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!

Shelf Control #8: Instructions for a Secondhand Heart

It’s that time of the week again (or thereabouts *coughs*), so it’s time for some more Shelf Control. Shelf Control is an original feature created and hosted by Lisa @ BookshelfFantasies.com.

It’s a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, go ahead and check out this post at BookshelfFantasies.com.

This week I’m not talking about a fantasy book that’s been languishing on my bookshelf for years for once. This week I’m highlighting Instructions for a Secondhand Heart by Tamsyn Murray. (Yes, I do occasionally read something that isn’t even remotely SFF. Yes, it is very surprising.)

About Instructions for a Secondhand Heart

Length: 321 pages

Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA, Fiction

Release Date: December 5, 2017

Book Description

A moving novel about grief, guilt, and the unpredictability of love, for fans of Everything, Everything and All the Bright Places.

Jonny knows better than anyone that life is full of cruel ironies. He’s spent every day in a hospital hooked up to machines to keep his heart ticking. Then when an organ donor is found for Jonny’s heart, that turns out to be the cruelest irony of all. Because for Jonny’s life to finally start, someone else’s had to end.

That someone turns out to be Neve’s twin brother, Leo. When Leo was alive, all Neve wanted was for him (and all his glorious, overshadowing perfection) to leave. Now that Leo’s actually gone forever, Neve has no idea how to move forward. Then Jonny walks into her life looking for answers, her brother’s heart beating in his chest, and everything starts to change.

Together, Neve and Jonny will have to face the future, no matter how frightening it is, while learning to heal their hearts, no matter how much it hurts.

Features select graphic novel illustrations from Jonny’s sketchbook.

Why It Languishes on My Bookshelf

When I Got It: January 2018

Why I Wanted to Read It: Unfortunately, I can’t really remember why. But upon rereading the summary, I think I can get a bit of an inkling of what drew me to this book. Angst and romance – a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, particularly when the angst doesn’t have to do with the actual romance itself.

Why I Haven’t Read It Yet: At the time I got this book, I was making my way through a series – The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – so I had put this off and into my TBR. Then, a horrible thing happened in my personal life, and I just wasn’t feeling books for a bit. And then I forgot about it. Whoops.

Will I Ever Read It?: Hmm… I really don’t know. Maybe if I’m in the mood to break away from fantasy for a bit and/or I want a quick and easy read. But yeah, don’t know. It would probably be a spontaneous decision if I did, though.


Have you read this book? Or is it languishing on your bookshelf too?

Have a glorious day/night!

~ Mar ~ 🙂📚

Reviewing Another Little Mermaid Retelling | Out of the Blue: Book Review

Dogs barking, children yelling, car horns carrying down the sand from the… what’s that word again? Oh, street.

About This Book

Title & Author: Out of the Blue by Jason June

Length: 377 pages

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQIA

Release Date: May 31, 2022

Book Description

Crest is not excited to be on their Journey: the month-long sojourn on land all teen merfolk must undergo. The rules are simple: Help a human within one moon cycle and return to Pacifica to become an Elder—or fail and remain stuck on land forever. Crest is eager to get their Journey over and done with. Humans are disgusting. They’ve polluted the planet so much that there’s a floating island of trash that’s literally the size of a country.

In Los Angeles with a human body and a new name, Crest meets Sean, a human lifeguard whose boyfriend has recently dumped him. Crest agrees to help Sean make his ex jealous and win him back. But as the two spend more time together, and Crest’s perspective on humans begins to change, they’ll soon be torn between two worlds. And fake dating just might lead to real feelings…

This sophomore novel from Jason June dives into the many definitions of the word home and shows how love can help us find the truest versions of ourselves. 

My Review

Star Rating: ★★★✯☆ • 3.5 / 5 stars

It was the perfect rom-com moment, when the two leads finally realize they’re meant to be together.

This was a super fun retelling of The Little Mermaid. I loved this on so many levels. The bits of world building. The dialogue and inner monologues. So much of this book was fantastic.

