IF I WENT TO NEBRASKA: Girl Out of Water Review

Summary:Anise can’t wait to spend the summer before senior year in Santa Cruz with her surfboard and best friends constantly in tow. But when her aunt gets into a near-fatal car accident, Anise must relocate with her dad to Nebraska for the season to help care for her three younger cousins. With the ocean as her home and heart, Anise feels lost as ever in landlocked Nebraska. Especially since she’s staying in the childhood home of her runaway mom, who’s been in out and Anise’s life forever, and her friends seem to be having a great summer without her. Enter the charismatic, one-armed skateboarder, Lincoln, who challenges Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. And Anise isn’t one to step away from a challenge, even it means stepping further away from home.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

May is the official start of summer contemporary season for this reader. And I don’t know how I avoided picking up Laura Silverman’s Girl Out of Water last summer. Girl Out of Water would honestly be the title of a book following ME if you moved me from my hometown for the summer. I am very fortunate to live right on the coast, and I can’t ever wrap my mind NOT living near the water. What do people do all year in the summer then?? Lucky for me, Anise gave me a taste of what it’s like to move away from the ocean for the summer without having to do so myself.

While I don’t have Anise’s amazing surfboarding skills, or skateboarding skills, or balance skills really, I can definitely relate to her love for the ocean.

It was fun seeing Anise in her “natural habitat” in the beginning of the book, but we’re soon transported to Nebraska with Anise and her dad. While Anise isn’t exactly happy about leaving her friends and Santa Cruz for the summer, she isn’t a brat about the situation, knowing that her family needs her. And as much as I love a good beach read about the beach, it was really refreshing to read a summer contemporary that didn’t take place at the beach/pool/lake/ANYWHERE WITH WATER, REALLY. Although a certain duo do find a lake with a nice rope swing in this one…

I genuinely enjoyed Anise as our main protagonist. She cares so much for her friends and family, and the girl can eat!! I know that seems like such a random thing to like an MC for, but I can so relate to Anise’s food cravings, especially after sports practice and working out. Even though I admit that I’m a bit intimidated by a bowl of Cap’n Crunch, Lucky Charms, and Cocoa Puffs. And like I said above, Anise doesn’t mind being with her cousins for the summer, especially when a certain skateboarder by the name of Lincoln comes along. It was fun seeing Anise join in on her cousins’ skateboarding obsession. It also felt really unique, since, correct me if I’m wrong, skateboarding seems to have become a little less popular these days. Also, give me all the female characters who can surf and/or skateboard please! Just don’t make me join in. I have horrible memories of tearing up my feet and knees trying to board at a family barbecue. Shoes probably would have helped though.. and balance…

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I enjoyed Lincoln as Anise’s friend and yes, love interest. Laura Silverman provides great representation and never limits what Lincoln can do. After all, he is the best skateboarder in the book. I think Anise wouldn’t argue with that one, but surfboarding on the other hand… He really helps Anise break out of her Santa Cruz shell , and he shows her “the beauty” within life in Nebraska. Honestly, Lincoln showed me that Nebraska isn’t just a bunch of cornfields and grass. It was also fun to see him and his brother help Anise and her cousins and break Anise out of her homesickness.

While I understand Anise’s guilt about not constantly staying in touch with her friends back home, her friends needed to give her a break, especially at the end! If you spent every day constantly taking care of three kids and finally got time to yourself, you wouldn’t be exactly be in the mood to talk when given some kids-free time either (take it from a fellow ocean girl with plenty of babysitting experience). All you want to do is kick back up with a good book, and for Anise, it’s The Office and cheesy mystery novels.

Overall, I loved Girl Out of Water for its unique summery contemporary vibes. There’s family, friendship, romance, self-discovery, and plenty of beach time and skateboarding for all.

Have you read Girl Out of Water? Do you enjoy summer contemporaries? Share in the comments!

A Court of GIVE ME MORE: A Court of Frost & Starlight Review

Welcome back to the Night Court, reader darling.

A Court of Frost and Starlight is the first novella and fourth installment in Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. ACOFAS acts as a tie-in to the upcoming books in the series, and follows the Night Court’s first Winter Solstice together after the events in A Court of Wings and Ruin.

