Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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

“We’re all just wandering through the tundra of our existence, assigning value to worthlessness, when all that we love and hate, all we believe in and fight for and kill for and die for is as meaningless as images projected onto Plexiglass.”

I really enjoyed this book, however, Jason is the most unintelligent genius, ever. His character made the story rather predictable. I still really enjoyed this fast paced thriller, but I feel our main protagonist could have been written a little better to make the story feel more ominous.

This book is all about a multiverse and its alternate realities! Seriously, if you’re like me and having Stranger Things withdrawals, you’ll probably enjoy this book immensely just because of the basic premise, too.

Our main protagonist, Jason, is a physics teacher, living in Chicago, with his wife and child. Overall, he’s pretty happy with the life he has built, but he’s always wondering if he squandered his potential to be something “greater”.

That is until he is abducted and wakes up to a life that is his, but in a parallel universe where he doesn’t have his family, which he soon realizes is worth more than any science achievement.

And that truly is the main theme of this book: Be grateful for the life you live and do not take it for granted. I mean, that’s a sentiment that resonates pretty powerfully within me.

“How can something so powerful in one world not bleed through into this one?”

In this book, and maybe in this life, our world is one of an infinite amount filled with different possibilities from different outcomes of events. Different choices we make cause different forks in this thing we call life.

Example: In this life, I am writing this review for you guys. In a different world I never discovered my love for reading, so I never made a Goodreads account, therefore I wouldn’t be writing this review.

This concept is multiplied to an extreme level in this book, and it really does make you stop and think. Our life is so short and minor choices we make really can affect our other choices for the rest of our lives.

“We’re more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.”

Any book that can stop and make me think, while also making me self analyze, is a book I will always recommend. I think this book is for sure worth the read, and I’m so thankful I was about to get an ARC of it.

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

#readASOIAF Read-Along – Hosted by Riley from Riley Marie, Elizabeth from Liz Loves Literature, and Kayla from BOOKadoodles. ♥

This book is heart-wrenching, and not just because this book contains the Red Wedding, but because this book leaves you with a sense of hopelessness. Many of these characters with good hearts and souls have such terrible things happen to them, while liars and killers prosper. Sometimes having a heavy pocketbook is more important than being a good person. *insert thought provoking parallel about how this mirrors our world and makes it even sadder*

As always, I want to state a disclaimer, like with all of the books in this series, that there are many very graphic rape and gang-rape scenes. I couldn’t even list all of the triggers for sexual abuse in this book, so please use caution when reading. As scary as the sexual violence is to me, I think it is very believable in this world and helps to show people that the real monsters aren’t just beyond the wall; they are human beings capable of very evil things.

“To omit them from a narrative centered on war and power would have been fundamentally false and dishonest, and would have undermined one of the themes of the books: that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves. We are the monsters. (And the heroes too). Each of us has within himself the capacity for great good, and great evil,” GRRM even says (perfectly) himself, via The Guardian.

I am loving this reread, and I’m loving being able to piece together theories that I completely missed in prior readings. Game of Thrones truly is the best show on television, and these books are truly a tier above the rest of high fantasy out there. I know they can be intimidating and a little dark, but they are so worth it. I can’t recommend this series enough. GRRM is honestly a genius, and I’m still not sure if I’m worthy enough to read his words.

The rest of this review will have spoilers from A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and also mild spoilers for this book, A Storm of Swords! If you have not read the first three books in this series, and do not want to get spoiled, please do not read this portion of my review!

My favorite story-arc in A Storm of Swords is, hands down, no question, Jaime’s. Jaime’s story of redemption is honestly one of the best I’ve ever read. His actions truly are all “for love”, he just starts learning what unconditional love is a little late in life. In this book, Brienne is on a mission, from Catelyn, to return Jaime to the Lannisters in hopes of getting her daughters back. Jaime’s change is so apparent on this trip with Brienne. I think Jaime is also, probably, the most complex character in this world. I can’t see him having a happy ending, but I hope his redemption story leads him to it, rather than death.

“I’ve lost a hand, a father, a son, a sister, and a lover, and soon enough I will lose a brother. And yet they keep telling me House Lannister won this war.”

Tyrion is the other Lannister that gives me a lot of feelings. Tyrion is such an amazing metaphor on how the society we live in today treats people that look “differently.” His father will never accept him, his sister will never love him, and no one in the kingdom will take him seriously even though the kingdom is only standing because of him in A Clash of Kings. What a terrible hand he is constantly being dealt, and all because of his physical appearance that he has no control over. I want, so badly, for Tyrion to win the game of thrones.

