The Overwhelming Book Sale

As a bookfluencer(™) *cringes*, book lover, and overall hoarder of books, it is important to me that I get good deals on my collection. See, the thing is, I’m not just buying books for myself. I also like to buy books for my children, my husband, and I look for books to donate to a local veteran foundation. Obtaining a deal on books is an essential part of me maintaining my budget, too.

Recently, my mother-in-law and I decided to head up to Milwaukee for a huge Half Price Books blowout sale. Everything – literally everything, including vinyls – was $2.00 or less. Honestly, it would have been foolish NOT to go to this sale.

The thing is, it was actually really overwhelming. Let me paint a picture for you.

You walk into a big warehouse on the fairgrounds. There are hundreds of people swarming tables of books, flocking to sections with carts, baskets, bags, and strollers. There is limited room between each table; as you approach and get a closer look at the table, you notice there is no real organization to the tables. Books are scattered across every available surface and there are boxes filled with more books under every table. The closer you get to the section you want, the more you notice the lack of organization. You find a children’s chapter book mixed in with young adult novels. You start to wonder “how will I find what I’m looking for?”

The more you browse, the more foolish you feel for having brought a list with you, so you stuff your list into your pocket and just go for it.

Clear enough picture? Regardless, I’m still going to explain why exactly this book sale was overwhelming.

Alphabetization

Have you ever been to a HPB store? If you have, you no doubt know their books are organized alphabetically by author’s last name and also by genre. At this book sale, they tried to clump books together into categories (i.e. Young Adult, Fiction, History), but they did not attempt to group anything together. As I browsed through the YA section, I kept stumbling upon children’s chapter books (i.e. Junie B. Jones, Ramona and Beezus, etc) which was simultaneously frustrating and delightful.

It was frustrating because I was browsing YA for specific titles, but couldn’t find anything I was really looking for specifically because there was no sort of organization. I’m not looking for alphabetization, but I would have loved if books were actually grouped together by topic. For instance, I found several Cassie Clare books spread across 6 different tables. Just. Put. Them. All. Together.

The main reason I wasn’t furious about the children’s chapter books mixed in is that I was able to find some of my childhood favorites mixed into the bunch.

People, people, people

I am the type of person who is easily affected by others. Meaning, the actions of a few people can potentially ruin my day simply because I let them. There was two women at this book sale who had the potential to ruin my day. Let me explain why…

I had a cart, but I am the type of person who is courteous of others and aware of myself and others situationally. I kept my cart out of other people’s ways and I made sure I wasn’t blocking anyone’s paths constantly. However, there was one person who approached me, cart stacked to the brim with books. They looked me right in the eye and said, “Could you move, please?” I was pretty taken aback by the brusqueness of the question – why would they not just say “excuse me?” Of course, I moved, but I was really frustrated at that point.

The second encounter with a person was, yet again, odd. Like I said, I try to stay aware in situations like this – maybe that’s the military in me? – but when I noticed this woman, I knew I’d have to pay close attention. She was walking up and down the tables of books, not even paying attention to other people. This person very nearly walked directly into me. As a situationally aware person, I don’t ever understand how people can be so unaware of other people (or themselves for that matter) that they’d be able to almost knock into someone, but here we are.

The Haul

I will not be sharing my haul here. I will, however, let you in on how many books I bought and how much I spent. I ended up buying two reusable bags – which added to my total (they were $1.00 each) and I got one book for free because I donated a can of food to the event and received a coupon. In total, I spent $54 and some change – two books I bought were for my mother-in-law (to make up for her paying for parking) and one book was for my husband to decide what to do with (a history book on “great” battles). The rest of my haul, XX books in total, were books for myself and my children to enjoy.

A haul video will go up relatively soon if you’re interested in that, so stay tuned.

Overall…

I didn’t hate my time at this book sale, I just felt anxious and overwhelmed for most of the time. I could have found more books if I hadn’t felt so anxious and overwhelmed, but I’m happy with what I did find. We spent 2 hours at the sale and both walked away with hefty amounts of books.

Let’s chat!

Can you describe your worst book buying experience? Maybe it was at a sale similar to this one. Share a story in the comments!

10 Books to Read in One Sitting

Hi there!

I was incredibly busy and stressed out last week – I didn’t have energy, much less time, to film. This week I managed my time a little better and managed to produce a video I’m happy with.

