August 2018 Wrap Up

AugustWrapUpHello, bookworms! How is it the last day or August already? Man oh man! This was probably the busiest, but most fun, month of 2018 for me so far! I was a little sad that I wasn’t able to fly to Michigan like I normally do, but I read so many good books and played so many good video games while trying to be upset about it! And praise/bless that I was able to read 16 things in August! 💗

So many other things happened this August:
➽ It was my birthday month! Which I totally feel like I went extra with, but I did an amazing buddy read (Seriously, thank you everyone who joined me), I posted my review for The Wicked King, and I hauled way too many books! Seriously, thank you all for making my day even more special – book haul soon, I promise! And I love youuu!
➽ The new WoW expansion, Battle for Azeroth, dropped and I pretty much didn’t read anything for a full week! Whoops! But I had so much fun with my loved ones and my friends, that it was so totally worth!
➽ And then TI8 came around for my Dota 2 boys, and I didn’t read much for another half a week! But, it was worth, too, because my heart is so happy for N0tail and OG! Seriously, no one deserved it more. 🌻
➽ The very first book to have my name in the acknowledgements was published! (And it was pretty much the best birthday gift I could have ever asked for!)

But on to what I read in August…

Like always, you can click the links in each of the titles if you would like to read a more in-depth review of each book and see the individual trigger and content warnings.

The Chase (Briar U #1) by Elle Kennedy – ★★★★★

“I feel like too many girls fail to remember one vital truth: we deserve someone who gives us one hundred percent. Half-assed effort isn’t effort. Half-assed love isn’t love.”

Elle Kennedy and her steamy hockey romances are back. And, like, what a damn blessing. This is the happiest I’ve been reading a book all damn year. These new characters completely won me over. All the cameos from the people we already love were perfection. The banter and jokes literally had my sides hurting from giggling. And, this book actually had some really important topics like ADHD and how learning disabilities can impact you in college, how growing up in the middle of abusive parents can have detrimental effects, how judging people based off their looks is really gross, and how you should always go with your gut feeling, especially when it comes to creepy men in a position of power. You all, I loved this.

Fence Vol. 1 (Fence #1-4) by C.S. Pacat & Johanna the Mad – ★★★★★

“I know I can fence.”

Friends, I love this story, this art, and these characters with the sum of my being. This is such a diverse cast, from sexuality (seriously, I think everyone is queer), to race, from social and economic backgrounds, to different family dynamics; there is so much to love about Fence. Like, C.S. Pacat’s writing and Johanna the Mad’s art is honestly a match made in Heaven, and these four issues were absolutely perfection.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera – ★★★★★

“I believe in love at first sight. Fate, the universe, all of it. But not how you’re thinking. I don’t mean it in the our souls were split and you’re my other half forever and ever sort of way. I just think you’re meant to meet some people. I think the universe nudges them into your path.”

My dear friend, Jules, dubbed this a “queer, modern day, Sleepless in Seattle, set in New York” and she was so damn correct. Friends, I loved this book. It was seamlessly and so very beautifully written. The characters felt so real, that I’m still convinced that they have to be real people, walking the streets of New York while you read this review. And the romance? Lord, this was the sweetest, but most realistic, romance I’ve read in years. Please make sure you all preorder this book before the October 2nd release date.

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) by Seanan McGuire – ★★★★★

“She had been able to find a doorway and disappear into an adventure, instead of living in a world that told her, day after day after grinding, demoralizing day, that adventures were only for boys; that girls had better things to worry about, like making sure those same boys had a safe harbor to come home to.”

In the goblin market Lundy learns so very much about herself and who she truly wants to become. And Lundy is also able to travel back and forth between the market and home throughout this glimpse into her life. There is a such a beautiful theme of the power of love between siblings, both found and blood, and that thread is carried through for each visit. Lundy, Moon, and Diana each have a piece of my heart that I won’t ever get back, and I’m a better person because of it. Friends, I loved this. It’s a magical masterpiece and a perfect addition to this series that Seanan has given book lovers everywhere. I know the release date isn’t until January 8th, 2019, but preorder this now. Trust me.

A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals #1) by Alyssa Cole – ★★★★

“One can never read too many fairy tales”

A Princess in Theory was nothing short of an absolute treat to read. I easily fell in love with Alyssa Cole’s writing and her characters. And I completely believe she is a genius with her perfect portrayal of the “far away country prince email spam” trope. This book was funny, heartwarming, important, and completely captivating.

