Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

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“Stay away from the bees.”

Black Bird of the Gallows is a debut standalone paranormal YA romance that reads like a mixture of Candyman meets The Birds meets Twilight. (And I mean that mashup in the best way possible!)

“The energy flows over me, fills me, and none of it feels tainted, contaminated by the darkness of my mother’s mistakes.”

Angie Dovage lives in a small town in southwest Pennsylvania and is counting down the days of her senior year of high school, so she can finally graduate and escape the small town that won’t let her forget her childhood. She is living with her father, making music with her two best friends, and trying to ignore that past that still haunts her. That is, until a new boy moves in next door and makes her realize there may be more to her small sleepy town than anyone realizes.

Reece is not your regular human boy, but is also harboring a secret that will change Angie’s world forever. Together they are trying to uncover the fate of their small town, while also learning to trust one other and overcoming their own personal fears.

“If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I’d have said magic is impossible. Irrational. Just considering its existence in this world is insane. But I saw bees crawl out of a man’s mouth. I saw him change faces like pages of a book.”

This book has a dark and spooky vibe throughout its entirety. The writing is beautiful and for sure helps create this haunted aesthetic vibe, which I loved. This book feels and reads very much like a mystery thriller, even though it is for sure a paranormal romance. Also, I feel like the story itself was just super unique.

“I endured two centuries of horrors, and maybe it was all so I could be here with you. If my unnatural existence means nothing else, it means this. I get to be here, now, with you.”

I had a little problem with the romance in this book, and how fast and instant it seemed to be. The story later addresses this with more back content, but that addition just made me feel a little creeped out. I also felt like the ending was a little too easy and convenient for my liking, as well. But those were the only two issues I really had. Besides those, this was a really enjoyable read.

I do think it’s important to note that this book centers around death a lot. So, trigger warnings for talk of death, child abuse, and a minor plot point that surrounds a school shooting. Yes, this is a YA novel, but the nature of this book definitely deals with some dark subject matters, so please go into this book knowing that.

I completely recommend this, especially for a fun Halloween paranormal read! I really enjoyed Angie’s friendships with Deno and Lacey and then her parental relationship with her father. Also, I love that this is a standalone, because those are so unheard of nowadays, especially in the paranormal genre. This is a quick and easy read that would be super enjoyable for the fall season. And I will definitely read future books by Meg Kassel, because of this wonderful debut.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Chapter by Chapter

Bad Reputation (Bad Boys of Sports, #1) by Nicole Edwards

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ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Buddy Read with Paloma

This was not what I was expecting it to be. I normally love sports romance books, especially starring hockey players because of my love for the Off-Campus Series by Elle Kennedy, but this was mostly just a let down.

Bad Reputation is a friends to lovers story that surrounds two best friends that are both ignoring the fact that they feel more for each other than just friends. Chase is your typical bad boy professional athlete that only really has one-night stands. And his best friend is Cassie, who is an overachieving workaholic who is a VP of a very successfully company.

They have been best friends for many years, and their friendship started when they met in college. They soon realized that they grew up very close together, and their families soon became close, too. After Chase signs on with the Tornados and moves to Texas to play professionally with them. Cassie also joined her company because it was located in Texas to be close to Chase. They are now twenty-seven and twenty-eight, and trying to figure out what they want with the rest of their lives. And one night in Vegas changes their friendship forever.

I have to get ready to get on my own flight to go back home to Vegas, so I’m going to make this a really simple and easy to write a review for you guys!