“The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them.”

And thanks to Tyrion, we get to see more of a new and beloved character – Oberyn Martell. His pain and revenge mission was really inspiring and heartfelt. I wish we could have seen more of him, and Dorne (don’t get me started on show Dorne, please), because he really was an amazing character, who deserved his revenge. Also, he had one of the best duel scenes I’ve ever read in my entire life. Again, GRRM is a god among men.

“Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died.”

My favorite character, Davos, and his points of view were a little painful this reread. Stannis is so out of his mind because of his need for power. He is legitimately upset because Robert was King, Renly ruled their home, and Ned got to be hand of the king. None of his actions are because he wants what is best for the realm. Seeing him being hurtful to Davos really upset me. The weird thing is, I like Melisandre and I think she is a great anti-hero, but Stannis just enrages me. I never understood the fan following he has. But that’s okay, because Davos is my little cinnamon roll and I pray no harm ever comes of him. Especially because of all he has lost and endured in this book.

Oh, poor Catelyn. I guess we can talk about her and how her story-line is, by far, the saddest in this book. Don’t get me wrong, Catelyn has upset me very much with her treatment of Jon and her naive thinking in other books, but in this book I can’t help but have an immense about of empathy for her. I am not sure I’ve ever reading anything like the Red Wedding. You can feel Catelyn’s helplessness in a way I can’t even put into words. Her desperation and her defeat are so palpable. I’ve never been a fan of Cat or her chapters, but this piece of literature breaks me every time.

“All these kings would do a deal better if they would put down their swords and listen to their mothers.”

If only Robb would have just listened to his mother. If only he would have been able to keep it in his pants for a night, or to not feel guilt afterwards. If only Robb would have stayed in Winterfell. I mean, I can play the “if only” game with Robb all day, but that doesn’t make the results of what happened any different. Robb left Winterfell to avenge his father. Robb trusted himself over his mother. Robb is a grown man that wanted to have sex, and felt obliged to marry a girl after he took her virginity. I mean, it’s not like he did terrible, unthinkable things, he did things that a young boy would do. It doesn’t ease the pain, or make me less upset, but he actions are somewhat understandable.

“He won the war on the battlefield and lost it in a bedchamber, poor fool”

And since the Red Wedding is much different from the show, is this going to be the last mention of Jeyne Westerling? I’m not saying consenting adults can’t have sex, but she seemed a little manipulative, and so did her father and uncle (who Greywind didn’t like). I’m excited to see if anything comes from the Westerling family down the road in this series.

Sansa Stark is just getting passed around from one person to the next. I think she really embodies what it is like to be a high-born lady in this world. All she wants is her prince charming, because she has been fed promises of him her whole life, but all she receives is disappointment after disappointment, while counting her ever growing list of dead family members. Also, Littlefinger is gross.

Arya, my favorite Stark, is still doing everything in her power to hide that she is a high-born lady in this world. Sometimes, I truly forget her age, but when I remember my heart bleeds all over again. She has endured so many things that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemies, but she overcomes them all. Arya is super inspiring and motivating, to me. I hope her journey with The Hound isn’t over, and the end result turns out like it did in the show.

Rickon is nonexistent and Bran is, sadly, forgettable in A Storm of Swords.

I’ll be honest with you; Dany’s story-line in this book is a little boring for me. All of my feelings just manifest to hate for Kraznys mo Nakloz, the slave trader Dany tries to bargain with. Seriously, he makes Joffrey, Cersei, and The Mountain look like saints! Any leftover feelings I had went to being creeped out about Jorah, and how he is such an old pervert. Like, I always thought the show portraying his love for Dany was so wrong. I know it’s mostly because Emilia Clarke doesn’t look thirteen, but still, Jorah is such a creep. Unfortunately, these two very dark clouds loomed over Dany’s story, and made her chapters not as enjoyable as some of the other main protagonists in this book.

“I am the blood of the dragon. I must be strong. I must have fire in my eyes when I face them, not tears.”

Sam had the other lackluster chapters, for me. Sam is one of the few characters I like on the show much more than reading about in the books. I know GRRM loves him, and I know his love for books will obviously play a bigger role in this story, but as far as A Storm of Swords goes, Sam was boring as hell. I mean, he’s literally killing white walkers and still, somehow, being boring as hell doing it. I don’t even understand. But, he did put Jon’s name in the running for Lord Commander, so I can’t dislike his character or anything.

