It’s Monday, so here I am with another weekly wrap-up.
I feel good about last week. I know I said that the week before, too, but I think things have been going well for this little blog. I got two book reviews our, and participated in two weekly posts. November’s been going pretty good so far.
Anyway, let’s get on with it.
Wednesday 11/8: Can’t-Wait Wednesday
Last Wednesday, I posted another Can’t-Wait Wednesday for the first time in a while. Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. For this one, I highlighted System Collapse by Martha Wells.
Ah, a rare Saturday post. On Saturday, I posted a little review for the short story Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory by Martha Wells. It’s part of the Murderbot Diaries, and the only MD thing I hadn’t read until yet. I gave it ★★★★★.
So yeah, I read quite a bit last week, and I was pretty decent with my posting. I’m hoping to do even better this coming week, though.
This week, I’m gonna finish Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, and I’m gonna read System Collapse when it comes out. I’m also planning on continuing with One Piece and starting the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive – The Way of Kings.
Concerning non-book stuff and non-blog stuff that I’m gonna be doing this week, well, I’m gonna be cleaning up around the house in preparation for Thanksgiving next week. I’m also going to be making sure that everything is in order for the food and baking and stuff.
But yeah, here’s hoping that I get all I’m planning on done. I’m looking forward to so many things to read, and I don’t want as much work next week. 🤞🍀
As always, thank you to everyone for reading, and I hope that you have an awesome day/night!
Isla Crown has secured the love of two powerful rulers and broken the curses that plagued the six realms for centuries.
But few know the true origins of her powers. Now, in the wake of a crushing betrayal, Isla finds herself hungry for distraction, preferring to frequent Lightlark’s seductive haunts instead of embracing her duties as the newly crowned leader of two separate realms.
Worse, her fellow rulers haven’t ceded victory quietly, and there are others in Isla’s midst who don’t believe her ascent to power was earned. As certain death races toward Lightlark and secrets from the past begin to unravel, Isla must weigh her responsibility to her people against the whims of the most dangerous traitor of all: her heart.
Alex Aster’s intricate world expands after the riveting culmination of the Centennial games, delving more deeply into Isla’s memories of her past, as her future hurtles toward two possible fates.
“Nightbane,” someone whispered from a stall. She slowed in front of it, curious. There were small vials of something dark. The seller’s face lit up at her attention. “Takes away all troubles and pain…”
Goddamn this book. Lightlark was mediocre, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt, and bumped up the rating a bit because I thought that Alex Aster might be able to improve. There was just a little bit of promise – and I sometimes can’t help but give novels some slack.
I shouldn’t have.
Nightbane was a very, very bad book. It’s not my most hated read ever, and I’m sure I’ll read books I dislike even more in the future, but it’s not even close to remotely in the realm of good.
I could rant about how much this book just gets on my nerves for paragraphs, but I’m not gonna. Because that isn’t how I do things. Let’s start this review off proper with the only thing I can give Aster props for.
The prose has improved (…a little) ▼
The author has improved her writing. (Technically.) No more insert-adjective-here thing. But that’s really all that I can say. Aster could honestly do to improve more – a lot more. But I am surprised that she improved as a writer as much as she did – I really didn’t expect it, lol.
And that’s all for the pros. Nothing else about this book is good.
The writing still isn’t that good ▼
I know, I know. I just gave her some props for this. But the prose and dialogue still isn’t that great guys! Like, some of the descriptions are really weirdly worded, and the dialogue sounds somewhat unnatural some of the time.
Aster also makes some odd decisions when it comes to plot and pacing that I do not understand. I didn’t enjoy reading any of it. But the most annoying stuff was still her description choices. Here are some of my personal favorites…
Isla wondered if Grim was like that necklace- insistent and refusing to let her go. Would he kill people just to have her?
What does this mean? How is a necklace able to be insistent?
If the word debauchery had been a place, Isla was looking at it.
This one might be nitpicking, but don’t add “word” as a descriptor for “debauchery.” It messes the whole thing up.
He had relatively long black hair like spilled ink, falling across his forehead, curling around his ears.
This is not relatively long black hair. Relatively long black hair is black hair long enough to fall the down someone’s back. (Say long one more time, lol.)
And I can’t forget about…
The sound of his pants being discarded seemed to echo through the vast bathroom. Then, the sound of water parting, letting him in, settling around him.
WHAT?!? The sound of his pants?!?
The characters ▼
They aren’t any better here than in book one. Isla is still stupid and annoying, and still barely has a defined personality. The desire to root for her was even smaller than in Lightlark. She was also an absolutely horrible person to pretty much everyone around her.
Oro can hardly be called a character here. But at least he still has one. I was very worried about a Tamlin situation happening here, but was pleasantly surprised that Aster didn’t go that route. For now. (What she did do pissed me off though.) As of post Nightbane, Isla definitely does not deserve this man, cardboard cutout that he is.
