“A Court of Wings and Ruin” by Sarah J. Maas: A Book of Annoyances and Spite [Book Review]

A world divided was not a world that could thrive.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses (Book #3)

Length: 719 pages

Genres: Fantasy, Romance, New Adult, Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release Date: 2 May 2017



She has left the Night Court – and her High Lord – and is playing a deadly game of deceit. In the Spring Court, Tamlin is making deals with the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees, and Feyre is determined to uncover his plans. But to do so she must weave a web of lies, and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As mighty armies grapple for power, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.


My review for A Court of Thorns and Roses

My review for A Court of Mist and Fury

I have such mixed feelings about A Court of Wings and Ruin. And this series in general. On one hand, it’s my favorite kind of trash (when I’m in the mood for romance and trash). On the other hand, I really hate a lot of things about this book, as well as quite a few things about this series in general.

But it’s been bothering me for years that I left the initial ACOTAR trilogy unfinished, and after getting my mom into reading as a motivation to finish it (my trash is her treasure), I’m gonna finish the other two ACOTAR books that have been released.

I Have Some Things To Say about this book, so without further hesitation I’m gonna start ranting.

The World

Once again, the most fascinating aspect of ACOTAR’s story is its setting. I really do like the world that Maas built, even if the Prythian landmass is just a fantasy UK.

I like a lot of the creatures that she created (but underutilized greatly). Also, I think the Court system itself is interesting, though Maas didn’t really take it in a direction that I liked. I thought that the High Lords themselves had a lot of potential as well, but Maas didn’t really make them interesting or unique aside from their powers. (And even that isn’t unique since Feyre has all of their powers combined.)

I also would’ve liked to know more about the other countries, but they only get name dropped and that’s it. We don’t even learn really anything about Hybern – the invading force – except that they were speciesist 500 years ago, and they’re still speciesist now. I felt like Maas could’ve done more with that.

The Characters

Oh boy, do I have Thoughts about the characters in this book. I hate most of them. Viscerally. But I will admit that I do like a few of them.

Let’s start with the ones that I like, since there are so little of them. First off, Nesta is still the best character in the series (so far), and I hated how much some of the other characters started to rag on her closer to the ending. She’s also one of the few characters in this novel with an actual, distinct personality and character. And it was very enjoyable to read her being bitchy.

The only other characters that I really liked were Amren and Lucien. Amren was fun to read about, and also unapologetically a bitch. And we stan Amren/Varian on this blog. My favorite couple in the series.

Amren and Varian didn’t even bother to join us.

No, she’d just wrapped her legs around his waist, right there in front of us, and he’d stood, lifting her in one swift movement. I wasn’t entirely sure how Varian managed to walk them out of the tent while still kissing her, Amren’s hands dragging through his hair, letting out noises that were unnervingly like purring as they vanished into the camp.

Rhys had let out a low laugh as we all gawked in their wake. “I supposed that’s how Varian decided he’d tell Amren he was feeling rather grateful she’d ordered us to go to Adriata.”

Tarquin cringed. “We’ll alternate who has to deal with them on holidays.”

Lucien was probably the most interesting male character in this book, and I hate that no one likes him (not even the author really seems to, lol). And he doesn’t really even deserve any of it. The only character that gets more hate is Tamlin, and Lucien doesn’t deserve to be that high on our group of MCs (s)hitlist.

Oh, and before I forget, I really loved the Suriel and the Bone Carver. But then SJM decided to do away with them (and the Weaver) (also SPOILERS), which really irritated me. They were the most interesting characters in the series, and definitely still had a ton of potential, but since Maas chose to get rid of them, I guess we’ll never see what could have been.

Annnd I didn’t much care for anyone else. Feyre was even more annoying than ever, and I hated reading about how spiteful and pissed off at everything. She wasn’t a character that I really enjoyed following, like, at all. And she was ridiculously overpowered and I hated it (and her) because she wasn’t even close to being a likable enough character to be fun to read being overpowered.

Also, it bugged me that she kept bragging about solving Amarantha’s riddle from the first book. 1) That was like the easiest riddle ever and 2) it took her months to figure it out.

My goal was bigger than revenge. My purpose greater than personal retribution.

Uhhhh, no it’s not Feyre… You’re lying to yourself.

Speaking of being overpowered, Rhysand also started to get super annoying here too. The author made him too secretly perfect under a veneer of bad-boyishness. And I both of those aspects about him. I also didn’t like how he was the most powerful of all the High Lords. Like, power couples can be fun, but that only works for me when both characters are very likeable, of which neither individual person in this couple is.

I also don’t like Mor anymore, as (SPOILERS) she’s apparently been stringing Azriel along for 500 years. And that’s just irredeemable to me, regardless of the reasons. Stringing someone along for 500 years is just morally reprehensible.

And Azriel and Cassian (and Mor) all just kept acting like college frat boys and a sorority girl, and it just got insufferable to me after a while. They’re all supposed to be over 500 years old and I can’t take them seriously because none of them act like it. Rhysand doesn’t either – he’s a frat boy too!