Lord Commander Snow. Oh, how my heart breaks for Jon over and over again, too. He’s constantly trying to prove his worth to people who refuse to see it. I loved how he was able to actually experience happiness with Ingrid, even for just a short while. Also, I remembered them having sex, but I completely forgot how much sex him and Ingrid had. Holy shit, I so didn’t remember reading that. Oh, Jon Snow.

THINGS I MISSED IN MY PREVIOUS REREAD(S):

Mance Rayder is Able, inspired by Bael the Bard, in A Game of Thrones
There is a story that Bael the Bard snuck into Winterfell and had sex with a Stark woman and impregnated her. Mance was inspired by this tale, and in A Game of Thrones a man named Able and a washer woman were very interested in Theon and Arya at the feast that Robert Baratheon attended when he finally made it to Winterfell. Well, this was because it was Mance and the spear wives/wildings in disguise, spying on what was going on in Winterfell!

Maege Mormont and Tormund Giantbane are totally in love –
I will come back to this in my review of A Dance with Dragons, but this book still hints at the fact that Tormund likes to “sleep with a she-bear”, and Maege Mormont not only fits the description, but House Mormont’s symbol is a bear. Tormund even has the title “Husband of Bears.” Tormund has wildlings sons, but they have no mother north of the wall, this could be because Tormund keeps the sons, so they will not be considered bastards. Maege could keeps all the girls, which, by the way, none of them have fathers, and Maege can still marry them off to live good lives under House Mormont. Also, this means Lyanna Mormont, who won everyone’s hearts in S6, is one of their love children!

Dreams are way more important than what they seem –
Alt Shift X just made an amazing video about some of Dany’s dreams and how important their foreshadowing will be, but he has also made an Arya video a while back that really stuck with me this reread. Arya dreams and wargs in this book constantly, and her fascination with warging into Nymeria is such a big part of this book’s story. Bran also wargs into Summer, missing how it feels to move on his own, but Arya’s dreams really stuck with me and I think will play a much bigger role in her character’s development. Also, Alt Shift X is amazing. Please, spam all his videos. If you’re a ASOIAF fan, you will not regret it.

I’m sorry if this review seems all over the place. I get so passionate about this series, and while writing I have like fifty different trains of thought going! I loved this reread, and I’m learning so much information I had previously missed. I always loved A Storm of Swords, because it seemed so action packed, while giving us this surprise ending that introduces one of the main themes that the show has chosen not to do – Lady Stoneheart.

Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) by Sebastien de Castell

“My name is Falcio val Mond, one of the last of the King’s Greatcoats, and if you listen very carefully you might still be able to hear me screaming.”

I mean, this is probably the greatest line in any prologue, ever. And if this doesn’t make you want to read this amazing series, I’m not sure what will. Yet, I’ll try to sing its praises anyway.

Falcio and the gang are up to even move adventures in this second book, while still trying to honor their promises to their dead king. Someone is killing the nine Dukes/Duchesses of Tristia and blaming their murders on the Greatcoats. Falcio, Kest, and Brasti are trying to get to the bottom of it, while also trying to keep their lives in a world where the majority of the population want to see them dead.

The rest of this review will have spoilers from Traitor’s Blade, so if you have not read Traitor’s Blade – please do yourself a favor and start it tonight then come back and read this portion of my review!

“We’d stood in that room and locked eyes and without having to speak it aloud, shared a single silent promise: if the world is going to fall apart, then we will go down with it. Fighting.”

Falcio is on a mission to tell the Dukes and Duchesses of the kingdom how needed King’s Law is, since the events in Traitor’s Blade have almost started a civil war. Trin, now duchess, is on a mission to rule and has five-thousand soldiers on her side. Falcio tries to win Aline’s favor from the different Dukes, until the Dukes, and their family line, start dying.

Oh, and Falcio is dying from the neatha, thanks to Partiana in Traitor’s Blade.

Yeah, this book is action-packed to say the least.

The Greatcoats are not the only ones being blamed for the murder; the Dashini assassins from Traitor’s Blade are also being suspects.
The citizens of Tristia are also uprising, and have found the numbers and weapons to pose a big threat. Trin lurks in the shadows a great deal of this book, but has enough appearances to remind you she is the true villain.

Kest is constantly struggling to contain his Saint’s Fever now that he is the Saint of Swords, which makes him go into a killing frenzy. Brasti is Brasti, the hilarious ladies man that makes me laugh out loud constantly while reading. Brasti’s story-arc is actually pretty amazing in this book, and one of my favorite surprises.

