Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare | Book Review

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare

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Page Count: 624
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: February 21, 2017

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.
So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.
But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

–Possible Spoilers! Read at your own risk!–

Such a nice collection of novellas, it felt so great to be back in the Shadowhunter world. I’d forgotten how much I missed it. I do desperately wish I had read this before reading Lady Midnight though, I feel like I need to go reread that now.

Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy (#1) | ★★★½/5

“He thought of his remembrance of Jordan, thought of how it hurt to even look at Isabelle and Clary. Without memory, they were lost. And nobody wanted someone they loved to be lost.”

The Mortal Instruments cast is still as great as ever, Simon and Jace’s new friendship is such a delight, and I am so in love with George Lovelace. He is absolutely wonderful.

The Lost Herondale (#2) | ★★★★/5

“Like all Herondales, his ability to love without measure, without end, was both his great gift and his great curse.”

Oh, Herondales. You sassy mofos who love too hard and feel too much, I love you.

And ughhh, that ending. My poor heart. Clary and Simon are literal friendship goals, despite the memory loss. If they don’t become parabatai I might cry.

“For the first time, he looked at her, and she wasn’t a stranger, she was Clary—his friend. His family. The girl he’d sworn always to protect. The girl he loved as fiercely as he loved himself.”

The Whitechapel Fiend (#3) | ★★★★★/5

“There were few people in the world who understood how much Will and Jem had loved each other, did love each other, and how much Will missed him. But Tessa did.”

WILLIAM. TESSA. JAMES. This story had me giddy with laughter and tears and happiness. Oh, how I had missed my Infernal Devices babies so much. Will with his beautiful self, delightful sarcasm and open and clear love for his friends and family. Tessa with her wisdom and wit. Jem with his constant support and kindness. James, adorable James, who I know I’m going to love. It was so nice to check in with Gabreil and Cecily. Jace was an an absolute delight as well, his scenes with Simon were so hilarious. Oh those dark Herondale’s, they will be the death of me.

I love them all so much.

Nothing but Shadows (#4) | ★★★★★/5

“Do not let any of them tell you who you are. You are the flame that cannot be put out. You are the star that cannot be lost. You are who you have always been, and that is enough and more than enough. Anyone who looks at you and sees darkness is blind.”

This story made me even more excited for the Last Hours. Oh my word, I love James Herondale so, so much. Okay, fine, who am I kidding, I love all Herondales. HOW ARE THEY ALL SO PERFECT??
He’s different from Will, more awkward and self conscious, but still completely wonderful and selfless when it comes to his friends and family.

It’s so cute seeing Will as a father, he really hasn’t changed a bit, but his clear love for his son is so cute and sweet, it brings tears to my eyes. And that scene with Jem and James? I was crying so hard, it was so adorable and beautiful. Jem is so wonderful.

Matthew is of course a lovable delight, so excited to get to know Thomas and Christopher as well!

The Evil We Love (#5) | ★★★★/5

“Love?” Michael smiled down at his hands. “Love, real love, is being seen. Being known. Knowing the ugliest part of someone, and loving them anyway. And . . . I guess I think two people in love become something else, something more than the sum of their parts, you know? That it must be like you’re creating a new world that exists just for the two of you. You’re gods of your own pocket universe.”

I have such mixed feelings when it comes to Robert Lightwood. He can make me so angry at times, but this novella really had me feeling a bit bad for him. His treatment toward his best friend Michael was definitely not okay though, and I refuse to forgive him for it. Michael Wayland deserved all the happiness in the world. I do however, wish him all the best in reconnecting with his family. I think he’s really trying this time, and it’s clear he loves his children. I hope we get more scenes with the Lightwood family in Lord of Shadows.

The novella was nice, if a bit slow. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was interesting learning more about the Circle and see how manipulative Valentine was.

Oh, and I of course loved the Sizzy moments!

Pale Kings and Princes (#6) | ★★★★½/5

“This is how a faerie loves: with her whole body and soul.
This is how a faerie loves: with destruction.
This is how a faerie loves: with a gift.”

This novella just reminded me how much I really hate Shadowhunters sometimes. It makes me so angry how they treat Downworlders, how they treat Helen Blackthorn like she’s the scum of the Earth. Poor Helen, she deserves so much better, she deserves to be happy with Aline, she deserves the world, and so does her brother Mark.

People are the worst. I am so mad.

I did absolutely love learning more about Helen and Mark’s parentage and Andrew Blackthorn’s day at the Seelie Court, even if it made my heart break into a million pieces. So tragic and depressing.