A Duke by Default (Reluctant Royals #2) by Alyssa Cole – ★★★★

“We have a fantastic romance section,” she said. “Do you need recommendations? How do you like your dukes? Grumpy? Tortured? Alpha, beta, or alpha in the streets, beta in the sheets?” “Actually, I meant nonfiction”

Friends, this was nothing short of pure joy to read. Please, if you’re looking for a heartwarming, funny, and expertly crafted romance, please look no further. A Duke by Default follows the main character inA Princess in Theory, Ledi’s, best friend Portia! But this time, Portia is on a journey to change her life and be a different person, and what better way than with a change of scenery and career? And maybe she will cross paths with someone who is much more than meets the eye himself.

➽ Rule (Rule #1) by Ellen Goodlett – ★★

“Three girls. Three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.”

Whoever said this was Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars was 100% correct. Except, I quickly learned and remembered that Three Dark Crowns is done much better, and Pretty Little Liars is one of the most annoying shows to have ever aired on this planet we call Earth.

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare – ★★★

“It’s all right to love someone who doesn’t love you back, as long as they’re worth you loving them. As long as they deserve it.”

Clockwork Angel is the first installment set in the same world that Cassandra Clare has crafted. Yet, this trilogy is set in 1878 historical London, with heavy steampunk vibes, and murderous machines! But this book is also filled with humans, fae, shifters, vampires, warlocks, and the very beloved (or not so beloved, depending who’s talking about them) Shadowhunters!

Seafire (Seafire #1) by Natalie C. Parker – ★★★★

“Never underestimate the girls of this world”

And the award for best prologue of 2018 goes to Seafire! Seriously this prologue was beyond words amazing. It not only made me feel every single emotion under the sun, but it had me on the edge of my seat for the entire twenty pages. Perfection, seriously perfection. And such a wonderful way to start this amazing story! I hate comparing books, especially two new releases, but Seafire is everything that I wish These Rebel Waves was. Pirates, the open sea, a beautiful f/f side romance, a found family of girls who feel lost, but come together to create something so powerful. You all, I loved this book.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – ★★★★★

“We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable. And there is a fire catching among us.”

Once I heard that this was an ownvoices Asian inspired fantasy world where two girls, who are forced to be concubines to a demon king, try to overcome it all and fall in love, I knew this was going to be a book for me. But friends, I fell in love. Girls of Paper and Fire will make it onto my best books of 2018 list come December.

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman – ★★★★

“I think the truth is that everyone in the entire world is confused and nobody understands much of anything at all.”

This summer I read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman and it became my favorite contemporary of all-time. I fell so in love with her writing, her characters, and her messages, that I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist picking up something else by her. And I Was Born For This was completely another win for me.

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria – ★★★★

“Deep beneath the citadel, the executioner was waiting.”

This was so unique and so different than anything I’ve read all year. This was also hella fun to read.Bi boys and plus-sized ace girls GOING ON QUESTS TOGETHER? Take all my money. Seriously. Full review to come soon!

Bloody Rose (The Band #2) by Nicholas Eames – ★★★★★

“I couldn’t quit. I didn’t want to. I was raised on my father’s stories, spoon-fed glory until I hungered for it—until I thought I’d starve without it.”

I loved Bloody Rose even more than Kings of the Wyld! This book feels like stepping into a fresh Dungeons and Dragons campaign, where you get to play as a Lesbian bard who is allowed the honor of going on a few quests and ultimately telling the story of the most famous mercenary this side of the Heartwyld. And, I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted to play (or be) a character so much in my entire life.

Worlds Seen in Passing Anthology edited by Irene Gallo – ★★★★

“So much hurt to try to heal. And the healing hurts too much.”

Tor is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year and are coming out with this anthology that showcases some of the best short stories written this decade! Tor is my personal favorite publishing house. Not only have they always been amazing to me, they are putting out some of the most diverse, important, world changing literature on the market right now.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #1) by Seth Dickinson – ★★★★★

“Freedom granted by your rulers is just a chain with a little slack.”

I can honestly say that I have never read anything, in my entire life, like The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. This book was so very quiet, but it spoke so very loudly to me. But this is easily one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life.

Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10) by Ilona Andrews – ★★★

“We were living in the Apocalypse. Slowly, with each magic wave, a little more of the old technological world died, and the new world and its powers and monsters grew a little stronger. Being one of the monsters, I supposed I shouldn’t complain.”

Friends, I promise you, no one wanted to love this book more than me. I have been reading this series for what feels like close to a decade. And this will always be a series that I will cherish and keep close to my heart forever. But sadly, this final book just fell a little flat for me.

