Review: “Now I Rise” by Kiersten White

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5 stars

Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first book in the series And I Darken. 

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Nobles

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“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge.
Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

AHHH I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. This book tore me TO PIECES! I liked the sequel even more than And I Darken.

If there were ever such a thing as a character driven stories, this is IT. Lada, Radu and Mehmed are such complex and imperfect characters that I go from wanting to hug them to wanting to strangle them to death. The main three characters have developed into such distinct personalities it’s a marvel of Kiersten White’s writing. She writes historical characters with a twist that’s fresh yet familiar.

Our Radu, Lada and Mehmed are no longer children, though all three of them still have the same goals in mind. From the first book, we know what they value above all else: Lada will always choose Wallachia, Mehmed will always choose Constantinople and Radu will always choose Mehmed. In Now I Rise we see how their desires play out and how their goals affect their decisions – politically and emotionally.

If I thought I disliked Mehmed in the first book, I downright hated him in this one. He cares about both Dracul siblings but it’s clear he doesn’t care about either one as much as he cares about being the Sultan who expands the Ottomans towards Constantinople. I never understood his desire to conquer Constantinople, his reasoning is questionable and his means to his goal is even more so.

Lada is more brutal and ruthless as ever. Her and her soldiers are parading through the countryside trying to get to Wallachia’s throne. Lada doesn’t know how to get to the throne, she was never one for politics, all she knows is that she wants it. She finds an unlikely ally in the man who killed her father. Lada was my least favorite out of the three in the first book but became my favorite in this one. Lada never pretends to be someone she isn’t, she is fierce and violent and she gets things done with brutal force. After all the mind games Radu and Mehmed were playing in the book, Lada’s chapters felt honest and refreshing.

Radu is getting on my nerves. I understand he’s in love with Mehmed but there should be a line that you know not to cross. His blind devotion to Mehmed annoyed me for most of the book especially since so many innocent people are now suffering because of it.

And yes the main three are great characters but do you know who took me completely by surprise? Nazira. I’m SO GLAD Nazira had such a strong presence in this book because I was dying to learn more about her after And I Darken. She is kind, caring while being strong and sly, and she’s also crazy smart and resourceful. She’s everything I look for in a character.

Cyprian is also a character I quickly became very fond of. He is generous and opened up his home to Radu and Nazira. He basically provides Radu an opportunity to spy on the Ottomans from the heart of their city. Poor Cyprian deserves better.

Have you read this? Or “And I Darken”?

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Mid Year Freak Out Tag

Aww, look at me doing back to back tags! This one is perfect because it’s the middle of the year and am I freaking out about books I haven’t read yet? Yes, I sure am. I was tagged by the great and wonderful Azia @ The Uncharted World. Go check out her blog if you don’t follow her!

1. Best Books You’ve Read So Far in 2017?

Okay, I’ve read some really good books so far this year and there’s no way I’m picking one.

Lord of Shadows and The Shades of Magic trilogy especially I loved to death and I’m still not over the endings.

2. Best Sequel of 2017 So Far

Again, Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare, sequel to Lady Midnight. I will be talking about this book until the next one comes out TWO YEARS later so prepare yourselves (I’ve literally been bringing this up everyday, it’s impressive). I was able to read an early copy of Now I Risethe second book to And I Darkenand that is also fantastic.

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But You Want To

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Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. This book has been sitting on my shelf for a month now and I haven’t gotten to it yet but I really want to!

4. Most Anticipated Release of the Second Half of 2017?

After watching Wonder Woman last weekend, I’m even more excited for Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman WarbringerThe last book to the Magnus Chase trilogy comes out in October! And new Marie Lu books are always welcome.

5. Biggest Disappointment

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I know, I know, I wish it wasn’t so. I just couldn’t get into The Dark Prophecy unfortunately. I liked it fine but I didn’t love it, hence the disappointment.

