Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff was a delightful surprise from the moment it arrived on my doorstep. Amazon had seen fit to gift me with a signed copy, so I was feeling pretty special as I embarked on this dark, twisted tale of Mia Corvere.

26114463.jpgThe first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

The surprise and delight continued from the opening chapters when Kristoff used a unique storytelling technique with paralleling narratives that had the same actions but different outcomes right off the bat. As someone who admires the way people can put a variety of 26 letters together, I was blown away. Kristoff’s writing style and ability to mold a story into a compelling narrative is awe-inspiring.

The story of Mia is truly a dark tale. Don’t expect a happy ending or an assassin school that coddles its fledglings, but do expect justice, a whole lot of JUSTICE. At 428 pages, Kristoff creates a well-paced fatalistic journey where an orphaned girl seeks to become a famed assassin to avenge her murdered family. With her dark powers and the constant company of the “not-cat,” Mia is at once both relatable or entirely other as she fights for her dream. I loved the idea of the not-cat eating her fear. I loved that she was a total smartass. The dialogue in this novel is definitely meant for a older YA audience.

Nevernight is not for the faint of heart. There is death and danger and violence. There is no respite for anyone in this bloodthirsty novel. I enjoyed the competitions as the students fight to become blades at the service of the Lady of Blessed Murder. The relationships between them were complex — torn between making friends, identifying enemies and just trying to win one of the four coveted spots.

Most notable is Mia’s relationship with Tric. I wouldn’t say it was romantic by any means but there was a level of caring that was both intriguing and heartbreaking as the story progressed. Another favorite character was the librarian Aelius. He had one of my favorite quotes from the novel:

“Listen, girl,” Aelius sniffed. “The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of words. A girl with a story to tell.” (p. 243)

As a reader, this quote rings true, but encased in this story, I could appreciate the foreshadowing and prophetic nature of his comment.

I feel as if my words fail me. I cannot do this book justice with this review. Nevernight was a wonderfully terrible tale, and as the first book in a trilogy, I can’t wait to see what dark, horrific things Kristoff comes up with next.

STARS: 5 out of 5

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

I love Kasie West’s stories. They are so endearing. I find myself unable to control the smile plastered on my face while reading, and The Fill-In Boyfriend is no different.

18660447When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

There was a time when I thought I didn’t like Contemporary YA, but that must have been the Twilight phase when it was paranormal/fantasy or nothing. However, I’m happy to report that I DO like Contemporary YA very much, and Kasie West is the main reason.

Her books have fun characters with depth. Her writing is always in the moment and her characters learn and grow throughout the story. She always has a unique premise for a timeless love story between two teenagers.

The Fill-In Boyfriend was so much fun. I was laughing and smiling throughout the whole debacle as Gia and Hayden work through their “need” for a fake boyfriend/girlfriend. I loved that they were so natural together and fought the way they felt about each other because, ya know, awkward teenage emotions.

I had a soft spot for Hayden’s sister Beck. I was that emo, loud-mouthed girl in high school, where it was me against the world, so I totally felt her character. Plus, it was nice to see such a strong brother-sister bond.

The lesson regarding social media addiction, searching for validation in others and loving oneself came through pretty clear in this book, but I didn’t feel like it was a forced lesson. The characters learned them on their own and the reader was just a spectator that can either take it or leave it.

I recommend this fun read to anyone who likes a sweet romance, characters with wit and an endearing story about family, growing up and finding love.

STARS: 4.5 out of 5

5 Bookish Things I’m Thankful For

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. Like most of America, I feel like I fell down a rabbit hole and came back up to find the world not as I left it and I’m still trying to recover post-election. Unfortunately, that spilled into all aspects of my personal life and reading, blogging and writing fell by the wayside.

I didn’t read very much this month. I’m suffering from a strange book slump where I can buy books like a crazy person but I can’t bring myself to pick any of them up and read it.

I dropped out of NaNoWriMo, and I’m okay with it. Instead I’m putting my finishing touches on last year’s WriMo now, and I’m hoping to have friends beta read by January.

I haven’t posted in the past few weeks so I wanted to take the time in an effort to turn everything around to name the top five bookish things I’m thankful for.

  1. I’m thankful that books broaden our horizons and teach us empathy. 15438-George-R-R-Martin-Quote-A-reader-lives-a-thousand-lives-before-he.jpg There is this quote that I really love it says: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” George R.R. Martin. I’m grateful that I have an inkling into a vast and diverse amount of perspectives because I read. I have been the hero/heroine that saves the day. I have been the ordinary girl who gets the guy. I’ve been the villain that takes down an empire. I have been a creature of the night and the boy who lived. I have known love and loss, adventure and fear, bravery and courage all through a multitude of 26-letter combinations. I know what it is to be other because I have lived that life even for a short amount of time. Because of this, I have more compassion for those that are different from me and it’s my life goal to continue to grow that compassion to a bottomless well.
  2. I’m thankful for reading buddies.
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    My cat Mia keeping my writing chair warm.

    Whether it’s my cat Mia in her constant struggle to lay on top of my books or a piping hot cup of tea or coffee. There is no better feeling than sitting all cozy, with a hot drink, a fuzzy creature and a book full of vibrant characters.

