Weekly Wrap-Up: 6/19 – 6/25

Ugh, so last week I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped. I’ve just been having the absolute worst reading slump for the last couple of weeks.

Honestly – and I feel a bit bad for saying this – I think Witch King triggered it. No it wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t really good (in my opinion) either. It was just… there. And “there” types of books are always the ones that kind of nudge me towards reading slumps, unfortunately.

This week, though, I’m definitely aiming to do better! But before I get into that, let’s wrap up last week first!

Wednesday 6/21: WWW Wednesday

Last Wednesday, I had planned on double posting, but I ended up not having time. So I just participated in WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

WWW Wednesday 6/21

Thursday 6/22: Popular Books That I’ve Read Never

On Thursday, I did another Popular Books That I’ve Read Never post. It’d been about a month since I posted one, so I decided it was more than time for another.

Popular Books That I’ve Read Never is pretty much what it says on the tin: I highlight popular books that I’ve never read, and so far, don’t have any plans to read.

Popular Books That I’ve Read Never #3

Sunday 6/25: Witch & Wizard Review

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Yesterday, I did 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.

The book I did this time was Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. Yesterday, I’d finished skimming through it and was ready to post my review. I gave it ★✫☆☆☆.

Witch & Wizard Review

Books I Read Last Week

Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amélie Wen Zhao

Goals for 6/26 – 7/2

So yeah, I wasn’t nearly as proactive as I’d wanted to be last week, but sometimes that’s just how the cookie crumbles. But this week, as I mentioned at the top, I’m definitely aiming to be better.

All I’m planning for this week, is to do at least five posts, and to finish at least one book. I really don’t know why, but for whatever reason I feel like if I put specific goals here, I’m bound to screw up again. 🤷

Fingers crossed I meet my nonspecific goals! 🤞

And as always, thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Witch & Wizard” by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet | Book Review

It’d been two and a half months since I last did a retrospective book review – not to mention that I’ve been in THE WORST reading slump – so I decided that it was more than time for another.

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 Witch & Wizard, the first book in the aforementioned YA series, written by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet.

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

SERIES: Witch & Wizard (Book #1)

LENGTH: 314 pages

GENRES: Dystopian, Fantasy, YA, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Jimmy Patterson

RELEASE DATE: 14 December 2009


The world is changing: the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now, kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. The New Order, as it is known, is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager.

But while trapped in this totalitarian nightmare, Wisty and Whit discover they have incredible powers they’d never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents–and maybe the world?

My Review

So, I’ve been in the worst reading funk that I’ve been in for a long time. For whatever reason, summers are rough for me, and I almost always end up with a reading block for some duration of the season.

So I thought, what better way to get the brain wanting to read then skimming over a book I didn’t really care for when I read it, and re-reviewing it for the blog?

No better way, I decided. So here we are. Onwards, to the rant!

The Rant

Witch & Wizard is an aggressively mediocre book, that was the brainchild of a collab better James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. Yes, the same guy who wrote those godawful Maximum Ride books, and just pumps out like twenty books a year on average. (His poor ghostwriters…) And yes, if you couldn’t tell by the title, this is going to be a roast.

So let’s get straight to the point: this book sucks. Like, when I first attempted to read it as a young teen, I think I only got two thirds of the way through. Then, when I finally got through the thing years later as an adult, I didn’t like it. Yes, I admit, I gave it three and a half stars. But I also gave The Savior’s Champion three and a half stars, and Blood & Honey two and a half stars. I read all three of these books when I’d just started out reviewing books online, and I was afraid to be critical.

But those days are over. Now, I’m gonna say what I actually think and feel about these books.

Let’s get started with the thing that has always annoyed me with this book: the villain and the villain’s name. He appears at the beginning of the book in a flashforward, and then appears very little throughout the book. I never found him very threatening, even when I first read it. Also, he’s only referred to as The One Who Is The One. Very annoying to read, as well as extremely uninspired.

The dystopian world and the magic system also don’t make any sense. There’s no buildup and there’s no background on like anything. And there was just far too much action and far too little character introspection. Whenever I get to the end, I still never feel like I know who our main characters – Whit and Wisty Allgood – are. (Plus, their POVs read exactly the same. They’re really not that distinguished from one another.)

The most grating thing about Witch & Wizard, however, is most definitely the invented slang. It just doesn’t feel like… actual slang. I’m sorry, but as someone who was definitely a teenager when they first read it, I can definitely say then and now that no teenager or kid will ever use Erlenmeyer as a slang term. NEVER. It’s waaayy too long, and not at all catchy. And the rest of the invented slang is also pretty clunky and unnatural.

Honestly, I found this book at least as messy as the Maximum Ride series. It really felt like a disaster to read. (And to read again.)

By this rant, you’re probably wondering why I gave this such a generous one and three-quarters stars. Well, that’s cuz I know that there are far worse books – heck, I’ve read some far worse books. So that’s why.

