One with You by Sylvia Day

Some authors just want to watch the world burn:

This book was pointless. It wasn’t bad, it certainly wasn’t good, but it didn’t add anything to the story.

I’m happy I finished this series, and this world, but I couldn’t help but want more. I know this story gets trashed on a lot because of Fifty Shades of Grey, but this was always the superior book series.

I couldn’t help myself from buying this the day it came out, even though I should have known better. My reading tastes have shifted so much from when I was in college, but I just always viewed this series as a guilty pleasure. I saw the warnings from the very first chapter, but I was in too deep, too invested, I couldn’t stop myself from devouring it.

The bright side of this book is the sex was great, like always in this series. I’m seriously Gideon trash. Like, I know he’s a controlling prick that I would end up slapping if I ever heard him speak in real life, but the sex – Good Lord, the sex. 12/10, would read again.

Unfortunately, the sex was probably the only bright side. Even the “twist” at the end felt like complete shock value. Or maybe it was for a spinoff prequel? Also, I can totally see Cary getting his own spin-off, because we learn nothing about his situation. Regardless, I probably won’t invest in anything else this series, or Sylvia Day, has to offer.

It’s been a crazy sex-filled ride, but I’m happy to get the fuck off this train. This book was completely unnecessary, and the series would have ended on a much higher note if it stopped with Entwined with You as originally intended.

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

“Once there was a girl who was too sure of herself. Not everyone would call her beautiful, but they admitted that she had a certain grace that intimidated more often than it charmed. She was not, society agreed, someone you wanted to cross. She keeps her heart in a porcelain box, people whispered, and they were right.
She didn’t like to open the box. The sight of her heart was unsettling. It always looked both smaller and bigger than she expected. It thumped against the white porcelain. A fleshy red knot.
Sometimes, though, she’d put her palm on the box’s lid, and then the steady pulse was a welcome music.
One night, someone else heard its melody. A boy, hungry and far from home. He was—if you must know—a thief. He crept up the walls of the girl’s palace. He wriggled strong fingers into a window’s slim opening. He pulled it open wide enough to fit himself and pushed inside.”

This review will contain mild SPOILERS, please do not continue on if you’ve not read this book or, more importantly, the previous two installments in this series.

I feel so conflicted going into this review. I have so much love and empathy for Kestrel and Arin. Every scene with them together made me incredibly happy, and if the book was only that I’d still give it 5 out of 5 stars, because their happiness was that important to me, but this storyline had problems.

To put it bluntly, this book just had too many loose ends: Who is going to rule? Why did the Queen seem so evil the whole story to just not do anything in the end? We aren’t going to get closure with Kestrel’s father situation? Jess? Ronan? Hello? I also felt like the coded message that Kestrel sent was a little too convenient and a little too hard for me to believe. Like, she also left that guard’s body there. No one found it? No one realized something happened there, or that the guard was missing? I feel like Kestrel’s father, this amazing war general, is way smarter than that. Also, how in the hell did no one know she escaped the labor camp?

Even though I felt the overall theme of this book was so close to perfection, I can’t ignore all these things. I’m also all for open-ended stories that you can interpret on your own, but these are all pretty big grey areas, and plot holes, that I feel should have been addressed.

I’m also not saying I needed more bloodshed, or another twist, but it just seemed like something more was going to happen. This book is about war, and in war you suffer losses even if you win. After I finished this book I kept thinking maybe I missed something. I’m not saying Kestrel and Arin do not deserve a happy ending, because my heart couldn’t take anything else, but it still seemed too clean cut for me, and too clean cut for Marie Rutkoski, too.

As stated before, I did enjoy this story. This trilogy is definitely worth a read! It truly is the best YA has to offer, even with a lackluster conclusion. I know I sound really negative in my above paragraphs, but I just hate things that don’t feel complete. Yet, the positives in this story really do outweigh the incomplete feelings I have.

Kestrel’s relationship with her father really struck a chord with me and my personal life. I found myself so emotional, yet so thankful that a book didn’t just deal with romantic relationships, and friendships, but unconventional family dynamics as well. Seeing Kestrel, who is incredibly strong and brave, not being able to deal with abandonment and betrayal from someone she loves was absolutely devastating and pulled at every one of my heartstrings. Seriously, thank you Marie Rutkoski. Because of this, I will read everything she writes.

Oh, and this is probably the only story that I’ve ever read with amnesia that didn’t piss me off. I never thought I’d see the day.

