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Childish Spirits : Review

☽ Synopsis ☽ 

When Ellie and her family move into Inchwood Manor, Ellie quickly discovers strange things are happening. Who is the mysterious boy at the window? What secrets lie within the abandoned nursery? Who is the woman who haunts Ellie’s dreams and why has she returned to the Manor, after more than a century? 

Ellie finds herself entangled in a Victorian mystery of ghosts and tunnels and secret documents and discovers that life all those years ago isn’t so different from the world she knows today…

☽ Review ☽

Disclaimer : I was given an advanced reader’s copy of Childish Spirits in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to Rob Keeley for providing my copy! I would also like to note that I am above the target age range for this series, something I will be keeping in perspective as I write this.

Plot 

Again, keeping in mind the age range, I think the plot is perfectly paced. The story is short but fast paced which is great for younger readers who don’t quite have the attention span yet for longer books. I honestly think my little sister would enjoy this story a lot because all of the twists and adventures would continue to engage her. This book definitely entertained me. I was able to guess a lot of the major plot twists but I could see shocking readers. 

Overall, it’s a fun, easy to follow story that has mystery, adventure, funny banter, and of course ghosts. Every single chapter will leave you questioning what will happen next. 

Characters 

I liked the characters. We follow Ellie, who has just moved in and Edward, a mischievous ghost who just wants the house to himself. I think a lot of children will find it easy to relate to both of them and their friendship as it evolves throughout the book.

Camp Nanowrimo Midmonth Update

I can’t believe we’re already about halfway through Camp Nanowrimo! This time, I made the goal of writing every single day and managed to write a short piece 10/13 days! As I anticipated, writing consistently was difficult, particularly when my family came to visit. Along with the goal of writing consistently, I had plans to post a quote from my writing each day for accountability. Unfortunately in posting a quote I put so much pressure on myself to write the perfect line I ended up killing my motivation. It turns out I’m not one of those writers who can use social media for accountability. 

Projects so far : I bounced a couple of ideas around in my notebook mostly taken from one word prompts on a discord server. My favorite stories so far are one where the main character thinks they’re dreaming when they’re not and one that follows a Youtube vlogger who is being followed on vacation. They are both very much in the draft zero phases but I have high hopes that I’ll have them polished enough to post quotes at some point. 

Projects in the future :  While I’m going to continue to bounce around ideas, I would also like to plan my fantasy novel. Earlier today, I procrastinated by creating Picrew versions of my main characters. Maybe the visuals will inspire me to give my characters some depth so I can start reworking the plot. 


Lessons learned :  I need to put writing goals in my planner. If I don’t see a checkbox for it, I’ll never get it done. Even then, writing takes a lot of motivation after a long day of lectures and work. People who do this while juggling a full time job / school will never cease to amaze me.

The Boy Who Lived in the Ceiling : Review

 ☽ Synopsis ☽ 

Heartbreaking yet heartwarming – a coming-of-age story filled with love, loss, and blossoming friendships.

Freddie’s life isn’t like it used to be – he’s alone, homeless, and carrying a secret that threatens to swallow him up. Every day is a struggle, until he meets Violet Johnson.

Violet’s life is going down-hill. Her parents argue, her little brother’s stopped speaking, and she’s about to move schools. She used to be popular, she used to be happy, but now she feels as though that is all slipping away.

Having to grow up quickly and find their way in the world, Freddie and Violet grow closer despite their differences.

Focusing on everyday issues faced by teens and young adults, The Boy Who Lived in The Ceiling will leave you asking: Are some people invisible to us?

☽ Review ☽

Disclaimer : I was given an advanced reader’s copy of The Boy Who Lived in the Ceiling in exchange for my honest opinions. Thank you to Wise Wolf Books for providing my copy!

Plot

The pacing of the main plot does take some time to speed up. Once it did, I found the book easier and more engaging to read. I thought the overall plot arc that focused on Violet and Freddie’s relationship and his struggle with homelessness was well done and thoughtful. Thurlbourn takes a difficult topic and handles it so well. There is also a focus on grief in this book which I also thought was done in a careful way that still accurately depicted different forms of grief. 