We are introduced to a new character, and Greatcoat, named Dariana. I loved her storyline and characters growth, but I’m not sure if I ship her with Brasti or Valiana, to be honest. Regardless, Sebastien de Castell is the master at writing characters and he doesn’t just use his talent for his main characters; his side characters are phenomenal, too.

The other character I actually really loved in this book was Duke Jillard. Well, him and Tommer. Seeing Jillard’s reactions to his son and his son’s actions are one of my favorite things in this book. And when he called Tommer his very soul, my heart exploded into a million confetti shaped hearts, I swear.

Lowkey, Tommer and Aline are my OTP.

“Happiness is a series of grains of sand spread out in a desert of violence and anguish.”

This book is heart-wrenching, cruel, unfair, a tad bit soul crushing, and it is truly in a league above the rest. This is the best series I’ve read in years, and I can’t believe it is not more popular. I honestly have fallen so in love with this series and I will sing its praises, like a Bardatti, to anyone who will listen.

RIP Vadren Graff, you will be remembered.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a very introductory book on feminism, but I wish everyone in the world would be required to read this. It’s so basic and easy to understand that everyone is, at their core, human, but Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie does such an amazing job at opening people’s eyes.

I have been ashamed to tell people I’m a feminist so many times, and each memory of my shame hurts. The word “feminist” has such a negative connotation, and I’ve been scared to tell even the people I care a lot about that this is a title I give myself.

This book made me think about me being younger, and unaware that I was a feminist, and having to prove myself to men.

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.”

One summer I was in a hot tub with a bunch of my “friends”; I was young, extremely thin, and cared so much about the way I looked. While we were talking, someone brought up my degree in molecular biology. This prompted a boy that knew nothing about me, other than the way I looked, to question me. He asked, “Well, what’s the difference between a plant cell and an animal cell then?” I then felt shame and embarrassment, and proceeded to answer his basic 101 question with great detail to prove my degree and, ultimately, my worth. I think about this memory a lot, and I cringe and get upset at myself every time. I wish that 22 year old girl knew how much more worth she had, and how she didn’t have to answer to anyone, ever.

I still care about my health and the way I look, but now I do it for myself, not random people who will value my beauty and equate it to my worth. That doesn’t mean I don’t get the terrible and hurtful comments that I’m trying to “impress someone” or that “I show too much skin” for their liking. Also, let me note that I live in Las Vegas, it is hot year-round. Also, and more importantly, I’m proud of my body. It took me many years to feel comfortable in my skin and, at 28, I know my worth and I know it has nothing to do with what size jeans I’m wearing or how great I contoured that day.

I can do better, we can all do better, but introductory books like this help immensely. I will keep and cherish this books for the rest of my life, while singing its praises to anyone who will listen, because we should all be feminists.

“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”

If you’d like to listen to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie herself, this is her amazing and powerful essay on YouTube: Here!

Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan

Vol. 1 ★★★★
Vol. 2 ★★★★

This graphic novel made me more emotional than any other graphic novel ever has. This third installment will really pull on your heartstrings, so be prepared to feel all the feels.

This graphic novel also deals with some pretty BIG themes:
– Being able to love after a loss.
– Following your dreams, no matter what.
– How important, and memorable, it is to read to young children.
– Society’s views on the LGBT community, and how much it needs to change.
– And most importantly, your worth is not dependent on the abuse you have suffered. You can heal and relearn your worth after sexual, physical, and/or mental abuse.

This volume was fantastic and, hands down, my favorite so far! I love Marko and Alana so very much, yet, I love Hazel even more. Her voice is perfect, and I love seeing the journey/struggle of her childhood. Sophie is the other shining-light of this series, to me. I can’t wait to follow both of these two young girls’ journeys for three more volumes. Saga is very quickly becoming the best graphic novel series I’ve ever read.

I’m now going to break down each chapter in this bind up. There will be SPOILERS, so please use caution in continuing if you have not read this graphic-novel, Vol. 1, or Vol. 2!

CHAPTER THIRTEEN:
Kiara, Marko’s mom, is still with our main characters on their tree-ship! She’s still mourning the death of her husband at the end of Vol. 2. The ship is on their way to visit Marko and Alana’s favorite author, D. Oswald Heist, who lives in a lighthouse.

The Will, Gwendolyn, Sophie, and Lying Cat are still searching for Marko and Alana, but the Will is starting to have his doubts, because he is seeing the Stalk.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN:
We are introduced to two reporters, Lipsher and Doff, who are trying to break the case on Alana’s motives. They are poking their noses in anything that resembles a lead on a story, and even visit her step-mom, Even.