6. Biggest Surprise

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Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley. I’m not big into contemporary and I’ve only recenty started reading more contemporary books. I picked up this one because it was fairly short and I was going through a reading slump and it completely took me by surprise. I read this in one sitting until 3:00 AM and I was sobbing by the time it ended.

7. Favorite New Author (Debut or Author To You)

V.E Schwab and her Shades of Magic trilogy which I am now in love with. I have added all of her books to my TBR and will be making my way through them.

8. Newest Fictional Crush

Well, it is no longer Julian Blackthorn I can tell you that. Kell, Rhy and Alucard from Shades of Magic, I love them all so much!

9. Newest Favorite Character

See question above 🙂 But other than those three, I would say Kamala Khan from the Ms. Marvel comics. She’s a high school student who writes fanfiction, comes from a traditional Muslim family, and then gets super powers? How cool is that?

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10. Book That Made You Cry 

You know, I cry fairly often when reading sad scenes so it’s not unusual.

Lord of Shadows again, are you surprised? And there has never been an Adam Silvera book that doesn’t make me cry.

11. A Book That Made You Happy 

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. ALL THE FLUFF IT’S SO CUTE! Like I said before, this book is basically a Bollywood movie turned YA book and I’m a sucker for Bollywood movies so I was obligated to love this.

12. Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation You’ve Seen This Year

Can I count Wonder Woman? It was so awesome and inspiring, I loved it! It’s my favorite superhero movie now (granted I’ve only seen five).

13. Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year? 

My favorite reviews I write are always the ones that sound like somewhat coherent rants because they always make me laugh when I reread them in a few months. Probably my Lord of Shadows review where I poured my heart out (don’t read it if you haven’t read the book).

14. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought Or Received This Year?

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The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I love the cover of this book and I need to start it soon.

15. What Books Do You Need To Read by the End of the Year?

Oh my gosh, I HAVE SO MANY I AM FREAKING OUT. Okay, I will just name the ones that are already out or I have ARCs of: Vicious by V.E Schwab (currently reading), This Savage Song by V.E Schwab, City of Brass by S.K Ali (so excited for this one!), Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken, And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

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I Tag You

(No pressure as always if you don’t want to do it or have already done it).

Diversity Spotlight Thursday #14

diversity-spotlight

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released.

Continuing the Ramadan theme from my last DSTh, the theme again is Muslim main characters.

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A BOOK I HAVE READ

book cover“Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal” by G. Willow Wilson (Author), Adrian Alphona (Artist)

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey!

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Nobles

This is the first Marvel comic I read because a Muslim superhero was too awesome of a thing to pass on. And I loved it! Kamala Khan is adorable and the graphics were very well done.

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A BOOK ON MY TBR

book cover“Alif the Unseen” by G. Willow Wilson

In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the state’s electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line. Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the “Hand of God,” as they call the head of state security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground.

When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Nobles

I had no idea this book existed until I searched the author of Ms. Marvel and the premise sounds great. I’m always looking for books about jinns.

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A BOOK RELEASING SOON

book cover“Love Hate & Other Filters” by Samira Ahmed

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a “suitable” Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City–and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she’s only known from afar. There’s the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya’s last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

Release Date: January 16, 2018

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Nobles

I am SO EXCITED for this to come out!

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What’s your favorite book with a Muslim MC?

Burn, Rewrite, Reread: Book Tag

Burn, Rewrite, Reread

It’s been way too long since I’ve done a tag! I was tagged to do the Burn, Rewrite, Reread: Book Tag by the absolutely wonderful Meghan over @ Meghan’s Whimsical Explorations & Reviews back in January (can you tell I’m super punctual?). Go follow her blog if you aren’t already, she’s wonderful!

Rules:

  • Randomly choose 3 books (Tip: Use the “Sort > Random” option on your Goodreads’ Read shelf.).
  • For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread (a lot like Kiss, Marry, Kill).
  • Repeat until you completed three rounds (or six).

