The Grinch Book Tag

This tag was originally created by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes!

Also, this is a bit of a controversial tag, because it kind of showcases negative opinions. And I won’t lie, I actually tried to pick bigger named books that might surprise some of you. So, I just want to preface this by saying that I’m sorry if I didn’t enjoy one of your favorite books, series, or characters. And that my feelings do not invalidate yours whatsoever. And that’s the beauty of the book community; we can all read, interpret, and love differently.

1. Half of the lights on the Christmas tree are burnt out : Name a book/series/character that started out good but then went downhill

This was also Sam’s answer, but it’s honestly perfect for this question. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes has like plummeted. The first couple books weren’t that great to begin with, but books three and four were so amazing! And then book five came out around this time last year, and it was honestly the worst in the entire series. I have no faith whatsoever in the next and final book.

2. Annoying Great Aunt Sally who will not leave you alone : Name a book that you didn’t enjoy, but everyone else seems to love so it never goes away

This is just because I’m on Goodreads so much, but I will forever and always be haunted by A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) by Amanda Bouchet. If you guys every want to see literal garbage fire comments, check out my Goodreads review for that book. Numerous people have actually written reviews about my review for that book. I honestly wish I never even picked up an ARC of that shitty book, because it was totally not worth.

3. Your pets keep knocking over the Christmas decoration : Name a character that kept messing things up for everyone else (can’t pick a villain!)

Without question, Mal from the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Like, not only did he mess things up for everyone, he messed things up for me. He also messed things up for Alina. I wish he could honestly disappear from this series.

4. You hear your parents putting out the presents and learn Santa isn’t real: Name a book you were spoiled for

I guess I would have to say the Outlander series, and it was super recent. And it wasn’t really that big of a spoiler, but Paloma totally let it slip that someone who I thought was dead was not really dead! Haha! But, I mean, no body = no confirmed death, anyways, so I probably could have guessed this person wasn’t dead, but she totally confirmed it and now I’m a bundle of anxious nerves. (I’m honestly super good about reading new releases, and I very rarely get spoiled for things. #blessed)

5. It’s freezing outside: Name a main character you just couldn’t connect with

If I’m aiming to be controversial, I would totally say Cinder and/or Cress from The Lunar Chronicles. I don’t know why that series doesn’t work its magic on me like it does everyone else, but here we are. I did really love Scarlet, but for some reason I never felt like I was truly every rooting for Cinder or Cress.

6. Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ and it’s giving you anti-romantic feelings : Name a couple you couldn’t stand

I could say Alina and Mal. I could say Celaena/Aelin and Rowan. But I guess I’ll be extra controversial and I will say Jon Snow and Daenerys Targareyen from ASOIAF. Oh, and I also fucking hate Agnieszka and the Dragon from Uprooted, too. People think that’s romance? *sips tea forever*

7. That scratchy homemade wool sweater you got for Christmas years ago but won’t get rid of : show some books that have been sitting on your shelves for a while, and you aren’t motivated to read, but you don’t have the heart to get rid of

Okay, I feel personally attacked, but a few are: Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid #1) by Richelle Mead, Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer, Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson, and The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan!

8. Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer: Name a character death you still are mad about (warn people for spoilers! You can also use TV or movie deaths)

Without spoilers, even though I’m sure everyone has probably read and/or been spoiled for this before, but a certain beloved house elf in the Harry Potter franchise still makes me weep.

9. The malls are overly crowded with holiday shoppers: Name a series that has too many books in it/went on too long

Without question, the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. Lord, help me. Like, it’s finally starting to get better again, but that series should have concluded at book six and been left for me to love in my nostalgia. Now, all my angsty teenage memories are tainted by convenient plot twists, terrible switching of PoVs randomly, and now tragedy porn. Jericho Barrons, my originally book boyfriend, deserved better.

10. The Grinch : Name a main character you HATE (No villains again!)

Everyone is going to hate me for even saying this, but Celaena/Aelin from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. Like, she’s the worst assassin and everyone hails her as the best assassin in the world, when literally she only accidentally kills people. She is annoying, and her decisions are always ignorant, and she makes the worst impulsive choices while being condescending to everyone about theirs. Like, please, just make Manon the rightful star of that series.

Whew! Okay! That was the Grinch Book Tag! Hopefully you guys are still going to follow me and be friends with me on here! Again, I’m so sorry if I brought up one of your favorite characters, books, or ships. I promise, whatever you like in literature is valid, and never let me or anyone else take joy away from you over it. I mean, Sam completely trashed The Bronze Horseman and you all know I really enjoyed that first book. So yeah, I hope you guys are having an amazing December and holiday season! Also, if you want to do this tag: consider yourself tagged! And happy reading, lovelies! ❄☃💙

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Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2) by Jay Kristoff

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1.) Nevernight ★★★★★

“The heavens grant us only one life, but through books, we live a thousand.”

Well, I’m not entirely sure how I’m supposed to function while lying in wait for the third and final book in this series. That last chapter made me feel things that very few books are able to evoke from me. I honestly am not sure how I could possibly string together words to let you guys know how much I loved this book, but I do suppose I should at least try.

Godsgrave picks up right after the events of Nevernight. But where Nevernight felt like an adult Harry Potter (with an amazingly gothic floo powder network) where our main protagonist, Mia, is learning to become an assassin for the Red Church and the Lady of Blessed Murder, Godsgrave is an all-out gladiator gauntlet, where our characters are fighting to the death and only the very best may rise in rank.