The tree-ship lands and everyone meets D. Oswald Heist, who ends up being a pretty great guy.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN:
Countess Robot X, Alana’s first commanding officer, is interviewed by Lipsher and Doff, and they start to realize this story about Alana might be much bigger than they originally even thought.

Sophie stabs the Will, and it doesn’t look like he has long to live. The food on the island they were on was making them all hallucinate, and Sophie’s hallucination made her stab the Will.

Marko and crew have officially bonded with Mr. Heist , and seeing their family fun warmed my heart to no end.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN:
The story these reporters are piecing together is getting scary, and someone calls to have them get “taken care of”. The Will is the first choice, but since he is no longer accepting clients the job gets assigned to the Brand.

Alana expresses her love for acting and theater and Marko is very supportive. Then, the Prince Robot IV confrontation we see with Mr. Heist in Vol. 2 comes into play.

The Will is still dying, so Gwen decides that Marko is her only chance at saving him, so she rushes to the lighthouse.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN:
The Brand meets with the reporters, while Prince Robot IV deals with his sexuality.

Mr. Heist dies by the hands of Gwen, and completely broke my heart for Kiara.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN:
Prince Robot IV is a little fried. Gwen confronts Marko and Alana like the crazy bitch that she is, but thankfully Alana and Marko’s trust runs much deeper than Gwen expects.

We find out the Brand is the Will’s sister, and that he named Sophie after her, and I could barely see the last panels because of all my tears.

I’m so excited for Vol. 4, because we find out that Marko, Alana, and Hazel have had a few months of calmer happiness, therefore, in the next installment Hazel will be much bigger, and walking!

Nemesis by Anna Banks

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

I’ll admit, it has a lot of YA tropes and the story is similar to many out there (princess from warring kingdom falls in love with prince/king from said warring kingdom, while in disguise as a servant), but Nemesis just does it better.

This book feels like The Wrath & the Dawn, And I Darken, and A Promise of Fire, but it just feels so much better. I was completely hooked from page one and just continued to fall more and more in love while reading.

Like those stories above, we have a very strong female protagonist that, despite all her effort, falls for a newly crowned king who, despite all the horrible rumors, is a pretty nice guy.

Sepora is a wonderful main character, who leaves her home kingdom behind because she knows the value of human life and doesn’t want to give her father, the King of Seubel, a means to start war. Sepora is a forger who can produce a very highly sought-after element, Spectorium. Four of the five kingdoms use this element and her father is very rich from trading it, all while lying about its origins. Forgers are a secret and not many humans know about their existence, so Sepora’s father tells the rest of the world that he has a mine that produces this staple element in their world. Sadly, he becomes more power hungry and wishes to rule not only his, but the rest of the kingdoms as well, therefore Sepora fakes her own death and flees in hopes to hide in Theoria, a kingdom that has a very fragile treaty with her home kingdom.

The five very different kingdoms of this world:
1.) Serubel – lies in the mountains, and provides very good shelter and defense.
2.) Theoria – desert land with very advanced science and architecture.
3.) Hemut – covered in ice and knows how to survive, has an evil vibe.
4.) Wachuk – very peaceful land that lives off the bare necessities.
5.) Pelusia – ocean land that provides fish trade and is located far north.

While embarking on her new life to Theoria, Sepora ends up crossing paths with the Falcon Prince King, Tarik. They develop a very deep, and more importantly believable, bond that I couldn’t help but root for through the entirety of this book.

This story also gets twisted up with a new race of merfolk-like people that are called Parani. Parani are finned with webbed hands, but still have human-like features. They guard a very important element in their waters, Nefarite, which is crucial for Theoria’s survival.

A plague is also sweeping through Theoria, that could wipe out the kingdom in a little over two years and no one knows its origins. It is not contagious, but very, very deadly and progresses very, very quickly. A younger healer discovers the benefits from Spectorium, which is no longer being traded by Sepora’s father now that he believes her to be dead, so Sepora is faced with a dilemma to help and risk her identify or stay hidden and safe from her tyrant father.

Okay, now to address the elephant in the room: I know this cover looks like blackface. I wish authors had more control over their own covers, but the reality is that they do not. I wasn’t offended by this cover, but I do think it’s very off-putting. The (supposed to be) silver face paint the cover model is wearing does get explained in the book. Hopefully, most readers have learned to not judge a book by its cover by now, and I hope people do not write this book off because of this poor choice of cover that this author has no control over. Not all authors can be as lucky as Leigh Bardugo.

