ARC Review – The Pants Project by Cat Clarke

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The Pants Project

Author: Cat Clarke

Publication: March 7th, 2017

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Format: e-ARC, 272 pages

Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Coming of Age, LGBTQ+

Read: March 2017

Cat ClarkeGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Synopsis
My name is Liv (Not Olivia)… I’m not technically a girl.
I’m Transgender. Which is a bit like being a transformer. Only not quite as cool as cool because I probably won’t get to save the world one day.
A Transformer is a robot in disguise. Liv is a boy in disguise. It’s that simple. Liv knows he was always meant to be a boy, but with his new school’s terrible dress code, he can’t even wear pants. Only skirts.
Operation: Pants Project begins! The only way for Live to get what he wants is to go after it himself. But to Liv, this isn’t just a mission to change the policy- it’s a mission to change his life. And that’s a pretty big deal.

I am a cisgender, straight woman and I know very little about transgender issues. If I say anything in this review that can be seen as offensive to the transgender community, please let me know!

Also here’s a review by a multigender writer which I found on this list of reviews of trans/non-binary literature by trans/non-binary reviewers. If you know of any #ownvoices reviews of this book, let me know so I can share them here!

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This book was really entertaining and cute. There’s a lot of passion and several themes that I enjoyed reading about and that I think are important within a middle grade specially. This book talks about acceptance, honestly, family, friendship and sticking up for yourself. Overall, it was a really nice read, super fast and just generally feel good even with the integration of serious topics.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
The writing style was really fast paced and easy to read. I could’ve finished the book in one sitting if I had had the time to do so. The main character has a very distinct voice and personality which I liked but it also felt very disjointed and there were some weird metaphors. Some things were not explained in the best way in my opinion and kind of made me raise my eyebrows a bit.

Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
I liked the characters in this book, most of all the relationships between them and how they grew and developed as the book went on. Liv was pretty great. He was very determined and had a lot of tenacity which I appreciated. He was very adamant about what he wanted to accomplish with The Pants Project and what it meant to him and I love his purpose. However, he also had a temper that had gotten him in trouble a few times and it was interesting to see that kind of growth, learning how to feel his anger without physically lashing out. He was really vulnerable and secretive for various reasons but he was really kind as well. Like I said above, I really liked the relationships that were explored in the story. The family dynamic is really great and Liv has a sibling with whom he gets along well, as well as you can with a younger sibling and I loved their relationship! There are quite a few side characters and the ones that had most page time I felt were well developed and interesting to read about. I want to mention that there is one character who does say transphobic and homophobic things. They are clearly condemned in the text and the author makes a point to call them out for being bad things to say and to believe but I want to make sure people know before reading in case it’s triggering.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon

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Done Dirt Cheap

Author: Sarah Nicole Lemon

Publication: March 7th, 2017

Publisher: Amulet Books

Format: e-ARC, 336 pages

Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance

Read: February 2017

Sarah Nicole LemonGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Abrams Kids and Amulet Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Synopsis
Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens. Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of Hazard, a powerful attorney: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.

Critically

Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This book doesn’t have a linear plot in my opinion, it’s much more character oriented. But there’s a lot of amazing themes expressed and developed in this story. It’s a coming of age and it talks about hope, ambition, trust, friendship, honesty, bravery and just general girl badassery. It took me awhile to get into it but it caught my attention after the first quarter.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
This author’s writing is one of my favorite things about this book. Contemporaries tend to have very simple and easy to read writing, and while this has that, it’s also really poetic and lyrical. There are some really beautiful lines in this book that paint a detailed picture with descriptions that are intense. This book has dual POVs since the two main characters narrate the story but the distinction is very subtle and I wish it could’ve been more obvious to have an easier time transitioning between narrators.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
This is the selling point of this book. Not only are there two amazing female protagonists but they build such an incredible friendship that is pretty much the most important part of the story. I am kind of obsessed with these girls and their bond to be honest. Tourmaline is kind of the more naive of the two. She’s been sheltered her entire life and has a certain perception of the world because of who her father is and what he does. She feels really guilty for what she did when she was younger. However, she’s learning a lot about what is really happening around her and she’s defiant and determined. I loved seeing her become more confident as the story progressed. Then we have Virginia (it got a bit confusing sometimes since the setting is also Virginia) and she’s kind of like rough and tough. She’s definitely been through hardship and her life isn’t really what she envisions for herself. She makes the most of what she has but slowly things start to unravel and she wants to look to escape. She’s very vulnerable and scared, she’s dealing with a lot of anxiety but she’s also learning to open up and depend on others. Again, the friendship between these two characters is absolutely incredible and the best part of this book. But there are also a lot of complex and interesting relationships and romances that I feel were very well developed but didn’t take away from the friendship being the focal point of the story.

