Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlSeries: Standalone
Genre:  Young Adult
Published:  September, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo | Audible

CATH IS A SIMON SNOW FAN. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath that she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words…and she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


Kassandra’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5   I would give it a higher rating if that were humanly possible <3
Format:  Audiobook
Started:  August 22, 2016
Finished:  August 23, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 wine… all of the wine.

“You’ve read the books?”
“I’ve seen the movies.”
Cath rolled her eyes so hard, it hurt. (Actually.) (Maybe because she was still on the edge of tears. On the edge, period.) “So you haven’t read the books.”
“I’m not really a book person.”
“That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me”


– Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Me before Fangirl: (except I was in a Eeyore onesie)

Me after Fangirl:

Well I know it’s been a while since I last posted on here – Katelynn’s been really keeping this afloat – & it’s not because I haven’t been reading, I think it’s just that I haven’t been inspired to write (that & some personal hard stuff etc.) But when I finished this book, I just couldn’t help but want to shout about it to everyone I could possibly reach – and the internet is perfect for that sort of thing.

It has been a long time since I last connected with a character on this level, maybe not even ever. Cath is emotional, panicky, obsessive, somewhat paranoid, anxious, and above all else – snarky, I cannot understate the snark, it was my favorite thing ever. Needless to say, I instantly loved her. It probably also helped that I could relate to pretty much all of her character flaws and hardships, I too will go extremely out of my way to avoid the human population due to my anxiety and stress levels, I’ve lived through the parent drama, I went through an obsessive fan fic phase and still to this day get emails from mibba (don’t judge me lol), I am way too dependent on my best friend/cousin who you all know & love so dearly, I get stuck in my head and rely on books to help me get out. Now that’s not all that Cath is, but I’ll leave it at that because you should really meet her for yourself (really – I insist). The rest of the characters too, by the way – I mean, there are so many amazing characters to choose from… I could literally gush forever.

“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”


– Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Fangirl was a fucking emotional roller coaster in the best kind of way, and Rowell’s writing made me feel like I was right next to Cath through all of the ups and downs. I felt everything she did, and I rooted for her the entire time <3

Right now – all I can think of is how I feel just like Cath did when she finally bought the eighth Simon Snow book – it’s all really over (there are literal tears in & falling from my eyes right now) <3 <3 <3

If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety issues, or you know, were a teenage girl at some point in your life, go read this right now! I hope you love it as much as I do! Now, if you would please excuse me I am going to go drink my feelings. Goodnight loves xo


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5
Format: Hardcover
Started: December 24th, 2016
Finished: December 25th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 Red wine. In a big-ass glass. With a plate of cookies. Or cake.

“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”

Rainbow Rowell strikes again.

Actually, no – she slayed it. The only book I’ve read before Fangirl was Eleanor & Park which also left me reeling and infatuated, so Rowell is on my auto-buy list from now until forever. Luckily for me I have several of her books to catch on (including Carry On which I need absolutely right now) and if I haven’t recommended Rowell’s books to you before, I will from now on. Be prepared.

Fangirl is about Cath – the smaller twin entering first year of college with social anxiety and who spends as much time lost in her head as she can. The book is split into First Semester and Second Semester, and as we meet her twin sister Wren, her roommate Reagan, and her roommate’s boyfriend Levi if you don’t fall in love with all of them I think you need to read it again. Reading from Cath’s perspective was like stepping into a Febreeze commercial:

To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.

And if you didn’t connect with introverted and snarky Cath, there was the million-watt bulb Levi with floppy hair and God-like eyebrows:

Levi opened his smile up completely.
“Oh, put that away,” Cath said with distaste. “I don’t want you to get charm all over my sister-what if we can’t get it out?”

I can’t get enough of Cath. I can’t get enough of Levi. I want to dive into the world of Simon and Baz. I wish I could be blinded by Levi. I want to enroll in Fiction Writing. I’m having difficulties writing a review because I’ve been scrolling through page after page of quotes and can’t decide which ones I like more and which ones I want to print out and sew into my finger tips to keep forever. And even though I just finished, I already to want to open up to the first page and slowly feel myself falling in love with Cath and Levi and Reagan all over again, to feel the world change into poetry and beauty and sarcasm, and to feel the rest of the world blur and muddle as I sink down to the bottom of the ocean and read in peace with the biggest, most idiotic grin plastered to my face.

Rowell’s world building and narration are addictive. My hesitation to contemporary is redundant when it comes to a Rowell book because even though we follow regular teens and young adults (and there’s no elves or dragons on the cover), Rowell spins it into a mystical tale and makes mundane days seem magical. Her characters are rich and dynamic, and in Fangirl it felt like pieces of myself had been ripped apart and re-arranged into four magnificent characters. Each chapter gave me goosebumps and the ending was perfect and gentle and infinite.

“No,” Cath said, “Seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.”

There isn’t much I can go into without spoiling anything, and to be honest I’m still having difficulty finding the right words to express just how much I think Fangirl means to me. It’s beautiful and warm and the perfect hug-in-a-book, and deserves to be paraded around town and adored. It makes our real-life Febreeze-infested life seem just a little bit more refreshing and less cloud-of-chemical-haze.

Let Fangirl take away some of the toxic for a while.

You deserve it.

Karina Whitt And the Gateway to Jinetha, by Viktoria Nikola

nikola karina whittSeries: First in the Series (?)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Published: May, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK

Just when Karina, a Russian-American archaeology student, decides that this supposedly exciting archaeology dig in Israel is more boring than a Monday morning pop quiz, she discovers an artifact that turns her world inside out.

The diamond-shaped relic she finds releases a genie that looks like the girl next door—but looks are deceiving. Unfortunately Jinnie, as she calls herself, doesn’t grant Karina three wishes. Instead, she brings the news that Karina is the only one who can aid Jinnie in a life-and-death mission to save an entire civilization.