The only happiness I felt was during the Sizzy scenes. They are so adorable it hurts.

“And I also know that loving someone—even when it’s scary, even when there are consequences—is never the wrong thing to do.”

Bitter of Tongue (#7) | ★★★★½/5

“Helen, Julian, Livia, Tiberius, Drusilla, Octavian. And Emma,” said Mark. “You see? I have not forgotten. Every night, no matter what has happened during the day, no matter if I am torn and bloodied or so bone-tired I wish I were dead, I look up at the stars and I give each star a brother’s name or a sister’s face. I will not sleep until I remember every one. The stars will burn out before I forget.”

I love Mark Blackthorn. I would die for Mark Blackthorn. What a precious, kind, selfless and beautiful soul. I loved him in Lady Midnight and this novella just multiplied my love for him by infinite. I love him. I love him. I love him.

The Blackthorn family make my heart ache. Mark’s love for his family is so palpable you can feel it.

Bitter of Tongue was absolutely heartbreaking in every way possible. Mark Blackthorn deserves all the happiness in the world.

Also, someone needs to wrap Simon in bubble wrap, he is a hazard walking on two legs, but we love him anyway.

The Fiery Trial (#8) | ★★★★½/5

“Entreat me not to leave thee,
Or return from following after thee—
For whither thou goest, I will go,
And where thou lodgest, I will lodge.
Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried.
The Angel do so to me, and more also,
If aught but death part thee and me.”

I love Clary and Simon so much. I live for their friendship, I love every scene with them together. They are the perfect parabatai team, their friendship is eternal; just like Will and Jem. I didn’t really understand the purpose of the trial by water though? Not sure what it accomplished, but it was cool to see Simon hallucinating about Jace, their weird friendship is so cute.

Emma and Julian are so adorable. Again, wish I read this before Lady Midnight, but Julian is still such a precious baby. I just want to hug him.

Born to Endless Night (#9) | ★★★★★/5

“It was a lesson, Magnus thought, to love while you could, love what was fragile and beautiful and imperiled. Nobody was guaranteed forever.”

OKAY THIS ONE WAS SO CUTE. I could not stop laughing and smiling and crying because it was that adorable and cute. It had my giddy with absolute happiness. Malec is the cutest thing ever I’m so happy for them and so proud for how far their relationship has come.

Simon and Alec’s friendship is so adorable and cute, a team that can deal with Jace’s sarcasm and adorable bullshit. And don’t even get me started on the Lightwood family in baby mode. It was so hilarious and precious, it made me see Robert and Maryse in a new light. It makes me so happy to see how they’re trying and how accepting they were of Max. When they offered the family name for him? I died.

I love Alec Lightwood, it was a rocky relationship at the start, but I love him so, so much. He’s so selfless and protective of his friends and family. He is beautiful inside and out and I am so proud of him.

I loved every minute reading this novella.

Angels Twice Descending (#10) | ★★★★½/5

“The point wasn’t that you tried to live forever; the point was that you lived, and did everything you could to live well. The point was the choices you made and the people you loved.”

No words, this one was so beautiful and emotional to read. No one but Cassandra Clare could make me feel this way, I both loved and hated it so much.

Buy Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Book Depository
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

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A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab | Book Review

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

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Page Count: 624
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: February 21, 2017

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.
THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…

The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.
WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?
WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.
WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

Spoilers! Read at your own risk!

“Anoshe brought solace. And hope. And the strength to let go.”

Oh my stars, where can I even begin with this review? There are so many scenes I want to mention, so many things I want to say. But there are just never enough words to even begin to explain how much this series, these characters, mean to me. I am so in love with this magical worth that Schwab has created. The world building is just phenomenal and I love learning the new languages that she creates.

I suppose for me it all starts and ends with Kell.

“You still have that crease between your eyes,” she said. “Still the same sad-faced boy you were that day.”

This boy, this beautifully broken, completely selfless, slightly mean, wonderful, frowny boy. I wish I could explain how much I love him. How much his torments tear at my heart, how much his smiles make me so infinitely happy, and how much his growth makes me feel like a proud parent.

Kell has developed so much throughout these books because of his encounters and choices and because of the people around him, namely Delilah Bard. When he meets Delilah Bard his world is shaken with no point of ever returning.

But it is in A Conjuring of Light that Kell becomes not Antari, not black eyed prince, not smuggler, just Kell, dazzling wonderful Kell, brother of Rhy. And I am so proud and happy for him.