Grim was still annoying. I can’t even think about him without being filled with rage. I hate Walmart Rhysand.
No one else matters. They just… they really don’t matter. As much as I wanted to like the new characters… they just don’t matter.
The romance ▼
Her nostrils flared. “You don’t respect me?”
“You don’t seem to respect your own life. Why should I?”
She scoffed. “Fine. Don’t respect me. I don’t care. You weren’t why I came here.”
“Clearly. Why are you here?” he demanded.
The romance here makes me gag. Like, thinking about it makes me have to swallow back bile. It’s disgusting. (Both the romance and the bile.)
Oro and Isla had the potential to build a sweet, healthy and wholesome relationship, but Alex Aster just went straight for the sex. Again. Just like with Isla and Grim.
Speaking of which, it was basically the same thing with those two in Nightbane. Except it started out a little less horny. Isla and Grim weren’t quite as ready to jump each other’s bones – they legitimately didn’t like each other to begin with. But like all good things, this quickly came to an end, and it was the first novel all over again. Except this time, it was in a flashback. That spanned half the book.
But yeah, Isla definitely doesn’t deserve Oro. Honestly, I don’t want her to end up with everyone. The only happily ever after I see possible is if Lightlark (the island) blew up. With Isla, Grim and everyone else on it.
Final Thoughts ▼
This book sucks. If/When a third one comes out, I’ll probably read it, because I enjoy my own suffering, apparently. I guess if you really, really, really enjoyed Lightlark then you might like its sequel. But that’s all I can say regarding recommendations.
Anyway, thanks to everyone so much for reading, and I hope that you have a much better day/night than I’ve had, lol.
And we’ve finally hit November. Well, almost a week ago, technically – but the last weekly wrap-up was in October completely, so yeah.
I think I’ve been decently consistent with my posting over the past week, though I haven’t been reading as much as I might’ve liked. I dunno why really, last week was a little bit busy with Halloween, and then I had hardly any free time this weekend. So that’s probably why.
Anyway, let’s get into it.
Tuesday 10/31: The Graveyard Book Review / Halloween
Last Tuesday, I finally uploaded my review for The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. A perfect little ghost story for Halloween. I gave it ★★★✯☆.
Tuesday also happened to be Halloween. So here’s a belated Happy Halloween🎃👻🐈⬛🕸️💀🦇 to everybody who missed the post!
On Wednesday, I posted my reading wrap-up for October 2023. To anyone who doesn’t know, it’s when I go over my StoryGraph stats. For the first time ever, I’m pretty sure I actually posted it on the first of the month!
Last Friday, I posted my review for Lightlark by Alex Aster. A somewhat controversial YA fantasy novel that was released last year, that I finally decided to read, just in time for the sequel. I gave it ★★✬☆☆.
So, even though last week wasn’t nearly as productive as I had wanted it to be, I’m still happy with what I got done, for once. This coming week, however, I’m definitely aiming to do way better.
Concerning books on my TBR, I’m gonna start reading Nightbane by Alex Aster as soon as it goes live on Kindle eReaders. Then I’m probably gonna read Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett – one of the books I got from my book haul this past weekend. I’m also planning on starting the second arc of One Piece sometime this week.
I don’t really know what else I’m gonna do this week. The only thing that I’m sure about is getting some of the ingredients for stuff I’m planning to make for Thanksgiving. I like to shop early for this holiday – we’re also gonna get almost all of our groceries for the next two weeks this weekend – because the grocery stores (and Walmart) are freaking insane the week of Thanksgiving. And I don’t want to get caught up in that.
So yeah, I hope to both read and post better this coming week. 🤞🍀 Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have an excellent day/night!
Every 100 years, the island of Lightlark appears to host the Centennial, a deadly game that only the rulers of six realms are invited to play. The invitation is a summons—a call to embrace victory and ruin, baubles and blood.
The Centennial offers the six rulers one final chance to break the curses that have plagued their realms for centuries. Each ruler has something to hide. Each realm’s curse is uniquely wicked. To destroy the curses, one ruler must die. Isla Crown is the young ruler of Wildling—a realm of temptresses cursed to kill anyone they fall in love with.
They are feared and despised, and are counting on Isla to end their suffering by succeeding at the Centennial. To survive, Isla must lie, cheat, and betray . . . Even as love complicates everything.
The Centennial was many things. A game. A chance at breaking the many curses that plagued the six realms. An opportunity to win unmatched power. A meeting of the six rulers. A hundred days on an island cursed to only appear once every hundred years.
So, I know that last year that there was quite a bit of drama around this book. And that it was cool to rag on Lightlark – a lot of BookTube was absolutely eviscerating it. But lemme tell you a little secret:
It’s not really all that horrible, guys.