Round 1

Oh wow, this round worked out really well.

Reread: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill which remains my favorite time travel book to this day. It’s been a while since I read it though so I don’t know if I’ll like it as much now but something tells me I will.

Rewrite: Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan because that ending was a gigantic mess that I would love to clean up.

Burn: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. Not gonna lie, I binge read these books in sixth grade and adored them at the time but looking back at it, I’m not quite sure why.

Round 2 

OHH NOOO, I love all three of these.

Reread: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys which is my favorite book set during WWII. This book is heart-breaking but also full of hope.

Rewrite: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon mostly because Between Shades of Gray is untouchable. If I rewrote this book, I would just prevent anything bad from happening to Christopher because he’s an angel.

Burn: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. I’m not too sad about this one because it’s my least favorite out of The Mortal Instruments series.

Round 3

This round is also easy enough. It’s like Goodreads knew I was doing this tag.

Reread: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling, is that even a question? It’s my favorite Harry Potter book and I love everything about it.

Rewrite: A Thousand Nights by E.K Johnson. I liked this book well enough but there were some instances I wasn’t a huge fan of.

Burn: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I never got into this series. I was interested enough to have read the first two books but in the grand scheme of things, I have no qualms about burning it.

I’m only going to do three rounds but this was so much fun!

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I Tag You

I’m going to tag some of my recent followers/people I’ve recently discovered, feel free to disregard this if you’ve done it or don’t want to do it! No pressure!

Diversity Spotlight Thursday #13

diversity-spotlight

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released.

Wow, it’s been a while since I did a Diversity Spotlight Thursday. In celebration of Ramadan, the theme for this week is Muslim main characters.

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A BOOK I HAVE READ

book cover“Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. 

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time. 

Goodreads Link | Amazon | Barnes and Nobles

Exit West is a refugee story of Nadia and Saeed, two young people who have just met and suddenly found themselves in a country in the brinks of war. Hamid’s writing is beautiful. Although the story is magical realism, the emotions are real and relevant.

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A BOOK ON MY TBR

book cover“Sofia Khan is Not Obliged” by Ayisha Malik

‘Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.’ Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. ‘Are your parents quite disappointed?’

Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.

As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?

Goodreads Link | Amazon | Barnes and Nobles

I’ve been wanting to read Sofia Khan for a while, I’ve heard some good things about it.

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A BOOK RELEASING SOON

book cover“Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tight-knit Muslim community think of her then?

Release Date: June 13th, 2017
Goodreads Link | Amazon | Barnes and Nobles

Judging from the premise alone, Janna sounds great and I’m really excited for this book to come out!

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What’s your favorite book with a Muslim MC?

Review: “Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor” by Rick Riordan

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4 stars

Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NoblesArrow

Oh Rick Riordan, how much I love thee. I liked Hammer of Thor much more than Sword of Summer and let me just start by giving a huge round of applause to Riordan for this fantastic and diverse cast of characters.

Magnus Chase: a sassy pan sexual healer with a heart of gold. I complained about him in the last book because of how similar he sounded to Percy but his voice was unique in this one. He sounded more grown up and mature, and when he brought in humor to the situation, he still understood the gravity of things.

Samirah al-Abbas: an axe wielding, hijab wearing Muslim Valkyrie. I love love LOVE her and Riordan for making her such a strong, liberal person. She’s also very happily betrothed to Amir who’s an absolute cinnamon role.

Alex Fierro: a transgender/genderfluid shapeshifter whose weapon is a metal wire. How cool is that? This was the first book I read with a gender fluid person where the book didn’t revolve around the character’s gender identity.

Hearthstone: a deaf dwarf who comes from an abusive family. He’s also a master at rune magic. This was also the first book I read with deaf representation.

Blitzen: a POC elf with a great fashion sense who wants to open his own fashion line someday. He’s also a great craftsman.