While there was some confusion over if ACOFAS was technically the fourth book or just a novella (after all SJM’s Tower of Dawn was supposed to originally be a novella…), the size of ACOFAS alone indicates novella status for SJM! Not including the sneak peek, ACOFAS clocks in at 229 pages, which is pretty short in the ACOTAR world—ACOWAR was 699 pages itself. Despite everyone talking about its length on bookstagram (*insert angst about my copy not coming until 6 days after release date when I preordered it back in February HERE), even I was shocked by its size! However, I have now have plenty of room to give it in a home (aka squeeze it amongst my SJM books) on my shelf.

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There will be spoilers for ACOFAS and the series overall in this review. However, before I jump into spoilers, here’s some non-spoilerly info about ACOFAS.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Cover Lust?: This is my second favorite Feyre dress, right after the gorgeousness that is Charlie Bowater’s dress on the A Court of Wings and Ruin cover. However, the detailing on ACOFAS’s cover, aka Charlie’s border, blows the other three books to shreds (those poor Illyrian babies). Before ACOFAS was in my hands, I didn’t understand why everyone was freaking out over the border. But when I opened up my Barnes and Noble package and saw ACOFAS staring back at me, the border is the first thing that popped out! Reminder to never ever doubt anything that Charlie Bowater creates (how did I in the first place??).

Is it necessary to read ACOFAS to read the upcoming ACOTAR books? Obviously, we don’t have any of the latter books just yet, but I’d say that it is necessary to read ACOFAS to continue on with the series. Based on the sneak peak at the end of ACOFAS, the slight plot development and character mindsets in the novella are necessary for going into the next book. And if you’re a Feysand fan, it seems that ACOFAS is the last time we’ll be getting first-person POVs from Rhysand and Feyre. I’ll let you find out if ACOFAS is the last time we’ll also be seeing them in this series…

Spoilers will start below, so goodbye non-spoiler people, courtesy of Ben Wyatt in his own fantasy realm:

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As you may expect from this massive Sarah J. Maas fan (puns and rhyming can be fun for English majors, okay?), I really enjoyed ACOFAS. It was just fun to be back with the Night Court. While my best friend and I thought that ACOFAS would be one giant Friends episode, there is a decent amount of plot and character exploration. I know that’s not an ordinary term to use, but ACOFAS reveals a lot about our characters post-war. While we primarily get Feyre’s perspective, we do get first-person POV from Rhysand and third-person POV from Cassian, Mor, and Nesta. I didn’t mind having these latter three perspectives, but it did feel sort’ve out of place at times since they were third person POV.

But no worries, there are quite a few Friends moments in ACOFAS, snowball fights and family dinners included.

And apologies to all who only have eyes for Rhysand, but Cassian is the true fictional bae of this series (even though I wouldn’t have minded a spinoff following the mysterious Azriel either). As per usual, Cassian has so many funny moments, especially when it came to Amren and her um, snowy, appearance:

“Only her chin-length dark hair and solid silver eyes were visible above the collar. She looked-

‘You look lie an angry snowball,’ Cassian said.” (101)

BUT LET’S NOT FORGET THAT THIS ANGRY SNOWBALL ALSO ENJOYS FINE JEWELS AND PUZZLES:

“I took a seat across from her at the long, dark wood table, examining the half-finished puzzle of what seemed to be some sort of autumnal pastoral. ‘A new hobby of yours?’

‘Without that odious Book to decipher, I’ve found I miss such things.’ Another piece snapped into place. ‘This is my fifth this week.’ ” (140).

I also enjoyed exploring Rhysand and Feyre’s life together as High Lord and High Lady, even in some of its mundaneness. Honestly, I didn’t realize how much I’d forgotten about ACOWAR/ the war (I spent way too much time than I should have trying to remember who Jurian was), so I enjoyed the moments where the two are shopping in Velaris or discussing their future. I’m sort’ve happy to SJM didn’t try to jam pack Feyre and Rhysand’s happily ever after in this installment—we don’t know if a mini Feyre or Rhysand are on the way. I think it would’ve been giving fans too much of what we want right away, and now there’s plenty of opportunity to do so with the focus of the upcoming books…

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But I am also here to admit that like my A Court of Wings and Ruin feels, A Court of Frost and Starlight is not perfect. Maybe it’s my fault for not really refreshing on ACOWAR beforehand, but I forgot so much of what happened regarding the war. I couldn’t have told you who Jurian and Vassa were before I read an ACOWAR recap, and I’m still a bit confused about the whole Tamlin and his borders thing and the possible revolt from the Illyrian army??