That being said, I felt like there were many side plotlines that were started but never finished (or wrapped up in a non satisfactory way). A couple of the plotlines I was hoping would be integrated more into the story such as Freddie and trade school. Other plotlines, I think only watered down the main plotline – the focus on Freddie and Violet becoming more open and understanding of each other. I thought the Aisla and Violet clashing only distracted from this main plotline. It wasn’t relevant at all in the last hundred pages of the book, much like Violet and Jeanette’s friendship. Honestly, the book would have been more effective without either of those side plots. 

Characters

I liked Freddie. I could empathize with his inner and outer struggles dealing with grief and homelessness and his growing friendship with Violet. I liked Violet as the book progressed. In the beginning, her character arc for the most part was the cliche “will I make friends at my new public high school?” I started liking her after the “will I make friends” plotline was out of the way and in the background. 

As for the other characters, I didn’t feel they were developed enough to give an opinion on other than Violet’s brother, who spent the book trying to gain a handle on his grief in a way not totally dissimilar from Freddie. I liked what I saw of Jeanette but she felt more like a plot point than a person. Aisla had more of a character arc but the end of her character arc felt completely out of character from what I saw of her before and sudden.

10 Things I Learned From Margaret Atwood’s Masterclass

I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only writer who has been creating stories in their head and on paper since they were a little kid. Even before I knew how to use words I was drawing picture books for my family. When I was twelve, I thought I could write a bestseller with nothing more than my brain and my school issued a Chromebook (spoiler alert it was not a bestseller although my friend and I did get copies printed to hand out to our friends). Now, in high school, I’ve realized I’m going to need a lot more guidance if I am to fulfill my dream of publishing a novel. 

That’s how I found Masterclass. There’s no great reason I chose to start with Margaret Atwood other than the fact that I had read her book The Handmaid’s Tale for English 10 the prior year. In this post, I’ll be summarizing the ten tips that stood out to me from her Masterclass. 

The Beginning is Crucial to Success : Atwood says that the first page is the entryway to your story. The reader has to like what they read to feel compelled to read more and hopefully buy the book. Once they get past the first page, something has to happen to convince them to convince them to buy your book. If nothing happens by page ten, you’re in trouble. 

People Are Not Perfect : Everyone has a flaw and so, characters should have some flaws too. Your character doesn’t even have to be likable nor the villain has to be redeemed because not every person is likable. The goal is to find a balance in flaws and talents in characters to keep your readers engaged. 

Actions Reveal a Character : If you want the reader to make a certain conclusion about a character, you have to show that quality through the character’s actions. What they do or don’t do says a lot about their moral compass and personality. 

Make Writing a Habit : This should be an obvious tip but so many people (myself included) don’t end up following through. You have to write everyday no matter what even if you don’t have any idea what to write. She doesn’t say you specifically need to always be working on your next project. You just need to write something. And hey- maybe you’ll get a new idea for later down the road!

Pay Attention to the World Around You : Atwood believes that you must observe the world using the five senses and practice honing your sensory perceptions to aid your descriptions. Using the senses in your novel adds another level to the story so you need to know what kind of sights or sounds a character might notice. 

Time is Always Relevant : Using time grounds readers and so it is always helpful to create and note a timeline in your stories. Atwood says that such timelines can either be circular and linear and that there’s no wrong or right side of history. 

Be Open to Changes : Maybe that really cool face off you were thinking of writing didn’t fit with the rest of the story or a romantic tension that you didn’t intend to cause bloomed between two characters. Atwood says that’s okay. The whole point of revision is to decide how you want to proceed once you find these obstacles. 

Have Someone Look Over Your Writing : At some point, you are going to have looked over your work so much, you can’t catch the flaws anymore. That’s what beta readers and critique partners are for. Atwood advises you don’t pick someone really close to you because you want someone who feels comfortable being critical of your work. 