Okay, my loves! I hope you enjoyed my reading wrap up! I should be getting home late tonight, because I’ve been away for a few days for my birthday celebration with some loved ones! But I miss you all, and I hope you had an amazing August and that you were able to find some new favorite books this month! Happy reading! ❤️

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I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

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“Born to survive the storm
Born to survive the flood”

This summer I read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman and it became my favorite contemporary of all-time. I fell so in love with her writing, her characters, and her messages, that I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist picking up something else by her. And I Was Born For This was completely another win for me.

(Art by Alice!) 🌧️

We get to see six characters come together, over the course of a week:

Angel/Fereshteh Rahimi – The biggest fan of The Ark. Eighteen, Muslim, and I felt like they were on the Ace spectrum.

Jimmy Kaga – Lead singer for The Ark. Eighteen, Christian, biracial (Italian and Indian), gay, and trans. Also, Jimmy deals with a lot of anxiety and depression.

Juliet Schwartz – Eighteen and Angel’s best friend that she was introduced to on the internet and is meeting for the first time to see The Ark together.

Lister Bird – The Ark’s drummer. Eighteen, white, bi, pan or some MGA, and I believe is dealing with depression and alcohol abuse.

Bliss Lai – My biracial (Chinese and white) and bisexual queen. And she is sort of the reason Angel and Jimmy’s worlds cross.

Rowan Omondi – Lyricist and cello player for The Ark. Nineteen, Nigerian, Christian, and is secretly dating Bliss so the fandom won’t harass her.

And, as always, Alice Oseman has shined a spotlight on the importance of friendship; both on and offline. Angel is going to London to meet the band who has meant the world to her for many years now. This book is told in alternating perspectives of Angel and Jimmy and we truly get to see the difference between what the fans see and what the band feels.

This book heavily talks about the “good side” of fandoms and the “bad side” of fandoms throughout the entire story. And I’ve never really been obsessed with a “boy band” but I have for been a part of fandoms that have quite literally saved my life. Sometimes you have to put your time, energy, and passion into something other than your “real life” to feel like you belong, and that’s valid. Hell, that’s more than valid; it’s amazing. Angel for sure uses The Ark for escapism and for a sense of belonging, and we get to see the good, the bad, and all the in-between moments.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything except The Ark.”

My biggest problem with this book though does lie with the fact that the fanbase for The Ark (Angel included) really ship Jimmy and Rowan together. And I completely understand that this is a book, but in the setting these fans are shipping real life people together, and it for sure feels like fetishizing a m/m relationship in every sense. And I know that people actually do that in 2018, but it is so gross that it honestly just made me want to take a hot shower and scrub my skin every time Angel and Juliet would talk about it.

I will also say though, the ending of this book was not satisfying for me. I mean, I couldn’t put the book down; I was so captivated and enthralled. I swear, no one writes realistic contemporaries like Alice Oseman and her stories are just so consumable. But this one just left me wanting so much more, but not in a good way. And, selfishly, without spoilers? I wanted Angel to have more confirmed friendships at the end of this book. And I just, I wanted to make sure that everyone was okay. Radio Silence feels open ended sort of, too, but the difference is that it feels satisfying. When I closed the last page of this book, I had a million more questions than the entire time while reading.

But this book, for me, really was a love letter to mental health awareness and how important it is to always put your mental health first. From anxiety, to paranoia, to depression, to just questioning your worth, you have to put yourself first. A lot of the time, people will expect to take more than you are willing to give, and this book really shines a light on the importance of learning and knowing your limits. And how it is okay to say no, or take time for yourself, especially when you are uneasy about something.

“I tend to constantly dread things, even when the ‘things’ aren’t actually dreadful.”

Overall, I still really enjoyed this. I think Alice’s books are honestly going to be classics one day. I truly feel like she captures my current life, current day, better than any author on this planet. And she puts so much in her books, from racial rep, to different religions, to sexual rep, to mental health. I would still recommend this with my entire heart, and I feel like if you have been a part of “boy band culture” you will relate even more than I did. Oh, and I was fucking living for the Joan of Arc tie-ins and mentions. Alice Oseman is a gift to the world.


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Content and trigger warnings for talk of suicide and not wanting to be alive, depression, anxiety depiction, panic attacks, talk of past forced coming out/outing, talk of past loss of a loved one, alcohol abuse, abandonment, parental abandonment, and assault (one scene where a fan performs an act of violence against a band member).

Buddy read with May at Forever and Everly & Lily at Sprinkles of Dreams! ❤

The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #1) by Seth Dickinson

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“I will remake the world so that no woman will ever have to do this again.”

I’ve been sitting here, looking at a blank word document, for almost twenty minutes. I don’t even know how to possibly start a review for this book. I can honestly say that I have never read anything, in my entire life, like The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. This book was so very quiet, but it spoke so very loudly to me. But this is easily one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life.