The Romance

Night Triumphant – and the Stars Eternal.

If he was the sweet, terrifying darkness, I was the glittering light that only his shadows could make clear.

The romance in A Court of Wings and Ruin was… meh. Most of it was average at best. And I hated the smut. Not because it was bad (though I’ve heard it’s not very good), but because I don’t care enough about it to make that call.

I just don’t like smut in general. I skip all the sex scenes in every book I see it in. And yes, I’m aware that the majority of A Court of Silver Flames is smut, but I’m still gonna read it so I can say I read this whole series.

The only relationship that I liked in this book was Amren and Varian, and that’s mostly because I just like Amren’s character.

The Plot

“Leave this world… a better place than how you found it.”

I didn’t much care about the plot until the last third, and even then it wasn’t that engaging, for the most part. SJM used a bunch of plot and character conveniences, which I despised, and when they’d had their use (in her eyes) she just dumped them for good. Ugh.

The plot also didn’t really start to move until close to the halfway point. Sure, a couple of things happened closer to the beginning, but not all that much occurred until about 40% of the way in. And Feyre was just so angry for the first 20% – it was just really annoying to read.

Also, Nesta’s powers. Maas built them up so freaking much and then, in the end, she hardly did anything with them. Literally all Nesta did with them was throw the King of Hybern into some trees really heard (which didn’t even kill him, let alone slow him down!), and nothing else. It’s like SJM couldn’t figure out what to do with her or something.

And before I forget, Feyre running off in the middle of battle without telling anyone was about the stupidest decision I’ve ever seen her make. And just to go find the Suriel who she didn’t even get any useful information from. Ughhhh!

Also, Lucien did a ton of stuff off screen, and it was the most interesting plot stuff in the book. I wanted to read that!

Final Thoughts

Even as an immortal, there was not enough time in life to waste it on hatred.

So yeah, I had a lot of thoughts about this book. And this series (so far) in general. I’m feeling pretty bland about the last two novels in this series, but I have to finish it now since I’m buddy reading it with my mom and she’s enjoying it a lot.

If you like the other ACOTAR books, you’ll like A Court of Wings and Ruin. Also, probably if you like fantasy with romance (and smut) too.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Timekeeper” by Tara Sim: A World Where Clocks Control the Flow of Time [Book Review]

It’s been about a week or so, but I decided that it was time for another retrospective book review.

Retrospective Book Reviews (previously Reading Retrospectives), for those who don’t know, are basically book reviews, but they’re on books that I read before I started this blog. So, in order for them to get their day in the sun, I go back through them and see if my opinion when I originally read them holds up.

This week, I’m re-reviewing a book I read a couple of years ago. It’s Timekeeper by Tara Sim.

The Greeks love the idea of fate — in a completely morbid way, of course. Most of the stories of how people are trying to change or avoid their fate. But everything they do just brings them that much closer to it.

Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Timekeeper by Tara Sim

THEN: ★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

NOW: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Series: Timekeeper Trilogy (Book #1)

Length: 414 pages

Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, YA, Fiction

Publishing: November 8, 2016 (Sky Pony Press)


I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time.

As my first deliberate foray into reading a queer novel, this was an excellent. Even though I don’t like it as much as when I first read it, I definitely still stand by this. And there are so many wonderful things inside this book that I also loved, that I can’t wait to talk about.

There’s a lot that I want to gush about (and a few things I want to complain about), so let’s get into it.

Stuff I Liked

“You’re the mechanic. I’m just the clock.”

I absolutely and completely adored the setting and world building here. A world where clocks – actual freaking clocks! – are the only thing standing between Earth and an apocalypse where time stops moving forever, are the clock towers scattered around the world.

And it’s strange to say, but Sim’s writing is amazing in the way that she makes the people in the novel seem so naturally desensitized to this part of their existence. Because this society is so used to the world being like this at this point that this is completely normal for them. And I love it.

I also enjoyed the characters a lot. Danny was a pretty good protagonist. I liked that even though he was a clock mechanic prodigy, there were plenty of other qualities about him that balanced this out, like his insecurities and shyness.

Colton was also a very intriguing and likeable dueteragonist, though he didn’t appear until later in the book. He was the most fascinating character to me in Timekeeper, and if I ever decide to continue with this series, finding out more about him and his past would be one of the main reasons.

“Where would you most like to go?”

“I don’t know. I know nothing about the world. Enfield is my world.”

It was the saddest thing Dany had ever heard.

“How about this: when I come next time, I’ll bring the world to you.”

Though he didn’t understand, Colton looked interested. “Is that possible?”

“Anything is possible.”

Danny and Colton’s romance was also beautiful. A lot of it felt very insta-lovey (especially at first), and a lot of it seemed purely based on physical attraction (especially at first). But closer to the end they started to have more development as a couple, and I started to understand how they fit together.

The other characters were pretty good too, though I didn’t find them nearly as memorable.

Concerning other things that I enjoyed about Timekeeper, I really loved the plot. Besides the setting, this was probably my favorite thing about the book. It melded with the world building and setting extraordinarily well, and kept me reading. It was extremely engaging, especially after the first 100 or so pages.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

He was the architect of their suffering.