Emotionally

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Series Review – Age of Legends by Kelley Armstrong

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Sea of Shadows, Empire of Night and Forest of Ruin (Age of Legends #1, #2 and #3)

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publication: April 8th 2014, April 7th 2015 and April 5th 2016

Publisher: HarperCollings

Format: Kindle Edition 406 pages, Kindle Edition 432 pages and Kindle Edition 448 pages

Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror

Read: October 2016 and February 2017

Kelley ArmstrongGoodreads

Sea of Shadows Cover

Sea of Shadows

3-stars1

Synopsis
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.
Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

Critically

Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This book is really slow paced and there was some action that kept me entertained but it wasn’t what I was expecting. The world building was really confusing and it took me awhile to really get into the story and to grasp everything that was going on. This book deals with death, monsters, religion and rituals. There’s a lot of play on legends and magic which was everything interesting.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
This particular writing style is really verbose and old fashioned. It’s at a slow but steady pace and it’s descriptive and detailed. However, the world building is really confusing and messy. I didn’t understand it at all and it kept me from automatically getting lost into the story. In general, it took me awhile to get into the story because of the older style writing.

Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
This is probably my least favorite part of this book. I felt like the majority of the characters fit into certain boxes or stereotypes and it didn’t help me connect to any of them. The two main characters are twins, Moria and Ashyn. First thing first, it took me a really long time to get comfortable with the names. They are much more complicated than they need to be. I kept reading Moria as Moira and it drove me nuts honestly.
Both of them are stereotypically completely different. Moria has a really strong personality. She’s kind of defensive and temperamental. She’s definitely more of a warrior type and spends a lot of time investigating and practicing fighting. She’s really protective of her sister but not overly emotional. She tends to be seen as the tougher one, with a kind of coldness and practicality to her personality.
Ashyn on the other hand is really shy, meek and quiet. She’s much more book smart and the more romantic of the twins. She’s really naive and almost overprotected in a way. She feels very much out of her depth and completely unsure of how to stay safe and stay alive. She knows more about medicine and tending to wounds but is kind of useless in a battle.
There are also a lot of side characters in this book, each with their own complex personalities. It took me awhile to keep everyone straight in my head because there’s a lot of different players in this complicated story. Because of that, it was harder for me to connect to them and I wish I could’ve seen them grow more then they did in this book.

empire-of-night-cover

Empire of Night

4-stars1

Synopsis
Sisters Moira and Ashyn are the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood.
or at least, they were.

Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, they are all but prisoners in court, forced to watch and wait while the Emperor decides whether to help the children of Edgewood, who remain hostages of the treacherous Alvar Kitsune.
But when the emperor finally sends the girls on a mission to rescue the children – accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of men – the journey proves more perilous than any of them could have imagined. With lies and unrest mounting in the empire, Moria and Ashyn will have to draw on every bit of influence and power they possess to unite their people and avert an all-out war.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This book picked up the pace a bit more and it’s much more action packed as well. Thankfully, there’s much more information on the world and how the empire they live in actually works. It’s still a bit confusing though with this second book, I’m definitely getting the hang of things. There’s more romance in this one, lots of twists and turns and monsters. It was definitely a lot more exciting than the first book.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style is, luckily, really easy to read and has a steady pace to go along with the plot. It’s really descriptive and detailed though it can still get kind of confusing sometimes. It’s really verbose and old fashioned. The characters voices sound much older than they are because of the way their empire is. However, the world building has definitely improved in this one and things make much more sense.

Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This is still the section in which I’m struggling with the most in this series which sucks because characters are my favorite parts of books. Though it’s definitely improved from the first book as well.
Moria is really freaking angry in this book. The ending of the last book kind of shook her and she’s now questioning the things she thought were right. She’s hurt and she feels betrayed. However, she’s still smart and confident in who she is and the plot of this book pushes her to become much more open and honest.
While I’m not the biggest fan of Ashyn, I really like the development she had in this book. She’s much more confident and much more outgoing but without losing her personality and the person that she is. She’s still smart and is becoming much more aware of her surroundings but still can’t really fight and is overprotected by some of the male characters.
There are more side characters added in this book, much more than I was expecting, but at the same time, they’re all fleshed out much more than in the first book. I enjoyed that there was much more development for all of the characters.