Baru Cormorant learns from a very young age that her home will never be safe. For the first seven years of her life, she loved her home with her mother and two fathers. But that all changed the day Masquerade soldiers conquered Taranoke. This book heavily talks about colonization and how the colonizers will take everything, while expecting you to be grateful for them “liberating” the natives.

“Freedom granted by your rulers is just a chain with a little slack.”

This book also heavily talks about gender roles and sexuality. Baru is a lesbian, and it is truly her greatest fear in this world, since one of her fathers got taken away for being “unhygienic”. This is a dark book, and these are constant themes that completely are the reason Baru does the things that she does. But this was a very hard read at times, so please use caution.

Content and trigger warnings for homophobia (always in a negative light, but still very abundant throughout the story), racism, colonialism, sexism, misogynistic comments, talk of genital mutilation. torture, murder, death, animal deaths, graphic violence, loss of a loved one, inhumane conditioning treatments, off-screen rape and forced reproduction, and constant war themes. Also, a queer character does die in this book, and it hurts, a lot, so use extra caution.

But Baru plays the part that the colonizers want her to; she leaves her home, she becomes a student, she becomes a powerful accountant, she becomes what the throne wants her to be, and she never loses sight of her goals. Because Baru knows this is the only way she can truly free people from the oppressors who think they carry out their evil actions in the name of good. This is a book about a girl trying to break a seemingly unbreakable system, using the methods that her oppressors taught her, and it’s so smart, and so painful, and such a gift to the literary world.

I’ve never read a book that’s so multi-faceted before. Every page has a new angle that makes you completely reexamine the entire story. This story is so political, while also realistically depicting what war is like from the winning and losing sides, while completely putting the chaos and heartbreak at the forefront of the story. You won’t know who to trust, which is hilarious because Baru truly is a reliable narrator, but the set up just makes you not want to believe what you’re reading.

But ultimately, this is a book about power and all the terrible things people are willing to do to gain it. There are so many ways to find power and to be able to harness it for yourself. And during this entire book, we get to see Baru do everything in her power to try to carve out a substantial amount of power so that she will be able to change the world.

“This is the truth. You will know because it hurts.”

And you know from the very start, that Baru will ultimately be the villain of this story. Yet, I’ve never read a better depiction of betrayal in any form of literature before. Seth Dickinson has created something so unique, so special, and this story truly feels like a once in a lifetime series. I feel like this isn’t a book that everyone will love, but the people who do love it will love it with their entire heart and soul.

Overall, I loved this book more than any review that I could possibly write (and do this story any semblance of justice). And I am so happy that this is the book that I chose for my birthday buddy reads this year. I mean, I could have probably picked something that didn’t completely rip my heart out upon the last day of reading, but I don’t think I could have picked a more impactful book. I know this last chapter will haunt me for so long to come. I cannot wait to read The Monster Baru Cormorant this October.


And if you did buddy read this with me, thank you so much. Forever thankful for this community and for everyone who takes the time to read my reviews. I’m forever blessed to be a part of this book community, and to have friends that make it feel like it’s my birthday all year round. I love you all! You all bless me every single day. I’ll cherish this story forever and always. (And Tain Hu, Aurdwynn’s rebel duchess of Vultjag, is my only fictional crush, now and forever.) 💗

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Top Ten Tuesday | My Favorite Books with Schools Settings

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Hey, friends! This week’s prompt is a back to school freebie, which ended up being perfect, because one of my favorite things are books that have a school setting as their main backdrop. Also, I’m sorry, but I’m going to be a little vague with some of these, but I do have reviews for all of these, just click the titles! My birthday was yesterday, and I am currently out of town, hopefully relaxing by a pool a reading a good book! But I still hope you enjoy these ten reads that all are set in very different kinds of school! 📚✏️📖


➽ The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss


➽ Nevernight by Jay Kristoff


➽ Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire


➽ The Deal by Elle Kennedy


➽ Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead


➽ Red Sister by Mark Lawrence


➽ Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


➽ Binti by Nnedi Okorafor


➽ The Secret History by Donna Tartt


➽ Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling


Oh, and I absolutely love and adore each of these books! So, I recommend them all with my whole heart and soul, whether you are going back to school, or your children, or if you’re just like me and still paying off that student loan debt. Happy reading, friends! 💖

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The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

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1.) The Cruel Prince ★★★★★

“Once upon a time, there was a human girl stolen away by faeries, and because of that, she swore to destroy them.”