I also really loved all of the modern additions June included. I mean, it was urban fantasy, so obviously. I just liked how it was done is all.

The highlight of the book for me was definitely the characters. Crest’s sarcasm and grumpiness was a lot of fun to read, and I liked how gentle and kind Sean was (when he wasn’t trying to make his crappy ex jealous). I also liked how body positive Sean was about himself – it was really nice to see, especially compared to Lily from When Life Gives You Vampires. I also adored Kavya – she’s the kind of friend that everyone deserves, though she’s definitely not perfect either.

I also really liked how the predictable plot points and issues that are normally left to a book’s climax and ending were resolved long before. Such as the realization and acceptance of romantic feelings. And the stuff that came after didn’t feel tacked on or boring or anything. There were still some plot threads to tie up, after all, and I’m glad that the author didn’t leave us hanging.

“I swear as each day goes by you become more and more of a bro.”

I also really liked the ending, even if I ended up predicting it exactly. It was sweet, and there was definitely some happily ever afterness going on, even if it wasn’t what readers might initially expect. // The reason that this book is a 3.5 out of 5 and not a 4 out of 5, is because I would’ve liked to see more of the mer life and mer culture. I really liked the world building around them that we did get, I just wish we got to see more of it, instead of just humans and land for the majority of the book. Also, I would have liked less mention of mer sex. Like, I like to think I’m a rather sex-positive individual, but mentioning wanting to have mer sex every other page is just waaay too much for a book like this – this wasn’t erotica after all.

Anyway, this book was pretty great. Probably a much better summer read than in the winter, but hey, I still had fun reading it. The rep in this book is good too, and it’s done pretty well. Definitely recommend it if you’re into the genres.

Book Review: “The Will and the Wilds” by Charlie N. Holmberg

A chill wind makes its way through the wildwood, whispering of misfortunes to come.

About The Will and the Wilds

Length: 265 pages

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Release Date: January 21, 2020

Book Description

Enna knows to fear the mystings that roam the wildwood near her home. When one tries to kill her to obtain an enchanted stone, Enna takes a huge risk: fighting back with a mysting of her own.

Maekallus’s help isn’t free. His price? A kiss. One with the power to steal her soul. But their deal leaves Maekallus bound to the mortal realm, which begins eating him alive. Only Enna’s kiss, given willingly, can save him from immediate destruction. It’s a temporary salvation for Maekallus and a lingering doom for Enna. Part of her soul now burns bright inside Maekallus, making him feel for the first time.

Enna shares Maekallus’s suffering, but her small sacrifice won’t last long. If she and Maekallus can’t break the spell binding him to the mortal realm, Maekallus will be consumed completely—and Enna’s soul with him.

My Review

Star Rating: ★★★✯☆ • 3.5 / 5 stars

Mankind cannot linger in the monster realm, just as mystings cannot abide here long. Our worlds are too different, and they reject those who don’t belong.

Sooo… I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. But it gets 3.5 stars because I’ve given books I’ve liked less 3 stars. It’s not a bad book by any means, though, and I’ll definitely be getting around to more books by Ms. Holmberg. Her prose and writing in general is pretty amazing, and is one of my favorite parts about the book.

What is a soul if not an extension of the heart? Grandmother once said to me. To lose one’s soul is to lose what makes one human. It’s no better than death.

I found that the MC, Enna, to be not annoying, so I’ll definitely give the book that. Especially since so many female protagonists are like that nowadays. Maekallus, one of the two love interests and another main character, also pleasantly surprised me by not being toxic – once actual emotions started happening on his end, that is – and he was actually pretty insecure and kind. Especially since he’s essentially an emotionless demon. He’s actually called a mysting, but mystings are basically totally demons, so he’s a demon.

Anyway, back to the relationship talk. Enna was actually the more toxic of the duo, with the way she flip-flopped between the two love interests, and how she gaslit her mentally incapacitated father (which I did not approve of. At all.), as well as one of the love interests. (Which I also didn’t like.)

