June Reading Challenge! (June 12th-18th)

Hey guys!

I thought I would give you an update on my June Reading Challenge progress! It was a busy week for me with work and other responsibilities occurring, so it was hard to crunch reading time into the week.

During Monday and Tuesday, I did well in crushing my way through Snow Like Ashes and Ice Like Fire. However, Wednesday through Saturday, I had to work my two jobs, which completely crushed my reading time. I was able to finish the Snow Like Ashes trilogy by reading Frost Like Night and made it about halfway through The Unexpected Everything by Sunday Night.

Although I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to complete the challenge of reading all five books in a week, I am happy that I made progress on my to-be-read pile and brought the count down from 30 to the high 20s!

*****

Here’s a quick overview of the summer reading challenge, if you are interested in joining in on it!

For this reading challenge, we want to read five books in one week (from Monday-Sunday). We kept the requirements basic for each week of the summer months! The challenge is this: to read one duology/triology/series, one contemporary, and one other book to fill up the five books for the week.

If you couldn’t join us for this round of the challenge, never fear! We still have two more weeks that we’ll be doing the reading challenge. These other weeks are:

July 24th-30th
August 14th-20th

We hope to see you in the final two weeks of the reading challenge if you’re able to join us! It’s a great way to make your way through a heavy to-be-read pile and spend your days doing something you love.

See you next time,
Nicole

Lord of Shadows [Review]

SPOILERS BELOW

Lord of Shadows Cover.jpgSynopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com): 

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.

Pages: 720

Goodreads Rating: 4.58/5 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Opinion

It’s been a couple days since I finished this novel, but I needed the time to process what it was that I just read. Within the 699 pages of this story, so much happened, and so much remains to be revealed within the last novel. Basically, Cassandra Clare did it again with her brilliance and I cannot wait to get the last book in my hands – if waiting until 2019 doesn’t kill me first.

But, even now, I can hardly believe that I finished this novel and that it was in front of my eyes. I’ve been reading these novels for almost a decade now, but the waiting between each installment is always the worst part. That never changes and it never will, but what does change is how I am feeling after finishing each novel. If I’m being completely honest, after finishing this novel I felt empty inside. It was emotionally traumatizing and I loved every minute of it.

Much of my emotional trauma came from the characters, themselves. Emma stated that Julian was scaring her at one point and, honestly, I can say the same. Julian was willing to give up everything – including the parabatai bond for the entire world – which was ultimately terrifying. As a brother, a friend, and a father figure, it is terrifying to know that he will sacrifice anyone and everything to protect them. Especially when it comes to Emma; when he came about the idea of sending one of them into exile, he was too quick to suggest this idea, with the full knowledge that he would be asking Emma to sacrifice her relationships and her family (the Blackthorns). Although avoiding the parabatati curse for as long as possible is ideal, Julian is terrifying with his drive to protect. In the end, his protection will come calling and someone is going to get hurt.

One thing that was apparent to me was the two love triangles that Cassandra had created within this book. For myself, I am growing tired of seeing the love triangle trope withing young adult novels. While it tends to be a staple trope these days, it does get tiresome to see it over and over and over again. Cassandra’s books always have them in there, so I was surprised to see two of them being set up and played around with. In the case of Lord of Shadows, I sensed a triangle being set up between Kit, Ty, and Livvy; another was being created between Cristina, Kieran, and Mark. For the younger kids, it definitely wasn’t as prominent and the lines could have been blurry between romance and friendship; however, that is not the case for Cristina, Kieran, and Mark. When it comes to that triangle, I ship Mark and Cristina all the way (I also was having trust issues with Kieran, so that was probably one of the causes for dislike there). While playing around with the romantic relationships are great and all, I look forward to seeing the triangles resolved soon.

Something that I never noticed as I was reading was the huge hint Cassandra dropped in terms of the possibilities of a love child between Sebastian and the Seelie Queen. Dru played a vital role when it came to this reveal, as she was the one who discovered his existence. If I’m being honest, I didn’t make the connection about the child until I talked about the novel with Michaela (bookishreviewsandmore) and she mentioned the child. I’m curious to see where Cassandra will be taking this subplot in the next book!