Detail is Crucial : Someone will notice if you say a traveler has four protein bars but eats six. Having someone to point out inconsistencies in detail and fixing them overall makes a novel cleaner.
 
No Surefire Way to Find Success : There are a lot of successful and unsuccessful writers in both self publishing and traditional. You want to go the route that seems the best for you and your book.

Malice : Book Review

 ☽ Synopsis ☽

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again.

Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.

☽ Review With Spoilers ☽

Plot 

Once I got past the standard fantasy introduction to the world, the pacing was great. The ways that Walter incorporated elements of the Disney fairytale we all know and love was clever yet subtle. The romantic plotline between Alyce and Aurora felt natural and honestly the angst and the chemistry between them is perfect. 

I was able to predict some of the major plot points. I figured Kal might betray Alyce in some fashion but I can’t say I hate him for it either because he helped Alyce understand her powers and her heritage. I also wasn’t surprised when Alyce found out it was Laurel who took all of her money so that she would stay indebted to the king. Still, that didn’t make me enjoy the book any less. In fact, the entire book was quite entertaining, enough so that I decided to give it five stars. 

I think if I wanted to, I could just end on book one because the ending, although it set up an interesting premise for book two, didn’t seem like much of a cliffhanger to me. I think I’m going to keep reading because I want to know how Alyce will win Aurora back but of course the second book most likely won’t come out until I’m in college at which point I might be too busy to read it. 

Of course I can’t post this review without mentioning my favorite part : the villain origin story. I love a good villain origin story. It was fascinating to see Alyce act on her fury and realize the true potential of her powers. I hope she gets all the revenge she wants because she deserves it after being so cruelly treated by practically everyone in Briar. 

Worldbuilding 

The story is set in the kingdom of Briar, which is run by the King and Queen and known for its Grace Houses. The Graces are females gifted by the Fae with the powers to alter appearance or give knowledge or other light magic gifts. It sounds great, but in reality they are practically enslaved, forced to use their blood to aid any patron who is willing to pay money for their services. Alyce works in one of these houses although her powers are the opposite of what the other Graces can do because she is part Vila. This world setting is cool and as I mentioned before, has many subtle references to the fairytale Sleeping Beauty. The Graces are much like the three fairies who originally gifted Aurora in the movie. Briar is a reference to Sleeping Beauty’s other name – Briar Rose. Just as there are references to the fairytale, much of the world’s details and history is different. The royals can only have female children because the first queen was blessed that way by the Fae. There is the Vila, which is a dark magic race. I found myself fascinated by the kingdom and its inner politics. I’m excited to see what new kingdoms will be potentially visited in the next book. 

Characters

I don’t have anything bad to say about Aurora or Alyce. I think Alyce’s inner struggle with herself was pretty relatable. She has many reasons to be angry yet doesn’t choose to act on her anger until Aurora is harmed. I hope things end well for her and Aurora. Aurora, unlike her cruel father, wants a better life for the peasants and the Graces. She’s kind and smart. 

I think Kal and Alyce are fairly similar in that they both have been scorned by the Fae and Briar which I thought was an interesting parallel. I can’t find it in myself to hate him because much like Alyce, he simply wanted to live a nice life with his lover and when he was denied that, wanted revenge. 

I can find it in myself to hate Rose, one of the Graces. I know a lot of her cruel actions are a product of the cutthroat competition between Graces and the pressures on her but still. She is such a bitch. I can’t blame Alyce for sabotaging her. 

There are other characters that have a role in the plot but I don’t have much to say about them. I feel indifferent towards Laurel although I liked her a little in the beginning. Hilde is funny. She’s mentioned enough that I think she’ll play a role in book two as well.

Ashes of Aether : Review

 ☽ Synopsis ☽ 

Loving a necromancer’s son comes at a perilous price…

As the daughter of Nolderan’s most powerful mage, Reyna Ashbourne has only ever faced two obstacles: her father’s wrath for slacking with her magic studies, and being shunned by many for loving Arluin, a necromancer’s son.

