the Burn for Burn trilogy.
 *Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier is the second book in the Sevenwaters series.
*Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier is the third and final novel in the original Sevenwaters trilogy. 
*A Court of Frost and Starlight is the novella in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series 
*Prince Caspian is the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia. 
*P.S. I Still Love You is the second book in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy.
-I also want to read four short story collections. COMPLETED 6/4 
 *Harry Potter and Philosophy. 
*Manga Classics: The Jungle Book
*Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe.
*The Merry Spinster 
*A Wilderness Station
-I want to read three classics that are not Stephen King novels. COMPLETED 19/3 
*Manga Classics: The Jungle Book
*Anne Frank Remembered
*The ABC Murders
*Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
*The Master Plan of Evangelism (Christian Classic) 
*The Lord of the Rings Trilogy 
*Heaven (It's one of the few real V.C. Andrews novels.)
*The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
*The Pursuit of Holiness (Christian Classic) 
*A Wilderness Station
*Against Forgetting 
*The Stepford Wives
 *Prince Caspian
*The Bible
*The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 
*A Passage to India
-I want to read five Stephen King novels (I've already read one in 2018). 4/5  
*The Long Walk (5 stars)
*Gerald's Game (5 stars) 
*IT (5 stars-reread) 
*The Shining (5 stars)
Read 2018 ARCs. Read 25!
Books I Posted on End of the Year Survey. YES! 7/18
*The Fiery Cross
*Ashes to Ashes
*Gerald's Game 
*God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
*Son of the Shadows 
*The Shining 

Currently Reading/ Hoping to Finish in December:
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Already Finished: Pieces of Her, Nightingale
Netgalley ARCs: Nightingale, Salt, A Darker Shade of Magic
Eldeweiss ARCs: Amity
I would love to finish all of these books to start the year fresh in 2019 with no old reads weighing me down. In reality, I don't know if I'll actually do that because I want to start other stuff, too.

Books I Want to Try to Get To:
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I'm trying to get back to Netgalley ARCs. I'd also like to try some 2018 releases that I couldn't get to, but we shall see if I do that.

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The top three are audiobooks I've started and I need to finish, so I'm praying that I get these back before the end of the month. The rest are books I have holds for!

Books I Own 
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I've been listening to These Broken Stars for months. I'm not a big fan and I think that's why it keeps expiring and I keep having to renew it. This time I will finish it! I've read In Cold Blood before, but I want to listen to the audiobook! I've never read Gone with the Wind before and it intimidates me, so hopefully I can get pulled in by the audiobook!

Have you read any of these books? Let me know your thoughts on them down below in the comments!

What I've Read in August & September (I'm Not Gone, Just Busy)

Hi, everyone! Wow, I miss blogging. I miss sitting down and writing my posts that don't get much attention, but make me so happy to writ...