Book Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Book: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Published July 2020 by Flatiron Books|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

I liked Girl, Serpent, Thorn!  It’s definitely different but in a good way.

I felt for Soraya, who lived hidden away from everything and everyone.  For a lot of the book, we get bits and pieces of the story, but it’s not until we get close to the end that we get the whole story.  I get why her mom did what she did, but at the same time, I think a lot of the book could have been avoided if Soraya knew the whole story from the beginning.  But that’s just how things go, I think.

I am glad things worked for Soraya, and it was definitely a journey.  I don’t blame her for doing what she did.  It makes a lot of sense, considering she didn’t have the whole story until it was too late.  It was pretty predictable at times, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the book.  I liked seeing her figure things out, and be okay with the fact that her touch can kill people.  Something about the fact that her touch is poisonous seemed really familiar, but I have no idea why.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out at some point, but that time is definitely not now.

I really liked the world, and there’s part of me that wants more books set in this world.  It feels like there are so many stories to tell.  At the same time, though, I thought that the story was contained in the book pretty well.  We don’t get every little detail, but that’s fine because it felt like we got enough of the world to know what’s going on.  I was reminded of Sleeping Beauty when I was reading it, and I think it’s because she’s hidden away for such a long time because of a prophecy.

I know this is completely random, but I can’t help but wonder how she was taken care of as a child.  She killed her nurse when she was a few days old, and I’m really curious how they manage to take care of someone who could kill them just by touching them.  It’s definitely not important in the grand scheme of things but it is something that I thought about a lot while reading the book.

3 stars.  I liked Girl, Serpent, Thorn and I enjoyed reading it, but I didn’t love it.

School Is Back In Session

It’s something I’ve mentioned in my monthly wrap-up posts, but I wanted to do a post specifically about it.

I’m back in school!  My goal is get into a health information technology program, and once I graduate from that program, there is a test I can take which, assuming I pass, means I’ll be a registered health information technician.  So I’ll basically be certified to do the job I’m currently doing, plus a few other things.

That’s going to be a long ways off, because I’m doing all of the prerequisite stuff I need to get into the program and to graduate with an associate’s degree.

Let’s talk about summer classes!

Summer school was definitely interesting!  I took three classes, so I was really busy for a couple of months.  I took math (to get it out of the way), English (I needed it to take a lot of other classes) and medical terminology (to even get into the HIT program, and as a pre-req for another class to get into the HIT program).

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that I ended up with an A in English.  I would have been annoyed with myself if I did.  After book blogging for so long, it was really fun to talk about books.  I felt like that actually made the class easier!  I liked the books we read- Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet and The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society, and the third book was a book we got to choose.  Of course I went with Illuminae, which was a very good decision on my part.

My other A was medical terminology, which wasn’t a surprise because I’ve worked in healthcare for over 8 years now.  Also, if I got anything lower, I would have been really disappointed in myself.  It really was a great class, and with the discussion posts, we got to apply what we were reading to a real life situation.  I learned a lot and I’m actually finding it’s making my job easier!

Math was the one I was worried about, and the first couple of weeks were rough.  I’ve never been a math person, and I’ve always struggled with it.  But I somehow got a B, and it was the one class where I didn’t particularly care what my grade was, as long as it was a grade that meant I didn’t have to take it again.

Math was definitely interesting.  I worked super-hard that first week, only to have a professor change one week in…and all of the homework I did that first week didn’t count for my grade.  It was super-frustrating, but at least I knew that material pretty well.  A different professor meant a completely different grading system and a completely different access code for My Math Lab because he used a different book.

On the plus side, though, we had unlimited attempts for the tests, so I could take it as many times as I wanted until I got the grade I wanted.  And it was the same for the homework- if we got a problem wrong, we could get similar problems until we got it right.  That helped a lot because for the stuff I struggled with, I could do it over and over until I got right and understood it.

I can honestly tell you I have not used trigonometry in over 10 years, when I was last in school.  And I’m pretty sure I will not actually need it in the future, but it was a requirement that is now done, and I will never have to worry about it again.

And now that the fall semester has started, let’s talk about that!