But Reyna’s life takes a bitter turn when Arluin’s exiled father returns to wreak his vengeance upon the city. With the living dead plaguing the streets, the boy she loves is forced to choose between his heart and his blood.

When those dearest to her perish, Reyna vows to become as mighty as her father. However, the path of the magi is no easy one, and she must first complete her Mage Trials to prove she has the required strength of heart, mind, and magic.

Yet the shadows of the past rise once again, threatening to tear Nolderan asunder.
And so too her heart

☽ Review With Spoilers ☽

NOTE : I was given an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

Plot 

 I will admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of the beginning. It seemed a little like every other magic school fantasy novel I’ve read and the main rivalry between Kaila and Reyna honestly annoyed me. I personally am not a fan of the ‘best friends turned mortal enemies’ trope especially when there isn’t much of a reason other than jealousy. That being said, I did laugh when Reyna bested Kaila during the Mage Trials. She deserved it. 

The other reason I didn’t like the first half as much was mainly all the worldbuilding information, a lot of which was repeated and didn’t end up having any relevance to the plot. The first half only got interesting during the big battle between the necromancers and the mages. 

As for the second half, there were still some repetitive parts and the reveal that Arluin was the guy she became romantically involved with in between the trials was predictable. But, I think the whole demon / dark magic that Reyna will need to use to defeat Arluin will be an interesting second book. 

Worldbuilding 

I think the magic system is cool. The last book I remember reading that had spells and potions was Harry Potter and I’m glad that I’m seeing it again. Instead of wands though, aether is what mages use as the source of their magic. I personally really liked the aether concept. I will say I like the necromancy and the demon concept more so I was glad that that aspect was touched on!

Characters 

There’s not much I can say about the characters and I think that might be because they weren’t developed enough. I liked Reyna more towards the end. In the beginning, she mostly annoyed me and I wish the alcohol abuse problem that she has was addressed more. 

As for Arluin. I thought the first half Arluin was cute. I also wish he had developed more because although I guessed he would come back angry about being banished, I didn’t like that he thought Reyna owed him her hand in marriage even after he killed her father. Promises can be broken and honestly, if I were her, I wouldn’t get back with him. 

I mentioned my thoughts on Kaila more on the plot. It seemed she was really only there to create more challenges for Reyna to overcome. 

I like Eliya. She’s a great best friend. That’s all I can say about her.

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue: Book Review

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

If it weren’t for the fact that I had a ton of exams and assignments this week, I would’ve finished this book faster. I loved it. Going in, I didn’t really know what would happen except that the book made a lot of people cry. It did not make me cry (only one book so far has done that when I was ten), but it was sad. And it did break my heart. Every character is so well written, even the side characters. The writing itself is gorgeous (although are we really surprised since this is V.E Schwab I’m talking about?) I think besides the heartbreaking story, the most interesting thing for me is the ‘curse’ that binds Addie and how she works within it. It is a cruel yet fascinating curse to be immortal yet also forgotten by everyone you meet. 

I will admit, I did see some of the twists coming before they happened but that didn’t stop any of them from hurting me inside. When I realized that the book was supposed to be written by Henry so that Addie could have something in the world that was hers I had to put the book down for a minute and just process. They are so cute together I just can’t deal sometimes. 

I’m trying to actually write a review that gives reasons for why I loved this book so much but I can’t find anything wrong with it. If you haven’t read this book yet. Please do. I know I’m going to go read some of her other books now.

Blog Tour : Amelia Unabridged

Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.

In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.

When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.

I loved this book. The main characters are a bookworm and a writer which makes it all the easier to empathize with them (as a book nerd and writer myself). There are so many things woven into the story that I just nodded like ‘yep, I do that too’. 

Although it does have a romance, it is a very sad book. I think I almost cried at least three times. It’s a book about finding yourself and dealing with grief and I think the author did a great job of portraying that. Part of the reason she does may be because she only focuses on those aspects along with the character arcs unlike a lot of YA novels I’ve read. It really adds to the impact. 

