Category Archives: 5 star books

The Hunt

The Hunt (The Cage, #2)

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Synopsis via Goodreads:

They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.

After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.

The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.

That ending . . . I can’t. I just can’t even.

I’m super impressed by this series. There are so many ways in which this book could have been horrible.

Instead, I think this may be one of my top favorite alien-esque books I’ve ever read. Definitely one of the best alien series I’ve ever read, by far.

My biggest complaint with Shepherd’s previous books and series was that there were always parts that lagged, in my opinion. I would grow bored. The love interests would either get all my love or all my indifference.

But here . . . Shepherd is able to give me characters who betray, hurt people who trusted them, but they’re also redeemable. I loved that. Too often authors write about characters that could do no wrong . . . or are the bad guys, but are secretly cinnamon rolls on the inside.

Here, Cassian has betrayed Cora big time. And now we get to see the aftermath of that. Personally, had I been Cora, I would have slugged him the next time I saw him.

Instead, Cora plots. She’ll play along with Cassian’s plan to win the Gauntlet, let him hone her powers to prove humanity’s worth. But she’ll do it her way.

I loved that. I loved that while Cora is given two bad options repeatedly, she decides to make a third option for herself.

Cassian completely redeems himself in my eyes. He betrayed her before, plain and simple, but he regrets it now, and understands he has to earn Cora’s trust back.

I loved that Cora was never afraid to let Cassian have it. She’ll call him on his BS at all times, call out on his double-standards, on his betrayal. She understands he’s risking everything to help humanity, but Cora’s risking her life too. She’s not about to let him push her around, tell her what to do and when.

She’ll let him help her, will rely on him, but she’ll keep her own secrets tucked away too.

Cora doesn’t trust easily. She’s not one to throw herself under the bus for everyone around her. She doesn’t have a martyr complex. Showing the Kindred that humans aren’t animals is a priority, yes, but her first priority is saving her friends, then herself. She won’t risk everything for the humans around her, because she understands that she can’t save everyone.

That doesn’t mean she won’t still try to win the Gauntlet, though. Hell, she’ll even cheat it to win . . .

Nothing says humanity like cheating a competition to show the Kindred how evolved we are, huh?

I thoroughly enjoyed the romance aspect of this. It’s subtle. I don’t think I can really classify this as a love triangle, because it always seemed like Lucky was never going to really have a chance with Cora, and both were okay with that. Yeah, some kissing happened last book, but they were also thrown together in a cage and told they were each other’s perfect matches and, also, they need to reproduce together.

Obviously, I think anyone would loose their minds a little.

I loved their friendship. It’s not awkward because of the kisses before. They both made mistakes, and they let it go.

I also loved that while there are a few times Cassian reaches out to Cora, tries to get her to reciprocate his feelings, she can’t completely let go of his betrayal. Can’t say I blame her. Had it been me, I don’t know if I’d ever be able to fully trust him again.

And Cora’s still attracted to him, sure. And she won’t be cruel to Cassian about it, but his betrayal is something that’s going to take time to get over.

I was pretty over his betrayal by the end of the book, though, let me tell you.

My only issue are these gosh darn endings Shepherd seems so happy to give us. My, gosh. Can it be next year yet, please?

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November 9

November 9

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

Soooo goooooddddd~

“You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.”

I wasn’t expecting this. Really, I wasn’t. With Colleen Hoover, I never know what I’m getting, but I believe this is my third novel by her that I’ve read, and it’s by far my favorite.

I almost didn’t want to give this five stars. Not because it isn’t that good – ’cause it is – but because I tend to be scarce with any five star review. Five star reviews are, to me, basically saying this book is as near to perfection as you’re gonna get.

But I just couldn’t give this anything less than five stars. My heart ached during this.

november 9:

I loved everything about this. I loved how we don’t see any other aspect of Fallon and Ben’s lives except on November 9 for so many years. Even if they leave on bad notes with each other, well, the next part we read about is going to be a year later since that happened. And I loved everything about that. It added a whole new spectrum to this story.

I even loved the near insta-love. Yes, you heard me. I loved it. It actually – stay with me now – seemed believable.

*le gasp!*

This was partly due to how both Fallon and Ben make fun – out loud – about how if their story was a book, they’d both be gagging at the insta-love. I found this adorable. And then Fallon starts using all the book-ish terms we all know and love, such as our TBR pile, insta-love, alpha male, etc, etc, . . .