The plot itself is nothing special. Thor’s hammer is stolen and the main cast must go on a mission to retrieve it. All the while, Loki is threatening the demigods and trying to achieve his own agenda. It’s a typical Riordan book, fairly predictable but enjoyable nonetheless. There were a few twists I didn’t see coming which was a surprise.

“Sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it? An atheist and a Muslim walk into a pagan afterlife.”

This is also a book about acceptance and unity. Sometimes you may not understand people and where they are coming from, but you have to respect them, no matter their religion or sex or sexuality.

And of course the best part of the book: Annabeth cameos!

What’s your favorite Riordan series?

Spring Bingo Wrap-Up

Spring Bingo final

It’s the end of Spring Bookish Bingo! Bookish bingo is hosted by Becca @ Pretty Deadly Reviews. Spring Bingo was for the months of March, April and May. Just like my board from last season, I didn’t get any BINGOs this year either but I still loved doing it.

I also do this thing where I read what books I was already planning to and try to fit it in with the categories. Is that cheating? I swayed pretty far from the books I thought I was going to read in my introductory post. Fortunately though, all of the books I read this season were ones I really enjoyed (most were four and five stars).

  1. Magic: “A Darker Shade of Magic” by V.E Schwab
  2. Spring Release: “Lord of Shadows” by Cassandra Clare
  3. Series Finale: “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E Schwab
  4. Over 500 pages: “A Gathering of Shadows” by V.E Schwab
  5. POC on Cover: “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
  6. Multi POV: “Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy” by Cassandra Clare
  7. LGBT+ Main Character: “History is All You Left Me” by Adam Silvera
  8. Blue Cover: “Words in Deep Blue” by Cath Crowley
  9. Muslim Main Character: “Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor” by Rick Riordan
  10. Just Words on Cover: “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid

Did you participate? Did you get any BINGOs? What’s your favorite book you read this Spring?

Review: “Lord of Shadows” by Cassandra Clare

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5 stars

Warning: the following contains spoilers for previous books of Cassandra Clare including The Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices trilogy, all the short stories, and Lady Midnight.

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NoblesArrow

“The bad things can’t matter more than the good things”

I CAN’T I CAN’T HOW DO I MOVE ON I CANNOT EVEN THIS WAS FANTASTIC OH MY GOSH!! This book is all I talked about for five days with one my best friends who I was reading this with (she’s over @ Empire of Starlight. I’m mentioning her because some of the points I made in the review are because of our conversations).

*deep breath* *deep breath* How do I write reviews again?

Cassandra Clare books get better and better with each installment and I didn’t think it was possible after the wonder that was Lady Midnight but this BLEW ME AWAY. So many things happened! The plot was intricate and complex and engaging from beginning to end. And Clare once again delivers a book with eight thousand main characters all of whom I loved and cared about. Very few authors can pull of multiple main characters with such ease.

The book starts off a few days after the events of Lady Midnight. Emma and Mark are now pretending to be dating because Emma found out about the parabatai curse. Cristina is back together with perfect Diego. Julian is being a trooper with the Mark and Emma thing because he thinks they truly care about each other. Kit is trying to adjust to living at the Institute and still isn’t sure if he wants to be a Shadowhunter.  

Meanwhile, there are Centurions coming to the Los Angeles Institute because of a sea demon uprising after Malcolm Fade died. Some of the Centurions you’ll recognize if you’ve read Tales from the Shadowhunters Academy.

The plot is so interconnected, it is hard not to give away anything. It was an incredible ride. The characters all grow as people. What surprised me most was how much I came to care about Kieran. And Kit, Ty, and Livvy are a great trio and I loved their chapters the most. All the Blackthorn children are just precious and perfect little gems.

Julian, oh Julian. He is a Slytherin perfectly disguised as a Hufflepuff. He really does have a ruthless heart and you get to see that side more and more in this book. He will do anything for his family and when I say anything, I do mean anything. The world and everyone else can burn to the ground if it means his family and Emma are safe. He doesn’t understand that there are some lines you cannot cross.