We had crap weather here in the Chicagoland area last Sunday (Winter Is Here!) and so I felt inspired to talk about all the books I’ve read in one sitting. Here’s that video.

I’d love to hear from you! What books have you read in one sitting?

Book Review | The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles Book 1)

If we’re going to talk books, it would be a definite missed opportunity to skip out on books I’ve been wanting to read for a long ass time, but haven’t yet. One of my main goals in reading in 2019 is to ensure that I tackle my TBR, especially in regards to these books I’ve wanted to read forever, but haven’t.

I started a bookstagram account last year and have continued to neglect it because I can only be so consistent. When I first started my account, I noticed The Remnant Chronicles everywhere. They seemed right up my alley and so… I finally read the first book!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love. 

The Prince and the Assassin

For most of the book, I felt uncertain which young man was which. For the sake of not spoiling anything, I’ll just say there was quite a stretch of the book where I thought I knew who was who, but then I started to change my mind and ended up being correct in the end. Is that confusing? Yes? Sorry, trying to keep this spoiler free!

Anyway, this was the main aspect of the book that I loved. I enjoyed trying to figure it out – it’s like a mystery, but no one’s been murdered yet!

Lovable Supporting Characters

I loved Lia. Honestly, she might be among my favorite female characters. However, as far as supporting characters go, Lia is surrounded by good ones! Pauline is such a strong character and so much more to Lia than a maid. I love the friendship between these two. It’s really sweet and important in terms of female friendships.

I also really loved Berdi’s motherly-ness and Gwenyth’s badassery. Seriously, the women in this books ROCK.

General Ramblings

It took me a while to get through this book, and it’s not because I wasn’t enjoying it. I spent a large portion of the week I spent reading this feeling really sad and tired. It was not a good week for my mental health, but I pushed through and ended up really enjoying the story as a whole.

Although I’m not picking up the second book just yet, I know it’s going to be a read as soon as I finish my current read (stay tuned for the review). This trilogy is one I really think I’ll end up loving because of the strength of the characters and Mary E. Pearson’s writing style. I love it. I love how she successfully pulled off creating a language (Linguistics was my favorite college class).

Really, in general, I loved this book and can’t wait to make some room on my TBR for more of Mary E. Pearson’s books. She might be a new favorite! (Though no one will top Cassie for me).

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

What’s your favorite trilogy? I am definitely trash for trilogies so drop some recommendations in the comments.

Book Review | The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

In February, I opted for two selections via Book of the Month. One was a release from December 2017 (I think) and the other was a new release. My mother in law and I decided to buddy read the new release toward the end of the month.

I thought The Winter Sister would end up being one of my favorite books from the month, but it wasn’t. In fact, it might be my least favorite book from the month. We’ll dive into it more in depth further into this review, but for now what you need to know is this book was average at best.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we really know the people we love most?

Not Quite Riley Sager

Look, it’s not really a secret that my favorite book of 2018 was The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager. I read it in July and I’m still obsessing over it months later. I love Sager’s writing and he really knows how to create a thriller that I’m invested in. At one point in this book, I had a flashback to The Last Time I Lied and felt pretty pissed because I thought Megan Collins was going to rip off his work (thank goodness she didn’t).

Here’s the thing: Sylvie (our main character) is an artist. She also behaves pretty similarly to our main character (Emma) in The Last Time I Lied. The parallels stopped there, but boy, was I worked up for a minute!

Annie is the Worst

There are fewer things I despise more in literature than horrible mothers. I’m coining it a trope though because I’ve read more than my fair share of bab mom books. Quite literally, Annie O’Leary might top that list of bad moms though. She is the absolute worst.

Not only does she care unequally for her daughters, she emotionally shuts down when Persephone goes missing. I understand the grief one must feel over the loss of a child, but just because you’ve lost one child doesn’t mean you can emotionally abandon the living child. That’s the most surefire way of fucking a kid up – and Annie does exactly this to Sylvie. I hated her character. She didn’t even have a single redeeming quality.

Sylvie is childish…

The story starts out when Sylvie is 14 and flashes between memories of when she and Persephone were growing up and present day. Present day Sylvie is 30 goddam years old, but acts like she’s about 16. It’s annoying. I felt myself more and more frustrated at her.

Sure she felt as if her actions AS A CHILD came into play when Persephone was murdered, but at some point, I expected her to get over the guilt. She couldn’t let it go and at no point was therapy for Sylvie mentioned. She clearly needed it!

