December Wrap-Up

I wasn’t sure how many books I would read this month, what with the craziness of the holiday season. But I ended up reading five books! 😃🎄 Here are my ratings for this month’s reads:

*These are audiobooks I listened to this month. I reviewed The Last Namsara (click here to check it out!), but I did not review The Grownup or Yes Please. To see all of the books I’m currently reading/listening to, along with my massive TBR, follow me on Goodreads!

Did I read everything on my December TBR?
Nope. I didn’t read The Language of Thorns or Furyborn, so I’ll have to add those to my 2018 reading list.

Did I read anything not on my December TBR?
Yes! Both The Grownup and Yes Please were audiobooks that I borrowed from the library.

What was my favorite read of the month?
I think it’s a very close tie between Tower of Dawn and The Last Namsara.

What was my least favorite read of the month?
Probably The Grownup. I had a difficult time getting into the story, and I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending.

What was your favorite/least favorite read of December? Any recommendations for me? Comment below! 😊

Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

TLNIt seems appropriate that the last book I read this year was one of my most anticipated reads! After reading the synopsis for The Last Namsara, I was hooked: a fierce woman bound by duty to her father and her kingdom, dragons and those who seek to slay them, a mysterious destiny, and old, forbidden stories… Yes, please! ❤️ Instead of making the same mistake I made while reading Tower of Dawn — switching back and forth between the hardcover, the Kindle edition, and the audiobook 😵 — I decided to listen exclusively to the audiobook. Pearl Mackie is a fantastic narrator, and I think she captured each character’s distinct mannerisms and personality perfectly.

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: This book has one of my very favorite opening lines. It’s short, but it definitely draws the reader in: “Asha lured the dragon with a story.” I fell in love with the idea that dragons were drawn to stories, and that they could share their own stories in return. It’s a unique kind of magic with which anyone who loves books is familiar — the power of words, strung together to create something that can be passed on through generations. That detail, along with the world-building, helped to establish the setting and make the world seem more real to me. I really like that, initially, Asha isn’t a very likeable character. She’s terse, with a fiery temper and a stubborn independence that sets her apart from others. This comes with being the Iskari, the fated bringer of death, and in her case, the king’s personal dragon slayer. I enjoyed seeing her journey unfold and watching her change because of it. And of course I loved the dragons! 🐉 Since this is the first book in a trilogy, I’m hoping to see more of them in the second and third books. I’m particularly intrigued by the bonding that occurs between a rider and their dragon, and I’d be excited to learn more about different types. I also want to see more of the scrublands. Roa was one of my favorite characters (I mean, she has a hawk, guys 🤷🏻‍♀️), so it would be interesting to see the place she calls home.

What I Disliked: Something about the pacing felt slightly off, especially around the halfway point. Everything seemed purposeful and eventually helped to set the events at the end of the book in motion. But there were times when I felt my attention drifting away from the action of the story. 🙁 I personally could have done with less romance. It’s one of those situations where the protagonist is fated and/or determined to accomplish something huge and world-changing… and yet there’s still enough time to fall in love. (I’m not saying it can’t happen. But it’s a trope that I wouldn’t mind seeing less of.) And even though I realize that we’re meant to hate him, I hate Jarek SO MUCH. Having listened to the audiobook, I can say with confidence that Mackie does an amazing job of reading his dialogue in the most disdainful, rude, and downright slimy voice. I found myself scowling every time he showed up. 😒 I think he’s a necessary character in this book, but I did wish on more than one occasion that Kozu would just eat him and be done with it…

Overall, I think this is a unique and beautifully written story that reads like a myth made real. I’m excited to see where Ciccarelli takes Asha in the second book, because (without spoiling anything) by the end of this one, I have a few ideas, but there’s huge potential for brand new adventures, characters, and challenges!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author: Kristen Ciccarelli

I can’t believe it’s almost 2018! Are there any books you’re trying to finish before the new year? Any big New Year’s Eve plans? 😁 Be on the lookout for a few more blog posts from me over the next few days, including a December Wrap-Up, a 2017 Year-End Wrap-Up, 2018 Bookish Resolutions, and my January TBR! Happy New Year, and happy reading!