This part is going to be a lot shorter, because I’m only a couple weeks in.

History is really interesting.  I’m taking Native American history, since I’m not really familiar with their history.  It’s a lot of reading and discussion posts with a few tests.  Since I’ve always loved history, so I’m not super-worried about this class.  There is some supplementary material given to us every week, like movies or websites to check out.  But the workload isn’t too bad.

Astronomy is pretty similar to history in that it’s reading and a few participation exercises each week.  There are videos and links to extra material for both astronomy and history, and with both classes, there’s a lot of structure and support from the professors.  It really feels like they want us to do well.

Unfortunately, I don’t get that same feeling with human anatomy and physiology.  The material itself is fine, but a few weeks in, and I’m finding this class to be frustrating.  The tests are really strange- there is some repetition with the questions, in that some of the questions show up several times but with a slightly wording.  Some of the answers are bizarre- you see answers like brain, all of the above, heart, liver.  And some of the questions are worded really weird.

On top of that, with the tests I’ve taken so far, there are always a few questions that have nothing to do with the assigned material for the week.  It’s material that’s not in the book, or referenced anywhere in the class- no links to videos or things we need to read.  It’s frustrating, because it’s hard to study for a test when I don’t know what I need to study!  The workbook the teacher put together that we have to turn in at the end of the semester doesn’t completely match up with the textbook, so it’s hard to do that on a weekly basis.

Overall, my ultimate impression of this class is that the professor isn’t interested in engaging with us or the material.  I feel like we’re on our own, with no guidance from the professor at all.  Other than a few announcements the first day or two, there’s been radio silence from the professor.

This is a weird time to be in school.

I know teaching online is very different than teaching in-person, and that with COVID, a lot of people who aren’t used to teaching online/remotely now have to.  It would just be nice to feel like he’s putting in some effort, or interested in us learning the material.  I’ve gotten that from every other class, but unfortunately, this isn’t one of them.  I really am trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, because it’s been a weird year but I am struggling with being understanding.

Still, I think I have some hope it will get better, but it is what is and in the end, I’m sure I’ll do just fine.

That’s all for today, and I hope today is a good one for you.

See you next time,

Currently Obsessed With: August 2020

Hi everyone!

I can’t believe we’re in September already!  I feel like this has been the longest year ever, but it’s also going by really fast which is very strange.  It really has been a weird year.  I can’t believe it’s time to do a wrap-up post for August, but here we are.  August was pretty busy, mostly because of school but some non-school stuff happened too, as you’ll see below.

Inspired By:

  • My freezer.  I’m in a period of using what I have, and so I’ve been trying to cook with what I have.  When I have the energy to cook, that is.  It’s been really hot- in the 80’s/90’s, and when it gets that hot, I have the energy to do absolutely nothing.  I’m really hoping it’ll be over soon, and I can get back to cooking up a storm.

  • Procreate.  I’ve had it on my iPad for ages, but I haven’t used it a lot.  But lately, I’ve been doing using the liquify option, and I really like it!  I found a marbling class on skillshare that I really like, and it gave me some really good techniques and options to try out.

Watching:

  • Locke & Key.  Honestly, I don’t remember a lot about this show at this point, but I do remember enjoying it, and getting a Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe feel from it.
  • Get Even.  I was pretty excited about this adaptation, even though I’ve never read the series it’s based on.  I’ve read a couple of other Gretchen McNeil books, though, and knew it would be entertaining to watch.  I wasn’t wrong, and it was a fun series to watch.
  • Warrior Nuns.  I really liked Warrior Nuns!  It’s an interesting idea, and I thought it worked pretty well.  I have no idea if there are going to be more seasons, but I hope so.  I really want to know what happens next.
  • My Neighbor Totoro: I finally watched it!  I’ve seen a lot of Studio Ghibli movies, but had never seen this one, for some reason.  I absolutely loved it, and think it’s a must watch!

Reading:

  • The Illuminae Files.  I really like this series so far, and even though I haven’t finished the last book yet, I’m really glad I picked this series up.