When I looked back on the timeline of this book, I couldn’t believe it had happened over a couple of days. The romance between Nolan and Amelia doesn’t feel rushed. This could be partially because they already know a little bit about the other (Amelia because Nolan is a famous author and Nolan because Amelia’s friend talks to him about her). 

I think the two are adorable together. My favorite scene might be him reading to her from his book. Definitely made me jealous of them. 

This review is harder for me to write than others because I can’t find anything I disliked about the book. The amazing thing to me isn’t the main characters because the main characters are typically well developed. It’s the side characters. All of them have some sort of character arc. 

All the characters are likable. They all felt like real people, even the side characters. I want a boyfriend like Rolan. He gives me Darcy from Pride and Prejudice vibes and I like him (also because I too want a boyfriend that will willingly read books with me and talk about them). 

Basically what I’m trying to say is everything is on point. This book felt like a breath of fresh air. I’ve read hundreds of books over the years yet I don’t think I’ve read a book quite like this one. The writing style is engaging, the plot doesn’t feel slow at all and the way this book handles grief delicately makes an unforgettable story.

chapter three

I learn that books are liars when, less than a week after her departure, Jenna’s mother calls to tell me that Jenna is dead.

“Car accident,” she says. “The other driver sped through a red light.”

“How?” I ask. Stupidly, brokenly. “I don’t know,” she says.

“But she was in Ireland.”

Was. I’ve only known for a minute and Jenna is already a

was instead of an is.

Jenna’s mother barely stops to breathe; she uses her attorney voice, her no-nonsense voice, the kind she uses for client calls or when Mr. Williams doesn’t cut the Thanksgiving turkey into thin enough slices.

“Will you speak, Amelia? At her funeral, I mean?”

I say yes, but when the day comes and I’m standing in front of a congregation that moments before had been singing a hymn of celebration for Jenna and her “reunion with her creator,” I lose it. I let myself bleed onto every surface—the podium, the hideous floral arrangements, her

casket—as the stories and memories imprison my head and my voice.

If this were a photo I was trying to frame in my lens, I would stretch the shadows creeping from beneath her stupid casket as far as I could. I would stretch them until they smothered the somber faces in the pews and all that would be left unshadowed in the photo would be myself behind the podium and what’s left of Jenna. I would call it Survivor and a Half.

But my imagination can only keep me occupied for so long.

Countless pairs of eyes look at me with pity and heartbreak, and I feel the years of waiting in line for book signings, the late-night study sessions when one of us had procrastinated too long on research papers, the countless hours spent reading together. All that, and the stupid, stupid pictures tacked to her bedroom wall, work their way down from the lump in my throat to the choke hold squeezing my heart.

Eventually the pastor comes up to pat my back and lead me away from the microphone, my hiccupping sobs loud enough without the assistance of amplification.

It’s wrong, I keep thinking. Life isn’t following its script and

it’s not fair . . . I’m not prepared.

While some kids waited for their letter to be delivered by owl or for their closet to one day reveal a magical land with talking animals and stone tables, I’d waited for the other shoe to drop. Because if there’s one thing I learned from books, it’s that life is fair and unfair, just and unjust. When my father left us, I thought that was the end of it, but then Jenna found me and life was dreadfully out of balance again, too right and happy.

I waited for more hard parts, the ones books say begin when you’re young but always, always end in the early teenage

years to allow for happily-ever-after. The Final Big Bad Thing would happen before high school graduation. Everything bad happens to you in high school or after you’ve turned forty and have a spouse and six kids and a few decades of hard-earned disappointment under your belt.

Books lie. Life isn’t finished with you when you are eighteen or when you think you’ve had enough.

It’s never enough. You’re never in the clear.