Forest of Ruin Cover

Forest of Ruin

4.5-stars1

Synopsis
The empire rests on the edge of a knife, and sisters Ashyn and Moria are the handle and the blade. Desperate to outmaneuver the evil Alvar Kitsune, whose hold on the people grows stronger every day, Emperor Tatsu begs Moria to put aside past grievances and ally with Gavril—at least long enough to make an attempt on Alvar’s life. Meanwhile, reunited with her long-lost grandfather, Ashyn discovers that she is the key to a ritual that could reawaken an ancient dragon and turn the tide of the coming battle in their favor.
But with lies and betrayal lurking around every corner, Ashyn and Moria will have to decide once and for all where their allegiances are. And it may not be where their hearts would lead them…
In this breathtaking final book in her trilogy the Age of Legends, author Kelley Armstrong blends fantasy, action, and romance to give readers the unforgettable ending they’ve been waiting for.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This book is set at a steady, medium pace but the action keeps going. There’s also some mystery in this one, revolving around dragons which is pretty cool. There’s a lot more focus on romance in this one as well and it’s so much easier to understand than the rest of the books have been. There’s twists and turns and lots of violence (it can get graphic) but I feel like the ending was very solid and conclusive.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style as always is descriptive and detailed. There’s a steady pace that flows with the plot and I really enjoy that the POV’s are very distinct. The characters speak with big words and it’s all very old fashioned in style. It’s easy to read and I ended up enjoying it much more as the series continued.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
Finally, one of these books where I don’t have some huge complain about the characters. They will never become favorites of mine but I have to say that they definitely improved as the series went on.
Moria is a freaking badass lady. She’s so logical, smart and crafty. She’s gotten better at working through her emotions but it doesn’t stop her from continuing to be brave and fiercely protective and strong. She’s super blunt and is always looking at things in a different perspective than other people. Though she had a lot of development, I think it was more of building on who she already was and making her even better.
Ashyn on the other hand had the most extensive development out of everyone in the series. She started out really shy and timid and pretty much scared of a bunch of things. But as things progressed and she started to become more confident, she blossomed. She’s passionate, determined and smart. She’s kind as always but much more blunt and honest with herself and others. I love how self-confidence helped her become a much more well rounded person and someone that can kick ass in her own way.
All the side characters now feel much more three dimensional and fleshed out. They’ve always been complex but since there were so many, I never felt like I got to know them as much as I wanted to but that was definitely fixed in this book.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace

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the princess saves herself in this one

Author: Amanda Lovelace

Publication: February 14th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Format: e-ARC, 208 pages

Genre: Poetry

Read: January 2017

Amanda LovelaceGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Andrews McMeel Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

4-stars1

Synopsis
From Amanda Lovelace, a poetry collection in four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. The first three sections piece together the life of the author while the final section serves as a note to the reader. This moving book explores love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, and inspiration.

Emotionally

So this review is obviously a little different than all the ones I’ve done before. I’ve never reviewed a poetry collection before so I’m kind of winging it at the moment. I hope everything I share here makes sense and if it doesn’t, please let me know!

I first heard about this collection on Twitter. A lot of mutual book community friends were raving about it and though I hadn’t read poetry in a really long time (since high school), I wanted to give it a try. When I say that it was up to Read Now on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to check it out!

This collection is divided into four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen and you. It explores themes of love, loss, grief, death, empowerment and honesty. Because this is contemporary poetry, I don’t feel like it’s right to make a critically section in this review. The writing style is incredibly personal and the way the stanzas and poems are laid out are part of that experience. All the poems were raw and powerful, there was a lot of emotion emitted from the pages which is completely tangible as you read.

I enjoyed the entire collection but I have to say that I found it hard to connect. I liked the stories and pictures the author painted for the reader but I didn’t connect with the majority of them. I felt like I was reading a much more personal journey than something for me to feel connected to. For some reason, it felt much more intrusive to me, like I was looking into the intimate details of a stranger’s life and I didn’t have any right to it. But that’s just me being weird because the content and delivery of these poems is beautiful and intense.

My favorite section is definitely the queen. It was the part I connected to the most out of all of them and I felt like it was the culmination of the journey the author was telling in the first two parts. We learn about so many personal things from her life, so many hardships that the queen section feels like her triumph. It feels like this is the person she is now because of all the learned from all the things that happened then. And I think that 1. that was really brave of her to share with the world and 2. it’s incredibly empowering to read and to absorb.

Here are some of my favorite poems from the collection:

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Overall, I’m glad I read this collection when I did. I hadn’t read poetry since high school and this reminded me oh how much I enjoyed it. Definitely recommend it!