Things I didn’t enjoy about this book:
➽This book alternates points of view in the middle of every chapter. This just made the story feel so disjointed, and never really allowed me to enjoy a scene completely. I really wish the character switches would have been done at the start of every chapter instead of this alternating mess.
➽Also, at the start of every chapter is an excerpt from a sports column, and I found this rather pointless and very much a waste of my reading time. It kind of connects with the epilogue, but it was still not enough to make me enjoy these senseless excerpts.
➽I grew up in Michigan during the height of the Detroit Red Wings. Hockey has planned a huge part of my life growing up, and I have never once heard of the penalty box being called a “sin bin”.
➽Cassie seems to completely change her personality type in the middle of the book and it was rather annoying and abrupt. How she could become so irresponsible all of a sudden was rather unbelievable.
➽Also, after that 50% mark, this book becomes a huge mediocre sex storyline.
➽And lastly, I feel like the title of this book is sort of inaccurate, too.

Things I loved about this book:
➽Chase is adopted and has two dads! I loved how this was seamlessly woven into the story, and we need more romance books that normalize queer relationships and parental figures like this!
➽I loved that Cassie was a year older than Chase. This is something I rarely see in books, and I very much enjoyed this rarely seen dynamic in adult romance.
➽Chase does an amazing job asking for consent before having sex with Cassie, especially when they’ve both been drinking. I very much appreciated this.
➽Chase had some really good dirty talk during a few of their sexual encounters, and that is something that I personally really enjoy during sex, and I thought a few of Chase’s lines were really well done.

Overall, this is a decently short friends to lovers story. Like, this was a really quick read for me. Yes, the bad did outweigh the good for me, but I didn’t dislike this book by any means, I just thought it was okay. There wasn’t anything offensive or anything like that, I just felt like the alternating PoVs in the middle of the chapters were too abrupt and made for a very disjointed read that I could never fully immerse myself in. I did really appreciate all the good things I did list above, though. I just hope if you guys pick this up that you will enjoy it more than me. Happy reading!

#TheReadingQuest Wrap Up

When I saw this readathon, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist participating! This was just too amazing for me to possibly even think about letting it pass me by! It beautifully mixes the two loves of my life: reading and gaming! This readathon was being hosted by Aentee at Read at Midnight and all of the amazing artwork was created by CW at Read, Think, Ponder! I just participated for fun, not to win the challenges, but here is everything I was able to accomplish reading from August 13th to September 10th!

I also chose in path of the mage, because in every single game I play I always end up picking the closest thing to a warlock/necromancer, so why would The Reading Quest be any different? I also accomplished a few of the Knight’s challenges, along with a few of the side quests! Overall, I’m super happy with what I was able to read, but I still want to do a mini wrap up of everything for you guys!

Every participant starts with 10 EXP, 10 HP and at level 1!
Each book completed awards the player 10 EXP or 20 EXP if it’s by a marginalized author!
You are awarded 10 HP points for every 10 pages read!
For every class quest line you completely, you get an addition 50 EXP!
And your character levels up every 50 EXP!

Here is everything that I was able to read for this readathon! Please feel free to click the title of the books to see my individual reviews for everything I read.

A BOOK WITH A ONE WORD TITLE:Bully (Fall Away #1) by Penelope Douglas ★★★★
10 EXP/33 HP

A BOOK THAT CONTAINS MAGIC:The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) by N.K. Jemisin ★★★★★
20 EXP/41 HP

A BOOK BASED ON MYTHOLOGY:Raven’s Mark: (The Raven Queen’s Harem Part One) by Angel Lawson ★★
10 EXP/11 HP

A BOOK SET IN A DIFFERENT WORLD:The Dark of the Moon by E.S. Bell (Emma Scott) ★★★★
10 EXP/54 HP

THE FIRST BOOK OF A SERIES:The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding (#1) by Alexandra Bracken ★★★★★
10 EXP/36 HP

And completing this entire quest line received me an additional 50 EXP!

A BOOK WITH A VERB IN ITS TITLE:Play On (Play On, #1) by Samantha Young ★★★★
10 EXP/42 HP

A BOOK WITH A WEAPON ON ITS COVER:Mask of Shadows (Untitled #1) by Linsey Miller ★★
10 EXP/38 HP

I unfortunately wasn’t able to complete this quest line, but I’m still happy with the two books I read from it!