Jenna thought her books should be new and pure, untouched by anyone but herself. I prefer my books to have already been occupied, to have stories independent of the one carried on the page. I like to imagine my used books as little soldiers that have gone off to serve their duty elsewhere before coming into my hands. Books are something to be stepped inside of, to be occupied and lived in. Maybe that’s why I tend to loan out my books while Jenna rarely parted with hers.

But Jenna is gone now. She’s gone, and her parents have bequeathed me her library.

“She’d want you to have them,” Mr. Williams says through tears, when he and Mrs. Williams come to check on me a few days after we watch Jenna’s body get lowered into the ground. This is only the second or third time they have been inside my mother’s house, and they look out of place seated on the

edge of my twin bed.

Mr. Williams is vying for me to spend the remainder of the summer with them, but something inside me balks.

“You wouldn’t . . . you wouldn’t have to sleep in Jenna’s room,” Mr. Williams says. “But we could get you all the help

you need. Counselors and therapists and college coaches, whatever you need . . . whatever you want.”

“I know,” I say, rubbing my temples to try to stop the low throbbing. “I know.”

“Mark,” Jenna’s mother says. Her tone is low, mildly chastising. “She doesn’t want to be in our house.”

She’s right. I can’t stand the thought of being smothered by the long hallways of their immaculate house, which hold almost as many pictures of me on the walls as of Jenna.

Pictures of us in mud masks and pajamas. Shots of us grinning in front of the ocean, with the tip of Mr. Williams’s pinky in the corner of the frame. The one of Jenna looking back over her shoulder and smiling her devastating smile, the one she rarely let people see, the one that made her face glow and her eyes crinkle.

That’s the photo Mrs. Williams had blown up and framed for the funeral service. During the reception at their house, Kailey Lancaster pointed to where the wrapped canvas picture sat on an easel and whispered to her boyfriend, “It doesn’t even look like her.”

It took everything in me not to “accidentally” knock her

plate of cheese cubes and fruit out of her hand.

I shove the memory from my brain and half try to give Jenna’s books back, to insist they return the six or so massive boxes to Jenna’s shelves, but her parents refuse to hear of it.

When they finally leave, I spend what feels like hours going through Jenna’s library and systematically destroying page 49 of each of her books, tearing the pages in half before sloppily taping them back together. The first roll of tape I grab from the kitchen junk drawer is double-sided. I

numbly use it for about twelve books. I don’t attempt to fix the others.

It was Jenna’s rule of reading excerpts, the page 49 thing. “Far enough to get a feel for what the author’s writing is really like without going too far and risking a huge spoiler,” she

always said.

I don’t know why I rip the pages. Maybe I’m hoping she will come back and chastise me for ruining her books. Maybe I’m trying to erase her, to make the books my own so I can forget perfect Jenna and her perfect books ever existed.

Or maybe I’m just stupid with grief and don’t know what I’m doing.

Later that night, summer rain patters against the window and drowns out even my most melancholy thoughts, and I try to read the book I started before graduation. Over and over, I try. I switch to Orman, and I try again. But my eyes refuse to change the letters into sentences, the sentences into pages.

I reread the same sentence no less than five times before   I give up. I close the book and lie on my back with my eyes closed.

My life has split in two. Before there was a before and a sub-

sequent after, I imagined myself a talented reader. Reading, for me, has always been more like playing a video game than watching a movie, an active experience that used to leave me physically and emotionally wrought.

I could step into a page and roam the described landscape independently of the characters that inhabited it. I’ve plucked the ring from Frodo and felt its inscribed Elvish on my finger- tips. I’ve sneaked gulps of milk from the Boxcar Children’s

hidden stash beneath the waterfall, borrowed Harry’s broom while he studied with Hermione, and played with the Bennet cats while Elizabeth and her sisters were dancing at Nether- field. I’ve stepped in the forest-green prints of Orman, my footprints dwarfing Emmeline’s and barely matching up to Ainsley’s. I’ve rested my palm against the cool stone of the lighthouse fortress that first greeted them upon their arrival, and smelled the salt from the sea below.