“Don’t stop” I tease in a seductive voice. ” Give me more, Ben. Did you read eBooks or…” I run my finger slowly down his chest.”Hardbacks?”
He pulls his hands behind his head and a smug look washes over his face. “Oh, they were hardbacks, all right. And I’m not sure if you’re ready for this, but…I have my own TBR pile. You should read it, Fallon. It’s huge.”

I found their love believable, which anymore is a hard thing to find in YA novels set in real life. Sure, Fallon and Ben have an instant connection at the very beginning and meet in a way that most likely would never actually happen in real life, but it wasn’t gag worthy. They spend their first day together, and maybe they’re both a little reckless for their own reasons, but Fallon’s leaving that night no matter what.

“Seriously though. This female attraction to the alpha-male throws me off a little bit, because I’m not anything like the guys you read about.”
Yeah. You’re better.
“I could never drive a motorcycle, or fight another man just for fun. And as much as I’ve fantasized about having sex with you this year, I don’t think I could ever say, ‘I own you’, with a straight face. And I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but probably just a small one, because no way in hell I could endure the pain. Overall, the books were interesting but they also made me feel highly inadequate.”

And you know what I really, really loved?

Fallon refuses to give Ben her phone number once she leaves. 

They spend the whole day together, kiss each other, really, really like each other, and Ben asks for a way to contact Fallon . . . and she says no.

Email? Nope. Social media? Fallon blocks them both on every social media site they’re on, on both their phones. Fax? LOL . . .  but no.

She doesn’t want to move to New York and be held back by anything. And she makes a great point: If she and Ben exchange phone numbers, all either of them are going to be focusing on all year long is when the other is going to text them, call them, and won’t be able to live their own lives.

So no way to contact each other. They agree to meet up the next year, same time, same place, but that’s it. No contact whatsoever before then.

No promises, either. Ben wants Fallon to go on dates with other guys; he even wants her to kiss at least two other guys before he sees her again. He’s no alpha male. He isn’t possessive of her, doesn’t get easily jealous of this girl he just met and has an instant connection with.

So they meet up each year at the same time, same place. And then we get to hear what’s going on in their lives, what’s happened. There’s drama, but nothing gag worthy. Heartbreaking at times, yes, but never gag worthy.

The ending killed me. I never felt that Fallon or Ben were stupid or childish or rash. There’s even a point when Ben begs Fallon to stay with him, to let him move with her to New York, and while Fallon would love that, she doesn’t want to be the girl Ben uproots his life for. He’s needed in L.A., and she recognizes that. So she says no, even though it crushes Ben.

I loved that. That was an amazingly adult decision to make, and I agreed with it. Ben had just gotten seriously tragic news, and the last thing he needed to do was uproot his life and make a sudden, rash decision based on a girl.

I loved Ben. Seriously. He’s adorable. I loved that he doesn’t try to be all alpha male, because personally there’s nothing about that I find attractive. Ben cries nearly as much as Fallon. He doesn’t suck it up and be all tough, ’cause he’s hurting.

November 9  Colleen Hoover:

I even loved how absolutely, utterly hormonal boy-ish he is. Literally the first thing we get out of Ben when he sees Fallon is him wondering what her boobs look like. Seriously. He’s attracted to her, majorly, and Hoover is able to write about that without making Fallon look like a piece of meat.

Colleen Hoover - November 9:

Ben fights for Fallon. He sees her as a gift. He treats her like perfection, even though she’s not. He pushes her to stand up for herself, to get back the motivation and self-esteem she lost when a good chunk of her body was burned in a fire. He’ll stand up for her, but he’ll also make sure she stands up for herself, always.

Not going to lie – there were parts of this book that were hot. Like, Hot with a capital “H.” It’s not even that there was too much detail or anything, but . . . my gosh, Ben knew just the things to say without making Fallon – or me – feel awkward like is sometimes the case when things get heated between characters.

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A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

Rating: 5 Stars (really, is there even a question to what rating I’m gonna give a Sarah J. Maas book anymore? I think not.)

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

Gosh, where to even start? This was superb, fantastic, out-of-this-galaxy, perfection, gut-wrenching, etc, etc, . . .

The Court of Dreams, A Court Of Mist And Fury:

“I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal.
I was a survivor, and I was strong.
I would not be weak, or helpless again
I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”

Goodreads | A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2) by Sarah J. Maas — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists:

“To the people who look at the stars and wish, Rhys.”
Rhys clinked his glass against mine. “To the stars who listen— and the dreams that are answered.”