Suddenly Karina finds herself plummeting into a strange and perilous world called Jinetha. She joins forces with Jinnie to battle over control of an ancient energy source known as The Eye Of Divinity. On top of everything else, she learns that two mysterious guys from her archaeological dig are involved in this otherworldly mess. But can she trust either of them? Kalim, the local heartthrob who makes her knees weak, seems too good to be true. And she can tell that Lee, the Mossad operative, is hiding something.

Before she knows it, Karina is in way over her head. She’s not made of hero material. How can she possibly come through? But she has to at least try. She wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she didn’t. And the Jinetheans wouldn’t be able to live at all.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3.5 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: July 16th, 2016
Finished: July 18th, 2016
Drink Pairing: A nice hot cup of tea – something dark and spicy!

A big thank you to Viktoria for a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Oh boy, did this book take me by surprise. When Viktoria emailed us asking if we were interested in reading Karina Whitt and the Gateway to Jinetha I was thrilled – as in jumping in my chair and doing the happy dance kind of thrilled. I’d seen her book floating around other blogs and Instagram and I’m a sucker for beautiful books (psst..! It’s also SILKY SMOOTH for all those book strokers out there. BONUS!), but then I discovered it was about archaeology, genies, and alternate worlds? Yes ma’am this was most certainly right up my alley! I couldn’t wait to curl up in a hole with blankets and pillows and air conditioning and disappear into Isreal and Jinetha.

Alas, enthusiasm only gets you so far until the book needs to take over. If I’m being completely honest it took me a while to really get into the story and the characters. I was completely lost in Israel having never been anywhere remotely close, nor do I know anything about archaeology except dirt and brushes and dinosaurs. It was vaguely like being pushed into a cold pool in a white dress. I wanted to know more about Isreal even though Viktoria does a great job of explaining it’s a really big pile of sand dunes and blazing heat, and I couldn’t find a single thing I had in common with the characters for the first half of the book. I couldn’t connect. I was beating myself up over it for quite a while waiting for us to get on the same page –

And then it happened.

This beautiful, soft, little book and I clicked together like long lost friends sitting down over a cold beer. It was Viktoria’s world building after leaving Isreal and the inclusion of brilliant secondary characters and their back stories that had me singing like a chickadee and giggling maniacally. I went from critic to fan in the blink of an eye and was left absolutely distraught that book two isn’t even a notion yet (please let me be wrong!).

But really, can we get back to the genie worlds, please?

Despite Isreal being the main reason I wanted to read Karina Whitt when I opened to page it, it ended up being my least favourite location (in the book!). Viktoria does a smashing job of making the dig site seem as both the most boring and the most important place in the world, but even a trip to the Red Sea wasn’t enough to keep me in Isreal. I was like a dog on a bone – one lick of magic and a trip with the Doctor and you’re hooked. A crack addict with an arm scratch. If we never went back to Earth I would be one very happy reader.

…And those secondary characters?

I am horrible for being overly critical on protagonists. Most of the time I find a trait that nags at me until the end of the book, effectively altering my opinion of them. But when you have other characters that help them, nurture them, and just make the reading environment more like a party in a bloodbath than a ninja assassination? *round of applause* I’m not going to spoil anything by naming names but I was falling head over heels in cackling laughter and shipping so hard I wanted to smush the pages together to try and reach the characters. *scratch*scratch*

(No pages were harmed during the reading of this book.)

So should you look for Karina Whitt? Yes, yes you should. It’s an adorable little YA Fantasy that took me by surprise and will hold a proud place on my bookshelf (I may even let friends borrow it – registration is open). Viktoria brings a unique perspective to intervention and the role, expectations, and responsibilities that come along with power. Following Karina through the worlds of the Genie makes me dream of the fan art these magical worlds could produce – the imagination and imagery keeps you drooling until the last page. So even with the slow start and the initial disconnection, I loved how this ended and cannot wait for the sequel.

Thank you so much, Viktoria!

And is there any future plans for book two? 😀

*scratch*scratch*

Hero, by Perry Moore

moore heroSeries: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Published: January, 2007
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

The last thing in the world Thom Creed wants is to add to his dad, Hal’s, pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And that he’s been asked to join the League–the very organization of superheroes that spurned his father. The most painful secret of all is one Thom can barely face himself: he’s gay.

But becoming a member of the League opens up a new world for Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes, including Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger; Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch; and Ruth, a wise old broad who can see the future. Like Thom, these heroes have things to hide, but they will have to learn to trust one another when they uncover a deadly conspiracy within the League.

To survive, Thom will face challenges he never imagine. To find happiness, he’ll have to come to terms with his father’s past and discover the kind of hero he really wants to be.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4 / 5
Format: Paperback
Started: July 3rd, 2016
Finished: July 4th, 2016
Wine Pairing: Some sweet kind of red wine… a sangria, maybe? Or a rum and coke! And pizza…

This was my second time reading Hero, and just as with the first time I’m absolutely smitten.

Our main man, Thom, is an adorably geeky teen who’s wicked at basketball, volunteers at the local Student Life Center, and makes a fool of himself every now and then by speaking before thinking (he’s so adorable in his horrible covers ups I just want to hug him!). His dad is an ex-superhero. In fact, he is the ex-non-super-superhero after the world places the blame of a disastrous accident on his shoulders. He bans anything super-hero related in the house, forbidding Thom or anyone who comes near him from admiring or reading about what superheros have been up to.

With a father who has adamantly expressed his opinion on homosexuality (basically ?) and anyone who has super powers, Thom is stuck. Torn between wanting to confide in his father and hoping for comfort, and not wanting to disappoint his father by being everything he despises, Thom continues in on silence. His father has sacrificed everything for Thom, how could he throw it in his face by being everything he hates? Especially after he goes to join the League – the superhero League that protects the city and it’s inhabitants from supervillains and monsters – that disbanded his father years ago. He joins together with a team of motley heroes – the super fast Golden Boy, spit fire (literally) pizza delivery girl Miss Scarlet, the future watcher Ruth, and contageious Larry – as they work to prove themselves worthy of joining the League and to become the team they need to be –

because they need to save the world, of course.

