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 | Golden State by Ben H. Winters

Book of the Month is my favorite way to get new books. Not only do they select pre-releases, they also have introduced me to some of my favorite books at a fraction of how much they’d cost me in stores. I have no complaints and honestly, one of my favorite days of every month is carefully browsing through the five selections to ensure I pick the best book for me.

Occasionally, I pick a flop (for ME). Most of the times though, I end up with a newfound favorite book. Golden State by Ben H. Winters was my January 2019 Book of the Month Selection. It’s definitely a book I’m glad I picked!

Book of the Month describes Golden State as a fast read, action packed, and movie-ish. I can agree… slightly.

It was kind of a slow build for me. There was tons of action and I really liked it, but it took me as long to read this book (319 pages) as it did for me to read Clockwork Princess (570 pages). This being said, I can see this being an really great movie!

Lies are a physical thing

Speculative Service members can, quite literally, choke on lies. Our main character, Laszlo Ratesic is a 19 year veteran of the Speculative Service. His brother, Charlie, was also a member of the Service. The story centers around the fact that Laszlo and his brother were incredibly different Speculators. I can’t quite explain this without giving spoilers. Trust me, it’s interesting!

1984-esque

If you told me to pick my favorite dystopian novel, I would without hesitation say 1984. I read it my junior year of high school and have read it multiple times since. I almost wrote my senior thesis on the book! With that being said, I definitely drew some parallels between the Orwell classic and Winters’ more modern dystopian thriller. For starters, EVERYTHING is monitored in Golden State. There are cameras (not called cameras in the book) everywhere and members of the Government actually wear them on their persons. Nothing goes Off Record because it’s against the law. There was so much detail that went into the concept of this novel, I really admire Winters as a writer.

Twisty, Turny, Unexpected Ending

The ending is one I never saw coming! I was shocked and actually had to rewind and re-read a couple of pages because I was certain I was imagining the ending. It was really unexpected (for me, a thriller lover). The lies, secrets, and betrayals were everything I look for in novels like this.

Conclusion

This book is for you if you’re a fan of dystopian novels. If you haven’t read 1984 and read this and like it, I’d definitely recommend checking out the Orwell novel too. It’s really fun to be able to draw parallels between the two novels. This is very much how I imagine 1984 would look if written in modern times. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟💫

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!