There are of course mentions of other characters from the other series. Four of them make pretty big cameos and I loved every moment.

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SPOILERS SPOILERS LOTS OF SPOILERS Don’t read past this if you haven’t the book!

AGAIN OH MY GOSH I CANNOT PROCESS THIS BOOK. A bunch of random thoughts coming your way.

Okay, the very first death of the book: Jon Cartwright. I know he wasn’t a big part of this one but I loved him in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy! Well, I hated him at first but then I grew to love him just like Simon did. And I felt so so bad! Poor Marisol.

The fairy land was cool. I always love it when the characters go into any of the fairy courts because they look so different and eerily beautiful. This time when going in to save Kieran, we get to see the more run down fairy places.

“I’ve always needed you so much, I never had a chance to think about whether we were good for each other or not.”

Okay, I understand Mark is trying to figure out what he actually wants out of a romantic partner, BUT I feel so bad for Kieran. Kieran loves Mark wholeheartedly. I was never mad at him in Lady Midnight for doing what he did because I knew he thought he was helping. And I still don’t understand why Mark was lying to him for half of the book. He could’ve just told him the truth and it’s not like Kieran had many other options anyway. He would’ve testified either way. Mark just needs to get himself together and him and Cristina need to stop having feelings for each other. It’s only making things more complicated.

“I would that you would meet me, formally, that I might court you,” said Gwyn.

Gwyn and Diana are the couple I didn’t think I needed until it happened. I didn’t think much of Gwyn in the first book, he just seemed like this unfeeling Fairy warrior with his own agenda. Seeing him with Diana humanized him. And the scene when Diana revealed she is transgender was a beautiful and heartbreaking moment.

Kit and Jessamine are kind of friends now and it’s great!

My poor Drusilla. I was hoping we would get more of her in this book since she was barely there in Lady Midnight and we did. She’s the Blackthorn child who gets overlooked the most. I’ve declared her my favorite Blackthorn because that girl just needs a friend. The older kids think she’s too young to be with them, and Dru is too old to always be with Tavvy and not feel lonely. Even in all the scenes with the whole family, it’s usually her sitting alone quietly.

Malec as parents is the greatest thing ever! The scene when Magnus starts singing a Spanish lullaby to Rafe? It was adorable.

“And I will be a uniquely lucky person, because there will be someone who always remembers me. Who will always love me.”

Can you imagine Alec Lightwood from City of Fallen Angels say this? Alec has come to terms with Magnus’ immortality and the fact that he will most likely die long before Magnus does. And he is okay with it. Just seeing Alec grow so much in the past five or so years is so lovely.

That last scene I did NOT see coming. So far, all the deaths in the Clare books have been people I don’t care for much so I was starting to think I was safe. And then this happens!! And Robert dying now begs the question who the new Inquisitor would be. I guess we can assume that he or she will not be as kind and lenient. I guess it was too much to ask that both the Inquisitor and the Consul be people we actually like. And now that Robert’s gone, Emma will no longer be able to be exiled and their parabatai bond will remain strong as ever. It took a lot of trust for them to go to Robert even when Magnus vouched for him, they wouldn’t want to do that again with someone they don’t trust.

LIVVY MY POOR BABY!! I loved her! She was the only person Ty understood. And when you look back to how upset Ty was when she was injured in battle, what will happen to him now?? They’re twins! They were together every step of their life. And now she’s gone. This isn’t fair.

I’m also really scared of what Julian will do now. We all know he will do anything to keep his family together. I have a feeling he might want to use the Black Book to raise Livvy. Because, like I said, he doesn’t realize there are lines he cannot cross. I mean, the boy is thinking about breaking all the parabatai bonds in the world just so he and Emma can be together. They are not that important, he needs to chill out. Even Emma admits that Julian scares her sometimes because of how far he’ll go to get what he wants. This is how villains start.