Oh, I know where to start! Let’s start with Tamlin.

Or as I like to call him, Tamlin the Tool.

This was probably my one and only issue with this book. Tamlin. Tamlin the Tool.

WTF happened to you!?

The exact thing happened to Tamlin as it did to Chaol in Queen of Shadows. I just don’t get it.

I mean, it doesn’t break my heart or anything that he turned out this way. I wasn’t that attached to the guy. But, seriously!?

I get why Maas did it. I do. If she hadn’t, everyone would have seen this as a new love triangle (God have mercy) between Tamlin-Feyre-Rhys. And no one wants that.

But I wish Tamlin hadn’t turned out this way. I wish it could have been something as simple as Feyre and Tamlin growing apart. I mean, to be completely fair, her and Tamlin’s romance started and ended with a curse. She was taken to the Spring Court by Tamlin for the purpose of falling in love with him and breaking a curse that has been going on for the last fifty years. She was tortured in front of him in the worst possible ways, and she even died for him and all the fae.

“And I realized—I realized how badly I’d been treated before, if my standards had become so low. If the freedom I’d been granted felt like a privilege and not an inherent right.”

Their whole relationship was firstly based on a lie about the curse and the high-strung emotions that come with trying to save all the fae in the Spring Court, everyone Under the Mountain. Obviously things are going to be different between them after all that. There is no shame in growing apart after everything.

I just wish Tamlin didn’t have to become the utter douchebag that he did to accomplish it.

A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas:

But whatever. It is what it is. I was more frustrated than upset, especially with how he was treating Feyre. I understand his desire to protect her at all costs after everything. He – and the rest of the courts – owe her everything.

I was amazingly happy and proud of how the deal between Feyre and Rhys turned out. This could have so easily been something where Rhys basically kidnaps Feyre once every month, her kicking and screaming and whatnot until she slowly feel prey to his seductions. He could have been a total jerk about it.

“He thinks he’ll be remembered as the villain in the story. But I forgot to tell him that the villain is usually the person who locks up the maiden and throws away the key. He was the one who let me out.”

But instead, Rhys only takes her when she wants it. When she needs it to be away from Tamlin and the suffocation around her.

What I was expecting Rhys to be like:

What Rhys is actually like:

Like, really.

He doesn’t shy away from Feyre and her PTSD from her time Under the Mountain. He doesn’t pretend to be asleep every night when she wakes up from nightmares and throws up in the bathroom.

No, Rhys will hold back her hair and rub her back every night. He’ll give her the space she needs and not expect her to be all right. If she wants to go out, she can go out. If she doesn’t want to paint, she doesn’t have to paint. If she wants to put herself in danger, she’ll put herself in danger.

He won’t tell her to get over it. He’ll help her, push her maybe, but never expect her to do anything she doesn’t want to do.

She doesn’t want to meet new people today? Alright. She doesn’t want to go outside today? That’s fine.

God, that was such a relief.

I’m so used to heroines having something like this happen to them and then a new threat arises, and everyone either wants her to stay completely out of it or expects her to get over herself and do what needs to be done to save everyone else. To protect The Greater Good and all that.

But that’s not what we get here. It’s all Feyre’s choice. No one tells her she has to do anything, or subtly guilts her into doing anything.

Let’s talk about Rhys.

@taratjah.tumblr.com: “ Rhysand! I finished a Court of Mist and Fury and I need to pour out my feelings for these characters T.T ”:

I thought he was such an a-hole in the last book. I could totally see that there was more to him than met the eye, that everything he did was being watched closely by Amarantha. I mean, he was known as the whore to Amarantha, obviously I would never expect him to be all sunshine and rainbows.

Rhys expects nothing from Feyre. If she just wants to live out her life in the Night Court or (God forbid) the Spring Court doing absolutely nothing but holding herself together, okay, that’s her choice. But there is a war coming, and Rhys tells her that when Tamlin wouldn’t. And she could help, if she so wished.

And, obviously, Feyre will help, even if it ruins her, because she cannot just lie low when a war is on the horizon.

Even when Feyre puts herself in danger, Rhys never, ever tells her not to. He understands why she does it, accepts that she will never be someone wrapped in finery and told to stay out of a fight. He wouldn’t even want that. Every ounce of his being tells him to protect her – and he will – but she gets to fight her own fights.

My gosh, that’s so hard to find in a YA love interest anymore.

(And, of course, Rhys is still going to be his little attractive, seductive self.)

