Mini Reviews for Recent Reads: October – December 2020

I have put off writing reviews for these books for TOO LONG– and since we are now entering a new year, I want to start with a fresh slate, so I am making myself write mini-reviews for all my recent reads that I have not made time to write a full review for!

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

I really enjoyed the process of reading this book. It was one of those books that I truly looked forward to reading all day until I could get back to reading it. I loved the premise, the main character, and the world. It takes place in Italy (which I love), has a demon prince love interest (which I love), and the main character is strong, heroic, a lover of books, and is dealing with emerging/budding magical powers (which I also LOVE.) This book had the potential to be one of my favorites of all time, and while I really loved reading it and CAN’T WAIT for the sequel, I felt like it just didn’t quite stick the landing. The third act of the book felt anticlimactic, even though quite a lot of twists and large events occur. I am no real writer, so I can’t put my finger on what it was, but I really have hope that this series will be another one where the first book is regarded as merely setting up the setting and plot for the second book, which ends up being a slam dunk of a masterpiece. Honestly, I highly recommend this book, as it’s just different enough while also touching on beloved troupes, and I really have faith in the author to deliver. (I also felt like the first book in her Stalking Jack the Ripper series was particularly weak compared to the other books, especially in it’s final act.)

Rating: 4/5 stars ⭐️
Click for this book’s Goodreads page

A Touch of Darkness and A Touch of Ruin by Scarlett St. Clair

I will read just about any Hades & Persephone retelling that I even hear whispers about. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that in finding out about the h&P “troupe”, I found words to put for what I have been looking for in media for YEARS. I used to think I was interested in “beauty and the beast retellings”, basically stories where a girl is trapped with an “enemy” but they grow to fall in love. But I only just realized that B&tB IS A H&P retelling! Anyways, I started seeing this series mentioned all over booktwitter, so I checked it out, and I feel like it DID deliver. I love the idea of Persephone, a caged and protected goddess of Spring, coming into her darker powers and being seduced by Hades, the dark lord of the underworld, who is meant to be the antithesis of her. In all of these retellings, Persephone embraces her inner darkness while bringing Hades more into the light. After all, everyone loves a Bad Boy who is soft and gentle and loving for only the girl he loves, and will tear down the world for her if need be. I’ll never get sick of these stories, no matter how predictable. I will however say that this version of Persephone got very annoying. Her decisions felt overly immature and impulsive, and her tendency to not want to trust Hades and go above his head to solve her problems got old very quickly, particularly in book 2. However, this version of Hades more than made up for it.

Rating: 4/5 stars ⭐️
Click for this book’s Goodreads page

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

I truly don’t even know what to say about this book. It is simply one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. I read it in October and have continued to think about it every day since. I will say it is a bit dark and tough to get through for the first third, but the tragedy and loneliness that you read from Addie’s POV is necessary for you to feel the emotions she goes through when she finally meets Henry, the man who is the first to recognize her in something like 200 years. I found the ending to be PERFECT. I know some say it “broke” them, and I certainly was crying reading it, but I could not think of a better ending. To say more would be to spoil it, so I won’t!
Note: There is some controversy around this book, as Addie travels almost exclusively through Europe and euro-centric countries, and the author does not do much to address the atrocities that occurred to people of color, particularly slavery all through the countries Addie lives in, during these years. I cannot do a review without addressing this controversy. I think certainly more could have been done to address the struggles of POC, and it makes Addie seem callous to not have done anything to aid those who were enslaved. This is the reason it is not a five-star read in my opinion.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars ⭐️
Click for this book’s Goodreads page

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

I’ve read so many beauty & the beast retellings, but this one was just so adorable. I really really LOVE the main character, Harper, who is strong, bold, vulnerable, courageous, kind, and does it all with a disability due to Cerebral Palsy–though she never lets that make her weak. I loved reading her journey to believing in her strength in this book, and found it to be so inspiring. This book also has two “love interests”; though it is not structured like a love triangle, you kind of don’t know who to root for her to be with romantically. I won’t say anymore, but I just really enjoyed this book. It was a quick, interesting, and comforting read — I can’t put into words what exactly makes a comforting read, but its the kind of book that you can imagine being in the world before bed and it just eases you to sleep– similar to how I feel about the Night Court in ACOTAR series. I wouldn’t exactly compare the world building to ACOTAR, but there is a little inn that is a repetitive fixture and it just sounds really cozy and sweet. This series is definitely YA, with no real heat or really even steamy kissing. But I found myself being immediately wrapped up in the story and loving the characters. It is super fast paced, and the plot remained strong throughout. I really had no idea how it would end and I thought it absolutely ended incredibly, and not too much on a cliff hanger, but enough to make me extremely anxious to get to the next book.

