Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

“Life is easy and hard, beautiful and ugly.”

listen-slowly

Synopsis from GoodreadsA California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, though, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place she wants to be. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn’t know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.

Feelings: This was one of the books for my school’s book club, which is focusing on other cultures and view points. I really appreciated this pick; there were so many things I didn’t know or hadn’t realized about Vietnamese culture.

There’s a lot that this book does well: great messages on friendship, identity and what defines us, as well as strength and what it looks like. There are also undercurrents of family, the power of our choices, and patience. I think the author does a great job of weaving all of these elements together, while also crafting an engaging and fun storyline. There are some surface-level conflicts, sure, because it’s about a 12-year-old girl. But there’s also a pool of depth when it comes to culture and history.

Issues: I don’t know that I had any specific issues. For me, it just felt like the story was unfinished. While the main conflict was certainly resolved in the end, there was a lot left hanging. I’m not sure if this story lends itself to a sequel, but maybe a companion novel. But for now, it just left me feeling like…soooooo what about all this other stuff?

Characters: For some (especially adult) readers, I can see how Mai would be an annoying narrator. I mean…she’s definitely annoying. But you also have to keep in mind that she’s a child and this book is targeted to middle grade readers, mostly ages 8-12. I think for that age group, there are a lot of kids that could totally relate to Mai’s struggles. As an adult, there was a hint of nostalgia there, remembering what it was like to think everyone was conspiring against me, rooting for my complete discomfort. She almost lost me in the beginning, but I stayed with her and she grew on me.

Her grandmother made me miss mine so much. That quiet strength and the way Mai really SAW her at the end…got me right in the feels. I don’t know what I was expecting from the main conflict, centered around grandma and her long lost husband, but I felt content with its resolution.

The Vietnamese boy who goes to school in Houston, Texas was so great. (I don’t remember his name or know how to spell it, since I listened to the audiobook. That’s so terrible, I know!) The southern gentleman’s accent the narrator gave him was great. It gave him a sophisticated air about him that shook up the dialogue from time to time. And the girl who cut off her hair and wants to be a scientist…she was brilliant. (Again, sorry about the lack of character name.) She added that taste of rebellion that the perfect community needed, wanting to get her hands dirty and go outside of what was expected.

Narrator: I don’t think I would have cared much for this book in the very beginning if it hadn’t been for the narration by Lulu Lam. The first chapter is SO whiny valley girl middle schooler and I almost couldn’t hang. But she was so engaging that I wanted to keep listening. As the story went on, I could hear the character growing and changing in Lam’s voice, which I think takes great skill. Also, her pronunciations saved me. I really enjoyed her accents and different voices that she used for the varying generations and backgrounds of characters. Simply looking at the narrator, without any influence from my view of the storyline, I’d give Lulu Lam 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Final thoughts: I liked this book! I thought it was different from anything else I’d read and I really appreciated how the author gave us a history lesson without an information dump. Facts were delicately weaved in with the storyline and it just seemed natural. If you’re looking for a good realistic fiction middle grade read, I’d recommend this one, especially if you have kids. This would be a good one to preview for them or just put straight into their hands.

Pick this up if you liked: (These are all novels in verse…there’s no particular reason why that happened…they’re just the first ones I thought of!)

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg (another perspective from a child on the Vietnam War)

Goodreads rating: 3.89/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.4/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Most Anticipated Releases of the First Half of 2017

This is one of my most favorite posts to write every year. I usually choose 5 books I’m looking forward to in the first half of the year, then make a list in June or July for the remainder. I love a good series, so I’m always looking out for new books that will continue stories I love. This year, I also made sure to note some new standalones AND to look for books that are outside of my normal go-to genre. I’ve chosen books about characters who don’t look like me and have lives I can’t relate to and I’m really excited about it.