A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas:

And then there were Rhys friends.

Two words: They’re perfection.

Amren killed me. Mor broke my heart. Cassian made me laugh. Azriel makes me want to cuddle him.

In this world where men are seen as stronger, better fighters than women, Rhys’ second and third in command are both women. Damn strong women who could probably best even Rhys in a fight.

bluesagrnt: “ favorite quotes a court of mist and fury - (2/?) ““I am Morrigan. You know me. What I am. You know that my gift is truth. So you will hear my words now, and know them as truth - as your...:

rowanandaelin:  manonxblackbeakheir:  A Court of Mist and Fury new chracter, Amren, as seen on SJM’s Pin Board xx  I was curious about her too! All of SJM’s pins of her show her features to be almost the same as rhys’, so… sister? Twin??? Or is it always night and that explains why their hair is dark and their skin is pale and so in that way everyone in the night court looks the same? Either way, idk why but the idea of Rhys having sibling/s is just so adorable lol:

They all have their own parts in helping and healing Feyre of her wounds from Under the Mountain. Maas does not shy away from Feyre’s PTSD. It’s there, and it will be there for some time. Same with Rhys. I don’t think it really clicked to me the fact that he had been Amarantha’s whore for the last fifty years in the last book. Just think about what that could do to a person.

“There are good days and hard days for me—even now. Don’t let the hard days win.”

Rhys had to fake his attraction to Amarantha for fifty years. He had to make her believe that he was as cruel as her, wanted her to win and make her believe he wanted Feyre to die. My, God.

And all of a sudden everything Rhys did in the last book makes perfect sense. He was protecting Feyre in every way that he could. Tamlin just sat there next to Amarantha while Feyre was being beaten and killed slowly, not saying any gosh darn thing. Rhys protected her and shielded her as much he could, and he’d been tortured by Amarantha for so much longer. Didn’t stop him. I mean, even Lucien tried to help Feyre Under the Moutain.

“I fell in love with you, smartass, because you were one of us—because you weren’t afraid of me, and you decided to end your spectacular victory by throwing that piece of bone at Amarantha like a javelin. I felt Cassian’s spirit beside me in that moment, and could have sworn I heard him say, ‘If you don’t marry her, you stupid prick, I will.’”

Speaking of Lucien . . . WTF!?

It really says something that Lucien would dare to oppose Amarantha while they were Under the Mountain but wouldn’t ever dare oppose Tamlin while he sees Feyre wasting away. How messed up is that?

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The Raven King

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

The Raven King: Gansey:

“Richard Gansey III had forgotten how many times he had been told he was destined for greatness.”

runningwithhellhounds:  part deux; richard gansey the third and fancy journals:

This series.

This effing series.

Richard Gansey III | The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater:

This is one of my all-time favorite series. Like, ever. Mostly, I enjoy or love one book from a series, but almost never do I feel the same amount of joy from reading any of the books in the series.

I made myself re-read the first three books in this series before I so much as touched The Raven King. I was dedicated. I wanted to remember every little thing about what had happened before jumping into this train ride of feels.

My gosh, was it a ride. This is one of the most unique series I’ve ever, ever read. Somehow Stiefvater was able to include the ups-and-downs of the supernatural, abuse, poverty, friendship, wealth, love, self-hatred, stereotypes, and many more feels to come!

The Raven Cycle. Make Way For The Raven King.:

Nothing is pushed to the side. Every possible painful thing we saw coming from the three previous books is thrown at our faces and says look at me!

There are things about this book that made me more than a little unhappy, I’ll be honest. Upon finishing this, a fine variety of emotions hit me, some of which being sadness, anger, and desperation. I didn’t feel that this series could be over. It doesn’t feel complete to me.

“He was a book, and he was holding his final pages, and he wanted to get to the end to find out how it went, and he didn’t want it to be over.”

I almost gave this book four stars, but it was just too good to not give it five stars, so I made myself give it 4.5 stars and just round up.

My main issue was Noah. There’s not as much of him in this last book, and that really made me upset. I understand why, and it’s not like he’s pushed to the side or anything (in fact, he plays a rather vital role near the end . . .), but I wasn’t happy with his ending. It wasn’t sad, exactly, but I felt there could have been more.

Also, there was the kiss. I mean, The Kiss. You know, the one between Gansey and Blue, the one we all knew was coming like a freight train and both anticipated it and dreaded it?