I can’t finish this review without talking about how badly that ending wrecked my emotions. I think I hate the Cohort more than I have hated any other Cassandra Clare villain. Being honest, I blame them for the final events of the novel. When we lost Livvy… It hurts to even write that sentence. I had a suspicious feeling that something was going to happen to one of the twins by the end of the novel – we had been spending too much time with them, which was a move to make us care more about the characters – and that, unfortunately, came true. I never realized how much I came to care for Livvy until she was gone. The fallout of this death is going to be one of the worst Cassandra’s books have ever faced and it’ll be interesting to see what events this catalyst.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this novel! The pages flew by quickly – as they usually do with her novels – and I am already dying to get my hands on the next book. Although this isn’t my favorite book by her, I am excited to get the finale in my hands and to have my emotions crushed forever.

*****

The Shadowhunter Chronicles (In Chronological Order)

*****

QUOTE

Summer Reading Challenge: June!

Hey guys!

As many of you know, Michaela (Bookish Reviews and More) and I are hosting a summer reading challenge to help take the edge off of our ginormous to-be-read piles! Previously we did a reading challenge from the week of May 22nd-28th.  And tomorrow (June 12th) marks the beginning of the second week of our challenge! The reading challenge will run from June 12th through June 18th.

For this reading challenge, we want to read five books in one week (from Monday-Sunday). We kept the requirements basic for each week of the summer months! The challenge is this: to read one duology/triology/series, one contemporary, and one other book to fill up the five books for the week.

With this round of the challenge, I will be reading the Snow Like Ashes trilogy by Sara Raasch, The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, and I will be re-reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern!

If you can’t join us for this round of the challenge, never fear! We still have two more weeks that we’ll be doing the reading challenge. These other weeks are:

July 24th-30th
August 14th-20th

I hope you can join Michaela and me in our summer reading challenge!

See you next time,
Nicole

The Internment Chronicles [Review]

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Perfect Ruin Cover.jpg

Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com): 

On the floating city of Internment, you can be anything you dream – a novelist or a singer, a florist or a factory worker… Your life is yours to embrace or to squander. There’s only one rule: you don’t approach THE EDGE. If you do, it’s already over.

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city and her home, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. There’s too much for her on Internment: her parents, best friend Pen, and her betrothed, Basil. Her life is ordinary and safe, even if she sometimes does wonder about the ground and why it’s forbidden.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, Judas is being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find—or whom she will lose.

Pages: 356

Goodreads Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

*****

Burning Kingdoms Cover.jpgSynopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com): 

Danger descends in the second book of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.

After escaping Internment, Morgan and her fellow fugitives land on the ground to finally learn about the world beneath their floating island home.

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, their dead are buried in vast gardens of bodies, and Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they’re caught under the watchful eye of another king who wants to dominate his world. They may have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Internment with them?

Pages: 312

Goodreads Rating: 3.52/5 Stars

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

*****

Broken Crowns Cover.jpgSynopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com): 

War rages everywhere and Morgan is caught in the middle in the haunting conclusion of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.

The city is falling out of the sky…

Morgan always thought it was just a saying. A metaphor. The words of the dying. But as they look up at the floating island that was their home, Pen and Morgan make a horrible discovery—Internment is sinking.

And it’s all Morgan’s fault.

Corrupted from the inside by one terrible king and assailed from the outside for precious resources by another, Internment could be destroyed because Morgan couldn’t keep a secret. As two wars become one, Morgan must find a way to bring her two worlds together to stop the kings that wage them…

Or face the furthest fall yet.

Pages: 262

Goodreads Rating: 3.59/5 Stars

My Rating: 1/5 Stars

*****

My Opinion

When I was in high school, I completely adored Lauren DeStefano’s The Chemical Garden trilogy. Those books were a haunting tale of a future that might not be so far from our own – and stands close to The Handmaid’s Tale (which I have yet to read). Since I was in love with her books, I had also read Perfect Ruin shortly thereafter, but never continued with the triology. For my summer reading challenge, I decided to finally retire these books from my to-be-read pile and read them.

However, where I once thought there was greatness, I was instead met with bitter disappointment. Now that I have grown to be a more critical reader and writer, I take create interest in books that carefully weave their stories and cast their spells on the reader. In the case of these books, I found myself skimming across most of the pages and cringing at all of the writing follies that were occurring.

Foremost, I struggled the most with the characterization. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters due to their lack of development and flatness. They felt like every other young adult character that I have seen, only minus the drive and changes that make watching their character journey’s interesting. After a while, I had a hard time believing in Morgan, our protagonist, because she could not decide as to what she wanted and definitely did not hold true to the hero standards that this story was trying – and failing – to uphold.