Thinking About:

  • Finals/Homework: August was the month where summer session came to an end, so I was busy with 3 finals and finishing everything up.  It was also the start of a new semester, and I only had a week off in between the two, so school has been on my mind a lot!
  • How hot it’s been.  I already talked about the weather, and as much as I love warm weather, I don’t particularly enjoy heat waves.  I have zero motivation and energy, and getting my homework done has been a struggle.

Listening To:

  • Lost Kids.  This podcast was really interesting to listen to.  It’s about the troubled kids industry, but focuses on one student who goes missing and what happened to him.
  • It Was Simple.  This is a relatively short podcast series about Betty Broderick.  There are only four episodes, but they are worth listening to, especially if you like true crime.
  • Uncover.  Another true crime podcast that’s an interesting listen.  It focuses on Canadian true crime and I’m currently on their satanic panic season.  The one about Sharmini was heartbreaking, the seasons about NXIVM and a plane bombing were interesting, and while I wasn’t a fan of the Cat Lady season, it was still sad to listen to.
  • Once Upon A Time…In The Valley.  I really like this one.  It’s about Traci Lords, an underage porn star from the 80’s.  I heard about it on another podcast, and I wasn’t sure about it at first, but now I’m invested.

Dreamlife:

  • Going to Disneyland.  I’ve been watching a lot of Disney movies, and I think that’s why I had dreamed about going to Disneyland.
  • Jumping down waterfalls into pools of multi-colored water.  I have no idea where this dream came from but it was on a night that I took melatonin to help me sleep, and I always have really weird, vivid dream when I take it.

Researching:

  • Honestly, I didn’t look into anything in particular for August.

Eating + Drinking:

  • Enchiladas and Dan Dan Noodles.  I had some ground beef and ground pork I didn’t know what to do with, and found a couple of recipes to try.
  • The enchiladas were great, even though they fell apart and didn’t stay rolled up like they were supposed to.
  • I didn’t enjoy the dan dan noodles.  Well, I didn’t enjoy the particular recipe I used, so maybe it’s just me, and not the food.

Grateful For:

  • Good grades for summer school: A’s in medical terminology and English, and a B in math!
  • Having a job.
  • Meditation.  I’ve been using the Calm app before bed every night, and I’m just glad it helps me calm down.
  • Movie marathons.  I’ve been working my way through all of the Disney animated movies every weekend, and it’s quite the list for August.  Plus some non-Disney movies just to mix it up a little.

Good Things From August:

  • Honestly, it’s not a long list, because I didn’t really keep up with writing these things down for August.  And it’s all stuff I talked about already: summer school ended with good grades, fall semester started, and I watched a ton of movies.

That’s all for today!

Have a great weekend, and stay safe out there,

Book Review: The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson

Book: The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson

Published July 2020 by Sourcebooks Fire|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The Storm Crow #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

The thrilling conclusion to the epic Storm Crow duology that follows a fallen princess as she tries to bring back the magical elemental crows taken from her people.

Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’ show of strength is the only thing that can help her.

But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process. She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.

As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’ magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be. 

I liked The Crow Rider!  After reading the first book for book club last year, I knew I wanted to read this book to see what happened next.

I didn’t like this book as much as The Storm Crow.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I read it.  I’m glad we got to see what happened to Thia and Res, and that Razel is no longer in the picture.  I’m glad we got to see the neighboring kingdoms, and that things are going to be better for everyone.

I think I just wanted more from the book, but I don’t know what.  We learn about an entirely new, mysterious group that no one thinks exists.  But not surprisingly, they really do exist.  It was even less of a surprise was that Thia was connected to them.  In this book, we see how special Thia and Res really are, and while it makes sense for this book, I wasn’t overly enthused about it.  If you hate the super-special chosen one trope, this is not the book for you.  I usually don’t mind it, but it really bothered me in this book, for some reason.

Everything with the crows and their magic felt really superficial, and I wanted more of that.  I wanted more of hatching the crow eggs and seeing them grow the way we saw it with Res.  It wasn’t going to happen until Razel was deal with, of course, and I know this series is about what happened to Rhodaire after they lost their crows.  But I felt like we barely got anything about them, which is weird considering the fact that they’re so important to Rhodaire and how Rhodaire functions.

