Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2) by Seanan McGuire

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1.) Every Heart a Doorway ★★★★★

ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.

This book is beyond words. No amount of word combinations I could possibly string together could do this book justice. This series is truly a gift from above, and I can’t urge you enough to drop any and everything you’re reading to pick up this or Every Heart a Doorway.

I didn’t think it would be possible, but I actually enjoyed Down Among the Sticks and Bones more than Every Heart a Doorway. Once I turned that last page, I immediately ran to my bookshelves and read Every Heart a Doorway. Then, I just laid there on the ground in awe, while trying to convince myself to not reread Down Among the Sticks and Bones at 2 o’clock in the morning. Seriously, this series is that amazing.

If you’ve read Every Heart a Doorway then you know how Jack and Jill’s story ends in that book, so I was absolutely ecstatic when I found out that the next book in this series was their back-story about their magical world.

The twin sisters’ doorway is very different than Nancy’s in Every Heart a Doorway. Their doorway, the Moors, is a place of neutral territory surrounded by vampires, werewolves, gargoyles, Drowned God worshipers, and more in the paranormal vein. And a few individuals in the Moors are very excited when children stumble through from portals from different worlds.

Jack and Jill stumble through when they are only twelve years old, and stay for another five years, even though they wished to stay forever. In those short five years, they discover who they are and who they want to be. They thrive in this scary world because they are able to be themselves, not what is forced upon them.

The tone of this book just feels so dark and eerie, while also being so magical and lovely. My body feels such a vast array of feelings and emotions reading Seanan McGuire’s work. The writing is so atmospheric; you will feel like you stumbled upon your own doorway.

“She had tried to make sure they knew that there were a hundred, a thousand, a million different ways to be a girl, and that all of them were valid”

The discussion on gender roles and the impact they have when we force them on our children, sometimes knowingly and other times unknowingly, is so important. It’s okay to be a tom-boy, it’s okay to be a girly-girl, and, most importantly, it’s okay to be both. We should never be defined by the world’s gender stereotypes. This is something that I have personally struggled with a lot growing up, and I could write about this topic until my fingers bled, but Seanan McGuire perfectly executes this point in such a perfectly crafted story that is under 200 pages! I am seriously so awestruck.

“The concept that perhaps biology was not destiny, and that not all little girls would be pretty princesses, and not all little boys would be brave soldiers”

There is also amazing representation and explanations on how it feels to suffer from Mysophobia/Germaphobia. I actually do not think I’ve ever read a book about someone dealing with their Mysophobia, and it just made me love and admire Down Among the Sticks and Bones even more.

If you’ve read Every Heart a Doorway you will know that there is lesbian representation in here, but the depiction of first love was something I wasn’t expecting, and it was so beautiful I can’t possibly put it into words.

I, too, truly loved the Moors and wasn’t ready to leave. I loved the village and the feel of this magical world. I loved seeing Jack grow into what she wanted to be , while seeing Jill grow into what could happen if your needs and wants are repressed to a dangerous point. I loved the representation and all of the feelings that Seanan McGuire was able to evoke from me. I loved this book and these characters, and I will cherish this story forever, while trying to get everyone I come in contact with to read it.

Also, I need Kade’s story like I need air in my lungs. Please, Lord, make Beneath the Sugar Sky be his book. Also, please give me and my heart the strength to wait for it to come out.

“A man who has lived his entire life in a cave does not mourn the sun until he sees it, and once he has he can never go back underground.”

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

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ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Repetitive info dumps, left field plot twists, and uncomfortable cousin kissing. Yeah, this book was a chore to read, to say the least, and it is easily the worst book I’ve read so far in 2017.

“Has no one told you, child, not to wander in unfamiliar woods? Have you not read your fairy tales?”

This is a historical fantasy novel, set in 19th century Hungary, with some Hungarian folklore. The author actually places real people from Hungarian history in her story, too, so I’ll give her a little credit for a unique setting, but it didn’t help the actual enjoyment of this book.

I think it is important to note that I am not Hungarian, but Lex’s review is very important in terms of accurate representation, and is just amazing in general. If you are questioning the authenticity on certain elements of this book, her review is a must read.

At this point I feel like all the “new” YA fantasy is just the same. You can take your pick, if you’ve read one you’ve read them all, but Blood Rose Rebellion still feels a little worse for some reason, even with the more unique setting.

I didn’t care about any of the characters, I felt no chemistry for any relationship, and I never believed in any of the friendships. This book reads cold and stoic.

