Review | Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

When Rachelle was fifteen, she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless—straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her hunt for the legendary sword that might save their world. Together, they navigate the opulent world of the courtly elite, where beauty and power reign and no one can be trusted. And as they become unexpected allies, they discover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

4.5 cupcakes

“You always have to choose between the path of needles and the path of pins.”

I wasn’t entirely sure how to feel about Cruel Beauty, but it’s safe to say that I loved Crimson Bound. It borrows elements from Little Red Riding Hood and The Girl Without Hands, creating a dark, captivating story that is a fairytale in its own right. The inclusion of the bloodbound, the forestborn, and the Devourer added a creepy, otherworldly atmosphere to the France setting that was already rich in its own history.

As I mentioned in my review of Cruel Beauty, Rosamund Hodge has a way with words. Her writing is gorgeous and lyrical, and her vivid descriptions served to amplify the dark and imaginative world that she created.

I absolutely loved the cast of characters that make upCrimson Bound. Rachelle, in particular, is fierce, prickly, and haunted by guilt. She’s selfish and self-pitying, yet still desires to stop the Devourer and save the world. I loved that she acknowledged her dark moments, where she admitted that she didn’t believe she deserved to live, but still found reasons to live anyways.

The romance was the one aspect of Crimson Bound that I didn’t love, since it felt forced in the early parts of the novel. That being said, each male balanced a different side of Rachelle so it was well-integrated and didn’t feel like it was thrown in just to create drama. I did prefer the half of the love triangle containing the “bad boy” Erec, though, as it had banter and banter is my weakness when it comes to shipping.

Overall, Crimson Bound was a darkly imaginative fairytale that I devoured in one sitting. It’s beautifully written and home to complex characters, and I highly recommend giving it a read.

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Review | Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted…which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily’s life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem – one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily’s identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

2 cupcakes

Having heard so many wonderful things about the Starcrossed series, I decided to give Trial by Fire a try; after all, if everyone loved her earlier series, her writing can only have improved from there, right? Well, given how disappointed I was in this one, I kind of hope that isn’t the case…

The first few chapters of Trial by Fire made me consider DNFing the book, mostly due to the fact that Lily prioritized a boy over her health and then decided that her life was no longer worth anything because of that same boy. Unfortunately, Lily wasn’t much better once she entered the parallel universe – she automatically learned how to use magic, despite having no actual training, quickly became the most powerful witch in Salem, and captured the attention ofevery male in the story.

The primary relationship in Trial by Fire, between Lily and Rowan, was your typical instalove ft. brooding boy. It also paved the way for a potentially awkward love triangle (square?) involving the parallel universe version of Lily’s ex-boyfriend (though, admittedly, they were only dating in her mind).

The one aspect that I did enjoy was the parallel universe. I loved the idea of a matriarchal society run by witches, where the magical system is closely tied to science. And the witches hunting scientists (instead of society hunting witches) made for an interesting twist. A lot of the information that readers learn about the world is a result of infodumping, but it was interesting enough that I can forgive that.

Overall, I liked the scientific explanations for magic, but was far less enamoured with the instalove filled romance & potential love triangle, and how Lily immediately became a powerful witch after doing absolutely nothing to earn it.

Review | Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen


For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for…

2.5 cupcakes

“‘I think it is our nature to believe evil always has an ugly face,’ he said, ignoring my question. ‘Beauty is supposed to be good and kind, and to discover it otherwise is like a betrayal of trust. A violation of the nature of things.'”

Objectively, Stolen Songbird is a very strong debut, and has all the makings of a novel that I would love: the “chosen one” trope is turned on its head when Cecile fails to break the age-old curse; there is no slut-shaming; society doesn’t treat females as “inferior”; and there is no true love triangle (though there is miscommunication that leads to far too much jealousy). Unfortunately, at 469 pages, it is a very long read, and I was prone to mind wandering/having to put the book down due to boredom throughout the few days that it took to read this.

While the characters are not particularly memorable, they are well-developed and even the secondary characters have been given a backstory. Cécile, in particular, is fierce, hopeful, rebellious, and autonomous – exactly what I like in a protagonist. I enjoyed the banter between her and Tristan, though I was never able to form an emotional connection with either character, making it difficult to feel invested in their eventual relationship.

I wish I could say that Stolen Songbird became more enjoyable as it neared the end, but that wasn’t the case; however, I believe that this series will get better with time, and look forward to seeing how the cliffhanger ending is resolved.

Waiting On Wednesday (December 30)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang, which has an expected publication date of March 22, 2016.

The heart-wrenching new novel about best friends on a collision course with the real world, from the author of Falling into Place.

Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivian moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship, as long as no one finds out about it.