So that’s it for this post! This was one of the hardest reviews ever because I couldn’t use my usual format and it screwed me up haha. I’d love to know if any of you have read this collection and what you thought! Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

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Book Review – The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

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The Lies of Locke Lamora (The Gentlemen Bastard #1)

Author: Scott Lynch

Publication: September 18th, 2008

Publisher: Orion

Format: Kindle Edition, 573 pages

Genre: Adult, High Fantasy, Science Fiction

Read: January 2016

Scott LynchGoodreads

 

4.5-stars1

Synopsis
They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.
Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich – they’re the only ones worth stealing from – but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards.
Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, it’s a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city.
But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa’s power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming.
A man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and The Grey King. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. As for Locke Lamora . . .

Trigger warning for graphic violence.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
The plot  is really intricate and super intense. It was so much more complicated than I was expecting it to be but it was exciting all the same. There’s violence, blood and stealing but also friendship, love and intelligence and personal growth. Honestly, there were like various different plot lines going on that managed to intertwined in the coolest of ways and I was really impressed.

Writing Style – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This is my biggest issue in this book because of one thing: the world building. I was so confused the entire time I was reading and it was a huge bummer. There wasn’t enough explanation though it still managed to be detailed, descriptive, intricate and thorough. The story moves between the past and the present and it’s really intense and also really graphic, so watch out if you’re squeamish.

Characters – 4.5 out of 5 stars
Never in my life did I think I would get so incredibly attached to the characters in this book but here we are. They are so precious to me in their little deceitful and crass way. Locke is such a shit but in the best way possible. We get to know him as an adult and as a kid and we see how he grows up. He’s street smart, cunning and kind of cocky. He’s really good at what he does and he’s kind of the brains of the operation. But he’s also a really sucky fighter and he gets caught in this worst situations ever. He’s kind of desperate towards the end of the books and really hurt and torn over what to do. I liked seeing his progression as a person and also how he interacted with the rest of the crew. They are amazing as well! Honestly, one of my favorite parts of this series is seeing the dynamic of these gentlemen bastards. Their friendship is so honest and real and they care about each other, but in that dude way where you like give each other shit for stupid stuff that you do, it’s so awesome. They’re hilarious and loyal and one of them is the most adorable thing to live on the page and it just made my reading experience so much better. Jean is Locke’s closest, maybe even best friend, and their bromance was amazing. They look out for each other, they care for each other and they just want to steal and live life to the fullest together and gosh, I love them.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

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The Last of August Cover

The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes #2)

Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Publication: February 14th, 2017

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Format: e-ARC, 336 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Retellings

Read: January 2016

Brittany CavallaroGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Harper Collins Children’s via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

4.5-stars1

Synopsis
In the second brilliant, action-packed book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy, Jamie and Charlotte are in a chase across Europe to untangle a web of shocking truths about the Holmes and Moriarty families.
Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson’s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers.
So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

Trigger warning for mentions of rape, drugs and violence.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
I always feel like these books are over saturated because there is so much going on with the plot at all times. There’s mystery and suspense. It’s really dark and intense and sometimes very confusing as well. There are always a lot of twists and turns and I didn’t see anything coming which is both good and really bad. The ending was really abrupt and kind of cliffhanging and that’s probably my biggest complaint. It left me with a giant question mark.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
I really like the author’s writing style. It’s very vivid as well as detailed and descriptive. It’s so fast paced but at the same time very confusing. The main character, Jamie, is left out of a lot of information and so that affects the overall narrative of the story, the reader tends to be just as lost and confused and angry as him throughout the story which is both good and band. When we get a bit of a switch up in the POV, I like how both voices are very distinct and unique.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I’m becoming a huge fan of this cast of characters. However, they are all extremely flawed and extremely complex and maybe not the best people. I don’t think I’d be their friends in real life though I love reading about their craziness. Jamie is getting a lot more reckless and brave in this book. He tagged along and was kind of like the sidekick in the first book but now he’s kind of tired of that role and wants to be a lot more involved in solving the mysteries that are going on though he sometimes pushes it way too far for his safety. He’s a lot angrier and desperate than he was in the first book but he’s also just as loyal and open and kind. I liked seeing how he’s developing as a character though I want more from him as well. Charlotte kind of drives me crazy. She’s reckless and destructive to herself but also really smart and cunning. She opens up a lot more in this books so I feel like the reader gets to know her more in this one but I also feel like there’s still more to learn! I want to know every nook and cranny of her personality because she’s such a complex character but we’re not there yet. The actual relationships between the characters (including the side characters) are my biggest issues with this series. The relationship between the two main characters is problematic and sometimes even toxic in a way that puts me off sometimes. There are also no great familial relationships or relationships between parent and kid that are really healthy. All of them are kind of wrong and weird and uncomfortable and though it makes a lot of sense for the plot and the kind of characters they are, I don’t think its the best theme to explore.

