Fantasy, Young Adult

Fable by Adrienne Young

Amazon.com: Fable: A Novel (Fable, 1) (9781250254368): Young, Adrienne:  Books

Pages: 357

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Genre(s): Fantasy

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

“For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.

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What Did I Think?

Just want to start by saying I FREAKING LOVED THIS BOOK! I know that I am only giving it four stars (will explain later!), but Fable was seriously like no other book I have ever read. Somebody ship me off to the Narrows, would ya?

The overall concept of Fable had me hooked almost instantly. The world in which the story takes place was immediately established as cutthroat yet whimsical (yes, apparently it is possible to be both!). I quickly fell in love with the vivid detail Young used to describe each individual location the characters traveled to, as well as the way in which we were able to see how the various characters viewed the places they traveled to through her strong use of dialogue. It took me a couple of chapters to get hooked on the story, but that didn’t bother me too much since there was a lot about its setting that needed to be expained early on. The plotline moved at a brisk pace while still making sure that each of the plot points meshed together in a logical way. I seriously have nothing I can complain about when it comes to the concept and plotline of this book – it is AMAZEBALLS!

I have such mad respect for the protagonist, Fable. She was left to her own devices on a brutal island as a young girl, and really took the challeneges she faced in stride rather than cowering to the HUGE amounts of fear she must have felt while being on Jeval. I was so intrigued by Fable’s work as a dredger and totally found myself GEEKING each time she went diving because I love things that sparkle almost as much as the gem merchants in this series! I appreciated Fable’s tenacity, willingness to take risks to benefit the greater good of those around her, and that even though she has had a hard life so far, she managed to continue to be compassionate towards others who (questionably) don’t deserve it. Fable’s character developed slowly in this book, and I look foward to seeing how much farther she comes in Namesake.

Even though I doubt I would make it long at sea for the stints of time the Marigold’s crew manages to, I kind of wish I got to be an honorary member of their crew! West, Paj, Auster, Hamish, and Willa were such a tight-knit group that they were more like family than just a ship crew. I really enjoyed reading about each of these characters’ individual lives and how those experiences led each of them to the Marigold. Young provided so much background on each of these characters that is was almost like they were all protagonists in the story. I loved watching each of their personalities shine through just as much as Fable’s did, and I can’t wait to see more of the whole crew in the next book!

There is only one big thing that is preventing me from giving this book a full five stars: The main romance. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good slow burn as much as the next person, but the way this one is established comes across as a little unnatural. I’m hoping that this aspect of the storyline grows on me in the second book because I really want to love it, but can’t quite yet.

Fable was seriously so much more than I expected in all the right ways. The worldbuilding was absolutely breathtaking, the plot progression was smooth as butter, and I finished the book wishing I got to be a part of the Marigold’s crew myself, even though they did manage to get themselves in quite a bit of trouble! Fable was my very first Adrienne Young book and it totally solidified the fact that she will now be an auto-buy author of mine from here out. Now onto reading Namesake!

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Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

If you’re all about nautical-themed fantasy novels, such as Daughter of the Pirate King or Passenger, I highly recommend you give Fable a read.

I would also strongly encourage anyone looking for a book with an enemies-to-lovers trope and who wants to be swept away on a whirlwind of an adventure filled to the brim with plot twists to definitely check this book out!

Bonus Content, Book Tags

Reader Problems Book Tag

Hiya, bookish friends, and welcome back to the blog! As fellow bookish nerds, I think there are many things we can all relate to, especially when it comes to the reading-related struggles we all face at one point or another. When I spotted a tag dedicated to talking about how we handle our bookish predicaments, I couldn’t help but jump on the bandwagon myself! Enough small talk from me – let’s jump right into this thing!  

1) You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?

I would totally consider myself a mood reader, which helps me narrow my field substantially when trying to decide what the read next. From here, it’s pretty normal for me to read the synopsis on the back of a few books, and then pick my next read from that small pool. I have also noticed that if I read something long/dark/violent/required a whole lotta brain power (like a fantasy novel!), I run straight to a contemporary or romance novel so that I can give my brain a break to reset itself before diving into another hardcore read.

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2) You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?

The answer to this question definitely varies from book to book. Typically, if I am not loving a book that is in a series that I have really enjoyed so far and/or is written by one of my auto-buy authors, I’ll keep reading it until the end. Any other book I read until the halfway mark, and if I’m still not invested whatsoever, I’ll quit. It is very rare that I will give up on a book, though! I can count on one hand how many times I’ve resorted to this.

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3) The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?

This really wasn’t something that affected me until I started college and working three on-campus jobs, and in 2020, this was a SERIOUS struggle for me. Here’s the thing, though: I simply cannot force myself to sit down and cram in a bunch of reading. If I’m not enjoying it, then there’s literally no point in taking the time to read, so there’s no rushing to the finish line at the end for me. I’m one of those people that values quality over quantity. If I don’t make my reading goal (which has only happened maybe once or twice!), I’m sad about it, but when I reflect on all the great books I do get to read each year, I don’t beat myself up about not hitting my goal.

