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Thirteen Rising ~ Romina Russell

January 8, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Razorbill
352 pages
ISBN: 9780448493558

As a clinical therapist in training, I often find myself rolling my eyes at the absurd lack of emotional vulnerability in protagonists. They fight wars and escape death and lose loved ones, resulting in maybe a nightmare or two.

Romina Russell’s characters in the Zodiac don’t respond like that, though.

They respond like actual humans.

There are deep, dark, lurking feelings surrounding loss and betrayal, manifesting as withdrawal, anger, grief, depression, and vengeance. This depth and flexibility can be hard to read but only in so far as it is real and true and close to home. One of the things I absolutely love about this four book story is that the politics take on the emotional volatility that is always present in our real world. That can only be created through giving characters enough vulnerability to breakdown and rise stronger but with their baggage.

The other piece I absolutely loved, throughout the book but especially in Thirteen Rising, had to do with the necessary message about unity, acceptance, isolation, and borders. We are facing a pretty dark and trying time in our country’s journey of how we all fit together and Zodiac almost seems to set out to mimic that chaos.

I am such a huge proponent of any story that seeks to both unify and allow for differences and space, valuing flexibility, always. This series does that and probably that the best in the final book.


New Year. Old Me.

January 7, 2018


So, I’m not big on resolutions. I prefer to set goals as they come.

That said, one of the things I am looking forward to in 2018 is continuing in my graduate program in clinical social work.

It is probably the thing that I have been meant to do my whole life but I’m just now finding my way there. Sometimes, we have to go back to our roots in order to grow taller.

With mental health and social justice at the front of every conversation around us, I know this is exactly where I am meant to be.

I won’t be able to read as much fiction but when I do, I am setting the intention of focusing on contemporary, largely focused on those topics. I have quite a few on my list but if you have any great suggestions for great contemporary fiction focusing on injustice, mental health, or other social awesomeness, let me know!

Happy New Year and happy reading to all!

Caraval ~Stephanie Garber

January 6, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
416 pages
ISBN: 9781250095251

Hey, friends.

Anyone up for a round of Unpopular Opinions?

I have one I can share.

I picked up Stephanie Garber’s Caraval because it looked incredible and everyone I know absolutely adored it. The story sounded really neat, sort of like Night Circus and Alice in Wonderland with a darker slant and a few pirates thrown in. Totally my kind of thing, usually.

The story itself was decent. It had the mystery and adventure I went looking for, although a little bit convoluted at times.

However, there were two things that left me sort of sighing and hoping it would be over soon.

First, I found it subjectively just not my writing style. I never want to use the term “bad” when talking about writing because it is, of course, subjective and the world would be incredibly boring if we all liked the same things.  However, for me, it felt forced, choppy, and repetitive.

Second, the characters never really took off for me. Again, character development is a subjective thing and it works differently for everyone. For me, though, I needed a little bit more substantial tie to who these people were.


I hate writing negative reviews but I have to or I can’t figure out why I like what I like. My recommendation is to still give it a try, maybe at the library, and form your own opinion.

Foolish Hearts ~ Emma Mills

December 30, 2017

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
320 pages
ISBN: 9781627799379


I have to start by saying that this was a total bookstagram impulse pick.

I feel like few people have even read it, yet, but it was in, I think OwlCrate, and so pictures are everywhere, right now I basically just bought it because the cover is absolutely delightful.

In all honesty, I didn’t do a lot of research before picking it up and the jacket blurb was not all that enticing.

I’m saying this as a disclaimer because the book is really the most adorable contemporary I’ve read in a while and I don’t think I would have given it a fair chance based on the blurb alone. I am so glad I did, though.

Mills had my heart when the story began with a high school production of Midsummer Night’s Dream, which, if you know me at all, you know it is why I got into Shakespeare and theater in the eighth grade. The story doesn’t really follow the plot of the play as far as I could tell but it has an element of intensely dynamic relationship drama which Mills manages to paint in both tragic and adorable light.

I did get frustrated with the characters throughout the book because they were being appropriately foolish but if you know the play and you know high school theater kids, it really makes a lot of sense. I won’t give too much away other than saying that I was darn near inconsolable when I reached the last page. I was suddenly reminded why I very rarely read standalone books. It’s because when I find an incredible cast of characters, I generally want to hold on top them long after the story ends.

There is also the happy unexpected element of queer girl romance that is woven in so normally that I essentially wanted to kiss the book. It isn’t a big deal or dramatized; it just exists which is a lovely change in trend and something that would have made me feel validated as a queer teenager.

Overall, Foolish Hearts is such a cute book and I would definitely recommend it.

A Court of Mist and Fury ~ Sarah J. Maas

December 28, 2017

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books
656 pages
ISBN: 9781619635197
Source: Target
I know I am probably losing credibility, right now, because I keep swearing that my most recent read is the most amazing thing I have ever opened.

But, y’all.


Please pardon my ENFP millennial-ism when I promise you that A Court of Mist and Fury is the most startling wonderful thing I have ever, ever read.