There honestly wasn’t that much that I didn’t actually like about this book. I actually pretty much like everything here, to some degree.

The reason why I only rated this novel four stars, was because I only liked everything to a certain degree. I just didn’t like this book nearly as much as I liked other five star books I’ve read, and it’s something that I realized about it after combing through it a second time.

Final Thoughts

Timekeeper is a fun, unique, alternate history fantasy, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Tara Sim has a wonderful and very palatable writing style. I don’t know if I’ll ever decide to continue this trilogy, but I definitely liked this one.

I definitely recommend it to people who enjoy fantasy and historical fantasy, as well as fans of LGBTQIA fiction. It has an interesting setting and world building, it had a great story and characters.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

An Average-Feeling Fantasy | “A Thousand Steps into Night” by Traci Chee [Book Review]

A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee

A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee

Star Rating: ★★✫☆☆ • 2.75 / 5 stars

A Japanese-influenced fantasy brimming with demons, adventure, and plans gone awry.

In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter.

But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again.

With her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did.

This book was so… meh. To me at least! Don’t get me wrong – I think that it was written well enough, it simply wasn’t for me. But it wasn’t a bad book, so I didn’t rank it too low.

A Thousand Steps into Night is a Japanese-inspired fantasy novel written by Traci Chee, and published by Clarion Books on March 1, 2022. It features genres such as: fantasy, romance, and YA.

The author had a very digestible writing style, and there are definitely a few things that I liked about the novel, but it still felt really meh to me for whatever reason. But before I get into that stuff, let’s talk about the stuff that didn’t make me feel meh.

Stuff I Liked

The characters were all either somewhat entertaining or generally inoffensive. But the best of those characters was definitely Geiki. He was the highlight of the book for me, and I dearly wish he’d had more presence in the plot than just being main-character-Miuko’s tagalong buddy. Their relationship was cute and fun though.

Speaking of Miuko, our MC, she was… alright, I guess. She wasn’t the worst female protagonist I’ve ever read – not even close! – but she honestly felt a little cliche and middle of the road for an MC.

I also thought that a few of the other characters were interesting, but most of those didn’t show up until quite a ways into the book, and none of them ever stayed long. But that’s kind of all I can think of for things I really liked about this book.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

I didn’t like the plot. Let me be clear, it wasn’t necessarily a bad plot or anything – it was just probably not for me.

There also weren’t enough romantically coded moments between our two lovebirds in A Thousand Steps into Night. And I still felt like the end of the book really left their status as a couple ambiguous. (I could be wrong there though.)

And I can’t think of anything else in the book that stood out to me – stuff I didn’t like or otherwise, which is kind of telling of how meh this novel is. I also didn’t have any quotes that really stood out to me, or that I really liked, which is why there aren’t any in this review. Also, the footnotes thing got really annoying after a a while.

Final Thoughts

A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee wasn’t a good book, in my opinion. But it isn’t even close to being a bad book, and it’s all definitely influenced by the fact that this book just wasn’t for me.

I do recommend those who are interested, to give it a shot. Maybe it’ll be for you.

See ya ~Mar

Weekly Wrap-Up: 3/6 – 3/12

Weekly Wrap-Up 3/6 - 3/12

It’s a new week! Yay!

And last week was honestly fantastic for me. Sure, I didn’t quite post as much as I might’ve liked to, but I was feeling waaayy better – which is a huge step up from the two weeks preceding it. And I’ll take that any day.

But yeah, it’s a new week, so it’s time to wrap up the last one. So let’s get to it!

Wednesday 3/8: WWW Wednesday #7

WWW Wednesday

Last Wednesday I did another WWW Wednesday post. WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, and celebrates the 3 Ws of reading. What are the 3 Ws you might ask? We’ll, you can find out if you check out my post from last week.

Thursday 3/9: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea Review

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

On Thursday, I finally posted my book review for The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh. It was a wonderful fairytale-like fantasy novel that I rated ★★★★☆. If you’re interested in my thoughts on it, you can read my review in full here.

Friday 3/10: First Line Friday #6

First Line Fridays

This past Friday I participated in another First Line Friday. First Line Friday is a weekly feature formerly hosted by Wandering Words, but is something that I discovered over at One Book More. To see what book I highlighted, you can click here.

Sunday 3/12: A Court of Mist and Fury Review

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Yesterday (still part of last week though), I did another retrospective book review. It’s where I review a book I read before I created this blog and see if it still holds up for me.

This time, I did A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J, Maas, a very popular fantasy novel in a very popular fantasy series. I originally felt it was ★★★★★, but my feelings have since changed. If you want to know what I think about the book now, my entire review and all, you can read it here.

Goals for 3/13 – 3/19

Once again, I don’t really have any other goal than to post at least as much as or (hopefully) more than last week. So yeah, still nothing fancy, but it’s what I’m able to do at the moment. I only recently got over being sick for a while, and I’m still trying to take it easier and I don’t want to stress myself out.