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4) The covers of a series you love do. not. match. How do you cope?

In short? Myself and my bank account (if I can buy covers that do match) literally cannot.

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5) Everyone and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?

Often times, I talk to my same bookish friends from college and/or those on my book-y social media accounts about all my feels, even if they loved the book I’m (lightly) smack-talking. Since everyone has their own opinions, expectations, and feelings about every book they read, I usually take everyone’s thoughts with a grain of salt and don’t go out of my way to talk to people who I think have the same opinions as me on the books I read. So far, this method has worked out pretty well!

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6) You’re reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal?

In order to stop the tears from flowing, I typically just have to stop reading before I get too emotionally invested. It pains me to do sometimes especially when the book is so good, but to save myself the embarrassment of people realizing I don’t have a completely black, emotionless heart (GASP!), I have to just lay the book aside and redirect my brain to another task.

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7) A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?!?!?!?

My answer to this question is very dependent on the book. I don’t normally re-read books because I find that the details start coming back to me within the first two to five chapters or so, but if I REALLY loved the book the first time (basically any JLA or Sarah J. Maas book, for example), I’d totally re-read the first in the series so that when I get to the second book, I have all the deets I need in order to enjoy it to the max. Most of the time, though, I would say that I rely on reading a couple of spoiler-y reviews and/or synopses to help jog my memory of the first book before moving onto the next book in a series.   

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8) You do not want anyone. ANYONE. borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask?

When I was in high school, I was literally the worst about saying no to book-borrowing requests because I felt like a jerk. Like SUPER bad. My old approach would be to just pretend like I forgot they asked/ignore the request, and if they insisted, I’d only let them have it for a two to three days before I told them I needed it back because I was so worried it was going to get damaged outside my tender-loving care. Then I went to college and realized that as an adult, I could politely turn someone down and they (probably) wouldn’t hate me forever, so now I just straight-up say no when asked. Sorry y’all, but my books are my babies!!!

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9) Reading ADD. You’ve picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?

I’m a firm believer that if you’re in a reading slump, your brain is trying to send you a message to take a break. While you may want to ignore that little voice in your head, I’ve found doing so just makes the slump worse. My main hack for moving past a reading slump is to take the few days after you feel one coming on away from your TBR pile to refocus your energy elsewhere. Then, when you come back to choose your next read, you may be more inclined to settle in a move past the slump. Granted, this may take a few tries to work, but in my experience, if you’re patient enough, you’ll be able to get back to your normal, booknerdigan self in no time flat! If you’re interested in more tips on fending off reading slumps, check out my list of tips here!

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10) There are so many new books coming out that you’re dying to read! How many do you actually buy?

I usually buy all of them, since my list of “dying to reads” each year is pretty small!

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11) After you’ve bought the new books you can’t wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them?

While I wish I could get to most books within a week or so of buying them, adulting often gets in the way. Though it’s a long time, some books sit on my shelf for months before I get to read them. My goal each year is to read all the books I purchase that year by its end, though, so hopefully long before they even have the chance to collect dust!

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That is it for the Reader Problems Book Tag! Agree and/or disagree with some of my answers? Comment below and let’s talk about all of our bookish dilemmas together!

Until next week! May your bookish problems be limited until we meet again 😊

Fantasy, New Adult/Adult

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 705

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release Date: May 2, 2017

Genre(s): Fantasy

Format: Hardcover

***NOTE: If you have not read the first two books in the ACOTAR series, A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury, please stop reading this review! You will be spoiled and this series is so good that you totally don’t want that!***

Goodreads Synopsis

“FEYRE WILL BRING VENGEANCE.

She has left the Night Court – and her High Lord – and is playing a deadly game of deceit. In the Spring Court, Tamlin is making deals with the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees, and Feyre is determined to uncover his plans. But to do so she must weave a web of lies, and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As mighty armies grapple for power, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

BUT WHILE WAR RAGES, IT IS HER HEART THAT WILL FACE THE GREATEST BATTLE.

THE THRILLING THIRD BOOK IN #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING FANTASY SERIES FROM SARAH J. MAAS.”

What Did I Think?

My oh my. A Court of Wings and Ruin sure does take its readers on one wild ride. I HATE rollercoasters, but this is one that I never wanted to get off of!

