Cinder

CinderTitle: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Date: January 3, 2012
Pages: 395
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.


I put this off for so long! Cyborgs just don’t sound appealing to me, and as much as I love Cinderella, I was pretty sure I was going to hate it. My desire to read it was at 0. But with so many people telling me that I had to read it and that I would adore it, I caved! End result? I really enjoyed this one.

Since I’m really not into cyborgs and science fiction isn’t my top genre – what made me like this so much? Was it the Cinderella parallels? Nope. They were fine, but not amazing. Heart-stopping romance? Nope – again, fine but not amazing. Shocking ending? Nope, saw it coming.

I think it was the writing and the suspense. There was something about it that just kept me turning pages and I was very eager to see what would happen next. I can already tell that I’m going to like the inter-woven fairy tales. And the concept is one that should provide plenty of drama, action, and thrills throughout the series (I’d say more, but we’d be approaching spoiler territory).

I’m really happy I gave this one a shot and can’t wait to read the other books!

Dream A Little Dream

Dream A Little DreamTitle: Dream a Little Dream
Author: Kerstin Gier, Anthea Bell
Series: Silver #1
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Date: April 14, 2015
Pages: 322
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
4.5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv's dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she's in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals.

The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They're classmates from her new school in London, the school where she's starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what's really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn't possibly know--unless they actually are in her dreams? Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute....


Dream a Little Dream manages to be both whimsical and creepy — which I loved! This story just has a little bit of everything in it: romance, mystery, some magic, and of course drama. You can definitely see a Gossip Girl inspiration here, but it’s worked into the plot very nicely.

This is the second series I’ve read by Kerstin Gier, so I feel like I can officially say I’m a fan. I love the pacing and the writing style, and she continues to write really strong characters into the story. There are some that are really unlikable and some that you’d likely be friends with —I love that part of the book!

My favorite part, though, is definitely the crazy dream world Gier has created. It’s vivid, yet mysterious. There is just so much we don’t know about it yet and I’m definitely looking forward to finding out more! If you’re into fantasy, this is a great book to check out.

Queen of Shadows

Queen of ShadowsTitle: Queen of Shadows
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #4
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 648
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.


I put Queen of Shadows off for awhile for two reasons: it’s huge and I thought it would start off slow. The books in this series just keep getting bigger and bigger, which means the pacing is likely to slow down. Heir of Fire, for example, was an enjoyable read, but it took me awhile to really get into the story. I was SO happy to discover that wasn’t the case with Queen of Shadows.

Queen of Shadows is ginormous, but we’re sucked into a fast moving story from the very first page. And it didn’t really slow down at any point. It was just f-ing amazing! Now if you’re reading this review, I’m assuming you’ve read the prior novels in the series – so you already know the characters are awesome and the world-builing and writing kick ass. None of that has changed.

What has changed is the story. It just continues to evolve and move in directions we couldn’t have seen coming from the first novel. Hell, there are plenty of twists I didn’t even see coming after finishing Heir of Fire. Sarah J. Maas just continues to surprise me and I LOVE that. As someone who reads a lot, surprises are hard to come by and I definitely cherish them. Finding a series that is really able to keep me on my toes is refreshing.

Needless to say, I am eagerly anticipating Empire of Storms and I just can’t wait to find out what happens next for Celaena & crew.

The Crown

The CrownTitle: The Crown
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #5
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 279
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
3.5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.


I want to start off by saying I am a fan of Kiera Cass’ books. There is just something about them that I really enjoy. However, I do tend to have problems with a lot of the books and The Crown is no exception. While I enjoyed reading it, I just wanted to like it a lot more than I did. My biggest problem? This book shouldn’t exist in the first place.

I loved The Selection. And I mean LOVED. It was just so amazing, but it really should have been a standalone. In order to drag the story out into a full series, a lot of unnecessary elements were added (love triangle anyone?). I was really happy when I read The One knowing that I enjoyed the series and it had finally come to an end. Imagine my mixed feelings when two more books were announced….

If you read my review of The Heir, then you know how pleasantly surprised I was. I really enjoyed it! Well, I enjoyed reading The Crown as well, but it just needed more. The premise of the last two novels — the people are unhappy we need another Selection — is weak. But there was enough fun romance aspects to The Heir that it was still ok. With The Crown it kind of stops being fun. Eadlyn has basically made up her mind about who she likes and it’s just whine, whine, whine all the time. I didn’t believe in the love story. I wasn’t happy with how it ended up. It just felt like it was all FORCED so that there would be a reason to write a book 5.

Had The Heir been condensed into one novel, it would have been a lot stronger. It was a stretch to make the story go beyond Maxon and America’s original three books, but dragging out into two more books instead of one more was just a little ridiculous. While I’ve enjoyed my time with the series as a whole, it’s past time to say goodbye. I am looking forward to new work from Kiera Cass and hoping it’s stronger than The Selection!