And then, amongst all of the cuteness and adorableness, you get these infinitely profound moments like:

“You can’t go on like you’re going to start really living one day like all this is some preamble to some great life that’s magically going to appear. I’m a firm believer that you have to create your own miracles, don’t hold out that there’s something waiting on the other side. It doesn’t work that way. When you’re gone, you’re gone. There’s no pearly white gates with an open bar and all the Midori you can drink. You get one go-around and you gotta make it count. I know that it sounds harsh, but it’s true. Don’t wait.”

I’ve been perusing through Goodreads and looking at all the bad reviews and sure, there was a lot of cliches and yes, the writing probably could have been better, but I am lucky enough to really not care and still love this book for the plot and the characters. There was a lot of times I found myself skipping the big long paragraphs, and I noticed this time around that I have no idea what any of the characters looked like aside from Thom, Goran, and Uberman. This realization came about when Golden Boy said no one could ever tell what race he was and I realized I just have this picture of, literally, a kid in a full body gold spandex suit from tip-top to toes. Like Frozone, but sparkly-Twilight-gold and a full face mask (obviously).

And did anyone else picture Justice as Martian Manhunter from the Justice League?

Because I did. Even though Justice is totally supposed to be the Clark Kent of the book, he will always be Martian Manhunter to me.

So if you’re looking for something for your exquisite literary palate of the day then maybe you should pass up Hero. But for anyone in need of a light tale with a sappy ending and a cute superhero MC, I cannot recommend Hero enough. Because it’s basically The Incredibles and Teen Titans combined. Aka: Fabulous.

… maybe I should have started with that?

Have you read any great superhero books lately?
And did you know Perry Moore exec-produced the Narnia movies?! Yup, I’m shocked too.

Apparently, there was talk of producing Hero into a movie, but no official word yet.
Especially not with the death of Perry Moore in 2011 which is devastating! 🙁

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell

rowell eleanor & parkSeries: Stand Alone
Genre:  Contemporary Young Adult
Published:  February, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon CA US UK | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3.5 / 5
Format:  Library Ebook Rental
Started:  May 20th, 2016
Finished:  May 20th, 2016
Drink Pairing:
  Gingerale (what?! They’re waaay underage!)

“I want everyone to meet you. You’re my favorite person of all time.”

You know the feeling of dread you experience when you start P.S. I Love You? Or Allegiant? Or any John Green novel? That’s what I had when I started Eleanor & Park. There was nothing but gushing reviews and emotional attachments to the book everywhere I looked, but it seemed to have the same following as Perks of Being a Wallflower – an almost resigned attachment and appreciation to the foreboding aura of self-punishment and emotional wreckage that is sure to ensue.

But Eleanor & Park is amazing.

Seriously amazing.

The chemistry between Eleanor and Park was perfect, Rowell’s writing was enthralling and moving, and the story was real. It’s not some fantastical story about the slim .1264% chance, or the miracle, or the impossible – it’s a story that could happen in any High School, and if we’re being honest we only wish it would happen more often. It’s about love and angst and growing up and letting go, about learning and relaxing and trusting. I read it with my heart kept wrapped up tightly, fearing the brutal heart break that was coming…

But it never came.
It was just beautifully real.

I’m not going to go into detail about the book – the synopsis is enough. Enjoy a surprise or two and give Eleanor & Park a shot. It’s a book for anyone who wants a contemporary that nourishes the soul and feeds the heart. And it’s for anyone who has forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager, or anyone who’s forgotten that your small sliver of life isn’t what the world revolves around.

If I were to file it on my bookshelves, it would be right beside Perks of Being A Wallflower. And it would fit perfectly.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods, by Gavin Extence

extence the universe versus alex woodsSeries:  Stand Alone
Genre:  Contemporary, Young Adult
Published:  June, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon CA / US / UK | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

A rare meteorite struck Alex Woods when he was ten years old, leaving scars and marking him for an extraordinary future. The son of a fortune teller, bookish, and an easy target for bullies, Alex hasn’t had the easiest childhood.

But when he meets curmudgeonly widower Mr. Peterson, he finds an unlikely friend. Someone who teaches him that that you only get one shot at life. That you have to make it count.

So when, aged seventeen, Alex is stopped at customs with 113 grams of marijuana, an urn full of ashes on the front seat, and an entire nation in uproar, he’s fairly sure he’s done the right thing …

Introducing a bright young voice destined to charm the world,The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a celebration of curious incidents, astronomy and astrology, the works of Kurt Vonnegut and the unexpected connections that form our world.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  5 / 5
Format:  Purchased Hardcover
Started:  April 23rd, 2016
Finished:  April 24th, 2016
Drink Pairing:
Fireball whiskey. This one hurt.

I’m not quite sure where to start. This book is so much more than the six sentences you read from the inside flap of the hardcover on the bargain table (of course, all books are.. but really, this synopsis is painfully short). It’s the story between news clippings – getting hit directly in the head with a meteorite, making friends, going to school, growing up and growing into yourself, and most importantly – saying goodbye. Written with a sharp wit, incredible wisdom, and a whole lot of Kurt Vonnegut, Extence drafts us a beautiful tale that is heartbreaking and profound and speaks directly and indirectly. It has an enormous amount of substance while staying short, concise, and eloquent (much like a certain cantankerous Mr. Peterson).

Friendship, family, love, and loss are all main themes that are touched on. Alex is a strange kid that prefers the written word to sports, spends his evenings and weekends with a cantankerous old American instead of with kids his own age, and has a directness in his thought process and dialogue that is simplistic and quite misunderstood. Friendship transcends blood, age, ethnicity, country, political standing, and any other social label you can think of – and when you find a friend, it’s important to hold them close. All relationships are based on different chemistry, making some easier than others, but all are still precious and important. Family bonds are more than just through shard blood, and they can sneak up on you without you realizing it.