Mia also has grown a lot since the end of Nevernight, and she is figuring out rather quickly that she is truly unable to trust anyone. Godsgrave is way more brutal and gory, but it’s also much more raw and emotional.

“The choice between looking plain and pretty isn’t really a choice at all. But any fool knows looking dangerous is preferable to both.”

One of my favorite parts of Nevernight is how Mia never explains that she is bisexual, but her actions just show it. There isn’t a big coming out story, or any explanation on why she feels the things she does for men and woman, Mia is just herself and I loved it more than words. Well, Godsgrave really delves into Mia’s sexuality, and it’s honestly a thing of beauty. Honestly, all I want in my adult fantasy is to read about queer girls saving their worlds, and Jay Kristoff delivered that to me better than maybe anyone else has. I will forever cherish this series for that alone. Also, I will go down with that fucking ship. OTP is an understatement. This is honestly the queer, f/f, assassins taking over the world, high fantasy, love story, I’ve been searching for my entire life.

Mia Corvere is one of my favorite characters of all time. She tries so hard to be morally grey, and I guess she truly is to most extents, but seeing her able to be soft and capable of unconditional love is something I don’t even have words for. Mia is strong, and brilliant, and clever, and brave, and everything I love in a main protagonist. And she always acknowledges how beauty, too, can be a weapon, but how important it is to never have it be your only weapon. And Mia has had so many shitty hands dealt to her, but she is able to overcome it all realistically and inspirationally. I honestly love Mia, and Mister Kindly and Eclipse also bring me more joy that I should probably admit.

Also, let me state that this book is definitely not Young Adult. Not only do I believe this is Adult Fantasy, I think it holds up to all the beloved and highly praised High Fantasy out there. This book/series can get rather dark at times, so know that going in. Also, there is a decent amount of sexual content in this book, so use caution if that makes you uncomfortable. And trigger warnings for violence, murder, gore, slavery, child abuse, and things along those lines. But I hope that doesn’t discourage you, because this world is amazing, these characters are perfection, the messages are beautiful, and the discourse is so damn important.

“So much wealth held in so few palms. A kingdom of the blind, built on the backs of the bruised and the broken.”

From the first page to the last page, this book had me so enthralled. I loved this more than words. Godsgrave will easily be one of my top ten favorite books of 2017, and the third book will be all I look forward to in (hopefully) the coming year. Jay Kristoff has perfected his craft at writing, and I’d honestly do just about anything to get my hands on anything new from this world. Even though I shouldn’t give him anything, because he is now the proud owner of the heart he ripped out from me reading the ending of this book.

“‘That’s the power of words; twenty six little letters can paint a whole universe’”


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Buddy read with Jules! ❤

Three Sides of a Heart: Stories about Love Triangles edited by Natalie C. Parker

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

First off, I did enjoy this, but this collection uses the term “love triangle” very loosely, in my opinion. Some of the stories could have probably benefited from a stricter use of the word. It was so very diverse in race, sexuality, settings, social structures, and more, and I really appreciated it. I honestly felt like the majority of these stories had a queer aspect to them and that brings so much joy to me. A few of the stories even beautifully showcases budding polyamorous relationships, which is almost unheard of in YA! But like all anthologies, this was a mixed bag, yet overall, I really did enjoy reading this anthology for the most part. I also feel like there is a big enough variety that most people will come out with at least a couple five star stories out of the sixteen.

And I stuck to my Fantasy roots, because my personal favorite in the whole collection was Before She Was Bloody by Tessa Gratton, who was a completely new to me author before this anthology! Their story was a high fantasy short that beautifully features an open-minded start of a polyamorous relationship, set in an amazingly unique world, that also features a kingdom that heavily believes in their religion at all costs. This was smart, this was sexy, this was emotional, and this was honestly perfect for me and my tastes. Please, give me more from this world in a full-length version. But I also want to state that Julie Murphy’s Lessons for Beginners was a very close second (and so worth everyone’s time to read)!

But moving on, I’m going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!

Riddles in Mathematics by Katie Cotugno – ★★★★
This was such a good opening story, oh my word! This is a queer short story, set at Christmas/New Years’ time, and stars a girl that has just recently came out to her family. She is struggling with how they perceive her, even though they are really lovely and accepting, and she is struggling to stop feeling so lonely with her unrequited crush, who also happens to be her brother’s best friend. This felt so authentic, and real, and was able to evoke a lot of emotions from me. I loved this completely, and the only reason I gave this four stars was because I never really felt a love triangle! But this was still so amazing.

Dread South by Justina Ireland – ★★★★★
Okay, this was an extra good read for me, because I just read and loved Dread Nation last month! Well, this short story is part of that world, where an alternate history is taking place after the American Civil War! The blacks and Native children in this world have to go to combat schools to eventually protect the whites from the zombies that now walk among us. And our main character, Louisa, is gifted a girl to protect her, by the boy she thinks she is destined to marry. Louisa, slowfully and painfully, starts to realize her privilege, and then starts thinking about what she really wants from life. Oh, and in case you couldn’t tell, this is also a queer story! And that ending was honestly perfection.