With The Storm Crow, and with this book, I love how Josephson dealt with Thia’s depression.  It felt very real, and very natural, and I really liked seeing that over time.  I also really liked Res- though I didn’t love how he had all the powers, I thought Res was awesome, and he really had quite the personality.  He made it pretty clear what he thought and what he wanted.  And he does have a good bond with Thia.

In all honestly, this is a series that would have benefited from another book.  With two, things felt really rushed, and it would have been a really good bridge between The Storm Crow and a non-existent third book.  I think having some time to let things develop naturally would have been good.

Still, I’d recommend this duology for the depression representation and Res alone.

3 stars.  I liked The Crow Rider, but I also have some reservations about it.

Book Review: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Book: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Published July 2020 by Bloomsbury YA|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale Re-Telling

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew…

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

I really liked Cinderella Is Dead, and I’m really glad I read it!

This is a very unique take on the Cinderella story.  Centuries after the death of Cinderlla, and Lille is a horrible place to live, especially where women and girls are concerned.  They’re abused and at the mercy of men, and it’s up to Sophia and Constance to take down Prince Charming so all women can have better lives.

I was not expecting Prince Charming to be so horrible, but he was.  He executed a seamstress, accusing her of helping Sophia leave because all Sophia did was stop in her shop.  Prince Charming is definitely the villain in this story, and Cinderella’s step-mother and step-sisters were part of the resistance against Prince Charming.  Centuries later, they’re still fighting against a man who uses the souls of young women to stay alive.

Also cool was the take on the fairy godmother- she’s a witch, the mother of Prince Charming, and the reason he’s still in power.  But she’s also the reason he was able to not be in power.  So even though we thought she was on our side, only to see that she wasn’t, she still did the right thing, and helped break the curse on this really tiny town.

I like that we questioned the version of the story we got, and I loved that the version put out by the palace had nods to the original fairy tale, and not the Disney movie.  Which I love, don’t get me wrong, but this story was dark, and I’m glad it used some of the original story.  By the end of the book, we learn so much about what happened to Cinderella both before and after her marriage to Prince Charming, and it really makes you think about the stories we’re told.

What really happened is so completely different than the story the palace puts out, and there are some pretty big differences between the two.  I am glad that we get the real story, and that it’s the one that everyone knows as well.  They have a lot of work ahead of them, but they’re definitely on the right path.

I liked Sophie, and I felt really bad for her.  Her parents didn’t seem accepting of who she was, and I get that her world is not accepting of anyone who is part of the LGBT community.  We see it with her, her best friend and another character that we meet.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember his name, but he was willing to make a run for it with Sophia, and try to have a better life somewhere else.

With her best friend in particular, it was hard to tell if she felt the same way, but couldn’t reciprocate because she was worried about what would happen to her and her family.  Maybe she didn’t feel the same way towards Sophia.  Either way, her eventual husband was this horrible, abusive man, and it’s sad that they had to live in a world like that.  No one should have to live like that, and I’m glad that Sophia and Constance were able to change things.  They made it very clear that things were going to change, and that there will be consequences.

4 stars.  I really liked Cinderella Is Dead, and it’s such a different but really cool take on a story we all know.

Book Review: The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne

Book: The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne

Published February 2020 by Houghton Mifflin|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

The Bachelorette goes to space in this gripping story about a young girl caught in a world of royal intrigue and lost love in her quest to save her family from ruin. Perfect for fans of Katharine McGee, Melissa de la Cruz, and Kiera Cass.

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, has only one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love, Elliot, returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one who got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

Fans of Katharine McGee and Kiera Cass will be dazzled by this world of lost love and royal intrigue.

I liked The Stars We Steal!  After reading (and really liking) Brightly Burning a couple of years ago, I was pretty excited about this book, and I wish I liked this book as much as her first one.