Emotionally

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Book Review – Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

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Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge

Author: Paul Krueger

Publication: June 7th, 2016

Publisher: Quirk Books

Format: Kindle Edition, 288 pages

Genre: New Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal

Read: January 2016

Paul KruegerGoodreads

 

 

4-stars1

Synopsis
In this sharp and funny urban fantasy novel, booze is magic, demons are real, and millennial Bailey Chen joins a band of monster-fighting Chicago bartenders instead of finding a “real” post-college job.
Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school.
But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out that evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can be hunted only with the help of magically mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and rum lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will all these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons?
This sharp and funny urban fantasy is perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and grown-up readers of Harry Potter. Includes 14 recipes from a book of ancient cocktail lore.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
I really liked this book which was kind of surprising for me. I feel like the premise is really new and interesting, I’ve never read anything like it before. It’s action packed, there was mystery, it was entertaining and I enjoyed it. I liked that the paranormal creatures described and involved were unique. There was some graphic descriptions but the ending was conclusive though slightly open ended which is great!

Writing Style – 3.5 out of 5 stars
The writing style is really simple, descriptive and detailed. I found that the world building was really interesting and thorough, there were a lot of special elements that made it so much easier to understand and to immerse myself in. It’s kind of graphic but also kind of funny and engaging. I was really invested in the book while reading and flew through it.

Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I liked the majority of the characters in this book but they all have their annoying moments. Some of their decisions and actions were questionable and irritating but in general, I liked them and their personalities and they made the story fun and entertaining. Bailey is kind of annoying but I really liked her determination and bravery. She actually reminded me (and my book club) of me which I don’t really know what that says about me since she has a kind of anal and obsessive personality. She’s smart, hardworking, curious, kind and defiant. She had moments when she was kind of petulant and moments where I just wanted to shake her silly but overall, I liked her as the narrator. There are quite a few side characters in this series. Some that I loved that totally brought a lot of energy and joy into the book and into what was going on. Others that I did not like at all and that I was totally suspicious of. However, I feel like they were all really individual and complex by themselves. Some weren’t as fleshed out as I wanted them to be and I would’ve wanted to get to know them a lot better but they all added something special to the story. There was a lot more drama than I was expecting, specially for an urban fantasy book and we definitely talked about that in our book club book chat. Some of the characters had shitty stuff happen to them and that made me so sad and this whole paragraph makes no sense, sorry guys haha.

Emotionally

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Series Review – The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

book-review-the-lunar-chronicles

Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #1, #2, #3 and #4)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publication: January 3rd 2012, February 5th 2013, February 4th 2014 and November 10th 2015

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Format: Kindle Edition 400 pages, Kindle Edition 464 pages, Kindle Edition 560 pages and Kindle Edition 833 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Retellings

Read: December 2015, October and December 2016

Marissa MeyerGoodreads

Cinder Cover

Cinder

3.5-stars2

Synopsis
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Critically

Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
This book is really interesting and entertaining but oh my goodness, it was so predictable. I’m pretty sure I figured out everything that was going to happen in this book in the first quarter of it. That was disappointing because I expected so much more considering how much hype this book has. However, I liked the mystery involved (even if I figured it out) and how the author incorporated the original story line with her world.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
I liked Meyer’s writing style. It’s really simple and straight to the point. There’s a lot of detail and description and it was engaging enough to keep me interested in the story although I knew where it was going. It was captivating enough but there wasn’t much distinction between character perspectives.

Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Characters are what make books for me. If I’m not feeling the characters, its a sure fire way to make me lose interest in a book which was what happened here. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the characters, but they didn’t really captivate me much. They were all just… there.Cinder is cool. She’s really jaded and kind of has a rude/sassy attitude. Some of her lines were kind of funny and I like how she tried not to take shit from other people around her. She’s really strong, specially after the life she’s had. I liked her determination and how independent she was. While she’s kind of a closed off person, she’s also really kind. I think all the things she had to deal with in her family and as a cyborg really made her conscious of how she should treat people and thinking beyond herself, even when that wasn’t reciprocated to her. However, there wasn’t anything about her that stood out to me and made me her fan or to want to root for her as I read.
There are also quite a few side characters. Kai, the prince in this story, was okay. He’s really young and inexperienced and the poor guy has the whole world on his shoulders. However, he’s determined to do the best job he can to keep his people safe and I admired that. I want to also mention that I love Iko, she’s amazing haha. There’s a lot of great changes with the characters and what they represent but they are still close to the original.