You’re also probably wondering why I haven’t added any quotes to this review, like I usually do. It’s because this book is straight up cringe with its writing. This is actually something I didn’t really notice as a young teen, and is definitely something that my adult eyes identified. So kids and younger teenagers probably won’t find the (nonexistent) prose and (bad) dialogue to be cringey.

But since you’re clearly curious, here’s a couple lines, just for you:

You know things have gone bad when military marches pass for pop music.

and the absolute cringiest part of the novel

I kept on talking without really thinking, until it turned into a chant:

They’re afraid of change, and we must change.
They’re afraid of the young, and we are the young.
They’re afraid of music, and music is our life.
They’re afraid of books, and knowledge, and ideas.
They’re most afraid of our magic.

Closing Thoughts

So yeah, this book is bad. But I’ve somehow read and heard about worse, so this one got a slight pass. A slight. I still find it terrible, even though I know it could’ve been worse.

There’s a good chance that a younger teenager or preteen will like this, but I just can’t bring myself to recommend it. If you’re an adult, read anything else. If you’re a kid, read Percy Jackson or something. There are far better books than this one.

As always, thank you so much for reading, and have an extraordinary day/night.

See ya ~Mar


“Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer: Book Review

Good [insert your time of day here]! It’s been a few days since the last one, and because of time constraints due to some medical stuff on the horizon, I haven’t had time to finish my current -current read, so I’ve decided to do another retrospective book review. This one’s gonna be on Scarlet (you’ll never guess what I’m gearing up for…).

As I’ve mentioned before, a retrospective book review is when I review a past read of mine, after skimming through it again. Today, I’m gonna talk about Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. (I recently did a review on Cinder, which you can check out here.)

She did not know that the wolf was a wicked sort of animal, and she was not afraid of him.

scarlet - marissa meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Series: The Lunar Chronicles (Book #2)

Length: 454 pages

Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, YA, Fiction

Release Date: February 5, 2013

Book Description:

The #1 New York Times Bestselling Series

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

My Review

Then: ★★★★✯ • 4.5 / 5 stars

Now: ★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

“I lied to you about a lot of things….but I meant every apology.”

Out of all I’ve read in The Lunar Chronicles so far, Scarlet has to be my absolute favorite in the series. To me, it was like Cinder but better, which is a bit of a feat in itself, cuz I loved Cinder.

But yeah, there’s so much that I adore about this book. And because of that – and to save my sanity – I’m gonna divide up this review with some lovely headings.

The Characters

A relieved grin filled up Thorne’s face. “We’re having another moment, aren’t we?”

“If by a moment, you mean me not wanting to strangle you for the first time since we met, then I guess we are.”

The characters are definitely my favorite thing about this book. Scarlet is, at least to me personally, a much better protagonist (or co-protagonist) than Cinder is. She’s a couple years older than Cinder and she’s also got a little more life experience, and you can tell.

Carswell Thorne is also a very entertaining member of the supporting cast. He was introduced near the end of the first book, but you really get a feel for him and his personality in this novel. He’s the kind of character that I like to call a “stupid genius” – a character that appears stupid most of the time and frequently acts like an idiot, but also has some smarts hidden inside. (This character type is also sometimes naturally talented at a certain skill, as is the case here.)

Wolf is one of my favorite new characters introduced in Scarlet. He’s very mysterious initially (though I think most readers will get what’s up – Scarlet certainly did), but he opens up as the story progresses. His and Scarlet’s relationship is one of the defining pillars of the novel, and it’s also one of my favorite things about it.

The Story

This is another thing about Scarlet that I preferred over its predecessor. But it’s not that the plot of this book is better than Cinder’s.

Nope. I just like Little Red Riding Hood more than Cinderella is all.

But yeah, the futuristic, science-fantasy, retelling is an amazing spin on a classic fairytale.

The Setting

I’m going to sound like a broken record soon, but this is yet another thing I preferred over the first book. Because of Cinder’s state as a fugitive (spoiler), the book has finally moved out of future sci-fi China and expanded the setting.

Also, Scarlet lives in France, and spends a lot of time in a more rural area compared to the city slicking Cinder of the first novel. And I really liked that. It made the world feel both large and lived in, and it also further accentuated the differences between Scarlet and Cinder.

The Romance

“We met less than a week ago and in that time I’ve done nothing but lie and cheat and betray you. I know. But if you give me a chance…all I want is to protect you. To be near you. For as long as I’m able.”

Now, if you’ve read some of my other posts, you’d know that I’m pretty anti-insta-love. And that’s because most insta-love stories are written like shit.

But this one isn’t. This is (a very rare case of) insta-love being done properly.

Wolf and Scarlet have an awesome dynamic. Despite Wolf being both physically bigger and stronger than her, their relationship never feels unbalanced in any way. And despite how he initially appears, Wolf really isn’t a bad boy. He’s kind and protective, and he just wants to love and support his girl.

