The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

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  • My rating: 3.9/5 stars (petty, but I don’t want to give it 4 full stars lol)
  • Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • 385 pages
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon
  • TW: rape, sexual assault

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

Read my spoiler-free review and discussion below.

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The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

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  • My rating: 3/5 stars
  • Published by Central Avenue Publishing
  • 289 Pages
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out. Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.Then Kit starts dating Livy, and Skye draws Kit’s cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods. Skye and Grady are doomed to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever, unless Livy, the only one untainted by enchantment, can unravel the spell by walking a dangerous magical path of her own.

I have always loved stories about the fae that dwell just beyond the human world–this can include goblins, elves, fairies, and countless other creatures. Some of my favorites in this genre include An Enchantment of Ravens and The Treachery of Beautiful Things. I thought I’d give this one try, and it was about what I expected. Nothing amazing, but entertaining nonetheless.

If you’re looking for a story with depth, originality, and elegance, then this is not the book for you. I gave it three stars because it is average: nothing more, nothing less. The characters, while bland, aren’t annoying. The book is short enough that even the slow parts weren’t too boring, and the action was just intense enough to keep me reading. It’s a short, simple read with basic prose and very little stylistic voice. I would say that it is targeted towards younger readers, but it is a bit mature in terms of sex–there is no explicit detail, however, I wouldn’t recommend it for a pre-YA audience.

Overall, the book was simple with just enough intrigue to make me want to read it. It’s not a great novel by any standards, but it’s something I would pick up for a short read on a rainy afternoon. It’s super cheesy, but that’s what makes books like these fun to read sometimes. (Key word: sometimes. Normally I wouldn’t tolerate a book like this but I haven’t read something so unambitious in a long while).

(P.S. Sorry for posting twice in one day! I wanted to get my review up on Netgalley ASAP. Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Granted, it came out a year ago…but at the time I downloaded it, it was an ARC. lol it took me a while to get around to it)

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Underrated Female Heroes Book Tag

Hey everyone! I decided to do this cool tag in between reviews because I’m in a bit of a book slump right now, but I am down to talk about my favorite heroines any time. I got this tag from Thrice Read, so go check out their post! The original tag was created by the lovely Kate at meltingpotsandothercalamities.

1. Name a heroine you like, but whom you feel is always overshadowed by the male characters in the story:

Blue Sargent from The Raven Boys! Granted, the book is named after the boys, and Blue did get plenty of time to shine, but I always wanted more! She is such a lovely and quirky character, and I would have loved more of her and her family.

2. For that matter, name a heroine whom you feel is always overshadowed by the other female characters in the story.

Helene Aquilla from An Ember in the Ashes series, for sure. Most people I talk to dislike her, but she is totally amazing and overshadowed by Laia. I’m glad we’ve gotten a lot more of her perspective, because she is compassionate and loving while also being a bamf.

3. Name a character who had potential but was greatly underutilized in her story.

This one is kind of random because I couldn’t really think of anyone, but Honey Harper from Renegades has a pretty cool superpower. I would have liked to see more of the Anarchists in general, because they had a lot of unexplored backstories.

4. Name a female character who you either find better in her book than her movie, find better in her movie than her book, or whose portrayals you find equal.

ARYA DROTTNING GUYS. ERAGON WAS AN AMAZNG BOOK AND ARYA WAS A TOTAL BADASS. MOVIE-ARYA SUCKS. Well, the whole movie kinda sucked…

5. Name a character who you want more backstory on.

I will have to agree Thrice Read on this one, because I would have loved a more thorough backstory on Nehemia. Sarah, we’re waiting.

6. Name a character with traits you feel are sadly overlooked by everyone.

For this one I’m going to choose Circe from, well, Circe. Although Circe is a well-known Greek goddess, I feel like this retelling in particular rendered the most complete and complex character. The novel is pretty popular, but I really expected there to be more hype. And I’m going to shamelessly self-promote… read my review here.

7. Name a morally grey character. (Villain or anti hero!)

There are so many to choose from for this one, but I’ll have to go with Citra from Scythe. I think she is one of my favorites because we get to see the evolution of her struggles and morally gray decisions. Once again, read my review here.

8. A character you’re stunned isn’t more famous. 

Sydney from Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series. Okay, I know everyone got caught up in the cheesiness of Vampire Academy. And Bloodlines has its fair share of cheesiness too…especially the covers. BUT REMEMBER THE NUMBER ONE LESSON OF READING, GUYS. NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER (only sometimes). This series as a whole is so underrated, and Sydney is an amazing and strong character! We ignore the covers.

9. A character from a piece of fiction you’re amazed isn’t more famous.

Well…this is the same question as #8, so…once again, Sydney from Bloodlines.

I tag:

(Feel free to ignore if you’ve already done this or have no interest in it)

PLUS anyone else who would like to do the tag! Feel free to leave your link in the comments, I would love to check out your list. Do you agree with my choices? Disagree? Let me know 🙂

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Furyborn by Claire Legrand

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  • My rating: 2.5/5 stars 😦
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon
  • Published by Sourcebooks Fire
  • 512 freaking pages

Description: When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable―until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world―and of each other.

My spoiler-free review is below.

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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

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Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

Read my spoiler-free review below.

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Kingdom of Ash Cover Reveal/Reaction

Well…we’re almost there folks! It’s only a couple more months until Kingdom of Ash comes out, and Aelin’s adventure will come to an end. A couple days ago the lovely Mrs. Maas revealed the cover of the final novel! I think it’s really beautiful, although I have always been more drawn to the UK editions. All in all, I think it’s a spectacular way to end the series, all of which have lovely covers. The armor is intricate, and the brightness of the background gives me a little hope as to how the series will end. I’m hoping it means that it goes well… Also, I am beyond excited to see how the gold actually turns out when it’s done in gold leaf. I love the cover, and I think it adds beautifully to look of the series.

