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Queen of Shadows ~ Sarah J. Maas

February 1, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books
672 pages
ISBN: 9781619636064
Source: Barnes and Noble

Queen of Shadows just takes everything from Maas’s first three Throne of Glass books and dumps it out, right on its head. I can not catch you up for that very reason but I will say that love and alliances? Just don’t get too attached.

This is said for better or for worse because I found myself hoping to high heavens that some of the couplings and catastrophes laid out in the story would be broken. Basically, Maas has zero respect for the readers’ hearts but, in the end, holds them lovingly as if she never stomped all over us to begin with.

And, dear Sarah, I say that with love.

Because one of the brutally beautiful things about her writing is that it is real and rough and honest. There are no perfect people nor perfect situations, only reality and the gray that we all exist in. Throne of Glass has always been about survival and, my goodness, I wasn’t sure we were actually going to pull even that basic guideline out of this one.

As I said with my romp through her Court series, Sarah J Maas is excellent with relationships. Her sense of not only love but ride-or-die friendship is untouchable. In whatever world, whatever realm, she is able to take the broken, worn out underdogs, loners that they are, and forge the most heartening bonds.

Oh, I am just so in love and, yes, I am ready to break into Empire of Storms, right this very second.


Weekly Wrap Up ~ January 28

January 28, 2018


Well, I’m officially rushing headlong into my second semester.

This semester, I’m back to helping veterans find housing at my internship, so that has stayed static from 2017 but I am head over heels in love with my new classes.

We have our second Research class and our second segment of Human Behavior in a Social Environment (which is exactly what it sounds like). But we are also taking two classes that make me so giddy and nostalgic for my former Political Science undergrad days. they both center around macro policy and I am just all about some overlap.
Even though my focus is clinical mental health, I very well know that the larger picture plays in both in cause and effect with the in-office stuff.

As for fiction, I’m hoping to remain active in that department because as far as MY own mental health is concerned, mama needs her stories to stay above the academic tide. This week, I finished Heir of Fire and started Queen of Shadows. gosh, I just love that Sarah J., Maas! I also did a wonderful buddy read with three lovely ladies on bookstagram. We read Strange the Dreamer which was different and magical. I think we’ve decided on A Darker Shade of Magic for our February book and I can’t wait!

I also finally read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and it just made my little social worker heart melt in gooey little puddles all over the place.

That’s about it. Hope y’all are having a lovely Sunday!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe ~ Benjamin Alire Sáenz

January 27, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
359 pages
ISBN: 9781442408937
Source: Barnes and Noble

I have this list of books that I put off for the right time.

It’s not that I wouldn’t enjoy them on any given day; it’s just that some books are meant for moments of reflection  and calm. Some are meant for traveling and adventures. Some are meant for great days and some for wallowing days.

For whatever reason, I put of Aristotle and Dante until this random moment and it turns out, it was the perfect book for a reflective, rainy weekend.

The book, itself, has a myriad of awards but I’ve found that I am not always swayed by such things. Although, a Stonewall award usually means I need to read it, I’m always slightly skeptical of the things others gush about.

Don’t fear, though. The critics (and everyone else) were right about this one.

Aristotle and Dante, two high-schoolers who meet by chance, are these adorably flawed and, yet, still somehow perfect teenagers with flawed but perfect parents. As the title implies, the story is far less about action and adventure (though there is some of that) and far more about coming of age, coming to grips, and, yes, at some point, someone comes out.

The beauty in the book is that it pulls no punches (sometimes literally). The idea that boys either have to be emotionless bots or the rare, empathic saints is done away with, creating a wide range of emotions for males, both teen and adults. The intricate emotional tapestry of both generations involved in the story was the thing that stole my heart, painting young adult parents as humans with lives, as opposed to overlords.

I highly recommend this book and not just because it is going to be displayed prominently on my shelf as a therapist.

Strange the Dreamer ~ Laini Taylor

January 26, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
544 pages
ISBN: 978031634168
Source: Amazon
I know I talk about bookstagram a lot but I really do think it makes reading that much better.

I had the wonderful opportunity to do a buddy read with three friends, this past week, collectively choosing Strange the Dreamer.