Impulsive and Predictable

A lot of this book seems to be built on impulsiveness. At one point Sylvie point blank accuses Ben of murdering her sister even though the police say it wasn’t him. While this is technically a spoiler, I firmly believe that if you actually read this book, you won’t even suspect Ben.

This leads me into the predictability portion of my review. I had two theories about this book. One was mostly right and I figured it out around the middle of the novel. When I realized I actually was right I almost didn’t finish the book because it didn’t seem worth my time at that point. (But given I was almost at the end I did end up finishing, hence the review).

It was a well written story, but it was just a little too predictable. Throw me some curveballs, Megan!

Concluding Thoughts

Though this is a well written novel, I found myself increasingly frustrated and angry with the characters. I don’t think there was a single character I liked, except maybe Jill, and overall the narrator didn’t behave the way a 30 year old woman is expected to. She was too childish and not quite sleuthy enough for my liking. As for the predictability element, I could’ve used a few twists. Everything I expected to happen, did happen.

I guess I just feel like this book didn’t challenge me enough. I need something to surprise me in the mystery genre and this fell short for me. However, one thing I will say I didn’t think this was a debut novel, but it was!

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

It could have been better, but it could have been much, much worse. I enjoyed the writing and would recommend to people who want to feel like Sherlock Holmes in their deductions. (I’ve been bingeing Sherlock lately, if you can’t tell!)

Did you read The Winter Sister? What were some of your thoughts?

Book Review | After You by Jojo Moyes

I spent way too long after finishing Me Before You in a rage. In fact, the rage carried over into my enjoyment of this novel for the first half or so. As much as I tried not to let my anger shape the way I felt about this book, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t let it. Because I did.

I spent so much time being angry at Ms. Moyes over the ending of Me Before You, I almost didn’t even give this book a chance. But I needed to know how the story continued, so I tried to let go of the anger. It worked out for me in the end.

I’m still a little mad though.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.   

Lily Houghton-Miller

I spent half of this book hating Lily. She’s selfish, she’s a brat, and she’s manipulative. How could her father possibly be a character I enjoy so much? Well, it turns out her character flaws mostly derive from her horrible mother.

When we meet Lily, she’s about 16 years old and struggling to find her way in life. She’s the one who witnesses Lou’s accident. She’s the one who calls the ambulance. She’s annoying, but at the same time, I welcomed her to the story. She gives Lou something to focus on besides her grief.

Toward the end, I really came to like Lily. She was just a lost little girl – who better than Lou to help show her the way?

Moving On

The whole point of this novel is, in my opinion, how to deal with grief. It’s the focal point. This book, much as I hated it at first, helped me through my grief to. This novel was like aloe to a burn – it helped soothe my rage and calm my grief. I didn’t know when I started it how much I needed this book to help me get over the ending of Me Before You. This book was all about moving on and I think that’s what helped me enjoy it toward the middle and end.

Ambulance Sam

At first, I didn’t like him. I fell into the trap Moyes wove for us – the trap Lou herself fell into. But when I realized we were both wrong, I was pleased with the love interest selection. While Sam is no Will Traynor, he is definitely someone who understand Lou’s grief enough to help her work through it. By the end, I found myself hopeful for the sake of the budding romance between these two.

Feminism

There is little I love more than a woman who’s spent her whole life living to serve her husband and family discovering feminism. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the novel, aside from the healing of grief. Lou’s mother discovering feminism at the adult school is literally the best. For a book that kept me sad (and crying) throughout, the added spice of a feminist mother gave me some good laughs and kept me from becoming too depressed while reading. Also Lou’s dad being desperate to get Josie out of this movement is quite funny.

Overall Thoughts

Going in, I didn’t think I’d give this one as high a rating as Me Before You. I might have liked this one a smidge better because I felt it handled the whole recovering from grief thing really well. While I didn’t necessarily like how Moyes handled depression in Me Before You, I do really think she did a great job at handling grief. I mean, I’m still grieving the loss of a character, but this book helped me overcome a little bit. I definitely needed to see Lou heal too – even though I didn’t realize it when I picked this one up.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

I was worried that this would be the sort of book that sucks – as is the case with a lot of second books’ in a series. I was quite impressed with this one. I’m wondering if anyone feels the same as me. Did you like After You? I noticed its rating is quite a bit lower on Goodreads. Share some thoughts down in the comments.