Review: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

TODAlthough Tower of Dawn was published in September, I knew that I needed to read Empire of Storms first, so I wasn’t sure when I would get around to it. And then, after I’d begun reading it, I was afraid that I would put it down for a while, fall into a reading slump, and not pick it up again for another few months. Thankfully, I’ve now finished it, and for those of you who have yet to read it, let me tell you… It’s a wild ride! Not quite as wild as Empire of Storms, but it’s full of new, compelling characters and plot points that will leave you gasping, or at least saying, “WHAAAAAAT?!” (At least that’s where I was at.)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: When this book was first announced, I think many readers were skeptical about a Chaol-centric installment in this series — especially considering the massive, heart-wrenching cliffhanger at the end of Empire of Storms. (I’M STILL NOT OVER IT.) But this book served multiple purposes. After the events of Queen of Shadows, Chaol considered himself broken — in more ways than one — and was sent by Dorian to seek guidance and healing at the Torre Cesme. On top of that, he and Nesryn — now Captain of the Guard — were charged with bringing an army from Antica to the northern continent in order to aid Aelin in the coming war against Morath. For fans of Chaol who were eager to see more of him, especially after his absence in Empire of Storms, this book delivers. And for fans who were looking for major plot developments and huge, game-changing reveals… this book definitely delivers. I don’t want to spoil anything, but HOLY SHIT. 😱 If you’re thinking about skipping this book, don’t. It’s a great story, but it also contains vital information that will become even more important in the final book.

I enjoyed that this book had some “whodunnit” vibes, and that not everything was as it seemed. Of course, there was some romance. (But, refreshingly, only one sex scene. Like I said in my review of Empire of Storms, don’t get me wrong — I enjoy a good sex scene! But it has to feel natural. Not forced into the story.) No spoilers, of course, but I might have two new favorite pairings… 😉 I loved exploring a new kingdom and familiarizing myself with a completely different power structure, culture, and environment. I wouldn’t be opposed to Maas writing a spin-off series that takes place on the southern continent, but this world is so massive that she could probably spend the rest of her life writing about it… Top-notch world-building, for sure. It took me a while to warm up to the Khagan’s family — and this is probably intentional, because Chaol is certainly wary to place his trust in any of them upon his arrival — but by the end of the book, I loved them. (Except for Arghun. I feel like there’s a reason “ARGH” is in his name… 🙄)

What I Disliked: It took me a while to read this, and aside from this book’s incredible length (672 pages!), some of the reasons why include getting ready for Christmas, cleaning and unpacking around the house (yes, still), and switching back and forth between the hardcover, the Kindle edition, and the audiobook. 😅 Do I think this book could have been shorter? Absolutely. There were some chapters that just didn’t interest me. And to be totally honest, it took me a while to really become invested in Nesryn’s story. I found myself more drawn to the scenes with Chaol and Yrene than anything else. I think the pace of this book increased towards the end, and by the conclusion, I was practically on the edge of my seat, eager to see what would happen next. But it had its slow parts.

Going into this book, I was concerned that any personal growth Chaol would experience over the course of the story would be tied too closely to his desire to walk again. In the beginning, he was in the mindset of, “This chair is a prison, and I’m no longer the man I used to be.” But as the book goes on… Well, things happen, and Chaol does change and grow as a person, but he thankfully begins to see things in a different light. And he comes to recognize the fact that being in a wheelchair doesn’t make him a different person — that’s entirely dependent upon him and how he approaches the world. So, I guess I disliked Chaol at the beginning of the book. He was very difficult to deal with (even as a reader), and rather angry and terse. And while I can understand those emotions, and I think the transformation that occurs necessitates that roughness in the beginning, I think it made it harder for me to get into the story.

Overall, this was a great read, and I think its differences from the other books are some of its biggest strengths. While we’re all eager to find out what happens to Aelin, this installment shed some much-needed light on other parts of the world and how they’ve been affected by what’s going on in and around Morath. And this book does contain huge details that will influence the events — and even the outcome — of the final book.

NOTE: If you didn’t read it prior to Empire of Storms, I would recommend reading The Assassin’s Blade before diving into Tower of Dawn. Several of the stories — one in particular that is closely tied to a character in this book — are mentioned, and it will leave you with less confusion.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (This isn’t really rating-related, but I highly recommend the audiobook, as the narrator, Elizabeth Evans, does a fantastic job from start to finish.)

About the Author: Sarah J. Maas
More Books by This Author:
Throne of Glass
Crown of Midnight
Heir of Fire
Queen of Shadows
Empire of Storms
The Assassin’s Blade
A Court of Thorns and Roses
A Court of Mist and Fury
A Court of Wings and Ruin

My Top 10 of 2018: Most Anticipated Reads

It’s not even mid-December, but I’m already thinking about books that will be coming out next year. What am I most excited to read? Which books will I pre-order? And where will I put them all? (Always a good question. 😁) I wanted to give you a peek at my wish list… as well as work to narrow it down to the top ten books I’m most interested in, because it was way too long to begin with.

BTW: These are in order of publication date — not personal preference! 🙂


The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Publication Date: January 2nd
I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book, and while I’m not always one to believe the hype, I have a feeling it’s going to be a fantastic read. There’s a reason many people call Black the Faerie Queen. It’s the first book in a forthcoming trilogy, and you can read some spoiler-free reviews here. Here’s a synopsis:

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him — and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Publication Date: January 30th
I fell head over heels in love with this book when I read an ARC in September. ❤️ It’s a gorgeous, terrifying tale full of twists and turns sharp enough to slice you open. If you enjoy dark fairy tales and books that linger long after they’re finished, I would recommend pre-ordering this one. (There’s also a great pre-order incentive!) You can find a synopsis in my September TBR post, and you can read my review here.