Annnd that should tie everything out in a nice little bow. As always, thank you so much to everyone for reading, and have a fantastic day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“A Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas: A Book of Love Triangles and Character Assassinations [Book Review]

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a retrospective book review, and since my next non-retrospective book review isn’t quite ready yet, I thought it was high time I posted another.

Retrospective book reviews are basically book reviews, but they’re on books that I read before I started this blog. So, in order for them to get their day in the sun, I go back through them and see if my opinion when I originally read them holds up. So yeah, that’s basically it.

This time I’m gonna go over another book in a very popular series that I’ve already gone over before. That’s right, I’m going over A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses.

“To the stars who listen—and the dreams that are answered.”

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

THEN: ★★★★★ • 5 / 5

NOW: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5

“Tell me what you see.”
“A world divided in two.”

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court – but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms-and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future-and the future of a world torn apart.

My review for A Court of Thorns and Roses

I have a complicated relationship with the books (that I’ve read) in this series. With ACOTAR, it was that the book started off pretty slow and ended up being just a generic YA fantasy novel. With A Court of Mist and Fury my feelings are a bit more complex than that.

A Court of Mist and Fury is an NA (formerly YA) high fantasy romance novel written by Sarah J. Maas. It is the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses and is therefore the second book in the eponymous series. ACOMAF was also originally published on May 3, 2016 by Bloomsbury.

Stuff I Liked

The Court of Dreams.

The people who knew that there was a price, and one worth paying, for that dream. The bastard- born warriors, the Illyrian half breed, the monster trapped in a beautiful body, the dreamer born into a court of nightmares

…And the huntress with an artist’s soul.

Though this book had a similar problem to its predecessor – that being, it started off slow – it didn’t feel nearly as bad to me; likely because it wasn’t slow for as long. And once ACOMAF got going, it got going.

Also, even though Maas doesn’t focus as much on her world building as I’d like (she chooses instead to focus on… other things), I did like the bits of world building that she did decide to show. I also enjoyed some of the strange creatures and monsters she added and opted to give page time to.

I also quite liked many of the characters introduced in this book. Mor was a great friend for Feyre, and I liked Cassian and Azriel. I really liked seeing Feyre’s sisters – Nesta and Elain – again, as I didn’t expect it at all. (Cassian and Nesta’s sexual tension was also amazing.) Amren was the MVP character-wise though. She was so cool.

The new places that the characters travelled too were also really cool. I loved seeing more of the Faerie Courts of Prythian, and I can’t wait to see more.

There you are. I’ve been looking for you.

His first words to me— not a lie at all, not a threat to keep those faeries away.

Thank you for finding her for me.

I’m more on the fence now on the romance than I was when I first read ACOMAF, soon after it was originally released in 2016. I’ve decided to put it in the Stuff I Liked section, however, because when I first read it I absolutely adored it. Rhysand and Feyre had so much more chemistry together than Tamlin and Feyre ever did, and I really liked Rhys and Feyre as a couple at the time.

The climax and the ending were also heart pounding. When I finished this book, I was immediately chomping at the bit for the next book. It was sooo good, and I needed to know what happened next!

But that’s pretty much all that I liked about it, even if this stuff made me rate the book very highly when I first read it (and why I can’t bring myself to rate it that much lower now).

Stuff I Didn’t Like

When you spend so long trapped in darkness, you find that the darkness begins to stare back.

I absolutely despised what Maas did to Tamlin’s character. Now don’t get me wrong – I didn’t particularly like Tamlin in ACOTAR. But I didn’t hate him either, and after his cardboard cutout personality in the first book, I was looking forward to seeing his personality develop in book two, as well as his and Feyre’s relationship.

But that never happened. Because Maas decided to assassinate Tamlin’s character.

Now this is something that I’ve always hated. Even way back when, when A Court of Wings and Ruin hadn’t even come out yet, and everyone was praising A Court of Mist and Fury for being a perfect book and how perfect Rhys and Feyre were for each other and just fück Tamlin. I hated this even then. Because I absolutely hate things like character assassinations – as it indicates bad writing. And I still stand by that.

I also didn’t really, really didn’t like the smut. But I just hate smut in general, so that’s probably just a me thing.

Final Thoughts

Truth is deadly. Truth is freedom. Truth can break and mend and bind.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas was a fantastic read when it first came out, but its near perfection has definitely weathered some over the years.

I still like it to some degree, and recommend it to fans of fantasy-romance, but I don’t like it nearly as much as I did when I first read it. It’s not a bad book (though if you’re looking for it, you can see the cracks starting to show in the narrative in ACOMAF).

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

LINKS: Goodreads | Instagram

A Romance Blooms Where the Land Meets the Sea | “The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea” by Axie Oh [Book Review]

According to myth, the Red String of Fate ties a person to her destiny. Some believe that it ties you to the one person your heart desires most.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Axie Oh’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is an enthralling feminist retelling of the classic Korean folktale “The Tale of Shim Cheong,” perfect for fans of Wintersong, Uprooted, and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…

Sooo, I really enjoyed this book. Out of all the fantasy books I tend to read, most of them just end up being western fantasy. That doesn’t mean I don’t like eastern fantasy as much – I absolutely love eastern fantasy! It just doesn’t come up on my radar as much for whatever reason.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh is a standalone YA fantasy novel published by Feiwel & Friends on February 22, 2023. It’s also a retelling of a Korean folktale.