Scarlet Cover

Scarlet

4-stars1

Synopsis
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
Plot wise this book definitely stepped it up in the series. The various story lines as well as the original stories are starting to intertwine which makes it much better for me because this one didn’t feel as predictable as the first. It was interesting and entertaining. It was action packed, fast paced and much more gruesome than I expected. I definitely enjoyed this particular story much more.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
Again, the writing style is really simple and straight forward. I think the author does a great job with connecting the existing stories together as well as with the original ones. It’s detailed, descriptive and engaging. I think the distinction between POVs was much better than the first book, I felt like I was reading about and from different people.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the characters from the first book, there was nothing that really captivated me about them. However, this book got so much better! Not only did I feel like they were more distinct in their voices and personalities, but I think the fast paced plot helped make me care more about what was happening to the characters.Scarlet became an instant favorite. She’s just so fierce! She’s determined and stubborn. I love how caring she is and how she doesn’t back down. She listens to her gut and follows it no matter what, that’s so inspiring to me. She’s loving to the people she cares about and takes awhile to warm up to others. I think she’s badass and I want to read more from her point of view.
There are also many more side characters introduced in this book. Wolf is one of them and he’s pretty great in my opinion. He has such a powerful presence and he’s fierce and apologetic. But you still get the sense there’s more to him than meets the eye. However, there was one character that was introduced in this book that blew everyone else out of the water and that is Thorne. I absolutely loved him, he stole the show for me. He’s hilarious, a bit self-centered and just a great character overall. I’m a big fan of him.

Cress Cover

Cress

4.5-stars1

Synopsis
In this third book in Marissa Meyer’s bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.
Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Critically

Plot – 4.5 out of 5 stars
I’m really glad to say that these books keep getting better and better as the series continues. This one was entertaining, action packed and intense. It was definitely much more unique than I was expecting since the ones before were predictable in some ways. This one deviates from the original story a whole lot more and I loved it! This original science fiction, revolution story is taking over the series and it’s pretty great. The plot of this book was also so much more emotional. It’s getting down to the wire and you can definitely feel it as you read.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
I’ve come to really enjoy Meyer’s writing style. It’s simple and engaging, it’s easy to slip back into the world and the story because of that. It’s very detailed and descriptive, specially this book because there is so much traveling. These books are very fast paced and the author has gotten much better at creating distinction between all the POVs she’s working with which I really appreciate.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
This part of the books just keeps on improving which each one. When I read the first book, I wasn’t really feeling most of the characters, but now that there’s more of a crew and the cast has gotten larger, I’ve warmed up to and am rooting for them much more. I was really interested in meeting Cress since I heard about this series, I really wanted to know how the author was going to work with the Rapunzel story and I really enjoyed her. She has such a sweet disposition despite all that she’s gone through. I found her naivety to be really endearing and cute. She’s so amazed by everything around her and even when she’s terrified of something, she does the best she can and is determined to push through no matter what.
I already knew I loved Thorne and that feeling just grew tenfold in this book. He’s charming, funny, smart and strong. I also like that he has character development in this book, he goes beyond just comic relief.
A lot of the side characters make appearances together as a group and I’m really loving their dynamic now. Shit got complicated but they did their best to stick together and to make it work with each other. I still love Iko and Wolf and Scarlet. I liked how Kai and Cinder were reunited in this book, it definitely got me to like them a bit more individually and together than I had in the past.

Winter Cover

Winter

5-stars1

Synopsis
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.