In life, there are no true beginnings or endings. Events flow into each other, and the more you try to isolate them in a container, the more they spill over the sides, like canal-water breaching its artificial banks. A related point is that the things we label ‘beginnings’ and ‘endings’ are often, in reality, indistinguishable. They are one and the same thing. This is one of the things the Death card symbolizes in tarot – an end that is also a new beginning.

Most importantly The Universe Versus Alex Woods is about life. Though the story we read is rather clearly laid out with a concise ending that’s also the beginning, both directly (as in the quote above) and indirectly (through the writing style) we are shown that life is not ordered. It does not have foreshadowing and it does not have plot twists – rather, it is merely the culmination of successive events that never slow down or stop or explain themselves, and the only plot themes are hindsight. In books, we have an almost sixth-sense about what’s coming and have time to brace for it. In life, we merely have hope of what is to come and for strength to endure it.

It’s about growing up, loss, pain, and sacrifice. All of the events we are told about lead up to an unconventional death through assisted suicide. We are told the story and left to draw our own conclusion – whether we agree or disagree with allowing someone to chose the time when they’re on their death bed. It’s a controversial issue that generally turns heated rather quickly, and I personally found the perspective and delivery of support (in this case) for assisted suicide beautifully put – considering the subject matter, anyway. I’ve grown up with my mother saying it’s cruel to keep people alive when there’s no hope left, and they’re only waiting in pain and humiliation for death. They can only hope that death is peaceful when it does come. To be able to choose when you’re ready, to go in peace and to say goodbye.. though it may be harder for those who remain it is probably the greatest gift you could give the dying. It is called “ethical euthanasia” when we accept the fact that our beloved pets would suffer more than they would enjoy life if we kept them alive, but yet we would deny our mothers, fathers, brothers or children the right to peace because we are selfishly holding on? If someone is asking – begging – to be let go before they become trapped inside their mind, unable to control their bodies, what is crueler? To keep them alive, or to say goodbye?

“Listen, kid, morality’s not all black and white. There’re some very big grey areas. I think, from what you’ve been telling me, maybe your mom’d agree with that too.”

There is so much that it’s hard to summarize and these complex ideas are hard to change from thought to text. I can’t believe this is simply a young adult book and I believe everyone – of all ages – should read this. The writing is absolutely exquisite and it doesn’t matter how old you are to laugh and cry with Alex. This has certainly proved to be the most poignant book I’ve read in 2016 and I recommend it to everyone.

Droplets, by Meaghan Rauscher

rauscher dropletsSeries:  Droplets # 1
Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy
Published:  December, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon

TO SPROUT FINS AND SWIM WITH MERFOLK SOUNDS LIKE A DREAM. BUT TO LISSIE DARROW IT IS A NIGHTMARE…

One night on an annual cruise with her family, Lissie is standing on the deck of her father’s fishing boat when she begins to hear a strange murmur across the surface of the ocean. The voice rises and falls with her own, dancing in and out of her hearing, but before she can get a glimpse of the creature it disappears into the depths of the ocean with a shimmery flash.

The next evening throws her family in the midst of a horrific storm. Lissie is swept overboard and all hope is lost until she comes face to face with a dark-haired merman. She is saved, but the cost is her future. The merman transforms her into a mermaid, with the ability to both sprout fins and walk on land; she now finds herself a captive of the dark merman and flees into the night.

When Lissie ends up on a stranded island and meets its sole inhabitant, the handsome and mysterious Patrick, she begins to realize that meeting the dark merman was not a mere twist of fate.

But if it was destined, why is Patrick’s past entangled with her future?

And just what does Patrick have to do with the dark merman who haunts her nightmares…


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  2 / 5
Format:  Kindle Unlimited Ebook
Started:  April 16th, 2016
Finished:  April 16th, 2016
Drink Pairing:
  Water because why not.

There was a few good reviews for Droplets on Goodreads, not to mention Casey Ann’s raving review, and figured I’d give it a try with my fancy new Kindle Unlimited subscription. A little mermaid adventure and romance? Sure, why not.

Unfortunately I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up with this book because it was an exceptionally average YA. Fans of Red Queen (ie. not me) would like this book because it was almost exactly the same but with mermaids.

The idea is cute enough: the pretty, well-loved human girl is claimed by the evil merman and runs away to escape her fate of being prisoner to whatever despicable fantasies or plans he has. She finds herself at an island with the only inhabitant being another human, whom she ends up fancying. But the ghost of Morven and his icy presence is never far from her thoughts. For fear of putting her new friends at risk (like the brave soldier she is at seventeen), she doesn’t tell them a scrap of detail until it’s spelt-out for her that she’s safe and she really needs to tell them now.

Run away, capture, repeat. The good thing is that this was a really quick read and I didn’t let myself dwell on the details that irritated me – like all of the classic YA superiority complex:

I had a right to know what he was thinking.  If he was angry with me, then he should tell me to my face.  A small part of me worried about what would happen when he surely rejected me  Somehow this friend had crept deeper into my heart than I thought.

Or the possessiveness that comes with YA insta-love:

“You don’t intend to fight Morven, do you?”
“Of course I do.”
“Patrick!” My reaction was immediate.  “You can’t!  He’ll kill you!”

Full of repetitive thoughts, a lot of running in circles with ideas, and starring the complete wimp of a main character. Lissie can’t seem to stand on her own two feet (heh – see what I did there?) or protect herself when she should totally be able to. I don’t know if she’s just thick and comes to realize her potential with the rest of the series but I don’t particularly care enough to read more. Give it a shot if you want and let me know how the second book ends!