The basic storyline is that our main protagonist, Anna, lives in a society where your worth is dependent on your magical ability. The trick of this statement is a powerful society, the Luminate, which her family is a part of, announce whether children have magical abilities or not.

Anna is deemed barren, yet everyone else’s spells seem to break or backfire around her. After she ruins her sister’s magical debutante party, and while doing so because they both have a crush on the same boy, the Luminates become much more interested in Anna.

After an offer to go to Hungary with her grandmother, Anna’s parents force her to go in hopes that it will clear her sister’s good name, so she can be married off like a proper lady, and that Anna can escape the radar of the Luminates. So off to Hungary Anna and her grandmother go.

And this wouldn’t be a historical fiction novel if the highborn lady didn’t fall in love with a Gypsy boy. So in Hungary, a weird sort of love triangle ensues, with sexual tension involving Anna’s third cousin, along the “meat” of the story, which will be information dumping alongside mixed messages to confuse you constantly.

The author will then throw in twists to try to rationalize the story along. Then tragedy will strike to pull at your heartstrings, but the story has been so convoluted for so long that you won’t even care who lives or who dies, you’ll just want it to be over.

“I did not want to be remembered. I had only wanted to be loved.”

I’m sorry, I really am, but this book was one of the books I knew I should have DNFed, but I hate DNFing ARCs so here we are. Again, I never want to turn people away from trying a book, so I hope if you give this book a try that you will feel differently than I did.

The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #2) by Brian Staveley

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1.) The Emperor’s Blades ★★★★★

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! No matter who you have in your life, or who you do not have, I hope your day is filled with love and amazing books.

Well, I’m not sure how I’m really going to function with the ending of this book, but okay. Holy shit! This book was so amazing! I thought The Emperor’s Blades was action packed, and then this book just blows all those expectations out of the water!

“You can explain a lot of things to a man. His own death is not one of them.”

Our story still follows the three siblings (even though we do get a flippin’ amazing POV from Gwenna, and I was pretty much living for it) and their individual struggles for power, information, and to just stay alive.

Kaden – Still the rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, but the battle for it hasn’t gotten any easier, nor have the mysteries surrounding it.

Valyn – Now on the run with his wing from his elite military comrades, who he’s lived and trained under for eight years, while constantly questioning who he can truly trust.

Adare – After finding out who her father’s killer truly is, Adare is trying to confront the truth, while also trying to find who she really is.

I’ve seen a lot of people dislike Adare in this book, but I completely understood her and where she was coming from. She has grown up in a world where she is capable and powerful, with every advantage at her disposal, yet is constantly reminded she will never be as capable or as powerful as men. I’m not justifying her actions or choices, but I am completely empathetic towards them.

Speaking of which, Brian Staveley writes some amazing female characters. Every single female character in this book is strong on their own, not just strong enough to be a sidekick to a man. Adare, Triste , Gwenna, Annick, Pyrre, Nira, are ALL amazing in their own different ways, and it’s absolutely beautiful to read about each of them.

“Yer history is all about men, your ritual is about men. Unless you’re plannin’ to strap on a terra-cotta cock and go back to Annur thwackin’ people in the face with it—which I don’t recommend—ya need to tip the whole board full of history directly into the piss bucket and start over. You need people to see you, not the man you’re not.”

In this book, we are introduced to so many new characters, too, but my favorite is, hands down, Nira. Oh, Nira, my heart. Without getting into spoiler territory, Nira was a character I had been waiting for, but I didn’t anticipate anything close to her storyline and became so invested with her character so very quickly.

If these first two books are any indication of what The Last Mortal Bond is going to be like, then I know I won’t be able to put it down! I can’t wait to start and devour it as soon as possible!

The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, #1) by Brian Staveley

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This reading experience was something that I’ll never forget. This world truly is a unique take on epic fantasy, and quickly became one of my favorite immersions. Among all the action, twists, and turns, this book somehow became one of the most addicting things I’ve read in a long time. I never wanted to put it down, and I’m currently deciding if I’m going to ignore my TBR and pick up The Providence of Fire immediately after I post this review.

This is a story about the Emperor’s three children, all living very different lives, and all having very different points of view:

Kaden –The Emperor in waiting, training with monks that are secluded in the far off mountains.

“Believe what you see with your eyes, trust what you hear with your ears; know what you feel with your flesh. The rest is dream and delusion.”

Adare – Minister of Finance, living in the capitol and not knowing who to trust.

“Men tend to die when you slide steel beneath their skin and wiggle it around. Even priests.”

Valyn – Cadet, training to become a Kettral, which is a very high rank and a very prestigious title in their military that flies with a group on a giant bird. Yes, you read that right.