And Scarlet cares for him in a very similar way. They just work together so well: they’re kind of a perfect team.

(The Very Few) Things That I Didn’t Like

There’s really only like one or two things that I didn’t care for, honestly. First: the POVs are numerous. Not as many as I’ve seen in other books (looking at you ASOIAF), but still climbing. And yeah, I get that it’s necessary for the story progression, but I would’ve liked more focus on Scarlet. The book really makes it feel like she’s less of a protagonist, and more of a girl who’s just gonna join and support Cinder eventually.

The other thing I didn’t care for: the insta-love. I know, I know, I just said that I actually enjoyed it for once here and just sang Wolf and Scarlet’s relationship praises. But, I dunno… I guess I just have a natural aversion to the trope, even if it’s done fantastically. I just prefer a good slow-burn is all.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, I really don’t have much more to say except go read this book/series right now! It’s truly an amazing set of books (so far), and I’ve pretty much only heard good things about the ones I haven’t read yet, too.

Also, Scarlet’s tenth anniversary is coming up later next week, so if you’ve already read it, why not reread it to celebrate? And if you haven’t, well I say that a tenth anniversary is as good a reason as any to read it!

As always, thank you for reading, and have an excellent day/night! Join me next time for more bookish things!

~ Mar ~

Cinderella, But She’s a Cyborg | “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer [Retrospective Book Review]

Even in the Future the Story Begins with Once Upon a Time.

Title & Author: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Series: The Lunar Chronicles (Book #1)

Length: 448 pages

Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, YA, Fiction

Release Date: January 3, 2012


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

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

My Review

Then: ★★★★✯ • 4.5 / 5 stars

Now: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

She was a cyborg, and she would never go to a ball.

I love this book so much. I first read it like… around five-ish years ago, I guess? Cinder was originally a 4.5 star rating, but then I read its sequel, Scarlet, which I liked even more, so I bumped it down half a star after I read that one. But it was 4.5 / 5 for a time.

(Glancing over it again, I still think it’s a 4 star book today, by the way. But it did change at one point, so that’s why the star ratings are different.)

Anyway, the book’s main character is Linh Cinder, a futuristic version of Cinderella, but with an actual personality and also happens to be a cyborg. I liked how smart and good with mechanical stuff, which was nice to see in a female character, and I really like how it tied her being a cyborg.

Prince Kai is TLC’s version of Prince Charming (he doesn’t have a name in the original version, to my knowledge). And he also has a personality. This is also a much less insta-lovey version of the original fairytale, which was also nice. I really liked how active he was in the plot, and how he had his own POV chapters.

It’s not just a sci-fi retelling of the classic story though. There’s definitely been a few other kinds of alterations here. Like Cinder’s stepsisters Pearl and Peony. Pearl is a pretty standard interpretation – she’s kind of a bitch. But Peony isn’t, and she and Cinder are actually quite close. I adored how sweet their relationship was. Cinder’s stepmother, Adri, is also closer to her original character, but she also has her reasons, even though she’s still a bitch.

My favorite alternation – and character, incidentally – was Iko, Cinder’s android BFF. She’s the definition of “being extra” before being extra was a thing. She’s sassy and funny. And let’s not forget horny. Very horny.

Cinder twisted up her lips. “Do you think it could have a virus?”

“Maybe her programming was overwhelmed by Prince Kai’s uncanny hotness.”

This quote here encapsulates the humor vibe for this book pretty well. (And this series, now that I’m thinking about it.) But there are series parts to the plot as well.

Dr. Erland is another character that I rather like. I liked his dynamic with Cinder, and how she kept sassing him. Erland is also a gray character, at least for most of the book, and you didn’t really know whose side he was on until the very end.

My favorite part of Cinder, though, definitely had to be all of the little bits of foreshadowing littered throughout the book for its sequels. An important character from later in the series has a cameo here, and another character here was introduced, whose name is a clue to their future role. And all kinds of other stuff.

Before I move on to my criticisms, I also wanna mention how good the writing is. Not only is the dialogue absolutely fantastic, but the prose and descriptions are also really great. I love the way that Marissa Meyer writes.

Vanity is a factor, but it is more a question of control. It is easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth.

I didn’t really have any gripes with this novel, except for a thing or two. The first is that I wasn’t super into Cinder (the character). I didn’t hate her or anything – not even close! – she just seemed kind of like a generic sort of protagonist. I preferred Scarlet (the character), introduced in book two, as a protagonist.

The other thing is a bit spoilery, so if you don’t want to be spoiled skip this paragraph. *SPOILERS* I didn’t like how Peony was fridged. Though it wasn’t as soon as some fridgings I’ve read, I wish she had more time on the pages. *SPOILERS END*

So yeah, I definitely recommend Cinder to anyone and everyone, especially those who love the original fairytale. I love how the whole series flows together, and how it appears like the entire thing was mostly plotted out before all of the books were out. But yeah, read this book.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day/night!