Omega Ship by Rae Carson – ★★
This was a… very unexpected love triangle for this collection. Basically, an asteroid was going to destroy Earth in nine months time, so a space ship was launched with a bunch of kids so that that they could repopulate a new habitable planet. Well, this story is about how only three of those kids made it out alive and were able to get to the escape pod to land on the new planet. The three survivors are one girl and two boys, and the girl now feels the weight of the world on her shoulders (literally), because she is going to have to repopulate the human race with only her womb. And she has to pick what boy she wants to repopulate with first. This story just… felt not good? Like, it was trying to take a feminist angle on everything, and how the girl should be in control of her body, but it just felt like three hot teens were hanging out and excited to have sex with each other. But if this turns into a full length, NA, polyamorous story… sign me up for that.

La Revancha del Tango by Renee Ahdieh – ★
I really didn’t enjoy this one. It’s about a girl who just graduated high school and traveled to Argentina alone, to stay in a hostel for one night before her brother meets her. She is still grieving from her dad’s death, and she makes a few book references, and she… likes to salsa dance (all of these just feel so forced and random. But the main character, despite traveling alone and going to a nightclub with people she just met at a hostel, also felt so rude all the time to me. And, I’m still desperately confused as to who was the other point of the love triangle. The dancer? I honestly didn’t like anything about this, I’m sorry.

Cass, An, and Dra by Natalie C. Parker – ★★★
Cass is obsessed with the different paths in life a person can take. She is constantly thinking and analyzing what her choice(s) will lead to, since she can kind of predict and/or see what is going to steam from the choice(s). But the one thing Cass is always certain will be a constantly in her life is An, that is, until she meets Dra. This was a bit weird, and it felt really disjointed while reading, I also didn’t care for Cass not being completely open with her feelings and actions. And the ending really left a lot to be desired. But I loved seeing a genderfluid love triangle point, and everyone used they/them pronouns! But now, after I talked about this with Destiny, I’m questioning if this was just a huge metaphor for Cass’ self-identity because, CassAnDra…. And now my mind is blown, and I’m just unsure how to interpret this! But maybe that’s the beauty of it.

Lessons for Beginners by Julie Murphy – ★★★★★
Our main character is an expert kisser, and gives kissing lessons to other kids from her school. She has a website, and sets up everything online, so her identity remains anonymous until the teaching begins. Ruby only has one real friend, Paul, and everyone is always really surprised to find out that she is the “Kisser Fixer”. And then one day a childhood friend of hers and her boyfriend require her services. This was perfect. Heartwarming, emotional, everything, and had such good representation (queer, body, and race). I loved this so much. This is actually the first thing I’ve ever read from Julie Murphy, and now I want anything and everything by her.

Triangle Solo by Garth Nix – ★
This one just didn’t work for me, probably because it’s about two high school boys lusting over the beautiful new girl they knew in their youth. And even though this is sort of an SFF short, because they live and go to school on a planet that is not Earth, it still read like basic horny teenage boys. And I’m just not about that life. Especially when they are viewing something as lesser until they realize they can use it as a way to get the girl.

Vim and Vigor by Veronica Roth – ★★★★★
I really enjoyed this. This is about a girl picking between two boys to go to prom with, and then she realizes her value and how friends can love you just as well as any boy ever could. This was so pure, and I honestly just had fun reading it. Also, it’s about girls in a comic club that draw and love their fandom, while also grieving the loss of one of their members. This was just heartwarming, and easily one of the best stories in this collection. And give me all the stories about girls picking their friends who unconditionally love them!

Work in Progress by E.K. Johnston – ★
I’m not sure what would possess this author to think that writing three separate stories, all told in 2nd person, all feeling and sounding like the same person, even though they are all completely different points of view, would be a good idea. But needless to say, this did not work for me in the slightest. The third story was the strongest, but I was too annoyed, irritated, and confused at that point to even care.

Hurdles by Brandy Colbert – ★★★★
This story had so much good packed inside of this short little story. This story heavily talks about being the person your parents want you to be, while also trying to balance being the person you want to be. It talks about parents putting too much pressure on their kids, and maybe even trying to live vicariously through them. It talks about addiction, alcohol abuse specifically, and how we treat people once they come back from getting help. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this story meant a lot to me, and high school Melanie would have been able to connect with this story immediately. My only problem was the ending. I’m not saying that cliffhangers or open-ended endings are the worst thing ever, but I just wanted more. Like, write me this full-length novel, please, Brandy Colbert. I’m honestly begging you. This story was great, the characters were fully fleshed out (which is beyond impressive for a short story), and the writing was completely addicting. This was the first thing I’ve read by Brandy Colbert, but now I want to read everything. I really enjoyed this.

The Historian, The Garrison, and the Cantakerous Catwoman by Lamar Giles – ★★★★
Okay, I really enjoyed this one. Morally grey main protagonist, who is learning the life lesson that not everyone will love you the way you love them, while also being a story filled with monster hunting. Like, sign me the hell up for a full-length version of this. I’m legit only giving this four stars, because this could have been such a beautiful polyamorous relationship that would have given me everything I would have ever wanted.

Waiting by Sabaa Tahir – ★
Okay, this is going to sound horrible and petty, but… she picked the wrong guy. Like, I’m all about how you can’t tell people who to love, but like, no. This story is a perfect example of what I do not like in a love triangle. And that’s why it never truly feels like a love triangle and the girl picks the dude she first laid eyes on first anyways, because… reasons Seriously, Fèlix deserved so much better.