Before we jump into my review of this book, let’s do a quick recap of what went down in A Court of Mist and Fury. The book kicks off with Feyre and Tamlin returning back to the Spring Court following their time under the mountain. Understandably, Feyre has undergone a lot of trauma and is having issues coping with it, while Tamlin basically ignores the fact that the person he supposedly loves is wasting away right before his eyes. Tamlin and Feyre’s wedding day finally arrives, and just as Feyre is about to sprint down the aisle AWAY from her hubby-to-be, Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court, saves the day by whisking Feyre away to the Night Court to hold up her end of the deal they brokered while Under the Mountain. Though skeptical at first, Feyre starts to enjoy the company of Rhys and his Inner Circle, and quickly learns that Tamlin hasn’t been very forthcoming with her about many *very important* things. The closer Feyre grows to her companions in the Night Court, the more she loathes returning to Tamlin and the Spring Court, especially after the High Lord of Spring traps her in his manor. Luckily, Mor arrives to rescue her and Feyre opts to reside in Velaris on a more permanent basis. Hybern has begun his hunt for the Cauldron, and the members of the Night Court are determined to not let him succeed in his mission. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned after good ol’ pain in the butt Tamlin sells Feyre, Rhys, and crew out, and Elain and Nesta are Made into High Fae with the Cauldron. And oh, yeah. Did I mention that Rhys and Feyre are MATES? Well, the mating bond sure does come in handy when Feyre pretends to want to return home to the Spring Court with Tamlin out of her “love” for him, when really she’s going to spy on him for Rhys and the Inner Circle as the newly appointed High Lady of the Night Court. I could talk about that ending FOREVER because it was so good, but instead, I think I’ll just move right on in to my review of A Court of Wings and Ruin!

I really enjoyed watching Feyre’s character evolve in the first two books in this series, and that trend definitely continues in A Court of Wings and Ruin. In ACOTAR and ACOMAF, Feyre spends a lot of time overcoming the traumas she has experienced in life, but this shifts a little bit in ACOWAR. I was captivated during the moments when Feyre would just be totally content with simply living, and seeing her actually enjoy her life at times was honestly so awesome because those moments had been very rare up until this point. I also loved that Feyre was just as fierce and strong-willed as she was in the first two books, and that she used that fire within her self to serve the people of Velaris (and beyond!) over and over again. It would have been so much simpler for her to just turn a blind eye to their needs, and I honestly found her generosity to be one of my favorite characteristics about her. Overall, I still love Feyre (even though I will admit that I did get a little annoyed with her at times as I was reading this book!) and I’m excited to see where else she’ll go in the next book.

Though I’m convinced he was already stealing my heart in the other two books, Rhysand has officially been deemed the love of my life by the end of A Court of Wings and Ruin. I loved that even though this book was really serious at times, Rhys maintained his swagger, playful attitude, and kick butt magical/Illyrian vibes I loved so much in the first two books. However, there was also a major shift in his character that I really appreciated – the fact that was willing to finally let himself feel true joy without being bogged down with haunting memories of his past. The mix of exposing his vulnerabilities and soaking in the happiness those around him bring him was beautifully balanced. As usual, I need more of the High Lord of the Night Court in my life. Thank the Cauldron there are more books in the series!

One of the most exciting parts of A Court of Wings and Ruin for me was all of the supporting characters getting more page time. Mor, Cassian, Az, and Amren literally give me LIFE, you guys! I found myself always slowing down my reading pace when everyone was together because I didn’t want to see them all go their separate ways again. Dare I say it, but I think this is one of those rare times when I like the supporting characters equally as much (if not more!) than the main protagonists! Nesta, Elain, and Lucian are also starting to grow on me after giving this book a read. I wasn’t sold on them to begin with, but as more of their personalities come through on the page, the more I am rooting for them to find their happy endings. Each and every one of these characters and their stories were so well developed, and I am so excited to see more of them as the series continues!

While it wasn’t my favorite book in the ACOTAR series so far, that honestly isn’t saying much because I was completely entranced from beginning to end by A Court of Wings and Ruin. The smoldering romance, endless action, witty humor, ALL the drama… ughh! It was all there and flowed so nicely together in a well laid out plotline. If I had to pick a highlight, it would have to be seeing how far each of the characters have come and seeing the supporting characters’ stories be filled in more substantially. Just like the other books in the series, A Court of Wings and Ruin will draw you in from the very first page, and you won’t ever want it to come to an end.

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Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

*** This book contains some mature elements (romance and violence) that may not be suitable for younger readers. I would only recommend this to readers ages 17+***

If you’ve read the first two books in the ACOTAR series and fallen in love with (almost) everything about them like I have, I highly recommend continuing the series with A Court of Wings and Ruin!

Bonus Content, Let's Talk Books!

Let’s Talk Books: Book-to-Film (and TV!) Adaptations

Hello, bookish friends, and welcome back to the blog! As you can tell from the title of this post, I am going to be sharing my thoughts on books that are turned into movies and/or TV shows. I have found that many readers have very strong feelings about these, and while I’d like to say I’m not one of those people, I do have some pretty fierce opinions myself. Let’s jump right into those, shall we?

First and foremost, I am definitely that person who has to read the book before seeing the adaptation, not the other way around. While this does make me more biased when watching the film (especially if I fell in love with the book first), I’m a firm believer in appreciating the original work at its source before exploring the various branch-offs of said work. I have plenty of friends who prefer to read the book only after they’ve seen the adaptation, and that’s cool, too, but since I HATE spoilers, this approach has just never worked for me!