Reading Retrospective: Red Winter

Let’s see… It’s been, I don’t know, about exactly a month right down to the day since I last did one of these. So I’d say that it’s been more than overdue for me to post another one.

Since it’s been such a looonng time since the last one – or if you’re new – Reading Retrospectives are posts where I go over a book I read in the past, of which there are many (ei: before I started posting stuff on this blog), and determine whether it still deserves the star rating that I originally gave it. So I basically just give it a proper review.

This time, I’m reinspecting a book I read around three years ago. It’s Red Winter by Annette Marie.

Red Winter by Annette Marie

Series: Red Winter Trilogy (Book #1)

Length: 348 pages

Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA, Fiction

Release Date: October 21, 2016

Book Description

Emi has spent her entire life hiding from the creatures that hunt her. The savage earth spirits are determined to kill her before she can become the living host of a goddess, so she stays hidden–until the day she saves the life of one of her hunters.

Shiro isn’t the harmless fox spirit she thought he was. He’s mysterious, cunning, unpredictable … and now hers to command. He’s sworn to pay his debt to her, but he doesn’t know who she is. If he finds out, he’ll kill her.

But she can’t send him away–not yet. Her future isn’t what she thought. The lies surrounding her fate have begun to unravel, and she needs answers before time runs out–answers that lie in the spirit realm. Shiro can take her there… if she dares to trust him.

And only then will she find out how deep the gods’ treachery runs.

My Review

Then: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Now: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.

So, like… This book still holds up for me. I still really like it. I’ve seen it compared to shoujo manga and anime, and, speaking as someone who has watched some of the latter, I absolutely agree. So I’m just gonna say straight up, that if you enjoy shoujo, you’ll like this book.

My favorite part about the book is how much the author cared about her book. It’s very clear just by reading this, that Marie put in a considerable amount of research and effort into making this as authentic, and true to the cultural source, as possible. And it really shows. It really does feel like I’m watching a shoujo anime (anime geared towards teenage girls), only no I’m not, I’m just reading a really well written novel. With a few really pretty illustrations.

But yeah, the setting is solid. It really feels like I’m reading a book set in Japan. I also adore the Japanese folklore here. I feel like I really don’t see enough books about it, outside of anime and such.

Not that that was the only thing that I really liked about Red Winter. The characters were pretty alright too.

“Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”

I really liked Emi. She’s “not like other girls” in the best way – by which I mean she doesn’t have the stereotypical, overly sassy, good at most everything characterization problem that most YA female protagonists do. And I loved that about her. Emi has a traumatic backstory, like many leading characters, and most of her development over this novel is her learning to deal with, and begin to move past, said trauma. And she doesn’t put up a badass, sassy front to hide this part of herself from the world. She’s timid and vulnerable, and because of this, you can really start to see her evolve and shine that much more brightly. She’s definitely one of my more liked female protagonists in recent years.

Shiro was also decently interesting, despite being the more stereotypical of the two. Marie might have given Emi a variation on the “chosen one” cliche, but Shiro was the one to really inherit a lot of the more common tropes. Not that that’s a bad thing – I really like Shiro! I just wanted to acknowledge that he’s tied to a few literary (and anime) stereotypes. But yeah, Shiro is a kitsune (a Japanese fox spirit), so it’s really no surprise how likeable he is. Most people just love foxes.

She stopped, a half-dozen paces still separating them. The frantic thudding of her heart filled her ears as she met his vacant crimson stare. “Don’t forget me, Shiro,” she said hoarsely. “You’re not allowed to forget me.”

He blinked slowly and something shifted in his gaze. His lips curved in his familiar crooked smile. “You’ll forget me someday, little miko.” His voice was even hoarser than hers, rough and coated in a hint of an animal growl.

“I’ll never forget you,” she told him. “I’ll remember you to my last day.”

“Do you promise?”

Her heart gave an odd little flutter. “Yes, I promise.

The romance is also done just right between the two of them. It’s slow-burn, the (for the most part) best way to write a romance, which is your biggest giveaway that it’s well-written. (Hey, when the other option is insta-love, I will always choose a slow-burn any day!)

And, to top it off, Red Winter isn’t just a standalone novel. It’s the first part of a trilogy! So there’s even more to enjoy if you just couldn’t get enough of this one. (And yeah, haven’t read the rest of it yet, on account of life happening. In a good way, but it still happened.)

So yes, in short, I really like this book. The only downside is that, due to some pretty extensive world building at the start, it takes a bit for the plot to get going. Despite that, I still highly recommend it. If you like any of the novel’s genres, or folklore, or Japanese shoujo media, definitely give this book a shot!

Retrospective Review: Among the Beasts and Briars

Briars, brambles, bones, and blossom, I smell a girl who can’t be forgotten.

