Sunday, November 25, 2018

Catwoman: Soul Stealer by Sarah J. Maas Review

Title: Catwoman: Soul Stealer
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: DC Icons, book three
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I’m a complete comic junkie, though usually, I tend to lean more toward Marvel than DC. However, there are a few notable exceptions in the DC Comics canon. Two of those are the protagonists of the two previous Icons novels, Diana/Wonder Woman, and Bruce Wayne/Batman, and the third DC Icons book returns to Gotham with the young woman who becomes Catwoman, the author being Sarah J. Maas. If I’m being totally honest, part of the reason I picked up Soulstealer was because I was hoping to see certain other characters as well, and I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed this book, and I’m really excited about the next entry in the series. This book is one of my favorites of Sarah J. Maas, and one of my favorite books of 2018.

Soulstealer explores how the young Selina Kyle became the master thief and techie, Catwoman, and I really loved the ride, every step of the way. The book begins with Selina fighting for money, literally, forced to hand to hand combat in order to support herself and her sister. After returning as the wealthy, mysterious socialite Holly Vanderhees, she begins to use her training and cunning to bring the corrupt members of Gotham down hard. Things soon get further complicated when she crosses paths with several residents of the city’s seedy underbelly, and Selina soon realizes that her mission could cost her everything, to cap all of her other losses. But hey, when the Bat’s away, the cat will play, right?


I really liked this book; it’s probably my favorite so far in the series. Selina Kyle is one of my favorite characters from the Batman canon, and to have a whole book to read of her journey; I love comics, but I really like this medium to tell familiar stories. As soon as I was done with For a Muse of Fire, I dove in, not sure what to expect. The pacing was breakneck, and I was immediately plunged into Selina’s dangerous but exciting world; I really liked getting to know who the young woman who becomes Catwoman was; it really helped me understand her. It was nice to have background of a character whose past I knew so little about. I also loved the other cameos Maas introduced, some of my favorites: Batwing, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, the Joker. I loved the way that Selina tried to balance being normal and being a cunning, clever thief by night. I was cheering, laughing, and crying the whole time; it felt like returning to a more fun, but still gritty, version of the Gotham I thought I knew. There were times that I was slightly confused, but overall, this book is my favorite of the series, and though I’ve never been a Superman fan, I’m looking forward to it next year. Sarah J. Maas has done a fantastic job of bringing one of my favorite comic book characters to life, and I’m so excited for Matt de la Pena’s Superman! One of my favorite books of 2018! The bottom line: An origin story for one of my favorite characters in the whole DC canon, I loved Soulstealer; it is my favorite book in the Icons series, and of the year! I can’t wait for the next book in the series, and this one is a testament to Sarah J. Maas’s considerable talent! Next on deck: The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig Review

Title: For a Muse of Fire
Author: Heidi Heilig
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: For a Muse of Fire, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Heidi Heilig made quite a splash last year, with her debut novel and series starter, The Girl from Everywhere, and I really enjoyed it. I mean: Time travel! Forbidden romance! Danger and adventure! So, when I found out that she was writing a brand-new series opener, I was so excited, and I ordered it from my local library. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, and once I realized that I couldn’t renew it anymore, I pushed it up to the top of it, as soon as I was finished with Blanca and Roja. And I was pleasantly surprised; it took me a little bit to get into it, but once I did, I found myself totally transfixed. Full of magic, darkness, war, political intrigue, and more than a few monsters, I loved For a Muse of Fire, and I can’t wait for the sequel!

Jetta and her family are renowned as the most talented shadow troupe in the whole land. With her behind the scrim, their homemade puppets move without the aids of string or sticks. They pass it off as nothing more than trade secrets, but in reality, Jetta can see recently departed souls and bind them to their puppets with her blood. But the old, magical ways are forbidden, now that the colonial army has taken over their country. Forced to hide the only skills she has to support her family, she is seeking passage to Aquitan, where shadow plays are in high demand, and rumor has it that it contains a magical spring that could hold the cure to her own madness. But she also has even bigger problems than restless spirits: a rebellion is beginning to brew throughout the land, and there is a compelling, dynamic smuggler who has his own secrets to hide. Jetta will risk everything to get her family to safety, even if it means turning her back on everything that she’s learned before…