MULTIPLAYER:Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta ★★★★★
20 EXP/43 HP

GRIND:Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas ★★★★★
10 EXP/70 HP

OPEN WORLD:All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater ★★★
10 EXP/32 HP

And all of these numbers hopefully add up to me receiving 180 EXP and 410 HP! And 180 EXP brings my little adorable mage to level 4!

Again, I can’t emphasize enough how much I adored this readathon! I absolutely cannot wait to participate again next year, or whenever they decided to host it again! I hope if you guys participated that you had a very successful readathon, too! I’d love to know how you guys did and what you guys read!

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Play On (Play On #1) by Samantha Young

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ARC provided to me by author Samantha Young in exchange for an honest review.

This summer has been the summer of me just wanting to read romance. So, I may or may not have went on a binge request streak last month, just requesting ARCs from romance authors that many of my friends praise that had new and upcoming releases. Play On is a new adult contemporary romance that follows a girl, who moves across the world, to make a better life for herself. Of course, things do not go as planned, and the story ends up being about knowing your worth, putting yourself first, and still allowing yourself to love and be loved again.

I read this in one sitting last night.

“You would think after numerous attacks of grief the human body would be unable to process any more sadness. But our hearts have an annoying amount of endurance.”

I loved this, I loved this completely. Our main protagonist, Nora, is from a small town in Indiana, where her family isn’t making her life any easier. She is eighteen, just graduated high school, and is working a job in the fast food industry. She is also being constantly haunted from losing someone very close to her in her past, and that event has shaped Nora to the very core of who she is. She isn’t happy, she doesn’t have anything to look forward to, and then she meets two boys from Scotland, who are road tripping through the States.

Nora’s life is changed forever, and even though she is hoping it would be changed for the better, life ends up throwing her another unexpected punch. She is now twenty-two, and once again trying to start over and create a life that she can be proud of doing.

Nora has always dreamt of going to college and pursuing theater. It is a hidden dream, that she’s never felt she could pursue, so instead she volunteers reading and performing for kids at the local children’s hospital. Childhood cancer stories are normally ones I stay very far away from, because they hit too close to my own personal life, but this one was heartwarmingly done. I mean, I was crying every sentence the kids were mentioned, but it was well done, yet I still think important to mention that childhood illness is represented in this book. Trigger warnings for that (childhood illness, mostly cancer), verbal abuse, and emotional abuse.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Nora has had a very difficult life, and she is only twenty-two. Yet, her path continually crosses with a very attractive Scot, who is dealing with his own set of problems. Aidan is a very successful music producer, who has recently had his life turn upside down, too.

And then our story truly becomes a story of Nora discovering her worth, and how her worth is not dependent on her family, her job, or her education. She learns that hope is far more powerful than she ever realized. She learns that kindness to others can bring kindness to you, as well. She learns that she is loveable and capable. She learns that independence does not always mean being alone. And she learns that life is always worth living.

Now everything I just mentioned above made me fall completely in love with this story. It was amazing and I simply could not put it down. I was sure this was going to be five stars and the best romance book I’ve read all year. Then, I hit the 80% mark, and a very annoying miscommunication plotline popped up. Which was fine, I can deal, Nora has been through worse and I had a good feeling everything would work out in the end. Yet, instead of it working itself out immediately, she was verbally and emotionally abused in a space that was supposed to be safe for her.

Also, we started getting into hate to love territory, but it felt so out of character. Like, Nora is an amazing character and she deserved better. I found myself rooting for Nora to just be alone, after me believing in this magical love story for 80%! I guess I was satisfied with the ending, but that last little bit just seemed rushed and had too much abusive conflict in it for me to give this a five star rating.

I still completely recommend this. I mean it when I say that I could not put this book down. It’s completely immersive and the very definition of addictive. And I think this was overall such a strong book for me to start of Samantha Young’s work. I now want to read any and everything by her.