Rating: 4/5 stars ⭐️
Click for this book’s Goodreads page

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Don’t read past this if you haven’t read the first book in this series! So this book is not from Harper’s POV at all, but from the POV’s of Grey, the commander and guard from book 1, and Lia Mara, a princess from a rivaling kingdom. I originally thought I would not grow to like her since she was thought to be an enemy, and wouldn’t think there was any way I would like her MORE than Harper. However, after finishing this book I could CARE LESS about Rhen and Harper, and I am OBSESSED with Grey and Lia Mara. And the ending with Lia Mara becoming queen was PERFECTION. I actually hate Rhen now for what he did to Grey and Tycho, and I even resent Harper a little for staying with him. It really seemed like book 1 and even the beginning of this book were setting up Harper to be with Grey, but now that Lia Mara is here and her and Grey are in love, I can’t find myself rooting for Harper at all. This book also made me love Jake and Noah more, who I found as a little grating in book 1. Bottom line, this book expanded the world and POV’s of the series in a huge way, so I cannot wait to read the third book, A Vow So Bold and Deadly, which comes out this month!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars ⭐️
Click for this book’s Goodreads page

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black

I will take pretty much any content from the Folk of the Air series and characters because I simply LOVE THEM. So when I found out we were getting a Cardan novella of his POV for TFOTA series, I was ecstatic. I guess I thought this would have way more of the events from the series than it did? This book mostly covered Cardan’s life before Jude, and there was one chapter that glossed over his thoughts about her and one event that occurred in The Cruel Prince, but we got NOTHING… AND I MEAN NOTHING…. of his POV from the Wicked King or the Queen of Nothing. (TFOTA SPOILERS AHEAD) Not their first kiss. Not Jude capturing him after his family is murdered. Not Jude tricking him into being king. Not him proposing to her. Not even him as a giant snake!!! So I was pretty disappointed. And this is a novella….I read it literally in one short sitting. On a positive note, the illustrations and drawings were exquisite and lovely, so I’m glad I own a copy just for that.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars ⭐️
Click for this book’s Goodreads page

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare et al.

I’ve made it no secret in my TMI series reviews that I actually despise Simon. So I wasn’t really looking forward to this book. However, this book had a TON of flashbacks and POV shifts to other characters we know and love spread throughout. It even (briefly) had my favorite characters of all the shadowhunter books, Tessa, Will, and Jem. I am still thinking about this one moment in one of the flashback scenes where they are all sitting in a tea shop, and Will is sleeping on Tessa’s shoulder, and Jem/Brother Zachariah and Tessa are holding hands across the table. The love they all have for one another is so beautiful, and I will never get over it…which is why I’m doomed to continue reading shadowhunter books until I die. BUT regarding the actual main plot here, I can’t say I was super invested in Simon’s journey, but by the end, I was actually kind of nervous he wouldn’t pass the test. I also really thought he would be parabatai with George. There is a twist that occurs which I won’t spoil but it REALLY took me off guard and I’m still kind of upset about it. It felt like it was more for shock value than anything, which is maybe why it made me angry, but I have to say I really loved the structure of this book. Lastly, I have to say I completely skipped the chapter with Izzy and Alec’s father because I am not interested in his life as he is a known cheater and kind-of homophobe…and I spent way too much time worrying about Valentine when I forced myself to read TMI. AND ON A FINAL NOTE– Can we PLEASE stop putting real people on book covers?!?

Rating: 3.5/5 stars ⭐️
Click for this book’s Goodreads page

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare et al.

I love Magnus Bane.

I love these little short stories about his life.

I would read 100 more.

After reading this, I’m just so happy he finally has Alec. That is all!

Rating: 4/5 stars ⭐️
Click for this book’s Goodreads page

PHEW! Now that those are out of the way, look out for my TBR 2021 post coming soon!

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