I thought Leo was interesting.  I completely get why she wants to help her family, and is hesitant to get married to do it.  I admire that she came up with a way to help not just them, but others.  But…when it came to her love life, she was so frustrating.  I mean, her first love comes back, and she loves him one minute, and hates him the next.  She flirts with him and gets jealous when he turns his attention to both her cousin and her sister.  She makes a half-hearted effort at the Valg Season, and when she does, she ends up breaking Daniel’s heart.  I really felt for Daniel.  Don’t get me wrong, I get that it was always Elliot, but it was just so horrible that she agreed to marry Daniel, knowing full well she wasn’t over Elliot.  Even after everything that happened with Elliot, she had the hardest time letting him go, and unfortunately, Daniel got hurt in the process.

Hopefully, everything works out for Leo, and it really seems like it wil at the end of the book.  Things are fine with her family and with Daniel, and I really hope they stay that way.

One thing I could never work out is if it’s set in the same world as Brightly Burning.  I mean, it was been a while since I’ve read it, but all of the ships made me feel like they are two very different stories set in the same world.  I could be completely wrong on that, but that was the impression I got.  Either way, it is pretty interesting to see a story entirely contained on the ship.

And Leo’s family.  I’m not a fan.  Her dad’s a mess, and her aunt is cruel.  If killing her own sister isn’t horrible, I don’t know what is.  Even though her cousin and sister come around, they have their moments too.  They were there for Leo when it counts, but there were a lot of obstacles along the way.

3 stars.  I liked The Stars We Steal, but I didn’t love it.

Around The Internet #29

Good morning!

I hope you’re having a great week so far!  This is a really long one, but I just had too many cool things to share and I wasn’t willing to leave anything out.    As always, take what you need and I hope you find something cool.

That’s all for today, and I hope you have a good one,

Book Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman And Jay Kristoff

Book: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Published January 2018 by Ember|659 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Series: The Illuminae Files #2

The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.”

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED GEMINA!  How is it possible to love the sequel even more than the original?  I don’t know but somehow, I did.

I just loved the story and how it’s going on both at the same time as- and right after- the events of Illuminae.  I loved Hanna a lot, and she reminded me of Kady in a lot of ways.  I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure about this book.  Sequels always make me a little nervous, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to live up to the expectations set by Illuminae.  But it really exceeded expectations!

I was also a little hesitant because I got attached to Kady and Ezra (but I was particularly attached to Kady) and I wasn’t sure about a book focusing on two new characters.  Again, I had nothing to worry about because I loved Hanna and Nik, and I was glad to see both Kady and Ezra show up.

And Aidan too!  How I managed to be fond of a crazy A.I. system, I don’t know, but I was glad that Aidan is back.  Granted, it’s in a slightly different form, but it was nice to see Aidan.

We also have the video surveillance guy back, and though we don’t know anything about him, I’m glad he’s back, watching surveillance videos and giving random commentary about what’s going on.

Like Illuminae, this is a really visual book!  While the placement of some of the text was still annoying to read, it wasn’t as annoying, and I think it’s because I was expecting it with this book.  Also, the multiverse stuff was really cool, and I liked seeing Universe A and Universe B side by side.  I liked seeing the comparison between the two, and how different but similar they are.

I also liked that instead of a deadly, PTSD-appearing virus, we have this parasitic alien-like creature.  It was creepy and horrifying but also really different and really cool.  I love that there was basically a Wikipedia-type page about it.  Obviously, not Wikipedia but a fictional version of it.  I just like how familiar the documents are- and yet, some of them are just so completely random.  I also love how they come together to tell the story, and I really can’t imagine this series being told any other way.  This is definitely a book you want to read in print!

5 stars.  I loved Gemina, and if for some reason, you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend it!  It’s a great story!

Book Review: Diamond City by Francesca Flores

Book: Diamond City by Francesca Flores

Published January 2020 by Wednesday Books|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The City Of Diamond And Steel #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Good things don’t happen to girls who come from nothing…unless they risk everything.

Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten.

Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.

DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies.

To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn’t want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy—and risk losing everything.

Full of action, romance and dark magic, book one of Francesca Flores’ breathtaking fantasy duology will leave readers eager for more!

I thought Diamond City was just okay.  I’m not sure why, but I had a really hard time getting through this book.