Book Review | Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Last year, I mistakenly ordered Still Me as one of my Book of the Month selections. I say “mistakenly” because at that time I didn’t know it was the third book in a series. When I finally realized my mistake, I headed over to Amazon and picked up a copy of Me Before You and After You so that I’d be ready to read Still Me when the time came.

I decided to grab Me Before You around mid-month because I’d been reading a lot of light hearted and fun books throughout the month of February and I, surprisingly, wanted a break from YA at this point in the month.

I have many thoughts on the book so let’s get started.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Louisa Clark is an ordinary young woman living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Mental Health

The first thing I’d like to discuss is the mental health situation surround Will. Obviously he isn’t happy with his life. And how could he be? I mean, he went from being on top of the world – travelling and living his life to the fullest – to being bound to his chair and house. I understand how that could be depressing.

What I didn’t like is how the depression was handled in this book. I thought, without giving any spoilers, it could have been handled a bit better. I didn’t necessarily dislike the use of mental health in this book, but I didn’t like that Jojo Moyes basically made it seem like living life in a chair wasn’t worth living.

One more time, I understand that this is how someone who lead an active life before a life changing accident would likely feel, but I would have thought the Traynor’s could afford to send Will to speak with a therapist after his attempted suicide. This would have helped alter my view, if slightly, on the mental health in this story.

Supporting Characters

Look, Louisa is obviously my favorite. She’s sarcastic and sassy and a character who leapt off the page at me. I really like her and could see myself being friends with a person like her. She also has kindness in her from being raised by a really wholesome family.

For the most part, I liked the supporting characters. Even Will’s mom wasn’t that bad. Do you know who I hated? Patrick. Seriously, fuck that guy.

As Lou’s boyfriend of nearly 7 years, you’d think they’d be engaged or at least living together. No chance. Patrick is married to working out – which is fine. Do you, Patrick. Just don’t get pissy pants when your girl starts to drift away from you. Also don’t be a prick to a man in a wheelchair just because you’re jealous that he’s obviously way better than you.

Basically, Lou could do better than Patrick. Rant over.

On to Lou’s family. I loved her father. He reminded me so much of my own dad it was nuts! The way he teases Lou is exactly the way my dad teases my sister and me. I loved him. And Lou’s mom was the kind of mom I strive to be – loving, nurturing, and kind. Treena was kind of bitchy and gave off the vibe of older sister (even though she’s younger). I think this is because she’s got a child of her own, but I still liked her. She kept it real with Lou which is what she needed.

That Ending

I’m gonna be up front with you here. I was furious at the end of this novel. Literally, I was so pissed I couldn’t even feel anything but rage. I can’t go much into details here because my mother in law reads this blog and I don’t want to give spoilers since I know she wants to read this book… If you have read Me Before You you know why I’m mad.

Honestly, when it’s all said and done I quite enjoyed this book. It was a heart wrenching love story that I didn’t know was missing from my life. Even though I was mad about how it ended, I recommend it to romance lovers. It’s not a hardcore, smutty romance story, but the love is there and it’s so strong.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Have you watched the film adaptation of Me Before You? Is it worth watching or is it really different from the book? Tell me how you felt while reading this book in the comments.

Book Review | Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

No doubt, I’ve said by now, I waited until Queen of Air and Darkness released to read The Dark Artifices. The thing about Cassandra Clare’s book is once I start a series, I need to devour it. The story consumes me and I knew that if the Blackthorns were involved in this trilogy, I’d want to devour the series as fast as I can. Have I mentioned how much I like Mark Blackthorn? He’s the main reason I anticipated this trilogy so much…

Normally, I love the last book of Cassie’s series’ or trilogies the most. Clockwork Princess was my favorite of The Infernal Devices. City of Heavenly Fire was, probably an unpopular opinion, a decent close to The Mortal Instruments. And, definitely don’t get me wrong, Queen of Air and Darkness neatly wrapped up Emma and Julian’s storyline, but left others WIDE OPEN, hence why Lord of Shadows ended up being my favorite of The Dark Artifices.

Let’s discuss the beginning

To start, I thought this book was really good. Long winded, but everything included was somehow necessary. This was, without a doubt, the longest YA novel I’ve read to date. It was long, but it didn’t feel drivelly. That said, I do think it was a slow build.

The way Lord of Shadows ended, I expected Queen of Air and Darkness to come in hot with Julian’s ruthless heart. It did not. It took me about 300 pages to really get invested in this book. It’s not that it was disappointing or anything, it just felt like Cassie was doing more building of the story.

