My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Synopsis: "If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love. "
Review: I've been meaning to pick up this book for years now, but I keep wanting to read it during the holiday season and every time I put it off I push it off for the following year. However, I finally read it this year (as my first read of 2019!) and I LOVED IT. If you can, you should also read this book during the holiday season! (It was a such a cozy read, but you can also read this any other time to get in the holiday spirit or just for some holiday-themed romance!)
First off, I have to say that I really enjoyed all the different styles and stories in this anthology, but I decided to list them from my most favorite to my lesser favorites with a little about what I thought of each story! (Just keep in mind that even the "last" story is amazing)
Favorite Quotes: look for the asterisks above!
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Synopsis: "Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?"
Review: I LOVE Morgan Matson and ALL of her books, so it wasn't really much of a surprise that I really enjoyed this one too! I just finished a Colleen Hoover book, so I just wanted to offer a quick comparison to those who have read CoHo. Both authors write contemporary romance novels, but Morgan Matson novels are more contemporary and Colleen Hoover's are more romance.
Anyways, onto the book itself, IT WAS SO CUTE. As a fantasy reader, the fantasy experts were adorable and the plot was simple yet attention grabbing. NOT TO MENTION THE DOGS. As a HUGE dog lover I was very pleased with all the cute dogs in this book! (and on the cover!)
This novel was filled with friendships and relationships and if I had to describe it all in a word it would be: sweet. It felt like a fun, summer contemporary novel and even though it was 519, it still felt like a quick read. As much as this book was unique, the vibe was a very classic contemporary romance novel, like those staple rom-coms, but a book.
Cover: ★★★★★★★★★★ + infinity because these dogs are FREAKIN CUTE
Legendary by Stephanie Garber
Synopsis: "Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun."
Review: Sometimes a sequel can really fall flat, but LEGENDARY DID NOT DISAPPOINT. While Caraval was through Scarlett's view, Legendary takes the reader through Tella's POV and at first I was hesitant, but I loved it after just a few pages in.
The first book had me completely unable to predict the plot, but Legendary was more predictable (not in a bad way, in the way that I finally understood how this world works). I did guess a couple of large points, but it only made it more rewarding when it turned out to be true. I think the plot was actually more interesting in the book, because the first book was all about this beautiful introduction to the crazy, gorgeous world of Caraval. This book also had lots of stunning descriptions, but the plot moved quicker and with more intensity, picking up the pace from the previous novel.
The characters not really touched upon with Scarlett's POV, come to life in this sequel. It is absolutely amazing to delve into more characters than Scarlett and Julian. Tella has a whole different outlook on life and her circle of people in this book is so different and unique that we barely see Scarlett. And though I missed Scarlett, the new characters and plot twists took all of my time and energy I couldn't really have a moment to miss Scarlett.
Also the romance, as much as I loved the romance in the first novel, something about this novel was even more enthralling. I won't reveal who's with who, but let's just say I was fangirling the entire time (butterflies and everything).
Overall, if you're scared Legendary won't live up to Caraval, don't worry it's even better. If you haven't read Caraval yet, then go go go!
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Synopsis: "Remember, it’s only a game…
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away."
Review: WOW. just WOW. I have seen this book everywhere, so after picking this up I already had pretty high standards, but let's just say that my mind was completely blown.
Caraval has taken me on a journey. When people say books transport you to new worlds, no book does it quite like Caraval. Although, it was incredibly unique (like, I was unable to think about anything else) here are some the things I felt hints of similarities to while reading:
The characters, relationships, worldbuilding, and plot were all so unique that I still can't fully wrap my head around it.
The characters were perfectly imperfect. Unlike most YA novels where we have a classic heroine who is unconfidently perfect, we have some very real characters who each make their own mistakes and carry their own flaws.
The creativity of the world of Caraval is beyond me, but it really works itself into everything else. (AKA It makes everything, especially relationships, VERY complicated). Caraval's magic takes away any of my plot predictions (not a single prediction I had played out and if it did I was already there, so not much of a prediction ahah).
