I received this book for free from Publisher, Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: scythe, by neal shustermanScythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Simon and Schuster on November 22nd, 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher, Simon and Schuster
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

THIS BOOK IS PHENOMENAL.

when i received this title in the mail – having known nothing about the story or read anything by the author – i wasn’t sure if i’d like it. i sworn off dystopian novels after reading one too many but this one sounded so interesting. so i decided to read the first page and i knew, right off the bat, i would love this novel.

i love everything about this book – the writing, the plot, the characters, everything. my love for this book came in quiet waves. i started off being really intrigued, but that soon became something more. the plot began to build (love all the twists and turns it all has – nothing i was expecting!) and soon enough i was flipping through pages and rooting for characters and screaming at situations. i also love how there was a romance in the story, but it was very slow-burn and wasn’t the main point of the storyline. it was so small that i almost thought there was no romance at all! but the chemistry builds and it becomes more obvious as the story progresses.

the main reason why i love this novel is due to its recurring themes. i find it hard to see meaning/a purpose in some dystopian novels aside from an entertaining story, but SCYTHE was different. when you’re forced to kill people as your job (or you’re learning to kill people), your humanity becomes questionable. when you live in a world where there is no pain and your life is immortal, you see how detached we can become. nothing is at risk. is that really a perfect world? it made me really think about what it means to be alive and what it means to be human. it made me question the meaning of life and death.

the one thing i will say is it was a bit hard to reaaaaaaally connect with characters at first because the book is written in an omniscient POV. the story would jump around from person to person, making it easy for me to stop reading and do something in my daily life. also because of this, i didn’t feel the need to continuously read. BUT, this is my first time reading a book with this type of writing and it didn’t bother me too much. the writing itself was beautiful and i often found myself wanting to annotate.

all in all, this book is amazing. i wasn’t expecting much from it and now it’s one of my favorite reads of 2016. not only is the story well thought out, but i also gained a lot of perspective on what it means to be alive. and that, i think, is something really special.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.6

REVIEW: a court of mist and fury

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
REVIEW + DISCUSSION: a court of mist and fury, by sarah j maasA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dating & Sex, Depression & Mental Illness, Epic, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, High fantasy, Love & Romance, New Adult, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 624
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

A COURT OF MIST AND FURY

sarah j maas has proved that this is more than “just another great fantasy series.”

the ending of ACOTAR was very conclusive, so if i hadn’t had a copy of this book after finishing the first, i don’t think i would’ve picked it up. which is to say, i’m REALLY grateful for the timing i’d decided to read this series. everyone was hyping it and my expectations were already over the moon, but somehow, sarah j maas still managed to surpass them. if you thought ACOTAR was good, ACOMAF is on a whole new level.

i don’t think i’ll be able to stop saying this, but WOW this book is phenomenal. it’s kind of amazing to see how much maas has grown as an author because the plot and writing flowed SO well thought out. there were parts of TOG series where it felt as if things were decided on a whim, but it’s clear that this series is not the case. the characters go through an extensive amount of development; the plot unfolds and we go beyond the “happily ever after”; the themes are stronger than ever, and the writing itself improves so much. everything kinda clicks into place, but since it’s only the second book, i know there’ll be more connections in the finale.

“To the stars who listen – and the dreams that are answered.” (pg. 337)

i would highly HIGHLY recommend reading this series for anyone who’s a fan of high fantasy. the first book was kinda an intro to the story and situations, but ACOMAF is when things really start to happen. although if you’re uncomfortable with really intimate and sexual scenes, i’d maybe pass. (that’s my only so-called complaint? sometimes i’ll be like “okay okay skim”) but yes, absolutely phenomenal and i can’t stop talking about it. go read it if you haven’t already!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.9

spoiler filled discussion beginning! please do not continue reading unless you’ve finished ACOTAR and ACOMAF. consider yourself warned. but seriously, DO NOT read this unless you’ve finished the book.


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REVIEW: a court of thorns and roses

REVIEW: a court of thorns and roses, by sarah j maasA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on May 5th 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, High fantasy, Legends, Myths, Fables, Love & Romance, New Adult, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

a court of thorns and roses


A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES was a very hyped book that i thought was merely okay. there wasn’t anything i particularly disliked about it, but there also wasn’t anything really special. however after finishing the second novel, i feel that this was more of a prequel and the series is DEFINITELY worth reading/continuing. this is more of a starter book and things make more sense after book two.

the beginning started slowly. the story didn’t start picking up until maybe… halfway through the book? but the plot was like a roller coaster ride that continued to go faster and higher, and by the end there was no turning back. i love the way sarah j maas retold beauty and the beast and still remained true to the original storyline, but also added a lot of her own twists. i forgot the majority of beauty and the beast (girl somehow falls in love with a beast? uh, sounds about right) but reading ACOTAR made me remember other vital parts of the original story.

“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”

the characters were my least favorite aspect of this novel. it’s not that they were bad or annoying or flat; i just couldn’t decide what to make of them. i liked them, but i didn’t LOVE them. i felt feyre, our main protagonist, had potential to be more fleshed out (BUT IT GETS BETTER IN BOOK TWO!). as for the love interest(s?), i was pretty neutral about it. the romance escalated too quickly and there were some parts that made me feel questionable about them. there’s kiiiiinda a love triangle, but not really? (BUT IT GETS BETTER IN BOOK TWO!)