Sisters of Blood and Spirit, by Kady Cross

Series:  The Sisters of Blood and Spirit # 1
Genre:
  Young Adult
Published:  March 31, 2015
Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

“Wren Noble is dead—she was born that way. Vibrant, unlike other dead things, she craves those rare moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the world of the living.

Lark Noble is alive but often feels she belongs in the muted Shadow Lands—the realm of the dead. Known as the crazy girl who talks to her dead sister, she doesn’t exactly fit in with the living, though a recent suicide attempt and time in a psych ward have proved to her she’s not ready to join her sister in the afterlife.

Now the guy who saved Lark’s life needs her to repay the favor. He and his friends have been marked for death by the malevolent spirit of a vicious and long-dead serial killer, and the twins—who should know better than to mess with the dead—may be their only hope of staying alive.”


Kassandra’s Review

Rating:  2.5 / 5
Format:  Paperback
Started:  April 7, 2016
Finished:  April 7, 2016 
Drink Pairing: 
Coke – cause I was too lazy to go buy wine lol.

“You shouldn’t repeat that kind of shit,” Ben said.
“You’re just saying that because you’ve got a thing for her,” Sarah goaded.
Ben leaned forward on the forearm he rested on the table. “No, I’m saying it because I’m not a gossipy bitch.”
I could kiss that boy.
– Kady Cross, Sisters of Blood and Spirit

Unlike that unbelievably awesome quote, Sisters of Blood and Sprit was okay – 2 stars + an extra 0.5 for the fact that almost every third sentence was sarcastic. That made this book so much better lol. I actually really enjoyed Lark’s character – even though she was a bit of a bitch at times lol.

“Sure Mace. What would you like to talk about? How you found me sliced open like a trout, lying in my own blood? Or the fact that an angry-ass ghost ripped you a new one?” Sometimes I pushed the “bitch” button before I could stop myself.
– Kady Cross, Sisters of Blood and Spirit

At least she’s self-aware… and she didn’t whine – not even once – instead we get the most sarcasm I have ever witnessed in written form (*kudos Kady Cross!*), a high dose of bad ass attitude, and a side of bitter. Wren was pretty cool too – though I wish we saw a bit more of her crazy ghost side and creepy eye fetish. But yeah – that’s all that I liked about this book, the rest was really meh. The writing was choppy and rushed, and the characters had this terrible habit of moving through emotions the same way I move through books – quickly and already moving on to the next one… One moment Wren is talking, then in the next sentence she’s crying, and then in the next sentence she’s fine again and apologizing for crying. It felt like reader’s whiplash – I swear my brain is going to ache for weeks. It kept sending me reeling, and by the time I caught up with where the character was going emotionally they were already over it. The remaining characters were underdeveloped, but I mean it’s a four hour read, 257 pages with big font – you can only ask for so much & I accept that, so I wasn’t exactly heartbroken.

Overall it was a quick and dirty read that was modestly enjoyable – which just happened to be exactly what I was looking for from this particular novel. ♥ I know it is a series, but there’s no cliffhanger – everything is resolved and I am resolved to not read book two.

The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the ForestGenre:  Young Adult
Published:  January, 2015
Goodreads | Amazon | AudibleIndigo | Barnes & Noble

“Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?”


Kassandra’s Review

Rating:  4/5
Format:  Trade Paperback
Started:  March 8, 2016
Finished:  March 9, 2016
Wine Pairing:
Barefoot Moscato Spumante Champagne (such bubbles ♥)

“There’s a monster in our wood. She’ll get you if you’re not good. Drag you under leaves and sticks. Punish you for all your tricks. A nest of hair and gnawed bone. You are never, ever coming home.”
– Holly Black, The Darkest Part of the Forest

I can honestly say I was not expecting to enjoy The Darkest Part of the Forest as much as I did. There’s just something about Faeries that usually puts me off, it’s the same thing with books about Sirens and Mermaids. They’re just not really my thing. I had been told however that this book was supposed to be outstanding and I will be the first one to admit that it did not disappoint. Holly Black introduces us to the town of Fairfold, where humans and the Folk live amongst each other and abide by an uneasy truce. The Folk leave the locals alone for the most part, but tourists are fair game. Hazel and her older brother Ben were raised (I use this term lightly*) in town, and except for a brief stint living in Philadelphia, this is where they’ve always called home. As children, they were kind of neglected by their parents, who mostly left them alone to fend for themselves. A reality probably due to the fact that they were a couple of young artists who, by the sounds of it, really weren’t ready to be parents. So due to their above average freedom, Ben and Hazel had what can best be referred to as a wild childhood. They kept themselves distracted with grand adventures in the forest behind their home, and creating magical stories about the boy in the glass coffin. No one knows much about the boy with horns on his head and elfish ears, except that he has always been there, asleep in the forest. Hazel and Ben dream that they will be the ones to save him and anyone else who is in need of rescue in Fairfold. But as they grew up they both moved away from such things, Ben out of fear, and Hazel because she couldn’t do it alone. When their sleeping prince awakens, everything begins to fall into place and the siblings are forced to come to deal with who they truly are and the roles they must play.

The world that Black built was vivid and imaginative, I loved learning more about the culture of the locals who live in a place where it is widely accepted that there are things that go bump in the night, and if you’re not careful, they might just disembowel you. The Folk were what they are supposed to be, scary. I think a big reason why I don’t typically do Faerie stories is because most of the ones I have found take a… let’s call it a fluffier approach. They don’t take the lore very seriously, which is an injustice, because Faerie lore can be pretty terrifying. Sometimes it’s not just tricks and pranks, sometimes it’s messy, deadly and cruel. This is perfectly captured in The Darkest Part of the Forest.

All in all, I did really enjoy this book; the story was fantastic, the characters intriguing, and the ending was satisfying. That’s it folks! (you know, like Folk’s – sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

*By the way – If you’re interested you should check out this awesome book trailer on Little, Brown Books for Young Readers’ YouTube page – I just found this and am now home alone, and pretty spooked. Effective marketing!


