Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

“An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! This time I read Fairyloot’s October choice, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, with my Discord channel’s book club!

“She would bloom where she was planted and let her roots close around the throats of her enemies.”

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Gotta say Shiro, only character who didn’t seem super evil? (Oh and the Crown Prince, he was decent too)

Spoiler Free: Now I’m not going to say this is the best release of 2017, because it really wasn’t. But I will say that this was a very enjoyable read, and it’s still messing with me right now.

Xifeng is not an MC that you necessarily want to live up to, but she’s amazing because of that. She is strong and powerful yes, but she is also selfish, shallow, and to be honest, more than a little bit evil. Getting to be inside her brain was downright scary at points, but that just contributed to the uniqueness of this book. The book still wants you to support her, and this creates almost an inner battle within us. Do we support this women, ready to do anything to follow her destiny, or do we support those that try to bring her down?

But the characters was not the only thing this book had going for it. While I did find the plot predictable at points, and not necessarily the book’s strongest trait, I absolutely loved the world. While it could have been more developed, I really enjoyed a book that just seemed fully immersed in the world’s culture. It didn’t stop to explain every little thing, it just existed, and that made the story flow pretty well in my opinion.

Lastly, this book went super fast. The more simple level of writing, when compared to Laini Taylor’s Strange The Dreamer and Maggie Stiefvater’s All The Crooked Saints at least, fits well to the story, but also makes it not that difficult to digest, meaning I actually finished this quite quickly! Overall, in terms of language and writing style, it felt like just your average YA fantasy.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! I picked All The Crooked Saints as the first book to read again after my mini slump, and I am so glad I did.

Also, the facebook article by Maggie on why she wrote ATCS, and what inspired me to pick up the book when I did

“This is a madhouse!”                                                                                                                                               “The world’s a madhouse. This is a place to heal it.”

Stars (Out of 10): 10/10 Stars

Favorite Character: I can honestly say that I felt for them all.

Spoiler Free: Some novels need 500 pages to make you like the cast of characters. Give Maggie Stiefvater 18, and you’ll be ready to put your life on the line for them. The way Maggie chose to use POV and focalization, when combined with the amazing metaphors used constantly, made the characters feel real and three dimensional from the start. For a tale as character-based as this one, this fact was integral to my enjoyment of it.

This is not an action novel, not a thriller. This is not the book that will keep you up until the late hours of the night, gripping pages and sweating bullets. You won’t zoom through each word and sentence and phrase as if you can’t get enough, as if you are racing to the end. This book is a slow one, and I have to say I loved it for it. The changes, the miracles, are not ones that should be expected to happen in an hour, a day, even a month. So yes this book was slow, with language that was meant to make you slow down rather than speed up. Yes this book, of 320 pages, took me more time to get through than books with much higher page count. But it fits the story, fits the meaning this book is trying to push. It forces you to stop and think about what you read, about the meaning Maggie is trying to get across. (And if you just can’t handle slow books, no matter how meaningful, than unfortunately I don’t believe this book is for you.)

I also have to admit that this is the book that made me fall in love with Maggie’s writing style. I’ve read/tried to read many of her books so far, and while they’ve always hooked me plot/character wise, the pace was often off putting. But taking my time with this one made me see all the hidden gems Maggie sticks into her writing. From lengthy metaphors that somehow explain perfectly what the story is trying to get across, to short lines here and there that make you stop and think, it shows how much attention to detail Maggie pays, and I cannot wait to read more of her books now.

One last thing that I loved about the book (at least, spoiler-free thing), was its level of immersion. When I was reading this book, nothing else existed. I was in Bicho Raro, seeing these people, experiencing all the emotions. Even inside the novel, mentions of other places on Earth were jarring, because while reading, it felt like Bicho Raro was all that there was, all that needed to be. The level of culture, lore, and backstory that this stand-alone had was something all stand-alones should strive for. The lacking part of most fantasy stand-alones did not exist here (which I consider to be lack of immersion, since there are less pages to develop an entire world in.)

I didn’t know what to expect from this book, and I’m still uncertain of how exactly it affected me, how it changed me. All I know is that it did.

“I was looking for a miracle, but I got a story instead, and sometimes those are the same thing.”