I’ve lived in books. I’ve eaten and breathed books for so long that I took it for granted. I assumed that, if they saved me once, they would always be there to pick me up, even if Jenna wasn’t.

But Jenna is gone, and the words stay on the page in their neat, orderly rows. The pages don’t rise up to meet me like old friends, and the characters are marionettes pulled by visible strings.

If I were going to take a self-portrait, I wouldn’t focus on my crumpled body curled on the bed with its mismatched sheets and pillowcases. I would take all of Jenna’s books and wrap them so tightly with masking tape that the covers would wrinkle beneath the binding. I would take my books and rip out the last two pages of each, because this is what it feels like without Jenna here to see what comes after this—college, careers, boyfriends, whatever. None of it will matter, because in all of my imaginings, it was always the two of us, sisters by choice rather than blood.

I’d arrange the ripped pages falling on the taped books and I would call it Time Heals No Wounds. Or maybe I would focus on the crumpled edges of the removed pages and call it Amelia Abridged.

When I eventually fall asleep, tears still pooling in my ears, a shadow monster with teeth chases me through endless swampy marshes. In my hand is an instruction manual on how to defeat it, but since I can no longer read, I run and run and run.

Thoughts on ACOTAR & Predictions for ACOSF

Before I begin, considering all the controversy surrounding ACOSF recently (A Court of Silver Flames for those who don’t know), I felt it necessary to give a personal statement and disclaimer at the beginning of this review. I did buy ACOSF. I’m not going to claim I’m not supporting her because I feel that is performative (and hypocritical). 

So then why am I buying her book? By talking about her characters and books I’m already supporting her. Pirating the book or waiting for a second hand option won’t change that. 

In these reviews I’m going to continue to point out the problems as any good reviewer should. Maybe one day, I’ll grow out of her books and stop reading them altogether. However, I don’t know if that will happen. ACOTAR helped me survive the most difficult surgery of my life. Throne of Glass helped me survive my severe anxiety freshman year of high school. 

I’m never going to stop buying and supporting books with well written, diverse representation from other authors. For those wondering why I’m also continuing to buy Maas’s books, I hope this explanation helps.

I forgot a lot of the events that happened in this series. Maas’s world building could be a lot better. Many of the rules of the magic system are unclear and the ones that aren’t are broken constantly. I mean Feyre, Rhysand and Amren are all resurrected. During the High Lords meeting, there are wards put in place to keep people from using their magic without some injury but somehow, Rhys, Azriel and Feyre manage to work around that with no explanation made except that they are different. It’s clear the main characters are too powerful for their own good. 

Did I still enjoy all the magic? Yes. I’m the type of person to not care if all the characters ‘sacrifice’ but still end up fairly well off at the end, which is the case with these books. 

On the reread, I realized I liked certain characters a lot more and others, I understood them a little bit more and by them I mean Lucien and Nesta. I will not stand slander for either. Lucien did just as much as Rhys was able to Under the Mountain and after Feyre left to the Spring Court. He healed her and risked warning her during the Middenguard Wyrm trial. Meanwhile Tamlin just tried to have sex with her. I swear for an originally Young Adult novel these characters are so horny. And Tamlin is a piece of shit. Yes, he does some good things later on but he still is horrible. Some people seem to think he will get a redemption arc. I doubt it. 

As for Nesta, she did her best to help out during the war, attempted to go after Feyre, and she’ll do anything for Elain. I’m glad ACOSF is about her because I’ve wanted a book about her. 

I can’t find anything to hate about Cassian and Azriel (especially Azriel I love him). They’re loyal, sarcastic, and hot. What more could I want? 

