November Wrap-Up 🌻

Another month has passed, another wrap-up to write! I can’t believe we’re literally about to start the last month of the year; I feel like each month that passes, I always say the same thing, but damn, how time flies! Anyhow, enough with me rambling, let’s start with recapping all the books I read during the month of November.

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28954137Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy | C. Clare ⭐⭐⭐

While I individually rated each short novella, I think that the average rating for this collection would be 3.5 stars, because I got bored often whilst reading it. While I enjoyed getting a peak into Simon’s new life at the academy, learning and training to become a Shadowhunter, what I loved most about this were all the recurring characters that popped up throughout the stories. Characters that I love and since their series are over, it was nice knowing what they were up to now. It also develops more the Blackthorns storyline after the events of City of Heavenly Fire. I mainly read this because it contains relevant information if you wanna start Lady Midnight, the first book in the new Cassandra Clare series.

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 ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer | Michelle Hodkin

This one was a re-read for me. I’ve only ever read the first one, and I felt like I wanted to finally continue on and finish this series, since the first book of the Noah spin-off series came out this month, but life happened and I could only re-read this one. There were a lot of things that I had forgotten since I first read it, but overall, I enjoyed it the same. I might have found certain aspects of the story a little bit cheesy, especially Noah and Mara’s relationship, unlike my first time reading it, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment at all. Hopefully, I’ll catch up on the second and third book soon enough.

Almost Midnight | Rainbow Rowel35269543l  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

These two short stories were extremely cute! I read Kindred Spirits, the first short story, last year and loved it, so I really wanted to read the other one, and I loved it just as much as I thought I would. The illustrations were beautiful as well. I highly recommend it if you like Rainbow Rowell’s writing and you are looking to read more of her work.

 

 

 

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⭐ ⭐ The Nest | Kenneth Opel

This was one of the most confusing and bizarre books I read this year so far, and the only thing I’m gonna say is how earth is this marketed as a middle-grade book?! HOW?! If i had read this while I was a kid, I would have been fucking traumatized by wasps and other topics this book deals with. The rating is merely due to the fact that I didn’t find it interesting at all, only confusing and boring. But I do think that this book shouldn’t be described as a middle-grade book, AT ALL.

 

22552026 The Long Way Down | Jason Reynolds  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This was one of my favorite reads of the month. It is a very short book which is told in verse, and it’s such a powerful and moving story. I read this in just an hour I think, and I was sitting there stunned by how raw and heart-wrenching this was. It tackles with so many harsh issues in such a unique way, I can only but recommend this if you are interested in reading more diversely and about the African-American community.

 

 

⭐ ⭐ Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra25810226

I wasn’t a big fan of this graphic novel to be honest. I read several reviews that said this was perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sailor Moon, but I think that the entire storyline falls short when compared to said shows. It was mildly entertaining, but I couldn’t care less about the characters or what happened to them. I have struggled to find another graphic novel that grabs my attention as Saga did, but I’ll keep trying new ones until I eventually find one I love just as much as I love Saga. I did  love the artwork though, especially the color palette.

30839185 Vicious | L.J. Shen  

THIS. FREAKING. BOOK. Now that I have to include this one on my wrap-up, my rage towards this book has revived. UGH. I don’t wanna waste any more words on this disappointment of a book, but if you are interested in seeing more or less why I hated this one, you check my goodreads review for it here. I was so bummed that I hated this one because I really like one of the main characters but his story is told in the third book and I don’t think I’m gonna be able to get through the second book.

 

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⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  Lady Midnight | Cassandra Clare

I have mixed feelings about this book. When I started it, I really thought this was going to be my favorite book out of all the ones Clare has written, but now that I finished it, there are some things that really bothered me about this one. I wrote an entire review for this one, and you can read it here. Overall, I really enjoyed reading about a whole new set of characters, but there are some things that I just can’t accept or understand. The ending was completely underwhelming, and it left a bad taste in my mouth from what I had started considering as an amazing start of a new series.

2281367  The Glass Castle | Jeannette Walls

I couldn’t rate this one. Many of you may know that this one’s Jeannette’s memoir, and I can’t bring myself to rate or judge a book that’s written by someone telling her real life story. I don’t ever read memoirs because I don’t like reading those types of books, and this one was hard enough for me to tackle due to the subject matter. I don’t think I’ve ever read about such horrible and disgusting parents in my entire life, and to think that this isn’t fiction but someone’s reality is heartbreaking. I finished reading it, but I won’t lie and say I didn’t have to push myself through it, because I honestly couldn’t bear reading one more page about such horrible parents.

Well, those were all the things I got around during the month of November. I was hoping to finish one more book today, but it’s obviously not going to happen, hence why I’m uploading this post today. I really want to be able to reach my goal of reading 100 books this year, but to do that I would have to read 17 books in the month of December lol, and I honestly don’t think that’s going to happen. I guess we’ll see by the end of the year! What have you read in November? Was it a good month for you? Let me know down in the comments!