Many of you might not know this but on this day many years ago, Holly Black’s biggest fan was born. Spoiler: it’s me! And I figured what better way to celebrate my birthday than to finally post my review for my favorite book of the year! I read this back in May, and it doesn’t come out until January, but celebrating my love for this book and series on my birthday just felt right. Also, I’m just that extra, but The Wicked King is perfection in every way.

I love so many different kinds of books; fantasy, romance, young adult, new adult, adult, books with lyrical writing, books that are character driven, books with angsty relationships, books with soul crushing emotions, books that make me feel everything. And I’ve read a lot of books; over 800 according to Goodreads. But every time I pick up a Holly Black book, I feel like she wrote the book for me. And I mean that, because she writes exactly the kind of books that I want to read. Not just key elements or parts, she completely encompasses everything I love in literature. And if I could wish one thing for everyone who reads my reviews, I’d wish for you to find an author that makes you feel this way, too.

The Wicked King is the second installment in The Folk of the Air series, the first being my favorite book of 2017, The Cruel Prince! And this book starts off five months after the heart wrenching events in book one. This review is going to be spoiler free, but I will be talking about some key elements that happened in the previous book! So, please do not read this review if you do not wish to be somewhat spoiled for The Cruel Prince!

“I want to tell you so many lies.”

(The most breathtaking fanart by Loweana!)

Okay, so basically a brief summary is that Jude is alone with the new High King of Faerie. Madoc and her parted on bad terms, Oak is in hiding with Vivi, Taryn is to be married to Locke, Balekin is locked up, and Cardan is *clutches pearls forever* the new king. Yet, he must listen to everything Jude says because of a trick she played on him, but all of us know how quickly a year can pass and things can change. Especially since the Queen of the Undersea, Orlagh, is thinking about breaking the treaty with the fae folk on land, since she isn’t too sure about the new ruler. And she plans to use her daughter, Nicasia, any way that she can to help secure her place of power in the fae realm. And all the courts are coming together to see if Cardan really can lead and protect them.

“Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.”

And everyone is plotting in this book, I swear. The phrase “twists and turns” doesn’t even begin to describe the events that happen in this book. The political intrigue is so strong in this book. You won’t know who or what to believe, and you surely won’t know who to trust. And all these storylines come together to create something so beautiful. This book was a wild ride from page one to the very last page. Actually, especially the very last page.

And I know everyone has already made a very big deal about the end of this book, and they aren’t wrong. You all thought The Cruel Prince cliffhanger was bad? Oh, sweet summer children. And, obviously, I won’t spoil anything, but there are so many different ways to interpret what happened. I’m going to be vague, but when you love someone or something, you will protect it at all costs. Also, the juxtaposition from book one to book two? Probably the best thing I’ve ever read in my entire life.

Okay, I’m going to do a little break down for some of the characters in this book. You know, just so I can gush, fangirl, and truly be the hot mess that this book proves that I am. Also, Roiben plays a huge role in this story, which was such a wonderful surprise and I really wanted to mention it!

(My favorite fanart(s) by PhantomRin!)

Jude Duarte – My heart, my true love, my icon, my queen. Jude is my favorite protagonist and I would honestly die for her. Like, all I want in this life is for Jude to he happy, healthy, loved, and know that she is deserving of that love.

“I’ve wanted this and feared it, and now that it’s happening, I don’t know how I will ever want anything else.”

Cardan Greenbriar – And Cardan is probably my favorite character in literature. There, I said it. Are you happy now? Also, this book has a minor scene that really led me to believe that Cardan is pan or bi and the scream I screamed upon reading. (I’m so sorry, neighbors, if you’re reading this!) I thought I was too old or just completely over the concept of “book boyfriends” until Cardan Greenbriar decided to be created.

Nicasia – I’m not even going to waste my finger strength. Bitch, bye.

Locke – Okay, say what you want, but Locke is like the greatest antagonist of all time. I am not sure I’ve ever loved to hate a character as much as I absolutely love to hate him. I also completely believe that he’s going to be the “big bad” of this series, eventually. The half-brother development is going to come into play.

“I wish he hadn’t used me to test my sister’s love for him. I wish she hadn’t let him.”

Taryn Duarte – Friends, I have a lot of feels. But I’m just going to say that I want few things in life as much as I want the novella, The Lost Sisters, that comes out October 2nd, 2018. I think it’s going to completely shatter everything we know about Taryn, and I’m ready for it.