It was that scene on the Maris’s boat, where she offers Kell the paper so he can remember his past; a past he so longed to know, but secretly never wanted to remember.

“Your true family.
But what did that mean? Was family the ones you were born to, or the ones who took you in? Did the first years of his life weigh more than the rest?
Strange thing about forgetting spells.
Rhy was his brother.
They fade on their own.
London was his home.
Unless we don’t let go.”

And then once he had in his hands what he thought he always wanted, he burns the paper.

I was a complete mess of tears.

My poor baby, it was such a beautiful scene. Though, I must admit, while I am proud Kell has finally realized family isn’t just blood, I am still extremely curious about his past and wish desperately that Schwab will write a novella for it one day.

“Kell swept Lila up into his arms, amazed at her lightness. She took up so much space in the world—in his world—it was hard to imagine her being so slight. In his mind, she was made of stone.”

I absolutely love his and Lila’s relationship. It’s the kind that doesn’t need flowery words, or many words at all, for you to know it exists. They both just understand each other so deeply. You see it in the subtle way they act around each other, you see it in the small glances and smiles that they share. Those are the types of relationships that I absolutely love and that kill me at the same time. I mean did I want the whole “I love you” spiel? Heck yes I did. But can I will without it?

Yes, I guess I can. Schwab does such a great job developing their relationship. All the tension and built up in A Gathering of Shadows made their A Conjuring of Light relationship even better.

“Caring was a thing with claws. It sank them in, and didn’t let go. Caring hurt more than a knife to the leg, more than a few broken ribs, more than anything that bled or broke and healed again. Caring didn’t break you clean. It was a bone that didn’t set, a cut that wouldn’t close.”

I will admit Delilah Bard makes me so mad sometimes (one example being that scene where she talks back to Maxim, I literally rolled my eyes). I was not really her biggest fan in A Darker Shade of Magic. However, I do very deeply respect and understand her. In certain aspects, we are both so very much alike.

“Now tell me, what do you want?”‘
“That’s a broad question.”
“And an easy one. If you don’t know the answer, you don’t know yourself.”
Lila paused, thinking, “Freedom,” she said.”

It was her conversation with Holland that made me really like and understand her better.

“No, I did not hesitate. I cut his throat, and added his death to the ones I count every day when I wake.” His eyes hardened on her. “Now tell me, Delilah, how many lives have you ended? Do you know the number?”
Lila started to answer, then stopped.
The truth—the infuriating, maddening, sickening truth—was that she didn’t.”

Yes, she is a completely and utter sassy badass, but that is not the reason why I started to like her more. It was her lines that resonate the most with me. I love her passion and her strong will; I love her strength to be better; I love her dreams of becoming a pirate and her thirst for freedom. I love the way she is around Kell, and how she always stays true to herself. I love Delilah Bard, despite her flaws and my occasional annoyances. She is a wonderful character.

“No one suffers as beautifully as you do.”

It’s so extremely hard to choose favorite characters in this series (okay fine, Kell will always be my number one, so my number two is very hard), but I am positive I have to give my second spot to precious little Holland. Oh, my poor baby Holland. This guy needs a protection squad what with all he’s had to endure. Out of everyone, he was the one I most desperately wanted to he have a semi-happy ending.

Because he so freaking deserved one.

“But Kell knew he couldn’t break Holland.
Holland was already broken. It showed, not in the scars, but in the way he spoke, the way he held himself in the face of pain, too well acquainted with its shape and scale. He was a man hollowed out long before Osaron, a man with no fear and no hope and nothing to lose.”

Holland gets so much redemption in A Conjuring of Light that, if you’re not like me who loved him since the beginning, I highly doubt you won’t be able to at least feel for him a little in this installment. We learn Holland’s history bit by bit; from his family, to his first love, to his best friend, and every single one of them left me a crying mess.

I love Holland. I live for his dry humor. He is so, so beautiful, his soul is beautiful, his love for his world is so beautiful.

While A Darker Shade of Magic was Kell’s story and A Gathering of Shadows was Delilah’s, A Conjuring of Light was without a doubt Holland’s story; just look at the covers. And while I wish I could give him all of the happiness in the world, I will grudgingly admit that his ending, so bittersweet and sad, was perfect for him. Even though it did leave me a sobbing mess.

“You told me once,” said Kell, “that you were either magic’s master or its slave. So which are you now?”
“That’s what you don’t understand,” said Holland letting the emptiness fold over him. “I have only ever been its slave.”