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Book Review: Lady Midnight By Cassandra Clare (The Dark Artifices #1) / A Solid Yet Underwhelming Start of a New Series

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★★★★/5

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?


*This review might contain spoilers for TMI books, especially City of Heavenly Fire

I feel like my review for this one is gonna be one long rant, because damn, I have a lot of things I wanna get out of my chest. When I started reading it, I really thought this was going to be my favorite book out of all the ones Clare has written, but once I finished it, there were some things that really bothered me, hence my mixed feelings about Lady Midnight.

The reason why I thought this was going to be my favorite one, was mainly due to the characters. The Blackthorn family and all the side characters that appeared in this book were the highlight of the story for me. I loved the Blackthorns. I find their story to be a tragic one, and yet they have found a way to move past that and keep on going despite them having lost so much since the Dark War. The family dynamic of the Blackthorns and Emma Carstairs is some of the best Clare has written so far, and I have to say that not once was I annoyed by the main characters as it’s usually the case with these books for me. When I read TMI (The Mortal Instruments) my main issue was its characters, especially Jace and Clary. Most of the focus of that series was put on them and their love story, and there were plenty of times when I was extremely annoyed by the way those two acted, so it was a breath of fresh air to have a main character such as Julian for once. He has officially become my absolute favorite and no one can convince me otherwise.

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Why do I love him so much? Well, if you are well-versed in TMI series, you would know what happened to the Blackthorns during the Dark War, and the outcome of it. Lady Midnight is set ten years after that event, and we get to see how the family has recovered from the past and kept on with their lives. Julian is now the paternal figure who is in charge of taking care of his brothers and sisters, and we see the toll it’s taken on him, preventing him from living a normal adolescent life. He has had to carry the responsibility of being the man of the house and be able to raise his siblings. It was so interesting and heartbreaking, at the same time, how the book explored how much he had to change and give up in order to become what his family needed in a time of need.

Emma was a pleasant surprise as well. She did some reckless things but there was a significant difference in how I felt about her than about Clary. I don’t like comparing characters, but I can’t help but think that my experience reading this series was so much better when I could really understand the characters’ motivations and actions, instead of thinking they were being completely reckless and stupid all the time. Her sense of revenge for her parent’s murders has shaped her entire life, and she has worked hard and dutifully every single day to get to the truth of what happened to them, even at the cost of going against what the Clave mandates. Her loyalty towards the Blackthorns and towards Julian is something I loved about her character, and I think that her, together with Julian, are an incredible improvement for Cassandra Clare when it comes to writing characters.

So what happened that made me change my mind about this book? The ending. What was that ending? and I’m not even talking about the last chapter (which by the way, was the stupidest plot device ever used in the history of writing). Yes, I might be exaggerating  a bit, but come on! I’m talking about the entire battle scene. I can’t specifically talk about the villain because it would be a spoiler, but I honestly can’t believe that a group of teenagers could beat THAT EASILY someone THAT POWERFUL. Really? Am I honestly supposed to believe that everything went smoothly and that they were able to defeat said person just like that? I can’t suspend my disbelief that much. I’m sorry, but I can’t. It’s one thing being a Shadowhunter and having powers, but honestly, defeating the villain in a matter of minutes? Nope. They couldn’t have been a match against said villain, because it goes against all that we know of from the lore of this series.

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And then we have the last chapter. Sighs. I understand the necessity to have some major issue drive a wedge between the two characters who love each other. Their love is supposed to be forbidden and all that stuff. But seriously, to do it like Clare did it?! Fuck that. It was cheap, and it was stupid. There’s no way Julian is supposed to believe that or that Emma would even consider doing that instead of just talking to Julian like a normal person would, or even more so, like Parabatai would! We spend the entire book learning what keeping secrets does not only to the person that keeps them, but also to those who don’t know the truth about it; we saw and learned through the characters that it’s always best to be honest about what is happening, instead of lying about it all the time. You’d think that by the end of the book, said characters would have learned their lesson, but no. It honestly just felt like the worst possible device used to be able to have more angst in the second, and even the third book. Because of course you can’t have them be completely fine in book one right? There has to be something that prevents them from being fine. I’m just so tired of this shit being pulled up every time, because it happened all the time in TMI. And I refuse to get used it. Why would I? If Clare’s writing has definitely grown and matured, why use the SAME resources all the time to create angst? Does it always have to be the same fucking thing? I don’t think so, not when you have been writing books for over a decade. I would expect you to do better.

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I honestly don’t want to give this book a bad rating, because overall, I really enjoyed reading about a whole new set of characters, but there are some things that I just can’t accept or understand. The ending was completely underwhelming, and it left a bad taste in my mouth from what I had started considering as an amazing start to a new series.