Unlike the books that I’ve read and reviewed lately, I didn’t really have a ton of stuff that I liked vs. a bunch of stuff that I didn’t like. It was more that I liked a lot of stuff about the book a lot, but not as much as I could have. Hence why I only gave it 4 stars.

Anyway, let’s get into my review proper.

The Stuff I Liked and Why I didn’t Like It as Much as I Could’ve

Every year the storms begin, and every year a girl is brought to the sea.

First off, I liked the story a great deal. It was fast-paced and it flowed very nicely. I really liked the way that Oh wrote as well.

Sometimes, I did wish the plot had slowed down a couple of times though. I know, I know – I’m usually a lover of completely fast-paced books. But sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I like it when the plot slows down so that I can see and understand how the characters interact with each other and therefore see and understand why they care about one another. And this book didn’t really have those moments.

Continuing with this line of thought, I quite enjoyed the characters. Song Mina was a great lead, as well as a breath of fresh air after Miss Delilah Bard. She was stubborn and brave, but she was also fiercely protective of her loved ones, and I loved reading about how much she loved her family.

I’ve followed so many protagonists just forget about their family and friends – aka: what their initial motivation is – upon meeting the love interest. That is not so here, and I greatly appreciate this novel for not doing that. Mina misses and thinks about her family many times throughout, and it made me tear up a couple of times.

My eldest brother, Sung, says trust is earned, that to give someone your trust is to give them the knife to wound you. But Joon would counter that trust is faith, that to trust someone is to believe in the goodness of people and in the world that shapes them.

Shin was an acceptable love interest and dueteragonist. It was harder for me to get a grasp on his personality though, and I wish that there’d been more pages devoted to building his relationship with Mina. Their romance just felt a bit underdeveloped to me, though I certainly didn’t not like it. I just didn’t really get why they were so ride-or-die for each other as quickly as they ended up being.

Honestly, I felt that Mina had more chemistry with Namgi, an imugi and one of Shin’s – and later Mina’s – loyal friends. Even so, I also would’ve liked to see more pages devoted to their character interactions, as even their (platonic) relationship seemed kinda underdeveloped to me until closer to the end of the novel.

As for the other characters: I didn’t really care for Kirin (because he didn’t get enough page time for me to care about him), I really liked Shim Cheong and Mina’s brother Joon (both as a couple as well as their own characters), the ghost trio was great (of you know, you know), and I really liked Mina’s grandma (the flashbacks with her were very sweet).

My absolute favorite thing about the book, however, is how it handles fate and destiny. The narrative treats it as something that you choose. A sort of No Fate But What We Make type of thing, if you will. I am tired of prophesies and people and things that are destined to be just because it’s been ordained by the universe or whatever. So yeah, I really liked what Oh did here.

Other than all of that, I quite liked the climax and ending. Also, I didn’t notice any loose ends in the plot threads, which is always nice.

Final Thoughts

I found The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea to be an engaging, fairytale-like fantasy that never overstays its welcome or gets too wordy. Oh has a wonderful way with words, and writing style in general.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy-romance as well as those that like retellings. This one is new and wonderful in the sea of Cinderella retellings.

Thank you for reading and have an amazing day/night!

See ya ~Mar

LINKS: Goodreads | Instagram

Monthly Wrap-Up: February 2023

It’s March now, and spring is imminent, but it also means that February is over. So I’m gonna go over February’s statistics on The StoryGraph!

I didn’t read nearly as many books as I’d hoped, but I also didn’t read any less than I did in January, so I’m going to count that as a win.

Also, post #100 let’s gooo!!

So, uh anyway, now, on to the stats…

February 2023 Reading Stats

😐 Moods: Lots of moods in the books in February, Adventure of course being the biggest one, as per usual. My other moods were Mysterious, Emotional, and Dark, which also checks as every one of those except Emotional usually appears on my little pie chart.

👢 Pace: Most of the books I read are medium-paced, and that still shows here, but there dud read a book that I felt was fast-paced this month.

🔢 Page Number: I read a lot of longer books than I usually do in February, as 3/4 of them were 500+ page books. My preferred length of books is between 300 and 499 pages, and you can still see that a little bit here.

📖 Fiction/Nonfiction: 100% fiction once again. I swear I have a couple of nonfiction books on my TBR. I swear.

🎭 Genres: I upped the genres I read from last month. All of the books I read were Fantasy, which is my favorite genre so it’s absolutely no surprise. Most of them were also YA, which also isn’t a surprise as most fantasy that I read tends to be YA. Oh and Science Fiction! Hi there, second favorite genre! I read a lot less Romance than I expected to, even though all of the books I read technically featured it, to some degree.