Like I said, this book has a lot of plot points that are very similar to a lot of the books that are coming out right now. These concepts may not be new, but they are executed better than the rest. All the problems I had with the other similar books are not in this book:
-There is no insta-love, or girl caving on her goal, because the male is attractive. These two really develop their relationship throughout this book, and it’s refreshing.
-This book may hint at a love-triangle, but there is never one present in this first installment.
-Everything feels very consensual, there is no grey area/rape culture going on.
-Tarik is genuinely a good guy; he doesn’t use harems or expect Sepora to be okay with “old ways” of his people. Instead, he changes his world for her, because he knows her worth.
-Sepora always puts herself first and never loses sight of her goal to be a good person and save lives.
-This book has body positive representation!

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I didn’t enjoy this book more than The Queen of the Tearling. This book felt like it dragged way too much in some parts and I’m not a huge fan Kelsea seeing memories from the past. I understand her necklace(s) is very powerful and helpful, but I just didn’t enjoy this concept as much as I hoped.

Yes, Kelsea can now see memories from a girl named Lily, who lived in pre-crossing America. Even though Lily is rich and married to a powerful man, while most the population lives in terrible conditions, she isn’t safe and lives a very sad life. As much as I really loved Lily’s story line, it just felt too abrupt and jarring switching back and forth from her past and Kelsea’s present.

Kelsea has her own major problems going on – The Mort army is getting closer to her kingdom every day. The Red Queen wants her sapphires and will do anything to get them. All hope seems lost to Kelsea, but her kingdom believes in her and she will go to dangerous lengths to prove them right.

This book has many important and thought provoking topics that need more discussion in our world:
-Women are not alive to just get married and bear their husband children.
-Woman can be raped by their husbands.
-Men do get raped, not just women.
-Sometimes it’s hard to get out of abusive relationships.

This being said, this book has many triggers for abuse, rape, and self harm, so please use caution while reading.

This book also deals with body image in a weird way, which I’m not sure I liked. In The Queen of the Tearling Kelsea is stated as being chubby and plain constantly. Well, in The Invasion of the Tearling Kelsea is subconsciously using her powers to be more attractive. People comment on the change of her looks a lot, and it sort of feels bad to read. Kelsea herself has inner monologues where she understands that men should like her regardless of the way she looks, but she obviously prefers being thinner and more beautiful. I mean, I know most of us would, which is why it feels weird. I don’t know how I feel about this part of the story, but, regardless, use caution if you feel this might be something that would upset or trigger you.

“This, I think, is the crux of evil in this world, Majesty: those who feel entitled to whatever they want, whatever they can grab. Such people never ask themselves if they have the right. They consider no cost to anyone but themselves.”

There isn’t much romance in this book, and what romance is in this book is pretty weak. I’m totally team Pen all the way, without question, but let me just say, for the record, the Fetch is so annoying and lame. Why does Kelsea even have a crush on his circle-talking-ass? Oh yeah, he’s so dreamy looking.

Again, I feel like this story is so unique because of how it is set in the future while also being medieval feeling. This second book helps you understand the history of the Tearling and the events that took place that made the Tearling what it was and what it is currently.

I really think Erika Johansen writes phenomenally and I very much appreciate her take on what could happen to the world we live in today. Her feministic views shine brightly in this book, and I loved every difficult point she brings up. These difficult discussions are so powerful and so needed, and for that alone I would recommend this series.

Overall, I did enjoy this book and will for sure continue on with The Fate of the Tearling when it is released later this year. This book does end on a HUGE cliffhanger, while we also discover an equally as HUGE twist/revelation. I’m not sure if I could ever resist The Fate of the Tearling if I tried just based on those two factors alone.

“There’s a better world out there, so close we can almost touch it.”

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

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

I loved and devoured the first half of this book. If that pace continued, this book would have got an easy five star rating. Unfortunately, the last fifty percent of this book felt like it would never end, and not in a good way. This book has very, very long descriptions. Sometimes I would be taken out of the plot, because it was so overwhelmingly descriptive; especially with our main protagonist’s lessons. This is a very early ARC, so I’m hoping that editors can cut this down a lot to help showcase the magic that was in the first half of this story.

First off, I was sold on this book because 1.) look at this cover, and 2.) it surrounds asha, who are beautiful, talented, and amazing fighters with magical powers. Asha are pretty much Geishas and learning about them and their schooling was really enjoyable. If you liked Memoirs of a Geisha you will probably really like this, too.

“There is no greater strength than the ability to understand and accept your own flaws.”