I don’t know what kind of unearthly magic Sarah J. Maas was born with but it just seeps through every page.

I fell so hard for this series in the first book but now I can’t even remember what happened because the entire story just pivots completely. I will say that I knew some of what was coming because bookstagram is perfectly terrible about hiding the more glaring twist and turns. (I’m looking at you, love-bonding. Hopefully, that is ambiguous enough to remain unspoiled for those not here, yet.)

There is very little I can say in summary without smashing the surprises, here, but, let’s just say that nothing is as it seems and I am obsessed with a court that is not The Spring Court, at all.

Employing that dark magic mentioned above, Maas just taps into each character’s soul in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen. Yes, again with the superlatives but, seriously, to borrow another millennial-ism, I just can’t even.

One of the things that spoke to my heart more than any other element was my ever-present social worker’s lens on every single thing. I remarked to my boyfriend, at the end of the book, that Maas just nails the inner turmoil of addiction and depression in a way that is completely unrivaled. I’ve seen a lot of comments about the depiction of Feyre’s relatable depression but, for me, that overwhelming connection came in the form of Rhysand, Cassian, and Azriel, the Illyrian warriors of the Night Court. There is something so dark and tangible about their pain and longing that my inner therapist wanted to reach into the book and hold them tight. Maas has a tendency to write bad boys in a way that is empathetic and endearing and, oh my goodness, I think I may have a problem.

Anyway, really, if you pick up one series in 2018, make it this one, You can thank me, later.

Winter Book Tag

December 25, 2017

I have just fallen in love with the Instagram and Blogging Book community. One of the things I love about it is that everyone is so kind and interactive (in addition to being completely book obsessed, like yours truly).

I was tagged, there, and thought it would make a fun post, so here goes.

  1. Snowflake (A Book That Made You Shiver): I’m going with the “book that creeped me out” interpretation of this so my pick is definitely the Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. It was beautiful and haunting but also, there are quite a few stories that had me looking over my shoulder. I’m looking at you, creepy Hansel and Gretel retelling. ::shudder::


  1. Hot Drinks (A Book that Made You Feel Cozy): When We Collided by Emery Lord. I think that this is one of my ultimate favorite books. It might be due to my life as a mental health practitioner or because my little sister was my introduction to bipolar struggles and triumphs, but the characters and the writing are also just too heart-warming to pass this up, here.


  1. Scarf (A Book About Vampires): Oh, goodness, I think anything by Anne Rice is my favorite, here, I haven’t been a huge fan of the more recent vampire books, although I’m an absolute sucker (haha, sorry) for my TV vampire crew a la Buffy. Also, I’m almost one hundred percent that Amren from A Court of Mist and Fury is something like a vampire so maybe I should be with that.


  1. Boots (A Book That Stomped Your Heart): Yeah, we’re going with A Court of Mist and Fury because it absolutely destroyed me, thank you not at all, Sarah J. Maas. What are you trying to do to me?


  1. Snowman (Favorite Bookish Sidekick): Oh, absolutely hands down, no competition, Nishi from Romina Russell’s Zodiac series. I love that girl with my whole heart. Sometimes more than Rho.


  1. Gloves (A Character Who Is a Thief): There are actually a lot to choose from. Maybe a sign I’m reading too many books where some artifact or object is the key to a character’s survival. Right now, probably Feyre.


  1. Winter Cold (A Book That Made You Feel Sick): Probably The Wicked Will Rise just because it’s a little violent.


  1. Ice Skates (Elegant But Dangerous Character): Oh! Ochus from Zodiac. I know he’s kind of evil but he’s also delightful.


  1. Skis (Bookish Location You’d Like To Visit): Y’all, I am utterly hopeless. Just take me to The Night Court and put me out of my heartsick misery. I can’t even emotionally or spiritually handle not living in that ridiculous story.


  1. Slipped On Ice (Character Who Can’t Be Trusted): Please refer to number eight. That Ophiuchus, man. Love him but can’t trust him farther than I can throw him.

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic ~ Leigh Bardugo

December 24, 2017

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Imprint
288 pages
ISBN: 9781250122520
Source: Barnes and Noble

Amid the doom and gloom of the winter weather and the hustle and bustle of the holiday hubbub, I found myself in need of a deeper escape than my normal fictional romps. I stumbled upon Leigh Bardugo’s collection of creative fairytales quite by accident, turning a corner at the bookstore and finding a forgotten edition laying on top of a stack of cookbooks.

Tucked into the folds of Christmas Eve Day, I found the exact fantasy world I knew I needed. The Language of Thorns reimagines fairytales not in a modern light but in a parallel universe to the ones in which they were originally told with all of the antiquated charms of the first tellings.

Reading through six stories of peril and magic, I found myself recognizing the beauty of stories from strange beasts to mermaids to dancing girls and nutcrackers with new twists that somehow seemed to make more sense than their previous form.

I know that Bardugo is a much-beloved author but as I hadn’t picked anything up with her stories, until now, I have to say that this is the book that sealed the deal. I can’t wait to get to her other books, now.

I highly recommend The Language of Thorns, especially tucked in for the winter.