Below are 5 books in a series (either continuing one or starting a new one) and then 5 standalone stories that are coming out somewhere between January and June of this year.

wires-and-nerves

Wires and Nerves, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate

Release date: January 31

I have this book preordered because I’m so dang excited. This book continues the world of The Lunar Chronicles through the eyes and adventures of Iko. AND it’s a graphic novel! All of the yesses!

strange-the-dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Release date: March 28

I really loved Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I thought it was beautiful and tragic and completely original. I’m not sure if it’s in the same world as her previous series, but it kind of sounds like it. I can’t wait. So much mystery and uncertainty and I’m IN.

court-of-wings

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Release date: May 2

At first, I preferred Maas’ Throne of Glass series, but in the last year, I’m changing teams a little bit. The second book in this series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, blew my freaking mind so I’m crazy anticipating book 3!

flame-in-the-mist

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Release date: May 16

This is the first book in a new series by Ahdieh and it sounds kick awesome. The first line in the synopsis labels the main character as the daughter of a samurai and I was SOLD. She gets sold off to be married and then she’s kidnapped and then she pretends to be a boy and it sounds like a thrill ride.

lord-of-shadows

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Release date: May 23

This is the second book in Clare’s new Dark Artifices trilogy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m invested in the Shadowhunter world. I love the way Clare has layered this world and if she’ll keep writing, I’ll keep reading. There’s a chance I may like this series even more than The Infernal Devices. Stay tuned.


 empress-of-a-thousand

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Release date: February 7

This is the first standalone book on my list. I’ve heard many people compare it to Game of Thrones, but in SPACE. Need I say more? Politics, drama, SPACE, girl power…sign me up.

the-hate-u-give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Release date: February 28

This book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, which is one that I’d like to learn more about. I think that seeing things from another perspective will really help myself and a lot of others to understand this group’s goal and motivation. It hasn’t been published yet and movie rights have already been sold.

upside-unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Release date: April 11

I know this book is about unrequited love, but it also involves some nerd culture. Those kinds of books speak to me. There are also twins, body image issues, and various kinds of relationships. People have raved about Albertalli’s other book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but I haven’t read that one. Maybe I will, after this one!

started-with-goodbye

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

Release date: May 9

Cover, they name is Art. My soul is reaching out for this book. And the storyline sounds good too! Ha! This book is a modern twist on Cinderella, and I’m so excited. There’s a fairy godmother, and evil step-mother, and a graphic design business. Sounds super Cinderella-y, right? Can’t wait.

once-and-for-all

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Release date: June 6

It’s Sarah Dessen, y’all. She’s baaacckkkkkkk. Last summer, I read through all of her books in publication order and it was a blast. This is going to be such a perfect summer read. It’s got weddings. And love. So…so very Dessen.

What books are you most looking forward to in the first half of the year? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (audiobook)

“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”

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Synopsis from GoodreadsTrevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Feelings: This audiobook was the highest-rated new book of 2016 by Audible customers and was the winner of Audible’s Best of 2016 – Celebrity Memoirs. And I completely understand why. I’m a fan of Trevor Noah. I especially kept up with The Daily Show during the presidential election process. He has a way of sifting through the political BS and in a way, he made sure I was really seeing what was going on. He has such a unique perspective, which you learn all about in this book, and I now have a deeper understanding of where he’s coming from during his commentary on American politics and culture.

He has a great ability to paint a picture of a world I’ve never experienced. In no way can I say that I now suddenly totally understand what it’s like to be considered colored in South Africa, but I do finally have a surface level understanding…which is more than I had before. I also was completely unaware of the number of languages and stigmatisms throughout South Africa. In the book, he talks about how black people in South Africa hated John Cecil Rhodes more than Hitler, because of the difference in impact for their people and I wanted to hide under a rock. (See my last name to understand.) I’d always heard that he “founded” or “established” Zimbabwe (once called Rhodesia), but I was completely naive to the negative side of what he did. Now I”m interested in learning more about someone who may have been my ancestor.

Issues: When I picked up this audiobook, I’d just finished another collection of essays. I think this may have tainted my experience with this book. The only issue I really had was with the way the essays were organized. I tried to figure out why they were in the order that they were, but I couldn’t really track with it. They weren’t necessarily in time order, so sometimes it took me a minute to figure out when it was in relation to what he’d already shared.

Narration: No one else could have done this book justice. His accent and personality make this an easy listening book. He does different voices for the people he quotes, speaks in multiple languages, and adds little quirks that, to me, have become trademark Trevor Noah. Rating him as a narrator independent from the actual story, I’d give him 5 stars.