The main asha of this book, Tea, doesn’t start out even knowing she could be an asha. Her parents and sisters all have “normal” magical powers/elements. But Tea soon discovers she is a bone witch after accidentally resurrecting her newly dead brother at his funeral.

I loved Tea’s relationship with her brother, and the bond they have. The thing I look most forward to in this series is seeing how that bond grows, and how it affects both of them.

Luckily for Tea, when she resurrects her brother, a very powerful bone witch is in her town. Mykaela is probably my favorite character in this world, and is an amazing teacher/mother figure to Tea. She completely takes her under her wing and teaches her about bone witches and their duties, while putting Tea on the path to become a very powerful asha.

Other ashas control elements: fire, earth, water, wind. Bone witches are dark asha, who tamper with death. Bone witches are not very respected in this world, even though their powers hold the most important job in this world: The False Prince used death magic to create Daeva, different demons that come back to life every so many years, and bone witches are the only kind of asha that are able to defeat them, that is until that next time they resurrect. Yet, because these monsters are created with death magic, bone witches also get the negative connotation.

One of the more unique and cool aspects of this world, is that all the people wear heartglasses around their necks. Your heartglass will change colors depending on what you’re feeling, but will overall stay mostly the same color.

Green = Sickly.
Blue = Worry.
Orange = Disinterest.
Yellow = Fear.
Red = Healthy and Happy.
Pink = Romantic.
Black = Punishment.
Silver = Can draw runes, which means you can fight, whether it be as an asha if you’re a girl or as a solider if you’re a boy. Silver heartglasses are so very important and are so very sought after.

The other romantic and seriously scary thing about heartglasses is that if you fall in love with someone you can give them your heartglass. Tea’s mother and father have done this. Even though it sounds romantic, it is scary because if you give your heartglass to someone that ends up being unworthy they can use it to control you and have an immense amount of power over you. Your heartglass is essentially a piece of you, and giving it away can be disastrous.

“We can endure any amount of sadness, for the people we love.”

Heartglasses can also be forged by heartforgers using memories. This is going to play a big part in this series, I’m sure. As of now, only the very wealthy can afford such a luxury. Normal witches lose their memories after gifting them to a heartforger, but not dark asha, they are able to keep theirs.

Dark asha/bone witches are also able to read other’s heartglasses, which comes in very handy. Tea can see when someone is hurt, angry, flirting, even lying. Like I said, the heartglasses were amazing and unique; I can’t wait to learn even more about them.

This book also handles some pretty tough topics in a really positive way. The most prominent topic being how their society, like ours, views men’s masculinity; Men in this world are not asha, and they are looked down upon on for dancing or doing “women-like” things. Tea’s best friend, Likh, has a silver heartglass, therefore he could be an asha, and has dreamed of it since his heartglass turned silver, but instead men with silver heartglasses are forced to join the army. The arts do not show strength; therefore it makes men look weak to perform them. I could write an essay on how happy I am this is getting some attention in a YA book.

“Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are, rather than in what they expect you to be.”

Another cool thing about The Bone Witch is that the story is being told from Tea in the future. In between chapters you can see current Tea, much older, telling this tale to someone else. I always love when stories are chronicled like this, so that made it a much more fun read, too!

A couple of the more negative things about this book would probably be the potential for a love triangle and the fact that Tea definitely suffers from special snowflake syndrome. The love triangle is hinted towards, even though we only feel a real connection to one of them in this book. The special snowflake syndrome is very abundant, but Tea is also written very well and seems very intelligent and capable, so it wasn’t overwhelming or angering to me.

“But when you are younger and know no better, an infatuation can lead all the world to burn.”

This book series has so much potential. I will probably buy this in 2017 upon release, just because I really do believe this could be something amazing.

I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young

I’ll be honest; I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated a lettering designer before Nate Piekos in this bind-up. I know that sounds awful, but I always get so wrapped up in the story, the art, the coloring, that I get too distracted to pay the proper respect to the lettering. But in I hate Fairyland, Vol. One: Madly Ever After the lettering completely made this graphic novel for me.

I don’t mean to sell the story, art, or coloring short; they are also amazing. This story is whimsical and hilarious, while being bright and dark at the same time. I will put a disclaimer out that this graphic novel is very, very gory, but I think it’s well done and creates and amazing juxtaposition for the world our main protagonist is stuck in.

Gertrude, like many little girls, wishes for a new magical world, but, unlike many little girls, Gertrude gets her wish and falls into Fairyland. Unfortunately, she soon realizes that getting home will not be as easy as she thought.