It’s been weeks since I last ruminated on a book from my past. So, I thought that it was beyond high time for me to another reading retrospective. This time, I’m retroactively reviewing Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston.

Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston

Length: 352 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale, Romance

Release Date: October 20, 2020

Book Description

Cerys is safe in the Kingdom of Aloriya. Here there are no droughts, disease, or famine, and peace is everlasting. It has been this way for hundreds of years, since the first king made a bargain with the Lady who ruled the forest that borders the kingdom. But as Aloriya prospered, the woods grew dark, cursed, and forbidden.

Cerys knows this all too well: When she was young, she barely escaped as the woods killed her friends and her mother. Now Cerys carries a small bit of the curse—the magic—in her blood, a reminder of the day she lost everything.

As a new queen is crowned, however, things long hidden in the woods descend on the kingdom itself. Cerys is forced on the run, her only companions a small and irritating fox from the royal garden and the magic in her veins. It’s up to her to find the legendary Lady of the Wilds and beg for a way to save her home.

But the road is darker and more dangerous than she knows, and as secrets from the past are uncovered amid the teeth and roots of the forest, it’s going to take everything she has just to survive.

My Review

Then: ★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

Now: ★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

I always thought that gardeners’ daughters couldn’t thrive where our roots didn’t grow. But maybe we were like dandelion tuffs.

I love, love, loved this book when I first read it twice years ago, and I still love, love, love it now. It was a wonderful fall fairytale, and I regret completely that I never made a fall vibes book recommendation list like I did for Halloween and winter, so that I could recommend it. (Maybe something for next year? Hmm…)

The vibes and prose in this book are – as I said before – absolutely perfect for autumn. Personally, I recommend the days leading up to Thanksgiving, if you have the time. It just feels the most like fall during that time to me, and since this book embodies the season so well… you get it.

Anyway, like I said, the prose and writing in this book was fantastic. I love the way that Poston describes things. It presents such a wonderful visual.

The leaves on the trees we approached were a molten gold, like an artist had taken a sunset and poured it over the forest, and the crisp smell of the coming winter floated on the autumn breeze. It was early afternoon, and the birds sang bright and loud in the treetops.

See? An absolutely beautiful description. And just one of many, I might add.

The story and characters were also great. I loved Cerys. I loved how she wasn’t a so-called “strong female protagonist” and that, even though she had a strange power via a curse, she never felt “special.” She just felt like a nice girl trying her best to fulfill her mission. Fox was a fantastic personality for Cerys to interact with, and I loved his POV sections just as much as Cerys’, if not more. He just had the right amount of sass to be both hilarious and compelling.

The plot was also fantastic. It wasn’t super complex, but I loved the fairytale inspired aspect of it, as well as how it never slowed down or dragged at any point. I also loved how the forest was essentially a character in its own right – the lush descriptions really made it feel like one too.

She said that the people who die never really leave. That we carry them with every breath we take, until the wind itself is gone.

Anyway, yeah, this book was still just as good as the first time, and I completely recommend it. Definitely check it out if you haven’t read it – it’s a wonderful fairytale-like story. Pair it with some fall scents, a warm blanket, and some hot chocolate, and everything will be more than perfect when you read it. Thanks, as always, for reading, and join me next time for more bookish things.

Weekly Wrap-Up: 11/28 – 12/4

It’s Sunday again, which means that it’s once again the end of the week, so it’s time to wrap it up, by reflecting on what appeared on the blog this week.

Here we go!

Monday 11/28: Majestic Monday Week #4

This Monday, as per usual, I highlighted some pretty book covers during Majestic Monday. This week focused on Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, and Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. You can read the full post here, if you missed it.

Tuesday 11/29: ACOTAR Retrospective Review

On Tuesday, I posted a retrospective review on A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. (The first book, not the series.) It has been a while since I’d posted one of these, so I thought that it was more than overdo. Check out the post here if you missed it.

Wednesday 11/30: Shelf Control Week #5

Halfway through the week, it was once again time for some Shelf Control. This Wednesday, I highlighted a book that’s been languishing on my (virtual) shelf for over a year now, still unread. It’s Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson. If you missed it, you can check out this Shelf Control here.

Thursday 12/1: Looking Back on November 2022

Thursday was the first day of December, so it was time to go over my reading stats from November. Which I did. Fairly in-depth, I might add. It was fun doing a little analysis on myself. You can check out the full post here.

Friday 12/2: Error 404 – Not Found

Close your eyes and imagine that there’s something here. Or just close your eyes and scroll past this. (I was busy this week, okay?!?) (Lol.)

Saturday 12/3: “The Last Life of Prince Alastor” Book Review

On Saturday, I finally posted my book review on the second Prosper Redding book, The Last Life of Prince Alastor by Alexandra Bracken. It was a bit of a long time coming, but this week was busy. I really liked this book, though not as much as its precursor. You can read my full review here if you want to see my full thoughts on it.