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
Publication Date: February 6th
I grew up reading Pierce’s Tortall books, and my favorite series by far was the Immortals. Numair Salmalin was (probably) my very first bookish crush, so imagine how thrilled I was to hear that Pierce is writing a prequel series about him. 😊 Tempests and Slaughter is the first book, and it introduces us to Numair before he became Numair, when he was just Arram. Here’s a synopsis:

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness — and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon, he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Publication Date: March 6th
I’ve read a great deal of praise for this book, and while the story may sound familiar, I think the characters and Adeyemi’s world-building are going to be tremendous. This is a book I’ve tried not to read too much about because I want to go into it without any clues about what might happen. (I already have a feeling it will be one of the top YA reads in 2018.) But here’s a synopsis:

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers — and her growing feelings for the enemy.

Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst
Publication Date: March 6th
While I haven’t yet read Coulthurst’s Of Fire and Stars, her latest book is one that I definitely plan on pre-ordering. It seems to draw some inspiration from folklore and mythology, but the concept itself is like a new legend, something darker and more unpredictable than any happily-ever-after. Here’s a synopsis:

Asra is a demigod with a dangerous gift: the ability to dictate the future by writing with her blood. To keep her power secret, she leads a quiet life as a healer on a remote mountain, content to help the people in her care and spend time with Ina, the mortal girl she loves.

But Asra’s peaceful life is upended when bandits threaten Ina’s village and the king does nothing to help. Desperate to protect her people, Ina begs Asra for assistance in finding her manifest — the animal she’ll be able to change into as her rite of passage to adulthood. Asra uses her blood magic to help Ina, but her spell goes horribly wrong and the bandits destroy the village, killing Ina’s family.

Unaware that Asra is at fault, Ina swears revenge on the king and takes a savage dragon as her manifest. To stop her, Asra must embark on a journey across the kingdom, becoming a player in lethal games of power among assassins, gods, and even the king himself. Most frightening of all, she discovers the dark secrets of her own mysterious history — and the terrible, powerful legacy she carries in her blood.

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: May 1st
I read the entire A Court of Thorns and Roses series last year, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t eager for more. Luckily, this novella will give readers just that, and it will also act as a connective piece between that trilogy and the new spinoff series Maas is working on. (I’m personally hoping for a Lucien-centric novel, but we’ll see!) Since this is a novella that takes place after the events of A Court of Wings and Ruin, the following synopsis contains spoilers for the series thus far.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated — scars that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

Legendary by Stephanie Garber
Publication Date: May 29th
Garber’s Caraval was one of my favorite debuts this year. While some readers struggled with it’s predictability, I thought the story was a delightfully dizzying adventure full of lush prose and magical tricks. I’m curious to see where Scarlett and Tella will end up in Legendary. As of now, no synopsis has been released. But it has been confirmed that this book will be told from Tella’s perspective rather than Scarlett’s.

Fierce Like a Firestorm by Lana Popović
Publication Date: August 14th
One of the most beautifully-written and unique books I read this year was Popović’s Wicked Like a Wildfire. (You can read my review here! 🙂) The world is intricate, and the characters are compelling and memorable. I’m excited to see what happens in the second book, especially since the first book ended with a massive cliffhanger. Because this is a sequel, the following synopsis contains spoilers for the first book in the duology.

Twin sisters Iris and Malina thought they knew how to reverse the ancient curse that haunts their line, the spell that destines them to use their gleams — unique forms of beauty-manipulating magic — to entice and enchant none other than Death himself.

But both sisters thought wrong.

Instead of ending the wicked bargain with the power of her infinite bloom, Iris is taken to an exquisite, uncanny realm in between this world and the next — a world Death created for her alone. Only, unlike all of Death’s previous companions, Iris’s body goes on the one-way journey along with her soul, arriving in a kingdom never meant to sustain a living girl.

Left behind with Niko, her girlfriend, and Luka, the boy her sister loves, Lina searches for a way to save Iris. But as Lina unearths the dark secrets that bind her family to parallel fates of loss and immortality and Iris tries to outwit Death on his own terrain, a power resurfaces that even Mara, the original witch mother, fears. Now both sisters must learn to fully embrace their gleams — or else they’ll truly lose each other forever.