Final thoughts: I really enjoyed this audiobook. I think it would be great on its own, if you aren’t into audiobooks, but his narration really adds something special. I’m now really interested in audiobooks from authors who had very different experiences for me. There’s something about hearing it in their own voice that adds more life to their story. I also want to say, that even if you don’t watch The Daily Show for whatever reason, this book isn’t loaded with political commentary. So it’s still a great read.

This is a great video posted by Audible.com where he talks about his writing process!

 

Goodreads rating: 4.57/5

Audible.com rating: 4.9/5

My rating: 4.75/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Why I Rarely DNF Books

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “DNF”, it means “Did Not Finish.” It’s a term we book bloggers and Goodreads subscribers use to refer to books that we just didn’t have it in ourselves to finish reading for whatever reason.

I rarely do this. I try everything I can to get to the final page of a book, even if it’s insanely boring and I want to throw it across the room. I’m one of those people that is constantly hoping for the best. I believe in people and I believe that there’s always a chance that an author can redeem their story. Sometimes I get to the end of a book and the author has totally changed my opinion for the better and I’m so glad that I powered through. Other times, I think…I should have given up when I had a chance. Then the cycle repeats and I refuse to give up.

I know some people that have no problem putting a book aside when they lose interest and I totally respect that. I even understand it. It’s just my own personality that is so dang curious and hopeful that I rarely find myself choosing to give up.

These are 5 books that I either almost gave up on, or I completely did.

dorothy

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

At Christmas, my cousin recommended this book to me. Growing up, she was the biggest Dorothy fan. No lie. She even refused to wear anything but dresses, simply because Dorothy wore them. She and I tend to like the same books and TV shows, so I figured I’d give it a try. About halfway through, the storyline was losing my interest. I was losing faith in the characters and having a hard time figuring out just where the story was going. I decided not to finish it. Then I talked myself in to skimming to the end. I’m glad I finished it because the ending wasn’t what I expected, but I’m not interested enough to continue the series.

glass sword

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

I tried getting into this book MULTIPLE times. I ended up listening to the audiobook as a way to finish the story. But I had to make myself listen to it. I wasn’t really motivated or interested, but I bullied myself. I couldn’t stand Mare and having the whole book from her perspective was killing me. I ended up giving it a rating of 3 stars, but looking back…that was a gift. The character relationships were weird and confusing. The world building lost me. Now I’m genuinely confused about the 3 stars I gave it. I think I need to change that because I can’t remember anything I liked about it, other than meeting new characters with new abilities. I didn’t give up on this book, but I should have. It was more disappointing than I expected by the end.

summer days

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins (and others)

I really enjoyed the companion anthology of holiday stories, My True Love Gave to Me. I thought it was a fun mixture of various genres and characters that kept me engaged. This book, however, came up short for me. I think I read the first 2 short stories and was completely uninterested in reading more. Unfortunately, I have the hardback copy of this book and now it’s just sitting on my shelf. I’ll probably never continue it, unless someone tells me a specific story within it that I should read. I think it’s easier for me to DNF a collection of short stories because I’m not invested in any characters or plot development.

eve

Eve by William Paul Young

I know this author also wrote The Shack, and people love it…but I never read that one. My cousin gave me this book for Christmas last year and I was excited to pick it up. I thought it had an interesting premise and would be totally different from anything else I’d read. I read the first chapter and was totally lost. And not the kind of lost where you think…If I keep reading, I feel like I can figure it out. It was the kind of lost where I was so confused that I was just done. I wasn’t invested or even remotely curious, just not interested. I don’t know if that interest will change…I really just think I’m done with it.

treachery-beautiful-things

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

I read this book a few years ago and all I remember was how weird it was. I DID end up finishing it, but I almost didn’t. It was dark and then frilly, then trying to be weirdly sexy? I didn’t enjoy it, but it’s a fairy tale so I stuck it out to the end just in case…and I regretted it. Zero enjoyment happened. I don’t know if I tried to reread it if it would turn out differently years later, but I doubt it.