Sunday 12/4: Reflection & Goals for Next Week

Sooo… This week I didn’t post quite as often as I’d have liked, but life sucks sometimes like that. Hopefully next week I’ll do a little better. I did have fun though, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most, so I wouldn’t say it was a bad week by any means. It was just… weaker. A weak week, if you will.

This Week’s Goals Met (and Un-Met)
  • 2 or 3 book reviews
  • 1 or 2 reading retrospectives
  • Majestic Monday
  • Shelf Control
  • Something new, maybe (no, technically, did not do this)
Next Week’s Goals
  • 2 or 3 book reviews
  • 1 or 2 reading retrospectives
  • Most interesting-looking new books releasing in December 2022
  • Majestic Monday
  • Shelf Control

And that’s all for this week! Thank you, as always, for joining me for bookish things. Join me again next time for more of that kind of stuff!

Reading Retrospective: “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas

So, it’s been what, like eleven days or something, since I last reflected on a book from my past? That’s far too long. Let’s change that, shall we? It’s time for some retrospecting. (Yes, I know that’s not a real word.) (No, I don’t care.)

Reading Retrospectives are when I go back and reflect on books that I’ve read. Books that I have strong opinions on, but never reviewed because I read them before I even had a Goodreads (let alone a blog), and books from my childhood to my college days. Everything is fair game, honestly. If you’ve read the title, you know what this post’s gonna be about. If you haven’t, I’m reflecting on A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Here we go!


Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses [Book #1]

Length: 432 pages

Genre: High Fantasy, Romance, New Adult

Release Date: May 5, 2015

Book Description

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a terrifying creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not truly a beast, but one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled her world.

At least, he’s not a beast all the time.

As she adapts to her new home, her feelings for the faerie, Tamlin, transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But something is not right in the faerie lands. An ancient, wicked shadow is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it, or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever.

My Retrospective Review

When I Originally Read This: November 2015

Then: ★★★★✯ • 4.5 / 5 stars

Now: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”

ACOTAR. Oh, ACOTAR. The history that you and I have.

Gonna be perfectly honest here, before I caved in and started reading this, I had very strong aspirations to never do so. Like, I saw in my local Barnes & Noble in May or June of 2015, instantly could tell what type of “YA” book (the quotes are there, cuz hindsight) this was gonna be, and just… stayed away. Or attempted to, anyway.

In November of 2015, my strength failed me, and I caved into buying this book. And it was exactly like I knew it would be. YA with a “strong, female protagonist” who falls in a “passionate, fiery” love with some supernatural supermodel.

And I loved it.

Don’t get me wrong, it absolutely irritated me that I even started reading this in the first place. But, at the time, my soul wanted a guilty-pleasure-romance, so a guilty-pleasure-romance was what I read. And I liked it mostly in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. Not because I thought it was amazing literature or anything. Because, trust me, I didn’t.

“I came to claim the one I love.”

The characters were not very likeable, for one thing. Feyre was an annoying protagonist, who continually made stupid decisions; some of which, were extremely contrived. She was also quite bland, like a blank canvas, if I may incorporate one of Feyre’s “hobbies” into a simile.

And if Feyre was a blank canvas, then the love interest, Tamlin, was the material that a blank canvas is made out of. This man – sorry, “male” – was less than a block of wood, or even a sheet of paper. He honestly barely qualifies as a character, as he was mostly just a plot device to push Feyre to do something. Because, despite this book being over 400 pages, it becomes clear after a while, that at least 150 of them could have been cut. (Maas likes to overwrite and over-describe.)

“Do you ever stop being so serious and dull?”

“Do you ever stop being such a prick?” I snapped back.

Dead—really, truly, I should have been dead for that.

But Lucien grinned at me. “Much better.”

I’d get into more of the characters, but there really weren’t any. That really qualify as characters, at least. Lucien was probably the best of the almost characters. Actually, scratch that, he was the best. Even better than Feyre honestly. Throughout the novel, he and Feyre had way more chemistry than her and Tamlin, so I was kinda rooting for them as a couple for awhile. But we can’t have nice things, so I quickly gave up.

Feyre’s family were pretty much nonentities here (except for one tiny part later in the novel), they just existed as a motivation for her. Also, they sucked. Like, they were completely horrible to her. And, let’s not get into the “most handsome man [Feyre] had ever seen.” No, that’s going in the retrospective on ACOMAF, thank you very much. I’ll get to him though, I promise.

I’d mention the villain of the story, but the book isn’t really about that, so… yeah, just gonna leave this already long rant about the characters in this book here.

This book wasn’t all bad with the characters (barring Lucien), however. There were a few good lines and character moments nestled within some of the pages, that I wish we’d seen more of. Like this:

I found him carefully studying me, his lips in a thin line. “Has anyone ever taken care of you?” he asked quietly.