This book is a very different new adult contemporary romance, too. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve read anything like this ever. It truly is a unique reading experience, with a lot of very unexpected twists. Plus, like I said above, the messages about finding yourself and knowing your own self-worth were really amazingly done and I completely recommend them to any human being. Also, this reads very much like a standalone, which I also really appreciated.

Please pick this book up if you’re looking to feel all the emotions. One chapter I was bawling my eyes out, feeling more anguish than my little body knew what to do with. Then, the next chapter, I was grinning like a love-struck idiot feeling all the warmth in the world. This book has amazing writing, the storylines are all addicting, and the messages are so important.

“If you’re to be mine, I need all of you to be mine, because all of me is yours.”

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

The Dark of the Moon (Chronicles of Lunos #1) by E.S. Bell

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ARC provided to me by author E.S. Bell in exchange for an honest review.

“A fool’s first and biggest weakness is thinking he doesn’t have one”

This book was such an unexpected joy! I went into this expecting pirates from the cover, but I also was blessed with paladins, merfolk, dragons, demons, gods, and more! And if you guys have been following my reviews for any length of time, you probably know that my favorite settings in books will always be taverns (be still, my The Name of the Wind heart), and this book completely delivered me so many shanty pirate town taverns! I really enjoyed this book, and I completely loved this world! The world of Lumos is now made up of many different islands, and the people that reside on those islands worship different gods.

The Dark of the Moon stars an Aluren Paladin named Selena Koren, who is also a very rare summoner. Even though she is the second most gifted Paladin this world knows, because of her summoning and healing abilities, she is constantly reminded of a grave mistake she made, while using her powers against the warring Zak’reth, one night. Selena worships the Two-Faced God, who has given her a crescent moon shaped hole in her chest that always causes her constant cold. Even though she has given her life to her god, she was still punished for that one night and now lives and fights in a constant dark place of loneliness.

“It takes more strength and will to be kind than it does to indulge in anger or hate.”

Her only friend is a Vai’Ensai named Ilior, who is a one-winged dragon-like humanoid, who can never go back to his homeland, Cloud Isles, because of his unfortunate wound, too. Selena and Ilior have been friends for ten years, and their friendship gives Selena the hope and strength to go on, but she is always hoping for a way to make her god heal her chest wound, so that she can know what warmth feels like again.

Selena gets an opportunity, in the form a very dangerous mission, to finally heal the hole that has made her feel empty for so long. Her mission is to kill two dark priests, who have risen in the Bazira faith. She is even told that she probably won’t survive this task, but nothing will keep her from healing her wound. All she needs is a pirate who will take her to the dark priests.

Sebastian Vass is a pirate who holds his secrets very close to his chest. So close, that his entire crew is unable to speak! Most of them not having tongues. Sebastian has been running away from a past that hunts him, when his family was brutally tortured and murdered. This dark event has turned him into one of the most deadly assassins this world knows, yet he is looking for one last job so that he can retire forever. And luckily for him, Bazira has recruited him to bring back the head of an Aluren Paladin named Selena.

“It only takes two acts of real fucking depravity to make a reputation.” Sebastian counted off on his thumb and forefinger. “The first to get everyone’s attention and the second to show you were serious the first time.”

These two character’s storylines quickly mingle, and secrets, betrayals, and mystery ensue! This book is one magical plot twist after magical plot twist, and I loved it completely.

Trigger warnings for graphic violence, torture, assault, attempted rape, and mention of rape.

E.S. Bell is a pen name of romance writer Emma Scott, and the romance bleeds into this fantasy story so very well. I was so impressed with this debut fantasy take, because it reads like perfection.

The only reason I’m giving this four stars is because the first couple chapters are a little slow, and you get a lot of information thrown at you very quickly. After that initial bump though, this story becomes an immersive and absolutely addictive read. I couldn’t put this down, and I need the next installment immediately.