ARC Review: The City of Brass by S.A Chakraborty / Stunning Middle-Eastern Influenced Debut Full of Folklore and Magic

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★★★★★/5

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass–a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

Pre-order it here: BookDepository | Amazon

Publication Date: November 14th

*I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

It’s safe to say that this debut novel will undoubtedly be one of my favorite reads of 2017. I was fortunate enough to have been granted the possibility of reading this masterpiece early, and I hope my review can make this story justice, because it deserves it.

The first thing I feel like I need to address is the fact that this book is a debut novel, the first one in a new adult fantasy trilogy—if I’m not mistaken—, and yet it surely does not feel like a debut novel in any way. The level of detail and world-building that characterizes this book still amazes me, especially in a fantasy book, where lately I’ve found myself losing my interest due to this main issue: the lack of world-building. I think that for a fantasy novel to engross me completely there HAS to be enough world-building where I can almost feel as if I was there. And The City of Brass does that in more than one way. 

The story begins with the introduction of one of our main characters, Nahri, a young con artist living in Ottoman-ruled Egypt. From the very beginning I knew this sassy and smart-ass character was going to make an impression in me, and I wasn’t wrong. All her life she has had to do whatever she could to survive on her own, and that meant swindling people out of money whenever they came for her ‘healing abilities’. Because since she was a kid, Nahri has had the ability to magically heal herself and sense other people’s illnesses and ailments.

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But her whole life gets turned upside down when, while performing a Zar (similar to an exorcism), she accidentally summons an ancient djinn warrior who so happens to have knowledge of who she is and where she comes from. Without her wanting, she will find herself caught in the middle of an ancient civil war that ended when the Qahtanis stole the throne from the Nahids, and have since then ruled the magical place of Daevastana.

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Yes, it sounds like a lot to take in, but the author does a wonderful job at explaining bits and pieces throughout the book in a manner that is not info-dumpy, but instead, she introduces it through dialogues, so it’s as if the characters are actually talking to us, and guiding us through those explanations. I won’t lie and say it’s easy to follow through, because it requires all of your focus and attention to not get lost, but once you get the hang of all the different names of not only the races but also the myths, the reading gets so much easier, and you begin to get completely lost in the story.

The story is told from two points of view. We have Nahri’s POV, following her adventure with the djinn she accidentally summoned as she is immersed into this new world, and then we have Alizayd’s POV, the youngest son of Deavabad’s King. Ali is supposed to represent the inside perspective of those who have had the power for centuries. We learn how different his uprising and values are, but at the same time, we get to see him question those values and his own ancestry. A lot of times he finds himself caught between his loyalty to his family and King and what he believes is right and just. I think that his stark character development is one of the most well-done in this first book. Nothing seems rushed, and every decision that he makes is rooted in sound arguments. Now I wanna talk about my favorite character in this book, and that is Dara, the djinn warrior summoned by Nahri. While he is introduced to us as the typical brooding, cold and distant male companion, we begin to uncover layer after layer of his persona as the story progresses. His tragic backstory is one I was most impacted by, and I couldn’t help but feel for him and his cause of bringing justice to what once happened during that civil war. All of the characters in this book are morally grey; they’ve all done questionable things, things they’re not proud of, but given the circumstances, they made them nonetheless. That doesn’t excuse what they did, it only makes them much more interesting and complex.

Let me get back to the world-building because there is a lot I have to say about it. S.A. Chakraborty obviously based her story on XVIII C Egypt, but she also included Islamic folklore and mythology, which are the main focus of this novel. Creatures like Djinn, Marid and Ifrit are real and have existed in this magical place called Deavabad, sometimes crossing onto the human world, something they have always been forbidden from doing. The richly descriptive scenes of Deavabad and the atmospheric writing take you on a journey to a world full of magic and wonders where anything seems possible. But one crucial element of the world-building plays a major role in the development of the story: the different racial groups. The story focuses on different cultures and races, and the quarrels between them. It is through their eyes we get to learn about the history of the place and the world they live in.

The City of Brass also does wonders at discussing the idea that history is only what the conquerors say it happened, instead of what might actually have happened. I sometimes wonder if our human history were to be written by those who didn’t ‘win the battles’, what would we learn? How much of what we know to be history might have never happened in the way we were taught it did? This book made me question all of that. Every group, every race in this novel has a different side of the story of what happened those hundreds of years ago when the civil war occurred, and we get to learn from them these different points of view. That is also what makes this book so rich; we can never settle for only one side of the story, and because we are exposed to so many different sides, we find ourselves lost as to who to root for. Everyone has a point, yet everyone has committed horrible and questionable acts. And that makes this book REALISTIC. People are complex, groups of people, even more so, and it would be a mistake to present them as anything other than that. The discussions of the consequences that civil war brings about to the people involved in it, especially minority groups who see their lives affected, in the majority of the cases negatively, are also one of the issues this book tackles. The loss of rights, the unequal and unjust treatment of the conquerors towards the conquered, and their constant oppression and subjugation constantly made me think of how it mirrors our own world’s history.