It wasn’t as . . . dramatic as I had been expecting. There is no great boom! or fireworks when it happens. It happens so quickly. In a way, I almost anticipated the none-kiss between Blue and Gansey in the last book more. But maybe that was just because I knew this was coming and my body was so numb by that point in the book from all the other feels that I could not properly process it. That is completely probable.

I was very, very happy with the actual overall ending, though. I don’t always say that, but here it was true. It made sense to me (as much sense as Cabeswater and corpse lines and dream thieves could make sense to anyone, I suppose).

I like that even though from the very first book – the very first line – we know that Blue has been told she will kill her true love if she kisses him, this isn’t a story about love. It’s about magic and dead kings and a dead boy and a damaged boy and friendship and loving people so much it hurts.

“You’re asking me to define an abstract concept that no one has managed to explain since time began. You sort of sprang it on me,” Gansey said. “Why do we breathe air? Because we love air? Because we don’t want to suffocate. Why do we eat? Because we don’t want to starve. How do I know I love her? Because I can sleep after I talk to her. Why?”

Blue and Gansey from The Raven Cycle. There goes my heart...:

There are about two things in this book (that of which I cannot go into because: spoilers) that completely surprised me. I mean, never in a million years would I have guessed those two things happening, and both of them are what made me take the book down a half star. I didn’t hate them, per say . . . but they weren’t my favorite things to happen, either.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love the relationships these characters have.

It’s not all about just Blue and Gansey, or Adam and Ronan. It’s about Blue and Noah, and Gansey and Adam, and Noah and Ronan, and Blue and Adam, etc, etc, . . . They have unbreakable feelings for each other. To take one of them away would be to ruin them all. They are all completely and utterly in love with each other, and it kind of makes my heart really, really hurt.

But in a good way.

“She felt one thousand years old. She also felt like maybe she was a condescending brat. She wanted her bike. She wanted her friends, who were also one-thousand-year-old condescending brats. She wanted to live in a world where she was surrounded by one-thousand-year-old condescending brats.”

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Six of Crows

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

(*gasping and flailing wildly*)

Happy Book Birthday to lbardugo! Six of Crows was the book I never knew I’d been waiting for: a heart-wrenching whirlwind of scheming, science, and sorcery (with a lot of nods to my personal...:

I’m not going to lie – I didn’t have high expectations for this book. I think it might even be a stretch to say I had decent expectations for this book. I didn’t much care for Ms. Bardugo’s first novel in the Grisha trilogy, and while after the last book in the series I was full of emotions and flailing around like an idiot, the first book, Shadow and Bone, did nothing for me. It wasn’t that it was bad or not entertaining, but just that I literally couldn’t remember anything about it. It was unmemorable to me, and I kinda expected the same thing to happen here. Not a bad book, just not my favorite.

Boy, was I wrong.

lunchbagmonster:   Six of Crows is an excellent...:

I adored this. I know I make fun of/scorn the whole idea of insta-love, but I seem to have become a hypocrite of my own words, because after two chapters of this book, I was head-over-heels for Kaz Brekker.

I honestly think I can say I have never fallen this hard this quick for a character before. Never. Sure, it might happen halfway through a book, but after two chapters? Nope. Never happened before.

And you want to know what’s kinda messed up? Kaz didn’t do anything during those two chapters except outwit another gang boss at the same time as ousting a traitor in his own midst. He was so clever and awesome and bada**. (And I really, really like clever men.) (Especially the ones who have not-so-crystal-clean-motives-and/or-values.)

Now, I think it goes without saying that Kaz will have some kind of sad, sad backstory that will explain how he ended up in Ketterdam – one of the most ruthless places that exist – and how he worked his way up to this kind of gang boss who deals in trade and not-so-legal things. He has his hands in many pots, as the saying goes. And then there’s his limp, making Kaz use a cane to get around . . . and use as a wicked weapon, of course. ‘Cause why not?

Obviously, Kaz doesn’t trust anyone . . . except maybe Inej.

The Six of Crows:

This isn’t about some hidden love they have going on. It isn’t about secret feelings or a desire to be someone else, someone who isn’t constantly fighting for their lives and who could have a nice, quiet life together somewhere. Neither really want that. Kaz loves money and power far too much to ever give that up for anyone, and that’s not about to change, and Inej doesn’t really trust Kaz as far as she can throw him, not really. She trusts him more than anyone else, sure, but that’s not really saying much.

“She’d laughed, and if he could have bottled the sound and gotten drunk on it every night, he would have. It terrified him.”