When I read a story, I grow invested in a world if I can see it being flushed out and truly worked with. In the case of these books, it felt as if DeStefano had a loose idea of what she believed the world to be, but then gave up on trying to flush it out completely and incorporate it into her story. I found this to be unfortunate, as the world she was working on would have been neat, compelling, and immersive if it had been better played around with. One more draft of these stories and this aspect would have been perfected.

Furthermore, as I was reading, I felt as if the published draft was a mere treatment of the stories, rather than being the finished, polished entity. This most likely came out of the plot that was playing out across the three books (which, in reality, could have been one book altogether). Overall, I was finding it difficult to engage with the plot, especially towards the end. Everything played out too easily and successfully for the characters, which lead me to having difficulties with the belief factors of the events. I think this plot failure was best seen in book two, Burning Kingdoms, in which it didn’t feel like the book had a plot in the least – the characters were just existing in a world, with nothing major happening until the final 100 pages or so. Needless to say, skimming was my top reading strategy when it came to reading these books.

Now that I’ve come to the end of my ranting, I can see how this may barely pass as a review. Nevertheless, it definitely stands as a reflection of my feelings and reactions as I worked my way through this trilogy. It also goes to say that I will never read these books again. Maybe if I had read them a few years ago, as they were being released, I would have had more positive things to say – but that ship has long ago sailed.

*****

The Internment Chronicles (Trilogy)

  • Perfect Ruin
  • Burning Kingdoms
  • Broken Crowns

*****

“Every star has been set in the sky. We mistakenly think they were put there for us.”
― Lauren DeStefano, Perfect Ruin

Six of Crows Duology [Review]

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

six-of-crows-coverSynopsis for Six of Crows (Taken from Goodreads.com): 

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

Pages: 465

Goodreads Rating: 4.45/5 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

*****

crooked-kingdom-coverSynopsis for Crooked Kingdom (Taken from Goodreads.com): 

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

Pages: 536

Goodreads Rating: 4.65/5 Stars

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

*****

My Opinion

I have to say, I feel really apologetic to these books. I started reading them at the end of my winter break and I knew it was going to be a challenge to read them when my spring semester started, and I was right on that notion. It took me about five months to get through these two books, which was a struggle. But I am happy to finally be able to write a quick review on these two!

It’s been a while since I last read the Grisha trilogy by Leigh, but it was very easy to fall back into the high fantasy world she had created. However, if you haven’t read the previous trilogy, you will be missing out on a lot of the history and political nuances that are mentioned within the duology.

Per usual, Leigh also has a colorful cast of characters! If you have trouble connecting with one character, there is no doubt that you will find another one to connect with as well. For myself, many of the characters went under well thought out and careful development that was fun to trace throughout the two books. In addition, the characters all balanced each other out in terms of personality and motivations, which added layers to the novel. (I have to say, my favorite character was definitely Inej and I hope that she gets a spin-off novel, because I would love to see more of her story.)

I do have to say that the plot and pacing of the first book was more appealing and easier to get through than the second. I know Leigh had stated that it was difficult for her to write both novels and that hindered her on the second book. I had no problem falling into the world of the first novel, but when it came to Crooked Kingdom, I had a hard time adjusting to the pacing and events of the novel. However, these books are excellent when it comes to twists and being unable to predict what will happen next. If you’re looking for a bit of a fantasy thriller, these are

If you’re looking for a bit of a fantasy thriller, these are the books for you! I believe that if I had read them at a different time, when I would have more consistent time to read, I definitely would have been able to enjoy these books more thoroughly. I hope to return to these books in the future to better enjoy them and truly appreciate the tale Leigh is telling.

*****

Six of Crows (Duology)

  • Six of Crows
  • Crooked Kingdom

*****

“No mourners. No funerals. Among them, it passed for ‘good luck.”
― Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

May Reading Challenge! (May 22nd-28th)

Hey guys!

Today I come to you with the exciting news that I successfully finished the May portion of my reading challenge with Micheala (Bookish Reviews and More). From May 22nd through May 28th, Michaela and two other friends of ours challenged ourselves to read five books in a week.

I haven’t read so many books in a week since my sophomore year of high school, and, I have to say, it was refreshing to get this feeling again. I was excited to see the numbers on my Goodreads and physical bookshelf shrinking as I worked my way through books that have been sitting on my shelf for longer than I care to admit.