It is painful for mystings to cross oon berry. Weaving a circle of thorny plants around your home will act as a proficient safeguard.

The plot and world also felt a little underdeveloped, and I really wanted to know more about the human world and The Deep. I would’ve loved to have a map or two. The climax was also kind of “meh,” but it was primarily a character and emotional driven story, so I’ll let it slide.

Something that I really, really liked though, were the little notes underneath the chapter headings about the mystings and their realm. I also liked how it quickly became obvious that they were Enna’s notes (as well as her grandmother’s). It made me want a bestiary of all the creatures and stuff, with drawings to boot.

I did enjoy this book overall, however, and I have a feeling that people who liked the author’s other stuff will like this. It also had Among the Beasts and Briars (by Ashley Poston) vibes, but not quite as good, so if you like that type of fantasy novel, you’ll probably like The Will and the Wilds.

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!

About ACOTAR

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.

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.”

and

“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!

Shelf Control [Week #1] | ACOWAR

Shelf Control logo from BookshelfFantasies.com (…and ACOWAR too, I guess)

Guys. It’s time…

…for my first Shelf Control!

Shelf Control is an original feature created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out this post from BookshelfFantasies.com.

This is my first week participating in it, and I’m very excited! I’ve got a ton of books that I’ve bought, but are still sitting unread on my shelves, months or even years later. And the book that I, Marin Gier, have decided to start off with is… 🥁🥁🥁

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (Both its 1st & 2nd edition covers)

Title & Author: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses [Book #3]

Length: 736 pages

Publication 1st Edition: Bloomsbury USA Children’s [May 2, 2017]

Publication 2nd Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing [June 2, 2020]

Book Description (ala Goodreads):

Feyre will bring vengeance.

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 among the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

But while war races, it is her heart that will face the greatest battle.

When I Got It:

November 2017

Why I Wanted to Read It:

I had read the first two – ACOWAR and ACOMAF – each after they had come out and enjoyed them, so I thought I’d do the same with this one.

Why I Haven’t Read It:

I read the first two in November of the years that they were released – despite them both coming out in May, just like this one – and I wanted to recreate the same feeling and atmosphere as when I had read the others.

I ended up getting both busy and distracted, and by the time I finally had time to read it, I just… didn’t. I didn’t feel like reading it at that time for whatever reason, and not just because it’s ginormous. And I guess I still haven’t gotten around to reading it because I kind of fell out of the ACOTAR series after that. I’d still kind of like to read it eventually, though.

Have you read this book? Or any of Sarah J. Maas’ series’? Did you like them or dislike them?

Thanks for tuning in, and have a great day/night!


(My) Most Anticipated Books Coming Out November 2022

You read the title right. I’m gonna give you guys a little list of the books that are coming out next month that I wanna read. And that’s a hard “I,” by the way. These may not be the most anticipated ones from all of those popular lists, these are the books that look interesting to me personally. So get ready for some fantastical and weird ones, cuz that’s the stuff I like to read.

Also, quick note. November is a good month this year. November 8th? A very good day. A very, very good one. I swear to God, I did not just look just look at which books came out on this day and call it a post. I’m just that lucky, I guess.

#3: Scattered Showers • Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Length: 288 pages

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Excitement Level: 🌈🌈🌈🌈 • 4 / 5 rainbows

Confession time: I haven’t actually finished any of Rowell’s books. The only one that I’ve read any of is Carry On, and I think I got maybe a third of the way through it before I had decided that it was moving too slowly for my liking. (I loved everything else about it! Why, oh why, was it so glacial, though??) But this book is essentially a collection of short stories, and they all look so interesting! I’ll just pretend I’ve read the Simon Snow trilogy when I get to the Simon Snow one.

Book Description:

Rainbow Rowell has won fans all over the world by writing about love and life in a way that feels true.