‘The City of Brass met all the expectations I could have had and more. It’s a rich and diverse story of survival in the face of tyranny and oppression, and of questioning values and morals when injustices are being done. With multi-layered characters that mirrors the best and worst of humanity, The City of Brass takes you on a journey to a magical and folklore-ridden universe you do not want to miss out on’

The City of Brass comes out November 14th of 2017, and The Kingdom of Copper, its sequel, is set to be published in 2018.

Monthly Recap: All the Spooky Books 🧟

Another month has passed and I have to say that October was a really good month for me because I got to read a lot of the books that I intended to read during October. There were also several readathons going on during October, some of which I got the chance to participate in and it was a really good time. So, here’s a little summary of the books I read and what I thought of them.

34331079 Little Fires Everywhere | Celeste Ng ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I already wrote a review for this one, so you can read what I thought of it there if you want. This was a surprise for me, because I didn’t like Celeste’s debut novel that much, but the level of complexity in this novel and the topics that it deals with blew my mind. The characters were all morally grey and questionable, and the storyline seemed to wrap up so perfectly that I just couldn’t ask for more from it to be honest. While I think that Ng’s novels may not be everyone’s cup of tea because she has a very specific writing style, Little Fires Everywhere is definitely a novel you should pick up if you like adult fiction.

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 ⭐⭐⭐ Bird Box | Josh Malerman

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from. This one was a little bit disappointing. While the story started off being very intriguing and creepy, it started to devolve and lose its charm the more I got near to the ending. It wasn’t an unsatisfying ending, but I was expecting more from it, at least some explanations as to what were the things that made people lose their minds. It was a perfect quick spooky book to read during a readathon, but it wasn’t a book that left an impression in me.

34995871 Nightblade’s Vengeance | Ryan Kirk ⭐⭐⭐

This one’s the first book in a new fantasy series set in the same universe Kirk created in his Nightblade’s trilogy. While I wasn’t acquainted with his first series, that didn’t prevent me from understanding the world or how the magic supposedly works, since there were a lot of explanations made in this book. It was much more political than what I was expecting, but it was still an intricate story with characters that I wish would have been more developed. While I enjoyed reading it, I couldn’t get attached to the characters or the story itself, so I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with this series. You can read my review here.

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⭐⭐⭐ A Head Full of Ghosts | Paul Tremblay

Another creepy book that didn’t meet my expectations. I had heard this one was extremely disturbing, and while it did have some parts that made me uncomfortable, I think it wasn’t as good as everyone kept saying it as. This one gave me major The Exorcist vibes, because it deals with a teenage girl acting very strangely, and because one of the parents is very religious, they think that she’s being possessed by the devil. More than feeling scared, this one made me feel sad for the poor girl who just needed to go to a psychiatrist to be properly diagnosed for the mental illness she was suffering from.

33916162 Hunting Prince Dracula | Kerri Maniscalco ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This one has become one of my favorite YA mystery series. I love that in every book, Kerri manages to relate her story to a major historical figure, in this case Prince Vlad Tepes. One of the major things I love about these books are the characters. Audrey Rose and Thomas and their constant banter is what I live for! And they always remind me of the relationship between Sherlock and Watson. While the first book was set in London, this one is set in Romania, and Kerri also intertwines her story with a lot of their folklore. Amazing sequel of a brilliantly crafted mystery series.

 

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The City of Brass | S.A. Chakraborty

The only five-star read of the month and in a long while. I can’t recommend this book enough to every single one that merely likes fantasy books, because IT IS THAT GOOD. The plotline, the world-building, the characters, all of that blew my mind. The characters are some of the most complex and intriguing ones I’ve read in a WHILE in the fantasy genre. I can’t think how many times I ‘switched’ teams, because all the different people in this book are morally grey, they’ve all done questionable things. And that’s how it’s supposed to be! This book deals with war, the consequences of war, race, and oppression in a magical world where myths like Djinn and Marid actually exist. GO PICK THIS UP ONCE IT COMES OUT!

There are so many more October releases that I wish I could have read, but I just didn’t have the time. Hopefully, I’ll be able to read them soon. How was your reading month? What did you read during October? Let’s chat down below! 

 

The Sbooktacular Reading Challenge

Hello everyone! Today I’m gonna talk about this readathon that I’m going to participate in during the last week of October. Initially, I was going to participate in Spookathon but life happened and I didn’t have enough time to read AT ALL, so I think this one’s a pretty interesting readathon for me to finally read all those creepy books I have on my TBR. You can check the official blog post of this readathon here.

 What is the Sbooktacular Reading Challenge?

The Sbooktacular Readathon Adventure is a ‘choose-your-own adventure’ style readathon that runs from the 25th-31st of October. The idea behind this readathon is that you choose your own reading challenges by navigating a path through the readathon map that you can see down below. Every participant in the readathon will have seven reading challenges, but not everyone’s challenges will be the same.

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How does the map work?