Chapter One was really well written. I cried through the entirety of the chapter because I still wasn’t prepared to say goodbye to certain characters.

This whole book was full of complexities that I really enjoyed. I won’t divulge too much detail, because I try to keep my reviews spoiler free, but there was a lot of detail that went into this novel that I really enjoyed.

Overlapping storylines

One thing I really love about Cassie is she always brings back beloved characters. In this one, we get a lot of The Mortal Instruments gang (mainly Clary, Jace, Alec, and Magnus) and not nearly enough Tessa and Jem. There are happy moments with Tessa and Jem and devastating ones too.

I really liked that Clary and Jace, Alec and Magnus played a big part in Queen of Air and Darkness. One of my biggest qualms with City of Heavenly Fire is that young Emma and Julian were really in it a lot. This was different though because everyone is older so there’s less pre-teen angst and a lot more adultish themes. Also, Emma and Julian as almost adults are a lot less annoying that pre-teen Emma and Julian. So there’s that!

Relationships, relationships, relationships

So much happens in terms of relationships. Deeper connections are made between some of my favorites. Some relationships seem broken beyond repair. Special bonds are formed between two of my favorite characters. This one was heartbreaking in terms of relationships, but in the best way.

The Big Problem

Look, this might be a little spoilery… As much as I love Alec and Magnus, the ending of Queen of Air and Darkness seemed more about them than it did Emma and Julian. I’m not mad, I’m simply stating something I thought when I finished reading. It was nice to see Malec taking strides in their relationship, but I need more closure for Emma and Julian (I’m sure the time will come eventually!).

Here’s my problem… the Epilogue opened the door for a whole other story and I NEED IT NOW.

Here’s what I hope

I felt sad that Kit decided to leave without saying goodbye. I was really hoping he’d stay for Ty. I’m now hopeful for a Kit and Ty story and I need more about Mark and Cristina. I’m hopeful that once Red Scrolls of Magic come out, we will get to see more of both sets of characters.

Overall, I’m not mad at Queen of Air and Darkness and it’s still a really great book. There are just certain things that upset me about the novel because I feel like I need MORE closure. Guess I’m just greedy like that! 😛

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫

Book Discussion/Review | Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

I go into every Cassandra Clare novel reminding myself I’m likely to cry by the end. Typically this warning is a reminder when I read a final installment of her series’, but I try to keep it in the back of my mind for every book (including the novellas). Even with my reminder, I was not prepared for how much I would cry reading Lord of Shadows.

Caution:  Spoilers Ahead

When we last saw Emma, she was convincing Mark to pretend to be falling in love with her. While I don’t think it’s beautiful that they’re lying to everyone around them, I think the friendship formed from this fake relationship is really lovely.

The thing about Cassie’s writing, at least in my opinion, is she knows how to write relationships I’m invested in. It doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic relationship or just a friendship. I love the way she writes about the bonds formed between her characters. This is important to me in the novels I consume so I was happy to see it continue on in Lord of Shadows.

Emma and Cristina’s relationship is almost on par with Simon and Clary’s friendship. As far as friendships go, I’m equally as invested in both of these relationships. As this novel progressed, I found myself wishing Emma and Cristina could be parabati. It would certainly make Emma and Julian’s relationship easier.

Mark and Emma’s friendship, under the ruse of dating, is also one I came to adore. As they pretended to be falling in love, I noticed they were getting closer and closer as friends. Mark is one of my favorite characters in the Shadowhunters Chronicales, so to get more of him, especially moments where he’s re-learning how to be a Shadowhunter, was something I really cherished about this novel. I didn’t necessarily like that Emma and Mark were pretending (because I prefer Mark with Kieran or Cristina) but I liked that Mark had someone else to rely on as the story progressed.

I struggled with Kieran in this novel. I harbored so much residual hatred for him from Lady Midnight, I couldn’t quite feel bad for him when he was taken to the Unseelie Court. I didn’t necessarily want him to die at the hands of his father, but that doesn’t mean I liked him. I think after he was rescued by Mark, Emma, Jules, and Cristina I started to like him more. I didn’t like that he was behaving like a jealous boyfriend, but I get why he was that way.