Vega by Brenna Yovanoff – ★★★
All the different names just being dropped at the start was really off-putting. But this short story does take place in Vegas, which is where I live, so I wanted to enjoy it, but it’s filled with the Vegas stereotypes of gambling, drug use, and addiction. I mean, I know that’s an important and very really discussion for many, but it’s a reality for many people in many cities, not just Vegas. I don’t know, maybe I’m being biased, but I just wish it didn’t feel so bad for me to read. I will say that this book feels very much like Vegas, and the author does a wonderful job teleporting you there. I also feel like this is a type of story that I really like though, and I think the love triangle between that stars a girl picking between a boy she has loved her whole life and a city is pretty genius. And it was a much different read than most in this collection, so I appreciated it.

A Hundred Thousand Threads by Alaya Dawn Johnson – ★★
This was just really boring to me and I honestly felt like I had to force myself to finish it. Maybe it was because the format was told in messages, but I’m not even sure I can blame the disconnect on that. Basically, the only thing I enjoyed was a Mexico City set in the future. And I can see some people really enjoying the plot twist, but I thought it was really predictable.

Before She Was Bloody by Tessa Gratton – ★★★★★
I do think this was the high fantasy polyamorous short story that I was after while starting this anthology. Safiya is Moon Eater’s Mistress and her position is very important among her people. Her blessings mean the difference between everything, while her family also sits upon the throne. Unfortunately, Safiya is also unable to take a male lover named Enver, because she must be dedicated to their God. Yet, her best friend, Farah, has sworn her life to her. But Safiya and Farah both want Enver, and Safiya doesn’t want Farah to miss out because of her and the station that was placed on her. This was so freaking amazing. This was smart, this was sexy, this was emotional, and that first kiss, holy moly, that first kiss blew me away. I loved this. This was my favorite of the collection, and I’d love to have a full length story of these characters and this world.

Unus, Duo, Tres by Bethany Hagen – ★★★★★
Um, this is about undead vampires at a Catholic boarding school who are thinking about a polyamorous relationship. It’s diverse with race and sexuality, the characters were phenomenal, the writing was excellent, and it’s pretty much the only thing I wanted for Christmas this year. I don’t want to say too much, because this story is definitely best to go into blind, but that ending was so damn shocking, but perfect in and of itself. I really loved this one.

I gave Three Sides of a Heart 3 stars overall, because out of a possible 80 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 16 stories) this collection accumulated 51 stars (~63%).

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Buddy read with Alexis over at The Sloth Reader (my favorite BookTuber) & Destiny (my favorite blogger)! ❤

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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“There’s no place on earth with more of the old superstitions and magic mixed into its daily life than the Scottish Highlands…”

I’ll be honest, I honestly didn’t expect to like this, but I very, very much did. Also, all the credit and thanks to one of my best friends, Paloma, for encouraging me to read her favorite book! I was a complete Outlander virgin; I’ve never read the books, I’ve never watched the show, and somehow none of my friends had spoiled me for any of the events in any of these books. But I really loved the writing, the atmosphere, and the characters. Plus, someone told me Diana Gabaldon came up with the premise for this book because of Dr. Who, and that’s pretty badass if I do say so myself.

But I know most of you aren’t Outlander virgins, but I should probably give a brief synopsis for the few, like me, that were living under a rock. A woman named Claire, who lives in the year 1945 and is a combat nurse who just got home from World War II. Her and her husband are finally together and happy and trying to conceive a child.

Then, one day, Claire finds an ancient circle of stones and she instantly teleports to the year 1743, where there is war in Scotland. Her healing skills make her a huge asset to a group she meets. She is forced to adapt to the time period, while everyone believes her to be a spy, and she is also trying to figure out if she will ever be able to go back home to her time period and to her husband.

For one, no one told me this story was pretty much about two people traveling through the Scottish Highlands, going to tons of different taverns, pubs, and castles. Like, that is something I will always enjoy in my Fantasy, so this book was already set up for me to like it.

Then, I found out very quickly, that this was so intelligently crafted. Like, Diana Gabaldon did some research while writing this novel and it shows. This book is smart and the story is expertly woven. Plus, this entire book is over twenty years old, and still holds up in 2017. I am so impressed with how well developed and researched this book is. And I was actually blown away by the writing in this.

Next, you guys were all right: I now love Jamie Fraser and he probably is the perfect man. Dammit all. I never thought I’d be a part of the Highlander craze, but here my thirsty self is. *looks at picture of Sam Heughan and entire body shivers* Like, God took some extra time on that man, true?

“Does it ever stop? The wanting you?”

And do I even need to talk about the Romance? Jamie Fraser isn’t so many girls’ favorite fantasy because of the way he looks (I mean, Sam Heughan definitely helps. Are you looking at the gif above this?) It’s because Jamie is so, so, so, very romantic. Him, and his wanting, and his two hands. Ah, the things he says are truly perfection and had me feeling some type of way.

Also, no one has ever mentioned this to me before, but I loved the fact that Claire was older than Jamie! We so rarely get to see that dynamic in romance, and I never thought I’d see it in a series as popular as Outlander! It was just a nice change of pace, and I really enjoyed that minor element.