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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We’re Back!

Hey guys! Meaghan here (and Allison!), back from our mini hiatus! It came kinda out of nowhere, and we’re very sorry about that!

Recently, both of us have started college, and the tide of new work and experiences completely swamped us! While we have been reading, we haven’t been able to find the time, or motivation, to write reviews for the past few months.

We decided to make some changes to how we do reviews, making them less structured, but still just as full of opinion and content! Instead of having multiple sections in both our spoiler and spoiler free portions, we are instead having just a section for spoilers, and just one for spoiler free. This allows us much more freedom in writing our reviews, and removes the repetition of information that sometimes occurred in the old format!

Both of us have found more time in our schedules, and with the holidays coming up, we should have tons more time to read. I will also be periodically uploading reviews for the books I’ve read in the past few months, as I find I still have much I want to say about some of those reads!

Thanks to everyone for sticking with us, we are extremely happy to be back!

The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

“Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator’s daughter, Sidonia. There’s no one Nemesis wouldn’t kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy’s most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she’s been told she doesn’t have – humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire…”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review!

“I would not just disappear into a void as though I’d never existed. I would not accept that I was less than these people just because they’d designed me that way.”

Stars (Out of 10): 2.5/10 Stars

Overall Thoughts: I have friends that both loved and hated this book, so I had no idea what to expect going in. For the most part, I loved the plot and the story, and was enjoying reading it (read it all in one sitting, it had me hooked!). And then I hit roughly 60% of the way in, and this book decided to do everything I disliked basically. The star review dropped quickly after that. Also, I desperately wanted this to be a stand-alone, but suddenly it’s a trilogy and I hate that I now feel obligated to continue reading.

The Good: I really enjoyed the plot for most of the book. I enjoyed the political intrigue and planning going on. I also felt that the author did a decent job of making the main character, Nemesis, act like a different creature and think different in general from a ‘normal human,’ even if it made it really hard to relate at first, and get into the book.

The Bad: I’m gonna try and be as vague as possible without spoilers. First off, I never found myself able to connect with characters, and when I was about to with Nemesis, the situation suddenly changed and I wasn’t a fan of her anymore. The side characters, often a saving grace in a book, were constantly either dead or lying, or suddenly ditched by Nemesis, so you never could really get attached to those guys either.

Now here’s my problem with the plot, and why I started disliking the book after 60% in the vaguest terms possible. For the first 50-60% of the book, we follow more of a physical plot, based on actions and effects rather than emotions and change there. By the time the author decided to make the romance more tension filled, I was way too into this physical plot mindset to be able to fully go along with the emotional plot shift we had for the next hundred pages or so. This made the sudden focus on emotions and relationships really jarring, and unnatural feeling. Even worse, we take a sudden spin back to this physical plot for the last 5-10%, and by that point, you got sucked into worrying about emotions, and less about actual events, so you get all disoriented by the sudden change again. And on top of that, the ending was such a mess of truth and lies that that’s hard to discern when you’re just coming out of a whirlpool of emotions a chapter ago. I’ll be more specific about this down in spoilers, but this was probably one of the main things that irks me still after reading.

SPOILERS BEGIN HERE

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Release by Patrick Ness

“Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It’s a big day. Things go wrong. It’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches…

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won’t come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! This is my first experience reading a Patrick Ness book (except for reading a chapter or two from The Rest of Us Just Live Here)!

“It was so much easier to be loved than to have to do any of the desperate work of loving.”

Stars (Out of 10): 5/10 Stars

Overall Thoughts: This book was, okay? I really liked parts of it, but then other parts were confusing and felt completely unnecessary (basically the whole extra side plot going in, if I’ll be honest.) It did a great job of dealing with tough issues in the main plotline with Adam, but then this magical realism tie-in plot about a girl who died kinda took away from it. I honestly found myself skimming those parts more as I continued further into the book, as it just read so odd and was pretty confusing. If we had just had the plot with Adam, and his horrible yet freeing day, I probably would’ve ended up rating this book higher.

