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a to z challenge:: November Update

HOLY HOT SPOT BATMAN! I cannot believe that it is the last month of the year already! Christmas is in 23 days. Oh Lord, I haven’t even started shopping … I’ll worry about that tomorrow. But I was very happy I was able to keep my reading game up, maybe not quite as many books as in October (I went into Hulk mode that month) but still a huge improvement from the beginning of the year so I am pleased. I’ve had to up my Goodreads challenge 4 times in the past two months! Very happy bookworm over here. How’s everyone else doing? It’s coming down to the wire and I’m nervous I won’t finish, guess I have to fine turn what I’m reading to get those last few letters.

Happy reading! xoxo

Here is my list thus far:

a:: RoseBlood – AG Howard

b:: Bite Club – Rachel Caine // The Mark of Cain – Lindsey Barraclough

c:: Kiss of Death – Rachel Caine // This is Not a Test – Courtney Summers

d:: Survive the Night – Danielle Vega // Dime Store Magic – Kelley Armstrong

e:: The Kiss of Deception – Mary E. Pearson

f:: The Turning – Francine Prose

g:: Ghost Town – Rachel Caine // Caraval – Stephanie Garber

h:: H2O – Virginia Bergin // Wait Till Helen Comes – Mary Downing Hahn

i::

j:: Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones

k:: Gemina – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff // And the Trees Crept In – Dawn Kurtagich

l:: The Hearts We Sold – Emily Lloyd-Jones // Down a Dark Hall – Lois Duncan // The Midnight Star – Marie Lu

m:: The Assassin Game – Kirsty McKay // The Sleeping Prince – Melinda Salisbury // The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski

 

n:: Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon

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o:: One of the Guys – Lisa Aldin // The Hunter’s Moon – OR Melling

p:: Silence Fallen – Patricia Briggs // The Call – Peadar Ó Guilín

q:: The Star-Touched Queen – Roshani Chokshi // Three Dark Queens – Kendare Blake

r:: Seven Ways We Lie – Riley Redgate // The Rose Society – Marie Lu

s:: A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Maas // A Torch Against the Night – Sabaa Tahir

t:: Long May She Reign – Rhiannon Thomas // Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas

u:: Uprooted – Naomi Novik // Umberland – Wendy Spinale

v:: King’s Cage – Victoria Aveyard // This Savage Song – Victoria Schwab

w:: Everland – Wendy Spinale // Umberland – Wendy Spinale

x:: Wayfarer – Alexandra Bracken

y:: The Young Elites – Marie Lu

z::

Book Review:: The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski

Date started: November 17, 2017

Date ended: November 22, 2017 

Stars: ★★★★

“Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.” 

Firstly, let me say that this is the first book in a while (well, besides Everything, Everything which I literally just finished) that I’ve read that didn’t include any of magical properties and it was quite refreshing! Not that I’m hating on the fantasy genre, it’s what I live for but sometimes it does get a little tedious. I loved that everything the characters went through was accomplished not by some mystical power or ability, but by the sheer will to overcome it. Sometimes that’s just what the doctor orders, a good hero/heroine (or both!) who is just, plain and simple, a badass.

I can see why some readers have said that the beginning of this book is a bit slower than you would like it to be, because I was guilty of thinking that as well, but I can also see why Rutkoski had that slow progression to that epic ending! We really get a history of the civilization and how it became what it is in the current time the that the book takes place. We see where Kestrel comes from and why she feels the way she does about the Herrani people, mostly her nanny, Enai. Which then leads us to see how she might feel towards Arin once he has been purchased.

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The romance is quite possibly the slowest budding romance I’ve read. Forgive me, but the TENSION could’ve killed me. You keep waiting and waiting for something to progress but then they seem to take about ten steps back. At one point, I actually screamed at the book (terrifying my dog) screw it, just go marry Ronan!!!! But then there was the lovely carriage scene *swoon* and suddenly, everything was worth every second and you realize that Rutkoski was making us feel the tension and the sweet release. So worth the wait.

The writing is easy to follow and flows really well. There isn’t an overabundance of descriptions or settings. The politics are usually my Achilles Heel while reading because I can’t help but get so darn confused, but I really didn’t have that issue here. It was pretty complex but explained in a need to know basis which made it super easy to understand. You aren’t trying to memorize who’s who, where they came from, and what their title is and blah blah blah. It all just works which is wonderful when an author can do that for the readers.