  • Begin at the bottom, with the sign that says ‘trick or treat.’
  • As you follow the path you will come across sign posts, these sign posts will give you your challenge instructions.
  • Sometimes the signposts will simply give you your prompt. Other times you will have to choose between two different prompts.
  • If you have to choose between two prompts, you will then follow the path in the direction of your chosen prompt.
  • At no point should you ever be moving DOWN the map. You should always be moving from the bottom to the top.
  • Continue up the map until you reach the end of the path.
  • At the end of the path your character will be waiting for you! There are five characters in total.

My Sbooktacular challenge

I always hate setting TBRs because I usually read what I’m in the mood for at that particular time, and it’s hard to decide beforehand which books I’m going to be in the mood for, but for the sake of this readathon I think that I will follow the path towards the witch. So my challenges would be the following ones:

  1. Read a book of your choice: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
  2. Read a book set in the past: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
  3. Read a book with magic in it: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
  4. Read a book with orange on the cover: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty / All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
  5. Read a book only after the sun has set: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  6. Read the first book in a series: Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush
  7. Read a fantasy book: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

That’s it! I actually love how creative this readathon looks, and how many choices you can have when picking the books you are going to read. It definitely helps to motivate me when you also get to have fun while doing a readathon. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to all the books I chose, and if not, I’ll see if I can take a different path towards a totally different character. Are you going to participate? What are your TBRs? Let me know down below in the comments! 

ARC Review | Nightblade’s Vengeance by Ryan Kirk (Blades of the Fallen #1)

3 Stars

 

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In a feudal land, a Kingdom is at risk. With no heir to the fragile throne, its future rests with the powerful members of the dying king’s Council, including Minori, a nightblade warrior, and Kiyoshi, a dayblade healer. The two men are bound by the sword but divided by two opposing principles: rule the land, or serve it. In their challenge for supremacy, a spark has been lit.

Her name is Asa. Her creed is revenge.

A fierce nightblade warrior, she’s spent a decade in pursuit of the enigmatic general who killed her father in a violent revolt—then mysteriously vanished from all records. Now, her desire for reckoning has led her to the village of Two Falls—and straight into the heart of an impending civil war. Minori and Kiyoshi are vying for her loyalty. And Asa must choose sides.

As fresh betrayals unfold and a new uprising looms, Asa knows that chasing a ghost is no longer just a personal quest for retribution. It’s going to alter the fate of the entire Kingdom.

Publication Date: October 24th

*I RECEIVED AN ARC OF THIS BOOK FROM NETGALLEY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.

I went into this book not knowing what to expect, since I had never read a book by Ryan Kirk. I know he has a whole trilogy set in the same world where the Nightblade’s Vengeance happens, but I don’t think it’s necessary to read that before going into this book. Having said that, I was both impressed and disappointed with this story.

In this book we follow the story of Asa, a young nightblade whose entire existance is driven by her quest to seek revenge on the man who killed her father when she was just a little girl in what is known as the The Massacre of Two Falls. But while she is trying to find proof and information on the man who was responsible for her father’s death, she finds herself in the middle of a political intrigue that will define the entire future of the kingdom.

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In this world, there are certain people who have been born with the ‘sense‘, a power that can either make you a nightblade or a dayblade. Nightblades are known for their unique fighting skills, and dayblades for their healing skills. While there was a time when blades were revered and admired, after the Massacre of Two Falls, people have started to be scared and wary of them. So much to the point where the King’s Council started to take away some of the blades’ rights. So the story also delves into the contempt held between blades and common citizens, and how each side believes they should be the ones ruling. Many blades believe that since they were granted this gift that they have, they should be the ones ruling the kingdom, while the lords think that keeping the blades in check, and deminishing their rights is the only choice they have if they want to live peacefully. So of course conflict ensues when both sides seek the same thing: to be the ones who will succeed the heirless King Masaki.

What I really enjoyed about this book was how politically focused it was, which was something that I wasn’t expecting at all. While it is a fantasy book, the plot focuses mainly on the power struggle between the different lord houses that seek to become kings once the true king dies, since his only heir also died at Two Falls. There are a lot of twists and turns that I did not see coming, and it was entertaining to read a fantasy book so heavily focused on politics. The chapters are also from different points of view, so while I initially thought the book was going to focus solely on Asa’s revenge, we do get a lot of side characters that are just as important as she is.

While I enjoyed the emphasis put on politics, I feel like because it was so heavily focused on the political aspects, I wasn’t able to feel or care for the characters, because they were never fully developed to the point where I could care what happened to them. The book ended with a particular reveal, and even though I kind of saw it coming, after that happened, I literally didn’t care how the book ended. And I think that if this was just a standalone book and not a first book in a series, it wouldn’t matter, because I wasn’t able to establish any sort of emotional attachment to the characters that were left alive.

Like I’ve said, it was an interesting book set in a fantasy world with people who have powers that are very different from what I’ve read lately when it comes to fantasy, but I don’t know if it was enough for me to get invested into the series. And I think the main issue was the lack of character development this book had, because it was always focusing on what was going on with the kingdom, and the king, and the lords’ conspiracy instead. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either; it was another fantasy book with an original premise which, unfortunately, wasn’t enough to pass the three star rating.