This book was such a dark and lovely surprise! First of all, the format of it was unusual and compelling; told in the form of sheet music, prose, letters, telegrams, and other documents, it really kept the book fresh and exciting, and it also offered a different perspective on what was happening. Jetta was a great character; desperate for normalcy, safety, and security for herself and her family, and I really liked her point of view throughout the novel. The pacing in this book was breakneck, once it started to pick up; it felt like I was right beside Jetta, experiencing what she felt as the book went on. I also really enjoyed the other characters, especially Leo and his girls, and Jetta’s mother and father. The characters on the other side, especially the Legrande family, were also intriguing. There were several things that I was aching to know more about, but perhaps the author is saving that knowledge for the next book. And that ending! For a Muse of Fire, despite its flaws, is one of my favorite books of 2018. I especially liked the way that Jetta’s bipolar disorder was depicted; we need more books that talk this frankly about mental illness, especially in fiction. I’m so excited for what’s coming next from Heidi Heilig! The bottom line: A darkly magical, unusual series debut, I loved For a Muse of Fire! One of my favorite books of 2018! Next on deck: Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas!

Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore Review

Title: Blanca and Roja
Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I’ve been a huge fan of Anna-Marie McLemore’s work since I read her debut novel, The Weight of Feathers, and I read her third book, Wild Beauty, for my book club a few months ago. So, when I heard that she was writing a diverse, mashup retelling of Snow White, Rose Red and The Wild Swans, I was so excited. I ordered it from my local library and it’s been sitting in my library stack for a while; after I couldn’t renew it anymore, I dove into it right after I finished Muse of Nightmares. (Well, after I was finished mourning the painful end of that series. But moving on.) I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, as I haven’t really read either of the fairy tales that the story was inspired by, but I was blown away. With lush, gorgeous prose, diverse characters that felt so real that I felt that when I finished, I was saying goodbye to a beloved group of friends. Blanca and Roja is the most brutal and beautiful of McLemore’s novels, captivating and tender and full of every kind of love you could possibly think of. A deliciously bittersweet exploration of sisterhood, first love, and sacrifice, I will never forget Blanca and Roja; I feel like they’ve burrowed into my heart and soul.

Blanca and Roja are two sisters, best friends, and rivals, because ever since they were tiny, the women in their family have been cursed: One sister is doomed to become a swan, taken by the flock that live nearby, and she must live out the rest of her years as a bird, while the other is untouched. This is the way things have always been, and how it always will be. Blanca is sweet, gentle, delicate, everything that her sister, Roja, is not. Roja is sharp-tongued, tomboyish, brash, loud, and curious. They know their fate, even when it means sacrificing everything. But things become even more complicated when two different people emerge from the wood near their home: Yearling, who has spent the last year as a bear, and is drawn to Roja in spite of hiding his own secrets, and Page, someone whose identity is as unclear as their motives. As the time draws near for one of the girls to gain wings and the other to remain human, the girls begin to wonder if they can, in fact, change their destinies, and find everything that they’ve denied themselves.


This book; it was amazing, a beautiful, bittersweet triumph of family, especially sisterly bonds, love in all of its forms, magic, and most importantly, agency, and the courage to change your fate, even when it seems that all the odds are stacked against you. The pacing was breakneck, the prose so gorgeous that more often than not, I was rereading lines, absolutely in awe over it, but even more than that, I was head over heels for the characters that she so lovingly created. I was utterly spellbound by this book, and I was so happy to finally be reading a diverse, gender-nonbinary fairy tale retelling; this is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life! I also really enjoyed the way that the point of view bounced between Blanca, Roja, Yearling, and Page; I loved that everyone was giving perspective on what was happening. I also liked the other characters: Roja and Blanca’s parents, Page’s loving, if confused, family, Yearling’s grandmother, mother and father, and cousins; each character was fleshed out beautifully and I was captivated. But honestly, the ending was what really got me. I cried through most of the book, but it was the worst when the book ended. It was so bittersweet, shocking, and unexpected; my heart was broken and then stitched back together all at once. Easily one of the best books of 2018, and I will never forget Blanca and Roja! The bottom line: A tender, beautiful, and brutal fairy telling retelling involving forbidden love, diverse and non-gender binary main characters, and the bonds of family, especially sisterhood! My favorite book by Anna-Marie McLemore, and one of the best books of 2018! Next on deck: For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor Review

Title: Muse of Nightmares
Author: Laini Taylor
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Strange the Dreamer, book two
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Strange the Dreamer was one of my favorite books of last year; I loved it so much that when I was able, I bought myself my very own paperback copy of it to prepare for the sequel. I ordered it from my library and as soon as I was finished with You May Now Kill the Bride, I dove in, expecting answers, heartbreak, gorgeous writing, and more than a few crying jags. And I got all that and more. I loved and savored every moment of my return to Weep, and Sarai, Lazlo, Minya, and all of the other characters I grew to love. Honestly, the only bad thing is that it’s all over! Wah, I can’t deal with it. The story of Weep and its inhabitants will live on in my heart forever, and I had to take a few days to process all of the feelings that came with this book. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it, so I will be doing my very best to keep this review spoiler free. And without further ado, here we go!

Muse of Nightmares picks up where Strange the Dreamer left off, and I was happy that I read it again in order to prepare, because I was plunged into the sequel without any difficulty in figuring out where everything left off. Lazlo and Sarai, again, are tangled in a conflict, and it expands much farther than they could have ever imagined; the fate of Weep and their very own lives dance on a knife’s edge, and new players soon surface. Secrets abound throughout the novel, and Sarai, Lazlo, and the rest must band together to uncover them, or it could mean the end of everything they know…

I adored every messy, heartbreaking, and beautiful moment of this book; once I started it, I tried my best to go as slowly as I could so as to savor it. The pacing was breakneck, the writing was gorgeous; so beautiful, in fact, that there were several times when I had to stop and go back to read them again. As a sequel, Muse of Nightmares was very satisfying; all the loose ends were tied up and everything made sense. I also really adored the way that all the characters were fleshed out, especially Minya and the new characters. But I’m not going to lie: This book, at times, was very hard to get through. I cried, a lot, through most of it, and there were many times that I had to walk away because it felt like my heart and soul were being put through a food processor. And that ending! I loved it, but God, it was so painful. Laini Taylor, I hope you know you’ve killed my heart and soul! How could you do that to me?! But that’s okay, I still love you! Now when is your next book coming out? Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares is one of my favorite duos of all time, and I’m so sad that it’s all over, because I know I’m going to miss the new friends I’ve made. The bottom line: The closing book to the smash duology that started with Strange the Dreamer, I loved Muse of Nightmares, every painful, messy, gorgeous moment of it! Next on deck: Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore!

You May Kill the Bride by R.L. Stine Review

Title: You May Now Kill the Bride
Author: R.L. Stine
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: Return to Fear Street, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Everyone knows the name R.L. Stine, whether it be through the original Goosebumps book series, the original Fear Street series, or the TV show, or the more recent movies; however, you come to know the man, it’s impossible not to, whether in passing or personal experience. So, when I found out that he was writing again, and revamping the Fear Street series, I was so excited. As soon as I got an opening in my library stack, I ordered it. I finally finished Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel, and it was kind of disappointing, so I was looking for a do-over of sorts for my Halloween read (and yes, I know, Halloween’s over, don’t remind me!). You May Kill the Bride was a fantastic series opener; dark, creepy, well-written, and absolutely jaw-dropping, so I’m very happy to report that Stine has not lost his own unique, off-kilter brand of magic!

Ruth-Anne and Carly Fear are two sisters divided by time and united by a resentment so black that they are willing to do anything in order to satisfy it. When they discover that an ancient curse haunts their bloodline, both sisters seize the opportunity to make good on their dark deeds, allowing history to repeat itself. But when they do, they soon realize that even the darkest magic cannot be controlled… Welcome back to Fear Street!


I really enjoyed this book! After I finished Hocus Pocus, I was still in the mood for a spooky Halloween read, despite Halloween being over. (Wah! I’m in such holiday denial.) So, I figured, who better to continue that mood than the great R.L. Stine? I read some Goosebumps books when I was younger, and a couple of Fear Streets, but I didn’t read them all. But I was so excited when it was announced that the classic series was getting a reboot. Honestly, I read this book in the span of a few hours. The pacing was breakneck, and I was really intrigued by the plot; I liked the way that the real-life instances alternated with the spooky, supernatural parts. Some of the characters fell flat, but I really liked Carly, Melissa, Aiden, and Ruth-Anne. The tension was fantastic, and the ending was amazing! It reminded me of all of my favorite old-school mysteries I used to read back in the day; I loved how retro it was, and I can’t wait to read the next book! This book wasn’t perfect; at times Carly’s inner monologue seemed to drag on and some of the situations seemed a bit far-fetched. But! I really liked this dark, creepy, and weirdly strange and funny return to Fear Street, and I can’t wait to go back! The bottom line: Creepy, dark, gory, and weirdly funny, I really liked You May Now Kill the Bride—all hail one of the great kings of old-school horror! Next on deck: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor!

Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel by A.W. Jantha Review

Title: Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel
Author: A.W. Jantha
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I started Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel the night before Halloween, and truly, what better timing? Hocus Pocus is one of my favorite Halloween movies, and when I heard way back in July that there was being a book written based on the screenplay, and a bonus surprise: an original, new sequel that continued the story, I ordered it from my library as soon as I had an opening in my library stack. As soon as I was finished with Positively Beautiful for my book club, I dove in, and I really enjoyed the first part, it was what I always wanted when I was younger. But overall, this book was just okay; by the time I realized that I wasn’t really feeling it, I was almost done and was too invested to just drop it. It wasn’t terrible; I really liked the illustrations and the first part of the novel. But the sequel just really fell flat for me; it felt like the original plot was just recycled, though I really liked the characters. I liked it, but it was just meh to me, honestly.

Everyone knows the plot of the movie Hocus Pocus: Three wicked witch sisters, the Sandersons, are hung for the offense of witchcraft. But they cast a spell that will allow them to return to Salem, and three hundred years later, a virgin lights The Black Flame candle and restores them to life. Suddenly Max Dennison, his little sister, Dani, and his beautiful, mysterious classmate, Allison, are facing off against the sisters in a bid to save the whole city of Salem. The sequel of the book takes place twenty-five years after the original, following Max’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy, and her two best friends, Isabel and Tucker. Poppy, for her part, hates that her family carries this crazed legacy that she isn’t even sure she believes. But her skepticism is blown to pieces when she and her friends accidentally revive the Sanderson sisters, and soon she is caught in a dangerous game of dark magic, surprising alliances, unexpected romance, and an evil unlike any she’s ever seen before…

This book… I finished it a week and a half ago or so, and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. It wasn’t awful, but it definitely wasn’t spectacular; in fact, I started You May Kill the Bride by R.L. Stine the same night that I finished Hocus Pocus. But I didn’t hate it! Maybe because I loved the movie so much, my expectations were too high? But I really liked the first half, because ever since I first watched the movie, I always wanted a novel to go along with it, because it’s just one of my favorite Halloween stories. The second half of the book; I liked the continuity of the story, and I loved the romance between two of the central characters. But I feel like the attempt to modernize the Sanderson sisters and their quest to kill all of the children of Salem was weak, at best. I really liked the humor and most of the characters, especially Poppy, Isabel, Tucker, and Poppy’s parents and aunt. I have really mixed feelings about it, honestly; it was a good attempt, but the magic of the movie and what was imagined to come after just did not find me. Nonetheless, what better book to start to read on the spookiest night of the year? The bottom line: I was really excited to find out about this book, and I really liked the first part of it, but the sequel really just fell flat. Next on deck: You May Now Kill the Bride by R.L. Stine!

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes Review

Title: The Storm Runner
Author: J.C. Cervantes
Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Storm Runner, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I tried to read Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa, but despite holding on through one hundred and sixty pages, it just wasn’t working for me. So, I moved on to the next book in my stack, which was this one. Anyone who really knows me knows that I am completely mad for lore and mythology, so it stands to reason that I would be a huge fan of Rick Riordan. The first book published in his imprint, Aru Shah and the End of Time, was fantastic, so as soon as I heard of The Storm Runner, I ordered it so I could read it with my husband. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really liked it! Full of action, romance, terror, humor, gods and monsters, The Storm Runner stole my heart, and has become one of my favorite books of 2018! I can’t wait for the sequel! I will never forget Zane Obispo or his friends! Absolutely fantastic!

Zane Obispo is used to being the odd one out, the freak, the one whispered about in the hallways and out and about. He’s so sick of the constant bullying that he’s been home schooled for a year. But the night of his first day of school, he’s drawn to The Beast, the volcano (yes, you read that right, kid has a volcano in his backyard!) in his backyard. He accidentally awakens an ancient, evil power: Ach Puch, the Mayan god of death and destruction. He learns soon after that that the Mayan gods are quite real, and closer to him than he could have ever imagined. Zane is soon thrown into a deadly conflict older than time itself, and finds out so much about himself along the way, even while dealing with shapeshifters, magic, and his own anxieties.


This book was such a fun, hilarious surprise! Being disabled myself, I loved that Zane was disabled and walked with a cane, just like me! I was drawn into the story immediately, spellbound by Zane’s voice; the pacing was breakneck, and this book grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go, not even after I finished. I loved the world that Cervantes created, full of magic, darkness, and power in the most unexpected places, and the characters alongside Zane, but my favorites were Brooks and Hondo; I loved them! I also adored the fun spin that she put on Mayan mythology, a canon that I am not nearly as familiar with as the others. I mean, a goddess just for chocolate?! That is too awesome for words. Diverse, hilarious, surprising and powerful, I loved The Storm Runner, and I cannot wait for The Fire Keeper, as well as the next new book from superstar Rick Riordan’s imprint, exclusively for diverse authors and obscure mythologies! The bottom line: Refreshing, hilarious, and utterly wonderful, The Storm Runner is a fantastic middle grade series opener, and I can’t wait for The Fire Keeper next year! Next on deck: Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel by A.W. Jantha! 

Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills Review

Title: Positively Beautiful
Author: Wendy Mills
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Positively Beautiful was the October pick for my book club, Young Adult for Adults, also known as YAFA. We also read Wendy Mills’s other young adult book, What We Have Left, last year, so I was excited to read another book by her. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was Tuesday of the week of book club before I got to it. I rushed to finish it, because I wasn’t able to go last month and I wanted to participate in the discussion. I was expecting something thoughtful and well-written, which I got, but what I was not expecting was a heavy, heartbreaking book about love, bravery, severe illness, and finding yourself; this book made me laugh, cry, and think, and I will never forget Erin Bailey or her painful, tender journey to acceptance.

Erin Bailey has only ever had her mother; she lost her father to a motorcycle accident when she was just six years old. Fearful, painfully shy, and mostly friendless, she tends to keep to herself, her best friend Trina, and her mother, who is almost like her other best friend. But her world is shattered when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. Reeling from sadness and shock, she gets another nasty surprise: She, too, is positive for the gene that could give her two severe types of cancer. Out of control and listless, she signs up for flying lessons in an effort to get her life back and feel close to her late father. As she begins to explore what her life really means in the big scheme of things, she discovers what it really means to live for the moment, even when life pushes her to the brink…

This book was amazing! Brutal, beautiful, and tender, Positively Beautiful shattered me apart and then slowly, painfully, stitched me back together. The prose was beautiful, searing, and sharp, and Erin was a flawed but relatable character; I really enjoyed her. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but it surely wasn’t me being a bawling mess practically every other page. Bittersweet, bitingly funny and more than a little dark, I really liked her journey, as heartbreaking and messy as it was. Her narration was really what kept the book moving, because some of the other characters seemed kind of flat, especially Chaz and Trina. But I loved Erin, her mother, and Jason the most, and the way that Erin went from shocked and angry to accepting was very realistic. Honestly, though, this book was really hard to get through; if I wasn’t screaming, I was crying hysterically; there were several times that I had to walk away so I could breathe and collect myself. But Wendy Mills’s second contemporary young adult novel delivers in spades, especially in the heartbreaking department. The bottom line: Full of heartbreak, love in all of its forms, and spunk, I loved Positively Beautiful! Next on deck: The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes! 

Rule by Ellen Goodlett Review

Title: Rule
Author: Ellen Goodlett
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Rule, book one
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I found Rule through a recommendation list, and ever since, it’s been sitting on my library stack. As soon as I was finished with Pride, I pushed it to the top of my stack, drawn in by the gorgeous, creepy cover and the synopsis, which came across as something like Pretty Little Liars mixed up with Game of Thrones. I was so excited; I’m such a sucker for fantasy novels, and this series sounded really promising. Three powerful sisters! Magic! Political intrigue! Romance! Betrayal! On paper, it sounded like something that I would adore. And I did like some parts of this book, but honestly, it just fell short to me. I was really hoping for more. But thanks to the ending, I know for sure that I’d like to read the next and last book. Nonetheless, this book was just disappointing. Maybe my expectations were just too high.

Zofi, Florencia, and Akeylah are all from different parts of the world, with nothing in common. Except, that is, the King of Koloyna as their father. Claimed as legitimate for the first time in their young lives, they are brought to the Keep to learn the royal ways under their father, and to compete for his throne. But all three girls are hiding dark, dangerous secrets, and they can’t trust anyone, not even one another. Things get even more sticky when the three sisters discover that someone is hot on their trail, and is determined to expose them. They are soon caught in a web of political intrigue, forbidden romance, and shaky alliances, and it is more than just their lives that hang in the balance for their choices…


I really wanted to love this book, and there were some parts of it that I really enjoyed, but there were others that fell severely short. The worldbuilding was slightly vague and needed some polishing, and the magic system was kind of confusing. The villain of the story seemed a tad obvious; I suspected it from the beginning. But, it wasn’t a bad book overall; I want to read the second one. I enjoyed the characters, especially the three sisters; I was rooting for all three of them, but Akeylah was definitely my favorite, especially for her storyline! I was swooning. Goodlett did a really good job of making them strong and flawed in their own right, and I loved the way they all tackled their problems. The pacing was kind of slow at first; it took me a while to get into. But I really liked most of the characters, especially the girls’ father the king and the queen Rozalind. The political intrigue was another big factor that went into redeeming the book; I was loving that part. And that ending! Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the ending, I don’t know if I would be so eager to read the next book. There were a few highs and a lot of lows, but I enjoyed it nonetheless; it just wasn’t what I was expecting. The bottom line: There were some parts I didn’t like and others I loved; either way, I’m very excited for the sequel! Next on deck: Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills!

Pride by Ibi Zoboi Review

Title: Pride
Author: Ibi Zoboi
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I’ve never read Ibi Zoboi’s work before, but when I heard that she was writing a contemporary, modern and diverse retelling of one of my favorite Jane Austen classics, Pride and Prejudice, I was so excited that I reserved it at my library that same day. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, but I pushed it to the top as soon as I was finished with the beautiful wrecking ball that is Strange the Dreamer. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I have to say that I really loved this book! Full of heart, humor, love, Zoboi gave Pride and Prejudice a long overdue makeover, and I loved every minute of it! Full of parallels of the original but strong enough to stand on its own, it’s easily one of my favorite books of the year, and I can’t wait to read American Street! This is the retelling that I’ve been waiting for my whole life. Yay for diverse books!

Zuri Benitez has a lot of pride: pride for her neighborhood, family, and her Afro-Latina roots. But it may not be enough to stop the rapid wave of gentrification from consuming her beloved Bushwick. Things become even more complicated when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street. Zuri wants nothing to do with either of the teenager boys, even when her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for Ainsley. She can’t stand the other Darcy brother, Darius. Arrogant, judgmental, and rude, it’s pretty much hate at first sight. But as they begin to find common ground, their mutual dislike gradually shifts into something entirely different. But with her four wild, independent sisters pulling her in all different directions, another cute boy named Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering in her very near future, Zuri must cement her place in the changing landscape of Bushwick, or risk losing everything.