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
Publication Date: September (Exact Date Unknown)
When I heard that V.E. Schwab was writing a sequel to her 2013 novel Vicious, I was ecstatic. I read Vicious months before jumping into her Shades of Magic trilogy (which is also fantastic), and I’ve recommended it to nearly everyone I know. It has some serious comic book/horror story vibes, and if you’re someone who always finds themselves rooting for the villain, it’ll give you plenty to choose from. As of now, no synopsis (or final cover art) has been released for Vengeful. But you can read a synopsis of Vicious here!

Untitled Throne of Glass #7 by Sarah J. Maas
Publication Date: (Tentatively) September 4th
I’ve been on a serious Throne of Glass binge, having recently finished Empire of Storms and begun reading/listening to Tower of Dawn. Like many other fans, I can’t wait to see how this series concludes, but I know I’m going to miss many of the characters. Perhaps Maas will write a spinoff series, much like she’s doing with her A Court of Thorns and Roses series. But for now, I’ll be anxiously awaiting this final installment. As of now, no synopsis (or final title or cover art)  has been released.

Honorable Mentions:
Everless by Sara Holland [January 2nd]
Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones [February 6th]
Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare [February 20th]
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston [February 27th]
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo [March 6th]
The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton [March 27th]
Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake [April 10th]
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli [April 24th]
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas [May 1st]
Furyborn by Claire Legrand [May 22nd]
Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton [July 31st]

What are some books that you’re looking forward to reading in 2018?

Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

EOSI FINALLY FINISHED A BOOK, GUYS! It’s only taken me more than a month… 😅 I was really hoping this book would end my reading slump, and guess what? It did! I’m already reading the next book, Tower of Dawn. (I’m only five pages in… but that still counts, right?) If you’re looking for action, adventure, romance, sassy pirates, witty banter, and a whole lotta feels, look no further! (But if you haven’t read the other Throne of Glass books, do that first, because they’re great. And also because you’ll be very, very confused if you don’t.)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: I really can’t remember when I finished reading Queen of Shadows, but it must have been February or March. So it was definitely nice to return to Erilea and revisit some of my favorite fictional characters. This book was jam-packed, not only with epic battles and confrontations, but also with important moments that moved the plot forward and showed us how our protagonists — and their relationships with one another — are changing as the war against Erawan begins to intensify. While the ending was heart-wrenching — and an especially painful cliffhanger, since the next (and final) book won’t be published until next fall 😭 — it sets up the imminent final clash, and it increases the pressure to collect the remaining Wyrdkey and do whatever is necessary to defeat Erawan and seal the gate once and for all. Overall, I liked that the plot moved along at a steady pace, that nearly every character faced some sort of challenge or obstacle that inspired change or growth (I’m a sucker for good character development! 😁), and that there were little unexpected surprises throughout, keeping me on my toes as I read. I found this book easier to get into than Queen of Shadows, perhaps because the characters are so close to the final battle and the stakes are so high. Overall, I think it’s a strong installment in an already strong series.

What I Disliked: This isn’t something I disliked, but I do want to say that I’d recommend reading The Assassin’s Blade before this book, since there are quite a few references to stories in that collection. That being said, I wasn’t a big fan of the sex scenes in this book. 😕 Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a good sex scene, and Maas has written some fantastic ones. (*cough* A Court of Mist and Fury *cough*) But something just felt… off about the ones in Empire of Storms. I’m not going to be specific, because SPOILERS, but I think this book was giving me a totally different vibe, and I didn’t feel like those scenes moved the plot forward in any meaningful way. That might be the only thing I actually disliked, other than wanting more background information on some things. But I’m holding off on that since I have yet to finish Tower of Dawn. Something else I’ve heard is that the exclusive stories (one included in the Barnes & Noble edition of this book, and another in the Target edition… and there might be one more?) are very good, and many people I’ve talked to have said that they would have liked to see those appear in the actual book. I haven’t read them, so I’ll have to update this when I do. But I would recommend reading them, if possible. On the other hand, I know it can be difficult when different stores have different versions of the same book, and one bonus story is in one book but not in the other, etc. I have a lot of feelings about this, mostly because not every reader can afford to get their hands on every exclusive edition of a book, and international readers may not have the opportunity to read these exclusive stories… 😟 BUT if you do have the opportunity to read them after finishing Empire of Storms, definitely do.

I feel like this review was all over the place, but a) it’s a loooong book, b) SO MUCH HAPPENS OMG, and c) I didn’t want to be too spoiler-y. 😂 TL;DR: If you’ve read the other books in the Throne of Glass series and enjoyed them, I think you’ll enjoy this one, too. Sure, it’ll rip your heart out, throw it on the floor, and repeatedly stomp on it. But it’ll also fill your heart with joy and hope and fuzzy feelings. So, to quote Ron Weasley circa Prisoner of Azkaban, “You’re going to suffer… but you’re going to be happy about it.” 🤣

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

**UPDATE: Okay, so I’ve read the two bonus stories. Here are my thoughts. (And I’ll be divulging some details about each one, so there are spoilers ahead, though they won’t be huge, plot-related ones.)