I really felt for Aina, and I hated Kohl for everything he did to her.  He’s just a completely horrible person, and I don’t know if he felt guilty for what he did, or if he took her under his wing after taking away everything from Aina because it’s his thing, but either way, it was completely and utterly horrible.  Also, she just couldn’t let him go, no matter what he did.  I don’t get it but maybe Aina felt like she owed because he took her off the streets?

Back to Aina, though.  She has had a rough life, and I wanted everything to be okay for her.  It seems like things are looking up at the end of the book, but considering this is the first book in a series, I know there’s a lot more heartbreak in Aina’s future.  Things seem good now, but I know they’re not going to stay that way.  I know, in the end, things will be just fine for Aina, but what is she going to lose along the way?  She’s already lost so much, and I know the journey to the end of this series will be interesting.

Even though I didn’t love this book, I am still curious to see how things work out for Aina.  I definitely plan on reading the sequel, because I do like Aina, and I’m rooting for her.

I don’t know how I feel about the world- all I can tell you is that magic and diamonds are outlawed, but diamonds seem to be all over the place because of a black market.  Oh, and there’s a specific religion that’s forbidden as well.  I honestly couldn’t tell you anything more specific than that, so obviously, a lot of the world and magic did not make a big impression.

2 stars.  I liked Aina, and I do want things to work out for her.  Enough that I’m probably going to read the sequel, but for whatever reason, I just had a hard time liking it.

Book Review: The Boundless by Anna Bright

Book: The Boundless by Anna Bright

Published June 2020 by HarperTeen|512 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: The Beholder #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

This breathtaking sequel to The Beholder will take you on a journey into a darkly sparkling fairy tale, perfect for fans of The Selection and Caraval.

When Selah found true love with Prince Torden of Norway, she never imagined she’d have to leave him behind. All because the Beholder’s true mission was a secret Selah’s crew didn’t trust her to keep: transporting weapons to the rebels fighting against the brutal tsarytsya, whose shadow looms over their next port of Shvartsval’d. A place Selah hoped she’d never go.

But gone is the girl who departed Potomac filled with fear. With a stockpile of weapons belowdecks and her heart hanging in the balance, Selah is determined to see the Beholder’s quest to its end.

I LOVED The Boundless!  It’s such a great sequel, and I didn’t think I’d like it as much as the first book.  I ended up liking it more!

I just loved the story, and in this book, we see Selah go into the heart of Baba Yaga’s home.  It’s definitely not a warm and welcoming place.  In fact, it’s probably the worst place Selah, or anyone else, could be.  What the tsarytysa does to hold onto her power…it’s horrible and not good at all.  Making her happy isn’t possible, and even the slightest wrong move can mean death.  I mean, you want her favor, but it seems like its so easy to lose.

I’m glad things worked out for Selah.  She found love, things are back to normal in Potomac, and people who do horrible things get punished for it.  I’m glad Selah’s stepmother is no longer in the picture, and I’m not at all surprised at what she did.  I can understand why she did it, which doesn’t mean that what she did was okay.  It’s not at all okay.  But I am glad that everyone knew what she did, and that Selah didn’t lose her father because of it.

Selah is such a different character in this book.  She’s grown and changed so much, and she has the strength and capability to do what she needed to do to get back home to her family.  She not the quiet, unsure girl we see in The Beholder, that’s for sure.  Though I hated how she treated Lang- I felt like she led him on, and I think he deserved better.  With Torden, though, it’s not like anyone else had a chance, but I still felt bad for Lang, who seemed to have feelings for someone who didn’t return those same feelings.

I just really loved this story.  I never knew what was going to happen next, and I really liked how we saw different stories woven in.  We don’t see nearly as many as The Beholder, but the one that stands out is one that reminded me of the 12 dancing princesses.  I really like how Bright incorporated that into the story and I think she did a great job at incorporating a lot of different stories into these books.  It was fun to see the variety of stories in the book, and you saw it right down to the names of the characters.

I’m really glad I read this one!  It was what I needed, and it’s totally worth reading.

5 stars.  I loved The Boundless, and it’s even better than the first book in the series!