The Good: It was dark and it was gritty and it was everything it needed to be to properly tell the story of Adam, of his heart broken by friends, lovers, and family. It dealt with everything realistically, and while yes it was a bit weird for everything to suddenly go wrong on the same day, I understand that was needed for this novel to be the way it is. Adam’s story was a tough one to read, but it’s one that I feel we all need to hear, the cruelty and hardships he faces just for being different than what his family expects to be, just for being himself and having his own beliefs. On top of all that, it also dealt with issues that all of us might feel, losing friends to the future and struggling with love and the loss of it.

The Bad: My main issue with the whole novel is definitely the whole magical realism subplot about a dead girl and some magic queen. It didn’t feel like it was given enough space to actually make enough sense, but then I also feel it took up too much space in the novel, took me too much out of Adam’s story at points. If this idea had been given it’s own space and time to exist, it could have flourished, and I could have enjoyed it. But it felt like these two stories combatted for my attention more than they flowed together to create a larger meaning, and that is why I had to rate the book the way I did.

The Graces by Laure Eve

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! I know this came out quite a while ago, but I still had my NetGalley ARC and decided to finally give it a shot!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

“That night I think we were trying to fight against death, against boredom and banality, against everything that made us cry and stare at our futures full in the face with dread.”

Stars (Out of 10): 3.5/10 Stars

Overall Thoughts: I really wanted to love this book, because I absolutely fell in love with the amazing covers. However, it seems it didn’t really do it for me. I felt like a floated along through the entire book, reading and enjoying the story, but not feeling connected, never feeling worried or scared when bad things happened, and never feeling happy or overjoyed during the happy moments. Additionally, even though the plot idea was pretty intriguing, I felt the main ‘twist’ was way too obvious way too early, so by the end I kinda already knew what to expect, and the secrets that everyone was keeping.

The Good: I really liked the dark atmosphere the book kinda seemed to have, and what the ending could mean for book two (even if parts of the ending felt vague). I also did enjoy reading this, just less so than a lot others for reasons below.

The Bad: I did not find myself really caring about any of the side characters, and the MC even less so. I also am not the biggest fan of books with little plot in the beginning, and it felt like this one floated as things were beginning to build up. And while later that become important later, while reading it just wasn’t that enjoyable. Additionally, the most important part of the plot was pretty predictable.

SPOILERS BEGIN HERE

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This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

“10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.’

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! It’s been a while, but I’m finally getting around to writing reviews for all the books I’ve read this summer! This book specifically I read with Allison and another friend of ours. Allison’s review is also up as well, so definitely go check that out as well!

Grief is one big, gaping hole, isn’t it? It’s everywhere and all consuming. Some days you think you can’t go on because the only thing waiting for you is more despair. Some days you don’t want to go on because it’s easier to give up than to get hurt again.”

Stars (Out of 10): 6/10 Stars

Overall Thoughts: I’m not quite sure how to put into words how I feel for this book. It’s not really a book you pick up for enjoyment, but one you pick up to feel something, and to have your perception of the world messed with. It was written beautifully, with words made to tie you into the stories, to feel what these kids felt as their world collapsed around them. It definitely had it’s flaws, which I’ll put down in the other sections, but it was still a great read and I am glad I read it.

The Good: My favorite thing about this story was probably the depth the author was able to give to the characters, especially to the side characters, in 54 minutes of their lives. Additionally, I felt the author’s writing style meshed fantastically with the plot and ideas of this book, and were able to bring both the physical aspect that the book needed, as well as the heavier emotional aspect.

The Bad: Most of my issues with the book came from the characters themselves. Some moments felt weird, or like they didn’t belong, and in others the logic and thinking of the characters made no sense, and resulted in terrible consequences that definitely did not need to happen. Additionally, the main relationship in this book felt wrong, and that never ended up being dealt with. Also, I had a harder time getting attached to the main characters than the side characters, which may have been the fault of the quick flip-flopping POVs, and not truly being able to feel for a character before being moved on to the next POV.

SPOILERS BEGIN HERE

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This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

“10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Hello Allison here! Once again, back with a buddy read I did with Meaghan and a mutual friend of ours.