Plus, and this is a very minor spoiler, I was living for the fact that Claire was not a virgin, but that the male love interest was! This is a dynamic we really never get to see in the romance world, still, almost thirty years since this book was published! Like, Diana Gabaldon really switched up some common tropes, and I was so happy for them all.

And I just really want to stress the point that Claire is a strong female protagonist that is constantly saving the day. I could write essays on Jamie and how he is one of the most romantic male love interests I’ve read about, but Claire and her intelligence and bravery are truly the heart of this book. Claire is sex positive, smart, empathetic, crafty, and so damn fearless. I loved reading about her and her journey.

Okay, for the bad, and I mean really bad. First off, I will say that 80% of Outlander is honestly a five star book for me. I really loved it, the writing, the atmosphere, and the characters. But, for the bad, I personally feel like this book demonizes/villainizes a queer character and uses rape as a constant ploy to move the plot forward. It reads and feels just plain bad, and that has nothing to do with any triggers I have towards rape. It reads and feels bad because the villain of this story, who is male, likes to rape men. It’s discussed so much in the book that I actually hate even discussing it in my review, but it’s important, and we shouldn’t ignore this problematic aspect. It’s gross, and I hope the author does better with the rest of the series.

And obviously content/trigger warnings for violence, gore, torture, assault, and rape that is very detailed. Also, this book has a lot of sex in it, so use caution if that’s something you’re not really into.

But I will say that this book does open up a good and important discussion about male rape, and how it does exist. And how we need to talk about it, instead of hiding it as a shameful thing towards the victim. Sexual assault doesn’t just happen to women and weak and fragile men; it can happen to anyone at any time, and we need to normalize that concept and not keep making it taboo. It was obviously taboo in this book that is set in 1743, and in Claire’s year of 1954, and back when this book was originally published in 1991, and guess what? It’s still taboo in 2017. So, I will say that books that open discussion like this are very important and I’m very appreciative of that.

Also, there is also another scene that bothers a lot of people that involves domestic violence between a husband and wife where it is sort of brushed under the rug and normalized. Here is the thing, do I think that scene was in any way, shape, or form okay? No. Hell no. But it’s supposed to be a realistic depiction of the time then, which is awful to say the least. Again, I just want to bring this to your guys’ attention, so you’ll know going in, or you’ll know this book isn’t for you. Which is totally okay. I was personally okay with it, because I forced myself to look at it through historical context, but I will never make an excuse for this behavior in any literature, regardless of the time period.

And the last negative thing I really have to say is about the author, Diana Gabaldon, who has said some gross things on Twitter. I normally can never separate the art from the artist, and that’s the main reason it has taken me so long to pick this book up. Diana Gabaldon has made some terrible comments about fast food workers, about English majors, and has proven over and over that she’s not sorry for any of it. I also just felt like I couldn’t ignore her nasty behavior and not bring it up in this review. If this is a reason why you don’t want to read Outlander and support her books, that’s completely valid and completely understandable.

Overall, I really enjoyed this, and I was really surprised by this. Also, this is an outstanding mixture of fantasy, historical, and romance! And this story is filled with adventure, twists and turns, romance, and so many magical elements that I truly wasn’t expecting. I’m so thankful that I finally read this beloved book, and I can’t wait to read more and find out more about a certain ghost at the very start, because my curiously is at an all-time high. Also, I can’t wait to finally watch season one. You know, for research and totally not because of Sam Heughan.

“Because I wanted you […] More than I ever wanted anything in my life”

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Buddy read with Paloma! ❤

The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden

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

1.) The Bear and the Nightingale ★★★★★

“Vasilisa Petrovna, murderer, savior, lost child, rode away from the house in the fir-grove.”

Hi, my name is Melanie and I’m in love with a frost demon. You guys, please stop sleeping on this series. This is the best historical fantasy I’ve ever read in my entire life. And all of the Russian folklore is actual perfection. This is the type of book that reminds me that literature can be tangible pieces of magic, and this book is truly an enchanted masterpiece.

The Girl in the Tower picks up right where The Bear and the Nightingale left off. Vasya is leaving the only home she has ever known, and has chosen to see the world that is beyond the forest that surrounds her family’s home.

And since it is absolutely unheard of for a girl to go exploring the world on her own, and since the ways of men can be cruel to a girl traveling alone, Vasya disguises herself as a boy and ventures out to see what the world has to offer. Well, unfortunately, Vasya soon finds that the world has to offer many cruelties, and some of the surrounding forest towns have been burned down and had their young daughters stolen away.

Vasya can’t help but want to save these people that remind her so much of her own village back home. And soon her path crosses with her older brother, Sasha, who has devoted his life to God, and her older sister Olga, who has devoted her life to motherhood after wedding a prince. Vasya hasn’t seen either of these siblings for ten years, so it’s quite a reunion to say the least. And Vasya soon finds out that her niece is much more like her than the world would want.

We are also very quickly thrown into the world of Moscow, where political intrigue and betrayal is vast. Vasya is forced to masquerade as a boy in a city that is unlike anything she’s ever experienced while living in the safety of her forest. And even winter can’t protect her, because spring is arriving sooner and sooner every day.

“You cannot take vengeance on a whole people because of the doings of a few wicked men.”

This book is so atmospheric! You will breathe in the cold, you will taste the food, you will break from the heartache, but you will feel the magic inside of this story. I truly believe this book is on parallel with none for atmosphere. The descriptions are lush, and gorgeous, and make me believe Katherine Arden’s words truly are written with sorcery.