However, this challenge did not come without its downsides. Because I wasn’t used to reading so much in such a short timespan, I got intimately reacquainted with headaches (nothing that some ibuprofen and sleep couldn’t take care of!) and wrist/hand pain. But, these pains made the entire affair even more fun. I enjoyed watching the pages slip past my fingers as my reading speed increased with each book that passed.

In the end, I was successful in reading all five books that I had planned for myself! I read the entirety of:

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
The Internment Chronicles by Lauren DeStefano
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

While I’ll admit to some of the books being on the shorter end of the page spectrum, it still felt good to finally move these novels to my read pile and get them off my huge stack of to-be-read books.

Now for the hard question: What do I read next?

*****

We still have three more weeks planned to continue on with this reading challenge. The weeks that remain are:

June 12th-18th
July 24th-30th
August 14th-20th

For more information on the nature of our challenge, please check out my post titled Summer Reading Challenge! We hope that more of you will be able to join us in the future!

See you next time,
Nicole

A Court of Wings and Ruin [Review]

SPOILERS BELOW

A Court of Wings and Ruin Cover.jpgSynopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com): 

A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

Pages: 699

Goodreads Rating: 4.69/5 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Opinion

If I am being completely honest here, I had to wait a few days before writing this review. Why? Well, I needed a recovery period. There is something about Sarah’s writing that is so immersive and all-consuming that I needed a few days to collect my thoughts before sitting down at my laptop and pulling together an attempt at a comprehensive review. Also, I finished reading this book at 1:30 in the morning, so that also hindered me from writing a review initially.

Although it’s been about a year or so since I was last in the world of A Court of Thorns and Roses, it definitely felt like coming home, and I think that was due to the characterization. It was easy to fall back together with The Night Court and to see their relationships tested. Sarah never holds back in characterization and development readers, and I always enjoy tracking those aspects across the books. Also! Sarah listened to many online conversations pertaining to the lack of diversity within her books. We found a more colorful and expansive cast of characters that worked to include all of her readers, which was something I think we all can appreciate.

 

For myself, the most substantial development came in the form of Nesta (and her relationship with Cassian). Initially, I had a great amount of concern over her and Elain, as they had been forced against their will to transform, and then were left without their sister to guide them through the beginnings of her new life. Now, I’ve always had a soft stop for Nesta – I mean, her no-nonsense attitude was alway something I admired – and seeing the progress she made with both her cauldron magic and character wise blew me away. My favorite part, by far, was at the end of the novel, when we finally saw Nesta and Cassian coming together (Okay, but they better be mates because I have SO MANY FEELINGS when it comes to them). She killed Hybern, protected Cassian, and saved the world. If anything, she’s as badass as Feyre, and I adore that.

But I have to take a moment to talk about my OTP, Rhys and Feyre. If it there is one other thing I admire about Sarah’s writing, is that her relationships always feel increasingly more and more realistic the longer you are with the couples. Rhys and Feyre are simply perfect for each other and I appreciate how Rhys pushes on the ideas that females are his equal, and since Feyre is his mate, it is important to him that she gets her share in decision making and leading. Although I could have done with a little less sexy times and a little more conflict between them – they almost never fought/their spats never lasted long, so I had a hard time believing in that aspect. Otherwise, I was very content to return to my OTP of the century.

After I finished reading the book, I found myself wondering around on BookTube and Kat (Katytastic) had made a comment how she thought this third book would be the end of the story arc, since it was originally a trilogy. I had never thought about that idea walking into the books and I wish I had because it rang true. I believe it was around the 300-400 paged range that I began to wonder just how much material Sarah was going to cover within this novel.

The answer? A LOT.

I was okay with every second of it, though! We got to see more of the world – beautiful place, to the point that I wish it was real – and I was feeling some Narnia vibes at times, especially at the end with the final battle. Overall, the plot pacing was excellent. I never found myself growing bored or wanting to put the book down. Per usual, I couldn’t predict the twists and turns that the plot took us on, which was refreshing compared to some of the other books I have been reading lately.

However, I do have one complaint when it came to the final battle. Everyone survived at the end, and I had a difficult time dealing with that at the end. Yes, we did had the Rhys fakeout on page 666 (not going to lie, I definitely shed many tears when I hit that part), but we ended up with both Rhys and Amren at the end. I wanted at least one heartwrenching loss to stay as a loss, instead of a fakeout.