On to the question you’re probably all thinking: What, in my opinion, constitutes a good book-to-film/TV adaptation? The avid reader in me says that the film should stay completely true to the book, and while I totally wish this were possible, it’s extremely difficult to include all 400+ pages of a book into a 2 hour movie or even a season or two of a TV show. Because of this, I would say that a solid adaptation should include some of the most important lines and plot points of a novel, and that the acting of the cast stay true to the personalities, attitudes, behaviors, etc. of the characters as written in the book to the best of their ability. Part of me doesn’t necessarily even care (well… okay. Sometimes I do in very limited cases!) if the characters look the way I pictured them in my mind while reading, as long as the way the characters are represented in the book are very similar to the way the actor portrays them on-screen.

There are very few things that I can think of that make me just straight-up not like an adaptation. The first is that the plot of the movie is changed drastically and is essentially completely different from the book. In my brain, I can’t even consider that kind of film an adaptation because the movie turns into a completely separate entity without much overlap with the book. While sometimes I can overlook this, I also don’t love it when there are characters in a book that never show up in a movie. Like with the plot, this is just a big inconsistency that makes the movie feel completely separate from the book itself.

Overall, I think my expectations for film/TV adaptations of novels are relatively reasonable, as many of those I have seen, I’ve really liked! Speaking of those I’ve seen… let’s end this thing with just a few of my own favorites and not-so-favorites!

My Favorites

My Not-So-Favorites

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Well, folks, I think that’s a wrap on my ramblings about book-to-film/TV adaptations! I know it can be hard to think objectively about these, especially when it’s one of your favorite books. However, I do think it’s pretty awesome that so many producers are willing to take on such a daunting task these days, so mega props to them for all their efforts!

May the rest of your week be filled with lots of fabulous reads, and thanks for tuning into this week’s bonus content post! 😊

Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

Amazon.com: Chasing Lucky (9781534425170): Bennett, Jenn: Books

Pages: 406

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: November 10, 2020

Genre(s): Contemporary Romnace

Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis

“Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is…”

What Did I Think?

For those of you who have been following my blog and/or bookstagram for awhile now, you all know all about how much of an auto-buy author Jenn Bennett has become for me. As soon as I saw that Chasing Lucky was releasing, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on another one of her contemporary romances. Let me be the first to say that I REALLY wanted to love this book, but it unfortunately fell flat.

Let’s start with the overall concept and plotline. When I first read the synopsis, I was so excited to jump into a book that I thought was going to be friends-to-lovers and had a strong grounding in the workings of family dynamic. However, my expectations from the summary on the back did not align with the content of the actual book as I was reading, so that was where my confusion (and frustration!) kind of started. However, there were some elements that I really enjoyed, such as appearances from Bean the Magic Pup and the sense of adventure I felt while reading. I also found the pacing of the plot to be spot on throughout the book and appreciated the fact that for the most part, each plot point smoothly transitioned into the next. There were also some elements of the book that I have found to be very distracting in a bad way, specifically those regarding the past of the protagonist’s mother and how some of that comes rushing back to the forefront of the story every five minutes. Overall, I found to be the overall concept to be rather mehh, but the pacing of said plot to be right on the money.

The female lead, Josie, was really something else and not at all what I was expecting in some really great ways. I loved how she was immediately established as such a passionate photographer. I’ve never been a great one myself, so seeing the world throgh her creative lens was so much fun. I also think that her naivite that shone through her character as the novel progressed was very fitting for her age, even when at some points I wanted to shake her a bit. Seeing her character mature over the course of the novel was also great – love some good character development, particularly in younger protagonists! While not my favorite main character of all time, I did think Josie’s characterization made sense in the contect of the novel’s plot.

Lucky was a tough pass for me. I appreciated his dry sense of humor and love of animals, but I wasn’t a huge fan of how selfless he was. While this may seem like a great trait to have, I felt like he was just using it to get what he wanted and make other people feel bad about their actions. As I was reading, I enjoyed his banter and adventurous nature, but when I had some time to sit and think, there were just some things that rubbed me the wrong way and made me not love him as much as I thought I did in the moment. My goal whenever I am reading a book with a male love interest is to fall in love with the character myself, and I felt far from that about Lucky, unfortunately.

Overall, I though Chasing Lucky was a cute and sweet summertime contemporary read. The setting was so unique and quirky, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the moving parts that somehow all ended up working together. Even though I think this book was far from Bennett’s best, it was a quick and fluffy read that did manage to bring an occasional smile to my face.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

Fans of Talia Hibbert, Sarah Dessen, and Samantha Young would likely fall in love with Jenn Bennett’s Chasing Lucky. And, if you’re already a die-hard Jenn Bennett fan (like me!), grab a copy of this bad boy!