And yes, while the point of ACOFAS being a novella is that there’s not enough story for a whole book, but I wish that the sneak peek for ACOTAR #4 would have been included in it. The sneak peak is not included in ACOFAS’s 229 pages, instead taking up 30 or so pages  after the novella. I think I just didn’t like how separate it is from the novella, and its two chapters could have worked well within the novella. But then again, these are probably the first two chapters in ACOTAR #4., which follows… NESTA AND CASSIAN!! While I am still shipping Azriel and Elain and wouldn’t mind a story all about them, I AM SO HERE FOR CESTA OR NESSIAN OR WHATEVER WE ARE CALLING THIS THING.

I really wouldn’t have expected the spin-offs to follow this duo or anyone in the Night Court at all! I thought it would be following other High Court members or explore more of the ACOTAR gods, like Drakon and Miryam. Nesta and Cassian were my favorite ship in ACOWAR and I’m really excited to explore them as characters and their relationship.

Overall, I enjoyed ACOFAS for reuniting us with the Night Court, and yes, the sneak peek did make me excited for this series to continue on

Have you read A Court of Frost and Starlight? Are you excited for the upcoming books? Share in the comments!

Leah on the Offbeat Review ft. Unique Blogger Award

Summary: When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

 Leah on the Offbeat was on my TBR for quite awhile and all of the hype on bookstagram around its release date made me put it on hold from the library immediately! Not to mention my need for anything Simon-related after seeing and falling in love with Love, Simon back in March.

I read Leah on the Offbeat in less than two days because I didn’t want to part with Leah and the gang. It was fun being back in the Simonverse (I loved the nods to The Upside of Unrequited cast), as everyone prepares for prom and college. As typical per senior year, some drama ensues, but Becky Albertalli provides serious and great decision on race, sexuality, and socioeconomic status. Leah’s family isn’t as well-off as her friends are, and it felt quite real when Leah talked about money and how she was set to go to the college that offered her the most financial aid. I loved Leah’s mom, and unlike some YA parents, she really knew who her daughter was and did her best to help her. And even Wells/ Prince William wasn’t as bad as Leah makes him out to be.

As per usual of Becky Albertalli, I love all of the pop cultural references aka Harry Potter.  I loved Leah’s Slytherin jokes and it was so much fun to see Abby join in on the HP love with Abby and Simon as she reads the series for the first time. And Leah definitely has a fangirl worthy wardrobe, with her space dress and Hogwarts cardigan (even though her descriptions of Abby’s clothing had me wanting to go through her wardrobe!).

I was just disappointed that Leah doesn’t come out to Simon and her friends until the very end of the book. And yes, it’s quite a cute moment when it come across the Leah is indeed bisexual, but if there’s anyone that Leah could have had a conversation with about her sexuality and crush, it’s Simon. However, I understand that Leah didn’t need to come out to anyone if she didn’t want to, and there would have been some awkwardness with some of the crushes and relationships in the friend group. But I also never really felt chemistry between Leah and her crush so….

Overall, I enjoyed Leah on the Offbeat for reuniting us with the Simonverse and for its unique first person perspective. I’m looking forward to Becky and Adam Silvera’s What if It’s Us this fall!

Have you read Leah on the Offbeat? Share in the comments!

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Since Leah is a unique protagonist, I figured today would be the perfect time for me to do the Unique Blogger Award. I was nominated to answer the following questions by the lovely Rebecca of bookishlyrebecca.

What’s one movie you’d love to see adapted into a novel?

This is actually a pretty hard question for me because so many of the movies I love are based off books to begin with! I absolutely love the movie, New Year’s Eve, and I think it could make for a fun short story collection.

What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas. This sounds super cheesey, but I love Christmas not just for the presents (your girl loves some Barnes and Noble gift cards), but more for the cozy and excited vibes of the season. Christmas movies, baking, reading with a mug of hot chocolate in comfy pajamas, good food, family, shopping, just the joy overall!

Who is your current favorite blogger or someone whose posts you always look forward to reading?

Lately, I’ve been really looking forward to Literary Sea’s content both on her blog and Instagram!

Tower of Feels: Tower of Dawn Review

Since Tower of Dawn is the sixth (technically seventh if you count The Assassin’s Blade) installment in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, I will not be providing a summary today. I love my non-spoiler folk, especially since I just read ToD in April and I myself spent 8 months avoiding spoilers, but when it comes to the love of my life, Chaol Westfall, your girl needs to talk some spoilers about her man.