And, of course, I cannot forget about darling Rhy and charming Alucard. Rhy and Kell’s bond is hands down one of my favorite aspects of this series. I love them both so much. There is something so beautiful and wonderful about the fact that they would literally go to the ends of the earth for each other.   

“My bond with him didn’t start with this curse. You wanted him to kill for me, die for me, protect me at all costs. Well, Mother, you got your wish. You simply failed to realize that that kind of love, that bond, it goes both ways. I would kill for him, and I would die for him, and I will protect him however I am able, from Faro and Vesk, from White London, and Black London, and from you.”

Rhy’s character grows so much in A Conjuring of Light, he goes from that flirty prince to an amazing King, and gosh darn it, I am so proud of him.

“A king,” said his father, “belongs with his people.”
“And a prince,” he said proudly, “belongs with his king.”

I loved learning more about the King Maxim and Queen Emira. We learn how kind and caring they truly are, and how much they truly care about their sons; both of them. Their relationship was so sweet and beautiful, it had me in tears. His hot temper to her cold demeanor.

“He had never wanted to fall in love, never wanted to welcome that pain, would have happily faked an arrow’s bite.
And then he met Emira.”

I disliked them so much in A Gathering of Shadows, but damn did they end up capturing my heart and sequentially tearing it apart.

Alucard is an amazing great character, his sass, his wit and his banter with Kell was such a delight to read about. I loved learning more about his family and his past; the reason he left Rhy when it was so clear he was in love with him. And in that moment in the end where he shows up with the mirror, my heart was racing in my chest with happiness. His friendship with Lila is so wonderful, I love how they have each other’s backs.

“You’re my best thief,” he whispered, and her eyes burned.
“I should have killed you,” she muttered, hating the waver in her voice.”

I will forever still be wishing for a Kell and Alucard bromance scene (because I’m still positive they secretly love each other) though!

This book has its flaws, I am not so blind by my love of these characters to admit it. My biggest issue was that I never really felt the danger of Osaron. For the most part he seemed content to just sit in his pretty little black castle and mind his own business. It soon became apparent to me that he wouldn’t actually do anything major until our characters were ready to deal with him. I did like him as a villain though, but the amount of times he said “let me in” was getting a bit eye roll inducing, even for me.

My awful reviewer mind rating is probably more of a 4.9, but I am rounding up just because Kell and Holland are some of the best characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about.

And now we get to the ending. I must admit, once I saw that I was nearing the end I practically dreaded reading it. I would sit on my bed, the book cradled in my hands and just stare at it.

It took me hours before I could finally muster up the courage to continue. And even then, as I reached those last few dreaded chapters; I kept stopping.

But that moment when I finally finished it, closing the book with tears flooding in my eyes, I felt so incredibly happy and sad. I do not know how I will ever be able to recover from the ending of a series that means so much to me.

I am going to miss it all so much.

“Love and loss,” he said, “are like a ship and the sea. They rise together. The more we love, the more we have to lose. But the only way to avoid loss is to avoid love. And what a sad world that would be.”

Overall, I just wanted to say that the finale for this series was perfect. It was satisfying, it was heartbreaking, it was beautiful, and it was so magical. But god damn it, is it bad that I just want to stay with these characters forever? That I want to keep reading about their adventures, their heartbreaks, their failures, and all of their successes?

That I never want them to go.

These characters have stolen a piece of my heart, and I know, without a doubt, I will never be able to regain it back.

A Conjuring of Light was everything I look for in an ending, but I want so much more. There’s still questions I have left, there’s still more things I want to know about; Kell’s family, Lila and Maris, the aftermath of White London, and Kell’s new issue with magic.

It is such a bittersweet moment because while I am so depressed beyond measure at the end of one of my favorite series, I am also so infinitely happy.

“Life isn’t made of choices, it’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.”

Thank you, Victoria. For bringing us this awesome story, for making me fall so head over heals in love with such wonderfully beautiful and flawed characters. Thank you for the magical ending that left me in a puddle of tears.

If you have not read this series yet then (I have no clue what you’re doing on this review, you little sneak) I so highly recommend it. I cannot recommend it enough. It is not without its flaws, but the world is so beautifully built, so filled to the brim with the wonders of magic, and the characters are so wonderfully flawed and beautiful that it’s definitely worth a try.

Anoshe. Until another day.