“Put a man’s back to the wall, and he’s got no choice but to fight; offer him a comfortable retirement before the age of twenty, and you learn who’s committed to the cause.”

I’ll admit, I was a little biased towards Adare’s point of view, because her storyline has such a strong feministic undertone. Unfortunately, Adare also gets a considerably less amount of chapters than her brothers, but I was enthralled each time we got a glimpse of her story in Annur. I have very high hopes for her in The Providence of Fire, especially with the impact of that cliffhanger. Like, I’m here for Adare, and I’m rooting for whatever she has to do for her kingdom.

Kaden was my favorite of the two brothers, but that was probably because I felt so bad for him all the time. Not only was he the last to know important information, he was also being abused constantly by Tan. I mean, obviously Tan ended up stepping up his game later on, but it was giving me Severus Snape vibes throughout the entire first half; just because you do something good in the end doesn’t erase all the bad shit you did earlier.

Valyn’s chapters for sure grew on me. At first, I thought he was the reason the book felt a little slow, but then, once his story starting going, his chapters ended up being the most addicting. Even with Kaden being borderline tortured, Valyn was the one that broke my heart and evoked so much emotion from me, while I was reading. Also, he is sitting on a pretty big secret that is for sure showing the power of the side effects, so I am probably most excited for his part in The Providence of Fire.

There is also an awesome mystery surrounding the Csestriim and the Nevariim, both of which predate humans. We find out very little about them in this book, but you can easily tell that they will be the focal point moving forward, and I’m so excited.

This world felt so magical and new, the writing is suburb, the side characters are battling the main characters for space in my heart, the mystery is all consuming and makes this book impossible to put down, and the story was just downright good. Seriously, I don’t have anything negative to say about this book. The only thing I can possibly think of is that Adare didn’t get enough chapters.

Oh wait, no, I do have one major complaint about this book: I hated “kent-kissing” being used constantly! Like, I actually fucking despised it. At first it was fine, but it became so redundant I just couldn’t deal. In general, 99% of the time I will dislike when authors make up their own swear words, but this was even worse because “kent-kissing” was used constantly.

But besides that, this was such an amazing reading experience. Mostly because I was able to personally buddy read this with three of my favorite people on Goodreads! Please read Petrik (King of the Unhewn Throne), Gelisvb (My favorite person to fangirl with on Goodreads), and Cory’s (The best Holy Paladin in the entire world of Azeroth) reviews if you have some spare time. They are nothing short of perfect, and I am so thankful to have been able to buddy read this beautiful story alongside them. Plus, they are all really great humans who will make your feed better in general.

Now, is it time for me to ignore all my ARCs and responsibilities and read The Providence of Fire? I think so! Seriously, I need more of this world. I whole heartedly recommend you giving this series a shot, because I think very few will walk away disappointed.

The Song Rising (The Bone Season, #3) by Samantha Shannon

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

1.) The Bone Season ★★★
2.) The Mime Order ★★★

If you’d like your series to match, since they are choosing to update the covers, you are able to buy the “signed collector’s edition” for the same price as the new updated covers, but in the style of the original hardbacks! But only IF YOU PREORDER BEFORE IT RELEASES ON MARCH 7th, 2017, ON SELECT SITES! I, personally, ordered mine through Bloomsbury: LINK!

(This is totally NOT sponsored, I totally bought this myself after reading the ARC I was sent from Netgalley. I’m just very obsessive about my bookshelves, and I would have been very upset to miss out on this opportunity, so I figured I’d share the information!)

First and foremost, this chart will save your life, especially if it has been a hot second since you’ve read The Bone Season and The Mime Order:

Next, it’s confirmed that the wait for the next book is going to kill me. When I received an ARC of this book, I thought this was going to be a trilogy, little did I know it’s actually going to be a seven book series and the wait for the fourth one is most likely going to kill me. I guess there are worse ways to go.

Parts of this book completely broke me. Samantha Shannon really knows how to make her words cut, and she doesn’t pull back. I actually felt like everything Paige was losing, I was losing. It’s a huge talent to be able to immerse readers the way she does, and for that alone I think it is worth giving this series a try.

AND THE ANGST! Oh, Lord, please, if the waiting for the next book doesn’t kill me, the slow burn angst romance will. I am so emotionally invested in Paige and Warden that at this point I can’t think of another fictional couple I’d rather have together. Please, just let these little babies have happiness with each other!

Speaking of broken hearts, Ivy and Róisín about ripped my heart out, too. Seriously, I’m unhealthily obsessed with these characters and I need to know everything about them, these precious little cinnamon rolls. Please, Samantha Shannon, please!