Kit, Ty, and Livvy really stood out in this one. Their little trio is very much how I imagine Jace, Izzy, and Alec’s trio to be when Jace came to live at the New York Institute. I imagine that Kit and Jace felt very much the same way when they joined their respective Institutes because Herondale’s are all quite alike. I loved that Kit was Livvy’s first kiss even though it seems Kit is more intrigued by Ty than Livvy. The friendship in this group was really important to me as this novel progressed.

While nothing is really complicated about the friendships in Lord of Shadows, the romantic relationships are completely opposite.

First, Julian and Emma… Oh boy, how to even explain. Their relationship seems to be becoming a raging fire…. Even though Mark and Emma pretended to date until after the came home from Faerie, I could tell it was hurting Julian a lot. Mark, of course, didn’t know how much it was hurting Jules because he thought it was to hurt Cameron. When Emma and Mark break up, I would compare Jules and Emma’s relationship to throwing gasoline on a fire. It really ramps up and starts to affect their bond. I know this is one of the main principles of the novel and I’m not doing it any justice whatsoever, so basically: I spent this whole novel rooting for Emma and Jules. I don’t want to give too many spoilers…

Kieran and Mark or Mark and Cristina Or Mark, Kieran, and Cristina? This was even more complicated than Julian and Emma. I like Mark and Kieran together. Kieran was the person who helped keep Mark safe in the Wild Hunt so I feel like I can forgive Kieran for his sins… But Cristina helped keep Mark sane when he returned from the Hunt. And she’s a genuinely kind person. So I have to root for her and Mark. But I can also see Cristina and Kieran as a couple because he takes care of her after he slays Erec. And I can see all of them together because of the love Kieran and Cristina both have for Mark. Basically, Lord of Shadows sits on the precipice of a thrupple. I live for it.

One relationship I did not question whatsoever was Gwyn and Diana. She is such a badass woman, she deserves someone equally badass. Who’s more badass than the leader of the Wild Hunt? We learn that Diana is harboring a secret and we learn what her secret is and I couldn’t possibly love Cassie any more for including a variety of characters in her novels.

Was there anything that pissed me off relationship wise? Yes. Of course! The Mortal Instruments introduced me to Cassie’s writing, so to read that Clary turned Jace down when he asked her to marry him – even though she had a valid reason – really wound me up. I yelled. I cried. I cursed Clary out in my head. But ultimately, I got it. However, if Clary and Jace don’t end up married how is there hope for any other relationship in this world Cassie created?

Okay… enough about the relationships in this novel. Let’s talk about the worst parts of Lord of Shadows:  the Centurions.

If any one character, besides Valentine, defined “Shadowhunter Superiority” it’s Zara Dearborn. This isn’t used lightly; Zara is a raging bitch. I was surprised when she introduced herself as perfect Diego’s fiancee. I was heartbroken for Cristina or course because Diego doesn’t seem that bad.

When Manuel and Zara have their secret meeting and the little trio of spies catches them, I couldn’t help but compare their ideas for the Downworld to Nazi Germany. I’m sure this was Cassie’s intent too. While Lady Midnight was about catching Annabel Blackthorn, Lord of Shadows seems to be more about taking down Zara and her cronies. Or maybe they’re the underlying problem… after recapturing Annabel.


All in all, I really enjoyed reading more about the Blackthorns and Emma. There were character deaths, one in particular, I will never recover from and there were super sweet moments as well. At the time of writing this, I have finished Queen of Air and Darkness and can safely report Lord of Shadows is my favorite of The Dark Artifices trilogy.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Note: I really had to reign myself in on this one… I could have written about every tiny detail that was important to me, but I really wanted to focus on the building up of relationships in this one. Call me sentimental! ha

Book Discussion/Review | Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight has been on my list for what feels like forever! I didn’t want to start reading it before all three books in The Dark Artifices trilogy released, but since Queen of Air and Darkness released in December 2018, I now feel prepared to dive into what I’m sure will be a new favorite trilogy.

First, a little disclaimer. Twelve year old Emma Carstairs annoyed the shit out of me in City of Heavenly Fire. I felt bad that she lost both of her parents in one fell swoop, but otherwise found her quite annoying – particularly her incredibly odd crush on Jace (I thought it more bordered on an obsession than a crush and firmly believe her first real crush was Mark). I tried not to let my opinion of young Emma shape my opinion of almost of age Emma.