In lieu of a summary, I’ve answered what I’m sure are your burning questions (Aelin’s nickname isn’t Fireheart for nothing) on how to go about reading Tower of Dawn: 

Do I need to read The Assassin’s Blade to read Tower of Dawn? No, not necessarily, but I recommend that you read The Assassin’s Blade because by Tower of Dawn, all 5 stories have significantly come into play. If you are trying to plan out your Throne of Glass series read or reread, I recommend that you read The Assassin’s Blade in between Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows.

Do I need to read Tower of Dawn to read Kingdom of Ash? Obviously, Kingdom of Ash has not yet come out, but I 100% believe that Tower of Dawn is necessary for character development and plot development. There are a LOT of new details that honestly can be considered to be plot twists about the magic system and dark forces our characters are facing.

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 My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Warning: Spoilers for the Throne of Glass series and Tower of Dawn below

Many of you know that Chaol is my #1 fictional boyfriend. I’ve loved him since Throne of Glass , I used to consider Crown of Midnight to be my favorite ToG book because of all of its Chaolness (despite the whole Nehemia thing and Celaena basically wanting to rip him to shreds), and I should probably make my first bookish candle one  inspired by him. So even I’m still trying to figure out how I did not read Tower of Dawn immediately after its September 2017 release. I’m trying to chalk it up to the fact that I had really wanted to reread the first five ToG books beforehand (which I’ve ended up doing this year) and fall semester stress.

I’m sure it’s again no surprise to you guys that I loved Tower of Dawn. It’s easily made its way into my top 3 ToG books and most definitely a favorite read of 2018. There’s just so much world building in this installment, as Chaol and Nesryn journey to Antica and the Southern Continent. I’m not sure if we’ll get anything else from the ToG world after Kingdom of Ash, but my spin-off predictions now includes with one of our new ships and a new favorite OTP of mine starting a new life together as rulers of the Southern Continent…

I still need to look into some ToD fanart, but does anyone know what a ruk acutally looks like? I feel like I finally understand what a wyvern is supposed to look like, but now I have to figure out this giant, but awesome bird??? Are we going to get an Abraxos and Kadara ship now???

As you may tell, I’m quite excited to discuss some new ships (really Haley, a wyvern and a ruk??), but I do want to talk about character development beforehand. We get three perspectives in ToD, Chaol, Yrene, and Nesryn. Chaol experiences the most development, from coming to terms with his disability to overcoming his anger over the past. There’s that one chapter, Chapter 55 to be exact, that was just so heartbreaking, as Chaol faces his past in Anielle and his actions from Crown of Midnight, including his bitterness over his relationship with Celaena/Aelin.

But fear not, because Yrene was there to save the day! I am SO happy with Yrene and Chaol as a couple, and I’m so excited to see more Yrene in Kingdom of Ash. She’s easily become one of my favorite characters, and I’m really excited to explore her and the healers’ magic, not to mention her BOND with Chaol. Below are some of my favorite quotes from Chaol AND LADY WESTFALL (!!!):

“Yrene could have sworn it was far more than the dawn that shone in the captain’s brown eyes as they rode into the city” (177).

“And that this moment, flying together over the sands, devouring the desert wind, her hair a golden-brown banner behind her…

Chaol felt, perhaps for the first time, as if he was awake.

And he was grateful, right down to his very bones, for it” (489).

If I can’t have him, I’m more than happy that Yrene can.

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And speaking of OTPs, I am HERE for Sartaq and Nesryn. If Tower of Dawn remained as its intended novella, I think there would’ve been a chance that Nesryn and Chaol set sail as a ship, but I think Chaol needed Yrene for his own development. I also think Nesryn and Sartaq’s personalities fit really well together, and while Kingdom of Ash is not going to be a light-hearted read, I could use some more of Derala’s teasing:

“Sartaq gave her a knowing, cocky grin. As if he’d fully decided what would come after and nothing she could say would ever convince him otherwise.

And from the courtyard just a wall away, her sister shouted, loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear, ‘I told you, Father!’ ” (648).

And while Chaol and Yrene definitely make some discoveries of their own, I was shocked by Nesryn and Sartaq’s finding out that Maeve is QUEEN OF THE VALG?? And those giant spiders definitely didn’t help adjusting to that fact Rereading Throne of Glass this year allowed me to pay closer attention to plot details and set-up for later installments, but I would love to know how much and how long ago SJM had everything planned out. How many notebooks did she use??? I really want to go back to Heir of Fire, for example, and look for owl references when Aelin meets Maeve.