Exclusive Story — Target Edition of EoS: This story is actually a deleted scene from Heir of Fire, so Aelin still goes by Celaena, and she’s still training with Rowan at Mistward. It was fun to see their relationship beginning to change (so many ~feelings!~), and we got to see a tiny glimpse or two of Emrys and Luca! I can sort of see why this was cut from the book, as it reads more like a short story and doesn’t seem integral to the plot. But it has a lot of great moments, including Celaena/Aelin baking Rowan a chocolate hazelnut cake! I FLAILED AT THE CUTENESS. 😍 (But then there was a twist ending re: the cake that made me cackle.) Overall, I thought this was a sweet story.

Exclusive Story — Barnes & Noble Edition of EoS: I think this story takes place before the events of Empire of Storms, when Aelin, Rowan, and the others are forced to venture into a Terrasen village to restock their supplies. We learn more about Rowan’s family, which is helpful considering certain other parts of the book. (No spoilers! 😁) Much like the other story, there’s plenty of cuteness between Aelin and Rowan. But probably the most touching part is Aelin’s interaction with the girl she meets in the village — Phedre. As the note at the beginning of the passage says, it’s an encounter that will stay with Aelin long after it’s over. And it gives the reader a glimpse of how the people of Terrasen are feeling now that magic has returned and war is yet again on the horizon. I think this would have fit nicely into the book (at only a few pages long, it wouldn’t have added a great deal to the length), mostly because of the foreshadowing it contains. It also has an adorable ending.

About the Author: Sarah J. Maas
More Books by This Author:
Throne of Glass
Crown of Midnight
Heir of Fire
Queen of Shadows
Tower of Dawn
The Assassin’s Blade
A Court of Thorns and Roses
A Court of Mist and Fury
A Court of Wings and Ruin

November Wrap-Up & December TBR

So… I didn’t actually finish any books in November. 😅 I read 30-ish pages of Renegades by Marissa Meyer… but then I fell into a moving-related reading slump, and now I’m 81% through my Kindle edition of Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. (And I’m loving it! I just haven’t had much time to read lately.)

I expected this month to be crazy, but — if possible — it was even crazier. There are times when packing everything up and moving doesn’t seem so bad… But there are also times when you feel incredibly overwhelmed, with no idea where to even begin. Luckily, we’ve gotten a lot of help, advice, and encouragement from our family and friends, so I think the not-so-bad moments have outnumbered the frustrating ones. ❤️

It’s felt weird to not be taking photos, writing reviews, or interacting with other bookstagrammers as much as I did before the move. I’m always encouraging friends to never feel bad if they have to take a break or post more infrequently, but I’m really bad at taking my own advice. 😦 That being said, I’m going to try to be gentle with myself this month. We still have a lot to do around the house, and with the holidays coming up, we’ll be extra busy. I’m hoping to write reviews of each book I read. But will I be posting photos and blog content every day, or even every other day? Probably not. And that’s okay.

I do have some amazing books on my December TBR, and I’ve already started thinking about January and February! (Too many books! Too little time!) Here are the books I’m planning to read this month…

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
This is a book I started in November, but I’m planning to finish it sometime in the next few days. I’ve heard that the ending is… well, emotionally devastating. 😥 So we’ll see how that goes! But so far, I’m loving the story, and I was so happy to return to this world after some time away. You can read a synopsis here!

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
Since I’ll be finishing up Empire of Storms soon, I figured I would keep the Throne of Glass momentum going. I’ve purposefully avoided reading much about this book, because I definitely want to go in spoiler-free. And I’ll admit, I wasn’t too wild about a Chaol-centric book, but I’m curious to see what he and Nesryn are doing on the Southern Continent, and how this book will affect the rest of the series. (Which I think is set to conclude with a seventh and final book next fall…? IT’S SO FAR AWAY, but also, I’M NOT READY! 😭) You can read a synopsis here!

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
I meant to read this months ago, but you know me… I’m terrible at sticking to a TBR. 😝 I’m a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, and this seems like a beautiful companion to the world she’s built in the Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. You can read a synopsis here! And by the way… If you’re interested in purchasing a signed copy of this book — and receiving a free, exclusive art print — I’d suggest heading over to Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore and placing an order with them.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand
I recently received an ARC of this book, and I’m beyond excited to read it! Every review I’ve read so far has been nothing short of glowing, and the story sounds incredible. I have a feeling this is going to be one of the most anticipated YA releases of 2018, so add it to your wish lists now!
Here’s a synopsis:

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed… unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable — until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world — and of each other.