Autumn Book Tag 2017

Hi guys! Wow it feels like forever since I last posted anything here. To be honest, I’ve been struggling so much lately with trying to be consistent with my blog, and it doesn’t help the fact that I basically don’t have enough time to properly sit down and write reviews or any other type of blog posts. Hopefully, I’ll get better at managing my own personal stuff so that I can be more consistent. Anyways, now that that’s out of the way, let’s start with this tag! A while ago, I was tagged by Raven from Dreamy Addictions to do the Autumn Book Tag 2017, so I’m finally trying to catch up on all the tags I’ve been accumulating. Definitely go check the link to see what her answers to this tag were and also to check her awesome blog 🙂

Best autumnal themed book cover?

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Windwitch by Susan Dennard: I honestly haven’t read these books, I tried to read Windwitch once but I never got around to finishing it, though they’ve been on my TBR for a while now. This edition of Windwitch though is stunning and applies to the autumnal theme pretty well I think.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly: This book is set in 1899 and it deals with a young girl’s relationship with her grandfather and her growing interest in biology which, at that time was surely not something women, let alone kids, were allowed to even consider. It’s a very short book but Calpurnia’s relation with her grandfather was everything to me to be honest, it was pure and beautiful, and something that warmed my heart.

Rage by Cora Carmack: Okay, I know this one’s not so much of an Autumnal themed book cover, but look at that cover! It’s stunningly beautiful, and I couldn’t let the opportunity pass so that I could gush about it. Rage is the sequel of Roar, the first book in a new fantasy series where people can literally control storms and other weather phenomena.

Which fictional friend group would you trust with a Ouija board?

I think that for this, I’d choose the Shadowhunters from The Mortal Instruments, mainly because they would know not to mess with that shit. And if we do indeed end up messing with Ouija boards, they’d definitely know what to do with the consequences that may bring about.

Which book setting would you love to be celebrating in during Halloween night?

This one was a no brainer, definitely in the Harry Potter universe. Especially if I wasn’t a muggle and got to be spending Halloween at Hogwarts with all of that themed food and things to do.  *sighs*

Best autumnal food description inside of a story?

I don’t remember the names or the details, but the food from all the Harry Potter Halloweens was AMAZING. It made you want to be a wizard at least to just try all that delicious food that was always described in the books. Damn you Hogwarts letter that never came when I was 11 years old!

Which fictional character would you dress as?

My favorite badass female character of all time, Lisbeth Salander. SHE IS PURE PERFECTION. She is one of the characters from Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, and basically a badass bitch with whom you should not mess. Plus, her style is not much different from what I used to wear while I was going through my emo teenage phase, so it would be pretty easy to dress up as her lmao 😂
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An antagonist you would pledge your allegiance to?

It’s pretty obvious, because of my love for this character, and that is The Darkling from the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I think he is one of the most intricate and interesting villains I’ve read in YA Fantasy. And I really hope we could get a book about him to see his backstory more in detail, I sure as hell would pay money to read that. I mean just look at him, how could I say no?
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The creepiest book youve ever read?

I’ve been reading a lot of weird and fucked up books lately, but this time I’m gonna pick Bird Box by Josh Malerman. Even though the ending was a little bit disappointing, overall, the setting of the book and the story itself was very unsettling. Basically, the book deals with a scenario in our world in which people start killing themselves because of “something” that they see, so everyone starts becoming paranoid since no one seems to know what is causing people to act this way. The only thing they know is that they can’t trust their sight anymore. Like I’ve said, reading this gave me so much anxiety and stress which I’ve rarely felt while reading creepy books, so that’s why it’s my choice for this prompt.

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A book youve yet to read but will read this October?

I have so many books I wanted to read this month, but I couldn’t yet. Hopefully, I’ll be able to read Hunting Prince Dracula because I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper, and I already miss my babies Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell.
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Which fictional character would you put in charge of the decorations for a Halloween party?

Definitely Fred and George Weasley. YES BOTH OF THEM BECAUSE I STILL LIKE TO BELIEVE BOTH OF THEM ARE OKAY AND ALIVE 😭😭 They would be the perfect duo to decorate the party with all sorts of creepy and funny things.

That’s it guys! I’m not gonna tag anyone for this one but if you found this interesting, please go ahead and do it, I’d love to read your answers to these questions! Until next time!

ARC Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

4 Stars

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Synopsis

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. 

*I RECEIVED AN ARC OF THIS BOOK FROM NETGALLEY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.

I don’t normally read adult fiction books, but sometimes, there are a few exceptions I make that make me wonder whether I might be missing out from something. Little Fires Everywhere made me question that same thing. I had already read Celeste Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, and my experience with it was entirely different, so I was hesitant about requesting an ARC of her newest book. But I’m glad I did. I’m glad I gave this author another chance after not enjoying her other book, because this novel right here was a masterpiece.