Caraval is on the surface level simply beautiful, but its beauty hides a darkness you can feel while reading: that constant anxious feeling that you have every time you turn the page, but don't know why. Anyone searching for a pageturner and something to scramble your brain and grab and twist your heart, please pick up this amazing novel. (Now it's time for me to leave and return to this insane world as I pick up Legendary! SO EXCITED)
Cover: ★★★★★ ( I MEAN)
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: "When you can't beat the odds, change the game.
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world."
Review: This was such a bittersweet read. Knowing that the story was ending, yet reading such a well-written story had me wanting to read faster, yet not wanting to finish. The first novel set up the world building and all the first impressions of the characters, but Crooked Kingdom really explored the characters, their relationships, and the plot.
The plot was such a rollercoaster and it was somewhat predictable, but still enthralling. With the plot, the switching of character plots really helped move everything along and created suspense by focusing on only one perspective at a time. This switching also really helps me create that image in my brain and I can definitely see this being a movie one day!.
As much as the plot was invigorating, I think this series is a series you read for the characters. They are such a fun group of amazing individuals who only heighten each others' strengths when they are together. This kind of relationship is so amazing to read and gives you that family vibe.
Overall I am just very much attached to everyone and as much as I want more books, Crooked Kingdom was a good book to end at, but I'm just glad I own Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom so I can go back and reread whenever I need some more of these amazing characters!
Cover: ★★★★★ (AND THOSE FREAKIN GORGEOUS RED PAGES)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Synopsis: "Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be cojnmpromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met."
Review: I always say things like I recommend this book to everyone, and I do mean it, BUT this book is THE book I think everyone needs to read. It is not just a "coming out" book, it is a book that really captures the teenage experience and something that just really resonated with me.
BLUE. Simon and Blue have this amazingly, natural, and realistic back and forth conversation that was so real it was beautiful. Fantasy romances are often fast paced and exciting, but this book has a more realistic example and that made it all the more touching and emotional to read.
The parent teenage relationship is also so realistically portrayed in this novel. It's not like other YA novels where parents never interrupt their crazy, adventurous teenager's lives. It's also not a perfect relationship of simply being best friend's with their children. It's real and raw and delves into the feelings of dislike between each other, but the love that still holds them all together.
This book should be read not only because it is a well-written book, but it is important. It covers LGBTQ topics of course, but also a lot of race and how even a person, who isn't considered a racist, can have some concerning racial thoughts, like simply assuming someone was white, just natural instincts and thoughts that being in this society has ingrained into us.
* on a lighter note, I LOVE golden retrievers so kudos to Bieber. (Simon's adorable golden retriever) Also love oreos, so I'm with you Simon.
Anyways, for all these reasons and many more that I can't even truly express in words, I would recommend picking up this book for a quick, yet life changing read. Now I'm off to go and see how the movie compares!
Cover: ★★★★☆ (Who cares though, the words are so much more important)
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: "Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.
Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.
Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.
Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.
This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves."
Review: After the Grisha trilogy I fell in love with this world and this collection of the grisha fairytales has stolen my heart. I can't help but wish I grew up with stories like this. Leigh Bardugo actually made these stories pretty empowering, possibly even unintentionally, but it was a much appreciated change to the princess and fairy magic we got as little girls.
*I also HAVE to mention that the art is STUNNING and just such a beautiful flow that connected the story so well.
I loved each and every story but here's a quick idea of how I see it:
Amaya and the Thorn Woods
Cover: ★★★★★ (AND ALL THE BEAUTIFUL ART INSIDE)
* MILD SPOILERS IN QUOTES PROCEED WITH CAUTION*
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: "Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he'll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)
Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)
Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done - and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable - if they don't kill each other first."
Review: LOOK WHO'S FINALLY READ SIX OF CROWS. After waiting for much too long to pick up this book, I have finally read it and as a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo and super high expectations for this book (as the Grisha Trilogy is one of my favorites) I have to say that I loved this book with every ounce of my being (a lot of this is due to Kaz but who can blame me).