Pretty Honest

Pretty HonestTitle: Pretty Honest
Author: Sali Hughes
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Date: September 25th 2014
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

A witty, wise and truthful beauty handbook for real women on what works in real life from Sali Hughes, beloved journalist and broadcaster.

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together” Elizabeth Taylor

Beauty books. Exquisite coffee-table affairs featuring improbably beautiful models with wholly-unachievable-to-most women looks, product review-heavy volumes which become almost instantly outdated, or tracts of holistic mumbo jumbo, like how to make an unproven face pack from organic molasses and rough-hewn porridge oats.

Not anymore.

In Pretty Honest, Sali Hughes draws on over 20 years of wisdom, advice and expertise to show real women how to make the most of makeup’s physically and emotionally transformative powers. Covering everything from teenage skin to mature beauty, botox to bridal make-up, sickness to good health, it's a work that is part instruction manual, part love letter to makeup – in a writing style that combines beauty editor, feminist and painfully funny best friend.


I loved reading Pretty Honest. I’m into skincare, so that’s what attracted me to this book, but I was pleasantly surprised by the makeup and shopping tips. I actually found them to be really useful!

If you’re into skincare, I would say this is a very good book to pick up. The frustrating thing about being into skincare (for me anyway) is that it’s so hard to find beauty bloggers that focus more on skin than makeup. If you’re in the same situation, I’d check out Caroline Hirons. She is awesome and pretty much all skin, all the time.

Now back to Pretty Honest. Aside from the wealth of genuinely useful information, I have to say that I really enjoyed the way it was written. It had me laughing several times and felt like talking to a friend.

Are you into beauty books or skincare? If so, leave your recommendations below! I’d love to check out more books like this.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved BeforeTitle: To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Date: April 15, 2014
Pages: 355
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her.

They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her, these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.


I was a little nervous going into To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before because I knew that one of the sisters used to have a crush on the other sister’s boyfriend and sibling triangles hardly ever work out well. However, it looked cute and I absolutely loved Jenny Han’s Burn for Burn series, so I decided to pick it up and I’m excited to say I really enjoyed it.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before just had so many things going for it. I absolutely loved the family dynamic. They were close-knit and loyal to each other – something a sibling triangle really could have f-ed up, but it wasn’t a problem because there wasn’t really a sibling triangle. Lara Jean handled the situation perfectly and I wish more fictional sibling triangles ended this way.

Then there’s the romance. It was cute and innocent and perfect. I (generally speaking) love the whole fake dating trope. It allows the characters to fall for each other slowly and somewhat innocently – they always seem so surprised when they realize they have feelings for each other! To All the Boys I Loved Before was no exception. It was adorable.

My only complaint is that the ending was a bit unsatisfying. It just felt abrupt and a tad unresolved. Luckily there’s a book 2, so I will definitely be picking that up! If you love contemporary romance, this one is definitely a must.

 

Endure

EndureTitle: Endure
Author: Sara B. Larson
Series: Defy #3
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date: December 29, 2015
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
3.5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page.


If you watch my booktube videos, you probably know that I LOVED Defy by Sara B. Larson. And I mean loved. Now that I’ve wrapped up the trilogy, I can’t help but wish Defy had been a standalone. The other two books are good, but they just don’t live up to the first one.

One of my favorite parts of Defy was the budding romance between Alexa and Damian. While I certainly enjoyed their relationship in Endure more than I did in Ignite, there weren’t nearly as many scenes with them together as I would have liked. I was also disappointed that half of the scenes we did get felt forced and awkward. Way too much telling instead of showing with characters going on long monologues about how they felt. It just needed to be reworked.

I do have to say that I really enjoyed the plot and the conclusion of the story. We knew something was going on with black sorcerers, but we didn’t have all the answers. Watching everything unfold was great and I loved the additional world building. As much as I liked the plot and how the story unfolded, I was kind of bored. The pacing was also strong and I like the writing style, so I’m attributing that boredom to a lack of Damien and Alexa together. I was reading this book more for their relationship than anything else, so not getting much of it was disappointing.

Since I utterly adored Defy, I am so sad to say that I don’t think the rest of the trilogy is quite as strong. I wanted to love Endure so much more than I did, but I still think the trilogy is worth the read. If you fall in love Defy as I did, just go into the other books looking for something good but not great. Had my expectations been a little lower on this one, I would have enjoyed it more.

The Siren

The SirenTitle: The Siren
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: January 26, 2016
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
3 Stars

SYNOPSIS

From Kiera Cass, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series, comes a sweeping stand-alone fantasy romance.

A girl with a secret.
The boy of her dreams.
An Ocean between them.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude...until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of.

Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.


Ok, this is going to be a hard book to review. Because The Siren was kind of weird, but I also kind of liked it. I think I only really liked it because it had a ton of death in it, which made me sad and I needed a good cry (more on that here).

So stepping back from the emotional place I was in when I picked this one up, let’s talk about the good and the bad.