If you’re planning to reread Empire of Storms AND Tower of Dawn before Kingdom of Ash, I recommend checking out Jenna of jennaclarek’s awesome Eos meets ToD reading guide. I know a lot of EoS readers were upset that we didn’t get Chaol and Nesryn in that installment (little did we know what Sarah had up her sleeve), so I think this is a really awesome way to experience our full cast before the final book.

If you want more ToG content, check out my guest post with my rankings of each book over on Literary Sea!

Have you read Tower of Dawn? What’s you favorite ToG ship? Share in the comments!

College YA Meets 90s TV: Finding Felicity Review

Summary:Caroline Sands has never been the best at making friends. Especially in Arizona, where her parents’ divorce sent her and her mom for a fresh start. Being the new girl and being socially awkward didn’t make finding friendships so easy. What was easy? When her mom started worry about her, Caroline invented a whole life for herself, using the beloved characters of her favorite TV show, Felicity. But it’s now time to head off to college and Caroline has plans to start a “new” life for herself, even if it means taking a tip or two from Felicity. However, Caroline’s plans come crashing down when her mom discovers her lies about her high school friendships. Her ultimatum? Prove in the first semester that Caroline is able to make nonfictional friends and a healthy life for herself at college. If not, she’s headed home to Arizona for good.

 My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

If you’ve been following me even for the tiniest bit, you’ll know that one of my reading obsessions of 2018 has been college YA. Currently a college student myself, I’ve just been craving stories with settings and characters I can personally relate to at this stage of my life. I’ve been quickly adding more college YA books to my TBR, but I’m trying to take my time getting through them so I’ll always have the genre on my TBR (not to mention the other 90+ books that are waiting to topple over me). So next on my TBR was Stacey Kade’s Finding Felicity.

As the title suggests, our main character, Caroline, loves the ‘90s TV show, Felicity. You do not need to watch the show going in. Before reading, I never saw the show and I only watched the first two episodes the day I started the book. Stacey Kade does not include spoilers for the show because odds are if you enjoy Finding Felicity, you’ll love Felicity. The show follows a college-aged protagonist who decides to go to college in New York City, against her parents’ expectations to go to Stanford and become a doctor.

I’m sure true Felicity fans will pick up on more, but I did enjoy how Stacey Kade includes elements from the show in the book. There’s bigger plot points, like Caroline wanting to go to Ashmore because Liam will be there, and smaller moments, like when Caroline tears up in class and her classmate asks if she’s okay.

Now, CAN WE PLEASE HAVE A BOOK LIKE THIS WITH PARKS & RECREATION OR FULL HOUSE? YOU WANT ME TO WRITE IT? That’s good because, I already have the first twenty chapters or so planned out.

I’ll keep you up to date on my WIPs one day, but I just love how this book incorporated fandom love. Caroline also loves watching films and other TV shows, including the HGTV channel.I’m a firm believer that everyone needs some Fixer Upper in their life, and I think Caroline would agree.

Outside of its fandom aspects, I really appreciate Finding Felicity because Stacey Kade shows that transitioning to college and making a new life there isn’t that easy. While her situation is a bit unique, we see Caroline struggle to find friends and adapt to Ashmore, but along the way she starts to form some relationships and we leave her at a great starting point. I think it’d be really fun to see Caroline every year of college, like Felicity!

Overall, Finding Felicity is a cute college YA read that will warm your heart and make you crave pizza, as it seems to be the food of choice for Caroline and her classmates. Pizza is truly its own food group for us college kids.

Have you read Finding Felicity? Have you seen Felicity? Share in the comments!

Empire of My Tears: Empire of Storms Reread Discussion

I, Haley of Fangirl Fury, have conquered the beast that is Sarah J. Maas’s Empire of Storms for the second time. Meaning that I have also conquered my #1 rereading goal of 2018 by rereading SJM’s Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Queen of Shadows, and EoS. Can we all just take a minute to appreciate that I’ve already reread 5 books in 2018– not to mention the 30+ books I’ve read this year overall??

If you’ve been here for a while, you know that I am not a big rereader. Like many, I am distracted by all the shiny, new releases and have a big backlist TBR. That being said, I used to feel like I wasted time by rereading books. However, I’m quite happy with my decision to reread the first 5 ToG installments because they reminded me how much I love this series and SJM’s writing (even if it meant putting off writing a paper or two, like I’m doing as I write this review).