But when Janie is date-raped by the most popular guy in school—a guy she’s had a crush on for years—she finds herself ostracized by all the people she thought were her friends. Now only Micah seems to believe she’s telling the truth. But when even Micah expresses doubt about whether or not she was “asking for it,” it leads to disastrous consequences, and Janie Vivian goes missing.

Using a nonlinear writing style and dual narrators, Amy Zhang’s astonishing second novel masterfully reveals the circumstances surrounding Janie’s disappearance.

I absolutely loved Falling into Place. It was beautifully written, thought-provoking, and poignant – all of which are important, given the sensitive subject that This Is Where the World Ends deals with.

Which books are you waiting on? Leave me a link or a list to your Waiting on Wednesday post below.

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Top Ten Most Anticipated New Releases for the First Half of 2016

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “top ten most anticipated new releases for the first half of 2016.” There are so many excellent-sounding titles that are soon-to-be-released, but here are (some of) the ones that I’m most excited for.

Honourable mentions:
A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
Save Me Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Sky
Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr

Which 2016 releases are you most excited about? Leave me a list or a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments below.

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2016 Bookish Resolutions

Reading Resolutions

  1. I will purchase books from bookstores instead of online. There are so many cute independently owned bookstores out there that I’d love to support!
  2. I will read the books that I own before purchasing new ones. There are so many books lying around my room that I bought and never read, since I got distracted by other new releases.
  3. I will continue to support my local library. Libraries are one of the best resources for both readers and bloggers, so I want to prioritize borrowing books over purchasing them for myself.
  4. I will read more backlist titles. I’ve been focusing a lot on the new, shiny titles, but older books need some love too!
  5. If I’m not enjoying a book, I will put it down for a bit or DNF it. My to-read list is ridiculously long, so there’s no point in forcing myself to finish a book that just isn’t working for me.
  6. I will not be ashamed of my reading choices (whether it’s a classic, a new release, a middle grade novel, etc.) and will read what I want when I want.

Blogging Resolutions

  1. I will try to be a more consistent blogger, both in terms of posting and replying to comments in a timely fashion. School is ridiculously busy, so I’ll hopefully take advantage of WordPress’ ability to schedule posts and/or use study breaks for commenting.
  2. However, I will not feel guilty about taking breaks from blogging. (Or, at least, I’ll try not to feel too bad about it). Blogging is a hobby that I love, but it’s very hard to find time for it during the semester and I do need to prioritize my grades.
  3. I will not compare myself to other bloggers, whether that’s in terms of ARCs, stats, or number of followers. I’m so thankful for all of my readers, and I’ll do my best to consistently show that. As long as I’m having fun and sharing my love for reading with others, I consider that to be a “success.”
  4. After I finish reading a book, I will start drafting its review. Even if it’s just making a small pros/cons list, this will definitely make the process easier – especially since I have some books in my to review pile that I read weeks ago!
  5. That being said, I will never allow blogging to become a chore. I started this blog as a fun way to interact with other people who love books as much as I do, and I don’t want it to turn into a burden or something that I dread doing.
  6. I will not participate in or perpetuate any drama or negativity, which I’ve thankfully stayed clear of thus far.
  7. I will visit more blogs and leave more thoughtful comments on others’ posts. There are a lot of blogs that I genuinely adore, and I need to do a better job of showing my appreciation for them.
  8. I will try to generate more discussion posts and personal posts – I want to get to know you guys better and let more of my personality shine through!
  9. I will be more available, whether it’s on this blog, Twitter, Goodreads, or via email, since I want to be able to interact with you guys more frequently.

Here’s hoping that I can stick with these!

Do you have any blogging or bookish resolutions for this year?

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Review | Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

24338298Never date your best friend.

Always be original.

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never dye your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

2 cupcakes

I had heard enough positive things about Let’s Get Lost that I just had to request this one – after all, the premise sounded quite cute and fluffy. Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t for me.

Julia and Dave, our main characters, seemed like something out of a John Green novel – they were quirky and overly intelligent, and Julia seemed like a manic pixie dream girl. That’s not to say that they weren’t realistic, though – when I was in high school, there were many individuals that tried very hard to avoid being a high school cliche. I didn’t particularly like either Julia or Dave – the former was manipulative and a pretty awful friend, and the latter spent way too much time lamenting over the fact that he was in love with his best friend – but their banter was rather entertaining.

I was expecting a friends-to-lovers relationship, which I suppose is what I got – the way that it came about, though, did not sit well with me. That being said, although it was an ending that I didn’t particularly enjoy, it was one that I didn’t expect…

Overall, Never Always Sometimes had all the makings of an “Erin story,” but unfortunately did not live up to my expectations.

I received a copy of this book from Harlequin Teen and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.