I was pleasantly surprised with this story and am eager to find out what happens in the second installment.

Book Review:: Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon

Date started: November 15, 2017

Date ended: November 17, 2017 

Stars: ★★★★★

This was the absolutely sweetest book. I have to admit I was a little hesitant that this would be a wonderful, amazingly heartrendingly beautiful story like The Fault in Our Stars or Me Before You which would destroy what little of my heart I have left because of said novels and more. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised that this was a coming of age story where the heroine challenges her safe life to actually live.

Everything, Everything is so achingly beautiful and gorgeously constructed, it is really hard for me to comprehend that this is Nicola Yoon’s debut novel. Effortlessly narrated, filled with perfectly crafted scenes and moments accompanied by little visuals (like diary notes, emails, drawings, etc), it is quite a powerful reading experience. The book is completely unputdownable. You’ll be glued to its pages just like I was, craving more with every small sip you take, needing to know everything, to race ahead and find out what happens next, but not wanting to miss a single word, a single breath, a single little Madeline and Olly moment. I really tried to pace myself while reading this book, because I really wanted to savor each and every page, but it wasn’t easy. I just wanted to inhale it all and fill my soul with it, and just keep it there, in my heart, forever.

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Nicola Yoon is one incredibly talented writer, and I am so glad to have discovered her. I already know I will read every single book she’ll ever write, she goes straight onto my automatic to-read list. The way she developed her characters and gave them so much depth and complexity, really took my breath away. Her prose is nothing short of perfect, her dialogues are spot-on and full of amazing chemistry, her every sentence carries meaning and stays with you. I loved how she described all the relationships in this book – and not just the one between Olly and Madeline, but also between Madeline and her mom, Madeline and her nurse, Olly and his parents and sister… they were all so authentic and convincing, they pulled on my heartstrings and made me feel things. I particularly loved how mature Madeline acted, despite her truly horrible situation. I loved that the relationship with her mom was so drama-free; based on mutual trust, understanding and affection. And boy, watching this girl fall in love with Olly and seeing them together, it just melted me. It was phenomenal.

I don’t think I can praise this book enough, but ultimately you need to experience this awesomeness for yourself. I promise you, you won’t regret.

Book Review:: The Midnight Star – Marie Lu

Date started: November 10, 2017

Date ended: November 15, 2017 

Stars: ★★★★★

“You cannot harden your heart to the future just because of your past. You cannot use cruelty against yourself to justify cruelty to others.”

I only wish this book was longer. After all the violence, emotions and drama of this series, this final installment was a good hundred pages too short for me (and it’s not often I say that). True, it pretty much ended the way I expected, the only way it really could, but the journey there has been bloody, twisted, and a whole lot of fun.

The end of the last book threw a dark little twist at us and I couldn’t wait to find out more about Adelina’s state of mind in The Midnight Star. Would she redeem herself? Would she continue spiraling into darkness, becoming ever more consumed by her desire for power? As this book opens, we see just how far gone she is. Now a powerful queen, she rules with fear and pain.

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Adelina, herself, makes this story so gripping. She is the perfect antihero. Despicable, and yet so easy to sympathize with. Lu ties us to her pain and suffering, so that we want her to succeed and find happiness even as she causes so much destruction. In fact, it is the twisted, somewhat evil characters that drive this series. Even the repulsive Teren fascinates. Here, we see more of his story, which develops a complex layer to his loathsome character. I always kind of loved to hate him, and here I also kind of just loved him. A little bit. Shh, don’t judge me.

Parts of this book are creepy; other parts are sad, but without being overly-sentimental. The death toll creeps up and all lives lost hit me hard. Lu has gotten better at crafting those perfectly subtle scenes that tug at my heart strings far more than any melodramatic heartbreak ever could. It’s quietly sad. And somehow that hurts most of all. I loved the added story with the myths and descendents of the gods. I wish that had been weaved through the series a bit more, but this part added to wanted to come to the conclusion of this novel for me.

I thought the conclusion was inevitable, though it was no less perfect because of its predictability. No less effective. Afterwards, Lu closes the story with a small folk tale from the future: the immortal story of the White Wolf, who may have been a courageous hero or a cruel villain. Depending which version of the story you’ve heard.