“No.” I’d long since stopped feeling sorry for myself about it.

and this

“Because I wouldn’t want to die alone,” I said, and my voice wobbled as I looked at Tamlin again, forcing myself to meet his stare. “Because I’d want someone to hold my hand until the end, and awhile after that. That’s something everyone deserves, human or faerie.”

I actually really like the setting and the world building (that we get) a lot. I found it to be very interesting, even though it’s more than obvious that Maas just traced over a map of the U.K. and renamed it Prythian (and Hybern). The division of the “courts” was intriguing to me, and I wish that the series expanded on the way their hierarchies worked in a way that made sense more than it actually ended up being. (We’ll get to that, don’t worry. Just not in this review.) I also adored the magical atmosphere of the book, as well.

Despite… everything about ACOTAR, I will admit that I really enjoyed it. It was stupid fun – guilty-pleasure-romance, just as I said near the beginning. So I’ll take one thing that this book said, to heart:

“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”

Because if we don’t read what we enjoy, then what the hell are we doing with our limited free time on this planet? We should do things that bring us joy (within reason. I’m looking at you… people who do bad things.) and if they include reading not-that-great, but also, weirdly-addicting, fantasy romances, then we should just do that!

Have you read A Court of Thorns and Roses, or any of Sarah J Maas’ other novels? What did you think of them? What are your guilty-pleasure books? (I know you have at least one…) Thanks for reading, and see you again soon for more bookish things.

Weekly Wrap-Up: 11/14 – 11/20

So, a couple of weeks ago, I posted a book haul/reading update thing. And it taught me that I shouldn’t do book hauls. Not cuz I don’t get books every week or so and read them, but cuz I can’t keep a schedule when it comes to reading books.

Also, sometimes I DNF them and stuff. Yeah…

So, I decided to do it at the end of the week instead. That way I don’t have to commit to specific stuff ahead of time. And, without further ado, let’s get started!

Monday 11/14: Majestic Monday #2

This week on Monday, I did a Majestic Monday, as usual. This week I highlighted Savage Lands by Stacey Marie Brown. It’s another one of those sexy faerie books, a la Sarah J. Maas, and it had good reviews. And a great cover.

As I discuss in the cover review, I really liked the contrast between the gold and the green on the cover. As well as the font of the title and design in general.

Tuesday 11/15: Mickey7 Review

Here, I did a book review. This one was on a book that had been languishing in the back of my mind for a few months, and that I was kinda sitting on the review for a while. It was Mickey7 by Edward Ashton, a sassy, sci-fi adventure, featuring both humor and existentialism.

I know; it’s quite the combination it has there. But Ashton really balances it well. Oh, and it’s apparently gonna be a movie, I guess? With Robert Pattinson. Yeah… Anyway, check out my review.

Wednesday 11/16: Shelf Control #3

For this week’s Shelf Control – on Wednesday, as per usual – I focused on An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. This is a book that I’ve had for years, but has spent that time just sitting on one of my bookshelves.

It’s one of those that I bought on a whim, cuz the summary seemed slightly interesting, and it had good reviews. But, it’s also one I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to reading. Find out why.

Thursday 11/17: Serpent & Dove Retrospective Review

On Thursday, I did another Reading Retrospective. This time, it was on Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin. Going through it again cemented my feelings that it’s an okay book, but it’s mostly guilty-pleasure-romance.

It’s not really that bad – though I do have Opinions on certain characters – but it isn’t great either. (Blood & Honey, it’s sequel, was not so okay, on the other hand. More on that later.)

Friday 11/18: The Murderbot Diaries Review

At long last, I’ve finally gotten around to doing my The Murderbot Diaries review. It wasn’t a long time coming or anything, but it has been a few weeks since I’ve finished Fugitive Telemetry, so it definitely took a bit to get done.

All I have to say is, I definitely recommend this series. If this little section doesn’t convince you, then please check out my review.

Saturday 11/19: Error 404 Not Found

Uhhh… Just pretend there’s something here. Yeah…

Sunday 11/20: Weekly Wrap-up & Goals for the Coming Week

So yeah, this is all the stuff I posted this week. Not everything I wanted to do, unfortunately, but that’s life. Gonna try to get more of what I want to do done, but we’ll see what happens with the holiday weekend and all that.

Goals for Next Week: 11/21 – 11/27
  • Post 2 or 3 book reviews
  • Post 1 or 2 retrospectives
  • Majestic Monday
  • Shelf Control
  • …Maybe something Thanksgiving themed?

Annnd, that’s all I’ve got for this week! See you all again, next time!

Reading Retrospective: Serpent & Dove • Shelby Mahurin

It’s been a bit, but it’s time for a Reading Retrospective.

Reading Retrospectives are when I go back and reflect on books that I’ve read. Books that I gave strong opinions on, but never reviewed because I read them before I even had a Goodreads (let alone a blog). And books from my childhood to my college days. Everything is fair game, honestly.