Bonus Content, Book Tags

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag: 2021 Edition

Welcome back to the blog, bookish friends! I can’t believe it is already the middle of July. It kind of feels like this year just started, but we are already over halfway to 2022. I did the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag last year, and I had such an awesome time reflecting on my progress that I decided to do it again this year! Without further ado, let’s dive right into all this fun:

1) Best book you’ve read so far in 2021

Amazon.com: Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian  Mountains (9781984818935): Chambers, Cassie: Books

2) Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021

Amazon.com: Namesake: A Novel (Fable, 2) (9781250254399): Young, Adrienne:  Books

3) New release you haven’t read yet but want to

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

4) Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

The Nobleman's Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks (Montague Siblings, #3)
Fun Fact: This was the answer to last year’s most anticipated release question, but the publication date keeps getting pushed back. 2021 is the YEAR, baby! 🙂

5) Biggest disappointment

Amazon.com: The Chaos of Standing Still (9781481499194): Brody, Jessica:  Books

6) Biggest surprise

Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton

7) Favorite new author (debut or new to you)

Amazon.com: Romanov (9780785217244): Brandes, Nadine: Books

8) Newest fictional crush

Much Ado About You - Kindle edition by Young, Samantha. Literature &  Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
We all need to find ourselves a freaking adorable farmer BF like Roane, am I right?

9) Newest favorite character

A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, 5): Maas, Sarah J.:  9781681196282: Amazon.com: Books
Gwyn and Amelia give me LIFE so they are both my newest favorite characters!

10) A book that made you cry

Amazon.com: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (9780812984965):  Stevenson, Bryan: Books

11) A book that made you happy

Amazon.com: Get a Life, Chloe Brown: A Novel (The Brown Sisters Book 1)  eBook: Hibbert, Talia: Kindle Store

12) The most beautiful book you’ve bought or received so far this year

The Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood And Ash Series): Armentrout, Jennifer L.:  9781952457258: Amazon.com: Books

13) A book/books you need to read by the end of the year

BONUS: I am exactly halfway to my reading goal for the year – YAYY!

Thank you all so much for tuning in for this super fun book tag! As the saying goes, there are so many books and so little time, but I’m super happy with the progress I have made this year in terms of number (and quality!) of books read. If you haven’t done this tag, I am officially tagging YOU!

Until next time 🙂

Sarah

Series Reviews, Young Adult

Series Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Individual Book Ratings

  • The Assassin’s Blade: 5/5 stars
  • Throne of Glass: 5/5 stars
  • Crown of Midnight: 4/5 stars
  • Heir of Fire: 5/5 stars
  • Queen of Shadows: 5/5 stars
  • Empire of Storms: 5/5 stars
  • Tower of Dawn: 5/5 stars
  • Kingdom of Ash: 5/5 stars

What Did I Think?

As you all can clearly see, I am completely obsessed with the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas! Trust me when I say this series was completely worth the hype – so much so that me, a person who rarely re-reads books, has read this series at least twice, if not three times now in its entirety!

Let’s talk about all the worldbuilding that had to go into this series to make it as great as it truly is, shall we? One of the things I loved so much about the Throne of Glass series is that the reader is constantly being taken to various fantastical locations – each of which Maas spends lots of time detailing for us so we, as readers, can imagine exactly what these places look like in our minds. I greatly appreciated that so much time was devoted to these descriptions, and I don’t think I ever found myself tiring of them.

If you don’t appreciate anything else in this series, you should at least give props to Sarah for her ability to create such complex, multidimensional characters that eventually steal your heart, regardless of how much you resist it at first. Hardly any characters truly were exactly who they were on the surface – they had so much more to give than what the readers first see from them. These characters continue to shed layer after layer of themselves as they moved through the series, and seeing this process makes our “indestructible” walls around our hearts melt a little at a time as we begin to understand, sympathize, and relate to these fictional beings that feel oh so real.   

I wholeheartedly believe that Throne of Glass is one of those series that will go down in history as a true masterpiece of young adult fantasy novels. Oh yeah. I mean right up there with Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and the Shadowhunters Chronicles – it’s seriously THAT GOOD.

Is This Series For You?

If you’re a sucker for a mature fantasy novel that is so intricate and action-packed that it takes a whole lotta brain power to roll through, Throne of Glass is definitely up your alley!

Calling all the magical Fae-lovers of the world: READ. THIS. SERIES. I am convinced Sarah J. Maas is the QUEEN of Fae writers, so you definitely do not want to miss out on her books if this is your cup of tea!  

Finally, anyone who loves kick-butt female (and male!) leads, characters that you want to hate but fall in love with instead, and books that have the capability of emotionally destroying you a million times over, Throne of Glass was written just for you, my friends!   

Words of Advice?

Do NOT let the size of this series intimidate you, you guys! I know it consists of eight 400+ page books, but it’s so addictive that each book really does fly by. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you will be wishing there were more books in the series when all is said and done!