It’s been so long since I’ve read a story that surrounded a paladin! Paladins are very close to my heart, thanks to World of Warcraft. I love how they are holy warriors, always trying to do what is right and lawful, yet still capable of retribution! I seriously am beyond words with happiness that this story is about a paladin, and I couldn’t not mention my joy in this review.

This book was amazing! The prose is lyrical, the settings are absolutely fantastic, the characters completely stole my heart, and the mystery of these gods had me completely enthralled. If you’re looking for a story filled with pirates, mythical creatures, wrath of gods, intrigue, and mystery, please pick up The Dark of the Moon. I think this series is going to be absolutely everything I look for in adult fantasy, and I can’t wait to read more!

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The quotes and map above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass, #6) by Sarah J. Maas

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#0.1) The Assassin and the Pirate Lord ★★★
#0.2) The Assassin and the Healer ★★
#0.3) The Assassin and the Desert ★★★★
#0.4) The Assassin and the Underworld ★★★★★
#0.5) The Assassin and the Empire ★★★
#1.) Throne of Glass ★★★
#2.) Crown of Midnight ★★★★
#3.) Heir of Fire ★★
#4.) Queen of Shadows ★★
#5.) Empire of Storms ★★★

“Every step, all of it, had led here. From that keep in the snow-blasted mountains where a man with a face as hard as the rock around them had thrown him into the cold; to that salt mine in Endovier, where an assassin with eyes like wildfire had smirked at him, unbroken despite a year in hell.”

Tower of Dawn is my second favorite book that Sarah J. Maas has ever written! And it is, hands down, the best installment in the Throne of Glass series, in my honest opinion. I completely and wholeheartedly loved it. This is easily one of the best books I’ve read in 2017.

The first part of this review is spoiler free for Tower of Dawn, but it does have minor spoilers for the rest of the Throne of Glass series!

Also, before I even start this review, I just want to say that I actually think Sarah has been listening to her readers and this book truly proves it. First off, we have a very predominant queer side character, who clearly states this from the beginning and is written very believably and seamlessly. Next, we have a full diverse cast of characters, besides Chaol, in this novel. And lastly, and the thing I was most concerned about going into this book, Sarah respectfully writes about Chaol’s disability, without ever making it seem like he must be “fixed” in order to have self-worth. (But please be aware that this review is coming to you from a white, able-bodied woman, so I am not the voice you should be listening to for the last two representations.)

I also think Sarah unfortunately listened to the backlash about her “young adult” books having so much sex in them, because there is totally less sex in this book than in EoS, ACOMAF, and ACOWAR. There is still amazing angst and build up to sex, and there is one actual sex scene, but nothing near as graphic or even as descriptive as her previous works. Me, being the perverted person that I am, was a little disappointed by this, especially with how much I love Chaol.

I should also preface this review by telling those of you who do not know that Chaol is my favorite character in ToG, well, besides my queen, Manon Blackbeak! I’ve never been the biggest fan of Celaena/Aelin, and I think this story (and the rating I gave it) probably really benefited from that.

The last thing I will say before I actually start this long-winded review is that I cannot stress enough how important it is to read The Assassin and the Healer novella from the novella bind up, The Assassin’s Blade, before you read this book!

Tower of Dawn is a story that is running parallel with the events that took place in Empire of Storms. While Aelin, Dorian, and the rest of the gang are trying to unite empires and bring them together to fight the greater threat at hand, Chaol and Nesryn left for Antica, located in the southern continent, to convince another strong empire to join them in the battle that is inevitably coming, while also seeing if the healers at the Torre can heal Chaol’s paralysis.

Also, the southern continent is way more advanced than Erilea could ever hope to be. Magic is not only thriving here, but it’s celebrated. And healing is one of the most prized powers of all. And one of the three points of view in this book, besides Chaol and Nesryn, is a very talented and powerful healer named Yrene Towers.