If there is something undeniable about Celeste Ng is her storytelling skills. She has a way with words and with the stories that she writes that makes you feel engrossed in them from the very beginning. And that’s one of the things I love most about her books. Even if her writing style is overly descriptive, she has the capacity to draw you into the story and the characters as if you were actually living through them.

In Little Fires Everywhere we follow two very different families: we have the Richardsons, the seemingly perfect suburban family, with two working parents and three kids; and then we have the Warrens, a single mother with her teenage daughter who have been traveling and living all over the country their whole lives. So what happens when these two clashing families come into contact? The story is focused on how the lives of each one of the members of each family is impacted by each other.

Something that made me love this book was the characters. Ng has a way with presenting these picture-perfect families, and then dissecting every single one of its members to expose the good and the bad. She created complex and multi-dimensional characters that made you hate them and love them at the same time. And that’s what it’s so great about this story. There were certain decisions these characters made that made you hate them, and then the next second they would do something that made you feel sorry for them. That’s how a realistic character is written. There are no absolutes, but flawed characters that make mistakes and then have to deal with the consequences. And you can clearly see that here. Some of these characters will certainly stay with me even after a long time has passed.

If you have read Ng’s debut novel you may know that she writes about family dynamics. But in this case, it’s so much more than just the dynamics. The book poses a lot of interesting and controversial conversations of what motherhood is, and doesn’t shy away from exploring the different points of view when it comes to certain sensitive topics, such as abortion, race and adoption.

I don’t want to get into specifics in this review in terms of plot, because I honestly feel that you need to go into this book blind, not knowing what it’s actually about because it’s also hard to specify what this book is about. It deals with a plethora of topics, but it always seems to revolve around family dynamics. I loved how everything seemed to come full circle by the end of the book, and how everything was related to everything. It’s been a long time since a book made me think about certain topics, and not only that, but it also made me question some of the perspectives I may have had about them as well.

This novel is an emotional roller-coaster that makes you hate and love its complex and multi-dimensional characters. It’s a story about motherhood, about the sacrifices that people often have to do in life, and the consequences those sacrifices may bring about. But it’s also a story that shows that in life, there are no right or wrong paths, but rather different ways of cruising through life.

New Releases | October 👻

October is finally here 🎃 🎃 I can’t believe we are only three months away from the end of the year, and I haven’t accomplished any of the reading goals I had set myself at the beginning of 2017. Anyways, let’s go straight to the point of this post, which are the new releases that are coming out this month that I’m most excited about!

25843018Young Adult/ Urban Fantasy | October 3rd

Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael has grown up surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn’t help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe, the dangerous and enigmatic leader of the Black Devils kindled motorcycle gang and the unofficial head of their turf.

When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumour begins spreading that someone is practising forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all.

33280872New Adult/ Contemporary | October 3rd

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves. 

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Young Adult/ Mystery Thriller | October 3rd

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late. 

33830437Young Adult/ Contemporary | October 3rd

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

30025336Young Adult/ Fantasy | October 10th

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

30249925Young Adult/ Thriller Mystery | October 10th

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

28096541Young Adult/ Contemporary | October 10th

Who are the Nowhere Girls? They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

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Young Adult | October 17th

The line between best friend and something more is a line always crossed in the dark.

Jess Wong is Angie Redmond’s best friend. And that’s the most important thing, even if Angie can’t see how Jess truly feels. Being the girl no one quite notices is OK with Jess anyway. While nobody notices her, she’s free to watch everyone else. But when Angie begins to fall for Margot Adams, a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess can see it coming a mile away. Suddenly her powers of observation are more curse than gift.

As Angie drags Jess further into Margot’s circle, Jess discovers more than her friend’s growing crush. Secrets and cruelty lie just beneath the carefree surface of this world of wealth and privilege, and when they come out, Jess knows Angie won’t be able to handle the consequences.

When the inevitable darkness finally descends, Angie will need her best friend.

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Fantasy | October 24th

In a feudal land, a Kingdom is at risk. With no heir to the fragile throne, its future rests with the powerful members of the dying king’s Council, including Minori, a nightblade warrior, and Kiyoshi, a dayblade healer. The two men are bound by the sword but divided by two opposing principles: rule the land, or serve it. In their challenge for supremacy, a spark has been lit.

Her name is Asa. Her creed is revenge.

A fierce nightblade warrior, she’s spent a decade in pursuit of the enigmatic general who killed her father in a violent revolt—then mysteriously vanished from all records. Now, her desire for reckoning has led her to the village of Two Falls—and straight into the heart of an impending civil war. Minori and Kiyoshi are vying for her loyalty. And Asa must choose sides.

As fresh betrayals unfold and a new uprising looms, Asa knows that chasing a ghost is no longer just a personal quest for retribution. It’s going to alter the fate of the entire Kingdom.