I would also highly recommend that you start the series by reading The Assassin’s Blade before you jump into Throne of Glass. By doing this, you will have some additional details about Celaena and those she encounters in her travels prior to her enslavement in Endovier, which is where the first official book in the series picks up.  

Lastly, JUST READ IT, YOU GUYS! I promise you won’t regret it one bit! 😊

Fantasy, New Adult/Adult

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Pages: 637

Series: Blood and Ash #2

Publisher: Blue Box Press

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Genre(s): Fantasy

Format: Paperback

*NOTE: If you have not read From Blood and Ash, please stop reading this review NOW! Spoilers for this book follow, but feel free to check out my non-spoiler review of FB&A here to see if you’ll enjoy the series :)*

Goodreads Synopsis

“A Betrayal…

Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.

A Choice…

Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.

A Secret…

But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.”

What Did I Think?

THIS. BOOK. KNOCKED. MY. SOCKS. OFF. ‘Nuff said. Kidding, kidding! You guys know me – I always have way too much to say about my favorite reads of all time, and I think the Blood and Ash series has officially made that very prestigious list!

Let’s kick this thing off with a little background on where A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire picks up. At the end of From Blood and Ash, Poppy learns that Hawke Flynn isn’t exactly who he says he is – she’s been kidnapped by the Dark One himself, also known as Casteel Da’Neer, the Prince of Atlantia. She also learns that he has every intention of using her as ransom by trading her in to the Queen and King of Solis so that Casteel’s brother can be released from his centuries-long captivity and torture by the Ascended. Poppy and Hawke certainly had a romantic connection with one another in From Blood and Ash, but there’s something about HARDCORE BETRAYAL that throws cold water on the romance blossoming between these two. Poppy feels very conflicted because just when she thought she managed to obtain freedom from her obligations as the Maiden and has escaped those that seek to harm her, she is once again a pawn in someone else’s game. Casteel is also in a very precarious position, as even though he had every intention of trading Poppy in to save his brother, it’s clear that he is struggling internally to decide if that’s really something he can do now that he and Poppy have become rather close. This confusion comes to a head when Casteel very unromantically proposes to Poppy at the very end of the novel, stunning Poppy (clearly) and all of us readers! Plans are made for the crew to travel to Atlantia for this very unexpected wedding (among other things), and that is where the reader is left to impatiently wait for A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, EEEPP!

The first thing I wanted to chat about is how the world-building has evolved so beautifully in A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire. Since it’s not uncommon for there to be a lot of time and detail spent on explaining what’s happening in a fantastical world in a first book in a series, it was hard for me to get a complete picture of what each location actually looked like in From Blood and Ash. However, Jennifer, as always, gave us just what we needed in the first novel, as I was able to piece together those details with the new ones in A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire so I could begin to visualize each and every location in vivid detail. The descriptions that she uses to illustrate what these places look like in A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire are beautifully written, and being able to envision the places Casteel, Poppy and gang travel to was so much fun for me. I felt like I was on my own little adventure without having to even leave my couch!

I am completely overeager to talk about our absolutely stunning, murderous little creature, Poppy! I seriously do not even think it’s possible to have a character undergo more character development than this girl right here! By the end of FB&A, Poppy has transformed significantly, but that was just a drop in the bucket for how much she grows in this book. At the beginning of the novel, Poppy’s still reeling from Casteel’s betrayal, and while this leads to her making some imperfect decisions, I believe that this just made her character feel that much more human and relatable to the reader. I mean, come on! How the heck would you react if you went through half of what Poppy has? I think I would be more stabby than she is, and that is saying A LOT! Going off of this stabby note, one of the elements of Poppy’s character that remained constant was her need to fend for herself and her generally fiery personality. I love her sassiness and the fact that she is confident enough in herself now to snap back at those who are disrespecting and/or making false accusations about her. Both her saucy comebacks and kick-butt wielding of weaponry serve her well in this novel, that’s for sure! Moving past Poppy’s slightly violent personality, I think a lot of fictional characters tend to be a little blind to when the changes in themselves appear and what prompts them, but Poppy certainly does not fit this mold. I really enjoyed her reflections on how she began to take her life back into her own hands, and that she didn’t solely come to the conclusion that Casteel was the one who prompted all the changes in her (though he was definitely a catalyst for a good many). Her evolution began long before he even showed up, and her acknowledgement of this and giving herself credit for her own strength and fortitude was really nice to see. I also enjoyed the fact that she was willing to take a look at who she is and what she wants out of life. I found this so relatable because humans around Poppy’s age are trying to answer similar questions themselves as they journey into adulthood. As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed Poppy’s character and watching her continue to learn more about herself in this book. Can’t wait to see how these plans shake out in the next book, especially given what she uncovers about herself at the very end of this one!