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Because EoS is the one of the latter books in ToG, there will be spoilers from here on out for ToG and even A Court of Mist and Fury. You’ve been warned by Leslie.

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So Empire of Storms caused a big stir when it first came out in September 2016 among ToG fans. People were quite upset with SJM for not including Chaol in this installment (little did we know that he’d be getting his own book a year later), and many felt that the book didn’t fit in with the earlier installments. I think was laregly caused by that EoS is more slow-moving and world-building heavy than the past books, since Aelin and company are basically preparing for the war to come in Kingdom of Ash.

I love Empire of Storms mainly for its world-building and character/relationship development. Not that I’d recommend skipping any of the books, but EoS is especially important in understanding Aelin’s family history and relationship with the Gods and what she must do to bring Erawan down, aka sacrifice her life.

All I’ve been thinking about since my reread is if SJM WILL REALL DO THIS TO US??!? In a way, I think I’d appreciate if SJM did sacrifice Aelin for the sake of authors not saving all of their characters/ everyone not having a happily after/ a “realistic” ending.

HOW HORRIBLE AM I??BUT ALSO DON’T LET ANYTHING HAPPEN TO ANYONE PLEASE, PLEASE.

That last chapter, with Maeve disappearing with Aelin in the iron box and Rowan calling for HIS WIFE, was enough for me to rename this book Empire of Tears. AND I SEE YOU SJM, throwing that marriage shocker at us twice in 2016, the other in a teeny book called A Court of Mist and Fury. I admit that I used to hardcore ship Chaol and Celaena, but I am here for Rowaelin, and Lysandra and Aedion, and even Elide and Lorcan. Yes, even I felt sympathy for Lorcan at the end of EoS, EVEN THOUGH HE PRETTY MUCH ROYALLY SCREWED UP EVERYTHING. I think he’ll have to do something major in Kingdom of Ash to get Elide to forgive him or at least convince her that sending out his power to Maeve was for her sake. I know some people complain that SJM just pairs off her characters, but I really don’t mind because I think her pairings work really well. The only ship that I’m not too sure about, but still appreciated their flirting and uh, moments, is Dorian and Manon. I love them each as characters (let’s be real, Abraxos and Manon are the best ship in this series) and their relationship is fun, but I can’t see the King of Ardarlan and Queen of the Crochans and Wing Leader of the Blackbleaks having the happiest ever after.

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As much as I could keep rambling on about my love for Abraxos and Manon (I screamed when the Thirteen come to fight), and my fear for basically everyone in Kingdom of Ash, I’ll be leaving you with some of my favorite EoS quotes:

 “This thing between them, the force of it, could devour the world. And if they picked it, picked them, it might very well cause the end of it” (94)

“Aelin shrugged. ‘Rowan’s always looking for an excuse to show off. Dramatic rescues give him purpose and fulfillment in his dull, immortal life.’ ” (251)

After writing this discussion, I plan on moving on to Tower of Dawn shortly after, where I can finally reunite with my love, Chaol (UPDATE THAT I HAVE FINISHED TOD AND I SHALL NOW REFER TO IS AS TOWER OF FEELS). 2018 is going to be the year of Sarah J. Maas. I’ll reading A Court of Frost and Starlight sometime this week, and then there’s Catwoman: Soulstealer in August, and then that little finale called Kingdom of Ash coming out on October 23. And I also believe 2018 is the year that we’ll be getting the Throne of Glass guide/encyclopedia. I am so excited to be getting 4 new SJM books this year, but I’m also slightly afraid she won’t come out with anything else for a while!?!

Have you read Empire of Storms or any Throne of Glass books? What are your thoughts on those last two chapters?? Share in the comments!

Diverse Reviews: A Girl Like That & The Astonishing Color of After

A Book Like That: A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena 

Summary: Zarian Wadia is known for many things in her Saudi Arabian community. She’s the daughter of a criminal, an orphan, a brilliant English student. She’s the girl that parents warn their children to stay away from. After all, when your romances are the subject of endless gossip in school, it’s got to be true. Right? So why is it that Porus Dumasia only has eyes for Zarian? And how do Zarian and Porus end up dead together in a car accident on a Jeddah highway? As Zarian’s story is pieced together from multiple perspectives, it’s clear that Zarian wasn’t exactly a girl like that.