📄 Format: All of the books I read last month were paperbacks.

Rating: My average rating for the month of February was 4.0 stars exactly. Not surprising – I gave all of the novels I read 4 stars, lol.

📉 Pages Read Daily: Once again, I was kind of all all over the place with the amount I read. I read more pages closer to the beginning of February, which makes sense, as I was able to read about three books in the first half of the month.

The Books I Read in February

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Winter by Marissa Meyer
Winter by Marissa Meyer
The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber
The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Wrapping Up the Wrap-Up

So I didn’t read and review as many books in February that I’d wanted, but hey, I got sick in the last week and a half, and when I’m really not feeling well I just don’t want to read. But I finally finished A Conjuring of Light, and I finally finally finished Cress, which I’m really happy about.

What books did you read in February? What did you think of them? Did we read any of the same books?

Thank you, as always, for reading, and have a marvelous day/night!

See ya ~Mar

A Colorful End to an Amazing Portal Fantasy | “A Conjuring of Light” by V.E. Schwab [Book Review]

Kell wore a coat that billowed in the wind.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.


The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

My review for A Darker Shade of Magic

My review for A Gathering of Shadows

This series was an incredible adventure. This book was an incredible end to said adventure. There were definitely some ups and downs for me while reading them (mostly from books two and three – book one is practically perfect), but on the whole, I loved it.

A Conjuring of Light is the third book in V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, and completes the initial trilogy (cuz there’s apparently gonna be another series?). It’s a whopping 624 pages, and was published by Tor Books on February 21, 2017. It’s an awesome historical fantasy series, and one with a take on the portal fantasy subgenre that I’ve rarely seen.

As I said above, I had some ups and downs with this novel. More ups than downs for sure, but I want to be entirely transparent and admit that there was some stuff that just didn’t jive with me (personally) here.

Stuff I Liked

Pure magic has no self. It simply is, a force of nature, the blood of our world, the marrow of our bones. We give it shape, but we must never give it soul.

For sure, the thing I loved the most about A Conjuring of Light was the thing I enjoyed most about the first two books: all the different Londons. It’s just so cool. I love the idea of four completely different worlds that only share one thing – the name of one city.

I also liked most of the characters. Kell, Rhy, and Alucard were just as fun and engaging to read about as before, and I loved the conclusions to their stories. Lila’s too, even though I didn’t much care for her as a character (but we’ll get into that), as her ending felt fine too. And Kell deserves to be happy so… yeah.

“What are we drinking to?”

“The living,” said Rhy.

“The dead,” said Alucard and Lila at the same time.

“We’re being thorough,” added Rhy.

Holland was a great character as usual, too – a rather “gray” kind of character despite being from “White” London. Get it? (*cough*) …Anyway, I really enjoyed his character arc, and all of the stuff we learned about his past, even if it felt a bit info dumpy at times.

Both the climax and the ending were also fantastic. The climax felt just as heart pounding as I knew it would, and the ending was wonderful. These two things really elevated the book for me, and made me end up loving the book.

Now, let’s get into the rant.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

Let’s start off with something similar to the last section: the Londons. Yeah, I know, I just said it was my favorite thing about the series. And it is. It’s just that after A Darker Shade of Magic it kind of became the Red London show, with only brief cameos from the other three. And I kind of didn’t like that.

Like, seriously, there’s only about four – very brief – scenes in this book where Grey London makes an appearance. That barely feels like it qualifies for historical fantasy fiction to me honestly. The Grey London plotline honestly felt useless in this book, and felt like it dragged on for waaayy too long, becoming irrelevant to the plot long ago.

White London also didn’t really make an appearance – compared to Red London, at least. Though it was the second most visited London of the book (though that’s not saying much).

And Black London didn’t appear at all. Which, fair, honestly. The only character “from” that London was no longer there anymore, so it was even more of an empty wasteland than it was before.

Now, let’s get into my second biggest gripe of the novel: certain character stuff.

Firstly, Lila Bard. She’s even more annoying than she was last book. Everyone thinks she’s amazing. Everyone has never met anyone like her before. Blegh. She’s the most Mary Sue character to Mary Sue in a book I’ve read since A Gathering of Shadows. Oh, wait…

Lila Bard was a force to be reckoned with. Whether her hands were filled with knives or fire, her voice low and coaxing or lined with steel, she seemed to hold the world in her hands. Maybe she did. After all, she’d already taken two Londons as her own. She was a thief, a runaway, a pirate, a magician. She was fierce, and powerful, and terrifying.

So yeah, she pissed me off. Again. But I just accepted that and powered through her chapters, and the bits in other characters’ chapters where they were staggered by her amazingness. Also, Kell deserved to be happy, so yeah.

So, now to the other thing that kind of irritated me about the characters as a whole: there were too many POVs. This is more of a me thing, but I just don’t like more than a few POVs in a book. It just annoys me a little, most likely because there’s just too many characters, and I don’t care about some of them, and I want to get back to following those that I enjoy. Nothing else against those characters or they’re POVs though.