On to a character who I think managed to give me legit anxiety: Casteel Da’Neer, aka Hawke, aka The Dark One, aka Cas… yeah, he’s got way too many names, but all are equally as endearing, I suppose! This may be a little inflammatory (sorry, FB&A Casteel lovers!), but I wasn’t really sure I was Team Hawke even then, and then when that shizz went down happened right at the end, my distaste for his character was even more potent. However, you all will be happy to know that I am OFFICIALLY on the Cas train after reading this book! I am a total sucker for characters that are a little mysterious and dangerous, but have this softheartedness to them that’s just super hard to see. Until this book, I legitimately found Casteel SUPER heartless. I know, I know. The dude has been through stuff, but I think because he wasn’t opening up to anyone about it, it was hard for me to like him and just take his word for it when he wasn’t exactly forthcoming about a lot of things surrounding his past. However, this book showed me how very wrong I was about him, so thank you Jen for helping me see the light! As with the first book, I really enjoyed Casteel’s hilarious banter with those around him and seeing the various sides of his personality (both the ones I find so adorable and those that freak me out a little because he can get downright scary). The love that Casteel has for his fellow Atlantians really shined in this book (ughh… I can’t help but also bro-ship Cas and Kieran… they are so cute!), and it was so great to see that though his actions were questionable at best sometimes, he truly was doing what he was in an effort to protect those he cares about. Reading about Casteel’s past with the woman he previously loved and when he was in captivity in Solis seriously broke my heart, but I think those moments were what allowed me to truly understand how far Casteel’s character has come and why I should respect him, even if the reader wasn’t introduced to him until after he has managed to partly move on from these experiences. Overall, I found myself swooning amongst the rest of you Casteel-lovers in this book, and I literally cannot wait to read more of his witty (and often, wholly inappropriate but oh-so-humorous) commentary in the next installment!    

You really thought I was going to skip over discussing the ROMANCE in this book? Heckkkk no, y’all, though I am going to be super vague since I’m not about that spoiler life. First and foremost, THE ANGST. Normally, I don’t mind when there’s a little “I love you, I love you not” action going on, but there were moments where I literally wanted to throw my book across the room because I literally couldn’t take the back and forth anymore. However, I do think the romantic tension between Casteel and Poppy was completely necessary in this book because they had so much they needed to work through following all of the half-truths told and betrayal from the first book. All of the back and forth really did make certain moments that much more moving. And, if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t think I would be shipping these two nearly as hard if there hadn’t been as much angst and if I hadn’t had watched them both try so hard to move past their previous baggage to make it work between them. I wish I could say more, but to avoid spoiling anything for you all, just know that there were moment where I got legit teary-eyed because Poppy and Casteel are EVERYTHING!

Before closing out this review, I have to take a second to talk about all of the out-of-this-world-amazing supporting characters in this novel. With the exception of Kieran (who without a doubt is right up there with Poppy and Casteel in terms of LOML status), I am hard-pressed to pick one that I like more than the others. Just as Armentrout spends time developing our main leads, she doesn’t shirk her responsibility of creating equally as compelling side characters that make the dialogue and action within the story that much more enjoyable. Each and every one serves a purpose, and I had so much fun seeing each of their personalities shine. I am so looking forward to seeing more of these guys in the next book!

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire had everything I was expecting it to have and more. I loved each and every character, the movement of the plot was smooth as butter, the action and romance were on-point, and the descriptions of this fantastical world were beautiful to read and envision for myself. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, and I am absolutely STOKED for The Crown of Gilded Bones to release in April of 2021… or before? PLEASE?!?!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

*NOTE: This book is definitely only for mature readers (the romance is STEAMY and there is also quite a bit of graphic violence/murder). I would not recommend this book to readers under the age of 18.*

If you thought you were totally in love with this series after reading From Blood and Ash, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet – pick up A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire immediately! It won’t disappoint 😊

Bonus Content, More Bookish Fun!

Tour My Bookshelves: Part One!

Hello, bookish friends, and welcome back to the blog! I don’t know about you guys, but I can never resist those bookshelf tour videos what pop up incessantly on my YouTube suggested watch lists. If you’re like me and can’t help but admire all the beautiful bookshelves that are out in the universe, then this post is for you! Instead of a video, I’ve decided to give you a play-by-play of each of my bookshelves and tell you a little bit about my personal organization method. I’m especially excited about this post because I just finished reorganizing all of my bookshelves for the first time in YEARS. This is going to be a three part series, so stay tuned for Parts Two and Three those in the near future! Shall we get Part One of this thing rollin’ or what?

The Quirky Contemporaries

The Montague Siblings series is hiding behind Carry On!

Of all my bookshelves, this one has to be one of my favorites because it holds contemporary reads that I have deemed simply unforgettable. Whether it be the impeccable writing, out-of-the-box overall concept, or hilariously eccentric characters I couldn’t help but relate to, all of these books have managed to steal my heart!