Inej just wants to go home. Kidnapped from her parents when she was a little girl and sold to a prostitution house, Inej has a special skill set picked up from traveling with her parents when they worked with a circus: she doesn’t make a sound. And she’s rather handy with a knife.

There’s quite a lot of blood on her hands, and while she doesn’t revel in it, she’s not ashamed of it either.

a gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost grisha, a suli girl who had become a killer, and a boy from the barrel who had become something worse. six of crows by leigh bardugo:

Then there’s Nina. A Heartrender who’s trying to make up for past sins, she stays voluntarily in Ketterdam. But she’ll do anything to get Matthias back, to repay him for her sins against him. Not that he’s any better, of course, with being a witch hunter himself and wanting nothing more than killing Nina, who earned his trust and then betrayed him in the worst of ways.

But she’s not ready to go down without a fight.

“It’s not natural for women to fight.”
“It’s not natural for someone to be as stupid as he is tall, and yet there you stand.” 

Nina doesn’t want redemption, but Matthias does. And he believes her death will be just that.

I loved the girls in this. I think anymore that a novel can be decided as either good or great based on how the females are portrayed (at least for me). Neither Nina nor Inej try too hard. Neither are innocent little virgins who have a heart of good. I loved that. Neither try to keep up with the boys either, or try too hard to be ruthless. They have talents all their own, and without even one of them the whole team would have been dead ten times over.

a gambler, a convict, a wayward son, a lost grisha, a suli girl who had become a killer, and a boy from the barrel who had become something worse. six of crows by leigh bardugo:

I was honestly surprised at how much I loved this. I love how ruthless everyone is, and how none of them judge the other for any past or current sins, because they all have a reason – however justified or not – for doing the things they do, and no one else has a right to judge them for it.

There is romance here, but not an abundant amount of it. There is no one ever wondering if so-and-so likes them back or unnecessary sexual tension. Kaz is protective of Inej in the way of letting her do her own thing and knowing she is just as capable of fighting her own battles as he is, but he’s also more than willing to kill for her. Torture for her. And neither ever questions the other’s morals.

Inej is planning on leaving; that was always the plan. Make enough money to pay off her debt, and then get away from Ketterdam as quickly as possible. No infatuation will change that. And so she knows that if she does stay there, with Kaz, it will be with all of him, not just as his Wrath, but as her. And she’ll take nothing less.

“I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.”

And she will never cry over him. She will never mourn him, because if she can’t have all of him, then she wants none of him.

“She wouldn’t wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn’t be rid of.”  

The many different POV’s scared me at first, just because that is one of my top most-hated things in YA books: multiple POV’s. I like just seeing the POV of one character.

Don’t worry about that here. I loved it. And while I still – as always – had my preference of character POV’s that I preferred, I still enjoyed them all.

Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.

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Queen of Shadows

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

Rating: 5 STARS

Synopsis via Goodreads:

The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

WOW.

Okay, so this took me forever to get to, even though I had been obsessively stalking Goodreads and Pinterest and every other possible outlet relating to this series. But . . . college. I had college, and my education overrides my desire to do nothing but wake up, eat, read, repeat. (At least this is what I tell myself as I remember how much I am paying for said education to get a degree that has absolutely nothing to do with my love of books.)

So speaking of which, I currently live in an apartment on my campus with some other girls, and one of these girls has this habit of saying “WOW” every time we finish watching an episode or movie on the TV. It doesn’t matter what it was we were watching or if it even ended in a cliffhanger or anything, but she will always, without fail, say “WOW” in the cutest manner you can possibly imagine.

I was basically doing this at the end of every chapter of this book. “WOW” was my new favorite (and only) word during the duration of this novel.

Aelin comes back?

"His Fireheart, shut in the dark." ~Rowan Whitethorn, Queen of Shadows. This part makes me cry every time, thinking about the character development between these two.:

WOW.

Aelin confronts Arobynn?

Hi-res (& no text) back cover image for the U.S. edition of QUEEN OF SHADOWS! (Art by Alessandro Taini AKA Talexi.) Totally my favorite dress so far!:

WOW.

Aelin is badass?

Queen of Shadows-- please just release this thing already!! I'm dying of impatience!! (Although totally worth the wait) I need this book!!!!:

WOW.

Rowan shows up in all his glory?

Queen of Shadows // Throne Of Glass ~ Sarah J.  Mass   Aelin and Rowan I love these two:

WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW.