And I really hated how many characters were killed off here. Like, really? Why? I just don’t understand when authors decide to off a bunch of the characters in the last book of their series. Even if it’s foreshadowed. It just doesn’t match the patterns of the other books, and it’s so many characters to the point where I feel nothing when they die.

And the last thing that annoyed me about this book (I promise) was the (admittedly very few) plot conveniences. There was really only one, honestly, but it kind of irritated me. I can’t say what it is, because that would be a spoiler, but it ended up affecting a major event in the plot. But, I have to admit, some people might not consider this to be a plot convenience, it might just be another me thing.

Final Thoughts

“Life isn’t made of choices,” said Holland. “It’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.”

A Conjuring of Light was a very good end to one of my favorite series. Though it isn’t my favorite Shades of Magic book (that would be the first one), I didn’t like it any less than the second one (they’re tied) and it’s ended up being one of my favorite adult fiction series.

I definitely recommend this to fans of the Shades of Magic series as well as V.E. Schwab’s other works (some under Victoria Schwab). Fans of historical fantasy fiction might enjoy this as well.

Thanks for reading and have a great day/night! (I was feeling under the weather yesterday, which is why this wasn’t ready and posted then. Sorry.)

See ya ~Mar

SOCIAL LINKS: Goodreads | Instagram

Weekly Wrap-Up: 2/13 – 2/19

Weekly Wrap-Up 2/13 - 2/19

It’s another Monday, so, as the start of a new week, it’s time to wrap up the last one.

This past week had a lot, Valentine’s Day probably being the standout. But as for the blog… I managed to post a few times.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Tuesday 2/14: The Ballad of Never After Review / Valentine’s Day

The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber

On Tuesday, incidentally Valentine’s Day, I posted my book review of The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber. It’s the sequel to Once Upon a Broken Heart, and it has just as much of a banger ending. But it doesn’t have the most banger characters. More on that in the review – which you can read here if you want.

And also: Happy Valentine’s Day!! 💖🌹💌🍫

Wednesday 2/15: Shelf Control #10, WWW Wednesday #5

Last Wednesday, I actually managed to double post! Yay! First, I did a Shelf Control, a weekly feature I participate in, hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. Later on, I posted for another meme I participate in, WWW Wednesdays, hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

You can check out the Shelf Control here, and you can read the WWW Wednesday post here.

Thursday 2/16: Birthstone Book Covers February 2023

Thursday, I finally posted my Birthstone Book Covers post for the month of February. Birthstone Book Covers is a fun thing hosted by Books Are the New Black. You can read my post here and see how to join in if you’re interested.

Friday 2/17: First Line Fridays #4

For Friday, I participated in yet another weekly meme that I like, First Line Fridays. It’s not really hosted anywhere anymore (to my knowledge) but I saw it over at One Book More.

For more info on the meme, and if you missed my post and wanna check it out, you can read it here.

Saturday 2/18 & Sunday 2/19: Error 404 – Not Found

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Uhhhh… So this weekend I didn’t do anything. Sorry – was doing some family stuff and taking a bit of a break. It felt good at the time, but now I’m a little disappointed in myself for not doing at least one more post. Whoops. Hope this coming week goes better.

Goals for 2/20 – 2/26

So, like, I wish I posted at least a bit more. And I want to rectify that this coming week. Other than that, here’s the particular posting goals I’d like to do:

  • Majestic Monday
  • Shelf Control
  • WWW Wednesday
  • First Line Friday
  • at least two book reviews
  • …idk what else at the top of my head right now

So that’s it for this past week’s Weekly Wrap-Up! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

The Sequel That Will Break Your Heart | The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber [Book Review]

Conceived in the north, and born in the south, you will know this key, because she will be crowned in rose gold.

She will be both peasant and princess, a fugitive wrongly accused, and only her willing blood with open this arch.

The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber

The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber

★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can…

You can read my review for the first book in the series here:
Once Upon a Broken Heart Review

Oh my stars. This book was like a hurricane – whipping around sharp and fast, spinning me around almost until I felt dizzy.

The Ballad of Never After is the sequel to Once Upon a Broken Heart (and the second in the eponymous series) written by Stephanie Garber. It was first published in September 2022 by Flatiron Books, and features the genres of fantasy, YA, and of course, romance. TBONA and OUABH are also spin-offs of Garber’s previous Caraval trilogy, and are set in the same universe around the same time period, but following different characters.

This book evoked the whole spectrum of emotions from me. As with the first book, I was constantly lurching from side to side on how I felt about this book. Yes, those two opposing sides were love and hate, how did you guess? But I’ll make it easy on you guys, and split that stuff up and talk about it separately.

Stuff I Liked

Once upon a time, there was a girl with a furry tail that twitched whenever snow was coming. And, Once there was a house where laughter constantly curled from the chimney instead of smoke.

Much like its predecessor, I really enjoyed a lot of the descriptions that Garber cooked up. They were unique and surreal. I also liked the weird magic and magical artifacts and stuff. They kind of made me feel put off, and I really liked that.