The Cassandra Clare Shelf

The Bane Chronicles, The Red Scrolls of Magic, Chain of Gold, and an illustrative Mortal Instruments book are behind the 10th Anniversary edition of City of Bones!

Given the fact that Cassandra Clare has about a million books in her Shadowhunter Chronicles, I had no choice but to dedicate an entire shelf (and then some!) to these beauties. I read the Mortal Instruments series many years ago, and I love seeing how the OGs have changed and meeting new characters as more books are released.

The Sarah J. Maas + Honorable Mentions Shelf

All merch in this picture was purchased from the Bookish Shop in their Throne of Glass and ACOTAR limited edition boxes.

Like so many of you, I am completely obsessed with anything Sarah J. Maas writes and I don’t see that changing anytime soon! In addition to her writing, Bloomsbury has done a fantastic job of making her covers absolutely STUNNING and it just seemed completely sacrilegious to hide them behind all the Maastastic merch I’ve collected over the years. I also included a few books by Holly Black and Brigid Kemmerer on this shelf because I found myself enjoying them almost as much as I did Sarah J. Maas’ books (some elements, I may have even liked more, as crazy at it is to believe!).   

Homage to the QUEEN (aka the Jennifer L. Armentrout Shelf)

The merch pictured was either purchased from the Bookish Shop, Hello Lovely, or I picked it up at Jennifer’s yearly ApollyCon event. Lots of hidden books on this shelf: the Harbinger series, part of the Dark Elements series, the Titan series, the Wicked trilogy, and the Wicked novellas.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time laying out this shelf because the QUEEN doesn’t deserve any less than perfection! I have been a JLA fan since I was 14 years old and I don’t see myself ever NOT being one. Each book I read by Jennifer is quick to draw me in and her plot twists/cliffhangers are like none other. Though this isn’t my entire JLA collection, this shelf contains all of my favorites by her (other than the Covenant series, which is on my Nook!).

The Fantasy Faves Shelf

I am totally blanking on where I purchased the Six of Crows prints from (I’m guessing I got them in either a Fairyloot box or a Bookish Box?), but the bookmark was from Barnes and Noble! The rest of the Darkest Minds series and Prosper Redding are hidden behind The Darkest Legacy.

This shelf contains a mix of some of my favorite fantasy reads. For the most part, these are those that I could read again and again and not tire of them!

The (Mostly!) Summery Contemporaries Shelf

Lots of hidden friends on this shelf, too: The Geography of Lost Things, Stay Sweet, The Boy Most Likely To, and My Life Next Door are behind The Chaos of Standing Still. The Unexpected Everything, Second Chance Summer, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, The Promise of Amazing, and The Natural History of Us are all behind Again, but Better.

This next shelf is for my go-to summer reads (or pick-me-ups I read in the winter when the cold starts getting to me!). As you can see from how packed this shelf is, I love a good contemporary romance that has a beachy/summertime setting and am always quick to add them to my ever-growing collection!

The Unforgettable Series Shelves

The Hunger Games series and the Beautiful Creatures series are peeking out from behind my Throne of Glass coloring book!

I decided to used these little cubes at the bottom of my bookshelf to store some of the series I’ve really enjoyed over the years. The one on the left contains the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series – two series so long that it totally warranted its own cube! I didn’t have quite enough room on my SJM shelf for the Throne of Glass coloring book, so I decided to savor its beauty from here instead!

Quick and Easy Romance Reads Shelves

As the title suggests, these shelfs hold the vast majority of my adult contemporary/romances, most of which were gifted to me in some form or another. I look forward to putting more of a dent in these at some point this year!

The Fantasy/Dystopian Series Shelf

This is the first of two shelves that are actually build into the headboard of my bed (a splurge when I bought it, but totally worth it for the extra storage!). You’ll find just a few fantasy/dystopian series on this shelf. I have read all of these but the Uglies series, which I hope to dive into once my brain stops momentarily rejecting the dystopian genre (ughh… the struggle is real, you guys!).  

The Leftovers Shelf

This shelf is a bit of a mixed bag, as I honestly just ran out of room on my other shelves and these were my odd balls I couldn’t quite figure out where to put. Some of these I just wasn’t a huge fan of, while others I remember thoroughly enjoying.

The Rando Book-Related Items Shelves

I used these two shelves to store some of my bookish merch. On the left is where I store all of my Book Beaus and bookish-themed pouches I’ve gotten in boxes and at events, as well as blankets and tapestries. On the right is where I store my Nook, any books I borrow from other people, and a binder full of the bonus stories I have received from preorders/author campaigns.

That’s a wrap on Part One of the Tour My Bookshelf series! I hope you all enjoyed checking out how I’ve decided to organize these first few shelves. How do you organize your bookshelves? I’ve always wanted to try to make a rainbow design, but I’m a little two OCD about series titles being together that I haven’t been brave enough to try it!

Until next week, bookish peeps! May the rest of your week be filled with beautiful bookish fun! 🙂