 

What I Liked

  • The main character is a tad rebellious (a new trait for her)
  • The romance was cute
  • The fashion descriptions. The items worn sound breathtaking and I can actually picture them in my head
  • New take on sirens

 

What I Didn’t Like

  • This book is kinda weird
  • The personification of the ocean was creepy—in a WTF? way not a scary way
  • The romance was cheesy (yes it was cute, BUT there was also cheese. Especially at the end.)
  • I didn’t particularly like any of the main characters
  • We’re dealing with mass murderers—and they’re the “good” guys

 

So, in a nutshell. The Siren is a weird book. Do I recommend it? Well, I read it over the course of a few hours which means I was engaged and liked the pacing. I recommend this one if you are in a horrendous mood and feel like crying over basically nothing (the book really isn’t very sad, there is just a ton of people dying). I also recommend it if you’re a Kiera Cass fan and just want to see what her work outside of The Selection is like!

Clockwork Princess

Clockwork PrincessTitle: Clockwork Princess
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices #3
Date: March 19, 2013
Pages: 570
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
4.5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Danger and betrayal, love and loss, secrets and enchantment are woven together in the breathtaking finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

THE INFERNAL DEVICES WILL NEVER STOP COMING

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.


It’s so nice to finally have answers to questions we’ve had since book 1! I have to admit, I was getting a little annoyed that we still didn’t know what Tessa was going into book 3, but I did enjoy the anticipation it added to the book. Overall, Clockwork Princess was a strong conclusion to The Infernal Devices—which I enjoyed more than the first three The Mortal Instruments (haven’t read the last three yet).

Let’s start with the romance because it’s been on the forefront of my mind since I started the series. I like Jem and I like Will. I think they’re both great. In a way, I’m happy about how things ended for Tessa with both guys, but I also kind of wish there was never a love triangle to begin with. Sure, it worked for the story, but I like it when the main character picks one guy and isn’t all “but I love them both.” I’m a bit conflicted on how it all went down.

Then there is all the madness surrounding Mortmain. I thought all of the action and mystery here was really well done. Wouldn’t change a single thing about it, in fact. Our villain was perfect, the action was perfect, the response of the clave was perfect. Absolutely loved everything about it. I also loved the addition of several characters to the Institute. They were great and I really enjoyed how everything played out there as well.

The only things I’d change about Clockwork Princess is the love triangle and the epilogue. It was so nice to see where all of the characters ended up, but I have to wonder if we could have done that with a few less pages!

 

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever AfterTitle: Happily Ever After
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: October 13, 2015
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

SYNOPSIS

Meet Prince Maxon before he fell in love with America, and a girl named Amberly before she became queen. See the Selection through the eyes of a guard who watched his first love drift away and a girl who fell for a boy who wasn't the prince. This gorgeous collection features four novellas from the captivating world of Kiera Cass's #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series, as well as exclusive, never-before-seen bonus content.

This series companion is a must-have for any Selection fan, and includes:

The Prince
The Guard
The Queen
The Favorite
Exclusive new scenes from The Selection, The Elite, and The One
Introductions to each novella from Kiera Cass
A map of Illéa and other illustrations
And more!


Oh, The Selection series. How I love you. And get annoyed with you. All at the same time 🙂 It’s an addiction though. Everything I’ve read by Kiera Cass has this unputdownable quality to it and that definitely makes the series a must read.

Now I’ve already read and reviewed “The Prince” and “The Guard”, so I’m going to focus on the other stories for this review.

“The Queen”

I’m not really sure what I was expecting with this one,  but it wasn’t what I got. If you’re an Amberly fan and looking to validate how awesome she is, you’re not going to get that from this story. If you’re expecting some sort of Clarkson redemption, you’re not going to get that from this story. If you’re just curious about those two and looking for some additional character development, that is exactly what you’re going to get.

“The Favorite”

Just some bonus material on Marlee and how she fell in love with a guard. Mildly intriguing, but that storyline never really interested me. It actually felt a tad insta-lovey, so I wish we hadn’t even explored the topic.

Scenes from Celeste’s point of view — unsurprisingly, they make Celeste less horrible. We already did that in The One though, so we didn’t really need any more of it. Unless you love Celeste, then I suppose these are more exciting.

Lucy’s scene

I don’t like Aspen. I really don’t like Aspen. I really, really don’t like Aspen. I really hate Aspen with Lucy. Lucy was always a “blah” character to me. Putting her with Aspen? Well, that seems like something we did just so Aspen could have a happy ending and stay friends with America. Silly. It actually felt counter to all of Aspen’s actions throughout the entire series. And the insta-love quotient? No words. No words, my friends. I don’t know why I read this scene. I should have known it wouldn’t be for me!

 

So, the big question everyone asks with novellas: “do I need to read this to understand The Selection series?” Nope. Additional character development is all. I actually think the series is stronger without it. Sometimes less is more — especially with this particular series. That said, I am glad I read it. Why is that when I didn’t get a ton out of it? Kiera Cass is addicting.