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Kingdom of Ash is scheduled for release on October 23, 2018. 

Here are summaries of the first three books that I wrote a while ago when I was doing a re-readathon. I never wrote summaries for the remaining books, but these can get you started. To see more summaries, visit the lovely folks at Book Series Recaps, who do the entire book community a favor by writing both reviews and summaries of lots of popular books.

Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on the new cover?

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Circe by Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

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Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

When Lady Saren refuses to marry a man she fears, she and her maid, Dashti, are locked in a tower with just a tiny flap open to the outside world. As food runs low and the weather changes from broiling hot to unbearably cold, it is all Dashti can do to make them comfortable in their dark prison.

Not long after their confinement begins, Saren’s suitors arrive–one welcome, the other less so-and she orders Dashti to speak to them. Impersonating Lady Saren is a crime punishable by death, but Dashti will have to play the role many times if she is to save them both from the tower and the dangers outside. As she takes control of their desperate situation, Dashti begins to understand her own astonishing talents and believe that even a low-born maid can find true love.

Book of a Thousand Days is an acclaimed romantic coming-of-age tale that is impossible to put down. Shannon Hale’s lyrical writing, unforgettable characters and intriguing setting give this book the timeless quality that any classic must have.

Read below for my review.

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Hello everyone! Recently I’ve only been posting reviews, so I thought I’d find a tag that I could do–I haven’t been reading as much this year, so it was a little difficult to find one that I could find applicable books for. I ended up choosing this one, which I originally found on Two Book Thieves’ blog (see their post).  Also, just a disclaimer, these are books that I’ve read in 2018, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they were released this year.

  1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2018?

I’ve read so many good books this year! I think one of my favorites is The Golem and the Jinni. Surprisingly, it’s not YA, but it was an excellent fantasy novel that ties itself up perfectly, although I think there will be a sequel.

 

 

 

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018?

Looking at my Goodreads reading challenge, I see that most books I’ve read this year are actually the first in the series…so almost by default this one has to go to A Reaper at the Gates. Key word is almost…because I probably would have picked this one even if I had read many other sequels. Ms. Tahir never fails to deliver on an epic story. It was bone-chilling and tense and beautiful. I cannot wait for the next one. (Although I am disappointed about the mid-series cover changes. bleh.)

 

 

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to? 

Okay so this one came out a while ago, but I still haven’t gotten around to it yet. I absolutely adored the first novel, Wintersong, and I’ve heard that this one does not disappoint.

 

 

 

 

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of 2018?

Screen Shot 2018-07-09 at 10.12.48 AM.pngThis one’s a no-brainer. I’ve been following these books since I was 12 years old and no one had ever heard of Sarah J Maas. Ever since I picked up Throne of Glass I’ve been hooked. Every year I re-read the series and waited anxiously for the next one to come out…and this is the last year that I get to do that. I have grown up with Celaena and this series will always have a piece of my heart.

 

 

5. Biggest disappointment?

Marissa Meyer has always been one of my all-time favorite authors, but recently with Heartless and now Renegades, I have to say that I’m losing faith…

 

 

 

6. Biggest surprise? 

I’m taking this to mean the biggest pleasant surprise, though I had some unpleasant ones too. This one goes to Assassin’s Heart. It didn’t get great reviews, but I was seriously blown away by this book. It was completely different than the usual YA assassin novel, which have been popping up everywhere ever since ToG, and I finished it in about one sitting. Its characters are unique and captivating and the premise dragged me in from the first page. I loved it!

 

 

 

7. Favorite new author?

I’ve read the first two books of the Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden this year, and I am absolutely in love with her writing.

 

 

 

8. Newest fictional crush?

For this one I’m going with Simon from Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Yes. I know he’s gay. But he’s really adorable and I’m still allowed to have a crush on him. It’s probably due to the fact that he’s played by my love Nick Robinson…

 

 

 

9.  Newest favorite character?

For this one I’m choosing Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. I absolutely love Elisa’s evolution of self-love and acceptance in this story. I can personally relate to her struggle and I can honestly say that I learned so much from her.

 

 

 

10 . Book that made you cry?

I haven’t bawled this year because of a book, but A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea definitely made me tear up. It is a brutal memoir that doesn’t flinch from the horrors of North Korea, and it is a chilling read that opened my eyes to the extent of suffering and inhumane treatment that is occurring.

 

 

 

 

11. Book that made you happy?

Geekerella is a light-hearted, adorable read that I could 100% relate to. 10/10 would recommend.

 

 

 

 

 

12. Favorite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year?

The Swedish version, NOT the American one. Excellent book and excellent movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. Favorite review you’ve written this year?

Okay. So I actually wrote this review on December 31st last year…but I really want to include it since I love this book. You can read my review here.

 

 

 

 

 

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year?

This one hands-down goes to The Gallery. While it wasn’t the most well-written, the cover is a beautiful work of art. Also, shoutout to Bookoutlet.com for having all of these beautiful books for super cheap.

 

 

 

 

 

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year? 

These are just a few I’m looking forward to reading. A couple have already come out but I haven’t read them.

Thank you so much for reading! I really enjoyed doing this tag, it’s been a while since I did anything other than a review. I tag anyone who wants to do this–I would love to see your version of the tag. Feel free to leave a link in the comments or just tell me what you would have answered. Do you have the same answers? Or do you disagree with some? Let me know 🙂

Happy reading,

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Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

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