Critically

Plot – 4.5 out of 5 stars
This is my favorite book in the series by far. I don’t know if its just because its the finale and the culmination of everything the gang has been trying to do for so long but I loved it. It was action packed, intense and powerful. There was a lot more blood shed and violence than the previous books but it was just as exciting and emotional as I wanted. The books have shifted so much from the original stories but there are so many correlations and intricate connections. However, this book was really, really long.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
Again, the writing style really works with making the story shine. It’s simple yet engaging and easy to read. It’s really descriptive and detailed. I love how there’s so much more distinction between the different POVs now and I can tell who’s telling the story just by the first few lines. It was intense and action packed and really fast paced, though this book was definitely a bit too long for me.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I’ve definitely become a fan of this cast of characters as the series went on. The group as a whole has a really great dynamic and they bring out the best in each other. I loved seeing how they all worked together and how they watched each other’s back through this crazy finale.
I really, really wanted to meet Winter. She sounded like such an interesting character but I was not prepared to being inside of her head. She’s really sweet and kind, an all around good person. However, she has delusions which affect how she sees the world which makes her very vulnerable. I just wanted to put her in a little bubble and protect her but at the same time, I wanted her to leave her comfort zone and kick butt haha.
Jacin is a character that annoyed me since coming onto the page, I couldn’t really understand him and his motivation… until I read this book. His relationship with Winter is so pure and open and just ride or die (I don’t know how else to say it haha). His personality, however, gets on my nerves. He has such a singular focus that his protective nature and his determination can rub me the wrong way. But I can’t fault him for being so dedicated.
SO MUCH HAPPENED TO THE CREW. I can’t even wrap my mind around everything the characters went through. I can say though that I really liked seeing them all together as a team and getting shit done together. Their fierce protectiveness of each other is just amazing.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – Dreadnought by April Daniels

book-review-dreadnought

dreadnought-cover

Dreadnought (Nemesis #1)

Author: April Daniels

Publication: January 24th, 2017

Publisher: Diversion Books

Format: e-ARC, 265 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, LGBTQ+

Read: January 2017

April DanielsGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Diversion Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

4-stars1

Synopsis
An action-packed series-starter perfect for fans of The Heroine Complex and Not Your Sidekick.
Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.
It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.
She doesn’t have time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

I am a cisgender, straight woman and I know very little about transgender issues. If I say anything in this review that can be seen as offensive to the transgender community, please let me know!

Also here’s a review by a trans woman writer which I found on this list of reviews of trans/non-binary literature by trans/non-binary reviewers.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
The plot of this book was really action packed and intense. It kicks off right away with the scene described in the blurb and has a lot of emotional and powerful moments throughout. There were times when I was a little confused with the world building. It was kind of choppy, some things I felt were over explained with a lot of time spent with them and others didn’t have as much of a spotlight. However, I really enjoyed how the author explored themes of family, friendship, identity and acceptance.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
Honestly, it was hard for me to get into this book in the beginning. It had a medium pace but I still felt like the book dragged. For some reason, the book took me a really long time to read even though I was enjoying it. The writing style is really descriptive and detailed though I felt like some things were more so than others. And it’s also graphic and unapologetic when depicting not only action scenes but the prejudices that Danny faces.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I really liked the characters in this series though for some reason I was very confused with Danny’s race. I don’t know why going into this book it was something that I fixated on, I can’t even tell you why, but I couldn’t picture her for half of the book because it never specifically said the color of her skin. There’s a certain point where another character comments on her whiteness and that’s the only mention of it. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m trying to be more conscious about race or what, but yeah that threw me for a loop. But anyway, I really liked Danny as a narrator, though there is SO MUCH going on in her life from the moment that we meet her that it sometimes made it hard for me to wrap my head around. She’s very happy about the situation she finds herself in but also really scared and nervous about how that is going to change her life. She struggles a lot with decisions and I liked her sweet, kind and brave nature. Sometimes I think she pushed herself too far too fast and it made me nervous for her well being but it definitely showed the determination she has. There are also a lot of side characters in this book, so many that it felt like they weren’t developed enough. I wanted some of them to have more page time and others to have a whole lot less than they ended up having. They were all very unique and I had some favorites obviously, though again, I got some mixed signals with the appearances of some of them. There’s also a lot of antagonists I guess you could say, people who are against Danny for some reason or another and damn did those characters create so much crap for the poor girl. It was so harsh and painful and yet so brutally honest and real, specially since this is an own voices trans book that it broke my heart and pissed me the f off at the same time.

Emotionally

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Series Review – Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

book-review-hex-hall-trilogy

Hex Hall, Demonglass and Spell Bound (Hex Hall #1, #2 and #3)

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publication: May 28th 2010, March 1st 2011 and March 13th 2012

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Format: Kindle Edition 337 pages, Kindle Edition 365 pages and Kindle Edition 233 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Read: November and December 2016

Rachel HawkinsGoodreads

Hex Hall Cover

Hex Hall

4-stars1

Synopsis
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father-an elusive European warlock-only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus.
Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Critically

Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This whole book is just pure fun and entertainment. It’s a really simple concept and a simple plot but it’s fast paced with some action. This is a re-read for me and I have to say that it was just as fun the second time around. The world and the paranormal elements are really interesting. However, this is more on the younger side of YA.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style is really simple and easy to read. It’s fast paced and entertaining. The main character’s narration is really funny, she’s really sarcastic which is fun to read but at the same time she can get a bit juvenile and immature. She is a teenager so I can’t really fault her that much though it gets kind of annoying after awhile.

Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
This is probably my biggest problem with the book. I liked the majority of the characters, specially the main character, but there are also others that felt like stereotypical, card board cuts outs of the kind of people you’d usually find in a high school somewhere. Also the majority of the relationship feel flimsy, they appear to have no real basis in companionship. And there’s girl hate which I really don’t appreciate because you can dislike someone for various reasons, but not just because they are a girl and they have a cute boyfriend. It’s not necessary. And the boy aint that cute anyway.
Sophie is a really young protagonist so like I said above, she can act immature, but yeah, it’s understandable. She’s really naive about the world she’s walking into which causes a lot of sucky situations for her and bullying opportunities for other people which was really upsetting. She’s really confused but she’s also really spunky and sarcastic, she rolls with the punches really easily which makes for an entertaining story.
Like I said above I feel like the side characters were kind of stereotypical and too simple. There wasn’t much to them and their relationships. I wanted more substance, more depth to them that I just did not find while reading. This is a book that’s just fun and entertaining to read but not really there to make you think deeply about anything and the characters reflect that.

demonglass-cover

Demonglass

4-5-stars1

Synopsis
Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth. Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father.
What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers. But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Acher to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
Again, another book that’s just fun and entertaining. This one however is a lot more intense and mature. There’s so much more information about the Prodigium world and their laws, how everything is meant to work. It’s still fast paced and is super easy to read. My biggest complaint in this series is the romance. It bothers me so much, so cliche and just like the stereotypical paranormal romances that I’m just not a fan of. Would enjoy it more without it but that will never happen haha.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
Really enjoy the writing style, specially because it’s just a fun book. The writing is fast paced, easy to read, simple and funny. The narrative goes through some growth because the main character does as well. It’s a lot more emotional and intense thought it doesn’t lose the entertainment value. The main character is still really sarcastic though also indecisive as she’s struggling with some tough decisions in this book.

Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This section got a lot better in this book. I think the author added a lot more layers to the characters’ personalities which added a lot of needed complexity and depth. There are also adult presences which are hard to find in YA books so I really appreciated not only adults, though not all of them are very nice, but also parents and parental relationships with their children and the importance of them. That was awesome.
Sophie has definitely grown. The events of the first book have made her more mature though she’s done something that I tend to do as well which is go from one extreme to the other, using her magic and trying to perfect it to now wanting nothing to do with it. She’s really torn about what she should do and really scared about what’s going on. She’s much more powerful than she realized and just as stubborn as she showed in the first book which might not be the best combination. Though I really like that she’s kept her sass and spunky personality.
The side characters are improving. There are a few that I really enjoy reading about and some that I’m still not a fan of. There’s a lot of new faces in this book as well which change the dynamics of the story and that was interesting to read about. There should still be more development with them in my opinion, but it’s improving.

spell-bound-cover

Spell Bound

4-5-stars1

Synopsis
Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.
Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.
Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
The plot of this book, like the ones before, is really entertaining though this one is also much more serious. It’s fast paced and intense. There’s a lot more focus on family and Sophie’s relationship with all the people that make up her family. This one also focuses a lot on her friendships and her little squad that are trying to help her save the Prodigium world, as always haha. I think the conclusion was really satisfying but I am very angry at one particular thing that happened and I’ll never get over it.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
I really like this author’s writing style. It’s really funny, sarcastic and easy to read. It’s fast paced and simple. This one in particular is a lot more intense and emotional. There’s a lot more action and the culmination of the series makes the writing a lot more powerful.

Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
By this time this book rolled around, I became a huge fan of this cast of characters. I’ve really enjoyed their dynamics as a group though I can still find a lot of problems or things I can complain about in regards to the characters in particular, but I really enjoy the group.
Sophie is a ball of nerves in this book. She’s worried and scared out of her mind, she’s got a lot of responsibility on her shoulders and no idea how to pull it off. However, she’s determined to save her friends and her family and she’s hoping to use her ultimate powers to make it happen. Her stubborn nature is alive and well and I like how that pushes her beyond what she thinks she can do.
I’m am such a mess over the side characters! There’s one that I love more than any of them and I am just emotional over him. I really like the majority of them and like I said above, their dynamics as a group are great. Something I haven’t mentioned in awhile is the romance, which I don’t like. This is one of the only books where I ship the guy in the love triangle that doesn’t win haha. And he is so much better than the actual guy she picks and he has the worst fate handed to him and it makes me so much! This book’s emotional section might be spoilery so beware.

Emotionally

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