I would say the point of views are definitely equal seeming between the three, but there are two big story lines going on. The first being Chaol’s healing, and how he is hurting a lot more than just physically. Chaol is struggling with his self-worth, but I believe he’s also struggling with PTSD. He feels very guilty and that he is to blame for Aelin, Dorian, his family, his guardsmen, and also his disability. This book really showcases and highlights how mental pain and disabilities are just as hard to overcome as physically pain and disabilities, and Chaol for sure learns this lesson in true Chaol fashion: the hard way.

And the second storyline is a big mixture of different ways Chaol and Nesryn are trying to sway the current khagan, Urus, to their cause. Urus has six children and when he passes on one of them will rule, because in this kingdom it is not automatically given to the first-born heir. No one knows who the ruler will be, so this can make siblings rather blood thirty for one another, and once one is chosen to rule, the others must submit or things can get really bloody. This also makes the task of winning them all over a little difficult for Chaol and Nesryn.

“Your city is the greatest I have ever laid eyes upon, your empire the standard by which all others should be measured. When Morath comes to lay waste to it, who will stand with you if we are all carrion?”

Urus’ six children:
Arghun – oldest child and enjoys power in knowledge.
Sartaq – second oldest and commands the Rukhin riders.
Hasar – third oldest and amazingly queer.
Kashin – fourth oldest and most loyal.
Duva – fifth oldest, who is married and carrying the first grandbaby right now.
Tumelun – the baby, and the cause of an underlying mystery.

All of these side characters are very impactful to not only this book, but the greater arching story at hand, too. These characters also put a big emphasis on family for this story, and the amazing lengths we are willing to go for the people we love.

Tower of Dawn not only introduces a vast array of new characters, and it also helps showcase that this book feels like a love letter to being young and finding yourself. Yet also, finding what you truly want in your life. I mean, these characters are all in their early 20s, it’s not plausible that they are all going to know what path they want to take, or that they all choose to take the path that was set for them by others. I love that this book realistically depicts that your first love won’t always be your last love, and how normal and okay that truly is. Finding yourself, and what you want from this life, is a truly beautiful story in and of itself.

There is a vast amount of world building and character development within these 700 pages, and I truly believe this is such a wonderful addition to this series. Before I get into the spoiler section, I will say that there are trigger warnings for talk of suicide, grey area cheating, war themes, and violence. I will also say that the epilogue of this book will probably shatter your soul. Like, is it Fall of 2018 yet? But I loved this and it was such a wonderful and important installment in the Throne of Glass series.

The rest of my review is going to contain MAJOR SPOILERS for both ALL the books leading up to this book, and for Tower of Dawn itself! Please, do not proceed to read any further unless you have read this book and its predecessors or you wish to be spoiled!

“The heart he’d offered and had been left to drop on the wooden planks of the river docks. An assassin who had sailed away and a queen who had returned.”

Okay, so I think I’m just going to do little (and probably incoherent) paragraph gushes about things and how I felt about certain things in this book, because I just have too many emotions right now!

“No matter the oceans, or mountains, or forests in the way.”

I guess we should probably start off talking about how Sarah J. Maas does what she always does, but somehow always ends up surprising me. I honestly thought this book was going to have a romance about Chaol and Nesryn, so when she pulled the rug out from under my feet and made it really apparent that Chaol and Nesryn were going to not only not be together, but also have new budding romances with other people, I was completely shocked.

I, personally, never liked Chaol and Nesryn together. I always thought that it was terrible writing on Sarah’s part to even force them together. I thought it was so unbelievable and just another way to show how Aelin and Rowan were soulmates, and it just felt bad to me. So, I was beyond elated to see their outcome work out differently than I expected.

“Yrene pushed down on the handle. And Chaol took a step toward her.”

This quote defeated me. When Chaol finally stood up and then walked to Yrene… I was weeping. Like, tears, sniffling, heavy breathing, hell, I was ugly crying, let’s be real. This was my favorite moment in this entire book and I was a complete and utter mess.