“Scars are not shameful, not unless you let them be. If you do not wear them, they will wear you.”

5 out of 5 stars

★★★★★

Buy A Conjuring of Light:

Book Depository
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Buy A Darker Shade of Magic

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Top 10 Favorite Books of 2016

The end of the year is near! Now it’s time for one of my favorite (and least favorite) post of the year: top favorite books.

I have honestly read so many great books this year, but here are ten of my absolute favorites! Not counting rereads of course because then it’d just all be Percy Jackson.

1 ) Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

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Did I surprise you? Probably not. Lady Midnight was so, so amazing. I wish I could be more original, but I am complete and utter shadowhunter trash and not even remotely ashamed of it. Still, the character were absolutely wonderful in this one. Cassie has grown so much as a writer and I’m oh so proud of her.

“When you love someone, they become a part of who you are. They’re in everything you do. They’re in the air you breathe and the water you drink and the blood in your veins.”

2) A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

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Another thing that I am; complete and utter Kell Maresh trash. I would go to the ends of the world for him. I love him, and I loved this wonderfully, magical book. Victoria is a brilliant author and this world she has created is so intricately beautiful. I want to live in Red London. I will never stop recommending this series, so if you haven’t picked up a Victoria Schwab novel yet, please go do it!

“Kell would say it was impossible. What a useless word, in a world with magic.”

3 ) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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If someone were to ask me to define “perfection” I would shove this book into their face. If I had to recommend one contemporary book for someone to read, Aristotle and Dante would be it. This book deserves all of the stars in the universe, and if you haven’t read it yet, I don’t know how else to convince you.

“Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.”

4 ) Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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I wasn’t sure about this book going into it, but man is it one of the cutest contemporary novels I’ve ever read. I loved it. The main character Simon is hilarious and so are his friends. The romance is so adorable, I fell in love with Simon’s relationship with Blue. This book made me realize how little LGBT novels I read and how I want to read more.

“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

5 ) The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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Two words: SEAN. KENDRICK. I love that boy and I love Puck. Their relationship was super cute, but most of all their relationship with their horses had me tearing up a bit. This was my first Maggie Stiefvater book and it did not disappoint! The writing is beautiful and magical. It’s no question that Stiefvater is a fantastic writer. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

“There are moments that you’ll remember for the rest of your life and there are moments that you think you’ll remember for the rest of your life, and it’s not often they turn out to be the same moment.”

6 ) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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Another great fantasy novel with amazing characters! I love Shazi, she’s stubborn and fierce, but never did I find her too annoying. And Khalid, don’t even get me started on him. He is just so *swoons*

“My soul sees its equal in you.”

7 ) Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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I don’t think this book will be a book for everyone. There isn’t much of a plot per say, but I completely related and fell for the main character; Emily. We have a lot in common and that’s why Since You’ve Been Gone is on my all time favorites list. It’s a beautiful coming-of-age story with wonderful characters. Emily, Frank, Dawn, and Collins, they were all so great. I had a lot of fun with this book, words can’t even begin to describe how much I loved it.

“Real friends are the ones you can count on no matter what.
The ones who go into the forest to find you and bring you home.
And real friends never have to tell you that they’re your friends.”

8 ) Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

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THIS BOOK IS THE CUTEST THING EVER. Have I said that a lot? Well, I abosolutely fell in love with this story. I think Rainbow Rowell’s blurb is perfect, it is full of humor and heart. It was funny, I was smiling at practically every page, but it was also mysterious and a little sad. The ending had me wishing for more. Definitely recommend this wonderful graphic novel! I love Noelle Stevenson’s art style.

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9 ) Angelfall by Susan Ee

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RAFFE! I’ve always had such a bad streak with paranormal novels about angels (*blatantly throws shade at Halo*), but oh my freaking god did I love this entire trilogy. Penryn was an amazing main character, tough and flawed. I loved her complex relationship with her family and I absolutely loved her and Raffe’s relationship. 10/10 would recommend! It’s a paranormal story that did not disappoint.

“I never thought about it before, but I’m proud to be human. We’re ever so flawed. We’re frail, confused, violent, and we struggle with so many issues. But all in all, I’m proud to be a Daughter of Man.”

10 ) Eona by Alison Goodman

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Together Eon and Eona were both so good, Alison Goodman sure can tell an amazing story. It was complex and well written and had such an amazing cast of complex and flawed characters. I loved Eona and not even a little ashamed to say Lord Ido. It was one heck of an amazing ride. I recommend these books to any fellow fantasy and dragon lover.