  3. I’m thankful for the Amazon Gods.                                                                                                58d2fded7a80dfd831c78ab4225b7120I know, I know. Amazon is killing brick and mortar bookstores and I’m a horrible person for supporting it, but I’m super grateful that Amazon understands my book obsession and delivers great reads to my doorstep within 48 hours. Each day I come home to a package on my doorstep, it’s like Christmas. (Not to mention I get to sing the “Here’s the mail, it never fails” Blue’s Clues song. #nevergrowup)
  4. I’m thankful for brave writers.                                                                                                     42f91aabf763ce6ac136a42a64272806As someone who aspires to write my own novel, it blows my mind how all these authors pour their heart and soul into a story and then release it out into the world. If it wasn’t for their bravery, ambition and self-confidence, I wouldn’t get to read the amazing stories that have had such an impact in my life. There’s another quote that keeps me writing when I want to give up. It says: You’re going to be someone’s favorite author. Just imagine if your favorite author never wrote a single word. Your life would be less vibrant because of it.
  5. I’m thankful for YOU – bloggers, readers and friends.                                                      epic-hugs-toy-story.gifI’m eternally grateful to anyone who reads my blog. I’m also grateful for all the bloggers out there recommending good reads. What would I do without you? I can’t tell you how many authors and books I’ve been exposed to (or got a really good deal on) because my fellow bloggers have kept me in the know. It’s always great to fangirl with fellow readers and geek out about books.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monthly Recap and Book of the Month

In October, I read at a glacial pace even though I wanted to read at high speed.

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 Book of the Month*

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Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas- 5 star review

This shouldn’t surprise anyone! I love SJM. Her stories are the best.

*based on books reviewed this month

September Reviews (Total-3)

Stinger by Mia Sheridan

The Hard Count by Ginger Scott

Anticipated Releases

Crimson Death by LKH

Goldenhand by Garth Nix

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Other Posts

5 Book Quotes That Help Me With Anxiety

 2016 Reading Challenge Progress

2016 Reading Challenge

I have read 98 out of 100 books. (Read 7 books this month.)

TWO BOOKS AWAY FROM MY GOODREADS GOAL!

Currently Reading

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Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I love almost everything JLA writes. However, I was surprised how much I am digging this trilogy.

Next on my TBR

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I’m finally getting around to reading this one.

What I’m Watching

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Feel free to judge me because lord knows I judge myself. I recently completed my five season binge of Scandal and decided to check out The Vampire Diaries since I’m a huge fan of The Originals. Subsequently, I’m now obsessed and have seven seasons to catch up on, which leaves very little time for reading.

What I’m Writing

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IT’S TIME!!! National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is back to plague me as one of the only ways that motivates me to write. This year, I’m writing a New Adult Romance based on a real life event, where a guy tracked me down after meeting me at a bachelorette party by emailing the bride-to-be. Although flattered, it was a bit creepy not to mention that I was super married at the time. (Why don’t guys check for a wedding ring before pursuing women?) Either way, I appreciate his leap of faith because it will make for an awesome beginning to my novel.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

I don’t know what else to say other than she did it again.

Kasie West has created another ridiculously cute, fun read with P.S. I Like You.

25486998Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds thatsomeone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mysteryand juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

I loved the concept of writing to a secret pen pal based on the love of music. The pacing was exquisite, as always, and I found myself grinning throughout the entire story. West really nailed the big family dynamic: the chaos, the mess, the frustration but also the love. It was nice to see that reflected accurately in the story. It isn’t often I come across a novel with a big family represented, much like the crazy family I grew up with.

The push and pull between Cade and Lily was so well done. I’ve always been a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope (not that there are love scenes, this is very tame YA contemporary romance). I loved how open and honest they were in their letters to each other. These two were just swoon-worthy.

I read the story within two days and I could barely bring myself to put it down. If you like sweet YA contemporary romance, Kasie West is the author for you.

STARS: 4 out of 5

The Hard Count by Ginger Scott

The Hard Count by Ginger Scott is the first book I’ve read from this author, and right off the bat, I was struck by how detailed and intimate the writing was. It was like I was right. There. This let me connect with the main characters on an emotional level fairly quickly.

30304059Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are open—where homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.

West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries them—one at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.

I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family.
Life on top.
Lies.
My world is the ugly one. Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watched it kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.

In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.
Quarterback.
Hero.
Heart.
Good.
I hated him before I needed him.
I fell for him fast.
I loved him when it was almost too late.

When two ugly worlds collide, even the strongest fall. But my world…it hasn’t met the boy from West End.

Another aspect of the writing that struck me right away was the meticulously detailed sports scenes. Football is a huge piece of this story as Reagan captures it on film and Nico attempts to pursue his dream as a starting quarterback. As a football fan in real life, I was impressed at how specific the football scenes were, down to the details of each individual play of the game. I’ve never read a sports romance with so much attention on the game itself. I found it upped the ante and made the story more exciting.

This story was very emotional. It was built on the give and take of people’s emotions whether it’s how the daughter feels about her father or brother or potential love interest. There’s a particularly moving and heart-breaking scene toward the end that had me in tears. It’s been awhile since a novel made me cry. Seeing, or reading rather, a guy completely lose it will do that to a girl.

The underlying theme of racism and “class-ism” was an intriguing element of the story. There were times that I thought it was a bit much or too cliché with the diverse boy dating a white girl in a prejudice private school setting. However, it’s a cliché for a reason and I enjoyed the way the author used this stereotype to complete her story. It reminded me a lot of Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series.

STARS: 4 out of 5

Releases and Recommendations: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

It’s Tuesday! The wonderful day that books are released to the world.

Today, I’m anticipating the release of Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, which will be released Tuesday, February 28, 2017.

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A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there’s only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who’s going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it’s down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a pirate tale and this one looks very intriguing. The daughter of a pirate king staging a kidnapping in pursuit of treasure? Count me in.