We then get to see Gertrude twenty-seven years later, but still trapped in her same little girl body since bodies don’t age in Fairyland. Gertrude is now jaded, bitter, and borderline insane with a thirst for vengeance and on a mission to find a key.

Fairyland is amazing and feels like a brand new Alice in Wonderland with a twist. I would completely recommend this to anyone that won’t be bothered by a little blood, guts, and deranged children killing things.

I’m now going to break down each issue in this bind up. There will be SPOILERS, so please use caution in continuing if you have not read this graphic novel!

Issue #1:
We meet Gertrude and see her wish for a new world, then her falling into Fairyland. We meet Queen Cloudia, who rules Fairyland, and she gives Gertrude a guide named Larrigon Wentsworth III (or Larry) and a map to all the known lands. If Gertrude wants to return home, she will have to find a hidden key that will unlock a door to her world. We then see Gertrude twenty-seven years later, still searching for that key. Even though Gertrude is on a very self destructive path, killing anything in her way, Queen Cloudia can’t do anything because Gertrude is still considered a guest in Fairyland, and harming her is against the rules.

Issue #2:
Queen Cloudia decides she is going to ask for help, since she cannot stop Gertrude herself, so she hires a witch named Horribella. She sets up a zombie army, who Gertrude and her trusty guide Larry have to battle.

Issue #3:
After Horribella tries and fails, Cloudia goes to Barque to meet with the Council of Elders. They decided to invite a new child, Happy, to Fairyland. If Happy is able to find the key and open the door back home before Gertrude, Gertrude will no longer be considered a guest, and the queen would have free reign to kill or punish her. Happy comes to Fairyland and is also given a guide, named Ms. Lady, and a map! Gertrude and Happy meet, and we see Happy has some powers of her own.

Issue #4:
If Happy gets the key first, Gertrude will also be stuck in Fairyland forever. She decides to try to wield the power of the seven evil dooms, so she goes and talks to Lord Darketh Deaddeath where he makes Gertrude prove her worth.

Issue #5:
Happy finds the key first by performing good deeds. Fairyland has a goodbye party for her, and she’s almost out the door when Gertrude crashes the party. Gertrude ends up getting the key by defeating Happy, but before she leaves to return back home and fulfill what she’s been after for twenty-seven years, she makes a grave mistake: She kills Queen Cloudia which, by the rules, makes Gertrude the new queen of Fairyland, and the door back home vanishes.

This was such an amazing journey. I loved every issue, and couldn’t put this down. I cannot wait for Volume Two, and plan to buy it the day of release.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

First and foremost, this book needs to have trigger warnings for physical abuse and attempted rape. I understand the shock value packs a much bigger punch, but this book needs some disclaimers. It feels pretty gross that this book is marketed as a love-triangle romance from the synopsis.

Now that I got that off my chest, I did like this book. Colleen Hoover is always hit (Confess) or miss (November 9) with me, but she is mostly a hit and always an auto-buy author for me. I think she’s a really talented author, and she has one of the best personalities in the book world. Also, her author’s note at the end completely gutted me.

“In the future . . . if by some miracle you ever find yourself in the position to fall in love again . . . fall in love with me.”

Without giving too much away, this story is about a girl who finds herself still fighting the demons from her past. This book is in no way a love triangle, but we do get glimpses of her past love while watching her fall in love with someone new.

This book deals heavily with how easy it looks, from the outside, to leave an abusive relationship, and how far from the truth that really is sometimes. This book in no way glorifies abuse or excuses it, but forces the reader to see feel the struggle abuse victims feel when being in love with their abusers. It’s pretty eye opening, and I think worth a read for anyone, because most books involving abuse don’t even come close to handling the situation as well as CoHo does. This book is realistic, and heart breaking, and eye opening.

“Preventing your heart from forgiving someone you love is actually a hell of a lot harder than simply forgiving them.”

This book also has an amazing female friendship that is sort of unconventional. This was one of my favorite parts of the book, even though one part was a little unbelievable for me. Allysa truly was the real MVP of this book, in my opinion.

My biggest complaint, besides not having trigger warnings, was the name of these characters. Like, I’m all about unique names, but this story was way over the top: Lily Blossom Bloom, Ryle, Atlas. Like, please, let’s not. Obviously, I’m not going to mark the book down over this, I just feel like it was something that needed to be said, because I felt like the Lord was testing me, personally, with these name choices.

“Fifteen seconds. That’s all it takes to completely change everything about a person. Fifteen seconds that we’ll never get back.”

Also, this book made my ugly cry a lot. I mean, a lot, a lot. So, you’ve been warned.