“Men were always quick to believe in the madness of women.”

↠ ↠ ↠

You know what the best part about my list is? Most of these books weren’t even released in 2016. It seems like I’m always behind, but oh well!

I’d love to hear some of your favorite books of the year! I’m making it easy, you can choose more than one. 😉

↠ ↠ ↠

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My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins | Book Review

My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

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Genre: Young Adult, Anthology
Publication Date: October 14th, 2014

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

–Spoiler Free!–

I don’t read many anthologies and for good reason too. It’s strange experiencing so many different writing styles contained in just one novel. But thankfully I ended up enjoying all the stories in this one. Some were obviously better than others, but all of them were a lot of fun to read!

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
★★★★/5

Or also known as: How to Fall in Love With Two Characters in Only Twenty Two Pages. This story was so cute, I loved it so much! Rainbow Rowell is such an amazing writer, Mags and Noel were wonderfully written and developed characters. I fell in love with them instantly and I shipped them so hard.
Such a great story to start off with, but it did set the bar pretty high with my expectations for the other stories.
I never wanted it to end. I wanted to stay with Mags and Noel forever.

“You’re a kaleidoscope. You change every time I look away.”

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link
★★★/5

This story was a bit…strange. It started off a bit slow and confusing, but I actually ended up liking it! It was very magical and nice.

“We all lose,” says an acerbic voice. “We all love and we all lose and we go on loving just the same.”

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Peña
★★★/5

This one was kind of sad, I’ll admit I teared up a little, but I still liked it. Plus there was a cat, cats are my weakness.

“Sometimes I feel liked a shook-up bottle of soda. Like, I have all those passion that wants to explode, but don’t know where to aim it yet.”

Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han
★★★/5

I liked this one, it was unique and original, but it was way too short and open ended for me to really fall in love with it. I don’t know, I just wish it were longer. We didn’t really get to know any of the characters, which was sad because Natalie, Flynn, and Lars seem like character I could fall for.

“Flynn looks up at the sky, at the North Star above us. Polaris, it’s called. A fixed point, more accurate than any compass. You always know where you are when you look up at it. Home.”

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
★★★★/5

Okay how does she do it? How does she constantly make such adorable and swoon worthy characters? I absolutely loved North, he’s such a sweetheart! He’s funny and kind and caring and I’m already swooning. I loved his and Marigold’s relationship. They’re so cute. This story was so cute. My poor little heart. I’m dead.
Their story continues in Summer Days and Summer Nights, another anthology edited by Stephanie Perkins. That one was super fabulous as well.

“That you still don’t realize I’m willing to do anything, anything to stay in your company. You don’t need to pay me.”

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
★★★/5

Hooray for an LGBT romance! This one was really cute, but I didn’t really feel much connection to the characters. This story was definitely one of the shorter ones in the bunch, only about sixteen pages. Not much happens, but still, it was sweet and nice dealing a bit with family issues. The ending left me feeling hopeful.

“He says presents aren’t important, but I think they are–not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say I understand you.”

Krampuslauf by Holly Black
★★★/5

Ahhh, this story was a lot of much fun! I really liked all of the characters and could relate a little with the main one. I absolutely loved the slight magical elements added into it, and the ending was really nice and satisfying.

“He punished the naughty and rewarded the nice. Just like someone else who wore a lot of red. Scramble the letters in S-A-N-T-A and you get S-A-T-A-N.”

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
★★★★½/5

SOPHIE AND RUSSELL ARE SO CUTE. As someone who communicates mostly in sarcasm, their humor and banter left me feeling oh so happy and giddy. Their relationship was so adorable and I never wanted to leave them. The ending was nice and left me hopeful for their future.

“Sophie wondered when was she going to learn that lots of things seem like a good idea but a small amount of analysis might uncover that such seemingly good ideas are, in fact, intrinsically faulty.”

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire
★★★/5

Another cute one! Kind of cheesy, sad at parts, relating to our main character’s family life, but it was still a nice story. Vaughn was a delight! I loved reading about all the pranks he pulled.

“Soon enough, people forget you altogether. So you do things that make them remember.”

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
★★★★/5

This one was so adorable! I absolutely loved Ben, not only is he a complete sweetheart who genuinely loves Christmas, he can also cook. Hello dream husband. Loved his relationship and banter with Maria, those two are really good together. And while the story was super cute and fun, it also dealt with family and relationship issues that had me tearing up a bit.