And the characters are some of my absolute favorites, bar none. How am I so in love with a brooding frost demon, a sassy stallion, a brand-new ghost, and every single small-folk who reside in all the different ovens and bathhouses in Russia? On top of Vasya being one of the best female protagonists every to be created. I’m so enthralled, so captivated, and so invested in everyone’s story. Somehow, Katherine Arden has woven the entire cast into my heart and soul and I want to protect them all at all costs.

“Do you think that is all I want, in all my life—a royal dowry, and a man to force his children into me?”

And this book is so wonderfully feminist! Give me all the books about girls choosing themselves and their wants for their own future. Like, this entire series is about a girl who doesn’t want to fit into women’s gender-norm for this time period. She is proud to be different, she doesn’t care what other’s say, and she always listens to her heart. She’s knows that being brave is more important than being beautiful. She knows that being smart is more important that being subservient. And she knows that being a woman doesn’t make her lesser than being a man. And all of these themes are constant throughout the novel.

“…An aging woman, magnificent and solitary, whose tower door never opened, who would make her daughter a proper maiden but never count the cost.”

Vasya wants to explore, and go on adventures, and see the world, rather than getting married, having children, and managing a household. But Vasya never shames that life choice/path, she just knows that it isn’t for her. And even when she feels like she has the whole world against her, Vasya never backs down or changes who she is. I could honestly write a thesis, a book of my own, and a freakin’ sonnet to how much Vasya Petrovna means to me.

“Perhaps I will die here, as others have died. But I will not die your creature.”

I loved this book with the sum of my being. This book is so very powerful, and I can’t even find the words to express how much this series means to me. The Winter of the Witch is easily my most anticipated release of 2018 now. This series is such a magical treat, and I hope you all do yourselves a favor and pick it up. Just make sure you are prepared for the ultimate winter wonderland, that doesn’t hold back from heartbreak.


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

#ReadersCrossing

I never really do readathons, but this one was too amazing for me to possibly even think about passing up! It beautifully mixes the two loves of my life: reading and gaming! This readathon is being hosted by Aentee at Read at Midnight!

This readathon, which is basically more of a reading challenge, is called #ReadersCrossing and it takes place from December 10th to December 31st! Basically, this is very much like #TheReadingQuest, where you choose a path and then you use the bingo board to follow the line of the path you picked! And all of this is Animal Crossing Pocket Camp themed!

LEVELING UP
• All campers starts with 0 Experience Points (EXP), and each book completed for the challenge (in any format: physical, eBook, or audiobook will gain them 2 EXP.
• #OwnVoices novels will give you an addition EXP point, instead of gaining 2 EXP for their completion, you’ll gain 3 EXP.
• You will level up every time you get 10 EXP points. You begin at Level 1.
• Tweeting or Instagram posts on the #ReadersCrossing will earn you points (every 5 tweets/photo will earn you 1 EXP). You can gain a maximum of 5 EXP for your social media interactions. These should be tweets related to the challenge such as comments on your current read, book recommendations, or posts about the game itself).
• For fun, you can make your own camperID card, you can use screenshots of your character in your campsite, or during other moments of gameplay like the special fulfilled request segments/when you catch a particular bug or fish, it’s really up to you!

Also, make sure you check out the actual reading challenge’s blog post for more information, to sign up, and just in case I’m getting any of this information wrong. Also, don’t forget to check out #ReadersCrossing on different social medias!

And I personally chose the Natural path, because it’s what I always lean and gravitate to in the game! Plus, I love Goldie and I already have a bunch of things on my TBR that already fit into the path! So, it’s really a win/win for me!

SET IN YOUR COUNTRY:The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere #2) by Meg Elison
(Set in the scariest timeline for my country!)

YELLOW COVER:Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) by Brandon Sanderson
(the actual cover of the book is the prettiest yellow my eyes have ever seen!)

A CLASSIC:A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
(I set a reading goal in January to read ONE classic, and I still haven’t!)

ANIMAL ON THE COVER:The Red Threads of Fortune (Tensorate #2) by J.Y. Yang
(Dragons totally count, right? Right!)

SET IN WILDERNESS:The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
(I hope this works, if not, I read so much fantasy I know I will read something that fits this!)

Like in every game that I play, I always feel the most enjoyment from completing all of the quests. I’m such a completionist and an achievement lover, so I know I will complete many of the side quests that are also offered in the middle of this bingo sheet!

This is honestly just too perfect and adorable to pass up! I hope many of you will join along with #ReadersCrossing! I love anything that has to do with accumulating points, and I couldn’t resist participating in a reading challenge that celebrates a love for gaming. This is such a unique and creative idea and I can’t wait to get reading! Happy reading, loves!

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Robots vs. Fairies edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe


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ARC provided by Saga Press in exchange for an honest review.

“We knew this day would come. We tried to warn the others. It was obvious either the sharp rate of our technological advancement would lead to the robot singularity claiming lordship over all, or that the fairies would finally grow tired of our reckless destruction of the natural world and take it back from us.”

First off, this anthology has the best introduction I’ve ever read in maybe any book ever! It is actual perfection in every single way. Overall, I really, really, really enjoyed this! But it is a bit of a mixed bag, I do suppose! Some of these were so amazing, where others are ones that I will probably not remember or carry with me. But I do also believe there is something here for everyone to love, whether you are #TeamFairies or #TeamRobots!