ACOTAR was a good preview for the series. i couldn’t find anything really REALLY exceptional about this novel, but i know IT GETS BETTER IN BOOK TWO. if you wanted me to judge as a standalone novel (because with the way it ended, it almost could be a standalone), i’d say the plot is interesting enough but the characters and relationships could’ve improved. but since i know it’s part of a series, i’d highly recommend it those who enjoy fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, and romance. keep in mind, there are scenes that could be a bit mature so if you’re uncomfortable with steamy romance, i’d pass.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 3.9

REVIEW + DISCUSSION: the winner's kiss, by marie rutkoski

this review is for the third book in a series and may contain ~spoilers~ for the first two novels! you can read my review of THE WINNER’S CURSE (book #1) here and/or my review of THE WINNER’S CRIME (book #2) here.

REVIEW + DISCUSSION: the winner’s kiss, by marie rutkoskiThe Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3) by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #3
on March 29th 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Ancient Civilizations, Epic, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, High fantasy, Historical, Love & Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

the winner's trilogy

the winner’s kiss made me an emotional train wreck.

this was one of my most-anticipated books of 2016 and it did not disappoint (for the most part). we’re immediately thrown back into the dire situation marie rutkoski left us in at the end of THE WINNER’S CRIME. emotions are haywire for the cliffhanger (KESTREL?!!!! AND ARIN??!!!!), but for me, everything else in the world was kind of a blur. i forgot this person and that person, and rutkoski didn’t do that great of a job refreshing my memory of what was going on. nonetheless, my mind managed to fill in some of the gaps and move forward. but because of that, i wish i’d reread the first two before starting TWK and i’m sure it made me appreciate the novel less than its full potential.

on a much more positive note, THE PLOT WAS FANTASTIC. i feel that trilogies tend to follow this disappointing downfall in the plot where the last book is more about character development and lacks action. it also usually ends with a twist that kind of makes up for the less energy. THE WINNER’S KISS wasn’t like this because there was still a lot going on. there was character development and an interesting plot. i knew what our game plan was, what we wanted the end game to be, and how to get there. but there were still twists and turns that kept me curious and surprised.

the winner's trilogy

the pacing was a bit off. the first hundred or so pages were sofastwhatsgoingtohappenOMG. i liked the pace because it kept me on edge and made me wanting more more more. it only felt a teeny tiny bit rushed, but that’s alright. at a certain middle section of the book, everything started to feel so s l o w. it felt even more so because of the fast start. i was still interested, but it wasn’t very demanding; i could stop and wouldn’t feel the undying urge to read whenever i had the chance. because of this, i started to feel detached towards the end. BUT, the pacing sped up at the end once again and the book was over in a flash.

THE WINNER’S TRILOGY is one of my favorites. i love the way the whole series wraps together as a whole, but i wish i’d reread the first two before diving into this one. even so, this last installment is fantastic and i’m really satisfied with how everything came about.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

spoiler-filled discussion beginning! PLEASE do not continue reading until you’ve finished reading the book unless you want to be spoiled. (you don’t want to be spoiled; go read it.)


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review - lady midnight

I received this book for free from Publisher, Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW + DISCUSSION: lady midnight, by cassandra clareLady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on March 8th 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Friendship, Love & Romance, Romance, Siblings, Young Adult
Pages: 720
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher, Simon and Schuster
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

note: all quotations are taken from the uncorrected proof and may differ from the finished copy. they’re subject to change.

saying LADY MIDNGHT is an emotional rollercoaster ride is an understatement.

i’m shell-shocked by cassandra clare’s improvement in writing, world building, character development, EVERYTHING. especially since i just finished rereading her first two novels, it’s so obviously clear as to how much she’s grown as an author. she keeps getting better and better. her ability to create more depth in the shadow world never fazes to amaze me. i personally don’t find the writing to be very special, but THE WORLD is so incredible. we see characters we know from TMI and TID (which made me SO GIDDY) and now THEY’RE the side characters. more secrets about their government unravel, more family relationships explained, and MORE ANGST. it’s also nice because it’s written in a way that doesn’t require you to read the companion series.

“Everyone is more than one thing… We are more than single actions we undertake, whether they be good or evil.” (pg. 565, ARC)

my favorite part of LADY MIDNIGHT is not the intricately thought out plot – which is very intricate and very well thoughout out – but the depth of our cast. i remember reading THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS and finding everyone a bit flat or “too perfect.” clary and jace (from TMI) were both born to be legends and, to me, they were cutouts of The Chosen One. our main characters in LM, emma and julian, aren’t naturally “special” but work to where they’re at. i could easily connect with them because they’re just regular people shadowhunters, who are trying to make the most out of what’s thrown at them. and it’s not only our two leads who i adore; EVERYONE is incredibly fleshed out and unique. clare made it so easy for me to connect with all of them, which led me to feel ALL THE FEELZ. i also love how there are many diverse characters and aspects, but they weren’t the main focus; it’s there and it’s important but it’s not flung in your face.

the plot has such a nice balance between action, romance, suspense, and magic. although the book is the size of a monster, there weren’t many parts that felt dragged or unnecessary (a few, but not many). one of the conflicts the story follows is family centered, which i LOVE because i feel like there’s more to YA than romance and monsters; LADY MIDNIGHT has all three! *sly grin* but yes, this book has a perfect mix of everything.

“The choices we make, make us.” (pg. 608, ARC)

if you couldn’t tell from my paragraphs of gushing, I LOVE THIS NOVEL. i usually try to be very picky and critical with my books, but i honestly couldn’t find anything i truly disliked. it made me fall in love with the world and characters and everything about everything. (it also made me feel like i was being stabbed in the heart a few million times, but i suppose i’m a bit masochistic.)

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.8

spoiler-filled discussion beginning. PLEASE do not continue reading unless you want to be severely spoiled. and let me tell you, YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED. GO READ THIS BOOK!


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