Oh, and in case I haven’t gushed enough, the romance in this series is my favorite romance of all-time. And like, I don’t say that lightly. I thought in The Cruel Prince that it might have been because I just love fae stories so much. But while reading The Wicked King I realized that it’s just because this is the best enemies to lovers in the history of the trope. I mean, sex is great and all, but have you ever shipped Jude and Cardan more than any relationship you’ve ever personally been in? Because, same. I honestly don’t even know how I’m functioning, let alone sitting at my desk typing this review, after reading the Queen of Mirth scene. Seriously, Holly Black is a fae queen, none of us are deserving, and her words are magical.

“You are my dearest punishment.”

But this is also a book all about power, and the ugly things people are willing to do for it. Yet, it’s also about love, and all the beautiful, selfless, hopeful, hopeless, heartwarming, heartbreaking things we are willing to do for it. I honestly feel like the heart of this story is about sacrifice; the things we do for our family, our loved ones, and for ourselves. There is a lot of good on these pages. And I know this is a whimsical, magical book all about fae, but a lot of themes and messages carry over really beautifully.

“It’s easy to put your own life on the line, isn’t it? To make peace with danger. But a strategist must sometimes risk others, even those we love.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever been as happy reading a book as I’ve been reading The Wicked King. Also, I seriously pretty much reread this while writing this review. Like, I opened my book back up to grab some quotes that I tabbed, and I seriously had to stop myself from consuming the whole entire story all over again. Without a doubt in my mind, I will read this again before release. It’s just that much of a masterpiece, in every single sense of the word.

“He looks at me as though we share secrets, although we don’t. We don’t share anything.”

Overall, this review doesn’t do this book or my feelings justice. I have no word combination for how much this book, this series, and this author means to me. Yet, if you peak inside my heart, you might see my loved ones, coffee, video games, tattoos, Frank Ocean, and The Wicked King by Holly Black. Not only is this my favorite book of 2018, it’s one of my favorite things in life. And Cardan and Jude honestly have the best sexual tension in existence. I could read about them forever, with no pay off even, and I’d just ask for more.

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

Content and trigger warnings for murder, death, bullying, abandonment, captivity, abuse, talk of past child abuse, and for violence in general.

(Thank you so much, Diana. You will never know how much this means to me, but I promise I’ll cherish this ARC forever. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul, thank you! 💖)

Bloody Rose (The Band, #2) by Nicholas Eames

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ARC provided by Orbit in exchange for an honest review.

1.) Kings of the Wyld ★★★★★

First and foremost: Hi Terry! Your son is so talented and I’m so proud of him! 💗

Next, friends, I loved Bloody Rose even more than Kings of the Wyld! This book feels like stepping into a fresh Dungeons and Dragons campaign, where you get to play as a Lesbian bard who is allowed the honor of going on a few quests and ultimately telling the story of the most famous mercenary this side of the Heartwyld. And, I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted to play (or be) a character so much in my entire life.

“I couldn’t quit. I didn’t want to. I was raised on my father’s stories, spoon-fed glory until I hungered for it—until I thought I’d starve without it.”

Nicholas Eames truly has created something so unique with his books, because in this world bands of mercenaries join up to go on tours, to perform shows, in which they will slay the biggest and baddest monsters around. And sometimes, if the band is good enough, they will take on other contracts to help protect their five major cities and make some really good cash (and accumulate a lot of fame) along the way.

Bloody Rose is a brand new book, with brand new adventures. And even though this title and book cover may star Golden Gabe’s daughter that he got his band, Saga, back together to rescue in Kings of the Wyld, this book follows a brand new mercenary band, six years later.

(Breathtaking map by Tim Paul!)

“To Tam, there was nothing worse than the prospect of never leaving home, of being cooped up in Ardburg until her dreams froze and her Wyld Heart withered in its cage.”

Tam – Seventeen-year-old girl who has lived a sheltered life with her father, ever since her mother died while being a mercenary. She does work at the local tavern (which also has a six armed arachrian manning the bar, and warming my heart), where her uncle and a few friends have taught her a few things behind her father’s back. Tam is also a lesbian, and her world completely changes when she finds out that Fable is in dire need of a new bard.

Rose – Frontwoman of the band Fable, Golden Gabe’s daughter, and a reputation that has already guaranteed that she will go down in history as one of the bravest mercenaries to have ever lived. Also, she duel wields scimitars – Thistle and Thorn!

Freecloud – the last Druin and Rose’s lover, who was on the battlefield of Castia with her. And has a pretty impressive sword named Madrigal!

Brune – Vargyr / Shaman! Wields Ktulu, that can separate into two weapons, kind of like Varian Wrynn’s (my favorite character) in World of Warcraft. I didn’t ask for these tears. Speaking of World of Warcraft, I have an extra soft spot for shamans, and Brune even shifts into what my shaman shifts into, so my heart is so very happy.