“You looked at me without an ounce of pity. You saw me. Not the chair or the injury. You saw me. It was the first time I’d felt … seen. Felt awake, in a long time.”

I loved how Sarah handled Chaol’s disability, and how even though he is able to walk a lot of the time, he also isn’t completely healed. I was really concerned going into this book, that this was going to be a bad feeling “fix”, so an able-bodied Chaol could come back into the main storyline, but instead it truly was a story about Chaol coming to terms with his disability and accepting himself and his life, wheelchair, cane, or standing on his own two feet.

“I might not have battled kings and shattered castles […] but I am the heir apparent to the Healer on High. Through my own work and suffering and sacrifice. And you’re standing right now because of that. People are alive because of that. So I may not be a warrior waving a sword about, may not be worthy of your glorious tales, but at least I save lives—not end them.”

And Yrene is such a amazing character. Seeing her refusing to ever be a victim again, while also teaching lots of young girls how to defend themselves, was one of my favorite plot lines Sarah J Maas has ever written. I loved the tie in with The Assassin and the Healer, and I am very much anticipating the reunion between her and Aelin. Also, Chaol crying over his fate and that piece of paper? Lord, help me.

“I loved you before I ever set eyes on you”

I actually really enjoyed the romance between Nesryn and Sartaq, too, I just was really disappointed that we didn’t also get to have a sex scene between them, as horrible as that sounds! Sartaq has some of the most romantic one liners I have ever read in my entire life. Like, he has me swooning from the very beginning, and I can’t wait to read more about him and the rest of the Ruk riders. Also, the whole storyline with the Ruks very much reminded me of Valyn’s storyline in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, which is one of my favorite series of all time, and I completely loved it. Give me all the warrior birds and their warrior riders, please.

And Borte, Yeran, Houlun, and Falkan were all amazing side characters, too! And the plot twist with Falkan searching for Lysandra made my entire year. That, too, will be such an amazing reunion that I can’t wait to read about.

And Nesryn’s storyline was really important to me too. I was very happy she wasn’t overshadowed by Chaol and Yrene. I also loved that she acknowledged that she refused to be used and be a rebound to Chaol. As much as I felt bad for Chaol, because of Aelin, Nesyrn is the only true victim in this. I’m also happy that she seeked out her own happiness, even without knowing that Chaol and Yrene had feelings for each other. I hope young SJM fans read this, and realize they are all worth someone who unconditionally loves them, and an impulsive ride on a Ruk.

“We fly to war. Much is uncertain ahead. Save for this.” He brushed his mouth against hers. “Save for what I feel for you. No demon army, no dark queen or king, will change that.”

I mean, just when I thought we had all the Maeve surprises we were going to get from Empire of Storms, this book comes along and says, “hold my beer!” A Valg Queen? Talk about an amazing plot twist that I didn’t see coming from a mile away! Also, the Stygian Spiders are terrifying, and I know their gate guarding is going to come back into play in a super crucial way and they are going to give me the major heebie-jeebies all over again!

Fireheart, the epilogue ending with Aelin… be still, my heart. I honestly cannot wait for this final concluding novel. The ending of Empire of Storms was hard to read, and those two pages just brought back so many emotions.

Overall, if you couldn’t guess from this gush of a review, I completely and wholeheartedly loved this. Again, this is my second favorite thing Sarah J. Maas has created, and I have nothing but the highest of hopes for everything she creates and for what she plans to do for the conclusions on this series. Also, she has set up the option for so many spinoffs with all of these amazing side characters she introduced in Tower of Dawn, but first they all have to survive this incoming war.

“Maybe you and I will have to learn how to live—if we survive this war.”

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The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding (The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding #1) by Alexandra Bracken

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ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was so unexpectedly beautiful. This is the best middle grade I’ve read since Harry Potter. Plus, this is beyond perfect for the Autumn and Halloween season. The prose is so lyrical, the characters are so heartwarming, and the messages are so important. I recommend The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding with my whole heart.