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4 5
Format:  Trade Paperback
Started:  March 28th, 2016
Finished:  March 28th, 2016
Drink Pairing: 
Chai tea with tissues because holy smokes – this book!

“That night she’d discovered that thirteen-year-old ferocity was no match for ancient monsters, not alone.”
– Holly Black, The Darkest Part of the Forest

Hazel is a high-school student who has a problem:

She kisses too many boys.

She kisses them to forget, to distract herself from everything she’s blamed on herself, from everything she’s done, from everything she fears she’ll do.  Growing up in a family where it was easier to make-believe and pretend, to push memories into a closet and close the door tightly behind them, Hazel learned she is good at lying to everyone – including herself.  She holds onto the memories and the fairytales she and her brother, Ben, created as children.  The dreams of a Fae prince locked away in a coffin who would wake and whisk them away to be warriors or princesses or princes, and the dreams of leaving Fairfold and never turning back to the haunted town where the tales of pixies and goblins are anything but tales.

But when the Fae prince her and her brother dreamt about for years wakes up, her web of lies and secrets begin to tangle and snap free, leading Hazel and Ben down the paths into the darkest parts of the forest, down a path there’s no turning back.

“He wasn’t their prince anymore.”
– Holly Black, The Darkest Part of the Forest

I’m going to admit that if I had stopped reading half-way through The Darkest Part of the Forest, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up again.  For whatever reason the first half of the book didn’t catch my attention.  I would have googled and read reviews to find out how it ended, but I wasn’t intrigued.  In fact, Hazel irritated me: I hated her kissing obsession, her constant lies, her seemingly endless list of secrets.  Even the flipping between the past and the present or character perspectives tended to verge on annoying as I start every chapter lost and confused – what time is it?  Who am I reading about?  Is it a dream?  A memory?  Current events?  The first half of the book was necessary but forgettable – like the blackness before a dream you can never remember upon waking up.  It droned on with character introductions, dull build-up, and contained a whole bunch of high-school drama I’ve never related to, nor do I care to.  Kissing?  Gossiping?  Forest parties?  Not my thing.  I was expecting something a lot fluffier than what came.

But just before the halfway point (right around the quote above, to be exact) my opinion went from indifferent to infatuated and my attention was glued to the pages.  Black does a wonderful job of writing the suspense and keeping the mood taught as we’re lead deeper into the forest, further and faster down a path that is anything but fluffy.  Our heroin grows as she’s cast in a different light, our heroes flit between mortality and trickery, and the lies and secrets continue to roll and roll.  I realize that, despite Hazel having kissed all the boys and I haven’t (to say the least), I related to her more than I thought I would.  The secrets, the trust-issues, the wish to be something more all resounded clearly in my head like a warning and a calling, and though I’ll probably never find a world like Fairfold in this lifetime I’m glad to have read about it.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a fairytale reminiscent of a darker version of Little Red Riding Hood.  It tells of growing up, of learning to accept, and learning to not fear growth or who you are.  It’s a wonderful fairytale that seems to fit too perfectly with the real world and could probably have many connections to actual events (if you wanted to play psychiatrist). But I will keep it safely nestled with the rest of my dreams for now, because when the end finally came I was left laughing and giggling and crying actual tears with a feeling of sheer bliss.  That feeling is special, and it needs to be held close and remembered. So Hazel and her tale will stick with me for a while; she’ll follow me into my dreams and play knight with me and Ben will sing and Jack will dance, and my world will be alive for a fleeting moment just as the Folk’s.  Just as sunset and sunrise are both day and night, and just as I both am and am not in a dream that changes and grows and, sometimes, strays too far into the dark.

“Every child needs a tragedy to become truly interesting.”
– Holly Black, The Darkest Part of the Forest

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar ChildrenSeries:  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children # 1
Genre:
  Young Adult
Published:  January, 2015
Goodreads | Amazon | AudibleIndigo | Barnes & Noble

“A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

“A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

“A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.”


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  4 / 5
Format:  Paperback
Started:  March 18th, 2016
Finished:  March 22nd, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 Hot chocolate.  I can’t help it – reading about kids just makes me think of hot chocolate!

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”
 – Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

There is something utterly magical when you find a world you haven’t explored before, and Ransom Riggs has created such a beautiful, captivating idea that I savoured immersing myself in the land of Miss Peregrin and her Peculiar children.  Staring a sarcastic, young sixteen year old with a lifetime of fairytales from the world’s best Grandfather, and a fiery young Peculiar with the gift of flaming fingers, Riggs juggles us between modern day and 1940, North America and Europe, with a seamless array of clues and distractions that keep you reading and guessing.  The often simple, yet somehow unnaturally disturbing photographs, offer such a stunning depth into the story I didn’t know I needed until it was before me and I craved more.  Reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an experience – the soft cover; the sleek, thick pages; the photographs; the striped black, white and gray pages framing the spine; and the wonderful chapter markers was pure, genius art.  It’s going to be a story I recommend to anyone who enjoyed A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Chronicles of Narnia, or kids fantasy books with a little bit more darkness and maturity (and a slight bit of romance, of course).

When I started seeing this book cycle through social media I wasn’t sure if it would be a good fit for me or not.  After all, I had dropped A Series of Unfortunate Events rather fast as they left me with a rather bleak and pessimistic feeling – regardless of whether it was intentional, I stopped after book five or six – and the concept and imagery seemed to coincide along the same lines.    I now realize that yet again I’ve judged a book by its cover, and I apologize.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is in a completely different league.  Written in a sleek, satisfying narrative with unique, quirky, and memorable characters – it’s not often I remember everyone’s name in a book, I must confess – and a pleasantly paced plot, it’s a well though out and put together book snuggled up to a wonderful new idea.

