Book Discussion/Review | The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles Book 3)

I’ve been thoroughly impressed with The Remnant Chronicles thus far. Honestly, for me, the trilogy was getting better and better with each page I turned. This build up makes it seem like The Beauty of Darkness wasn’t as good, doesn’t it? That’s not what I’m going for!

Here’s the thing… I really like The Beauty of Darkness. It might, not so shockingly, be my favorite book in the trilogy.

Also, this might be a little spoilery as it’s a discussion of the book. Read at your own risk!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.

The Traitors

I don’t care what other people think – I HATED RAFE in the whole series. I just didn’t think he was good enough for someone as badass as Lia and I rooted for Kaden the entire time. In my eyes, there was a point in the book where Rafe exhibited some pretty traitorous traits and I didn’t like him. Sure, he didn’t actually end up that bad in the end, but he wasn’t my favorite character.

As for the real traitors… they weren’t really a surprise to me. I’d pieced together different bits of foreshadowing and knew who Kaden’s dad was before Lia even found out. Also, I suspected that one of Lia’s rivals wasn’t going to end up being a bad guy and was right.

So I guess the whole point here is the traitors weren’t really surprising to me, but I didn’t mind.

The Baby, Lia, and Kaden

From the moment we found out Pauline was pregnant, I had theories. Let’s just say that my theories were completely wrong (thank goodness) and I was very pleased with how this book ended.

I might have been rooting for Lia and Kaden the whole time, but I accept that he’s probably better for her as a friend. I just don’t think they could get past the deception they put each other through and actually love each other as anything other than friends.

When I thought about Kaden’s vision of him, Lia, and a baby I thought it would be Pauline’s baby. I Just didn’t think Pauline would still be in the picture. So I was pretty pleased that their visions were truth, just not what we’d expect.

Death of a Favorite

It goes without saying in YA that the author is going to kill off a favorite character. I knew Mary E. Pearson wouldn’t kill off Rafe because it would destroy Lia. I worried constantly about young Eben, but even more so about Kaden and Pauline and Berdi. I didn’t think to worry about Rafe’s men because they’re supposed to be the best. Let’s just say I should have worried because one of my favorites ended up dying in their battle.

General Thoughts

A lot of times, the second book in a trilogy or series lets me down and I’m uncertain about reading the final book. Book two didn’t do this for me and Book 3 ended up being my favorite of the three. It was so good. I didn’t want to put it down and even ended up staying up late to read it well past my bedtime on a work night!

The thing is Mary’s writing is so captivating and beautiful. She created genuinely badass female characters that I wanted more from. I could easily read about Lia, Pauline, Gwenyth, Berdi, and Natiya for the rest of my days because they grow so much as characters through each book. Especially Lia.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

It’s not a perfect ending, but it’s pretty close.

I’m looking to start Dance of Thieves sometime this summer because I love Mary’s writing. I can’t wait to return to the setting of The Remnant Chronicles.

Talk to me!

Who’s your favorite badass female character? Does she have to be a warrior like Lia – or can she be a quiet badass like Hermione? Share some thoughts in a comment.

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 | Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

I put off reading The Infernal Devices for a really long time. I love the world Cassandra Clare created, but I was worried I wouldn’t like the historical aspect of TID. To be quite frank, historical fiction doesn’t really interest me (I’m a work in progress!) and that’s exactly what I thought this trilogy would be. Well… I suppose historical fantasy fiction would be a more accurate way to describe what I thought Clockwork Angel would be. I was quite mistaken.

Clockwork Angel follows Tessa Gray and the Shadowhunters of the London Institute in the year 1878. I suppose, like Goodreads, I’d have to describe this as a prequel to The Mortal Instruments, but I am absolutely glad I read these after reading (and re-reading) the aforementioned series.

I’m definitely happy I read TMI before TID because I liked having the background to compare ancestries. For instance, I can’t imagine liking Will nearly as much as I did without knowing that his line would eventually bring us Jace. Nor could I imagine liking Emma if not for Jem. One of my immediate first impressions upon the introduction of William Herondale was “I can tell he is related to Jace!”

Additional first impressions – Tessa will become a favorite character in the world (spoiler alert: she does!) and Jem is the sweetest (another spoiler: he is!). What I found most interesting about Tessa is her love of books. It’s really nice to encounter characters who love books as much as you do!

Obviously, I loved Clockwork Angel. I thought it was a wonderful start to the trilogy. One of the key things I loved about this book is the simple fact that I already had Clockwork Prince ready to start the next day. Otherwise the cliffhanger ending would have killed me!

I’ve noted before that I adore Magnus Bane, so all of his appearances made me really happy. Of course, through my happiness there were some things that were spoiled for me because of The Mortal Instruments.

The most obvious is the strange relationship between Will and Tessa. We all know she chooses Will, but all signs in Clockwork Angel point to Jem and Tessa being the couple. Throughout this story, I was left wondering how on earth it was possible that she and Will ended up married when it’s clear James is in love with her, and she him.

Jem’s illness, in general, was confusing to me. Well… maybe not quite confusing. I knew he would eventually become Brother Zachariah, but I didn’t think an illness would lead to it. In fact, throughout TMI there wasn’t any indication that Brother Zachariah joined the Brotherhood because of an illness. I just accepted it as something that had to be done… like an order rather than a choice.

Moving on to bad guys. This one had a good one! It’s hard to be afraid of someone named Valentine, but someone who goes by the Magister is easy to be frightened of. The Magister was a great villain for this story.

Clockwork Angel was absolutely the breath of fresh air I needed to start this year with (although it was technically the third book I read in 2019). Clare’s writing revitalized my mind and welcomed me home to the Shadow world.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

You tell me!  Jem and Tessa or Tessa and Will? Why?