It also needs to be said that I love Roshar and his tiger. I feel like he gets outshined because Kestrel and Arin are so perfect, but seriously, what a fantastic character that brought so much laughter to this story. And his ending scene was pretty phenomenally done as well.

I’ve stated this many times in past reviews, but Kestrel is a freakin’ amazing character that girls can look up to. YA needs more, many more, Kestrels. Arin can be stubborn, but he’s a man he has a pure heart and always does what he believes is right. Kestrel and Arin really are the definition of OTP.

This book is a wonderful physical representation that your heart chooses who it chooses. Love doesn’t see in color or gender or social status. For that alone, I will always praise this series and it will always be close to my heart.

“There is a difference between you and me. If I die, you’ll survive. If you die, it will destroy me.”

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

I’m not really sure why I waited so long to continue with this series. I read The Winner’s Curse last year and really enjoyed it. Regardless, I’m extremely happy I decided to enter back into this world. I think all the hype from my friends that have read The Winner’s Kiss helped.

“He, too, felt how the heart chooses its own home and refuses reason.”

I am kind of shocked at how emotional I got while reading this. I think the love between Kestrel and Arin is just so pure that it actually hurts to read about and see them not together. I’m not really sure how Marie Rutkoski executes this so perfectly, but she does. Like, the amount I care for these two fictional characters’ well being is probably incredibly unhealthy. I’m legitimately too invested in these characters.

My dislike for Jess was pretty abundant in this book. I understand her feelings towards Arin, but Kestrel saved her in the last book. Kestrel is her best friend, and has been since childhood. Kestrel’s loneliness is actually palpable, and she’s going to abandon her? I’m done with that girl, and I hope Kestrel is too. I do want more Ronan in the next book, even though he behaved like a child in this book. I guess my feelings for him in The Winner’s Curse are carrying over. My heart also breaks for Prince Verex. I hope we also get more from him in The Winner’s Kiss, but I won’t hold my breath from that cliffhanger ending. Seriously, is my anxiety really going to be dependent on a dead moth? Hold me, please.

This book is mostly political with strong emphasis on alliances. It mostly centers on Kestrel’s time living in the Valorian Empire. Here, she is promised to marry the Emperor’s son, Prince Verex, in trade for the freedom of the Herrani people. Even though Kestrel’s body has escaped Herran’s city, her heart sure hasn’t. She has postponed the wedding as far as she can, but in the meantime, she can’t ignore the secrets of the court and the hurting of more Herrani people.

The reason this is just short of perfection for me, just like The Winner’s Curse, is because these characters wouldn’t rip out and step on my still-beating heart if they just shared one freaking sentence to explain what the hell is going on. Their communication issues frustrated me to no end, and I know they each have their reasons, but they (Kestrel especially) regrets not telling their “secret” immediately after withholding the information.

Also, that game of Bite and Sting, where I finally started to feel all my anxiety slip away, and then Arin asks the wrong question. My soul literally can’t live like this, Marie Rutkosk, you’re breaking me.

These books are beautiful, the story-line is unique, the prose is poetic, and the messages they hold are beyond words. I understand this is historical fiction, but we could use a lot more books with messages like this in 2016. Especially with the United States’ current political problems.

These are really solid books that really stand up to anything out there right now. I can’t wait to start The Winner’s Kiss, I just hope my heart can take it.

“His dear face, dear to her, dearer still. How could she love his face more for its damage? What kind of person saw someone’s suffering and felt her heart crack open even wider, even more sweetly than before? There was something wrong with her. It was wrong to want to touch a scar and call it beautiful.”

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Readalong for the BooktubeSFF Awards which is being hosted by Nicole from Nicole’s Adventures in SFF, Chelsea from TheReadingOutlaw, Samantha from Novels and Nonsense, Paul from Common Touch of Fantasy, Elizabeth from books and pieces, Kaitlin from Kitty G, Lindsey from Lindsey Rey, Elena from Elena Reads Books, and Thomas from SFF180!

As I stated above, I read this because of the BooktubeSFF Awards. I also read Uprooted and A Darker Shade of Magic for this readalong, both of which I expected myself to love, but instead actually sort of disliked. This made me really apprehensive to start Six of Crows, because I literally only wanted the book because it was so aesthetically pleasing with its black pages and beautiful cover.

I have not read Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, but I completely intend to fix that after reading this YA book that totally blew me away.