This is a story about a young boy named Prosper who has grown up never feeling like he has fit in. His twin sister is the only person he feels understands him, while she is also battling a very scary heart condition. Prosper has always felt like the odd one out, especially since his family is very rich, very successful, and very powerful. But then it becomes very apparent why his ancestors were so lucky.

“We came from a family of winners, record-setters, and firsts, and there wasn’t a day that went by that our grandmother let me forget that I wasn’t one of them.”

In this world, there are four dimensions, and keeping them balanced is very important:
Human World – where we live.
The Fiend World – where evil humans who make deals serve for eternity.
The World of Ghosts/Specters – where evil humans’ spirits go when they die.
The Realm of Ancients – where the creatures that created magic live.

There are many different types of fiends, but only malefactors are supposed to make deals with humans. And Prosper’s ancestors made a deal with a demon named Alastor, so that they could beat a rival family and become the powerful and reputable family they are today. And that demon is currently inside of Prosper. Prosper is then forced to flee to Salem, Massachusetts, where he is introduced to a whole other family and he gets to see what it’s like to start over and become the person he wants to be. I mean, while also struggling with a demon who is constantly trying to take over his body.

Salem, demons, witches, hobgoblins, elves, ogres, magical familiars, old books and libraries, falling leaves, The Crucible, pumpkins, cafes… I mean, we are thrown into the perfect Halloween setting, with some of the most beautiful autumnal writing I’ve ever read. This is truly the perfect Halloween novel, and it’s perfect for all ages.

“Over eight hundred years old and trapped in the body of a boy who couldn’t tell the simple difference between a tharborough and a theorick! The Fates were so unkind.”

And it was so very funny! I was constantly laughing out loud. I mean, it makes it rather hard to hate Alastor when he is making you laugh constantly. His inner monologues with Prosper are nothing short of genius, and Alastor discovering how much the human world has changed over many centuries was literary perfection. This is the first thing I’ve ever read from Alexandra Bracken, but now I want to buy her entire works.

And the messages that Alexandra Bracken discussed in this were so important, too! Prosper, Alastor, and Nell (Prosper’s new found cousin), all are constantly learning that it is never too late to start over and become the person you want to be. Everyone is deserving of a fresh start and we shouldn’t have to be our parent’s mistakes. And hold grudges, that just keeps hate in your heart, isn’t worth anything.

“Maybe it was true that we never really escape our histories. That revenge is a poison that stays in the hearts of families, reborn with each generation.”

This book also carries a super amazing message about how important it is to have art programs in school. This story heavily talks about different arts, whether it be painting, drawing, or theater, and how young kids truly have a beautiful outlet in art and how it can shape who they are as people. There was also an important discussion on Nell, a young girl, wanting to play the role of John Proctor, the main male protagonist in The Crucible, and how there wasn’t any reason why she shouldn’t be able to audition for the role.

Also, Nell’s mother was a lesbian witch in this story and if that alone doesn’t sell you on this book I’m not sure what will. But in all seriousness, we need more middle grade books that normalize LGBT+ families. I loved this aspect of the story, and even though I wish it could have been a little different, but I was still absolutely delighted at this minor plot point. Also, Nell is such an amazingly adorable little witch in general, and she has some pretty awesome creatures looking after her.

I will warn you guys that this book has a very abrupt cliffhanger that will make you ready to make a deal with a demon for the next book. But this didn’t make me from loving this book any less.

I loved this entire book with my whole heart. There is no doubt that this is going on my best of 2017 list at the end of the year. I normally don’t even like middle grade novels that much, and I will admit that this one leans towards older middle grade, but I was completely captivated and enthralled with this the whole entire time. This is an absolute must read for the fall season, and if you’re looking for an autumnal read then look no further than this perfection.

“Being different, being simply you instead of what other people wanted you to be, was its own kind of bravery.”

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.