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
I bought this book shortly after it was published, but I still have yet to read it. The main character is a dragon slayer with the weight of a harsh destiny on her shoulders. It also doesn’t hurt that it has a stunning cover, and that the audiobook is narrated by Pearl Mackie. (Bill in Doctor Who!) I think this will be the perfect book to read right before the new year.
Here’s a synopsis:

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness — and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari — a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend — a slave boy from her betrothed’s household — Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

What are some books you’ll be reading this month? 😀 Let me know below!

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away? 😱 Where did November go? And of course December will be here in no time, and that usually means shopping for gifts. 🎄🎁 I’m still figuring out what to purchase for my friends and family, but I wanted to put together a bookish gift guide that features some of my favorite shops, along with some current and upcoming deals and promotions! (I’ll also be updating this with any Black Friday deals I happen to see.)

What’s not to love about bookish candles? If you’ve ever wished that you could fill your home with scents inspired by your favorite series or characters, they’re the perfect purchase! And you’ll find so many incredible shops to choose from.

One of my personal favorites is Novelly Yours. Brittany’s candles are high-quality, and her packaging is on point. 👌🏻 Her candles comes in 2-oz., 4-oz., 9-oz., and 12-oz. jars, and if there’s a scent you just can’t get enough of, you can purchase it in a 22-oz. Scent Obsession jar. (FYI: You know those three-wick candles from Bath and Body Works? Those are 14.5 oz., and they normally cost $24.50 each. 😮 With the Scent Obsession jar from Novelly Yours, you get more for your money — 22 oz. for $23.50-$24.50 — and you’re purchasing from a small business!)

Brittany has candles in stock inspired by the Shades of Magic trilogy, the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Harry Potter, Strange the Dreamer, The Raven Cycle, and many other popular reads. She also has three winter seasonal candles up for sale — Books Under the Boughs (8-oz. tin), Deck the Hauls (8-oz. tin), and Morozova’s Herd (8-oz. tin, inspired by the Grishaverse) — and some November Candles of the Month — Seasons of Gilmore (12-oz. layered candle, inspired by Gilmore Girls), Booksgiving (8-oz. tin), and Home for the Holidays (2-oz. boxed set).

AND GUESS WHAT? Novelly Yours will be having a Black Friday sale from Friday, November 24th through Monday, November 27th! Use coupon code BLACKFRIDAY2017 to save 20% on your entire order! 😃 As a bonus, each order placed during this time will receive a scratch-off card for future savings anywhere between 10% and 35%! See the @novellyyours Instagram account for more information. Also, keep in mind that the cut-off date for Christmas orders is December 1st!

Book sleeves honestly changed my life. I never thought I needed them… and now I’m obsessed with them. Whether you’re a frequent traveler or someone who just likes to carry your books with you when you’re on the go, sleeves are an easy — and stylish — way of making sure that your books are protected!

My favorite shop at the moment is Story Time Sleeve. Their sleeves are handmade, thick and durable, and perfect for holding paperbacks and smaller hardcover books. (If you want to purchase a larger size, or even have a book sleeve made just for you in a pattern of your choosing, you can contact them about a custom order! 😊) It’s hard to resist the beautiful patterns they use, and at $15 each, these sleeves are a steal.

They usually restock every week, and their next restock is tonight at 7 PM CST/8 PM EST! If you’re interested in grabbing a sleeve in a festive pattern, be ready at restock time, because everything usually sells out in less than ten minutes! I recommend having your Etsy app open and ready. And try to move quickly, because that sleeve you want could disappear at any minute! Want a coupon code for 10% off? Catherine (@heyatlascreative) is currently a rep, and their code is TREEHOUSE10! 💚

And speaking of Catherine…

I don’t know about you, but I can never seem to have too many bookmarks and stickers. I purchase most of mine from Hey Atlas Creative, run by the amazing Catherine. 🙂 Where do I even begin with how many cool products they offer? Along with bookmarks and stickers featuring bookish quotes, you can also buy beanies, greeting cards, journals, buttons, and prints!

Catherine features monthly bookmarks that you receive with any purchase during that month, and the bookmark for November is really unique. Not only does it have a beautiful image and quote on the front (from The Hobbit!), but on the back, it has blank space where you can finish the sentence, “I’m thankful for you because:” It’s a great gift that you can personalize however you’d like. And because this bookmark has been so popular, Catherine put it up for purchase, just in case you want more than one! Click here to check it out.

And having recently finished the second season of Stranger Things, I have to give a special shout out to the Stranger Things sticker bundle. All of Catherine’s stickers — and bookmarks! — are bright, vivid, and very durable. But seriously, who doesn’t need that “coffee and contemplation” sticker? #TeamHopper ☕️

Let me just say that the shop I’m about to talk about sells much more than just prints. They have mug rugs, tea towels, blankets, book sleeves, and ornaments, too! I’m talking about Sweet Sequels. The store is currently on vacation while Haleigh finishes up a bulk order for a subscription box, but they’ll be reopening on Black Friday!