Here is why I really enjoyed Six of Crows:
This novel was a rollercoaster of emotions and I really couldn't put it down (and when I had to I couldn't stop thinking about it). I was very much emotionally invested in these characters and they were definitely my favorite part just because, not only were they easy to connect to, but their backgrounds were so unique and full of details that really brought them to life and had me wanting to know MORE. The characters' romances were also perfectly imperfect and I gush every time I think about it because the romance was absolutely adorable and frustrating, yet such a perfect contrast to the harsh action and darker plot line.
I fully loved this story, but if I truly HAD to complain I would say that I found a couple plot points pretty predictable, but it was nothing to worry about when everything about it was still full of excitement.
For fans of fantasy, romance, or action, I would 100% recommend Six of Crows. (Though I would honestly recommend this to everyone, because I think it's simply a book everyone needs!)
*Would have gushed some more but I'm off to read Crooked Kingdom!*
" 'No mourners,' ... 'No funerals,'"
" 'I'm a businessman,' he'd told her. 'No more, no less.' 'You're a thief Kaz.' 'Isn't that what I just said?'"
"Shame holds more value than coin ever can."
"The easiest way to steal a man's wallet is to tell him you're going to steal his watch."
"Better terrible truths than kind lies."
King's Cage by Victoria Aveyard
Synopsis: "In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl's spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?
Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.
As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.
When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down."
Review: I thought my heart was already shredded to pieces, but this book made my heart disintegrate into ashes and then stomped all over it. Despite regularly punishing myself with the words of all these amazing authors (who like to tear readers' hearts apart) I was still not prepared .
Mare goes through a lot in this book and at first I found her a bit annoying, but it's hard to be annoyed after all that she's gone through. She deserves to focus on herself more and she's untrusting, but who wouldn't be in her situation?!
In book one there was romance, in book two it was all adventure, and in book three there is self awareness or Mare finally learning herself and her demons and a touch more romance than book 2. However, this book was finally the book to really acquaint the reader with Mare, it became more personal and more heartfelt (all the easier for my heart to shatter). Not only do we get to understand Mare more, but Cameron's perspective is also shown in this book! It was super interesting to see her thoughts aside from Mare's and there's no doubt that I feel so much closer to her character as well now.
There is not much more I can say without spoiling this intense plot, but all I can say is that I'm eternally grateful the ending was not a cliffhanger because I could not wait a couple more months for the next book! Saying that, I still can't wait for book number 4!!
Favorite Quote(s): (VICTORIA AVEYARD WRITES SO BEAUTIFULLY)
*I received an ARC of the witch doesn't burn in this one through Netgalley, but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
Synopsis: "The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one."
Review: Amanda Lovelace has won my respect and my heart after a rollercoaster of a collection of poems in her first book, the princess saves herself in this one, and this following collection only adds to that. After her first novel that went over the many events of her life, I was able to grasp a portion of her life and it felt so full coverage I was wondering where she would go next with this book. She went deep and right into feminism and I couldn't have been happier and more appreciative.
Empowerment is more important than ever and so is speaking up about women's rights and equality, especially as seen with all the talk of movements like #MeToo and the Women's March. The entire collection was also incredibly relatable. Her first book was relatable but applied pretty specifically to the events she lived through, but this one spread to include what many women face daily.
I felt such a strong connection to these words and they really tugged at my heart and pushed my brain and I could feel this string that tied all women together: the experiences I had went through without even realizing how many other girls did too .(Not the cases like rape or catcalling necessarily but the more of the subtle things of being told to smile, subconsciously taking up less space, etc.)
I know guys might be like, I'm not a girl why should I read this, but I would recommend for boys to read this as well, it shows you just how much women have to go through to reach the equality most guys are born with. Girls, please pick this up, you deserve to know how powerful you are, despite race, religion, physical appearance, etc. , because women truly are some kind of magic.
I would quote this entire book if I could, but I can't so I had to REALLY cut down.
"self-love is not an instant or overnight evolution"
"confidence isn't egotism."
"safety has never been our privilege"
A fan of anything fiction, furry, & fun.