Most of the time I think I’ve outgrown YA, or maybe I’ve just become too bitter, but then books like this come along and remind me that I’m just reading the wrong type of YA books for me. Seriously, this book was outstanding, and has some of the most powerful lines I’ve ever read.

“I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.”

Like, this is a seventeen year old? I understand she lives a much different life than me, but now I have all these wild fantasies running in my mind of me saying this to someone, trying to be a badass. Maybe when I order pizza and they don’t add my extra pineapple, then I can be like, “I will have you with extra pineapple, pizza. Or I will not have you at all.” and storm out all dramatically, but totally come back because 1.) pizza and 2.) I probably already paid for it.

This is the real Melanie, with the hard hitting reviews, people.

But I was a little overwhelmed at first, because I was unfamiliar with this world from not reading The Grisha Trilogy. Like, these were my notes before I even read the first page of this book:

*Shout out to Anna for taking a screenshot of my snapchat, because I completely forget to save it.

Anyways, this is a fantastic book about a heist, even though the majority of this book seems to be leading up to the actual heist. I loved the lead up though, because Leigh Bardugo delivers us an amazing cast of diverse characters that you can’t help but fall in love with.

“Six people, but a thousand ways this insane plan could go wrong.”

INEJ She’s my favorite, and not just from her powerful quotes, but because she is selfless while putting herself first. She’d completely sacrifice herself for the good of her team, but she also realizes that she is the only one in charge of her future, and she’s not waiting on anyone to fulfill her destiny.

KAZ He is also known as Dirtyhands, the leader of these crows, and the lieutenant of the street gang the Dreg. You slowly find out about his past and the events that lead up to making him the cold person he is today.

NINA She is a Grisha Heartrender, which means she has power over other people’s bodies and is able to rupture cells, burst hearts, and even take away the air they are breathing. But she can also soothe minds and has minor healing skills that prove very useful.

MATTHIAS Him and Nina have a very troubled and tangled past. He is a druskelle and was a Fjerdan witch hunter. Basically, Grishas hate Fjerdans because they hunt and kill them, and Fjerdans hate Grishas because they are scared of their magic. Obviously Nina being a Grisha make their relationship pretty angsty, but also pretty spectacular and full of all the feels. Matthias is very important to this heist, because he’s the only one that knows the inside of the location the heist is going to take place.

JESPER I freaking love Jesper! He is a Zemeni sharpshooter with a little bit of a gambling problem. He is also harboring his own secret that crew slowly finds out about.

WYLAN At first, Wylan is kind of just used as leverage because of his past, but he soon fits right in with the crew and will find a way into your heart.

This crew’s heist is not for an object, but a person. This person has made, but not perfected, a formula for a drug that makes Grishas even more powerful, but at a cost. They will become addicted after the second dosage, and slowly deteriorate from the addiction, or become a weapon of mass destruction if given continual use of the drug. A very powerful man in town is willing to pay a very big sum of money to the crew if they are able to bring him back the person that is being held captive by Fjerdans.

This wasn’t the most complex book in the whole world, but this is a wonderful introduction to YA fantasy, especially if you like heists. Some of the plot twists were a little too coincidental for me. Sure, characters should be smart and able to catch lucky breaks, but when they come back to back it becomes a little hard to believe.

I will also say that I think this book would have been much better if the first chapter was cut completely. I felt like it was really unnecessary, and sort of made the book even more predictable.

This didn’t stop me from being in love with these thieves. I cannot wait for the second installment, Crooked Kingdom, to come out. I also plan on starting Shadow and Bone very soon, because I honestly just need more of this world.

The writing is great, the characters are superb, and the romance feels perfect. There are wonderful friendships in this book and each of these characters show a healthy and realistic way of fighting your own personal demons. This book is worth a read, and completely shattered the expectations I had going in. Six of Crows is definitely my choice for Best Young Adult Novel in the BooktubeSFF Awards!

“Many boys will bring you flowers. But someday you’ll meet a boy who will learn your favorite flower, your favorite song, your favorite sweet. And even if he is too poor to give you any of them, it won’t matter because he will have taken the time to know you as no one else does. Only that boy earns your heart.”

