Monthly Wrap-Up | March 2019

Morning, bloggers!

Have you ever had a month where your blog went great, but everything else in your life, particularly reading, just stalled? That’s how I explain my March.

Mom started her treatments, and my thrill in anything has kind of died. But I’m fighting to get back to where I was, even though it’s a daily battle. So life may have been a downer, but my blog kept me fighting. And I have to thank you all for the support. You don’t understand how much I need that right now.

So even though the month was slow, I’m glad I discovered fantastic reads. Hopefully, April is a better month for us all. Now let’s get to this post.

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Monthly Wrap-Up: February 2019

Hey book fam,

Phew! Another month has passed, and I can let out a well-deserved sigh of relief. February was rather slow and hard for me personally. We finally got the results of my Mom’s cancer. And she’s in the early stages, which I can’t believe.

I wanted to take some time away from my blog. But you all were the reason why I stayed. You kept me smiling and laughing. You kept the shadows away. And I cannot thank you enough for all of your support.

Even though blogging is stressful, it has given me purpose and drive to strive forward, even when I feel I can’t get off the ground. So although February was arduous, I found an escape through this community and some great books. Now, let’s get to the wrap-up, yes?

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Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Published by: Henry Holt and Co.

Publication Date: June 4, 2013

Genre: Fantasy

Page Count: 448

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner-hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.

The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.

But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice-and only she can face the oncoming storm.


“I’ve seen what you truly are, and I’ve never turned away. I never will. Can he say the same?”

Because of the fallout from the explosive ending of Leigh’s debut novel, Siege and Storm walks on the borderline of the second book syndrome. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the sequel. But I’m rather surprised I do.

Leigh improves on her weaknesses in Shadow and Bone. And while some nuisances weren’t necessary, I feel it gives you a better understanding of this vast universe Leigh has created. The political backdrop refuses to remain hidden and rears its disturbing head. And she explores the intricate bond Alina and the Darkling share, which is as tantalizing as I imagined it.

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Review | Dark Lover by J. R. Ward

Dark Lover by J. R. Ward

Published by: Penguin Group

Publication Date: February 19, 2005

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy

Page Count: 393

Rating: 4/5

Source: Gift

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In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing more than Wrath, the leader of The Black Dagger Brotherhood.

The only purebred vampire left on earth, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But, when one of his most trusted fighters is killed-leaving his half-breed daughter unaware of his existence or her fate-Wrath must usher her into the world of the undead-a world of sensuality beyond her wildest dreams.


“You don’t know this yet. But you are Mine.”

My best friend Beth has raved about the Black Dagger Brotherhood for longer than I can remember. She has never steered me wrong, and I love her for that. Sometimes, though, vampire novels are iffy for me. But I should have listened to her. This book is a sexy, steamy, and intense read. And I am an instant fan.

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Review | Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Published by: Henry Holt and Co.

Publication Date: June 5, 2012

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Page Count: 358

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold-a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.

Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite-and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift.

As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.


“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”

Coming back to the Grisha Trilogy, I never knew what to expect. How can you when Leigh whips you from one fantastical world to the next? I’ve anticipated this series since Six of Crows enchanted me.

Obviously, the first series doesn’t surpass my love for the second. And nothing will. Kaz owns my heart, so there’s no trying. But I knew I should have read it when I was younger. But I can’t resist the pull of Leigh’s writing. Her world building outclasses several authors I love. So I always want to come back to her universe.

Grisha practice the Small Science. And each caster is split into three orders: Corporalki; who are Heartrenders and Healers; Etherealki, who are Summoners; and Materialki, who are Fabrikators. Let me tell you: the magic system and the political intrigue in this series still captivate me to this day. Even though these Grisha are powerful, they must serve in the Second Army, where some consider themselves the superior beings in Ravka. I cannot get over how Leigh has crafted her debut book though.

Alina Starkov is your typical YA heroine who doesn’t know her own strength or beauty. Yup. Leigh went there. But what makes me enjoy Alina’s growth is how the new Sun Summoner is sarcastic. Praise the book gods! Finally, a character knows how to use sarcasm properly. While her voice at the beginning is somewhat annoying, I grew to enjoy her as a character. Now, with Malyen Oretsev—Alina’s friend, secret love, and soldier in the First Army—is harder to get around. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoyed him, but he grew on me toward the end.

Now let the lower creatures step aside so the Darkling can take centre stage. Yes, I loved his scenes. And he’s one reason why I kept reading during the slower sections. He is such a dynamic and conflicting character, and yet I adore him as the villain.

But I hoped for more action where the slow pacing detracted from the overall storyline. I don’t mind a slow build, but sometimes I was looking for more. And what threw me off is the difference in writing style and voice. Six of Crows vastly eclipses her previous storytelling in the Grisha Trilogy. But it shows how far she has evolved as a writer though.