The Underground was such an amazing experience to read about! I said in my review of The Mime Order how much I loved Wrynn and the Jacobites, and in this book we get them and a whole other civilization we didn’t even know about!

I will say that the first third of this book is a little slow. I was very fearful of what my rating would be until I hit about the 35% mark. Then, I was unable to put this book down, because it was so action packed, eventful, and just so damn good.

The Song Rising picks up right where The Mime Order left off: Paige is now the Underqueen and has so many new responsibilities that revolve not only around saving her people, but saving the world that is unaware of the monstrosities that are coming. Uniting the clairvoyants of London seems impossible, Paige can’t even imagine uniting all of Europe, and the thought of uniting the entire world seems so impossible.

“Never allow yourself to believe you should be silent.”

Speaking of uniting countries, some of the themes and quotes of this book should be mandatory reading for all of the United States, right now. I promise, I try to keep my reviews nonpolitical, but I just can’t help it lately. Governments lying to people and using scare tactics to only unite fear is VERY real in my world right now. Pieces of fiction like this give me hope.

“Some people believe that if they keep their heads down and stick to their safe routine and trust that nothing bad will befall them, then it won’t. They see things happening to others, but they think they’re different; they’re special; it could never happen to them.”

Also, it would be impossible to read this book and not make a million different comparisons to Paige and Katniss from The Hunger Games. Both are self sacrificing, both are very talented in fighting that doesn’t involve strength, and both are the face of their world’s uprising. Seriously, I could go on for days about their similarities, and once you notice it, it feels impossible to ignore.

But their similarities aren’t a bad thing. Hell, I could read about strong female protagonists that are saving their worlds all day long. Being strong and defiant in the face of evil is a trend I’m looking forward to in 2017.

Another important thing to note is that Paige is traumatized, and is suffering with PTSD throughout this book. I know this series doesn’t have a ton of diversity, but it does have some, and I really appreciated seeing Paige dealing with her disorder, and realistically struggling with her disorder. Paige hasn’t had the easiest life in this series, and she has had to witness so many of her loved ones die. Traumatic events from her childhood are explored even more in this book, and seeing Paige exposed to more dangerous events is utterly heartbreaking, but sincerely appreciated.

With this third installment, I finally feel like the main story is finally starting to take off. Sort of like Harry Potter, I feel like the fourth books is going to be where we start our uphill climb to the big boss fight. Paige is essentially starting over, and we have so many different threads, in so many different locations. I truly believe this is the start of something beautiful, and the coming together of all these threads is going to be something unforgettable.

Even though I love Paige, this series’ shining light is truly the side characters. Samantha Shannon has crafted some amazing characters that you can’t help but love and root for. Nick, Maria, Eliza *sings name like in Hamilton*: all phenomenal, and I would preorder and devour any spin-off book starting any of them. As for the Rephaites: Terebell has got me shook and Warden has got me making heart eyes.

Yet, the villains are truly a tier above most YA villains, too. They are complex, and they are mysterious, and they are completely addicting. I have nothing but high hopes for this entire cast in the books that have yet to be released.

“Jaxon had been right about words. They could grant wings, or they could tear them away.”

The next book is going to be such a different reading experience. I can’t say much without giving away spoilers, but ME AND MY SHIP, steered by Warden and Paige, ARE SO HERE FOR IT!

The Lightning Tree by Patrick Rothfuss

1.) The Name of the Wind ★★★★★
2.) The Wise Man’s Fear ★★★★★
2.5) The Slow Regard of Silent Things ★★★★★

The Lightning Tree is a short story that is set in Patrick Rothfuss’ world from The Kingkiller Chronicle. You can find The Lightning Tree and other short stories that are curated by GRRM himself in a bind-up anthology titled Rogues.

This story is set in Kvothe’s innkeeper days, and surrounds his mysterious friend Bast. For the record, I absolutely adore Bast, so when I found out that there was a short story that starred him, I literally jumped for joy. Also, The Name of the Wind is my favorite book of all time, so I am absolutely biased with this review.

I can’t even really give a summary without major spoilers, but I loved this story mostly because it has the same magic that made me fall in love with this series to begin with. Seeing Bast help the locals who live around the Waystone Inn warmed my heart to no end. Bast is such a young hearted character, and truly does whatever he wanted, while making people believe what is easier for them to accept.

At this point, I’d rate Patrick Rothfuss’ napkins five stars, because everything he touches has this amazing magical feel that I can’t quite put into words. I just want more from this world, especially with the announcement of the tenth anniversary edition being released this year! I cannot wait to see illustrations, better maps, and to find out if Skarpi really knew Kvothe’s name, all that time ago!