I also very much enjoyed the world building of the Magnificent North, once again, but even more so this time, as there was a significant amount of background revealed about it (and some of the characters, to a degree at least) in The Ballad of Never After. This was something that I felt was kind of missing in Once Upon a Broken Heart, but at the time I thought it was because I hadn’t read any of the Caraval trilogy. (That’s right, I totally went in blind!)

Stephanie Garber’s writing style is also frequently eloquent and beautiful. I just like how flowery the prose feels sometimes. It’s… nice.

Happy endings can be caught, but they are difficult to hold on to. They are dreams that want to escape the night. They are treasure with wings. They are wild, feral, reckless things that need to be constantly chased, or they will certainly run away

This was also a very fast-paced novel, and that’s honestly the last thing that I enjoyed, to some degree, about this book aside from the ending. And let me tell you: Stephanie knocked the ending to this book completely out of the park and into the next city. It was that good. Like, the book wasn’t doing too much for me, but that ending made me bump it up a star. A whole star! But I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say too much about it.

All I’ll say is that if you love romance books, the ending is gonna kick you in the feels. Hard. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: I read some spoiler free reviews after this came out and they warned me about this. But at the time, Stephanie hadn’t announced Once Upon a Broken Heart as a trilogy yet, so those poor bastards were left hanging, hoping against hope for one more book.

And then she announced another book with a title and a cover and the future looked a bit brighter. So I finally decided to commit and put it on my TBR and eventually read it. And read it I did. (And it broke my heart. In the best way possible.)

Stuff I Didn’t Like

The truth is never what you want it to be.

I’m gonna be real with you: I kind of feel like there was more that I didn’t enjoy here than I did enjoy. But Mar, you ask, how did this get four stars?

(It’s cuz of the ending guys. We just talked about this.)

The characters were once again kinda insufferable. Like, I kind of liked a few in OUABH, but they all kind of tanked in The Ballad of Never After.

Evangeline Fox, our protagonist, is still annoying. I mentioned in my other review that I thought she was starting to improve near the ending of the first book. That was, unfortunately, not true. She’s just as bad as in OUABH. Whiny and stupid. Seriously, this girl makes the worst decisions that I’ve ever seen an MC make. And they all immediately end up biting her in the butt, and she never seems to learn from them.

Not to mention, Eva doesn’t seem to have any agency. Oh sure, there’s the illusion of agency, but it’s not real. It’s never real. She’s always either being manipulated like a chess piece by someone ten steps ahead, or she’s running into the arms of various (obviously) untrustworthy people every other chapter.

Evangeline, please. Run far, far away from here.

Next on the character roster is Jacks. (Yes, his name is spelled correctly.) He’s the sexy, “bad boy” type of live interest that all the girls fall for. And he’s the most homicidal one that I’ve ever seen. Eva literally had to tell him not to murder a bunch of people more than once. Honestly, I actually thought it was really funny because I hated most of the other characters, but I didn’t understand how Eva was still falling in love with him because of this. It went against her entire character and personality.

“You give people too much credit,” Jacks grumbled. “And you should have told me this right away.”

“Why, so you could kill him?”


“No, Jacks. You can’t go around murdering people because they’re a problem.”

There’s a lot more characters here, too. Far too many to go over, here in my little review, so we’re doing a lightning round.

Apollo was a mid character, up until he wasn’t. I’ve never cared for him, personally, but that’s because I understood his role of being a plot device so that Stephanie could have a love triangle. But I underestimated him. He somehow went from mid to terrible.

LaLa was a character that kind of annoyed me in Once Upon a Broken Heart, but she was also kind of okay. But, lo and behold, she got more annoying in The Ballad of Never After, and she did a ton of stuff that I really hate her for.

Chaos was one of the lesser annoyances. Or at least, one of the lesser annoyances at first. I actually thought he was the only semi-decent guy for a while, despite being a vampire. (Shocking, I know.) But then he did that thing, and it makes me really mad, so he goes in the pile of dirty socks with the others.

Annnd that’s all the characters that I’m gonna talk about. 1) Because they’re the only ones that really matter, and 2) because this section is getting way too long.

Before I conclude this review, I also want to mention that this book has the same problem as the first one, in that it moves too fast sometimes. Like, I love a fast-paced novel as much as the next bibliophile, but characters need time to reflect and to breathe in books, and the plot was going too fast for any of that kind of stuff. Which is unfortunate, because I think TBONA could have benefitted from that.

Final Thoughts

“This isn’t a bedtime story, Little Fox.”

“Most fairytales aren’t.”

The Ballad of Never After was kind of a mid fantasy-romance with a heart wrenching ending that was so good I added a star to my rating. (An entire star guys!) Fans of Stephanie Garber’s other novels will definitely enjoy this one, as well as fans of fantasy-romance (and just romance) in general.

(And also, for those who were wondering, of course I’m going to read the last book in the trilogy, The Curse of True Love. I gotta know how it ends – especially after the ending of this book!)

Thank you so much for reading, and have an amazing day/night!

And also: Happy Valentine’s Day!! 💖🍫🌹💌

See ya ~Mar