There are so many books I’ve been highly anticipating that are coming out this month, I’m so excited! What are your most anticipated releases?! Let me know down in the comments! Hope ya’ll have an amazing reading month 🎃

September Wrap-Up

Hi everybody! I’m finally back with my monthly wrap-up posts after a long time of not doing them. I’ve had a pretty good reading month, and since I haven’t written reviews for all the books I read during September, I figured it would be nice to sum up all the things I was able to finish. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

985873Game of Thrones | George R.R. Martin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I don’t think I need to say anything more about this one, since I’ve already talked about it in my review which you can check out right here. I loved it and I think that this adaptation to the TV show is one of the best I’ve seen so far. Even though I had a lot of problems with the Spanish translation, which is the version I read, I could enjoy it nonetheless. I can’t wait to continue reading the rest of the books in this series.

 

⭐⭐ They Both Die at the End | Adam Silvera33385229

This one, unfortunately, wasn’t what I was expecting. I’d been hearing amazing things about this book for a while, and when I got approved for an ARC of it, I was excited I was having the chance to read it before it came out. But I just couldn’t get behind the story. Even if the concept of the book was unique, I think the story fell flat, and not even the characters were able to maintain my interest. You can check out my review to see what I thought of it.

 

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The Little Red Wolf | Amélie Fléchais ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I was approved for an ARC of this children’s picture book on Edelweiss as well, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a profound and original take on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood told from the perspective of a little wolf, who happens to be hunted by humans.  You get to see through the eyes of the animals how they are constantly being threatened by the actions of humans in their search for food, clothes or even fun. With colorful and stunning illustrations, it attempts to show the other side of the story, and how most of the times, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

⭐⭐ Losing It | Cora Carmack  18137830

Oh God. I almost forgot about this one because of how horrible it was. I read Roar by the same author a while back, and loved it, so I thought I was also gonna love her NA series, since it’s so popular. That wasn’t the case. Losing It is a quick read about a teacher/student relationship, so if you’re going through a reading slump it might help, but other than that, there is nothing I found remotely interesting for me to recommend this. I’ve read a lot of NA books, some good, some bad, but this was just boring and annoying, especially the characters. This book has probably the most annoying, stupid and unbelievable main character I’ve ever read in the NA genre.

29359948 A Map for Wrecked Girls | Jessica Taylor ⭐⭐

Another book with incredibly annoying and awful characters.  The story follows two sisters who get stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere and have to deal with their issues if they want to survive long enough to be rescued. The story has dual POVs from the present and the past, explaining why things went wrong between them. There was nothing I could do to stop from getting riled up by how awful Henri treated her sister, and how horrible her life choices were. The way she constantly treated her sister, used her, and all the boys she went after was just unbearable to read. There is a difference between making your characters complex and multi-layered and making them annoying and petty just for the sake of drama. There was nothing that redeemed this book for me.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Stalking Jack the Ripper | Kerri Maniscalco28962906

I can’t remember when was the last time I read a YA book that wasn’t a contemporary story that drew me in like this book did. The writing was amazing and extremely specific and detailed when it came to the medical aspects and the forensic sciences, which I loved, because you can tell that the author took the time to do proper research for this book. I’m going to write a review for this together with Hunting Prince Dracula‘s review, once I read that sequel. But for now, if you are interested in a YA mystery with historical elements, you should definitely check this book out.

Defy (Sinners of Saint #0.5) | L.J. Shen ⭐⭐⭐32027054

This one is the prequel novella to the Sinners of Saint series, and since I wanted to read Vicious (book #1), I also read that it was better if you read this first. It follows the story of Jaime who is one of the HotHoles, as the guys are known at school, and his relationship with his literature teacher. It’s a steamy, quick read which I enjoyed, yet it wasn’t a very memorable story. The love interest was okay, though she sometimes behaved a little bit childishly considering her age. I think that for a prequel novella and an introduction to one of the guys, it was pretty okay. Now I can finally get to the book I was actually interested in, which is Vicious.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Last Wish | Andrzej Sapkowski2892159

I’m glad I ended the month with an amazing read. I do think there are a lot of problematic aspects when it comes to this book, which have to do with misogynistic comments, and basically, the writing of female characters in general, but I can’t deny the fact that I really enjoyed reading this. The world is amazing and unique, and I was impressed by how cohesive all the stories were, and how the author was able to connect them all through a specific chapter set in the present time, while all the stories are presented as remembrances of Geralt’s past life experiences. I’ll do a review on this together with the second collection of short stories, Sword of Destiny, once I read it.

Aaaand that’s it! Those are all the books I read during the month of September. In terms of quantity, it was one of the months in which I read the most amount of books, but in terms of quality, it wasn’t a very good reading month. I ended up not liking the books I was anticipating the most, but at least I got around to tackling a lot of those that had been on my TBR for a while. So, how was your reading month? Did you get around to reading everything you wanted to? Let’s talk in the comments!