And the whole thing with Dru and how she ended up in fairy when she touched the strange fairy object thing that Jaime left behind? I don’t even know what I’m supposed to think of that.

I have so many theories about the next book. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT TWO YEARS?

Have you read this? Are you going to? Who is your favorite character in this series?

Series Review: “Shades of Magic” trilogy by V.E Schwab

Oh. My. Gosh. I finally FINALLY read these and this series is freakin’ fantastic! I was going to start beating myself up for reading the trilogy so late but then, I think I did myself a favor since I was able to read all three in a row instead of having to wait years. The Shades of Magic trilogy is everything I hoped: intriguing, complex and simply magical.

I fell in love with this world (or rather, worlds). The concept that there are four different worlds all connected by the constant city of London. And more than that, adored the characters. This series has both a plot driven and character driven story.

This was also my first attempt at a V.E Schwab book and I’m a fan. Her writing is descriptive without being monotone and she has the perfect balance of show vs tell.

On to the reviews! The later books will have spoilers for the previous one so if you haven’t read the entire series, feel free to skip the later books.

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4.5 stars

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

A Darker Shade of Magic was a thrilling introduction in this fantastic journey. Here, we meet Kell, an Antari – the only one in his world who can travel between the three Londons. He’s the adoptive son of the King and Queen of Red London and brother to prince Rhy. And we also meet Delilah (Lila) Bard, a wanted thief with too many knives and a seeker of adventure.

Schwab is a pro at world building, she doesn’t shove this new world down our throats but transitions us slowly.

My favorite thing about this book is the witty banter between Kell and Lila. I love humor and action in my Fantasy books and this one delivers. I also love a slow romance, no insta love and no love triangles. Their relationship isn’t really a romance, they’re just two people who have crossed each other’s paths and decided to go on a journey together. I appreciated their bond, their friendship.

Rhy, even thought he was absent most of the book, was by far my favorite character. We mostly see him through Kell’s eyes but even then, it’s obvious he is a kind and genuine person.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Nobles

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5 stars

“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”

My favorite out the three books, A Gathering of Shadows is the perfect sequel. You know what I love best in Fantasy books? Epic magic duels. I LOVE super powers and I love it even more when we get to see people fight with said super powers. Most of A Gathering of Shadows revolves around the Element Games, a tournament where the best magicians of the three kingdoms come together and the best magician earns the glory of the championship.

Kell and Lila are separated during most of the book and I absolutely loved it. I loved seeing them grow as characters. Kell is having to deal with a level of distrust from the King and Queen because of his previous smuggling habit as well as the knowledge of what he did to Rhy. Lila is getting used to living in a world full of magic and new rules.

All the new characters who were introduced are lovely additions, Alucard especially. He’s hilarious! If I thought I liked Lila and Kell’s banter, I love hers and Alucard’s even more.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Nobles

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4.5 stars

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

I was a pile of crumbling mess after finishing this book. How am I expected to move on now? This one broke my heart and then tried to piece it back together but it was too late because my heart was already shattered, just whyyy.

The plot was on point. The characters were all present and perfect in their own imperfect ways. The fights were wonderful as usual. It was action packed with the occasional humor thrown in.

If you haven’t read the conclusion yet, just know that it’s fantastic and skip these later paragraphs.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NoblesArrow

SPOILERS SPOILERS LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD!!

(This is not going to be very coherent, I’ll just warn you now)/

AHHHHHH, all these deaths, I CANNOT EVEN! Every side character I loved died?? And I loved all the side characters and they’re all pretty much dead. And the characters who survived are left damaged and heart-broken and it HURTS.

Kell and Rhy’s relationship is so nice! I love their brotherly duo and for a while, it almost seemed like they would beat Heronstairs which is high praise! (They didn’t but almost).

Rhy and Alucard are so darn adorable! The way Alucard stayed with Rhy when he “died” and then Rhy stayed with Luc when he was almost possessed! Their relationship is so nice and I’m so very glad Luc didn’t die on that ship. My poor Rhy has lost enough people.