“If you were a food, you’d be a gingerbread cookie. Spicy enough to keep life interesting, but with just enough sweetness to balance it out.”

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
★★★★/5

Star of Bethlehem was such a heartwarmingly cute read! I do wish it were a bit longer and that we had more background information on the characters, but overall I really enjoyed this one and I’m hopeful for Lydia and Ethan’s future.

“But I was not in the mood to hear what I couldn’t do. The list had been too extensive for too long.”

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
★★★
★½/5

This one was so magical! I loved the Dreamer, I loved all the magical gifts that he gave Neve. Laini has such a wonderful and whimsical kind of writing style. The story was very unique and interesting. I’ll definitely be checking out more of her works in the future.

“I will free you, and I will lift you. I will learn a thousand ways to make you laugh. Your smiles will be the honey in my mead, your enchantment my delight.”

3.5 out of 5 stars

★★★½

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P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Spoiler Free Book Review

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

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Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date: July 26th, 2016

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?
While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she’s flustered — and kind of feels like she’s falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer — but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?

–Spoiler Free!–

“Words brought us together though they almost kept us apart.
You trusted me with your secrets and then you stole my heart.”

This book was so adorable. I cannot stop smiling at all the cuteness.

“Who are you talking to?”
“Myself.”
“You do that a lot.”
“I know. I’m the only one who understands me.”

I want so badly to rate it 5 stars because of the ending alone, but alas, I cannot look past how upset the main character made me. I found Lily to be really funny and awkward. I loved her passion for music and her relationship with her family. In the beginning I really loved her, she reminded me a little of myself–an awkward person who talked to themselves occasionally, didn’t mind being alone and loved indie music–but she’s just so judgmental and it was a huge turn off for me.

“I was fine alone. Sometimes I preferred it that way.”

Especially toward a certain someone and it made me so mad because I loved him. I loved him so, so much. Gosh, he’s a total sweetheart. The last third of the book had me swooning and my heart fluttering with full on excitement.

Kasie West has always been one of my guilty pleasure reads. If anyone else besides her had written this book I most likely wouldn’t have picked it up or put it so high on my to-be-read pile.

But with her, I can’t explain it. You’ll definitely have to read one of her books to really understand what I mean. They cast a spell on you. Suddenly your normal reviewer mind just shuts off and you return to being that casual reader that reads a book simply for pure pleasure.

P.S. I Like You, The Distance Between Us, and On the Fence (still haven’t read The Fill-In Boyfriend yet, shhhh) are books that are a ton of fun. They’re cute, they’re funny, and they’re for pure entertainment. Which at the end of the day, is something everyone needs once in a while.

Will this book win a ton of literary awards? Probably not. But I don’t think it’s a book that sets out to do that either. It’s a book that makes you feel happy.

Overall, I definitely recommend you check out Kasie West’s novels! My favorite is The Distance Between Us, but P.S. I Like You was so much fun to read as well! When you feel yourself succumbing into a dreaded reading slump, I assure you they’ll pull you out of it!

3.5 out of 5 stars

★★★½

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Sea Spell (The Waterfire Saga #4) by Jennifer Donnelly | Book Review

Sea Spell by Jennifer Donnelly

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Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: June 14th, 2016

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

At the end of Dark Tide, Book 3 in the Waterfire Saga, Astrid leaves her mermaid friends to confront her ancestor, Orfeo, the evil force behind the rise of the monster Abbadon. Orfeo possesses one of the six talismans that the merls need in order to keep the monster locked up forever. But without the ability to songcast, how will Astrid be able to defeat the most powerful mage in history? Meanwhile, Serafina and her Black Fins train goblin troops for battle against her uncle Vallerio’s death riders. Will Sera ever see her beloved home–and her beloved Mahdi–again, or will the Volneros take over the mer realms while Orfeo takes on the gods themselves? Nothing less than the fate of the underwater world is at stake in this breathtaking finale.

–Possible Spoilers! Read at your own risk!–

“Just because you failed today doesn’t mean you’ve failed forever. Falling down doesn’t mean anything. It’s staying down that does you in.”

Sea Spell was a great finale to a series that I ended up liking way more than I thought I would. It was a conclusion that was satisfying, but still left a few unanswered questions. Which I surprisingly am okay with.

“A little while ago, I lost faith in myself. It nearly did me in. You helped me swim back from the brink. Now it’s my turn to help Becca. Because if the six of us lose faith in one another, we’ve lost everything.”