Also, the Game of Thrones reference to GRRM about killed me. I was giggling like a child, and I wish that I could have seen George’s face when he first read Pat’s story. It was seriously the perfect touch on an already perfect short story.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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This story was so magical, so whimsical, and so perfect. I was skeptical, because I’m pretty much the only person on Goodreads that did not like The Night Circus, but this didn’t remind me of The Night Circus at all. Well, at least the 15% I read before I couldn’t force myself to read more. I mean, I can see where people would draw the parallels because of the plot, but the writing in this is much more reminiscent of The Raven Boys or Heartless. The prose is the epitome of lyrical, with descriptions that were nothing short of magical, and I devoured it all with a smile on my face.

“It looked like a storybook come to life. She peered down at bright pointy rooftops, moss-covered towers, gingerbread cottages, gleaming gold bridges, blue-brick streets, and bubbling fountains, all lit by candled lamps that hung everywhere, giving an appearance of time that was neither day nor night.”

Can we talk about how this is Stephanie Garber’s debut novel? I am seriously shocked, because this is not the writing of a new or amateur writer. She has perfected her craft, and made just a really addictive and impressive first story. I hope and pray she wins 2017’s Best Debut Goodreads Author award, because she is so deserving with this masterpiece. I’m in awe of her talent, honestly.

God, the writing was so good. The descriptions were perfection. I understand this might not be for everyone, but this world consumed me and I didn’t want to leave when I turned the last page. I know this book is about a magical place, but it truly ended up being a magical experience that I’m not going to forget anytime soon. Caraval is the first book I gave five stars to in 2017, and it is so very deserving of that title.

The plot of this has a perfect thriller tempo, too! Yes, I’ve been raving about how magical and lyrical this book is, but I have to emphasize that the pace is fast, too! Each chapter holds a new mystery, and I felt so compelled to never put this book down. Caraval truly is a fast and magical journey that I can’t help but recommend everyone take!

Caraval is a magical game that is played once a year. Not everyone can go, but the lucky ones are sent tickets, and once they arrive they are able to choose if they’d like to watch the game or actually play the game. Scarlett has been writing to the master of Caraval, Legend, her whole life in hopes to acquire tickets for her and her sister, and after all these years she finally gets a letter back.

And the sibling love in this is so amazing. My brother and I are really close, and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for him. Scarlett’s devotion to her sister warmed my heart completely and I loved reading about it. Also, seeing them pick each other over boys is my freaking jam.

This book also tackles the hard topic of parental abuse, emotional, mental, and physical. This topic is so important, and doesn’t seem to be in much YA, unless it is the center of the story. So many kids grow up being abused, yet, it doesn’t become the center of their life. Seeing Scarlett realize she is not the value of her father’s rage was beautiful. We need more books that handle this issue, because Uncle Vernon and Harry Potter isn’t close to being the epitome of an abusive relationship. Many parents can be manipulative, abusive, terrible, and it isn’t the victims fault, ever.

“People think no one sees all the nasty things they do in the dark. The foul acts they commit, or the lies they tell as part of the game. Caraval takes place at night because you like to watch, and see what people do when they think there are no consequences.”

This book does border on unreliable narrative though, because as Scarlett is learning the rules of the game and the magic of Caraval, so is the reader. Caraval is a facade, it might be a beautiful facade, but it is still a facade. The reader is never sure if what they are reading is true, and that is because Scarlett never knows if what she is experiencing is true. I loved the mystery factor and thought it worked perfectly, but I can see where others might not like it as much as me.

And the characters and players in this world are so wonderful! Scarlett was my favorite, and I feel like it would be almost impossible not to fall in love with her. Her sister, Tella, has a good heart and her actions were coming from a good place, but she was a little frustrating. Hopefully, in the next book, my love for Scarlett will carry over to Tella. Julian is the other main character you read about, alongside Scarlett. His character was so endearing and I absolutely loved this story-arc and twist(s). Not knowing whether to root and cheer for him or wish him dead was a unique experience to say the least!

I loved this book. I loved it with my whole heart. I read this in one day; I couldn’t put it down. This book is the definition of a sensory read. Please give it a try. I understand that not every book is for everyone, but this book is pretty close to perfection, in my eyes. I whole heartedly expect this to show up on my “Best of 2017” list, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel.

I’ll be honest, between this book and Beyoncé announcing she’s having twins, I feel like the world is trying to ease the blow of Donald Trump’s next executive order.