The coolest thing about Sweet Sequels is that all of the designs you see on their products are created by Haleigh. You can look at a gallery of her designs on her website, but she has designs for Harry Potter, J.R.R. Tolkien, Outlander, Sarah J. Maas, Jane Austen, contemporary fiction, and classic American and British/European literature, among others.

When I ordered a print, I had my eye on her Marauder’s Map design. I messaged her to ask if I could purchase it as a print through the listing in her Etsy shop, and she quickly responded and said yes. She was kind enough to include her other Marauder’s Map print, so that I could have the set, and I think you can now purchase both together in her shop! ☺️ I can’t wait to frame them and add them to my Harry Potter wall!

Haleigh’s prints are high-quality, affordable, and unlike anything else out there. Her designs are so lovely and unique, and they would make fantastic gifts. If you want to save 10% on your order, you can use Maggie’s (@libraryofcolors) rep code — COLORS10! 💛

UPDATE: Sweet Sequels will be reopening at 9 AM CST/10 AM EST on Black Friday! And guess what? All prints (and bookmarks!) will be 20% off! No code necessary. This deal will be available all weekend, but it’s always a good idea to shop early so that you don’t miss out!

There’s nothing I enjoy more on a cold evening than curling up with a good book, a warm blanket, and a rice bag from Bookish Star Designs. I work in an office and spend the majority of my days staring at a computer screen. By the end of the week, my neck is usually sore, and draping one of Laura’s large rice bags around my neck feels heavenly. 😌

Along with the large rice bags, Laura also sells small rice bags that are perfect for warming your hands, as well as eye masks. And the pattern selection is huge! She has fun holiday patterns up in her shop, including a Christmas-y Star Wars pattern, a nutcracker pattern, and a “Merry Grinchmas” pattern! She also has bookish patterns, superhero patterns, patterns inspired by Harry Potter, Outlander, Sherlock Holmes, the Avengers… Seriously, SO MANY. One of my favorites is definitely her Jane Austen/Tea Lovers pattern, but a close runner-up would have to be her Game of Thrones pattern.

Shipping is always super fast, everything is packaged beautifully, and Laura is even offering a gift wrap upgrade for the holiday season! Help someone you know kick back, relax, and treat themselves this winter. And if you want to save 10% on your order, be sure to use Mariah’s (@austenandarthur) rep code — MARIAH10! 💜

Where are you guys planning to do your holiday shopping? Do you have lots of love for these shops? Comment below and let’s chat!

October Wrap-Up & November TBR

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, guys. In case you missed my post on Instagram, we’re moving! The current plan is to be out of our apartment by the end of November, and there’s a lot to do in the meantime. Because of this, I won’t be as active on Instagram or here. But I did want to post a belated October wrap-up, as well as give you a peek at my November TBR. 😊📚

I only read two books in October, one of which wasn’t on my TBR. (I know you’re SHOCKED.) Here are my ratings:

*I know I didn’t write a full review of this book, but I’m tentatively planning on re-reading the Immortals series before Tamora Pierce’s Tempests and Slaughter comes out in February, so you might see a review of all four books in January.

Did I read everything on my October TBR?

Did I read anything not on my October TBR?
Wild Magic was a total impulse read after a conversation with Margaret (@blackshelfbooks).

What was my favorite read of the month?
I enjoyed both of these books, but I think I have to give a slight edge to An Enchantment of Ravens. It was a highly anticipated read for me, and it was truly a delight to delve into.

What was my least favorite read of the month?
I didn’t really have one!

Now, on to my November TBR. Since I’ll be packing up all of my hardcovers and paperbacks in the very-near future, I thought it would make my life much easier to choose only e-books. (And I bought a Kindle Paperwhite recently, so it will be the perfect opportunity for me to use that!)

Now, as you may have guessed, my monthly TBRs are often a little… ambitious. 😅 At least for me! But if I’m totally honest with myself, I’m probably not going to get much reading done this month. So, after going from four books to two, I’ve finally decided to choose just one book for this month: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

I really enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles, and I’ve heard great things about this book. I’m excited to explore this new world — and hopefully get hooked! If you’re interested in reading a synopsis, click here.

What was your favorite read of October? What are you most excited to read in November? Leave a comment and let me know!

Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

AEORHaving spent months gazing longingly at photos of ARCs and reading other bookstagrammers’ glowing praise, I was thrilled to finally get my hands on Margaret Rogerson’s debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens. Often described as the “perfect fall read,” it truly is, with lush, magical scenery and an adventure reminiscent of a fairy tale. I probably could have read it in a day or two, but it was such a pleasure that I tried to make it last as long as possible, delaying the inevitable end. ❤️ I found myself wishing for more books with these characters, but according to Rogerson, this book was written as a standalone. (If she changes her mind, though, I’ll take any glimpse of Whimsy and the fairylands that I can get!)

Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here! 🙂

What I Liked: I love the world Rogerson has created, from the peculiar town of Whimsy to the alluring and dangerous fairylands. Fans of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series may find the fairy courts in this book — spring, summer, fall, and winter — reminiscent of those described in her trilogy. But I found the depiction of the fair ones to be more dangerous and haunting. While they are, in some ways, similar to fey found in other YA books, Rogerson shows that their legendary beauty is built on a lie, and their love of mischief and trickery runs deep. I found Isobel to be a likeable, realistic protagonist, with conflicted emotions and a soul-deep sense of duty to her family. And where do I begin with Rook? In some ways, he fits the archetype of the rude, stubborn love interest who eventually grows to love his equally-stubborn companion. But it was such a delight to see his interactions with Isobel change and deepen. He’s definitely book boyfriend material. 😉

What I Disliked: There were parts of the book that felt a little predictable. It’s not difficult to imagine how it ends before it even happens. But again, much like a fairy tale, that predictability comes with the story: a handsome fairy prince whisks a lovely human girl away, and during their journey, they fall in love. I still thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way it went about telling that story. While the concept is something we’ve seen before, the writing is sharp and engaging. I also had a few lingering questions at the end of the book, but despite wanting answers, I can appreciate it when an author leaves some details to the reader’s imagination.

Overall, I think this was a strong debut, and it really is a wonderful book to curl up with this fall. Make some tea, grab a cozy blanket, and lose yourself in the forests with Isobel and Rook. You won’t regret it! 😊🍂

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author: Margaret Rogerson

October TBR

It was hard to choose just five books for this month’s TBR. There are so many new and upcoming releases that I’m excited to read. And there are also longtime favorites that I’m interested in rereading. (*cough* A Discovery of Witches… *cough*) But I think the books I’ve chosen will certainly make October (even more) magical! 😀

Here are the books I’m planning to read this month…

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
I had every intention of reading this book in September, but I’m sure it will be a great October read! You can find more of my thoughts, as well as a short synopsis, in my September TBR post.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge*
U.S. Publication Date: October 17th, 2017 (It appears that this book was published in the U.K. on September 21st, so I’ve linked the Book Depository listing in case you want to go ahead and order it. Also, I think the U.K. cover is beautiful! 😍)

Another perfect almost-Halloween read, this book promises a paranormal adventure that takes place in the early part of the English Civil War. The premise is fascinating, and seriously, what family secret is crazier than having the ability to be possessed by ghosts? I’m looking forward to reading this and seeing where Kate’s journey leads.
Here’s a synopsis:

Kate is an illegitimate daughter of the aristocratic Fellmotte family, and as such, she shares their unique hereditary gift: the capacity to be possessed by ghosts. Reluctant to accept her appointed destiny as vessel for a coterie of her ancestors, she escapes. As she flees the pursuing Fellmottes across war-torn England, she accumulates a motley crew of her own allies, including outcasts, misfits, criminals, and one extremely angry dead bear. This new dark historical fantasy is sure to satisfy readers of Frances Hardinge who are eager for more.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
I can never resist a good retelling, especially one that describes a villain’s origin story. This book promises complex characters, lush landscapes, and… blood. Definitely blood. Something tells me this story won’t exactly have a happy ending… and I couldn’t be more excited about that. 😈
Here’s a synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.

Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins — sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
I received this book in the July Tricksters box from FairyLoot, but I still haven’t read it! 😅 Which is ridiculous, because the story sounds amazing. A mystery set within a fantastical world, a young woman with powers that she may not fully understand, a race against time — and a serial killer… It was a no-brainer to choose this book as an October read.
Here’s a synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel, and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that — illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed… until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca. Their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all her loved ones disappear.

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
I hadn’t heard much about this book before I purchased it. Honestly, I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover and stayed for the magic. I love the idea of hidden societies, especially ones in which magic thrives. And I also love characters who aren’t quite what they seem, and I think Sydney falls into that category. I’m looking forward to entering this strange and intriguing world!
Here’s a synopsis:

The Unseen World of wealthy and powerful magicians in New York City prides itself on remaining invisible. Every twenty years, vying for power and standing during the Turning, the heads of magical houses elect a champion — a family member or a magician-for-hire — and begin a series of duels.

But the Turning has come early, after only thirteen years, and Ian Merlin, the heir to the most powerful house in the Unseen World, has been elected to become the champion of his father’s chief rival, House Prospero.

Enter Sydney: an unknown magician from a candidate house, an outsider easily dismissed among the established wealth and power of the Unseen World. What they will soon learn is that Sydney is a formidable duelist with power that hasn’t been seen in decades, and she has a score to settle…

What are you planning to read this month? Anything spooky? 👻 Let me know!