Takers, anyone?

There is really only one oddity I have that lingers, hanging around like stickey honey on fingers – and I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, yet.  It did not affect my overall feel for the book, but I’m certain there’s something there that I’m just not grasping the essence (or lack thereof), but I can feel it..  if that makes any sense..?

I found that when reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I felt something akin to dizziness.  Stupid, I know, seeing as it’s Jacob who’s the one running laps between 1940 and today and I haven’t even rolled over in my bed, but the constant flipping between times and the running through the bog gave me the slightest of headaches.  Almost as if I was watching the unnecessary bits in a movie the director would usually cut out.  Several times I thought I heard the question, “Why are you going back, again?  Why do I need to hear about this again?” flit past but I never fully grasped it.  It never really bothered me, but I felt that there were some parts verging on excessive or redundant.

The feeling returned when there was an action scene – the dialogue between the characters would become flat and predictable.  The main traits of the characters would remain in tact – it’s not as though they turned into dull characters – but the whole interaction lacked…  Depth?  Intensity?  …I could hear the story deflating like a splintered balloon, the words turning to flat, monochrome syllables in my head as I ran through the facts instead of the fast-paced movie I’m used to enjoyed when reading.  Where there should have been life and stress and chaos it was a mute, black and white outlined world simply going through the motions as described.  I’m always hesitant to say it was the books fault and I’m quicker to blame it on myself, but I tried reading a few pages again but they still fell flat the second time.  Slightly disappointing, though I have no pointers as to a cause or a fix.

Wait – make that two oddities: towards Chapter Nine, I found some of the things Jacob did to be incredibly ignorant, out of character, or just plain annoyingly stupid tween-drama bull*** that gets under my skin.  For several chapters, I was annoyed at Jacob because one: you do not snoop through a girls possessions (especially if she has them boxed and wrapped up – what kind of demented perv are you..?!), two: you are not self-entitled to know everything just because of whom your grandfather is, and three: deciding to stop to apologize for something ridiculously stupid immediately after “incapacitating” the incredibly dangerous monster who wants to eat you for a few minutes has to be one of the stupidest things you could do.  Are we in an independent horror film here?  Keep running!

“At times, young man, you tread a precariously thin line between being charmingly headstrong and insufferably pigheaded.”
 – Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Though I was irritated at Jacob, I did understand where Riggs was coming from and why he did it (except for the apologizing instead of running bit).  Being a spoilt rich kid has it’s flaws and they are justly portrayed, so I’m not too mad.  It leaves lots of room for him to grow as a character.  And there was good points to him – he does piece information together faster and observes his surroundings much better than other characters in YA, and he is wonderfully sarcastic.

“He made a grab for me, but slow and drunk is no match for fast and scared shitless.”
 – Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Oh, and let’s not forget this gem:

“I found her enthusiasm kind of touching, actually – until the afternoon I overheard her talking on the phone to a friend, venting about how relieved she’d be to ‘have her life back’ for three weeks and not have ‘two needy children to worry about.’
“‘I love you too,’ I wanted to say with as much hurtful sarcasm as I could muster, but she hadn’t seen me, and I kept quiet.”
 – Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Thank you, Riggs, for a believable sixteen-year old boy.

I worry that I pointed out too many of the few, insignificant flaws I found/felt.  But really, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  There was nothing substantial enough that made me want to stop or put down the book or change anything and I can’t go over more of the good points without spoiling anything, and I’m sure I’ve already said too much.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a great read for those who like a little time-travel, a bit of mystery (without going full Agatha Christie all the time), and a little bit of magic.

Oh – and the best part?

Soon to be a major motion picture!

(Don’t forget the part that it’s directed by Tim Burton)

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the AshesSeries:  An Ember in the Ashes, #1
Genre:
  Young Adult
Published:  April, 2015
Goodreads | Amazon | AudibleIndigo

“Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


Kassandra’s Review

Rating:  5/5 ♥
Format:  Audiobook & Hardcover
Started:  March 7, 2016
Finished:  March 8, 2016
Wine Pairing: 
Monster Vinyards – Skinny Dip Chardonnay <3

When I first woke up today, I thought – I’m going to read a few chapters of my book, and then I’ll go make myself some breakfast, maybe clean the house, or watch some more full house on Netflix (the addiction is real)…  I was only on the third chapter and now I can say, looking back – I was incredibly naive in believing that I would have the will power to put it down again. It is now 5:30 in the afternoon, and I still haven’t eaten today, in fact – I haven’t done anything today, except bury my face in the pages of An Ember in the Ashes. Now for those who know me, this pretty much goes unsaid, but I. Love. Food. Like a lot. There is not much that can come between my stomach and what it desires, but this book was so god damn good, that it literally made me forget everything except the anticipation that I felt each time I turned the page. Sabaa Tahir creates a world so captivating, and characters so real and relatable, I just couldn’t put it down. I’m pretty sure I’ve found my new favorite author (besides J.K. Rowling <3 long live the queen).

One of the most surprising aspects that I loved was the fact that the characters in this book are not always likeable. This doesn’t happen much in YA fiction, at least not intentionally. We usually meet our hero or heroine and they can do no wrong. They are also instantly brave and rise to the challenges that face them with nothing but their sheer determination and selflessness… Now I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy those types of novels, but there’s something about an imperfect character who is well aware of their flaws that is just so much more (not sure how else to describe it). When we meet Laia, her brother is imprisoned and she is literally his only hope of survival. When initially faced with this she runs and saves herself, the guilt and shame eat away at her. But she is given a chance at redemption, and even while she puts herself in a terrifying situation to save her brother, she still holds back because of her fears. She doesn’t take risks at every opportunity, even though she knows what’s at stake, and she hates herself more for it. She does not become brave overnight despite the fact that her brother’s life is dependent on it. Bravery is a constant struggle. It’s something that she works towards throughout the entire book, and when she finally finds her strength – it feels so real. I hate when YA authors write whiny/useless/daft female leads, usually they are then passed off as extremely selfless, beautiful and brave. It was amazing to watch Laia accept her flaws and move past them, to watch her step away from the scared little girl who just wanted to be rescued. I found her to be a truly inspirational character.