Cura – Inkwitch / Summoner, and my favorite character in the entire book. Cura’s sexuality is never completely stated, but she does like girls (I’m secretly hoping, wishing, and thinking that she’s pan)! She wields a trio of knives, but her powers are so much more than that. Also, I love playing summoners in D&D! On top of Cura’s amazing personality and banter? I seriously have the biggest crush on this fictional character.

Roderick – Fable’s booker and handler of their contracts! Also, he is a Satyr and is forced to keep it hidden. There is such a wonderful discussion around this character and what makes a monster and makes someone lesser than someone else based on the deeds of others. I easily fell in love with Roderick and his little hat. I really hope we get to see more of him in book three.

“…That evil thrives on division. It stokes the embers of pride and prejudice until they become an inferno that might one day devour us all.”

We get to see each of these characters deal with many things from their pasts that are ultimately holding them back. But all the story and character arcs are seamlessly woven together, and this gang of misfits truly come together to create something more beautiful than I have words for.

And Bloody Rose and her crew have one last gig before their tour is over, even though they plan on completing one little contract afterwards. And they need someone to tell their story, so they ask Tam to come along. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like life as they know it is going to end because there is a crazed necromancer out there, right? Obviously wrong. There is a Winter Queen on the loose that wants to completely destroy this world and everyone residing in it, because she is forced to live in a world without the thing she loves most.

I feel like this book also heavily talks about motherhood and all the beautiful, but messy, aspects that come along with that title. How parenthood will always be the most difficult but rewarding job title a person can carry. And even though I think this book is one adventure after adventure, leading up to the most epic battle, I truly think that the heart of this book is about motherhood. Tam and Cura are both grieving the loss of theirs. Rose is struggling to be one. And the Winter Queen is showing no mercy for the people who took hers away. I know this is a fun and humorous book, and I love it for that, but Bloody Rose packs a very powerful punch. I cried during the entire epilogue.

I also think there is an important discussion to be had about how even though being a parent is one of the most important things in this world, it’s also not the only thing a human will ever be in their life. And there are so many ways to love, and to teach, and to heal, and to just live the life you want to live as a person and as a parent. I’m not a parent yet, so take these entire paragraphs with a grain of salt, but I think this book really talks about balancing being a parent and being whatever you want to also be and how they can cohesively come together to allow you to live a life you are both proud of and a life that you feel is worth living.

Bloody Rose is also a love letter to found families everywhere. Again, parenthood is for sure a major theme, but this book truly embraces the “it takes a village to raise a child” proverb. All the members of Fable were forced to grow up seeing their parents go to battle in very different ways. Some got by on the love from their secondary family members, and others only found their true family when joining Fable. Regardless, this book really helps prove that blood will only ever just be blood. And that a family is what you choose and who will always choose to unconditionally love you.

“And yet here they all were: at the cold edge of the world—each of them vying to be worthy of one another, to protect one another, to prove themselves a part of something to which they already, irrevocably belonged.”

And the writing? Seriously, I almost want to believe that Nick is a bard himself. I say this in a lot of my review, but lyrical writing is my favorite extra element in books, and his prose is so unbelievably beautiful. And he truly has mastered how to string words and sentences together. I feel like I highlighted at least a third of this book. I also feel like this book is told in such a unique way, because even though I would, without question, say that Tam is the main character, I would still say that the star of this book is Bloody Rose. And I think that Nick played with the concept of what a bard is so impressively, and it truly made for such a unique reading experience. Also, the epilogue was 11/10 and truly tied everything together so perfectly.

Overall, this is epic fantasy as its finest, and this will for sure make my “best of 2018” list come December. What Nick has created with this world and story is just such a breath of fresh air in adult fantasy. It’s smart and witty and will leave your sides hurting from laughing. But the messages are powerful and important and will leave you reflecting the parallels in our world in 2018. I love these books, I love these characters, and I never want Nick to stop writing them. I hope you all pick this up upon release next week, and I hope you all strive to live a life that you would be proud to have a song written about.

“Glory fades. Gold slips through our fingers like water, or sand. Love is the only thing worth fighting for.”

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Content and trigger warnings for grief depiction, abandonment, loss of a loved one, animal deaths, death, murder, violence, drug addiction, emotionally abusive parenting, depiction of self-harm, talk of past self-harm, talk of past suicide attempts, talk of past sexual abuse, talk of slavery, and war themes.

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

This is the first book that is actually being published with my name in the acknowledgements and… I just have a lot of feels. Forever thankful for this community and for everyone who takes the time to read my reviews. You all bless me every single day. And thank you so much, Nick. I’ll cherish this forever and always. Truly the best birthday gift a girl could ask for. 💗

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

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ARC provided by HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review.