Aelin being heartbreaking and badass and amazing and sexy and inspiring and an assassin and a queen and HIS FREAKIN’ FIREHEART!?

Aelin missing her carranam, Queen of Shadows:

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

OKAY. OKAY.

So.

(Personally, I would like to point out to all you Choal and Dorian shippers that I TOLD YOU SO.)(MWAHAHAHAHAH.)

Okay . . . I’m done.

I think Heir of Fire is still my favorite of this series so far, but Queen of Shadows is a very close second. The reason being that Heir of Fire had so much magic and fae and, well . . . and Rowan Whitethorn. Sooooo . . . no competition, really.

Don’t get me wrong – there is much, much Rowan action going on here. There are many Rowan and Aelin scenes going on.

There are also bathtub scenes.

Yes.

Bathtub. Scenes.

(Rowan may or may not be a part of these scenes.)

Holy crap--this Rowan fan-art is AMAZING/perfect. [Rowan by taratjah]:

I think the only problem I encountered in this book seems to be the same thing everyone is having trouble swallowing. And that would be the unabashed three-sixty Choal’s character took here.

He becomes so bitter and angry and points the blame at everyone but himself for where Dorian is now and why the world is the way it is now. He blames Aelin for not being there when everything went down in the last book, Heir of Fire, and basically takes every hurtful thing he could possibly say to Aelin and shoves it all in her face.

“If you’re a monster, I’m a monster.”  

The amount of unjust there is overwhelming. because while Choal blames everything on Aelin – even the things that she had absolutely no control over – he isn’t really trying to make anything better himself. At least when Aelin messes up or looses someone she loves (*coughSamcough*), she doesn’t roll over and die or blame anyone else. No, Aelin gets back up and plots and schemes and gets her revenge. She takes the broken pieces of her soul and pieces it all back together to make herself stronger.

“Sometimes there won’t be a right choice, just the best of several bad options.”  

To be fair, I never particularly liked Choal to begin with. He and Dorian never did anything for me, personally, and the only reason I gave either of them any real thought was because I expected Aelin to end up with one of them. But I never really cared all that much. All I care about is Aelin. (And now, Rowan, thank goodness.)

If you had asked me after the second book who I preferred, I would have said Choal. Because while I don’t care about him and never did, I did not hate him, either. But now . . . now there isn’t much of a redeeming factor.

It was like Choal’s character was taken and made into the most unappealing character imaginable, and I felt that it might have been a little overdone.

I don’t know. But, again, this whole aspect of the book is so minor to me that it had no impact of my overall rating anyways. I’m rating this book for Aelin, not Choal.

I need to talk about Arobynn now.

My Best Enemy by Orpheelin.deviantart.com on @deviantART:

It’s no secret that everyone hates, loathes Arobynn Hamel. I think I can confidently say that we were all just waiting for Aelin to go back just so we could see her kill the man.

However, I was very happy with how all those scenes with Aelin and Arobynn were handled. Personally, I didn’t know what I was hoping for, but I got it nonetheless.

While Arobynn Hamel is a despicable character, has been one of two people who have caused Aelin the most pain in her life – both emotionally and physically – he is also the man who rescued Aelin and raised her. And he may have raised her in the most bloodthirsty and brutal way possible, but he also made her strong.

But mostly, this is still the man who raised Aelin, who taught her most of everything she knows. And even though Aelin may hate the man – as she should – there will still be that little bit of her soul that won’t want to kill him. He deserves death, of course . . . but Aelin may want to give him one last chance, one last chance for her to get rid of him without having to kill him. Because she will kill him without hesitation, gladly, but she’ll offer Arobynn the chance he never gave her: to run.

I admired this about her. Aelin knew exactly what was going to happen, what Arobynn was going to say, what he was going to plan, but she still had the inkling of hope that he would prove her wrong, even after all this time and after all the pain he has caused her. Because ultimately this is still the man who raised her, the man who she wanted nothing more than love from when she was growing up.

I understand that.

There was just a lot of great relief in this book for me. The right people die (finally!) and even though things are far from over, Aelin in back, and she’s breathing fire.

I may have gone overboard with the sparkles in this one, but I don’t give two shits! >:):

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The Cage

The Cage (The Cage, #1)

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Synopsis via Goodreads:

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

I loved this. Megan Shepherd’s The Madman’s Daughter series took me a little while to get into, but here, I loved everything about The Cage.