Sex Love Repeat by Alessandra Torre

Okay, now that I’m done swooning, let me review this amazing book!I pride myself at predicting the direction a book is going to go. I feel like I’m constantly reviewing books saying, “I saw that coming a mile away…” Then I read this book. Holy shit, did that twist blow my mind! The entire start of this story sets you up to believe it is about a woman who is in a relationship with two men, and another woman who is spying and envious of said woman. When I read “brothers” I actually dropped the book. Which totally sucked, because this book doesn’t have page numbers! I would have never guessed, not in a million years! It honestly blew my mind. The envious woman is a sister who is just grasping to mend her broken family. While the other girl (Madison), is in fact, in a relationship with two brother completely coincidentally. When Madison had her surfing accident and was hospitalized, I was actually grinning like an idiot when Paul had to call Stewart. Maybe I’m a masochist, or just insane, but I was seriously eating this book up bit by bit. I couldn’t get enough. The twist was so big, I was literally blindsided, then I begged for more.

I did, however, feel like the ending was a little too clean. I was happy she picked Paul, because I was rooting for him the instant he was introduced. I just hated how Stewart kind of gave up at the hospital, to only try to make it work with a Madison look-a-like in the end. Also, him being so happy for Madison and Paul’s engagement? I don’t buy that AT ALL! But, I really don’t know another direction she could have taken it (other than killing someone), so it wasn’t a big hang up for me. It didn’t pull that much away from the story or my immersion. I still am completely head over heels for this book!

This all being said, Alessandra Torre writes stories that are so not normal for this genre. They are so unique and different, and I have devoured this and The Girl in 6E. This author is leagues above any “new” writer out there right now. I look forward to reading everything and anything this woman has created.

“I love her. She knows it. I don’t hide the fact. But I don’t think she knows how much I love her. How much my chest expands to a point of pain when she smiles. How I ache when I leave her, how my hands shake when I finally get to touch her again. She is everything I don’t deserve, and everything I could ever hope to attain.”Those. Fucking. Feels.
Seriously, leaves me speechless.

Tight by Alessandra Torre

Buddy Read with SueBee and her group Smut, Heroes & HEAs. ❤️

I first fell in love with these characters when I read “Still”, a novella in the Bend Anthology. I was elated to find out that Alessandra Torre was continuing their story. With her tremendous skill with writing, and all of her books being so beautifully written, I knew I wouldn’t be let down. Yet, I found myself not liking Tight as much as a few of her others (Sex Love Repeat, The Girl in 6E, Black Lies), but it was still a worthy read.

Chapters one and two are from her novella “Still”. Then you read Chapter three, and the whole story shifts. Kitten’s POV came into play, and I couldn’t get enough. I was so drawn in. I was completely mesmerized. Nothing in the book’s description will prepare you for this very early and unexpected twist.

Every Alessanda Torre book I’ve read has had a mind blowing twist that I would have never seen coming. Since you learn the twist in this one rather earlier (Even though I kept thinking the captive sex slave, Kitten, was going to be Brett’s ex, instead of Riley), it wasn’t near as big as some of the mind fucks Alessandra Torre has made me feel. I kept waiting for a bigger twist, and wanting something more. I just felt a little let down.

I was also a little disappointed because of the predictability. This seemed like such a cookie cutter love story, besides the “twist”. Heck, even the anticlimactic ending of the “twist” was cookie cutter. I did love the use of the different definitions of “tight” before some of the chapters. I thought it was different, unique and an all around cool idea.

Black Lies by Alessandra Torre

ARC courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

This. Book. Blew. My. Mind.

Lately, I feel like my GoodRead’s feed has just been me gushing about my new found love of Alessandra Torre, but man did this book not disappoint. All my friends kept telling me this was a must read with a twist that would blow any other twist, in any other book, out of the water. I didn’t this twist until I literally read it, with my own eyes, in black and white. Even then, I sat on my bed with my mouth hanging open, trying to comprehend the previous 80% of this book. How did I miss this clues? How did I overlook these wonderfully placed breadcrumbs? Oh, because everything Alessandra Torre touches turns to gold.

This story is about a woman named Layana, who grew up with a pretty bad stereotype of (wealthy) men, yet still finds a way to fall in love with one. The problem is, he seems too perfect to be true. In a Quentin Tarantino style, the whole book is leading up to Brant’s big secret. After the fallout where the secret is reveled to our main character, Layana finds a new man to fill the void, while still trying to love and be there for Brant. Lee is very different from Brant. He doesn’t have money or a 130 IQ. He’s rough, edgy, reckless, and Layana can not help falling in love with him too. All the while, placing herself in quite the predicament. Then Brant’s secret comes out to us (the readers…

This was the best ARC I’ve ever received.
Thank you so much, Alessandra Torre, for writing fantastic book, after fantastic book.