Like, it’s not good. At all. But I’ve read far, far worse books, and I’ve hated novels more that I’ve disliked this one. So yeah, not too bad. It’s mediocre AF though. And it could have used another revision or two before publication.
I’m just gonna break it down now, if that’s okay with you…
[EDIT:The longer I’m away from this, the more I don’t care for it. Sorry that the rating changed again – I should have ruminated on this longer before posting. Plus, the sequel is making this retroactively worse.]
The rulers ▼
First off, before I get into these characters, I gotta let you all know how stupid it is that these people are referred to as simply “rulers.” Like, is it their title? Cuz Ruler Isla sounds kind of dumb, as does Ruler Cleo and all the other names. Plus, it’s not, like, a term of royalty or lordship or whatever. And it’s super vague.
But I digress. Let’s just move on to the “rulers.” AKA: The only relevant characters to the plot (and sometimes not even that).
Isla Crown often fell through puddles of stars and into faraway places. Always without permission—and seemingly on the worst occasions.
Isla Crown is a pretty dumb protagonist. She also kept changing her mind throughout the story waaayy too much – it was so annoying!! I really didn’t find her likeable, and I don’t understand why all the straight men were simping for her.
Oro was okay. He was just… okay. He didn’t feel as defined as he should’ve been – which is an ongoing problem for all of the characters in Lightlark, though some more than others. I kinda liked his and Isla’s relationship, though it needs a ton of development in the sequel(s). Cuz there was certainly not enough here. I’m not confident that he will, but I hope that he’s the guy that ends up with Isla. He’s the lesser of two underdeveloped evils.
Grimshaw is a ridiculous name. Like, I get it, he’s the bad boy with shadow powers, as well as Aster’s version of Rhysand. But really – Grimshaw? Ugh. He’s an annoying character too – and waaayy too horny. Like, dude – take a long cold shower please. And please, don’t ever come back.
Celeste was also irritating. Mostly because she has no purpose at first but to function as Isla’s best friend that she only occasionally talks to. And the so-called “twist” with her is so obvious, it’s as plain as the human heart on the cover.
Cleo was probably the most interesting character to me, if only because there’s so much character potential with her. Missed potential, of course, this is Lightlark, after all. She mostly kind of felt like a mean girl though, because of course she was.
Azul also had the potential to be interesting. Too bad he only has a few pages of pagetime.
The plot ▼
The plot was extremely underdeveloped and the pacing was terrible. There’d be pages where nothing really happens, and then suddenly there’s a hybrid scene of action and exposition. It was kinda ridiculous.
There were also some inconsistencies and plenty of plot contrivances. It was hell to read this book sometimes. And, of course, the biggest contrivance and ridiculous plot device is…
The curse ▼
This is one of the most specific and contrived thing I’ve ever read in a novel. Like, it’s really, really weirdly set up and executed. And incredibly specific in the strangest ways – if I didn’t mention that already.
Only joined can the curses be undone
Only after one of six has won,
when the original offense
Has been committed again
And a ruling line has come to an end
Only then can history amend.
Plus, as you can see, the way it’s written kind of (really) sucks too. It doesn’t flow at all. When prophecies (and curses too, I guess) are written in books, they have to have a poetic and/or lyrical quality to them. It’s not a rule, exactly, but it just reads so, so much better, and sounds better in your head.
The romance ▼
Alex Aster could do better. Chemistry is non-existent. I don’t want to talk about this aspect of the novel anymore.
The prose ▼
Lightlark was a shining, cliffy thing. Its bluffs were white as bone, and sunlight rained down in sheets of misted gold.
Singing was a Wildling thing, a temptress thing.
The sun had fallen. It was just a yolky thing, halfway consumed by the horizon, when Isla opened the double doors and stared up at the incoming moon.
This was one of the weaker things about Lightlark. (Did you see what I did there?) Aster needs to practice her synonyms, if I have to read something described as a _____ thing again, I’m gonna clae my eyes out.
The dialogue could also be improved some. I’ve read some that felt more unnatural, but she could still do to improve. Oh, and work on character chemistry, too.
Final Thoughts ▼
So yeah, Lightlark really wasn’t nearly as bad as some reviews made it out to be. (And yes, I’m aware that it’s actually rated relatively high – those aren’t the people talking about.) I found it to be pretty mediocre, personally, as well as slightly less than average.
I firmly believe that fans of Sarah J. Maas, Serpent & Dove, Twilight and other romantasy stuff will like it. It appeals to this specific group of people.
(Also, I should mention that this is nothing like The Hunger Games and isn’t even all too similar to A Court and Thorns and Roses like one of the blurbs claimed. So don’t go into it thinking that it is.)
Anyway, thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!