And even though most of you know that I am very much #TeamFairies, my personal favorite in the whole collection is a robot story! All the Time We’ve Left to Spend by Alyssa Wong is a masterpiece. This story is beautiful, haunting, and oh so heart-wrenching. I will carry it with me forever. I loved every single aspect of it. I think this story alone makes this anthology completely worth buying and worth reading this entire collection. One of my favorite short stories of all time.

I’m going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!

“We were always on your side. Unfortunately, half of the authors in this anthology chose poorly, but the other half always knew you would emerge triumphant.”

Also:
🦋 = TEAM FAIRIES
🤖 = TEAM ROBOTS

➽ 🦋 BUILD ME A WONDERLAND by Seanan McGuire – ★★★★★
This story guys, this freakin’ story! Okay, we get to travel through an enchanted garden, a mermaid grotto, a pixie glen, and more during this amazing short story that is set in a magical theme park that makes you question everything. This was such a strong start to this collection, and proved that I’m Team Fairies forever. You guys all probably know that I love Seanan McGuire, but you probably don’t know that I also love Kobolds! From spending such a big chunk of my life leveling up humans in WoW, to being unnaturally excited for the new Hearthstone expansion, to falling even more in love with Kings of the Wyld because they were an amazing part of the story; I love Kobolds. And this story is perfection.

➽ 🤖 QUALITY TIME by Ken Liu – ★★★
This is story about a man who majored in folk lore, but is joining a very prestigious and innovative company in their robotics department. This company wants to break the mold and find solutions for what other companies deem impossible. Then comes the Vegnor; a rat-like robot that is marketed to every busy homeowner to take care of their pests and other small things. This is beautifully written, and really opens up a good discussion on how far we will eventually let technology advance and go. And more importantly: more technology isn’t always the best solution.

➽ 🦋 MURMURED UNDER THE MOON by Tim Pratt – ★★★★★
Oh my word, this was glorious queer book-loving fairy perfection! Emily has been working at a fairy library for two years, where she met her girlfriend who is part book. The fae princess that is in charge of the library is being manipulated by a mortal man, and it is up to Emily and a few fae folk to break the spell. This story also dabbles into the different fae courts, their weakness to iron, their glamour, and other things that warmed my heart and made the story shine with Tim Pratt’s obvious love for fairies.

➽ 🤖 THE BLUE FAIRY’S MANIFESTO by Annalee Newitz – ★★
This is a really smart story that weaves together robots and politics into a Pinocchio retelling! This tale centers in on a toy-shop, where many different kinds of robots are made. From anarchists, to pacifists, to socialists, we have a full range of different thinking mechanical beings, but it just didn’t work for me for some reason. Yet, it was so different that I’m happy it was a part of this collection.

➽ 🦋 BREAD AND MILK AND SALT by Sarah Gailey – ★★★
This was so very beautifully written, and very eerie, haunting, and just downright spooky. The first half of this story immersed me more than most things I’ve ever read. I couldn’t stop reading this tale. From giving the fae gifts of bread and milk and salt, to being bonded by blood, to becoming what you never expected, this story was so captivating. But for some reason the ending wasn’t satisfying enough for me. But her writing was enthralling, powerful, and evocative, I instantly went and bought River of Teeth.

➽ 🤖 IRONHEART by Jonathan Maberry – ★★★
This was a very sad story. Like, I cried while reading most of this one. But it wasn’t only sad, it was eerie, and haunting, and pretty powerful. We watch a young man who is forced to live a much different life than he was expecting. He lives on a farm with his loving grandparents, who can barely afford to make ends meet. And their farm is mostly run by robots that are out of date and dying. There is also a beautiful discussion on the military and how veterans are treated once they are home and have taken off their uniform. The author also brings up the healthcare crisis that we are all currently facing here in America. This was an expertly woven story, and I don’t think I’ll forget it anytime soon.

➽ 🦋 JUST ANOTHER LOVE SONG by Kat Howard – ★★
A banshee girl who sings of death meets a gancanagh boy who sings of love, while all the while other fae folk are coming up missing. I didn’t really enjoy this one, just because I thought it was rather predictable! But I did enjoy that there was a side character who was an agoraphobiac.

➽ 🤖 SOUND AND FURY by Mary Robinette Kowal – ★★★
Okay, at this point I am starting to feel like all the robot stories have important and relevant issues just woven into their tales. This is a science fiction story where a crew is taking a giant robot to a planet for reasons unknown. The short story quickly turns into a story about colonization and stripping cultures from Native people. It was pretty expertly done, and I’m so impressed that these short tales are making me feel so much.

➽ 🦋 THE BOOKCASE EXPEDITION by Jeffrey Ford – ★
Yikes, okay, I know this is going to sound harsh, but I just didn’t care about this story at all. A man is able to see tiny, small, fae folk around his home. He watches them explore the bookshelves, all while name dropping tons of different books and authors, and then he watches them fight both demons and spiders and anything else! This story was just not my cup of tea at all, unfortunately.