Today I’m discussing Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

About Serpent & Dove

Series: Serpent & Dove [Book #1]

Length: 528 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Book Description

Bound as one, to love, honor, or burn. Book one of a stunning fantasy trilogy, this tale of witchcraft and forbidden love is perfect for fans of Kendare Blake and Sara Holland.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage.

Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.

My Retrospective Review

When I Originally Read This: November 2020

Then: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Now: ★★★✯☆ • 3.5 / 5 stars

When I first read this back in 2020, I gotta be honest, I enjoyed this. Quite a bit. It wasn’t a five star book by any means, but I thought it was still pretty good. In a guilty pleasure sort of way, at least.

But after going for a second round with Serpent & Dove more recently, it was honestly kind of hard to get through on a reread. I actually had a strong urge to drop it, which I felt kinda bad about, because I hate DNF-ing stuff.

What I Still Like About It

The characters. Well… some of the characters, at least. The leads, Lou and Reid, left something to be desired, as I didn’t find either of them to be very likeable (though I enjoyed Reid’s POVs more than Lou’s).

The characters I’m talking about were the supporting cast. Coco was a blast to follow when she was actually hanging around the protagonists, and thus actually in the plot. I also thought that her sacrificial blood magic was more interesting than Lou’s “pattern based” magic. Ansel was also a delight – he was an absolute cinnamon roll and deserves to be protected at all cost. Madame Labelle also seemed interesting, initially, however, she grew far less so the farther I got in the novel.

I did like the interactions and the banter between the characters, even the two protagonists, despite how subpar I thought they were as main characters. Lou and Reid had some good interactions, I’ll admit it. I liked how they challenged each other – they were much better together than they were alone.

I also really liked the setting; I’m good with most historical fantasies or historical fantasy based settings. Even though I couldn’t tell whether or not it was a fantasy world or magic historical France; it was a little unclear, although I’m pretty sure that it was a fantasy world.

I also loved that it was around not-Christmas. I love Christmastime, and I never see it in a book that’s not a holiday romance or Harry Potter, so that was kinda nice.

Though the dialogue and prose weren’t my favorite, there were a few lines that I kinda liked. (That, and I’m gonna quite some lines that I thought were stupid in the “Stuff I Hated” section, so I decided to be nice.)

Un malheur ne vient jamais seul. Misfortune never arrived alone. {French proverb}

I really liked this one, though the author didn’t come up with it herself, so…? 🤷‍♂️

I also liked this one.

Lou glared at him. “I like you, Ansel, but this had better be something good. Emilie and Alexandre just had a moment.”


“Why the feck is everyone in this kingdom trying to murder my wife?”

What I Don’t Like About It

Well, first off, as I mentioned above, I don’t much care for Lou and Reid. Lou was far too sassy and erratic, and she made a lot of dumb decisions. And I just found her generally annoying. Reid was less insufferable, but he too, made stupid decisions. And he was almost comically naive at times. For instance, he’s a witch hunter, but he pretty much believes everything Lou says. Nearly unquestioningly. It’s actually that ridiculous.

Another thing that I really hated was the McGuffin: The One Ring. *cough* Sorry, “Angelica’s Ring.” Whatever. It pretty much functions the same way, minus having a consciousness. (They both can turn people invisible.)

The inciting incident that forced Lou and Reid into marriage felt excruciatingly convoluted, and filled me with hatred. Like, there really weren’t any other options? Seriously?!? It just felt so contrived when I read it, that it made me want to bang my head against the wall.

I also hate a lot of decisions that happen during the climax. I’m not gonna spoil anything, but they just didn’t make sense to me at all. Just saying.

And, before we go, it’s time for the lines that I hated. Just like I promised.

Coco and I shared a black look. If Babette wasn’t careful, she’d soon learn just how wretched and violent we could be.

Just. Ugh. They’re so annoying.

And such a tight little ass.

I really like this line, actually. It’s so direct. Just not in this book. It feels too out of place.

“Do not urge me to leave you and turn back from you.” He trailed his fingers down my arm in slow, torturous strikes.

Ew. Waaayy too sappy.

Final Thoughts

As much as I I’ve ragged on Serpent & Dove in some parts of this review, it’s really not bad at all. That’s its sequel, Blood & Honey. (I’m not joking – that one’s terrible. There’ll be a roast on that one coming up, you can be sure of that.) S & D just feels like guilty pleasure fantasy-romance. A little like the ACOTAR series, but somehow, not as good. (I know, I didn’t think it was possible either.)

This really has ACOTAR vibes though, so if you’re really into that series, this is probably for you. Not sure about B & H, though. (I’m honestly not sure who that one’s for, actually.) (Fine, I’ll stop.)

Anyway, have you read Serpent & Dove? Or the rest of the series? What did you think of it? Thanks for reading – as always!