It was the perfect story to read with others as it was so packed filled with otherworldly excitement, it needed to be discussed as the book went along.

Like so many of my favorite stories, lately, the book is written in rotating viewpoints, which I think always gives the story more depth. It lends an authenticity to voices in the story that somehow falls flat when the book is given to the reader through only one set of eyes.

To tell much of the plot would be to ruin the surprise and mystery of Strange the Dreamer, pretty quickly, but it focuses around a boy, name Lazlo (the dreamer) and I don’t think I’ve ever related to a character as much as I did with him.  He’s kind of like the male equivalent of dreamy, bookworm, Belle from Beauty and the Beast with his head either drifting off to the clouds or stuck deep within a book. Yes, intensely relatable.

As I mentioned, there are a lot more moving pieces to the story but as it unfolds, each piece comes as a surprise so you’ll have to just take my word for it and read it to find out.

Heir of Fire ~ Sarah J. Maas

January 24, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books
592 pages
ISBN: 9781619630673
Source: Barnes and Noble

There is world building and then there is Sarah J. Maas.

I don’t know how many of you have read her books but I have been reading for thirty years without finding a parallel.

Whatever magic she weaves into her stories is truly a gift that leaves me rushing through other books just to get back to hers.

Heir of Fire is the third book in her Throne of Glass series. I would say the story follows Celaena, former assassin and suspected faerie, but as is par for the course in Maas stories, the books are about the “main” character and absolutely everyone else.

It almost seems absurd to review one book at a time for this set because they read like one, giant, seven chapter volume. There isn’t so much an end to each book as a gasping grasp for the first page of the next one.

I actually brought book five instead of book four with me to my boyfriend’s house for the week and didn’t realize it until last night when I finished Heir of Fire. So, what did I do, this morning? I got up before the sun, hauled my butt across town, and grabbed Queen of Shadows because there was no way I was waiting for another second to resume the story.

I don’t have very lofty goals; I’m really a simple human with simple tastes but if I had one wish, it would be for everyone to pick up this series. I promise you’ll thank me, later.

Paris Adrift ~ E J Swift

January 22, 2018

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Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Solaris

320 pages

ISBN: 9781781085936, 320pp.

Source: NetGalley

I have always had this obsession with time travel.

Like so many things in fiction, every writer, everyone who imagines time travel, gives it different rules, methods, and parameters.

Maybe that’s why I love time travel stories, so much. There is no one cannon on the stuff because we’re all just guessing.

For that reason (and a life long obsession with Paris, obviously), I found myself deliciously lost in Paris Adrift.

This was a lucky thing that came into my hands by way of NetGalley and I am so glad I ended up with it.

For a winding and meandering story, the writing and characters hold down the book, solidly. It reminded me in places of A Moveable Feast through a science fiction lens, which really, is all I could ever ask for from a book.

Rebel of the Sands ~ Alwyn Hamilton

January 21, 2018

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Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
320 pages
ISBN: 9780451477538
Source: Barnes and Noble

I have read a lot of faerie stories, lately.

With that said, I wasn’t sure what I would think of Rebel of the Sands which looks distinctly different from anything I’d had in my hands, recently.

The entire premise appears to be a desert escape mission with royalty and sand and heat. And, don’t get me wrong; there is a bit of Rey and Star Wars in the mist of the story. But that might just be from my fan-girl perspective.

Oh, but dear friends, it is so much more than that. There are gender-bending rebels, layers of espionage, hidden identities, blast-worthy get-aways, and, yes, to my little heart’s delight, there is magic.

You’ll have to wait a bit to get to the magic and it’s a bit of a plot twist that slowly creeps up over the length of the book, so that’s all the spoiling you’ll get from me.

I will say that the women are refreshingly real in that they are not glittering princesses, nor altruistic martyrs. In fact, each character in this somewhat short first story comes out complex and delightfully imperfect.

For a book that landed in my hands on a whim, Rebel of the Sands totally blew me away. What do they call that in Hollywood? A sleeper, I think. I wasn’t sure I would dig it but now I’m on the hunt for the second and third book in the series because I absolutely must keep reading.