➽ 🤖 WORK SHADOW/SHADOW WORK by Madeline Ashby – ★★★★
I really, really enjoyed this. And this story really centers on the believing in something is very powerful. Naming something and loving something and putting your faith in something is more powerful than words. And this is a story about a robot assistant taking care of a semi-famous human, who many consider a witch, but who believes in fairies and elves and other magical creatures. I loved how this story incorporated both fairies and robots, and was just such a whimsical and beautiful tale about the power of believing in something with your whole heart.

➽ 🦋 SECOND TO THE LEFT, AND STRAIGHT ON by Jim C. Hines – ★★★★
This is, like, an alternate retelling of Peter Pan, but it’s set after the events of Peter Pan, and Tinker Bell is very much not dead. In fact, she and her “Found Girls” are a cult like group that steal little girls that are very much loved. You know, sort of the opposite of what Peter and the Lost Boys did. And we follow someone who is on a mission to save the most recent missing girl, and also to get closure for something personal. I feel like this may be a three star story, but the twist at the end was so damn good that I feel like it really deserved an extra star. Also, this was a really clever tale and I did really enjoy it.

➽ 🤖 THE BURIED GIANT by Lavie Tidhar – ★★★
I’m very torn on a three or four star rating for this one, just because I was so engaged while reading this. I couldn’t put it down. I also love how this not only celebrated robots and fairies, but it also had the unique aspect of a human wanting to be robotic. This is also a story about stories, where our main character is learning about a famous tale that has been passed down over time from both an Elder in his community and from his Grandmother. And the story is about what seems like one of the last human boys on Earth, living in a world that is now overrun by Robots, some of which who are hunting humans. This tale also hinted at a fuller length story about a two minor side characters and I am so here for it. I really enjoyed this one and I’m so happy to be introduced to this author from this anthology!

➽ 🤖 THREE ROBOTS EXPERIENCE OBJECTS LEFT BEHIND FROM THE ERA OF HUMANS FOR THE FIRST TIME by John Scalzi – ★
It pains me to give something by Jon Scalzi one star, but this just felt and read so lazy. Basically, three robots are discovering and discussing human items (balls, sandwiches, cats, and xbox) and wondering how humans used them. That’s it. This story tries way too hard to be funny, and then ends trying to pack an emotional punch about global warming and the climate crisis we are choosing to ignore right now. But it felt so bad when you’re trying to do this in six pages, and five of those are wasted on bad jokes.

➽ 🦋 OSTENTATION OF PEACOCKS by Delilah S. Dawson writing as Lila Bowen – ★★
Okay, this was a hard one for me, too. This is a western fairy story, and I just don’t think the combination really mixed well for me personally. Like, Billy the Kid makes an appearance in here! And then I felt a little hopeful, because I thought we were going to have a nonbinary character, but I don’t think that was the case, but it gave me the hope for it, then the letdown. But yeah, this is basically a story about a magical shapeshifter, who is trying to protect another shapeshifter (in possum form), who is being hunted by fairy men that disguise themselves as country humans. It was just… too far out there for me, I’m sorry. Also, please let me know if you were picking up on the gender fluid aspect, too!

➽ 🤖 ALL THE TIME WE’VE LEFT TO SPEND by Alyssa Wong – ★★★★★
Oh my word, this was utter and pure perfection. I will never forget this story, ever. This story is centered around an alternate future where we have realistic cyborg celebrity robots, who have many memories stored, working in pleasure hotels, where you can spend time with them for money. Our main protagonist, Ruriko, is obsessed with spending time with a kpop group that passed away ten years ago, while trying to learn all the information she can about their memories. This story is beautiful. This story is haunting. This story is oh so heart-wrenching. I loved this. I loved this so very much. Easily my favorite in the entire collection.

➽ 🦋 ADRIFTICA by Maria Dahvana Headley – ★★
This is a scene from Midsummer Night’s Dream, but retold in a modern contemporary setting. Titania and Oberon are dealing with their custody battle, but with a rock and roll twist to it. I know this sounds really cool, and the uniqueness is completely why I’m giving this two stars, but the writing style was very much not for me. Though, this was very clever, and I’m sure many others will enjoy it much more than I did.

➽ 🤖 TO A CLOVEN PINE by Max Gladstone – ★★
Okay, this was just a really confusing tale for me. So much of it just went completely over my head, and you guys will completely love it when you get to the ending, but I was left really underwhelmed because of the confusion I felt starting out. This short story starts out with four beings that are fleeing their ship in space, while being chased by “the Witch”. Then, one of the members starts acting very strange and goes missing. And then the ending really brings the story together with a big revelation, but maybe this story was just too epic and too condensed for me to really enjoy it.

➽ 🦋 A FALL COUNTS ANYWHERE by Catherynne M. Valente – ★★★★
You all, this is a WWF fairy vs robot match! Like, Catherynne M. Valente took the meaning of this book really literally, but she is team fairies (who isn’t) and really wrote a fantastic and unique story that I really enjoyed. This is also narrated partially by a fairy announcer and a robot announcer. Yet, this was my problem with the story, and the reason I ultimately didn’t give this five stars: I hated that the robot announcer spoke all in caps. I completely understand this was a good way to be able to differentiate between the two voices, but it just felt so bad to read. I really didn’t like. But this story was so very great, I loved the twist, and it proves how fairies truly are the most clever characters in all of literature.

I gave Robots vs. Fairies three stars overall, because out of a possible 90 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 18 stories) this collection accumulated 54 stars (60%).

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

Buddy read with Destiny & Elise! ❤