Otherwise, I completely fell in love with this book (even though A Court of Mist of Fury still stands as my favorite book so far). Feyre has to be one of my favorite heroines and I cannot wait to see what the next three books have in store for all of us!

*****

Throne of Glass (Series)

  • The Assassins Blade
  • Throne of Glass
  • Crown of Midnight
  • Heir of Fire
  • Queen of Shadows
  • Empire of Storms
  • Tower of Dawn (9.5.17)
  • Untitled

A Court of Thorns and Roses (Trilogy)

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses
  • A Court of Mist and Fury
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin
  • Untitled
  • Untitled
  • Untitled

*****

“It’s a rare person to face who they are and not run from it – not be broken by it.”
― Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Wings and Ruin

Summer 2017 Reading Challenge!

Hey guys!

Today I come to you with a fun blog. Michaela (Bookish Reviews and More) and I are hosting a summer reading challenge! We didn’t create anything fancy, but are undergoing this reading challenge in the name of lessening the weight of our to-be-read piles on our bookshelves. (Please tell me we aren’t alone in needing to do this.)

For this reading challenge, we want to read five books in one week (from Monday-Sunday). We kept the requirements basic for each week of the summer months! The challenge is this: to read one duology/triology/series, one contemporary, and one other book to fill up the five books for the week.

Also, we chose four different weeks across the months of May, June, July, and August, in which to go after this challenge! The weeks that we are doing are:

May 22nd-28th
June 12th-18th
July 24th-30th
August 14th-20th

We hope that some of you can join in as well. If you would like to join, feel free to leave a comment below or tweet at us!

Happy reading,
Nicole

My Dream Author Panel!

Hey guys!

Recently, I was posed the question by the website Eventbrite*: Who would be on your dream author panel? And I was more than happy to take up the challenge of answering that question.

As a writer and an avid reader, there is no genre I enjoy more than young adult fantasy. I aspire to write my own novel in this genre and I always seek out every scrap of knowledge there is when it comes to writing these books.

For these reasons, I want my Dream Author Panel to focus on Young Adult Fantasy novel writing. Although I was able to experience a panel similar in caliber to this one when I attended BookCon last year, I want it to specifically focus on the writing craft within this panel, as to help out other aspiring young writers that want to break into the publishing industry.

With so many fantasy novelists out in the world, it was difficult to choose just who I would want on the panel. In the end, it came down to my top young adult fantasy authors (biased, I know)! The authors that I chose are on this dream panel for a variety reasons, scaling from writing style, to world building, to diverse stories. These three are some the main aspects that I look for when it comes to the books that I read.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about these authors for my dream panel titled “How to Write Young Adult Fantasy.”

My Dream Author Panel.jpg

Cassandra Clare
If you spend a lot of time with me, you would know that I am constantly calling Cassandra Clare (well, her and Sarah J Mass) my queen of fantasy writing. I would want to bring Cassie to the panel because she doesn’t deal with high-fantasy writing; rather, she writes in low fantasy – otherwise known as magical realism. In addition, she crosses genres with The Infernal Devices and delves into the genres of young adult, fantasy, and steampunk. Her books cross genres so effortlessly and I would love to get her advice on how to blend them all together, as that is one of the hardest feats to accomplish as a writer.

Sarah J Maas
When I read a Sarah book, know that you will not be seeing me or getting a verbal response from me for a good day or two until I finish the novel. There are two elements that I love about her books: the writing style and the world building. Her style is smooth, beautiful, and immersive – hours simply disappear anytime I read her novel. More importantly, her world building is impressive. With two major series in the works of being completed, it is not an easy thing to keep two massive worlds separate in her mind. I definitely want to know how she keeps the worlds separate and so well developed.

JK Rowling
Of course, I had to add JK Rowling to the list! She was the author who made me the bookworm that I am today. I first read Harry Potter when I was in elementary school and from that point onwards, I began devouring every book that I came across. (Without those books, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog today!) I want JK on this panel to share more about the hardships she faced while writing the books – I want to know about her writer’s block, about how she developed her writing style, how many drafts of the books she had to write before they got published. More importantly, I want to know which book was the most fun to write.

Reneé Ahdieh
When I was dealing with a massive writing block a few months ago, it was Reneé’s duology that helped me to write again. Although she only has two books published – with another dropping within the month of May – they were beautiful retellings of One Thousand and One Nights. Both Reneé and Sarah have worked with fantasy retellings of classic stories and that trend is something that I have always had a great amount of interest in. I would love to hear her thoughts on how to balance the retelling with the overall story that she is striving to tell.