Oh and ps, this discussion has spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Now, I firmly believe first impressions are important. One of my initial first impressions goes back to my disclaimer. My first impression of seventeen year old Emma – I like her less than twelve year old Emma. In hindsight, I think this was just residual hate from City of Heavenly Fire because I ended up liking Emma quite a lot as Lady Midnight progressed. Diana is just as amazing as I remember her being, but she’s definitely hiding something. Cristina is going to be a character that I end up really liking and the Blackthorns are really so incredible.

Something that I questioned in City of Heavenly Fire, when we meet the Blackthorns, was brought to light again in Lady Midnight. I remember when Tiberius was introduced thinking he had to fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. Seeing him as a fifteen year old boy, I still question whether he is on the spectrum and if the Shadowhunters even know – considering they don’t access mundane medicine.

The Blackthorn family dynamic is so incredible; I think it’s so impressive because they are a group of children who were essentially raised by another child. Julian really is a great father figure to his siblings.

Malcolm Fade is an interesting character. He is a warlock, but doesn’t really remind me of Magnus. He’s almost as charismatic, but there’s something not as authentic about him. I do like his idea that every story is a love story though.

Speaking of love stories. One thing is absolutely clear (and has been since City of Heavenly Fire) – Julian is in love with Emma. Emma’s feelings for Julian are a bit more complicated than Julian’s feelings for Emma. Whereas Emma is just discovering she might have feelings for Jules, it is clear Julian has always loved Emma.

The fey are the absolute worst in this book. I hate what they did to Mark Blackthorn. Honestly, it enrages me because I have always adored his character. He is so different from the Mark we encounter in City of Heavenly Fire and it absolutely breaks my heart. Emma’s initial twelve year old crush on Mark has definitely gone away, but I definitely like the dynamic between them! I think they’d be a great couple based on their scenes alone.

Mark is a lot more complicated than I thought. It seems that he feels something for Cristina, but he is tied to an Unseelie Prince, Kieran. It makes my heart happy to know Mark had someone to comfort him during his years with the Wild Hunt. Initially, I was on the fence about Kieran, but I think I like him. He doesn’t seem good for Shadowhunter Mark, but definitely is good for Faerie Mark. Cristina and Mark would be another great couple, so to see her turn him down… it definitely surprised me. Although, Mark could’ve phrased his feelings better than he did…

As always, I love when Magnus Bane makes an appearance – especially when he maintains his complete and utter sass. Will Herondale may be the OG sass king, but he definitely had to pick up some traits from Master Magnus.

At the Lottery, when Julian and Emma are dancing and Jules almost kisses her, my heart stopped. To be so bold as to almost kiss his parabati in public! I almost yelled. I think this is when I realized that Cristina must know how Julian and Emma feel about each other. It’s almost glaringly obvious. I love it.

An unexpected moment in the story was a flashback to after Jules and Emma’s parabati ceremony. Emma accidently eavesdrops on Clary and Jace, but I didn’t even mind that she was basically spying on them. Their private moment in the garden was so sweet. It definitely showcases Clary and Jace’s love for each other. I found myself wanting a similar moment between Jules and Emma.

Annnnd we got that moment… not as sweet, but we got a moment between Emma and Julian in which their feelings for each other are blatant. I didn’t mind the kiss. In fact, I expected it. Julian saved Emma’s life and that would tip anyone over the edge of their feelings. What I didn’t necessarily like was the zero to one hundredness of them kissing to them hooking up on the beach. I know they’ve known each other their whole lives. It just felt fast to me.

Lady Midnight is so full of surprises. While it’s clear Arthur is mad, it’s also assumed Diana is leading the Institute during his bouts of madness. I was shocked that Julian had been corresponding with the Clave on behalf of the Institute since he was twelve. It’s astounding to me that someone so young could be forced to grow up so fast and still be a wonderful person.

In fact, Julian never ceases to amaze me. The depth of his love for his family knows no limit. That he would take lashings for Mark did not surprise me. It amazed me, but knowing all that we know about Jules, I was not surprised. Nor was I surprised that Mark tried to stop it. What did surprise me was Emma. I should have known she would step in and take the lashings for Julian, but when she did it, I realized she truly loves the whole Blackthorn family and not just Jules.

I felt the Blackthorn’s betrayal when they realized who the Guardian is. I guess it shouldn’t have been surprising… but it was. The fact that Malcolm took care of the Blackthorns and helped them all for years added to the betrayal. I was furious that he took Tavvy to the convergence to drain him of blood for his necromancy spell. Poor, defenseless, seven year old Octavian! How could he?!?! A child!!!