If you’ve fallen in love with Leigh’s other work, I recommend reading Shadow and Bone before you dive head first into King of Scars. Leigh is a queen at writing the perfect plot twist, and I’m glad finally to strike her debut novel off my TBR list.

Review | Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: July 31, 2018

Genre: Fantasy

Page Count: 320

Rating: 4/5

Source: Indigo Teen

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Serina Tessaro has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace—someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. It’s her chance to secure a better life for her family, and to keep her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, out of trouble. But when Nomi catches the Heir’s eye instead, Serina is the one who takes the fall for the dangerous secret her sister has been hiding.
Trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one option: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to save Serina. But this is easier said than done…A traitor walks the halls of the palazzo, and deception lurks in every corner.
Meanwhile Serina is running out of time. Imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive, surrounded by women stronger than she is, one wrong move could cost her everything. There is no room for weakness on Mount Ruin, especially weaknesses of the heart.

I received a free copy from Indigo Teen. My review reflects my honest and unbiased opinion.

 

“Women think they’re strong when they’re fighting other women, but when a man fights them, they know the truth.”

With some stories, you know how they unfold. And that anticipation may kill your love of the novel itself. But others, even if you predict what will happen, arrive in your life at just the right time. While I picked up Grace and Fury, I had no expectations. But what I never envisioned was how I needed to read this book.

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Review | City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Published by: Scholastic

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Genre: Paranormal

Page Count: 272

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost.

So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger.

When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil — and herself.

And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.


“Embrace your strange, dear daughter. Where’s the fun in being normal?”

As I travel further into the worlds Victoria creates, I simply fall in love with how creative her writing has evolved over the years. If you’re looking for a spooky yet adorable ghost story, pick up this middle grade paranormal treat!Read More »

Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2018

 

Morning, everyone!

How is it the first week of October?! I’m trying to wrap my mind around that. But then again, I’m excited for Halloween to come, so I don’t care. 😂

The first half of September went great. I thought I’d breeze through my TBR pile, and then the dreaded reading slump hit me quicker than I thought was possible. I’m surprised I could finish three books. Don’t you hate when it comes out of nowhere? I just hope Wildcard gets me out of it.

Anyways, let’s get to the post, yes?

Remind me how to complete an actual reading challenge. I failed horribly with my attempt to do Kathy’s Sequel September. 😅 In addition to these ones, I wanted to read three more books, but I couldn’t do it.

Lifel1ke by Jay Kristoff

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

Please don’t judge me. Lifel1k3 is the first book from Kristoff I’ve ever read. AND I REGRET EVERYTHING. Now, I’m a follower. I’ll sacrifice my life’s blood to get more of his books. I don’t care.

Imagine Romeo and Juliet set in a post-apocalyptic world where androids show more humanity than some humans. Well, some androids. It wouldn’t be a Kristoff book without mass murder by androids. It’s one of my favourite reads of this year!

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Let me remind everyone that I am Catwoman trash. Okay, I’m also Maas trash as well, so this book works out quite well for me. The DC Icons series is getting better with each addition. I love how Maas brings a human touch to the always tough Catwoman and shows us her weaknesses along the way. If you’re looking for some Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn action, I highly recommend.

 

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

⭐️⭐️⭐️¾

I wanted to love this prequel. I did. But I struggled hard with it. It took me two weeks to finish reading it. And while I enjoyed it, I didn’t fall in love with it. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mindset. But the Sam and Celaena scenes will haunt me to my dying days. Review will come shortly!


Naturally, I do better buying books than reading them. Indigo Teen sent me over Tracy Banghart’s Grace and Fury. Thank you, Indigo! Finally, I got some hotly anticipated sequels I’ve been wanting to get my hands onto! I need to catch up on my TBR list. I cannot wait to get to this beauties!

 

So how was your month? Have you completed any reading challenges? What was your must-have book for September? Let’s chat. I’d love to catch up!

Review | Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: August 7, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Superheroes

Page Count: 384

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


When the Bat’s away, the Cat will play. It’s time to see how many lives this cat really has. . . .

Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing’s undoing.


“She was a ghost. A wraith.”

In the highly anticipated third installment in the DC Icons series, Selina Kyle discovers her claws, and she’s looking to bring Gotham City to its knees. If you’re a huge DC fan as I am, then Catwoman: Soulstealer is your next read. Thieving, trickery, sexual tension, scheming, sisterly love, friendship, and female leads who know how to look good while stealing are what make the DC nerd in me sing.

The big old Bat is away, and Catwoman returns to the infamous Gotham City, and she’s looking for an all-female crew to swindle the rich and wreak havoc. But when she arrives, ghosts from her past want back what she stole from them. And they’re willing to burn Gotham to the ground to get it.

