Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson

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“You get to choose who you are. Legacy, memories of the past, can serve us well. But we cannot let them define us. When heritage becomes a box instead of an inspiration, it has gone too far.”

Skyward is the start of a brand-new YA Sci-Fi series by Brandon Sanderson. You all know that I love Brandon Sanderson’s work, especially The Stormlight Archive and Mistborn, and I knew I couldn’t let this new release pass me by without immediately reading. And, friends, this was nothing short of a treat.

This book follows a young girl named Spensa, who wants nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps of being a space pilot and defending her home planet from an alien race called the Krell, who are relentless in their attacking. Unfortunately, her father did something unforgivable and the rest of her community truly will never forget.

“People need stories, child. They bring us hope, and that hope is real.”

Spensa lives in future version of our galaxy, on a planet named Detritus. But most of the inhabitants live underground, while only a few cities are above. And in this society people’s job positions are supposed to be based off their test scores that will influence them into learning their strengths, but we soon find out that pilots are mostly found based on their family lineage.

Brandon Sanderson really talks about privilege and how outside forces can really impact a person’s life, while a last name can completely make someone’s future. Spensa learns this very quickly, but she is still determined to not only go to flight school, but to graduate at the top of her class, regardless of the people who are willing to do anything to stop her.

And Spensa has to go through some really horrible stuff. No spoilers, but even her family is forced to live off of rats, while never being able to see the sky, but living in fear of a lifetime war that never ceases. But Spensa’s determination is awe-inspiring, but she soon realizes that flight school is completely ruthless and very deadly.

“It turns out that strange little girls grow up to be strange young women.”

Yet, one of the best characters I’ve read all year is easily Spensa. She not only makes you feel immense empathy because of her situation, but just because she’s a little girl that has only known war. She’s passionate, she’s caring, she’s so very dedicated. And she’s hilariously funny. This book made me laugh out loud so many times. But mostly, I was rooting for her from the first to the last page. And she really showcases that everyone has a choice, regardless of the things that life has forced upon them, and regardless of the mistakes of their parents. She was such a wonderful character, and a shining light in 2018’s protagonists.

And I loved the constant discussion of what makes a coward and what makes a hero. And about all those grey areas in between those things. And how a different view can really turn those two titles upside down completely. Spensa also meets many new colleagues, some of which who are also chasing the same dream as her, and some who have had it forced upon them. And dare I say, there is a start of an enemies to lovers relationship in this book? Lord, help me. I am already invested!

But my heart truly belongs to M-Bot, the AI-driven ship that Spensa finds. A lot of people have compared this book to How To Train Your Dragon and that is so damn accurate, but I actually think I loved M-Bot even more than Toothless. (And that is quite the recommendation, friends!) I also think I just have a soft spot in my heart for sentient ships, if I’m being completely honest. But I have no doubts that if you pick up this book that you will fall in love with M-Bot, too.

Okay, so even though I loved this reading experience so much, and I truly think Brandon Sanderson comes up with the best worlds in SFF, two things bothered me about this book. One is a character death, and I won’t go into spoilers, but if you know me at all, you’ll know why this upset me. And Brandon should have done better. Secondly, the ending was a masterpiece. Yeah, you read that right. The ending was magnificent, but it truly overshadowed the rest of the book and made it feel like the 500 pages I just read were some precursor to the actual story that will begin in book two.

“Claim the stars, Spensa.”

Overall, I did adore this book. It was just what I needed. I actually was feeling really slumpy before I picked this up, and not only did it rectify that, but it reminded me why I love books and stories and fictional worlds so much. I know Brandon Sanderson isn’t for everyone, but he truly is a master at his craft and every book and series he touches turns to gold. And his world-building is honestly on a tier above all else in the genre. And, again, I cannot wait for book two. And I cannot wait to learn everything about a certain blue and orange slug.

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Content and trigger warnings for bullying, loss of a loved one, battle scenes, and war themes.

Tome Topple | Round 7


Hey, friends! I’m sure most of you know what Tome Topple is, especially since this is the seventh round, but this is actually going to be my first round participating! 🍂 🍁


➽ DATES:
November 16th (midnight) – November 29th (11:59 PM)


➽ OFFICIAL SOCIAL MEDIA:
Twitter
Goodreads
IG Challenges


➽ HOSTS:
Sam
Adriana
Sarah-Jane
Sian
Caz
Sam


➽ READING CHALLENGES:
1. Read more than one tome (500+ pages)
2. Read a graphic novel (500+ pages, can be omnibuses)
3. Read a tome that’s part of a series
4. Buddy read a tome
5. Read an adult novel


➽ WHAT I AM READING:
The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton676 pages
Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare701 pages
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer496 pages (shhh)


Okay, friends! I know this is a short and little post! But I just wanted to make you aware that this was going on, because I am so excited! I’m not sure what it is about this time of year, but I always just want to read big books. I mean, I guess I always want to read big books, but especially now when I have a more free time! I hope I love all three of these! Are you participating? If so, what are you reading? If not, what are you reading? 💛✨

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Top Ten Tuesday | My Favorite Fanart

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!

This week’s topic I believe is actually bookish merchandise that you’d like to own. But I’d want nothing more than to have my own personal library with the walls (that bookshelves weren’t covering) to be covered with my favorite fanarts. Seriously, there are so many talented artists out there that have just enhanced the enjoyment of my favorite books, because of how breathtaking their interpretations are! I can’t wait to share with you my ten all-time favorites this week! 💕


Loweana | Lady Midnight


Rovina Cai | Down Among the Sticks and Bones


Jameela Wahlgren | The Fifth Season


Jen Bartel | Wonder Woman: Warbringer


Dan Dos Santos | The Name of the Wind


SebasP | The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet


Steve Argyle | The Final Empire


Jeremy Vermilion | Strange the Dreamer


➽ xla-hainex | Six of Crows


MelieScribbles | The Cruel Prince


Okay, friends! Gosh, that last one with Cardan and Jude gets me EVERY SINGLE TIME. It is honestly my favorite fanart of all time. What a masterpiece. I mean, they all are honestly. Do you have a favorite piece of fanart? You should totally link it to me in the comments or in DMs on any social media! And I hope you all are having the happiest of reading! 💖

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Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare

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1.) City of Bones ★★★
2.) City of Ashes ★★
3.) City of Glass ★★★
1.) Clockwork Angel ★★★
4.) City of Fallen Angels
2.) Clockwork Prince ★★★★
5.) City of Lost Souls ★★★★
3.) Clockwork Princess ★★★★★
6.) City of Heavenly Fire ★★★★★
*.) The Bane Chronicles ★★★
*.) Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy ★★★

“No one is ever the villain of their own story.”

Lady Midnight was completely worth me reading eleven back-list Cassie Clare titles for. Holy shit, this book was everything. Everything. And honestly this was one of the best things I’ve read all year. I am so in love, friends. This world just gets more complex, the banter gets funnier, the cast gets more diverse, and the stories get more and more enthralling. And this is easily the best book I’ve read from Cassie Clare yet.

But I went into this brand-new series, that has been building up in the previous series for some time now, never expecting the main story to be about a secret murderous cult. Like, the blessings. Basically, in Lady Midnight Emma is still unable to let the mysterious deaths of her parents go unsolved, even though everyone else thinks they were just the first casualties of the start of the Dark War. But it has been five years since then, and the Cold Peace is still being held up by the Shadowhunters, making it so no one can help or work with the fae.

Emma and the Blackthorns are living back at the LA Institute, and upholding that law even though they know it’s wrong. That is, until they get an offer that they can’t refuse. And we are thrown into a world of ley lines, sacrificial killings, necromancer magic, and a baffling puzzle that Emma and the gang need to figure out quickly.

Lady Midnight is truly a book all about forbidden love. It is filled with angst, heartbreak, and pain. But it is so expertly done, that you’ll ask for more and say please while doing so. Cassandra Clare is just perfecting her writing, her stories, her characters, her plot twists, and her diversity with every single book. This book honestly blew me away. Also, yes, you need to read all eleven books leading up to his one, truly.

Please use caution reading the rest of this review if you have not read this book and all the series leading up to this book! And as always, I’m going to do a little mini character breakdown on my thoughts and feelings on all the main characters in this book. Spoilers ahead!

(Perfect art by Loweana – who seriously makes my favorite art for every single fandom; The Cruel Prince, Six of Crows, and now The Dark Artifices!)

Emma Carstairs – My queen, my love, my entire heart. My favorite main character in… forever. I’m not joking, I actually like her that much. Easily my favorite character in all of Cassie Clare’s books. Wow, The blessings. I’m not deserving.

Julian Blackthorn – My soft, sweet boy. Too pure for this world and all the Shadowhunters. I will protect him at all costs. Also, full disclosure, I’ve had a thing for the “dark haired, broody, tortured artist” type since high school and Adrian from Vampire Academy and Julian really is the epitome of that, too. And some of his one-liners? God, I was swooning so hard.

“These pictures are my heart. And if my heart was a canvas, every square inch of it would be painted over with you.”

Mark Blackthorn – Mark Blackthorn is responsible for 90% of the angst I felt in this book. “Why lie?” is now my favorite ending line of every book and I will be haunted. Also, what a bi icon. My heart.

Kieran – My dude really messed up in the middle of this book, but my subconscious just falls in love with all the queer faeries Seriously, it is beyond my control at this point. Plus, you all know that fae princes are literally my greatest weakness in this life, so….

“You are all that exists on the earth and under the sky that I do love.”

Cristina Rosales – What an amazing new character. Cristina is Latinx and from Mexico and the most precious angel in the world. Her and Emma’s friendship was so wonderful and just warmed my heart during every scene.

(Gorgeous art by Haunted Duck Princess!)

Livvy Blackthorn – This sweet little protector. I love Livvy so much, but I’m so scared how she is going to handle possibly being alone.

Tiberius Blackthorn – Ty is honestly one of the best characters I’ve read about in years. Cassie Clare has done such a beautiful job with his character and showing that people on the Autism spectrum just learn and consume information differently; never wrongly. But I don’t want him and Livvy to separate, I’m weak.

Dru Blackthorn – This shy little sweetheart gave me so many feels in this book. And again, I think Cassie Clare creating a thirteen-year-old struggling with body image is something I wish I had when I was thirteen. Every book, every series, every new character, Cassie just impresses me more and more. And I can’t wait to see more of Drusilla.

Octavian Blackthorn – My heart always breaks for Tavvy, because even though he is only seven, all he has ever known is war. I mean, that’s so relatable to our world, and that breaks my heart, too.

Diego Rocío Rosales – I honestly really like Diego, who is also Latinx and followed Cristina from Mexico, but I don’t want him to ruin my polyamorous dreams, but if he’s willing to add to them then I will be the happiest human on Earth. Thanks. But I am really scared to meet Jaime.

Gwyn – Leader of the Hunt and stealer of my heart. Give me everything about this man, because I am highkey ready to call him daddy.

Iarlath – Someone kill this man, quick.

Anselm Nightshade – Vampire and pizza place owner! That combination is going to lead to nothing good.

Arthur Blackthorn – I lowkey dislike Arthur. I know he has been though SOME SHIT, but I just feel so damn bad for Julian every time I think of him, and it just really ruins his character for me.

Johnny Rook – This death was hella brutal. I was not prepared. But I will also say that I was so surprised when this book started out, on page one, with the Shadow Market and introduced us to this character, because I know the short stories that are currently being published are all about this magical place and I can’t wait to learn more.

Kit Rook – AKA: Christopher Herondale. DAMN! I honestly screamed at this reveal. I can’t wait to learn everything about him. Also, this really solidifies that you really should read Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy before starting this book.

Diana Wrayburn – Questionable face tat, but I can’t wait to learn more about her.

Malcolm Fade – If Lady Midnight taught me anything, it is that warlocks are so damn over-powered. Holy moly, the power this dude had. Also, friendly reminder: no body = no death. Okay, thanks, bye.

Annabel – Oh shit. Apparently the 2 AM “u up?” text is powerful. I’m scared, friends.

Tessa & Jem – That “item” that they were after. Shit, son. But seeing Jem build a relationship with Emma? So beautiful, I don’t even have words for it. I really hope that they are in Lord of Shadows more, because I honestly can’t get enough of them.

Clary & Jace – Holy shit, mom and dad are running the NY Institute now? Damn, they grow up fast. Real talk, one of my favorite moments of this book was Jace and Mark’s heart to heart, where he tells him that he has only given witchlight to two people before. Ahhh, the feels.

Izzy & Simon – Um, how are my babies engaged?!?! Ahhhhh! I honestly screamed when this information was presented, even though we didn’t get to see my favorites in this book at all. But still, I am so damn happy, and they deserve the world, and each other, and I’m honestly just overcome with emotions.

And you all knew I wasn’t going to write this long review and not talk more about the budding polyamorous relationship that I think Cassie Clare is building for us. I truly think with my entire body and soul that Cassie Clare wanted to have Tessa, Jem, and Will be in a polyamorous relationship, but it was still not that talked about back when The Internal Devices came out. But, dear reader, I think she is going to right her wrongs and give us the relationship of my dreams. And with two of the partners being fae? Lord, this is my actual dreams.

“It was a sort of love few other people could understand. It was total and it was overwhelming and it could be cruel.”

But I know that Emma and Julian’s forbidden relationship is going to be the actual death of me. The only really negative thing I can say about this book is that I think the laws revolving around parabatai and the age restrictions that make these kids pick lifelong and life-altering relationships is so unbelievable. And let’s be real, Emma and Julian got done so dirty by their forced arrangement. But seeing how this bond is going to… maybe ruin them? Lord, I can’t. I actually can’t. And Mark Blackthorn is just going to intensify the angst, but I’m highkey ready for that!

I always appreciate that the heart of every Shadowhunter novel is about oppression and prejudices that impact everyone; friends, families, entire societies. The Clave is the political force that makes and implements the rules in this world, and much like my own world, many are really harmful, extremely backwards, and very exclusionary. And I love seeing young people fight back against the generation that wants to keep them in these broken cycles that are filled with hate and fear.

Another cool addition that this book gave us was the talk of Scholomance. I feel like I don’t remember this being something in the other books, and it is like a detective school, but Shadowhunter style. Diego already attended it, and it looks like Ty is going to eventually go to it, and I’m just really interested to see more.

“There is nothing more important than love. And no law higher.”

Okay, let’s talk about the sex. First off, birth control runes? Praise/bless. I loved this more than words and Clary is honest to god doing the lord’s work. The sex on the beach. Like, it might be a tiny bit unrealistic (sand is not your friend during sex, I promise) but like, I had to wait 102 books for Jace to whip out that condom in Hell, but Cassie Clare gives us a hot sex scene in this first book of a series? The blessings. And Julian was the virgin and not Emma? The gifts keep on coming. Seriously, you all, I was screaming with joy over everything in chapter eighteen. Also, huge shout out to Solly for sending me the naughty version of the beach scene, because he knows me.

Also, a big shout out to Lea for sending me the short story that is only found in first editions of Lady Midnight! And, friends, it was perfection! Overall, this is one of the best things I’ve read all year and I am so damn thankful that I read all those other books to get to this one. I experienced pure happiness while reading this book, from the first to last page. And I am literally posting this review and running back to my bookshelves to pick up Lord of Shadows!

“I breathe when you breathe, I bleed when you bleed, I’m yours and you’re mine, you’ve always been mine, and I have always, always belonged to you!”

(Beautiful art by Cassandra Jean!)

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Content and trigger warnings for murder, death, loss of a loved one, torture, blood depictions, self-harm, anxiety attacks, PTSD, talk of cancer, and graphic violence.

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, & Robin Wasserman

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1.) City of Bones ★★★
2.) City of Ashes ★★
3.) City of Glass ★★★
1.) Clockwork Angel ★★★
4.) City of Fallen Angels
2.) Clockwork Prince ★★★★
5.) City of Lost Souls ★★★★
3.) Clockwork Princess ★★★★★
6.) City of Heavenly Fire ★★★★★
*.) The Bane Chronicles ★★★

With the way that City of Heavenly Fire ended, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy! I thought this was going to be everything, but sadly I was a little let down. I mean, a few of the stories in here are the best I’ve read from this universe ( Bitter of Tongue & Born to Endless Night) but most just felt boring to me, if I’m being honest. I know that sounds horrible, but I just feel a little let down, I guess.

This anthology follows Simon during his time in the academy that spans two years and I’m assuming catches the reader up to date for Lady Midnight. But we also get to see so many other beloved characters, both from past and present. But most importantly, we get to see Simon be the person who he wants to be, after so much was taken from him in The Mortal Instruments.

Simon is my second favorite Shadowhunter character. He is Jewish, he is nerdy, he is funny, he is a good friend, he is selfless, and he is so very easy to love. And he really has been through so damn much in his life; none of it he asked for but was just thrust upon him. Him and Izzy are also my favorite ship, even though I think she was a little questionable during some of these stories, too. I feel like a lot of people couldn’t empathize with everything that Simon was struggling with, and it just made me sad every single time.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this, but again I did think that most of the stories were a little lackluster and left a lot to be desired. Yet, I still had a lot of fun while reading this! But I am going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!


Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy – ★★

“He waved good-bye to all these people he barely knew and somehow loved anyway, and he hoped they could not tell how relieved he was to be going.”

Yikes, we aren’t off to a good start. Okay, this anthology picks up right after the events of City of Heavenly Fire, but Simon still doesn’t remember everything that happened, but he is now enrolled at the New York Institute. We get to meet so many new students, since the Shadowhunter world is in desperate need to replenish their fighters! I already love George. I already hate Jon. I will say that at first, I was so happy with Izzy’s declaration of love for Simon, but the more and more I kept thinking about it, I kept realizing that I was showing double standards, because if a dude would have done that to a girl I would have really disliked it. I will say that I always appreciated that Simon is the *nerdy one* and Izzy is the *popular one* and how Cassie Clare really plays that opposite trope up to perfection, but Izzy’s speech was a little too much even for me. I want good angst, not forced angst.


The Lost Herondale – ★★★

“We all have our own story of the Dark War. All of us lost something. Some of us lost everything.”

We get to see Simon and twenty of his classmates try and kill their first law breaking Downworlder, but it happens to be a vampire that new Simon before his memories were lost. We get to learn a story about Tobias Herondale, the younger brother of Will, and it is heartbreaking. This story really shows how there are always two sides to a story, and in this case three. I love Catarina so very much, and I really enjoyed the message about how you have to be the person you want to be, and to always listen to your heart. Also, Jon is such a little shit. Also, also, I’m not here for the Izzy pity party, especially with everything Simon has had to go through since he got thrust into this world even though he never asked for any of it. Also, also, also there is an uncharted Herondale line? Lord, help us all.


The Whitechapel Fiend – ★★★★

“The trick to falling is not to fall…”

Oh, my word, there was a lot to like about this one! Not only do we get to see Jace training Shadowhunter kids to jump out of trees, we also get to see Tessa, Will, and Jem solving… get ready for it… the Jack the Ripper murders in 1888 London! Like, I was for sure not expecting to wake up and read that today! But what a gift!


Nothing but Shadows – ★★★★

“James Herondale was the son of angels and demons,” she said softly. “He was always fated to walk a difficult and painful path, to drink bitter water with sweet, to tread where there were thorns as well as flowers. Nobody could save him from that. People did try.”

My favorite thing about the Shadowhunter world? Seeing all these family trees! Like, it is a little hard to keep straight, especially with the Lightwoods, but it just gives me all the warm and fuzzies. Also, seeing James Herondale and Matthew Fairchild become friends gave me all the feels. Again, if you couldn’t tell by my review of The Bane Chronicles! I need The Last Hours immediately! But I also love the growing friendship between George and Simon, too! Also, that letter he wrote to Izzy? Ah, my heart!


The Evil We Love – ★★

“He just knew, on a level beneath reason and memory, that some part of him belonged with Isabelle.”

Easily one of my least favorite short stories set in the Shadowhunter world. Simon and still struggling with his memories, and Izzy is being unnecessarily cruel about it, in my opinion. Then her dad, Robert Lightwood (yuck), and her come to teach the new academy kids an important lesion, while Izzy just goes out of her way to try to lash out and hurt Simon constantly. And Robert gives the kids a flashback to 1984 when Valentine is starting to show his true intentions, but people choose to follow him anyway, for many different reasons. TW for murder, torture, and homophobia.


Pale Kings and Princes – ★★★★★

“This is how a faerie loves: with a gift.”

Easily one of my favorite short stories set in the Shadowhunter world. Summer is over, and Simon is back at the academy for his second year! But Helen Blackthorn and Aline Penhallow mean more to me than 99% of the characters I’ve spent all of 2018 reading about nonstop. But, can we please kill off professor Mayhew already? Like, I’m begging. What an insufferable asshole. But the Institute brings Helen to force her to tell the story of her half fae parentage, while humiliating and belittling her constantly. But she does it so that she can marry the love of her life, who has stuck by her side even when she was exiled to a cold island just because of how she was born. But the reason I loved this story so much was because the true story that even Helen doesn’t know about her mother and Faerie. Like, it was perfect. Everything I’ve ever wanted. Oh, and Simon and Izzy finally make up, but it for sure didn’t mean as much to me, because the last story was so damn painful to read! Like, can Helen and Mark just have their own anthology? Please. I loved this.


Bitter of Tongue – ★★★★★

“I got distracted making out with a boy, and then locked up by a goblin”

Is anyone really surprised that I loved the story about a sapphic marriage between a fae girl and an Asian girl? I have loved these two since their introduction and… their ceremony was everything! Also, this was so amazing because we got to see more of the fae court! Seriously, all I want is more of Mark and Kieran and the Hunt! Please, Cassie Clare, I’m begging you! I honestly just think the Blackthorns are my favorite family. Plus, seeing Izzy and Mark both try to save Simon in very different ways was pretty perfect. This is also the first story that made me feel like Sizzy was back, and it warmed my heart and made me so excited for the final three stories!


The Fiery Trial – ★★★

“True parabatai are linked long before the ceremony takes place.”

This one I feel really on the fence about. Like, drugging people, even with good intentions, isn’t cool. Basically, this is the parabatai short story! We get to see Julie and Beatriz decide to become parabatai. We get to see Emma and Julian become parabatai. And then we get to see Simon and Clary discuss if they want to be parabatai. And… I thought I would like it more than I did. First off, Maureen is the character in this entire Shadowhunter universe that makes me the saddest. Then, add in the drugging situation. Lastly, the feeling weirdness because you know that Emma and Julian are obviously going to eventually have a forbidden romance (even though they are only fourteen in this… yikes!) I don’t know, I am excited to see Simon and Clary become parabatai, but this story wasn’t that great itself.


Born to Endless Night – ★★★★★

“Obviously you would call them Malec,” said Beatriz. “Are you stupid, Simon?”

Best Shadowhunter story ever! EVER! Seriously, this was probably my favorite thing in all of Shadowhunter history. Besides absolutely loving Magnus with everything that I am, seeing him be able to achieve things he never thought possible, even with his immortal life, is just so damn pure and wonderful. I also really appreciated Catarina and Lily in this story, too. Even though I really am dying to know everything about Tobias Herondale’s baby and the past. But yeah, this story was pure joy to read, and really just celebrate the love and honor for family; both blood and found.


Angels Twice Descending – ★★★

“That they would drink from the Mortal Cup. That they would, like the first of the warrior race, Jonathan Shadowhunter, sip the blood of an angel. That they would, if they were lucky, be transformed on the spot into real, full-blooded Shadowhunters.”

The character death in this was just so… pointless. It completely ruined the story for me and ruined all the previous happiness that happened on Magnus’ couch. This is the final story in the anthology, and it concludes Simon’s two-year journey of being in the academy. All the enjoyment that I had from the start of this one just really just fell flat by that ending. And I think it really left the entire collection off on a bad and sour note, if I’m being completely honest. I don’t even know how I feel about him honoring the last name. Yikes.


I gave Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy three stars overall, because out of a possible 50 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 10 stories) this collection accumulated 36 stars (72%)!

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Buddy read with Kaya at A Fictional Bookworm! ❤

Down the TBR Hole #18

Down the TBR Hole was originally created by Lost in a Story! The point of it is to help cull your reading lists down, or maybe push higher anticipated releases up on your TBR! And maybe you all can help me along the way, and tell me if you’ve loved or hated any of these!


How it works:
➽ Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
➽ Order on ascending date added.
➽ Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
➽ Read the synopses of the books
➽ Decide: keep it or should it go?


The Six Books:

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1) by Julie C. Dao
I need all villain origin stories in my life, especially Asian inspired ones by Asian authors! I need to read this ASAP!
Verdict: Keep ✅

Whichwood (Furthermore #2) by Tahereh Mafi
I read Furthermore, and I didn’t love it. I didn’t dislike it, but I just didn’t love it. So I am not sure if I should even continue on, even though this setting and theme seems darker and better.
Verdict: Delete ❌

The Air He Breathes (Elements #1) by Brittainy C. Cherry
I really do want to read this, but I know I have to be in the right mindset for it, and I know that I’m not. I’m pretty sure this book deals with a heavy topic, and right now I just want light romances. But eventually, eventually!
Verdict: Keep ✅

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
A lot of people do say this is Maggie Stiefvater’s best book, so I can’t believe I haven’t read it. But Maggie Stiefvater makes it hard to want to pick up her back-list and support her sometimes. I’m just really on the fence about this one.
Verdict: Delete ❌

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Holy moly, Elise will murder me if I take this off my TBR! Hahaha, no, she wouldn’t! But I can’t believe I haven’t read this. I did an ARC trade for this on Twitter and then never read it. Why am I like this?
Verdict: Keep ✅

Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa Dare
Holy moly, Paloma will murder me if I take this off my TBR! Also, I need to read more historical romances. And it’s honestly the perfect season for them!
Verdict: Keep ✅


Okay, friends, these are the next oldest six books I have on my TBR! Let me know if you love, hate, and/or recommend me to read or trash any of these books! Thank you all so much, and I hope whatever you’re currently reading is five star worthy! 🍂🍁

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The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

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This was my pick for the September 2018 Book of the Month box!

“Looking back, it seemed to me I’d been trying to escape not just from the camp, but from Achilles’s story; and I’d failed. Because make no mistake, this was his story—his anger, his grief, his story. I was angry, I was grieving, but somehow that didn’t matter.”

Hi, my name is Melanie and 2018 has been the year that I constantly talk about my love for Greek mythos retellings. The Silence of the Girls is a feminist reimagining of Homer’s The Iliad, centering on the Trojan War, but is told in a completely different light than ever before. Yes, we get to see the Trojans and Greeks battle and Achilles be the hero the world knows and loves, but this tale is all about a voice that is never heard in other renditions.

Briseis is a woman that has lost everything; her family, her city, her freedom, but this story gives her an actual voice, unlike all the other tales, but also shows how much more she was able to lose after Achilles is at the gate of her city. This is a very brutal book. Major content and trigger warnings for graphic murder, slavery, pedophilia, cheating, war themes, loss of a loved one, a lot of detailed rape, suicide, self-harm, abuse, PTSD depictions, animal death, sacrificial rituals, the death of children and babies, and heavy war themes and battle depictions. Please use caution with this book and make sure you are in a safe and healthy mindset.

“Another successful raid, another city destroyed, men and boys killed, women and girls enslaved—all in all, a good day. And there was still the night to come.”

I also want to say that I just reread The Song of Achilles a couple weeks ago, and I’m not sure if that heightened or lowered my reading experience. I will say that Patroclus is a sweet angel in every retelling of The Iliad and that didn’t change in The Silence of the Girls. But Achilles? This book makes you truly dislike him and… I just wasn’t expecting it. This book really shows how the stories are always told from a man’s voice and view, and they are always something to be glorified. But Pat Barker gives a voice to the women who are just background noise in all then men’s stories, deemed unworthy.

This reading experience is so unique because the Greeks are hailed as the heroes the entire time, but in this book we get to see behind the heartbreak and devastation they cause on and off the battlefield. Meanwhile, women are just prizes of the war that they never asked to be a part of. And even though Briseis has it a better than a lot of the women taken and enslaved by the Greek, seen as nothing more than spoils of war, her pain is never subsided and never viewed as lesser. Yet, that doesn’t make seeing things from her perspective hurt less. This book truly is heartbreaking.

“Nobody wins a trophy and hides it at the back of a cupboard. You want it where it can be seen, so that other men will envy you.”

My favorite part of this book, as heartbreaking as it is, is how each generation of children (girls, boys, nonbinary) are learning and living in this broken cycle with these expectations and gender roles forced upon them. The cycle never stops; it is just continuously passed down. Yeah, this is a Greek retelling trying to make a statement, but the parallels to our world in 2018 are thought-provoking and leaves an even scarier statement.

And there is a big emphasis on how war will also be passed down from father to son, generation after generation, along with their prejudices, their hate, and their need for revenge. Again, it is never ending and will never be enough. The suffering will just continue and continue being passed down. Meanwhile, the pain and fear will never subside.

“Silence become a woman.”

Overall, I think this is a really important book and I feel very fortunate that I was able to read it. I’ve always loved reimaginings of Homer’s works, but I’ve never read one like this before. Again, this is a really hard book to read and it gets very dark at times. But it really shows how rape will always be about power, not lust. And how men that lust for that power are capable of the evilest of things. And how these men can already have immense power, but it still won’t be enough. How these men and be rich, how they can be good-looking, how they can be the hero of the story.


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Buddy read with Imi at Imi Reviews Books! ❤