In her first collection, she gives us nine beautifully crafted love stories. Girl meets boy camping outside a movie theater. Best friends debate the merit of high school dances. A prince romances a troll. A girl romances an imaginary boy. And Simon Snow himself returns for a holiday adventure.

It’s a feast of my irresistible characters, hilarious dialogue, and masterful storytelling – in short, everything you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell book.

#2: Children of Ragnarok • Cinda Williams Chima

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Length: 560 pages

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Excitement Level: 🪖🪖🪖🪖🪖 • 5 / 5 (Viking) helmets

I had absolutely no idea Chima was starting another series, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover when I was looking into what books were coming out soon. And it’s a Viking fantasy to boot!

It’s been a bit since I’ve read anything by Chima, but I absolutely adored the Seven Realms series and the (original three) Heir Chronicles books. (Didn’t enjoy Flamecaster though, so never read the Shattered Realms.) So I’m really looking forward to something new by her.

Book Description:

Ever since Ragnarok – the great war between the gods and the forces of chaos – the human realm of the Midlands has become a dangerous place, bereft of magic, where most lead lives of desperation.

Sixteen-year-old Eiric Halvorsen is among the luckier ones. Between fishing, going vikingr, and working his modir’s farm, the family has remained prosperous. But Eiric stands to lose everything after being convicted by a rigged jury of murdering his modir and stepfadir. Also at risk is his half-sistyr, Liv, whose interest in sedir, or magic, had made her a figure of suspicion. Then a powerful jarl steps in: he will pay the blood price if Eiric will lead a mission to the fabled Temple at the Grove – the rich stronghold of the wyrdspinners, the last practitioners of sorcery.

Spellsinger, musician, and runecaster Reggin Eiklund had spent her life traveling from town to town, performing at alehouses all for the benefit of her master, Asger, the fire demon she is desperate to escape. Then after one performance that amazes even Reggin herself, two wyrdspinners in the audience make her an irresistible offer: return with them to the temple to learn sedir, forever free of Asger.

Eiric, Liv, and Reggin’s journeys all converge in New Jotunheim, the site of the Temple at the Grove, a paradise fueled by magic. They soon realize a great evil lurks beneath the dazzling surface, and they old betrayals and long-held grudges may fuel another cataclysmic war. It will require every gift and weapon at their command to prevent it.

Sweeping adventure, breathtaking twists of fate, and immersive worlds based on Norse mythology are woven into this first volume of the Runestone Saga.

#1: Cursed • Marissa Meyer

Release Date: November 8, 2022

Length: 478 pages

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Excitement Level: 🧵🧵🧵🧵🧵• 5 / 5 spools (of golden straw)

I love, love, love fairytale retellings. And Marissa Meyer is the Queen of fairytale retellings. I loved the Lunar Chronicles, and I loved Gilded even more. This is probably my most anticipated book all of the year.

And yes, this is a sequel – the sequel to Gilded, actually – so if you haven’t read that one, please check it out before reading this one when it comes out.

Book Description:

Be still now, and I will tell you a tale…

Adalheid Castle is in chaos.

Following a shocking turn of events, Serilda finds herself ensnared in a deadly game of make-believe with the Erlking, who is determined to propel her deeper into the castle’s lies. Meanwhile, Serilda is determined to work with Gild to help him solve the mystery of his forgotten name and past.

But soon it becomes clear that the Erlking doesn’t only want to use Serilda to bring back his one true love. He also seeks vengeance against the seven gods who have long trapped the Dark Ones behind the veil. If the Erlking succeeds, it could change the mortal realm forever.

Can Serilda find a way to use her storytelling gifts for good – once and for all? And can Serilda and Gild break the spells that tether their spirits to the castle before the Endless Moon finds them truly cursed?


These are the books releasing this November (and next week, I guess, lol) that I’m most excited for. (I’ve limited myself to three, because I still want to have time to read spontaneously.) Do any of them look up your alley? What books coming out next month are you looking forward to?