I also just love all the little character interactions between everyone. How Lila was basically the first person to trust Rhy on his own. How Kell and Alucard have finally agreed to not hate each other after Alucard told Kell the real reason he left. How Holland was the one to save Lila and while that wasn’t enough for her to like him, she at least tolerated him from there on. Hastra and Kell’s conversations and how he seemed so eager to show Kell how he can grow a plant. Lenox and Lila and how he finally seemed to be comfortable around her. ALL THESE CHARACTERS ARE JUST SO BRILLIANT.

HOLLAND NOOOO! I was so hoping he would end up surviving, that poor man has gone through so much! And he still had the strength and the courage to keep going and fight against evil even though he had so many reasons not to.

The last scene with King Maxim and his iron soldiers was awesome. He literally created his own army just so he wouldn’t have to ask his people to sacrifice themselves. I’m still angry at him for blaming Kell for so long but I have to admire his strength.

Can we have a slow clap for the wonder that is Tieran? That man is the Dumbledore of this trilogy except much more helpful and is actually there for the main characters when they need him.

I so wanted to give this book five stars except it left some unanswered questions that I thought would be resolved by the last book. Schwab was probably just wanting to leave some things ambiguous but I really like closure.

Things I needed in this book:

  1. Kell’s parents!! I NEEDED to know even though apparently Kell didn’t. I need to know who his parents were, why they left him, or whether or not he was kidnapped. Does he have any siblings? Is he even from Red London? Why are his memories erased? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED?
  2. Lila’s past! What happened to her eye? Did her parents know what she was and had gotten rid of it? When did it happen? Who are her parents? WHAT IF HER AND KELL ARE SIBLINGS?! Not likely at all, I know, but can we be certain if we don’t know who their parents are?
  3. The king’s letters. He wrote letters to Emira, Kell and Rhy because he knew he was going to die. I wanted to know what was in them. Did he finally apologize to Kell for blaming him for the dark magic stuff? Does he tell Kell what really happened with his parents?
  4. Queen Emira and Kell. I really liked her POV chapters and that she cared about Kell but didn’t know how to express herself but I wanted her to! I know they have the brief scene where she gives Kell the kerchief with the initials KM but I wanted MORE. I wanted a scene where she calls him her son and then they hug it out like the mother/son duo they were always meant to be and life would’ve been perfect!

Have you read this series? Are you planning to? What other Victoria Schwab book would you recommend?

Review: “The Upside of Unrequited” by Becky Albertalli

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4 stars

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Nobles

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Ahh, this was so adorable! The Upside of Unrequited was even more adorable than Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Molly is kind, creative, and utterly relatable. The book has a diverse, multi-dimensional cast and of course Albertalli’s quirky writing style.

Molly is a fat girl and she is extremely aware of it. Her confidence in her own body increases as the story develops and her journey to self love was my favorite part of the novel.

To me, the best thing about a Becky Albertalli book is the dialogue. The characters speak like normal teenagers, they’re not whiny brats and they’re also not wise beyond their years sprouting out medieval quotes. Her characters always seem like genuine teenagers you can picture in a high school setting.

I’m always craving stories where family plays an important role in the MC’s life and Molly has a fantastic family. She has two moms, a twin sister Cassie who I also loved, and the cutest little baby brother. A good part of the book revolves around her moms’ wedding; they can finally get married because it’s now legal.

Molly and Cassie’s relationship was another great aspect of the book. Where Molly is quiet and cautious, Cassie is outspoken and a little reckless. Cassie meets her dream girl and is in a serious relationship for once and Molly is worried it’ll change her relationship with her twin. Their sibling relationship felt completely authentic, with arguments and fights but also fierce loyalty.

If you’ve read Simon vs. then you’re in for a treat because CAMEOS!

And Reid is an absolute darling (I just had to mention it).

Have you read this? What did you think?