Review: Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers

So this is a day late, but totally worth it. I actually use the words “kerfuffle” and “bonkers” to try to describe just what happened in the second half of this book. All I can say is that I really, really wish that I’d gotten it in time for my thesis, because I would have had a LOT to use from this text! (Okay, it’s not BAD. It’s just … confusing.)

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Worth It Wednesdays: “Circle of Magic” series by Tamora Pierce

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

512bc8sybuwl-_sx297_bo1204203200_Title (of first book): Sandry’s Book

Author: Tamora Pierce

Goodreads Description (of first book): With her gift of weaving silk thread and creating light, Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief who has a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. At Winding Circle, the four misfits are taught how to use their magic – and to trust one another. But then disaster strikes their new home. Can Sandry weave together four kinds of magical power and save herself, her friends, and the one place where they’ve ever been accepted?

Why it’s worth it: You know, these books get a lot less love than Tamora’s Tortall books, and that’s always struck me as pretty unfair. Do I like those books better? Actually, yes. But the Circle of Magic books do so many important things that, really, these are just as worth it.

This world is BIG. There are two sets of connected quartets (one with the foursome together, and one while they are apart). Then there is the novel where they all come back together again. Then there are two other novels that are related to Briar and a character that is introduced in one of Briar’s books. PHEW.

But that is the seriously cool thing about this series. For one, Tris, Sandry, Briar and Daja are all very different people. They come from very different backgrounds and go very different places with their future. In the first four books, it’s all about them finding a way through their differences to work together as a team. In the second quartet, they figure up how to grow up apart. While people are going to tend to like some of the characters over others, there is literally someone for everyone. There are so many unique struggles that there is always something to connect to. Reading the standalone novel where they all come back together is heartbreaking because these once close people have their own secrets and scars and they have to figure out what their “family” means to them once again. I love it.

And when I’m talking about struggles, I’m not talking small scale. Sure, there are your typical self-acceptance and self-growth story lines. But these happen while the characters are doing everything from surviving genocide and the resulting PTSD to figuring out their own sexuality. The Circle of Magic books talk about a LOT of topics that, at the time they were published, I hadn’t really seen in young adult publishing.

That’s why these books deserve so much more love than they get. They start off amazing, and they only get better and more intense. They say so many important things, for people of all ages. If you haven’t read these yet, the largess of the series is totally worth it–and, really, not big enough.

Read it if you’re looking for: strong female characters, rotating POVs, LGBTQAI+ novels, long series, books about war, books about PTSD, magic, action, adventure, strong world building, books about family, books without a lot of romance

Worth It Wednesday: “A Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

dsb_final_6_1Title: A Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

Goodreads Description: Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Why it’s worth it: I’ll admit that I’ve had a wild relationship with these books, but–at the end of the day–I still think that this series is really worth it. For one, when Imbibliomancy did this (my pick, of course), Taylor and Michaela actually didn’t hate it. In fact, Taylor even liked my idea of reading the second one this summer.

I have a lot of issues with this blurb, because I don’t think that it adequately represents the content of this book. One, Laini Taylor is a beautiful writer who crafts prose on a whole other level that your stereotypical young adult fiction. Two, while this novel involves a star-crossed romance, it’s the kind of romance that understand that there are things more important than their “will they, won’t they” back and forth.

This became popular around the time that angels were all the rage, but this world is so much more than that. It’s one of the more unique angelic-based fantasy systems I’ve ever read. Really, every fantastical creature in this book was interesting and unique to me in a way a lot of fantasy settings aren’t.

This series has some weird ups and downs, with the second one being the strongest. I felt like the third one was a bit too bogged down by new information and characters, but it was still a fitting end to the series that was interesting if nothing else. Still very worth it, I promise!

Read it if you’re looking for: strong female characters, angels, fantasy, strong prose, strong world building, interesting characters, unique setting, romance, magic, action, adventure, humor

Worth It Wednesdays: “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

clockwork angelTitle: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Goodreads Description: In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

Why it’s worth it: First off, Cassandra Clare is a wonderfully amazing author. I am incapable of letting people ask “What should I read next?” without screaming HAVE YOU READ CASSANDRA CLARE? That said, most people are familiar with her The Mortal Instruments series, which I also love a lot. However, I honestly think that this series is more strongly written than the TMI books–and also is a tighter, more thoroughly planned trilogy.

The Infernal Devices series has all the elements that I love in the first series, while being set in a more Steampunk setting. The characters are a bit more complex and the plot line deals with more issues than just magic/action/thrills. That said, they read REALLY fast and are good for plenty of heart-pounding and emotions and laughter.

ALSO THE ROMANCE. I have never been more on the fence with who I wanted the main character to pick in a love triangle. Yes, love triangle. BUT A GOOD ONE. Cassandra Clare basically only wrote this love triangle because Holly Black told her that no one could ever write a good love triangle. Clare succeeded big time.

…just talking about them now makes me wish they were here at school with me so I could read them again and again and again.

Anyways, if you were looking for a gateway into Cassandra Clare’s world, LOOK NO FURTHER. There is definitely some debate on how best to read the series (since they interlock in weird ways, given the order in which they were published), but starting here will show you all the best that Clare has to offer, which will get you through some of the not as strong showings in TMI.

Read it if you’re looking for: steampunk, magic, fantasy, kickass heroines, romance, good love triangles, action, adventure, humor

Worth It Wednesdays: “Hex Hall” by Rachel Hawkins

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

Hex HallTitle: Hex Hall

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Goodreads Description: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag-along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Why it’s worth it: I know, it sounds kind of like Harry Potter, right? That’s what I thought. And, you know, that’s kind of correct. I honestly almost didn’t pick up this series because I thought, “Yikes, this sounds like something I’ve read before.” But you know what?

THIS SERIES IS SO MUCH FUN.

I often call this series “mind candy,” because that’s how I think about it. The plot isn’t overly complicated and the characters aren’t necessarily deeply nuanced, but I love it all the same. The dialogue is spot on, the action is packed and you can read through them like butter. Every time I re-read one of these books, I laugh out loud–and I don’t do that often!

I was so enthralled by Sophie and her narration that I almost couldn’t bring myself to read Hawkins’ next series, Rebel Belle. But, it turns out, this is just how she writes. I’ve been won over by her sense of humor and fast paced, easy reading–and I think you will too!

Read it if you’re looking for: Strong female friendships, swoon-worthy romance, fast paced action, books like Harry Potter, sassy main characters, magic, fantasy, witches, demons, humor and feel good moments

September 24th – I Believe in Magic

I Believe in Magic

I believe in the sensation
Of pens gliding across paper
I believe in the power
Of the erasers on pencils
I believe that ideas
Are never completely out of reach
I believe that my inner editor
Is useful … sometimes
I believe there are always stories
Waiting to be told
I believe there are always characters
Wanting to be heard
I believe in the millions of journeys
You can take from your chair
I believe that you can become
Your characters
I believe that writing
Is magic