Catwoman is one of my hotly anticipated reads of the Summer. And before I picked it up, I had large expectations I wasn’t sure Sarah could carry out. She has disappointed me with a few of her books. However, she doesn’t let me down with this one. Catwoman is more rough on the edges. You don’t always see the human side of this multi-faceted character. But Sarah reveals a different perspective of her, and I love it.

Selina turns into a street fighter in order for her and her sister, Maggie, to survive. But when the cops come knocking, Selina must choose either going to jail or giving up her sister by accepting the deal with the League of Assassins. Two years later, she is more lethal, wiser, and determined to fulfill her plan. I love Selina as the villain, the anti-hero, and frankly herself. Her alter-ego doesn’t diminish her as a strong-willed character with scars to show. Sarah gives just enough depth for dedicated fans to appreciate and new readers to enjoy.

Sarah easily incorporates classic DC villains and characters readers love. I savoured every moment Selina has with her sister and the schemes she concocts with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. And as a follower of Sarah, I know her writing will grip me until the very end. Every fight scene, tender moment, and foreshadowing come together to make an explosive plot. This storyline gives readers several gratifying character arcs and shows how deadly Gothman’s streets truly are.

What stands out for me is the bonds of friendship and sisterhood. I adored how Selina slowly lowers her guard when she brings Ivy and Harley into the fray. And even though I prefer Catwoman with Batman, the budding relationship with Luke Fox, or Batwing, is intriguing. However, I felt it’s more obligatory than natural. Why does Selina need a love interest? She doesn’t. Unfortunately, Luke’s character growth isn’t as well developed as Selina’s, and that choice puts a damper on the character himself.

Sarah delivers an action-packed coming-of-age with the right dose of love and an overwhelming amount of sass, snark, and scheming. Friendship is at the heart of this sequel. So if you love Catwoman, find yourself a copy. You won’t want to miss this.

“There are good people in Gotham. Protect them.”

Review | Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Published by: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: August 15, 2013

Genre: Fantasy

Page Count: 418

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Celaena Sardothien is the king’s Champion-yet she is far from loyal to the crown, for the man she serves is bent on evil. But working against her master in secret is no easy task. As Celaena tries to untangle the mysteries buried within the glass castle, she can trust no one, not even her supposed allies Crown Prince Dorian, Captain of the Guard Chaol, and foreign princess Nehemia.

Then, an unspeakable tragedy shatters Celaena’s world. She must decide once and for all where her loyalties lie…and whom she will fight for.


“But death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.”

With badassery, betrayals, and deadly secrets, Crown of Midnight cements Sarah’s place in the fantasy world. Since I’ve had some time to control myself after reading this spectacular book, I can finally write my review. The foreshadowing master has done it again by writing a sequel that surpasses its predecessor. Am I surprised? No. Am I completely at her mercy? Yes. I’m here to stay, TOG fandom!

I lost count of how many times my emotions took a hold of me. And I somehow put myself together so I could move on to the next book. You know I’m dedicated when I can’t stopping reading a series. Sarah threads multi-layered arcs and brings them together to craft a well-executed story.

The Throne of Glass series is one of my favourites. And I truly don’t know how properly to explain my love for it. I had strong expectations with this sequel. I wanted everything her debut novel has to offer and more. And Sarah doesn’t fail. Having won the tournament, Celaena Sardothien is now the King’s Champion and must do his bidding, whether she wants to or not. As she uncovers secrets that should be left unburied, she faces a devastating loss.

Did I honestly believe I could love a character more? Clearly, I was wrong. I adore Celaena and her journey. You get to see more backstory with this cleverly thought-out character. And I can’t help but respect how multi-faceted she turns out to be. Death and heartache are not done leaving scars on her. And this book just shows how much she has suffered and continues to do so.

Like I’ve previously said, the secondary characters impress me. And I wasn’t sure what to expect from Chaol, Dorian, and Nehemia. I knew Chaol and Calaena explore a relationship, but I never knew it would tear strips into my already fragile heart. I shipped them hard. I loved his character arc, and the banter between the both of them made me so happy. Even though Dorian isn’t the love interest, he does play a strong role. And the tension between Nehemia and Calaena may be the hardest part of this book though.

Sarah slowly reveals this deadly and cutthroat world. You don’t want to live in Erilea. You don’t want to survive here. And yet she consistently proves how strong her characters are. Her storytelling improves as she uncovers the horrors of this continent. And I wonder how anyone ever lives in such a terrifying environment. Now, she intertwines fantasy into a magicless world. And I love that it builds suspense into her worldbuilding.

As I continue reading this series, I don’t know how I can love the next book more than the last. But I do. Sarah creates believable characters who I want to find freedom. And she unfolds a beautifully told story I’ll continue to admire.