My favorite aspect of this series will always be the relationships. Not necessarily the romantic ones, those I found a bit rushed and wasn’t really attached to, but the relationship between friends.

Sera, Neela, Ling, Becca, Ava, and Astrid, I loved their friendship, their sisterhood so, so much. Each girl grows up to become strong, independent women. They all had to make many tough decisions, but in the end I am so proud of each and every one of them.

“Because it’s time, Des,” she finally said.
“Time for what?”
“Time to play my uncle’s game like a queen, not a pawn.”

Serafina especially, she gets most of the development since she is the main, main character. She started off the series confused and afraid. My heart was breaking for her, but she pushes past all her insecurity and in the end becomes such a strong person, a strong leader. A real queen, and gosh I am so happy for her.

“Was love enough? Was it stronger than her uncle’s brutality, his just for power, his hatred? Was it stronger than fear? Stronger than death?”

The theme of love has always been so prominent in this series. It’s a story about love in all different shapes and sizes. A story with love between friends, allies, and family. And what it means to really risk it all for those you love.

The battle for Cerulea and the one against Abbandon were so much fun to read about! It was heart pounding and had me at the edge of my seat. I couldn’t flipping pages. Absolutely epic and so thrilling.

Oh and don’t worry, the pun game is still going strong. For example, *clears throat* “Holy silt!”
Ahhh, a book looking to catch my pun loving heart.

The epilogue leaves room for spin offs and I’m super excited to see if Jennifer Donnelly decides to expand on this world.

Overall, a really great conclusion! I ended up liking this series way more than I expected and I’m kind of sad to see it go. If you’re looking for a fun, quick, magical, fantasea read with great friendships I definitely recommend giving this series a chance!

“Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

4 out of 5 stars

★★★★

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The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass | Book Review

The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass

26222109

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.
Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

–Possible Spoilers! Read at your own risk!–

“But that’s what life is like; it blinds you. It makes you think you’ll never escape. But you will. You will if you keep fighting, even if sometimes you don’t know what you’re fighting for.”

The Cresswell plot was a dark, creepy, and gripping novel that I’m still not really sure how I feel about.

It’s hard for me to review this book because I personally have very little knowledge about strict religious families, or religion at all really. I can’t tell if these children’s reactions were true to life or not, because things that seem clearly wrong aren’t wrong to them.

The Cresswell children: Castella (our narrator), Hannan, Delvive, Casper, Mortimer, and Jerusalem all listen and accept their father’s religious teachings without a second thought.

And it was scary. So scary to see them get punished for the simplest things and to accept it with only minimal acts of rebellion. So scary to see them turn on each other in fear of God or their father punishing them. It was absolutely heartbreaking.

“‘Because I can’t tell if you’re lying. I can’t tell whether you’re telling the truth or not. I can’t ever tell.'”

For some of the children, you just couldn’t tell how much they believed in what their father told them and where their loyalties lay.

“When you were living a life you hated, there was absolutely nothing worse than the people who were living the life you wanted.”

I really felt for Castley, all she wanted was to be a regular teenage girl. She could be kind of annoying and make stupid decisions, but I blame most of it on the cruel way she was raised.

“Most people, the so-called “good people,” looked that other way when we crossed the street, like my teachers never looked me in the eye when they noticed my wrists were bruised”

Also, can we talk about the fact that these children literally have ALL OF THE SIGNS of abuse (bruises, burn marks, haunted looks in their eyes) and nobody cares?

Is this what happens in real life? Because if it is, we humans need to get our act together. I didn’t think I’d need to say this, but ABUSE IS NOT OKAY. Nor can it be ignored or brushed aside. If you’re constantly seeing bruises on children, or actually know that they’re psycho father is locking them up in some weird sewer, you do something about it.

I have never been this upset with a made up town.

The ending was also a little disappointing. There were a lot of things left in the open and I still have a ton of unanswered questions. Especially about Mr. and Mrs. Cresswell, I mean I hated their father, but I was also really curious about him and his past and why he became the way he is. And I can’t forget about that mysterious carved star!

“He looked like someone who could have had any life he wanted. So why had he chosen this one?”

Overall, the Cresswell Plot was one creepy ride, but I wasn’t a fan of any of the characters and I really just wanted more from the ending.

“Sometimes love was a spell people put you under to keep you from seeing who they really were.”

*Disclaimer: all quotes were taken from an ARC copy of this novel that was kindly sent to me from BigHonchoMedia and DisneyHyperion

3 out of 5 stars

★★★

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