“He only wants to help me. Yet I take no comfort in what he said: I’ll find you in Silas. I’ll find a way to Darin. I’ll take care of everything. I promise.
Once, I’d have wanted that. I’d have wanted someone to tell me what to do, to fix everything. Once, I’d have wanted to be saved.
But what has that gotten me? Betrayal. Failure. It’s not enough to expect Keenan to have all the answers. Not when I think of Izzi, who even now might be suffering at the Commandant’s hands because she chose friendship over self-preservation. Not when I think of Elias, who gave up his own life for mine.
The shed is stifling suddenly, hot and close, and I’m across the floor and out the door. A plan forms in my head, tentative, outlandish, and mad enough that it just might work.”
– Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes (Laia)

Now, on the other hand we have our second lead character, Elias. A mask who hates what he is and what he has been trained to do. Elias lives under constant scrutiny, where even the smallest show of compassion is punished ruthlessly. His flaw comes from his desire to survive and be free. Because of this, he doesn’t always do the right thing, and even when he starts to – it’s not always consistent. He struggles That is until he draws the line. It takes him a while to get there, but he slowly learns that if he truly wants to be free, he can’t just turn away and ignore it all. If he wants to be more than a mask, more than the evil he has been raised to be, he has to take a stand.

Another huge plus for this novel – There was no instant love and the relationships weren’t the main focus of the story! Yay! Any romantic developments felt natural and realistic, there was no moment where their eyes met and the rest of the world fell away. Don’t get me wrong – there’s attraction, but it develops over time and it’s more complicated/less superficial. By the end of the book the characters don’t even know how they feel about each other, and that is conveyed perfectly to the reader. Nothing is cut and dry.

There is a slight love triangle – square(ish) thing – going on, which I’m not usually a fan of, but I find that I’m kind of enjoying sorting out these character’s feelings along with them. I think everyone can relate to Elias as he questions whether or not he returns the feelings of his best friend Helene. He’s a bit lost and he doesn’t know how to deal with how their relationship is progressing. Meanwhile, he can’t help that he feels drawn to Laia. And while Laia connects with Keenan over past pains they both share, she can’t deny what she begins to feel for Elias as she learns that he is much more than just a mask.

Overall – This book was meant to be cherished. An Ember in the Ashes was a perfect 5/5 to me. The world is well built and enthralling. Every piece of backstory drew me in further and I was never bored. I also never knew what would happen next, something that hasn’t happened to me in a good long while when it comes to YA fiction. So here I am, sitting on the edge of my seat and not sure what to do with myself now. All I want to do is jump back into that world, but alas, A Torch Against the Night will not be out until August 2016. Whyyyyyyy? </3

* (SIDE NOTE) – I would just like to mention that I had originally begun listening to the audiobook for An Ember in the Ashes on Audible, which I would highly recommend. The Narrators, Fiona Hardingham and Steve West were impeccable! Their performances instantly took my breath away and made the story so much more real. I was so drawn in that I rushed out and bought myself a hard copy of the book and crushed it in a day. Lack of self-control – 1, Kassandra – 0. If you’re interested and didn’t find the link at the top of this review, you can check it out here.


Katelynn’s Review

Rating:  3.5 5
Format:  Audiobook & Hardcover
Started:  March 8th, 2016
Finished:  March 17th, 2016
Wine Pairing:
 No wine… my hangover still hurts…

“She makes for the closest training building, and I take my time following, watching the way she moves: angry, favoring her right leg, must have bruised the left in practice, keeps clenching that right fist – probably because she wants to punch me with it.”
 – Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes came with praises sung high and low from Kassandra, who fell in absolute love with this book.  It’s been the discussion of our weekly adventures as I slowly picked my way through the 15 hour audiobook slowly.  I gave up today and borrowed the Hardcover so I could finish the book before I forgot what happened at the beginning.  Don’t get me wrong, the reading by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West is amazing – they are wonderful narrators and I love their accents and their voices should marry each other because they sound perfect together – but I find audiobooks are more suited to long drives with the windows down, or plane rides, or trains…  Not for when you’re mucking around the house or sitting in bed.  I feel absolutely useless.

…but I digress.

“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It’s damaged but it’s there. Don’t let them take it from you.”
 – Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes

Split into three chapters (which serves no purpose as far as I can see?), An Ember in the Ashes follows Laia and Elias as they both live out two completely different lives within the walls of Blackcliff.  Huge on character building and development, the story sometimes seemed slow moving and my eyes would start to wander around the next page for something interesting.  However, Tahir’s use of continuous flipping between character perspectives is masterfully portrayed, managing time, building suspense, and filling in details indirectly was an absolute pleasure to read.  The characters themselves grow substantially, and it’s wonderful that Laia learns to stand on her own to feet and get over her fears that held her quivering where she stood as soon as she didn’t know how to respond.  Elias remains the selfish character that only wishes to be free of the life he never wanted, the same Mask that’s too different from his comrades, haunted by his dreams, but he does decide to stand up for what he believes in – and it’s not the Empire.  I think my favourite character is Cook and I wish we learned more about her, but other than her, I haven’t found myself overly attached to any of the characters.  My favourite part of the book was the world.  I love the setup – from the Scholars stuck under Empire rule, to the stifling black walls of Blackcliff, I had no problems imagining the world and the brutality of the Masks, the colours of the Tribes…  Tahir’s writing is smooth, simple, and has a great flow throughout the book and with both characters.

Overall, I think Tahir has a great idea.  I can see why there’s a growing hype with this book…  But I don’t really know what else to say.  Good story, cool concept, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”
 – Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes