Twilight (The Twilight Saga #1) by Stephenie Meyer | Chapter Breakdown Review with Spoilers

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Hey, friends! I’m going to keep it extremely honest with you and let you know that I feel like I need to practice writing in-depth reviews again. It’s been a while, and by a while I mean… it’s been since February. I am rusty, and not that confident, so I’m using my highlights and notes from a few rereads I did earlier this year to hopefully shake some of that rust off and regain a little confidence. Also, I always love a good breakdown. So, without further ado, here is the most chaotic breakdown review for Twilight!

“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…”

➽ Chapter 1:
I completely had forgotten that this book just starts out with Bella Swan thinking about death (love some good foreshadowing), but basically, she is leaving Phoenix to live with her father in Forks. Forks, Washington is a small town where everyone knows everyone. Oh, also, Bella is 5’4” like me and I had a good giggle. [short rest]

➽ Chapter 2:
This is the chapter where Bella meets the elusive Edward Cullen, who doesn’t date. Also, the Withering Heights mention, get me out of here.

➽ Chapter 3:
The truck *accident* chapter, also we get to see Bella’s first dreams of Edward.

➽ Chapter 4:
Edward just officially won’t leave Bella alone now.

➽ Chapter 5:
“…but leave me alone… I’m bad” and “I’m dangerous!” he says to her! This is also the chapter with the lab prompt of them pricking their finger to figure out their blood types. But Bella gets sick, and Edward drives her home.

➽ Chapter 6:
Jacob Black finally enters the story, with the start of Stephenie Meyer’s questionable Native representation. They meet at the beach, where Jacob proceeds to tell Bella that Edward is a Vampire. Young Melanie truly didn’t remember it going down like that, and I have to laugh thinking back.

➽ Chapter 7:
NOT A FILIPINO VAMPIRE BEING IN THIS STORY! Please, God, help me. Also, a taro mention even. What did I do to ask for this representation? I truly think I blocked this out for my own health. Also, Bella is researching Vampires.

➽ Chapter 8:
Bella is going out with some girl friends (in a very het way) and she almost gets mugged. I truly had forgotten so much of this book. But also, the iconic mushroom ravioli is ordered for the first time in this chapter.

➽ Chapter 9:
Again, Edward continues to try to convince Bella he is dangerous by doing the very bare minimum. Bella proceeds to confess that she is in love with him.

➽ Chapter 10:
This chapter had the start of some very questionable disability representation, that was highkey very ableist. We also learn the secret that Edward can read minds, but not Bella’s because she is the opposite of ordinary and all.

➽ Chapter 11:
Edwards asks 500 questions, and Jacob comes back into the story for two seconds.

➽ Chapter 12:
Bella’s dad, Charlie, is going away on a fishing trip, so Bella can spend a lot more quality time with Edward without him knowing, even though he’s pretty horrible in this chapter. But we get to meet Alice and even in 2020 she is the only character deserving of rights, so we love that a lot. But the chapter ends with Bella using cold medicine to sleep. Oh, and we realize Edward is sparkly in this chapter! (How could I almost forget that?)

➽ Chapter 13:
Questionable drug analogy that made me extremely uncomfortable. But then Edward gives Bella a piggyback ride through the forest, and they have their first kiss that they feel drunk from. I am also pretty sure Edward tells Bella that he wanted to eat and kiss her before he kisses her. Smooth, baby.

➽ Chapter 14:
Edward just randomly starts talking about his jealousy and how he watches her sleep and likes when she says his name while sleeping. Bella takes in all this information being presented and asks him if they could get married.

➽ Chapter 15:
Bella gets to go to Edward’s house, and he tells her his backstory.

➽ Chapter 16:
We learn how Carlisle Cullen came to meet Edward and how he saved him. Again, Alice is the best Cullen and best Twilight character.

➽ Chapter 17:
The famous vampire baseball chapter! Also, some proclaiming of love, but then people start coming to their secret forest field!

➽ Chapter 18:
They want Bella to leave Forks, but she refuses to leave her dad.

➽ Chapter 19:
Bella tells Charlie that she is leaving to go back to Phoenix, but it is just a lie for the Cullens to protect her.

➽ Chapter 20:
Bella finally asking the real questions to Alice and Jesper about how to become a vampire, while Alice is having ballet studio premonitions.

➽ Chapter 21:
Bella pretends to be on the phone with her mom, but it’s really a blackmail phone call to lure her away from the Cullens once and for all.

➽ Chapter 22:
And Bella is extra dumb, so she runs away from the airport and goes to the ballet studio from her youth, where bad things happen to her.

➽ Chapter 23:
But no worries because Edward is able to suck the venom out and save her life.

➽ Chapter 24:
This is the chapter that irritated me the most (which is saying a lot), because I just truly hate Bella’s mom. She truly wants to split her time between her new man and her child, and it just feels horrible. Like, no wonder the Cullens seem so great, holy moly.

➽ Epilogue:
What better way to end this story than with Edward taking Bella to prom as a special surprise treat! Jacob proceeds to tell them that him and his family will be watching them. Meanwhile, Bella just wants to be a vampire, which is valid. I kinda loved how this book ends on a cliffhanger a tiny bit, where you might think that Edward is biting her, but we all know better than that.

Overall, this was a full adventure with a full range of emotions. It has been well over a decade since I’ve read this, and I had forgotten so much. I will say that it did not entice me enough to pick up the next book again, but I am still curious about what Stephenie is finally (and actually) going to have published with Midnight Sun in August. And I’m more curious if she has revised it enough to have it meet 2020’s standards. (The bar is still so very low, but I like to think it isn’t still 2005 low.)

If you made it to the end of this, you are a brave soul, and I hope you find your special, sparkly vampire life partner(s). And I hope you all have a smoother love story that the mess that is Edward and Bella.

Content and Trigger Warnings for talk of suicide (attempted), ableist language, blood depiction, possible mugging, and talk of loss of a child in the past.

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I Read My “Top 12 Books I Must Read in 2018” List


Merry Christmas, to all my friends who celebrate! Today’s post is something I’ve looked forward to doing all year long, so it’s really a gift to myself! So, on January 6th of 2018, I made a blog post all about the twelve books that I *must* read during 2018! And I finally read the last one at the start of December! This was my first year doing this, but I loved it so much that I hope to continue to do it forever. It really helped me to read books that I already owned, and it gave me a much-needed break between ARCs when I was feeling rather burnt out. And even though I did predict these all being five stars (they weren’t), I still ended up loving so many of these titles! 🎄🎁❤


The Secret History by Donna Tartt – ★★★★★
This was the first book I read in 2018! And I still have never read anything like this book in my entire life. I laid in bed for over an hour last night upon finishing this book, just tossing and turning and thinking about everything I just consumed. I still don’t think I can put my feelings into words, but I can honestly say this book was a cathartic experience for me, and the irony of the word “catharsis” being a Greek rooted word is not lost on me, because if this book is anything it’s a modern-day Greek tragedy.


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – ★★★★★
I fell completely in love with this. This was so intelligently crafted and so expertly woven! And the dark feelings and vibes throughout really makes this such a unique and amazing reading experience. And I think this is a book that I will be able to read and reread over and over for the rest of my life. You also best believe that if I ever have children, this will be required reading once they get a bit older, because this book seriously has an immense amount of power. And I truly believe this is my favorite classic of all-time now. And I never want any woman to feel like a bird trapped in a cage.


Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye – ★★
Reader, I was so damn bored. I was a little intrigued at the start. I mean, it is hard to not get hyped about a serial killer who loves Jane Eyre. But as more and more time went on, I just cared less and less. Also, I really was leading myself to believe there was going to be a sapphic relationship in this, only to cry over what could have been, and that’s never a good feeling, even if I queer-baited myself.


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – ★★★★★
In high school I became really obsessed with Greek mythology. I couldn’t get enough of the adventures in The Iliad and The Odyssey. And the Trojan War is almost a decade worth of adventures that I fell completely in love with. And I always had a special soft spot for Achilles, son of a god and a king, being convinced to join the Greek army by the Greek commander, Odysseus, to become the greatest warrior in the world. But so much happens before that deadly battle between Hector and Achilles outside the gates of Troy. And The Song of Achilles is Madeline Miller’s love letter to Achilles complete story, and it is an actual masterpiece that is the best reimagining I’ve ever read in my entire life.


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – ★★★★★
This is one of the best books I’ve ever had the privilege to read. It is probably in the top five for best books I’ve ever read in my entire life. I have been looking for a book like this my entire life, and no combination of words I’m about to type, and you’re about to read, is going to do this masterpiece justice. If you all ever take a recommendation from me; please have it be The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.


The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere #2) by Meg Elison – ★★★★
Meg Elison writes the queer, feminist, inclusionary literature of my heart. This book is important, and powerful, and empowering. It’s hard, and brutal, and heartbreaking, but I promise it is so rewarding. The reason I am giving it four stars is because the ending felt rushed to me. And even though I loved this entire ending with the soul of my being, it just happened in the blink of an eye. Yet, I am so excited to see where the next book picks up, because I am sort of obsessed with their location! But friends, if you are in the right headspace, please give The Book of the Unnamed Midwife a try. It’s truly a masterpiece, and this entire series means more to me than I have words for.


Now I Rise (The Conqueror’s Saga #2) by Kiersten White – ★★★
Friends, I’ll be honest with you, I have been dreading writing this review. I don’t know what’s wrong with me or my reading tastes, but this series just isn’t the series for me. So many of my friends love this series more than anything and you should check out their reviews: Chaima (Muslim ownvoices), Elise, and Emily! But, sadly, I’m calling it quits and I’m not reading the third book. And if you want my honest opinion? Read The Traitor Baru Cormorant, because it’s a better version of (Radu’s storyline especially) this story. I didn’t hate this book by any means, it’s just really a 2.5 star, middle of the road book for me. And I’m going to try to keep this review short, because I completely recognize that this series just doesn’t work for me! But this is a historical reimagining, starring two children during the fall of Constantinople, but one of those children is a genderbent Vlad the Impaler.


The Queen and the Cure (TBATS #2) by Amy Harmon – ★★
I loved The Bird and the Sword so much when I read it, so I was looking so forward to the indirect sequel, the Queen and the Cure. But, sadly, I was so let down by this next installment. I didn’t care about the character, the story, or any of the hardships that they were going through. Honestly? The only parts I really liked where when the characters from The Bird and the Sword made brief cameos. Kjell is the captain of Tiras‘s guard, and is on a mission to find any remaining Volgar. Not only is Kjell a strong warrior and leader, he is also a very gifted healer. But his healing comes at a price; for every life he saves, he gives up a day of his own life. But he stumbles upon a young woman named Sasha who is in desperate need of healing, and he doesn’t even hesitate to save her life.


A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred #1) by Joanna Shupe – ★★
I am not sure if this is because I just don’t read that much historical romance, or that I just couldn’t connect with these characters or story, but this just did not work for me. Honestly, I think I’m going to try a Tessa Dare book, and if that doesn’t work for me then I’m just going to swear off historical romances for a while. This was just so boring. Nothing happened what so ever. And I’ll admit, I picked this up because I was craving romance, so maybe the fact that the romance didn’t even start until 70% into the book made me really not enjoy it.


The Abyss Surrounds Us (TASU #1) by Emily Skrutskie – ★★★★★
I fell totally in love with this story and it surpassed every high expectation I had for it. The writing is addicting, the story is so unique, and this book holds my now favorite enemies to lovers, angst-filled relationship of all time. Oh, and it’s between two girl pirates. Sold yet? You should be. This book was a gift.


Hideaway (Devil’s Night #2) by Penelope Douglas – DNF @ 58%
I’m just going to DNF this and pretend that Corrupt is a standalone. You all, this is just awful. From the Japanese main character who constantly talks about dojos, to the constant grey area consent, to pedophilia and even incest. I can’t. I cannot do this. And I refuse to read a Damon redemption story for the next book. This is easily one of the worst things I’ve read all year.


Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake – ★★★★
This world is gloriously feminist, and I loved each point of view from the different islands. And the writing? Beautiful, lyrical, genius. And I fell so very in love with each sister, easily, and happily. These characters are honestly a tier above almost every YA character I’ve ever read. And again, this was such an amazing journey and I hope more people give this book a shot, despite the mixed reviews.


Okay, my loves! I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did actually doing it! And I absolutely cannot wait to do this again for 2019, but with an even more exciting twist! And hopefully I have just as many five star reads ahead of me, and hopefully no DNFs! Let me know below if you all do something similar to this with your reading year! And I hope you’re all reading something that’s five star worthy! Merry Christmas! ❤️🎄🎁

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Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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“Alone in the world and alone in my marriage. Alone in love, really.”

So, basically, I’m trying somewhat hard to hit 200 books this year. And last night I just couldn’t sleep, so in the late hours of the night, I decided to read this short little novella to help boost my number. Holy shit, friends, I went into this book not expecting much, but came out weeping over its beauty.

This is a very short read, that is told completely in the format of letters from the late seventies. Letters between two cheating individuals, but, more importantly, letters between the spouses of those cheating individuals, who are sharing the letters they find between each other. Taylor Jenkins Reid is kind of known for pulling off some powerful and emotional twists in her stories, but I am in awe of how flawless she was able to do it in such a short number of pages!

“Dear Mr. David Mayer, My name is Carrie Allsop.”

Carrie Allsop – A stay at home wife, who has always been happy with her dependable, yet boring, husband. Even though she is constantly questioning her worth because she is thirty and still hasn’t gotten pregnant in the decade she and her husband have been trying.

David Mayer – High school teacher, who loves his wife and four sons more than anything in this world. But he has also been questioning his self-worth because money has been getting tighter and tighter.

And I just loved the completely taboo and unconditional friendship that these two form over a horrible situation. I love how they were each other’s soundboards because no one else would even begin to understand what they are going through, the exact way that they understood it together. I don’t know, this was just a really beautiful story. And I really love the way TJR ended this book, too. Legit perfection.

I think this book really has a good discussion about love, and how it is not always that perfect, Hallmark picture that so much of the world will have you believe. Real love can be complicated, messy, hard, and something that you have to work for every single day. And sometimes it can be filled with forgiveness. And I think this book really does a great job at touching on how easy it is for people to judge other’s relationships, without having any empathy and without believe that something similar could ever happen to them.

“It is funny the crazy things our brains make up to save us from the truth.”

Overall, I really loved this. I was blown away and I will continue to read everything that TJR comes out with. She truly is becoming one of my favorite contemporary authors, and I think she is doing some really unique things with her writing. Also, as of today (December 14th, 2018) if you have Amazon Prime, this is FREE on Amazon US!

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Content and trigger warnings for infidelity and talk of infertility.

 

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

“…the last time I saw my brother was five years ago. Lying dead in the snow.”

Sky in the Deep is a debut, standalone, young adult fantasy novel that stars two different Viking clans. But this is a story about betrayal, then survival, then a choice. You all, I really enjoyed this one. I thought it was unique, well written, and has some amazing characters.

Our main protagonist, Eelyn, has lived the last five years mourning her brother’s death. Every five years, the two rival Viking clans battle for no reason other than blind hatred. And five years ago, Eelyn had to watch him fall off a cliff and was forced to leave him dying below. But this book starts out five years later, with a brand new battle, yet Eelyn sees her brother, Iri, before her very eyes.

The two rival Viking clans:
Aska – Worship the god Sigr, water and the sea, and Eelyn’s clan where her father is the leader.
Riki – Worship the god Thora, mountains and fire, and the side that Iri is currently fighting for.

Eelyn doesn’t even know how to process what she is seeing, especially being on the opposite side of the battlefield with her presumed dead brother, who was once her fighting partner. And her hesitation costs her, because she ends up captured by a Riki, who spares her life for some unknown reason.

“I’d abandoned my clansmen on the battlefield to chase after the brother who didn’t even want me.”

Then we get to follow Eelyn becoming a slave for the people who she has vowed to always kill. But slowly, she starts to realize that maybe the Aska and Riki have more in common than anyone would ever think, including a common enemy, the Herja, that will eliminate them all the same way they killed Eelyn’s mother.

I will say that I thought this read a little older on the young adult scale. I mean, yeah, the main character is totally seventeen-years-old, but her brother is five years older and the story does star him, too, even if we don’t get his point of view. A lot of dark things happen in this book, and the author doesn’t shy away from the violence. And rape threats are used a lot during this story. Like, a lot a lot, so just know that going in. And content/trigger warnings for loss of a loved one, violence, murder, gore, sexual assault(s), physical abuse, slavery, talk of suicide, and war themes.

And even though this is a brutal book, the romance is so damn sweet. I mean, it’s a slow burn without question, but enemies to lovers will forever be my favorite. But seeing it happen to a nice guy, too? It was really sweet and I really enjoyed it. I might even go as far to say that the romance in this book was my favorite element of the entire story.

“I remembered the way he looked, lying with eyes staring into the sky that day I’d left him in the trench in Aurvanger. The broken boy bleeding in the snow beside my brother. I wondered if the gods had a plan then.”

I also love the sibling relationship between Eelyn and Iri. In general, I’m always a sucker for books about siblings who unconditionally love each other, but this story had such a unique twist and dynamic, I absolutely loved unfolding the mystery behind what happened five years ago.

My heart was also truly stolen by Halvard and his relationship with Eelyn in this book. Like, best character and the most amazing little cinnamon roll ever. There is such a strong emphasis on found family in this book, and I was so here for it. Truly, these 350 pages carry a beautiful and important message about how life is about surrounding yourself with people who love and accept you, regardless of what blood runs in your veins.

Overall, I really did enjoy this one. I wish the rape threats weren’t so abundant, but besides that I feel like this is a really solid story that is action packed and truly captivating. I never wanted to put this book down, and each time I picked it up I felt absolutely teleported into this world. Also, I kind of have a soft spot for girls that wield axes. I really enjoyed it, and I cannot wait to see what Adrienne Young does next!


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

Playlist of songs that inspired this story!

Buddy read with Jules, at JA Ironside, Lilly at Lair of Books, & Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills! ❤

 

LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff

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

“Metal or meat. Blood or current. Everyone deserves a choice.”

Gentle friends, I loved this. This was an absolute treat to read! Jay Kristoff’s writing and storytelling is so unique, but if you love it then you will love it with the sum of your being. This book was one of the best things I’ve ever read, and I instantly knew it would make my top books of 2018.

I recommend this with my whole heart for fans of Borderlands, Mad Max, and even Fallout, because that is this book’s aesthetic. Yet, this book also is very reminiscent of one of my favorite Disney Animation movies, but to say which would be such a big spoiler, so I will refrain, but it was so amazing! I was constantly reminded of all these stories constantly, and I loved each and every moment. LIFEL1K3 is such a different book, that I can only compare it to these video games and movies, but I truly think it’s going to completely win over the YA world upon release.

The prologue to this book is one of the most heart-filled, heart-pounding, heart-breaking things I’ve ever read. I was instantly captivated and instantly immersed, and even though I was crying, a hand over my mouth, I could never stop reading. The start of every chapter tells more and more (in true Jay Kristoff style), and my heart continued to break and break, but I promise you; this story is so well crafted. I have no combination of words to even weave together to express how smart and seamlessly this is woven together.

“They used to call it Kalifornya, but now they called it Dregs.”

This story starts out in an alternate post-apocalyptic future of The United States. Robots in this world are the equivalent to slaves, and robots that look like humans (androids) are completely outlawed. Our main protagonist is battling in the WarDome, against robots, in a mech she has built herself from scavenging. She does these battles so that she can afford her grandfather’s medication, and in the opening of the book, she is in desperate need to win. So desperate that something happens to put an X on her back, and she and her friends are forced to flee, because the battles are broadcasted all over Dregs.

Eve – A seventeen-year-old girl, who has been living with her grandpa in Tire Valley for two years now. Eve also only has one eye, and I loved that representation with my whole heart. Also, Eve soon realizes that the life she has always known, might not be the only life she has ever lived. So many secrets. So many twists. So many choices.

“Two lives, colliding like stars inside her mind. The life she knew—the life of Evie Carpenter. Domefighter. Top-tier botdoc. A skinny little scavvergirl eking out a living on the island of Dregs. And someone else. Another girl entirely.”

Lemon – Eve’s best friend, who lives with her. Also, the funniest character I’ve read about in a really long time. I’m talking about full on, have to put the book down, giggles. Like, this book has the best banter I may have ever read, and all of the amazingness came from Lemon Fresh. One of my new all-time favorite characters. But I will say that Lemon does have a scene that bothered me, when she tried to take a peak at what was under a lifelike’s pants. It didn’t happen, but still, things like that are never cute, and her being a girl and him being a boy doesn’t make it okay. But besides this one thing, Lemon Fresh was truly the star of this book for me, and I want to be her when I grow up.

“I don’t care who’s after you. Where you’re from or where you’re going. It’s you, me, Crick and Kaiser. No matter what. Rule Number One in the Scrap, remember? Stronger together, together forever.”

Cricket – AI that was made to protect Eve by her grandpa. And even though they are adorable, my only complaint is about this character. Cricket is with the girls when they find a lifelike, and when they find him, he is missing an arm since it was a really bad crash. Throughout the book Cricket calls Ezekiel “Stumpy” and “Braintrauma” and it just read really bad. It also kind of makes me not like Cricket as much as I’m sure many others will.

“If he wasn’t a real person, why does this hurt so badly?”

Ezekiel – I loved Ezekiel, so much, instantly, right off the bat. He is the lifelike that Eve and Lemon find, when they are rushing home after the events that happened at the WarDome. lifelikes are outlawed everywhere, because they somehow broke the Three Laws that are hard-coded into every single robot.

“He gave us life, but he intended us to live it on our knees.”

And many of these lifelikes resided in a place called Babel. Growing up, you guys might have learned about the story of Tower of Babel as a lesson about why we speak so many different languages. Basically, after the Great Flood happened, a bunch of people came together and agreed to build a tower that would touch Heaven itself. God, realizing what they are attempting, scatters them all around the world and makes them all speak different languages, hence our world today. And the irony was not missed on how perfect of a title for a residence this is. And all the lifelike’s names are also super biblical.

The soul of this novel is about oppression, and the sick things we are willing to tell ourselves to justify it. How people will treat other living being differently, and unjustly, because they feel like they are higher on the social hierarchy. This book may be about humans vs robots, but I think it mirrors a lot of issues going on in today’s world, and I think a lot of people could take away many things from this book.

“Look outside that door, and you will see a world built on metal backs. Held together by metal hands.”

The heart of this novel is about love, and how we are always deserving of it, even if we are searching for it our entire lives. The romance in this was exceptionally done, and I was swooning so hard at so many different scenes. But this book doesn’t just focus on the romantic love between two people, but also the importance of love between friends. Eve and Lemon’s friendship is honestly goals. And this book is for sure a love letter to found families everywhere.

“It’s simple to love someone on the days that are easy. But you find out what your love is made of on the days that are hard.”

And in true Jay Kristoff fashion, he ripped my heart out at the end of this book. I honestly am not sure how I’m going to be able to cope and deal with the wait for the next book. It will easily be one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, and I am so curious what direction the story is going to go. I also believe, with my whole heart, that the second book will be even better than LIFEL1K3. Even though this was a five star read, it was setting the stage for something that’s going to be such a damn masterpiece.

Overall, I loved this. I loved seeing Eve discover who she was, who she is, and who she wants to be. I loved the beautiful, lyrical writing. I loved the important themes and discussions that were expertly woven in. I loved laughing and crying and feeling everything in-between for the characters. I loved this world and traveling it alongside these characters. I even loved all the twists and turns. Also, to say that this has a cliffhanger ending is a damn understatement. But this was such a fun read, and I think there is so much that so many will love, too! I hope you all pick this one up come May 29th!

“Your past doesn’t make calls on your future. It doesn’t matter who you were. Only who you are.”

Content/Trigger Warnings: murder, gore, violence, death, loss of a loved one, bullying, robotic animal cruelty, talk of suicide, talk of cancer, terminal illness, child abandonment, physical abuse, torture, bombings, and war themes.

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

Buddy read with Chelsea at The Suspense is Thrilling Me! ❤



Submit your proof of preorder HERE by May 29th, 2018 to receive a collectible print featuring an original illustration of a map of the Grande Ol’ Yousay by artist Virginia Allyn and four beautiful LIFEL1K3 bookmarks by artist Mona May! (US mailing address required. I’m sorry.)

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell

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This was a blessing to read. This is a historical literature short story collection, showcasing LGBTQIAP+ characters. And all of the authors that contributed to this collection are LGBTQIAP+ and that is something that I don’t even have words for. I am forever thankful that Saundra Mitchell curated this, that Harlequin published this, and that kids and teens everywhere are going to be able to pick this up and know that they are never alone and that they have never been alone, throughout history.

These stories also are set all over the world, even though the majority of them do take place in The United States. I do personally wish that we had a little more variety, but the stories themselves are super important and I feel very privileged that I was able to read them. My only other minor complaint is that I also wish that there was a pansexual character. I get no titles were used in many of these stories, but I still wish there were bigger hints and/or possibilities that would have personally made my pan heart happy.

My personal favorite was The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson. It was so beautifully written, the messages were expertly woven in, and the characters are two that I won’t forget anytime soon. Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore and Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake were super close to also being my favorite. And both of these stories are ones I will carry in my heart forever. And I truly believe, without a doubt, that these three short stories are worth the entire price of this anthology alone!

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

Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore – ★★★★★

“I wanted them to know that I was my abuela’s granddaughter, that carried the blood of poison girls.”

1870 Mexico – I wish every anthology that I will ever read for the rest of my life started with a story by Anna-Marie McLemore. The beauty, the power, the magic in her words. It is something I can’t find words for, but it makes me feel everything. Absolutely everything. This story centers around an ownvoices Latinx main character, who is trying to get her trans lover out of jail. This story discusses trans issues and does it so damn well, and even though I am cis, I was still blown away at what this author was able to accomplish with this masterpiece of a short story. And the w/w romance in this is so awe-inspiring and just damn heartwarming. I loved it. And I loved this so very much. There is also so much beautiful magical realism in this, that deals with poison, and it has me super hyped to read more about it in Blanca y Roja this fall!

The Sweet Trade by Natalie C. Parker – ★★★

“Clara Elizabeth Byrd had been married twice by the age of sixteen and she had decided she had no taste for it.”

1717 USA, Virginia – I enjoyed this one, I just didn’t love this one. Clara is a runaway bride, who is sailing away for a getaway, when she comes across another girl that is running from the same future that neither one of them envision for themselves. Obviously a really cute w/w relationship blooms, and both girls have hopes and dreams of ruling the seas together as pirate queens disguised as kings. And this makes me excited to read this author’s LGBTQIAP+ pirate story, Seafire, this summer!

And They Don’t Kiss At the End by Nilah Magruder – ★★★★

“I like what I like and I don’t like what I don’t. I have nothing to apologize for.”

1976 USA, Maryland – This was so smartly created for this anthology. From the title, to Pride & Prejudice, to skating, to the music, to the amazing rep; this was nothing but a joy to read. This was a gift sent from above. This story features an ownvoices black main character, who is trying to figure out her sexual orientation, but she knows she’s on the ace spectrum. Hell, it’s hard enough for aro and ace kids to figure out their sexual ID even in 2018, and in the 70s there isn’t even a name for it. But this was the sweetest story, that even made me shed a few tears. Also, there was the Filipino boy in this who was a confirmed cinnamon roll. But, please, I want a full-length story of Dee!

Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee – ★★★★

“I am the boy most accomplished at not becoming distracted by the first naked woman we draw. Which is something, I suppose.”

1638 Netherlands, Amsterdam – Okay, this one was actually super funny. I was having a dang giggle while reading this one. And I felt like the main character talked a lot like I would in his situation, and, Lord, help me, I loved it. This one stars a boy in a prestigious painting class and, from the quote above, you can probably tell what they’re painting next. There is minor bullying in this, and an important discussion on how dangerous coming out was back then (and still can be). But the story really gets started when the main characters crush is the next subject they are about to draw.

The Dresser & The Chambermaid by Robin Talley – ★★★

“Susanna was accustomed to creeping about the palace in the dark.”

1726 England, London, Kensington Palace – This wasn’t my favorite story in the anthology, but I loved the setting so much. At this point, I think Robin Talley is the queen of atmosphere, and she proves it again in this short story. This is about two girls who are both servants to a very demanding young princess. One has lived her entire life in the castle, and the other is brand new and needs the assistance of the other to know how the princess likes her hair. This is a cute w/w romance, and I’d love to read more. Also, this was super sex positive, and I always appreciate that!

New Year by Malinda Lo – ★★★★

“Tommy Andrews, the male impersonator, brings something different in nightclub entertainment…”

1955 USA, California, San Francisco– This is a story about a (ownvoices) Chinese-American girl discovering who she is, and what her sexuality is, growing up in Chinatown. It also happens to be the Chinese New Year, and someone catches her eye when they walk into her friend’s restaurant. And I need this full story now! Ahhh, especially with that ending! But this was a great read, even though it was romance free, and it discussed so many important topics about immigration, and deportation, and how badly we treat immigrants, even in 2018. It also was a very feminist and empowering short story, and I loved the author’s note at the end of this one. I desperately need to read more by Malinda Lo.

Molly’s Lips by Dahlia Adler – ★★

“She’ll never love me like she loves a man she’ll never meet.”

1994 USA, Washington, Seattle – This had everything that I should have loved. I love everything 90s, especially grunge music, and the entire aesthetic just seemed like something I’d enjoy, as morbid as that probably sounds. This is a story about two girls grieving the death of Kurt Cobain, in the place where grunge music was born. And I loved the writing style, I just thought the story left a lot to be desired. I love me a good w/w best friends to lovers story, and I love the message that music truly has healing powers, but this one was just a bit boring for me. Which kind of breaks my heart, because I do really love Nirvana.

The Coven by Kate Scelsa – ★★

“It was Gertrude Stein who first introduced us to the coven.”

1920s France, Paris – This is about a girl grieving the loss of her brother and dealing with the depression that no doctor is able to diagnose. She then finds a coven with her girlfriend, that helps young girls like her. And I guess the w/w romance was cute, but this one just read so very boring for me personally.

Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake – ★★★★★

“If I must lie to the world to be true to my heart, then I’ll lie. I’ll cheat, I’ll steal and I’ll do it with a smile. Love is the only higher power I answer to, and my love is no less for being chaste.”

1300s England | – I thought this was going to be good, but it ended up being perfect. This is an awesome Robin Hood retelling. And Robin in this story is a trans boy, who is in love with our main protagonist, who ran away from a father that didn’t accept him. And this m/m romance had me swooning. Also, our main protagonist is hearing impaired and seeing him sign on page was something so magical to me. And the ending? I still feel absolutely gutted. But the heart of this story is about love; the love we have for others, but also the love that we must find in accepting ourselves for who we are. This was so brilliantly done and was honestly perfection in every way, and I loved it more than any combination of words I can come up with.

Willows by Scott Tracey – ★★

“That is the secret to survival. Teach fear to those who taught you to be afraid.”

1732 USA, Massachusetts | – This just didn’t work for me in the slightest. Maybe it was me and my reading comprehension, but this felt so incohesive to me and was super hard to follow. But it had witches in it? And being scared because of the way witches were dealt with back in the 1700s Massachusetts. But it was sort of like an exploration of a person that has been different people in different lives, while exploring gender, too. And in the end, they are in a relationship with a guy, and they run away together. But this just was so not for me in any way.

The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe – ★★★★★

“And I am yours […] always.”

1839 USA, Northern California | – This was everything I wanted. This was whimsical, this was lyrical, and this was perfect. I would buy and read anything, and everything set in this world, and in those woods. Also, this is one of the few stories in the anthology that felt like a full story. This was beyond words good, and I had full body goosebumps at the very end of the story. This story centers around a young girl, with an abusive father, that lives in a town that fears going into the woods. Well, one day, after her dog escapes into said woods, the girl ventures in to find him and meets a girl who is not human (and there is no confirmation, but I want to yell at you all “FAE GIRL!”) And I was so damn invested in this tale. And I was so into the friendship, turned into something more between these very different girls, who both bond over feeling alone. This is easily one of my favorites in this entire collection.

The Secret Life of a Teenage Boy by Alex Sanchez – ★★★★

“…Ready to tell Mom and Dad the thing they already know.”

1969 USA, Virginia | – This is about a boy who loves his family dearly but doesn’t know how to let them know that he is not straight. Him and his sister are really close, which I love, because my brother has always and will always be my best friend. And one day, a car breaks down outside their home, and our main character spends time with the young driver, while waiting for someone to repair the vehicle. Okay, I really liked this one, because even though this was set twenty years before I was born, I still remember a lot of the homophobia that went on in this story. Like, growing up, boys that only had one ear pierced were always considered gay, which makes me feel gross even to type. And just seeing this boy finally seeing someone that is happy and confident with their sexuality, and wanting to run away and be that too? That evoked some emotion from me. And this just felt like such accurate representation of all the thoughts you have when you’re young and discovering your sexuality (at least for me, personally) and I really enjoyed this one.

Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger – ★★★

“I’m never gonna see the world or do anything people will remember.”

1952 USA, New York | – This one was super adorable, I just didn’t fall in love with it the same way I did some of the other stories in this collection. This is about an actress, that is starting to feel past her prime, and she misses her train connection in a small town. A girl who is closing up a nearby diner see’s the girl and offers her somewhere to stay. This is a cute story about knowing your worth, and knowing what you want from life, and not letting anyone tell you differently. Also, I believe the main character could possibly be on the ace spectrum, so that’s awesome too! But I wish we could have seen both of these characters a year from when they first met.

The End of the World As We Know It by Sara Farizan – ★★★★★

“It’s kind of shitty to think that on the eve of the apocalypse, I’m wasting my last hours watching Carson Daly in Times Square awkwardly burgeoning pop star Mandy Moore the most banal of questions.”

1999 USA, Massachusetts, Boston | – You all, this one made me feel so… old… but so seen. Holy shit, so seen. Okay, I was a lot younger than the main protagonist in 1999, but I remember it. I was still in elementary school, but everyone was freaking out and I remember my parents being freaked out about the banks and them stocking up on bottled water and things like that! Also, me and my friends thought we were the absolute coolest, and we would always rush home after school to watch TRL, because we had to know if Blink 182 would actually beat Britney or Christina to number 1 that day. Also, this story mentions Aaliyah, who me and my best friend were obsessed with. Like, so obsessed with that she made it her daughter’s middle name when she was born a few years ago. And I also remember Matthew Shepard and what happened to him, and it being one of the first tragedies I actually remember happening. And it shook me, even as a little kid, to my very core. This is about a girl who is a senior in high school, and she is home on New Year’s Eve with her parents. Well, until her best friend who she hasn’t spoken to recently comes over. And a cute w/w romance brews. TL;DR – I’m giving this five stars because 1.) I loved it with my whole heart, but 2.) this was my very early adolescence, and around the time I started to realize that I wasn’t straight, so this story just really spoke to me.

Three Witches by Tessa Gratton – ★★★★★

“The ease with which s beautiful girl can seduce Violante has been the core of her troubles all her life.”

1519 Spain, Burgos, Castile | – Tessa Gratton is such a talented writer, and when I read her writing it feels truly like I’m reading art. This story is a bit of a darker one, because it’s about a girl in conversion therapy that is being administered by the Catholic church. And we get to see a relationship with our main character, Violante, and one of the nuns. This was powerful, this was haunting, and it truly is something I won’t be able to get out of my head. And I will always choose love, and I hope you all do too.

The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson – ★★★★★

“And it was in that moment that I understood what it meant to be loved.”

1839 London | – The last sentence of this story. God, I’m still weeping. This was such a masterpiece. I loved this with the sum of my entire being. This was the first thing I’ve ever read by Shaun David Hutchinson, and I promise it won’t be the last. This is a short story about two rivaling magician assistances, both learning to live with the pain from their pasts. Their paths cross, and they start to see that life doesn’t have to be all pain, and that everyone is worthy of love. I want more. No, I need more. I feel so in love with this world, this magic, and these two boys who completely captivated me and stole my heart. This was my favorite in the entire collection. This story alone makes the entire collection worth the purchase.

Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia – ★★★★★

“Rose was a summer girl, and I was a winter girl, but that fall we made magic.”

1933 USA, New Mexico | – This one was very powerful! This is an ownvoices latinx short story about a girl, whose grandmother was believed to be a bruja, and another girl who she can’t help but show her feelings for, regardless of what the girl’s father thinks, and regardless of what the demon inside her feels. And the magical realism in this was a blessing to my eyes and my soul. Beautiful, so beautiful. And this just was so unapologetically queer, and it just raised me up, and made me feel so happy, and reminded me to never feel shame. God, I just loved this one so much. And these two girls were my favorite couple in the entire anthology.

Overall, I loved this. And representation always matters, but it especially matters to kids that feel alone and feel like what they are feeling, or who they are, is wrong. LGBTQIAP+ isn’t a trend, or a theme, and it sure and the hell isn’t anything new. And no matter how much history books want to pretend we didn’t exist back then, they will always be wrong. I gave All Out four stars overall, because out of a possible 85 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 17 stories) this collection accumulated 66 stars (~77%).


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This is the group read for the biannual Prideathon that ran from April 2nd to April 8th! ❤🌈

Renegades (Renegades #1) by Marissa Meyer

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“Hero or villain, all prodigies were powerful. All prodigies were dangerous.”

Me and Marissa Meyer have an all over the place relationship. I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Lunar Chronicles, but I love Scarlet and Wolf! But my favorite thing she’s ever created was Heartless, which I five starred and it made it onto my best of list the year it came out. So, I didn’t know what to expect going into Renegades. I wasn’t even going to pick it up originally, but I did solely because I saw a Goodreads review being disgusting about there being two gay dads that raised one of the main protagonists. TL;DR – I loved the gay dads, but I only ended up liking Renegades.

Renegades is set in a world where people rely on superheroes. The superheroes come with a vast array of powers and abilities, but with superheroes, there are always supervillains, too! Yet, the supervillains are more of rebels with superpowers, and they call themselves the Anarchists!

Our main protagonist, Nova, was raised to believe in the Renegades and to trust in the hope that they provide. But that all changed the night she was orphaned, and no one came to save her or her family. Since then she has had only one mission: to get vengeance for her family.

“One cannot be brave who has no fear.”

Also, I couldn’t write this review without mentioning that Nova (AKA: Nightmare and Insomnia) is Italian-Filipina, and this made my little Filipina heart so very full of happiness. Also, Nova’s super power is sleep manipulation, which was totally unique and super badass, in my opinion. Also, I’m forever living for morally grey characters that are constantly questioning the motives all around them, so Nova was a damn treat to read about.

The other main protagonist is Adrian (AKA: the Sentinal and Sketch), who happens to have the two kickass, gay, famous, superhero dads! His power is pretty OP; as long as he believes something is plausible, he can draw it and give it the desired effect. Like, it’s kind of complicated, but he can pretty much draw things and make them a reality.

And obviously Nova and Adrian’s lives intertwine and a lot of events ensue. And, if you’ve ever read a book by Marissa Meyer before, you can probably guess that a romance happens as well. Now, forbidden romance is kind of my favorite, and I was here for it, but I will say that it was a little cliché at times.

But this is a story about secrets, filled with characters that are playing both sides for the Renegades and for the Anarchists. This story is filled with twists and turns, and you’ll never really know who to root for, which is pretty amazing.

Yet, this is also a story about questioning what is good and bad. And how things that present themselves as good aren’t always the way they seem. I think it’s important for kids and teens to be reading about questioning the world around them right now, and I really liked the discussion that could be had here from these themes that were presented.

“If people wanted to stand up for themselves or protect their loved ones or do what they believe in their hearts is the right thing to do, then they would do it. If they wanted to be heroic, they would find ways to be heroic, even without supernatural powers.”

Now, let me also say that I read this via audiobook, and I am the worst audiobook reader ever. I just have a really hard time focusing, and I’ll try to listen while I play League of Legends, and then I’ll end up not retaining anything, and I’ll have to go relisten. This book took me a month to read, which is unheard of for me. I strongly believe that if I read this book physically that I would have enjoyed it even more. And I completely plan to do so with the next book!

Overall, if you like superhero books then you will probably really enjoy this one. Sometimes I did feel like maybe a few elements were pulled too strongly from X-Men (*cough ROGUE cough*), but Marissa Meyer’s writing is always easy to read and fun to follow. The story had a bit of racial diversity, sexual diversity, and a disabled side-character that I really appreciated. Also, please give me an entire book of just Max, thanks. But I think most people that have enjoyed previous things by this author will also really enjoy this one! I’m excited to see what happens next, especially with that ending.

“There are many dangerous people in this world. But there are also many good people. Brave people. No matter how bad things get, we have to remember that.”

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Buddy Read with Sarah & Rachel! ❤

 

Circe by Madeline Miller

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

“When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.”

This is the pièce de résistance I’ve been searching for my entire life. Not only did I fall in love with this story, I predict that this will be the best book I’ll read all year. This book is about healing and doing what it takes to come into your own. This book is about love; the love between lovers, the love of a mother, and the love you must find in yourself. This book proves why family of choice will always be greater than family of origin. This book is about magic, and how we can find it in ourselves if we look hard enough. This is a book about becoming the witch you’ve always buried deep inside you.

“They do not care if you are good. They barely care if you are wicked. The only thing that makes them listen is power.”

Okay, maybe I should start this review off with a somewhat personal story. I was very privileged to go a very good high school where I was able to study The Iliad and The Odyssey for a class my freshman year. And fourteen-year-old Melanie fell in love. To say I was obsessed was an understatement, and more and more my heart was filled with love for Odysseus, Athena, and a certain love affair with the witch-goddess Circe.

(Beautiful art by Kevin Nichols)

Even upon finishing that class, I still couldn’t get enough of Homer’s words. And to this day, The Iliad and The Odyssey are the only books that I collect many editions of. All my loved ones and family correlate these epic poems with me, and always bring me new editions from their travels, and give me gifts for special events and holidays the same way they do with Harry Potter. One of the most prized possession I own is an edition of The Odyssey that was given to me by someone who meant a lot to me, at a very important time in my life. And these two tomes will always be a big part of my identity, and I will always recognize that they not only shaped me as a reader, but they shaped me as a human being, too.

So, when I found out that that Greek mythology retelling queen, Madeline Miller, was writing a book centered around Circe, I knew it was going to end up being one of my favorite books of all time. And it ended up being everything I wanted and more. I hate to throw around the word masterpiece, but if I had to pick a book to give that title to, I’d pick Circe.

“Odysseus, son of Laertes, the great traveler, prince of wiles and tricks and a thousand ways. He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.”

And even though Odysseus plays a huge role in this story, this book is Circe’s and Circe’s alone. We get to see her growing up in Oceanus, with her Titan sun god father Helios, and loveless nymph mother Perse, and her three more ambitious siblings, Aeëtes, Pasiphaë, and Perses. We get to see her living her life of solitude, exiled on the island of Aiaia. We also get to see her make a few very important trips, that are very monumental in Greek mythos. But we get to see all of Circe, the broken parts, the healing parts, and the complete parts. We get to see her love, her loss, her discovery, her resolve, and her determination. We get to see her question what it means to be immortal, what it means to be a nymph in a world ruled by gods, and what it means to just live. Her journey is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and probably unlike anything I will ever read again. I have no combination of words to express how much her life and her story means to me. But I promise, I’m not the same person I was before reading this book.

“…All my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it.”

This is ultimately a story about how different the tales will always be told for a man. And how the ballads will always be sung for heroes, not heroines, even if a woman was truly behind all the success the man greedily reaped. How the light will always fall to vilify the woman and showcase her as a witch that needs to be tamed, a sorceress that needs to be subdued, or an enchantress that needs to be defeated. Women, no matter how much agency they carve out in any male dominated world, will always be a means to an end to further the achievements of man. Always. And Circe displays that at the forefront of this story.

Circe is most well known for turning Odysseus’s men into pigs when they come to her island in The Odyssey, but Madeline Miller does such a wonderful job weaving all this Greek mythology into a fully fleshed out, brand-new tale. She has created something so unique, yet so breathtakingly good, I think so many readers will find it impossible to put this new-spin of a story down. I was completely captivated and enthralled from the very first line to the very last line. This book just feels so authentic, I felt like I was in the ocean, on the island, and traveling right beside Circe throughout. And I never wanted to leave her side.

“It was their favorite bitter joke: those who fight against prophecy only draw it more tightly around their throats.”

Overall, I understand that this is a book that is very targeted to me and my likes. Not only is this a character driven story, with a main protagonist being a character I’ve been in love with for over a decade, but the writing was lyrical perfection. I’m such a quote reader, and I swear I would have highlighted this entire book. This book is also so beautifully feminist that it makes me weep just thinking about the things Circe had to endure. And it showcases the unconditional love of found families, yet also between a mother and her child, while simultaneously abolishing the notion that blood is worth more than anything else in any world. This book heavily emphasizes that you will never be the mistakes that your parents have committed. The entire story is a love letter to love itself and reveals all the things we are willing to do in the name of it. And most importantly, this is a book about how we are truly only ever in charge of our own stories, even though our actions may change the fate for others around us. Please, pick this masterpiece up, and I hope it changes your life, too.

Thank you, Madeline Miller, I will carry your Circe in my heart for the rest of my life.

“That is one thing gods and mortals share: when we are young, we think ourselves the first to have each feeling in the world.”

Trigger/Content Warnings: Violence, gore, murder, torture, physical abuse, child abuse, thoughts of suicide, brief scene with cutting, graphic childbirth scenes, mention of bestiality, mention of incest, animal sacrifice, death of a sibling, death of a child, death of a loved one, death of an animal, rape, adultery, and war themes.

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


✨ Signed and personalized copies are available through Main Point Books! (They can ship anywhere in the US, anywhere in the UK, and also to some other international locations!)

Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #2) by Mark Lawrence

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ARC provided by Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

1.) Red Sister ★★★★★

“But I must warn you, sister, that a sickness runs in me, and if you fashion yourself my enemy I will make a ruin of your life, for I am born of war.”

Grey Sister is such a wonderful addition to this world, and it was everything I wanted it to be and more. Mark Lawrence truly never disappoints, and Nona will always be one of my favorite protagonists of all time. If you guys haven’t, please pick up Red Sister and discover how amazing this world, these characters, and this story truly are.

This is a dark world, where many parents will sell their children because they cannot afford to keep them. Some of these children end up never having their stories told, but a few of them end up having a bit of magic from being a descendant of one of the four tribes, and go to Sweet Mercy’s Convent in hopes of them becoming a very powerful warrior that will always fight for good.

Four Tribes that the people in this world can descend from:
Gerant – Great size and strength.
Hunska – Quick speed.
Marjal – The ability to tap into lesser magic.
Quantal – The ability to walk the Path and work greater magic.

And after horrible situation after horrible situation, our dear Nona gets purchased in Red Sister at the age of eleven. Now, it’s been five years, and Nona is just now entering Mystic class where, despite being one of the strongest young ladies in the school, she is having a difficult time.

“It’s hard to see old friends with new eyes.”

Four Classes in the Convent for the novices to learn as a group:
Red Class – Ages 9-12 typically.
Grey Class – Ages 13-14 typically.
Mystic Class – Ages 15-16 typically.
Holy Class – Ages 17-19 typically.

But these young ladies, who will be training extremely hard and diligently for ten years, can become many different things. Nona, so far, has proven that she will become one of the most feared Red Sisters to ever walk this world. But Zole, her friend from the Ice Tribe, who everyone believes is the chosen one that Nona will protect her whole life, is proving to be one of the most powerful Mystics ever.

Four Paths for the novices to take once they become nuns:
Bride of the Ancestor, Holy Sister – Honors the Ancestors and keeps the faith.
Martial Sister, Red Sister – Warriors skilled in armed and unarmed combat.
Sister of Discretion, Grey Sister – Masters of stealth and potions with shadow work.
Mystic Sister, Holy Witch – Walks the Path and manipulates threads.

But sadly, Nona can’t shake her past, or the terrible things that happened when she was only eleven- years-old. Five years later, people are still after her, and they are relentless in their pursuit to settle past grudges. Yet Nona is now carrying a new friend with her, who amplifies her powers, but at the cost of losing her shadow.

“She had lost a shadow, lost two friends, and gained a devil.”

But about half way into this book, everything gets flipped on its head, and I’m not even sure if my body can produce any more tears. Tears for sadness, tears for happiness, tears because I don’t want to wait a year to read the next book, all the tears, okay? From shiphearts, to arks, to demons, to poisons, to chains, to prophecies, to even the moon; this book has everything and makes you feel everything. And I feel forever thankful for this tale.

This book is also different, because it switches points of view with Abbess Glass a lot! And man, oh man, do I love that woman with my whole heart. This book heavily deals with betrayals, and all of the twists and turns were out of this world. But the things that these Sisters are willing to do for one another? I don’t have any combination of words for how perfect it is.

The theme of friendship, and what we are willing to do for the found family we choose, is constant throughout this amazing book. Unconditional love is the most powerful force in any world, and this book just reinforces that statement. And seeing all these phenomenal girl friendships, while they kick ass side by side? It’s something I don’t even have words for. But I’ll be forever thankful that this series exists.

Another major theme in Grey Sister is forgiveness. Some people will never learn the word, and they will let revenge poison their entire life. Forgiveness isn’t always easy, Nona proves it time and time again, but sometimes its truly the only path worth taking. (I’m not crying, you’re crying!)

“Trust is the most insidious of poisons.”

Trigger/Content Warnings: Physical abuse, bullying, torture, murder, death, gore, death of a child, death of a loved one, and themes of war.

You all know how much I love Nevernight. Truly, with my whole heart. And these two series are so very similar, when it comes to kids training and fighting for a church, when it comes to a girl running from a past she had no control of, when it comes to both of those girls having very distinct companions. You can’t miss the similarities. And even though I do love both, the Book of the Ancestor series is just better. It feels more real, it feels more adult, and it makes me feel even more things. But if you, too, enjoy Nevernight, you have to give this series a try. I promise, you’ll fall in love!

Another amazing thing that I want to mention here, is that Mark Lawrence put a recap section at the start of this book, and it was one of the most helpful things I’ve ever seen an author do. I felt completely aware of everything going on in the world, and which specialty every teacher had, after reading. It was so damn thoughtful, and I wish every single author would do this and make it a series norm.

“We are all part of the Ancestor’s tree. A twig that breaks free will, however advantageous the wind, fall and wither in time.”

Overall, Mark Lawrence weaves together a tale that is so eloquent, yet so filled with action. I love nothing more than seeing the events of the past and the events of the present slowly coming together into a masterpiece of a series. I truly believe this is a once in a lifetime series. Mark Lawrence’s writing is so very teleportative and nothing short of beautiful. I swear, I could highlight at least half of this book. When I open a book of his, I am instantly captivated and enthralled. And I never ever want to put it down. When I say Nona is my favorite protagonist of all time, I don’t throw around that title lightly. And this story is just on a whole other tier for adult fantasy. I will forever cherish these books, and I cannot wait to get my hands on Holy Sister!

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

Buddy read with Lilly at Lair of Books! (If you all aren’t following her, stop depriving yourself, and hit that friend request or follow button now, because she’s a confirmed angel who blesses my life on the daily!)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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“I spent half my time loving her and the other half hiding how much I loved her.”

This is one of the best books I’ve ever had the privilege to read. It is probably in the top five for best books I’ve ever read in my entire life. I have been looking for a book like this my entire life, and no combination of words I’m about to type, and you’re about to read, is going to do this masterpiece justice. But I will say that Gabby, Joce, Amelie, and Elyse were all right, and I’m so happy I listened to them, because this book is worth every single ounce of hype.

And when I say that this book is lifechanging, I truly mean it. This book is sold as a historical romance, where you learn about a fictional, famous, old Hollywood actress and all her marriages. What you get is a book that stars a bisexual, Cuban woman who was never allowed to talk about the love of her life; her wife. And when I say I cried during this book, I truly mean that I probably need to buy a new copy because I was the biggest mess you’ve ever seen.

“And it will be the tragedy of my life that I cannot love you enough to make you mine. That you cannot be loved enough to be anyone’s.”

On top of this being a powerful book about race, sexuality, misogyny, and having to conform to societies norms, the true meaning I took from this book is that life is short, so damn short, and we shouldn’t spend it pretending to be something we aren’t. And we shouldn’t spend it doing anything less than loving the people who are worthy and deserving of our love.

“I didn’t need boys in order to feel good. And that realization gave me great power.”

We follow Evelyn from the very start; losing her mother very young, her body developing very quickly, noticing others noticing her developing body, marrying a man so she can leave the dead-end city she grew up in, so she can become something more. Evelyn is unapologetic with her actions, and it is one of the most empowering things I’ve ever read. She plays so many more parts than the roles she is cast in. And Evelyn learns really quickly how to play each and every man she is forced to interact with, and she quickly learns what she can gain from each and every one of them, too.

This story is told from two different timelines and two different points of view. One from Monique Grant, who is a biracial (white and African-American) woman who is going through a fresh divorce and trying to make something of herself in the journalism field. And her life changes the day her editor tells her how Evelyn Hugo is demanding her, and only her, to write something for her.

“Heartbreak is loss. Divorce is a piece of paper.”

The other timeline(s) are all the different times in Evelyn’s life, and the different seven husbands that she had, while she is recounting the events that lead her to be telling Monique this story. Evelyn has lived a very full life, and is in her late seventies now, and is finally ready to talk about her life. But the entire book we are guessing why she has chosen only Monique for this job.

“Make them pay you what they would pay a white man.”

If you guys have been following my reviews, you’ll probably know that I talk about found family and how important it is to me a lot, but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the epitome of how beautiful a found family can be. Evelyn and Harry’s friendship in this was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read in my entire reading life.

“When you write the ending, Monique, make sure the reader understands that all I was ever really looking for was family. Make sure it’s clear that I found it. Make sure they know that I am heartbroken without it.”

And the romance? The true romance in this book is the most romantic thing I have ever read in my entire life. And you guys know I’ve read a ton of romances, but they are all lesser to this. Every single one of them can’t compare with the romance in this book. I feel like every time I’ve used the word “perfect” to describe something that wasn’t the romance in this book, then I used the word wrong.

“Please never forget that the sun rises and sets with your smile. At least to me it does. You’re the only thing on this planet worth worshipping.”

How many Evelyn and Celias are there in the world? How many are still playing the role that Evelyn was forced to play? I cry for every single person who must hide who they are, and who they want to love. And this book talks about many big things in queer history; from the Stonewall riots to the disgusting Reagan administration, but life still isn’t anywhere close to equal in 2018. The prejudices, the discrimination, the virus/syndrome blaming, the looks I’ve experienced holding a girl’s hand while walking into a restaurant? Those are still in 2018, in the United States, but people act like none of those things exists because marriage is legalized, begrudgingly. I’m not writing this review to get on my soapbox, but I promise, we have a lot more work to do. And this book, this book lit a fire under me.

I personally identify as pansexual, but I felt like the bisexual rep in this was a tier above anything my eyes have ever seen. Seeing Evelyn love all the parts of her, and all the different parts of her love, was something so awe-inspiring. I am still so overwhelmed with feelings, but if you identify as bi or pan, this is a love letter to you, I promise.

“I was a lesbian when she loved me and a straight woman when she hated me.”

This book also focuses a huge importance on motherhood throughout the entirety of this book, and then I read the acknowledgement and started weeping all over again. Taylor Jenkins Reid was able to evoke the strongest emotions from me, and I just pray that things will be different for the generation of kids being raised right now.

This was the first thing I’ve read by Taylor Jenkins Reid, but I will buy every single new thing she produces. The writing was so lyrical and addicting. I mean, I have a quote between almost every paragraph. This whole book deserves to be highlighted. The characters, well, my mind has now forever imagined that these are real people now, so there is that. The topics, themes, and discussions are beyond important. This book just makes me feel so passionately. This book is one of the most empowering pieces of literature I’ve ever consumed. And I am not the same person I was before this book.

“I told her every single day that her life had been the world’s greatest gift to me, that I believed I was put on earth not to make movies or wear emerald-green gowns and wave at crowds but to be her mother.”

If you guys ever take a recommendation from me; please have it be The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Please, I’m actually begging you. I promise, this book is lifechanging, and I equally promise you that this book changed mine. There is magic between these four-hundred-pages. Pure magic. This story is addicting, enthralling, and so important. And if you’re an Evelyn, in 2018, I see you, but I hope it doesn’t take you as long as it took her to be happy. This will forever be one of the best books of my life, and I’ll cherish it forever.

“People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is “You’re safe with me”—that’s intimacy.”

Trigger/Content Warnings: death of a loved one, death of a child, talk of suicide, unhealthy dieting, underage sex with an adult, abortion, talk of miscarriage, a lot of physical abuse, cheating, dunk driving, and homophobic slurs.

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Buddy read with May & Alexis! ❤