Sabaa Tahir
Sabaa is one of my newest favorite authors from the past year or so. I had waited to read her books – reason unknown to even me – and they were some of the best books I have read in a long time. One of the aspects I enjoyed the most was the fact that these books were historically inspired by the Roman empire. With those elements in mind, she built a high fantasy world for readers to enjoy. Her characters are alluring, new surprises are coming at every twist and turn, and I just want to learn her secret to writing. How did she push on her inspiration and what drove her to write these amazing novels.

In the end, I just want to know more from my favorite young adult fantasy authors. I want to hear their honest advice about writing and know what it is that drove them to keep working hard until their dreams of being published came true. With all of these bestselling authors in conversation, I believe that readers and writers will learn a lot from all of them!

Maybe one day this dream panel of mine will come true, whether it’s at YALL West or BookCon, or one of these other conferences! And hopefully I will have the chance to attend it myself.

Thanks for reading and see you next time!
Nicole

*Eventbrite is a website that provides services for businesses or individuals that are looking to create events or conferences. For more information, visit their website!

Roseblood [Review]

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Roseblood Cover.jpgSynopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com): 

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

Pages: 432

Goodreads Rating: 3.45/5 Stars

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

My Opinion

I am a huge fan of The Phantom of the Opera. It was the last musical I worked on during my Senior year of high school. I own two different versions of the show on DVD and have a playlist of the musical that I occasionally listen to on Spotify. So when I saw that this tale was getting a retelling in young adult novel format, I was ecstatic. I was able to purchase a copy from Half Priced Books (I was going to get it from Amazon, but since it was right there and in store, I just had to get it) and read it during my spring break from school.

Needless to say, I have mixed feelings about this book, which is why it only got 3.5 stars from me. (A middle ground score for a book that I am still processing.) On one hand, I wanted to get swept up in the magical realism and simply enjoy the novel. On the other hand, my inner book critique came out to play as I was reading.

On the grounds of this novel being a retelling, I believe it worked fairly well. I could see A.G. bringing in elements from Gaston Leroux’s novel, while also balancing it out with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical (and various renditions of that). In addition, I enjoyed how most of the retelling was reflected because of location and of Erik, the Phantom. All in all, I found that this was the strongest part of the story.

In contrast, I was struggling with the characterization a bit. It wasn’t as strong or pronounced as I would have wanted it to be. Also, there was an imbalance between the main and minor characters. For myself, I wanted more from the minor characters – mainly because, nine times out of ten, I liked the minor characters more than the main ones – and their moments to shine were fleeting. In all honesty, it sometimes felt as if A.G. forgot that she had minor characters, due to how often their relevancy was. For a 430 paged book, she definitely had too many characters drawn into her pages.

Furthermore, the magical realism was another area in which I struggled to connect to the story. I believe this is a result of the poor execution it was undergoing. A.G. was attempting to subtly hint and weave it in in the beginning, but it wasn’t until the 200-300 paged range that we got a better explanation as to what was going on. Magical realism isn’t an easy aspect to pull off, which I understand completely, but it definitely distracted me when I was confused about the lore, versus paying attention to the events unfolding on the page.

The pacing and the realism aspects were two other things I wanted more attention drawn to. For myself, the book didn’t start picking up until page 220 or so. The first chunk to the novel unfolded slowly, whereas the back-half moved rapidly, so you had to pay close attention while reading in order to avoid missing details. I wanted the pacing to be more balanced; in that way, I might have been immersed in the novel sooner. Along with this, I was having difficulty with the realism. Many events and conflicts opened and resolved too quickly, which I disliked. I wanted to see the characters emotionally and physically struggle with what was occurring. Not to mention, the ending wrapped up within a mere chapter. One. Chapter. The resolution definitely did not experience enough flushing out time to make it satisfactory.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this novel. It had a beautiful cover and the pages were covered in this deep, red ink. (The one downside is that if you weren’t reading in the correct light, it was a little painful to look at other things [i.e. screens] afterwards.) The plot was relatively balanced between the retelling and Rune’s story that was being told. In the end, I just wanted a little more push and clarity from it, is all.

*****

“Guard your throats and hide your eyes. He’s not dead, you fools. Legends never die.”
― A.G. Howard, RoseBlood