The beginning started off a little slow for me, but I still read this book within 8-9 hours in one day, with short breaks in the middle. I started this book around three in the afternoon, thinking I’ll just read a chapter or two to get me started and then I’ll work on something else. Yeah . . . that didn’t happen quite like I was expecting.

And I’m a fast, avid reader, but even for me that only happens when I really, really love a book.

The characters are perfect in their diverseness and ingenuity. None are stereotypes or your run-of-the-mill YA characters. This book is written in multiple POVs, and while usually I really, really dislike that quality in a YA book, here it worked nicely. Cora is the main character and therefore had the most POV chapters by a long shot, as she should, but the other few POV chapters were nice reminders on why I liked (and got frustrated over) every character so much.

Cora, Lucky, Rok, Rolf, and Leon all wake up in a preserve of sorts, where there are side-by-side varying landscapes and climates. There’s a dead girl by the shore. They’ve been taken by aliens – the Kindred – and are told they’ve been selected out of humanity to take and save. All the Kindred want of them in exchange for this luxurious cage and their cooperation is that they follow three basic rules: solve the games and puzzles set up around the cage, let the Kindred run health exams on them, and reproduce.

The first two rules? Whatever.

The third?

Obviously, they have a problem with this. (Like any sane human being would. Especially when the Kindred are watching their every move while inside the cage. Creepy much?) But, hey, the Kindred understand that the last rule won’t happen right away, so they’re going to give the humans a twenty-one day period until they either follow all the rules or they will be removed from the cage and . . . go somewhere else. And they are told that their predicament is the best of the best for humans, because it’s either this or be sold from owner to owner, where humans have no rights and certain aliens use human bones to make their tea. (True story.)

The only reason they have as good as a deal as they do is because Cora, Lucky, Rok, Rolf, and Leon are, in some way, the best of the best of all the humans. Maybe it’s because they’re cunning or genius or brave or beautiful. They have been hand selected to breed because, in theory, they have the best genes to pass along.

So, at first, they’re all for getting out of that cage. Except they’re always being watched and there truly seems to be no exist. And being locked up and suddenly having someone thrown at you who is said to be your perfect mate can do strange things to a person.

And it may be a cage, but it’s a luxurious cage. They can ask for anything they want. And for some of them, it’s so much better than the life they had on Earth.

Slowly, they all lose themselves. They all begin to believe there truly is no way out, and that the rules aren’t even all that bad. Time passes differently for them, and having their world shrunk in such a way brings out their worst qualities.

Eventually, Cora is the only one who is still set on escaping through whatever means necessary. The others turn their backs on her. She refuses to play along with the Kindred’s games, refuses to not fight back.

I was hesitant about the romance factor. Having some budding romance between a captor and prisoner isn’t easy to pull off without it being somewhat Stockholm syndrome-ish, but Shepherd pulled it off fantastically here.

Cora is so fantastic. She doesn’t need to rely on the others to put a plan to action. She doesn’t hesitate, because she’s been told all her life on how to act and how to smile even when she’s crying inside, and all of a sudden, being plucked out of her life on Earth and thrust into this world where all the old rules no longer apply opens something new in her. Something hungry and vicious and a little mad.

“A smile can hide so much. A smile can be a lie.”            

If Cora sees an opportunity, she’ll take it. Even if the others tell her not to, to just play the Kindred’s games and accept her new fate, Cora plows on. Even if she’s all alone. Even if they tell her Earth no longer exists and even if Cora doesn’t know exactly how she’ll get onto a ship to take her back to Earth if she can escape her cage, she’ll still fight until she’s dead to get away.

There’s no love triangle here, either. Not really. Cora has her “perfect match” in the cage with her, Lucky, but she never actually falls in love with him. And she doesn’t fall in love with Cassian, her Caretaker, right away either. There are no moments when Cora wonders about her love life, because she’s got better things to do. (Also, she’d much rather strangle her captors.)

In fact, it takes some time for anything more than hate and disdain to be between Cora and Cassian. She doesn’t have any other feelings for him until she begins to learn other things about him, but even then, it takes a while for something to actually happen between them. And even then, Cora rejects his feelings, doesn’t want him touching her, because she wants out.

And, gosh, that ending. I can’t even. I just can’t. Even.

More than a love story (it’s really not, like, at all) and more than an alien escape story, this is a story about humanity and what can break a person. None of these characters are half-done. They all have complicated pasts and unique reasons to feel the way they do and act the way they do to each other. None are all good or all bad or all liars. They’re all a little of everything, and I think it was that that got me to love this so much.

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