 My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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 My Thoughts:

A Girl Like That  was one of my anticipated releases of 2018. I saw a ton of positive hype for the book before its release in February 2018. Since the majority of YA contemporary books I read take place in the US, I was excited to read a book with a different setting, Saudi Arabia. Definitely a bit more light-hearted aspect of this heavy book, but I loovveeeee A Girl Like That’s cover (give me all the pink covers, please).

 A Girl Like That is told in multiple perspectives. While over half of the book is told from Zarian’s point of view, we also get POVs from Porus, a guy from Zarian’s childhood who has recently moved to Saudi Arabia, Mishal, one of Zarian’s classmate who antagonizes her, and Farhan, the school heartthrob. Not only did these other POVs provide insight on Zarian, but they also represented different upbringings in the Middle East. It’s no spoiler that Zarian and Porus die in a car accident because it’s the very first thing we learn in the beginning of the book. By no means did this eliminate any suspense for me.

A Girl Like That is tremendously eye-opening, as we see what it’s like not only to live in Saudi Arabia, but being a woman there. Many of Zarian and Mishal’s interactions with men were very disturbing and the book overall spreads light on systematic oppression against women. For example, Zarian and Mishal’s guardians debate between having the girls marry right after they graduate high school, with some suitors being almost double their age. Both girls, like many, have no say in this matter. While Zarian is probably a bit more outspoken out of the two, I loved how Mishal fights for her dream of being a psychologist against her father and brother’s wishes. I also appreciated all of the discussion about how girls’ appearance or actions are not to blame for getting guy’s attention and attraction. You aren’t “asking for it”.

Some other disturbing, but eye-opening aspects of A Girl Like That include abuse and rape. Zarian does not have the best relationship with her aunt and uncle, and it was heart-breaking to see witness her and her aunt’s interactions. In addition, some of the plot in A Girl Like That revolves around rape and date-rape. Tanza Bhathena shows that violence against women can happen anywhere.

Overall, I really enjoyed A Girl Like That for shedding light on culture and life in the Middle East in the YA world. The book is definitely heavy, but I flew through it. I loved Tanaz Bhathena’s writing and I found myself not wanting to put this book down because I needed to know more about Zarian. She definitely is not a girl like that.

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Give Me More Tissues & Magical Realism: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

 Summary: If there’s one thing that Leigh is sure about, it’s that when her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird. Soon after her mother’s death, Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time, and she’s determined to find her mother, the bird. While searching for her mother, Leigh finds herself wrapped in family secrets, meeting ghosts, and haunted by the fact that on the day her mother took her life, she kissed her best friend Axel for the first time.

 My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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 My Thoughts:

Magical realism is one of my least-read genres, but The Astonishing Color of After caught my interest for its focus on family the hype. After reading, I would now pick up more magical realism if they were all like Emily X.R. Pan’s storytelling because the magic was phenomenal.

Other than Leigh seeing her mom as a bird, magic really comes into play when Leigh travels between the past and present. Her use of incense and family heirlooms was such a creative way to learn more about Leigh and family’s background. I didn’t suspect at all that perhaps some people couldn’t see what Leigh saw at all. It definitely made for some whaatttttt (the best) reactions from me towards the end.

The Astonishing Color of After is such a diverse read for a few reasons:

  • Leigh is half white and half Taiwanese. I enjoyed how we get to explore Leigh’s Taiwanese culture and heritage alongside her. Leigh’s best friend, Axel, is half Filipino and half Puerto Rican.
  • LGBTQ rep
  • Mental health representation. Leigh’s mother struggles with depression, and as highlighted in Emily X.R. Pan’s author’s note, there was no single reason for her mental health problems.

As you may assume from the book’s title, Emily X.R. Pan’s writing was enriched with color. It set the perfect mood, and I loved how Leigh and Axel often described how they were feeling by what color they felt. The only “reference” I didn’t appreciate as some readers might was the incorporation of Emily Dickinson’s poetry (you didn’t hear it from me, but while I appreciate her work, I’m not the biggest Dickinson fan..). And this totally isn’t necessary and probably impossible, but I would have loved to see some of Axel and Leigh’s artwork because it sounded so cool!?!? Can someone make some fanart versions asap please??

Overall, I enjoyed The Astonishing Color of After for its focus on family, relationships, and unique take on magical realism. I’m looking forward to seeing what Emily X. R. Pan comes out with next!
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Have you read A Girl Like That or The Astonishing Color of After? Share in the comments!

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