Stars (Out of 10): 6.5

Overall Thoughts: My thoughts about this book are very complex and not easy to explain, so I’ll try my best. I felt it was hard to fall in love with the characters since the chapters were told more in a snapshot way, bouncing between characters, but I still ended up ugly crying in the end. In fact, I’m writing this review with tears still in my eyes from said ugly crying. This book is a fast read and honestly you could read it in a few hours in one sitting. The writing is beautiful and that is most of the reason I’m crying so much. The logic in this book isn’t always good, but it tries it’s best.

The Good: The writing is amazing and I cried about characters that I didn’t even feel attached to. The writing just gave me chills. There are some lines that I will never be able to forget. You never really realize how much can go down in a minute, but this book really packs a lot in the fifty four minutes. It’s a fast read. I loved the tweets and blog posts and texts from other characters that don’t get a point of view at the end of each chapter.

The Bad: I never grew attached to any one character more than the others due to the quick change of point of views. I felt that the characters did not always have the smartest plans or the most logical actions to the situation. There were a few points where I accidentally found myself doing the invisible equations meme because of how dumb the characters were. The shooter is pretty much one dimensional.

Spoilers down below!

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Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

“Seven students. Seven (deadly) sins. One secret.

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads


Hello Allison here! When I read the concept for this book, I knew I had to read it. I buddy read it with Meaghan and a mutual friend of ours and we all loved it.

Stars (Out of 10): 7.5/10

Overall Thoughts: This book was amazing. Honestly, I was hooked once I got 100 pages in. I couldn’t put it down. Most of the characters were easily loveable, even with their sins. I highly recommend this book if you like the concept of characters from very different backgrounds and social circles coming together to form a cool group, bonded by a unique experience. That’s quickly becoming my favorite trope and this book does it so well.

The Good: Most of the characters are loveable or you can grow to love them. The plot is interesting and it is great how it unites all the characters. The characters are very diverse in background. It also has great representation of sexuality, including a pansexual character and a aro/ace character. Likewise, it has a female character who embraces her sexuality but is still treated as a genuine human being and I’m so happy for that.

The Bad: This book is not for you if you do not like student-teacher affairs to be seen in a positive light. Also, one of my biggest complaints about this book is the ending, but I don’t want to get too spoilerly so I will talk about that under/within the spoiler tag.

*Spoilers below*

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Because You Love To Hate Me Anthology (13 Authors + 13 Booktubers!)

Leave it to the heroes to save the world–villains just want to rule the world.

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like “Medusa,” Sherlock Holmes, and “Jack and the Beanstalk” provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains’ acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage–and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

Featuring writing from . . .

Authors: Renée Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon

BookTubers: Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), and Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel).”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! When I first heard about this anthology project, I was obviously quite excited. While not all the stories lived up to my expectation, I did enjoy most of them!

We love to hate them and they hate to be loved, if only because being hated frees them from having to be good.”

Stars (Out of 10): 5/10 Stars

Overall Thoughts: As a whole, this anthology was meh. There were stories that I loved, but also a lot that I saw myself skimming through, or not enjoying as much as others. Some formats just also didn’t fit, and some stories were fairly confusing as well. Overall, it was an intriguing anthology, and I really enjoyed seeing different author’s takes on both the challenges given to them, and the idea of the anthology in general.

The Good: About half of the stories were really unique, with prompts that were very interesting to read and explore! I got to see quick story ideas that I probably would not have been able to see otherwise, and by authors I knew and love from other books! For some stories, it was just an amazing combination!

The Bad: Not all the stories were good. First, not all of them seemed focused on a villain either. Most were, but some were from just a “good guy’s” POV, or from character’s POVs that didn’t really feel evil at all. Also, the formats of some stories were also kinda confusing, and some stories overall just felt rough. Also, in terms of the booktuber portion of the book, I found myself plain skipping at the end. It often felt unnecessary, and covered up my own thoughts of the story, as the review portions that some booktubers chose to do were obviously very in love and supportive of the story, even when I wasn’t fully on board.

Favorite Story: Death Knell

Honorable Mentions: You, You, It’s All About You; The Sea Witch; The Blood of Imuriv; Beautiful Venom

Meh: The Bless of Little Wants; Shirley & Jim; Marigold; Sera; Julian Breaks Every Rule

Not A Fan: Jack; Gwen And Art and Lance; Indigo and Shade