I really, really liked this book! I love retellings, whether they be fairy tales or classics such as this one, and Ibi Zoboi did a fantastic job. Jane Austen is one of those authors that I feel really needs retelling, to make the original easier to understand, and Zoboi did a wonderful job of retelling it, with diverse, biracial characters! This is the Pride and Prejudice I’ve been waiting for since I read it for the first time. The pacing was breakneck, and I loved Zuri’s warm, hilarious and unique voice. I also loved her loving, funny family; especially Janae. The Darcy boys made for an interesting foil against the loud, shameless Benitez women, and I loved the chemistry between Zuri and Darcy! I was laughing, crying, and swooning throughout the book. I loved Carrie and Catherine, and Warren; I could see all of the parallels to the original, retold in a more modern light. It was so exciting and refreshing! And I loved the ending. This book was absolutely amazing, and I can’t wait for more from Ibi Zoboi! With Pride, she has become one of my favorite new authors! An outstanding achievement! The bottom line: A fresh, funny, romantic and modern retelling of one of my favorite classics, I loved Pride! One of my favorite books of the year! Next on deck: Rule by Ellen Goodlett!

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor Review

Title: Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Strange the Dreamer, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I bought a copy of this book and reviewed it.

I first read Strange the Dreamer back when it came out in hardcover, borrowing it from my library, and it was one of my favorite books of the year. So, this is a reread review! It was originally supposed to be a standalone, so, imagine my delight and surprise when I found out that it was getting a sequel, Muse of Nightmares! I reserved Muse of Nightmares for myself at my local library and got around to thinking: I loved Strange the Dreamer so much, why not buy myself a copy for my collection? After all, what better way to prepare for the finale that will be Muse of Nightmares? As soon as I was able, I went to my local bookstore and snatched up my copy, and it sat on my shelf for a week or so, until Muse of Nightmares actually came in. As soon as I received word that it was in, I started reading it, and I was completely blown away for the second time. One of my favorite books of all time, I loved Strange the Dreamer even more the second time around! Enchanting, romantic, and more than a bit puzzling, I loved it, and I’m so excited (and scared) to finish the duo!

Lazlo Strange was named so for his tendency to walk around the library of Zosma with his nose stuck in a book; a war orphan, he came to the library as a gray, sick infant, and grew into a man among the books. A passionate lover of words, stories, myths, and legends, the one that inflames his imagination the most is that of the lost, forgotten city of Weep. When a man shows up, known only as the Godslayer, hoping to put together a capable team to set out to the city and solve a dark, forbidding problem, the boy who once found adventure and companionship only in books is leaping at the chance to finally chase his dream. When he finally gets to Weep, he discovers a world beyond even his grand imaginings, full of magic, danger, and gods that history has indeed almost forgotten. Things become even more complicated when he meets a beautiful girl with skin the color of lapis, opals, and the spring sky, and hair the color of warm cinnamon. Forced to confront the bloody, dark secrets that his dream holds, Lazlo must decide what he is willing to sacrifice for the ultimate dream, whether it be first love or his own life…


I really, really enjoyed this book, even more the second time around! Reading it again, I realized that there were a lot of things that I missed the first time, but it was such a wonderful, emotional, and fulfilling journey. I cannot wait to return to Weep when I finally read Muse of Nightmares! The pacing was breakneck, the prose gorgeous, and the plot, setting and world-building beautifully, masterfully wrought. I was swept away, and I loved the characters most of all, especially Lazlo. I really found that I related to him a lot; until the beginning of the book, most of his adventures were of the literary sort. But I found that I loved all of the characters, and even though this was my second time and I knew that it was coming, I cried like a baby on more than one occasion. And that ending! I’m so happy that I have Muse of Nightmares close at hand; I honestly don’t know how I survived the wait for the sequel after the first time I read it. Tears, laughter, and swooning await the reader in this passionate, unique, and dazzling series debut! I’m so excited for Muse of Nightmares! The bottom line: A beautiful, enchanting series debut by one of my favorite authors, I loved Strange the Dreamer so much I just had to buy a copy for my own collection! Next on deck: Pride by Ibi Zoboi!