I love the fact that Clare give us looks back on the lives of the Shadowhunters we met in The Mortal Instruments. Reading about Simon and Izzy’s engagement made me smile. I knew they’d end up together, but the closure on their relationship was definitely welcome.

The Kit Rook is actually Christopher Herondale was a surprise to me. I want to know if he got Shadowhunter blood from his mother or his father. As always, Tessa and Jem were a welcome surprise. I remain happy that they found each other again.

Lady Midnight concludes with Mark and Emma agreeing to date… but Emma lied to Mark about why and that devastates me. Mark’s closing line of “Why lie?” doesn’t strike me as a why do you want to lie question, but more of a let’s really date kind of thing.

There’s so much content in this book, it felt damn near impossible to discuss and review it briefly. Overall, though the story is not without problems, I devoured this book as if my life depended on it. Therefore I give it my highest rating.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

What are some of your thoughts on Lady Midnight? Do you have a favorite character in this book? Share some thoughts in the comments!

Book Discussion/Review | Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Did you know it’s entirely possible to laugh, cry, and scream while reading a book written by Cassandra Clare? I’ve experienced many emotions while reading her books, but nothing prepared me for the emotions I’d experience while reading Clockwork Princess.

First of all, I hate certain tropes. Love triangles being the main trope that I can’t stand; alas, it is not the time to discuss my hatred for this. However, if there is a single person who I have faith in doing the trope correctly, it’s Cassandra Clare.

The main thing I like about the Jem, Tessa, Will triangle is that it is by no means cringe. It works. There’s no jealousy involved – not even when Jem finally realizes Will is in love with Tessa. Not only is he not jealous, but he basically gives his blessing to Will. Why else would he entreat Will to go after and rescue Tessa from the Magister?

The whole triangle between Will, Tessa, and Jem made me feel all sorts of emotions. I have always wanted Will and Tessa to end up together (the hero saves the lady in the beginning of every great love story, after all!) so it was confusing for me to also be rooting for James. I think it’s the sweetness that did me in. I wanted James to get his happy ending with Tessa so freaking much, so when he died, I was scream crying.

What’s worse about Jem’s death is I KNEW he didn’t die. I KNEW he became Brother Zachariah, but reading about the severance of the parabati bond from Will’s perspective was devastating. I actually thought, at least for a moment, he died! My whole heart shattered because neither Tessa nor Will were there with him.

And then, when Jem showed up as Brother Zachariah to help battle Mortmain, my heart started racing. It was as if I was experiencing the story through Tessa and Will’s eyes. It was beautiful.

Like I said, I have always wanted Will and Tess to be together, but for them to sleep together the same day Jem (Tessa’s betrothed) died was a little too much for me. They love each other, sure, but Tessa never so much as expressed to Will how she really felt. It was nuts to me that she, a lady of some propriety, would hook up with Will without telling him she loved him too. I get it, they thought they were going to die the next day, but this was a stretch for me! It didn’t need to happen to drive the story forward. Although… I did enjoy Magnus finding them the following morning!

Gaining closure about the origin of the Herondale star birthmark was amazing. I thought it was beautiful and I loved the nod to Ithuriel again. That poor angel really went through it!

The severing of the human bonds between Jem, Tessa, and Will was almost too much for me. Again, I almost cried – when Jem was talking to Tessa, and again when Jem was talking to Will. It made my heart sing that Tessa agreed to meet with Jem once a year on Blackfriar’s Bridge and it made me equally happy that Jem told Will their secret. It’s like he knew, somehow, that Tessa and Will would end up together.

Oh, and I couldn’t believe the freaking Consul in this! I thought he was FOR Charlotte Branwell! What a horrid man. I was happy with his ending. And so sad for Henry’s fate. Although, it could’ve been worse for him, I suppose…

Finally, the Epilogue…

I haven’t sobbed my way through an Epilogue since I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Reading about Tessa and Will’s life together, however briefly, meant everything to me. Reading about Will’s death absolutely destroyed my heart. Jem playing for Will, even though Silent Brother’s do not play music, in his final moments made me sob harder than ever. And when Tessa saw Jem, not Brother Zachariah, on the bridge, I gasped with delight (even if I knew she’d find out he was her Jem again eventually). Tessa is definitely among my favorite characters so seeing her get her second great love made me so happy.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

What emotion did you feel the most of while reading Clockwork Princess?