Rhys is a different story. I noticed there were some times where he made some questionable actions, even when it was told from Feyre’s point of view. The age difference between the two is one of the problematic elements in general. To me, I see him more as a twenty year old guy because otherwise it just gets messy. Every time people near Rhy’s age (or younger like one of the old human queens) calls Feyre a child, I cringe inside. Age aside, he has his moments. In ways he’s hornier than Tamlin. I mean they thought about having sex (thankfully didn’t actually do it but still) in a library created for sexual assult survivors and in the middle of the warcamp. I can’t forget about his temper. He and the Circle were not the nicest to Nesta in the beginning. They avoided her, at the dinner with Feyre they made constant jokes about Nesta’s understandable temper. No wonder Nesta was so fiery all the time. Not to mention he goes behind the back of his Circle a lot of the time. He made a deal with Eris, who he knew had a dark history with Mor, and didn’t tell her about it. Shit like that is not cool. Overall, he’s great for Feyre but I still need to bring up these issues. 

On to Mor. I like Mor. But, from what I understand, she’s one of the reasons people have problems with this series. She’s bisexual with a preference for women, which we don’t find out until very late in book three and while she does have a backstory, there are parts to her that are underdeveloped compared to the other members of the Inner Circle. She’s Rhys’s third but she barely fights in the books. She has a power of Truth but I’m not sure what that means? She can lie pretty easily so it’s not a power that makes her tell the truth and she doesn’t seem to be able to tell when others are lying, because during the war, Feyre was able to sneak off to find the Suriel. I’m not sure what else she does besides wear revealing clothes (clothes that I want but that’s beside the point) and that is probably the root of the diversity problem when it comes to her. 

I realize these are quite a few problems to have with the books. As I said above, I think you can still enjoy and read problematic books as long as you learn and discuss what the problematic elements are. On an entertainment level, the books are incredibly entertaining but if I was critically rating this, it would lose a few stars for all the issues with the plot, world building and character development.

1. I hear that I’m going to hate Rhys when I read this book. I bet he yells at her for how she didn’t help Feyre when they were poor and Feyre doesn’t defend her. 

2. Eris might get a redemption arc, or the very least I think we’re going to hear his reasoning behind some of the despicable things he’s done.
 
3. Either Beron or Helion is going to die. 

4. Lucien is going to find about being Helion’s son 

5. Amren and Nesta become friends (manifesting because I feel like they would be good friends)

6. Cassian gets injured again for Nesta 

7. I heard something about Kelpies so maybe it’s a character they meet on the way of some mission

8. I think Vassa will be in this one. The last book said she didn’t have a lot of time before she had to go back. I think the mission is they try to break her curse 

9. Tamlin will make an appearance (Lucian and Tamlin fight?)

10. At least one important prophecy from Elain that everyone doesn’t understand until it’s too late

Review : The Guest List

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

I loved this book. There’s not a lot I can say without giving spoilers but Foley does a great job of tying up all the loose ends (and there are a lot in the beginning) into something shocking. None of the characters are perfect, even the ones you think are in the beginning and a lot of the characters are withholding information from you, which I think is interesting. Lies are everywhere, and everyone is hiding something, whether or not that something is the reason a body ends up dead (you don’t even know who died until the end which adds to the mystery.) 

It’s the type of novel that once you get into it, you won’t want to stop reading (or in my case listening.) Near the end, at  the end of every chapter I had an “oh shit that just happened” moment. If I was physically able, I would’ve stayed up all night to finish.

Now for why I thought the loose ends tied up neatly. I’m going to be honest, at first I thought most of the stories were just background into the characters so that we would empathize with them later. I was left trying to not only figure out from those backstories which person was the murderer, but who died. Then all the plots came together and it clicked. Will as the victim made perfect sense. I about cackled when I found out it was him. He definitely deserved it which made the ending all the more interesting. Suddenly, everyone had a motive. Will had caused Hannah’s sister to kill herself. Johnno’s chance at a tv role was stolen. Jules was angry at being taken for a fool. Olivia was broken that she couldn’t talk to anyone about her dating Will without hurting Jules. And as for Aoife? Well she was the sister of the boy Will and Johnno killed years ago in a game of survival. I almost couldn’t believe it when I found out all of those details, but I thought back on it and the clues were all there. 

I definitely plan on reading more books of hers in the future.