“I believe in love at first sight. Fate, the universe, all of it. But not how you’re thinking. I don’t mean it in the our souls were split and you’re my other half forever and ever sort of way. I just think you’re meant to meet some people. I think the universe nudges them into your path.”

My dear friend, Jules, dubbed this a “queer, modern day, Sleepless in Seattle, set in New York” and she was so damn correct. Friends, I loved this book. It was seamlessly and so very beautifully written. The characters felt so real, that I’m still convinced that they have to be real people, walking the streets of New York while you read this review. And the romance? Lord, this was the sweetest, but most realistic, romance I’ve read in years. Please make sure you all preorder this book before the October 2nd release date.

Arthur – White, gay, 16 (but a 17th birthday does happen), and just visiting New York for the summer, because he was able to land a very good intern position.

Ben – Puerto Rican, gay, 17, and trying to mend his broken heart, because he and his ex just broke up, and now he is forced to see him every single day in summer school.

And these two boys met by chance, in a post office one July day, and it changes their lives. Yet, the constant question of this book is if that meeting, given to them by the universe or some higher-power, was meant to bring them together or to keep them apart.

“I guess that’s any relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.”

I very much related to Ben, who is constantly self-conscious about his white-passing looks. That is, until he and his privilege get completely checked. This was such a minor side story in this book, but it meant the freakin’ world to me. Both, him feeling not as much in touch with his culture when he is away from his family, and when he realizes that a lot of privilege comes from being white-passing.

“Not looking the part of Puerto Rican messed me up. I know I get some privilege points from looking white, but Puerto Ricans don’t come in one shade.”

Also, this book wonderfully touches upon how Arthur has ADHD, and how he lives a better life because of Adderall (which I know isn’t for everyone, but it still made me really happy to see). He and his family are also Jewish, and that is always as at the forefront of this story, too. And it is beautifully mingled with Ben’s very catholic family.

“We’re not old-school Catholics who live by the Bible and conveniently ignore all the verses that contradict the hate coming out of their mouths. We’re the kind of Catholics who think people shouldn’t go to hell for being nonhetero, and that was before I even came out.”

This is just such a beautiful story about these two boys coming together, by fate, while trying to discover who they are and who they want to be. Life, and the world we live in, is such a vast thing, and seeing these teenage boys try to understand it with each other, knowing they only have a summer together, is something so awe-inspiring that I don’t even have words for it.

Other important juxtapositions are in this book, too. Like, Ben’s family isn’t the most wealthy, but they get by, where Arthur’s parents are able to spend the entire summer in New York. Arthur also has plans of going to a very good school, where Ben is just trying to stay afloat in high school. But Ben’s parents are very much in love and happy, where Arthur’s parents just have a different way of showing each other love. Seriously, this book has so much good in its’ four-hundred pages!

Plus, this book displays some beautiful friendships, too. Ben’s best friend, Dylan, was so amazing in this book. Like, I feel like I keep saying the world “realistic” but it’s honestly the perfect fit. And Dylan lives with extreme anxiety and a heart condition. I also was living for Arthur’s best friends, Jess and Ethan, and all their facetime calls. I ended up loving this entire friend group! And, of course, I ended up completely head over heels for both Ben and Arthur.

And this book also just feels authentically “teen” I guess I’m trying to say? I mean, I’m not a teenager, so I guess I’ll say that this book feels authentically “twenties” or something along those lines. But from the Hamilton, Harry Potter, The Sims, Dear Evan Hansen (which I haven’t seen, listened, or read, but I probably should because of the title of this book), and so many other references, this just feels authentically 2018.

“How lucky we are to be alive right now, right?” “Oh my god, you’re speaking Hamilton—I’m just so into you. I’m helpless.”

Overall, I loved this book entirely. I bet it makes my “best of 2018” list, come December 31st. Also, I can’t believe this book was written by two different authors, because it was seriously seamless perfection. This was one of the best and most realistic romances I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. And even though I didn’t entirely love the epilogue at first, now I actually think it’s one of the best epilogues I’ve ever read. The perfect amount of not enough, and enough. I mean, that’s the beauty of this book being magically and expertly crafted. Seriously, friends, please read this masterpiece; it’s so very heartwarming and I think this is the happiest I’ve been while reading a book all of 2018.

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

Trigger and content warnings for one homophobic scene that is very quickly done and completely challenged (Chapter 20) and a very serious panic attack.

Buddy read with Julianna at Paper Blots & Jules at JA Ironside! ❤