How do you feel about giving up on books? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

“I’ve spent so much time in the last few years trying to be perfect…and independent. And in the end, a rough draft and my friends made the difference.”

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Synopsis from GoodreadsYour flight is now boarding! Join Alex Sinclair for a life-changing, trans-Atlantic journey. London Belongs to Me is a coming-of-age story about friendship, following your dreams, and learning when to let go … and when to hang on.

Meet Alex, a recent college graduate from Tallahassee, Florida in love with London, pop culture, and comic cons. It’s not easy being twenty-one-years-old, and Alex has never been the most popular girl. She’s an outsider, a geeky fangirl … with dreams of becoming a playwright in a city she’s loved from afar, but never visited. Fleeing America after a devastating betrayal, she believes London is where she’ll be understood, where she belongs. But Alex’s past of panic attacks and broken relationships is hard to escape. When her demons team up with a jealous rival determined to destroy her new British life, Alex begins to question everything: her life-long dream, her new friends, and whether London is where she truly belongs.

Feelings: I connected with this book on so many levels and have a lot in common with our main character, Alex. The panic attacks, the self doubt, the love of all things theatre and fandoms, a tour guide job, an obsession with London…Alex is me and I am her. I was so happy to see the way Alex and her anxiety were portrayed. It was a comfort to feel like I wasn’t the only one.

One of my favorite things about this story was the sightseeing we get to do vicariously through Alex. We get to travel to a few famous theatres and landmarks throughout the city and she teaches us some new (to Americans) slang. It was a fun adventure!

Issues: The author kept referring to characters by their hair color. This wouldn’t usually bother me, but it happened a LOT. “The blonde one”…”the brunette one”…it just got old. Which is odd, because at other points the writing is crazy descriptive. Almost too descriptive.

It thought it was interesting that there was so much GIRL POWER with Alex’s plays and at the same time, a major beef between Alex and Olivia throughout the book. As a result of this tiff, we saw a lot of struggle for Alex and we watched as she tried to navigate this conflict, leading to some strong character development. However, I wish there’d been some stronger resolution that fit with this empowering-each-other theme in the book.

Characters: I’ve already raved about Alex, but I’ll just also add that she’s a very real character. Sometimes I get annoyed with characters make stupid choices because why couldn’t they have done something else, but it was different with this book. She was so relatable that when she goofed up, I was going…yep…I totally get that. It just worked for me.

This book was SO friendship-centric and I loved every second of it. Lucy and Freddie were a strong cast of the classic “friend group” we find in young and new adult literature. They had so much in common, but were wholly unique at the same time. Each friend had their own specific voice and I loved that they disagreed with each other! They had their own minds and called each other out on their stupidity. Even when the love interest entered the scene, we kept up with the friendship at the heart of the story. I really appreciated that. I do wish they’d been developed a teeny bit more. At times, it felt like they were just there to impact the protagonist, rather than have their own journeys. It was like they went back and forth between being dynamic and static characters, ending up as the latter. But ultimately, I loved their trio friendship and was jealous multiple times.

Uh, yes…I’d like to order one Mark, please. Talk about a swoon-worthy love interest. He was an imperfect character, sure, but again with the realness. The way that he really SAW Alex was refreshing and I liked the way the author handled the friendship dynamic. And then there’s Harry. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a companion novel that focuses on his journey from where this book ends up. I think that character has a lot of potential and I’d like to see it fleshed out. I’m rooting for him. For all of them, really.

Final thoughts: This book isn’t perfect, but it was really fun and I ate it up and it’s the type of story I’ll be forcing my friends to read just so we can discuss it. If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety or panic attacks, this book is a refreshing depiction of what it’s like to live with constant worry. You’ll finish the book feeling like you can do anything. What’s not to love about that??

Pick this up if you liked:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Goodreads rating: 4.02/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.5/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Books I Read Because of Hype

I’m one of those readers who runs on recommendations. I’m always looking for the latest craze or hype-inducing storyline. I want to know what I’m talking about when I join the conversation, so I always fall prey to hype. These are 5 books that I read because of all the conversations they started amongst the blogosphere and Goodreads threads.

anna and the french kiss

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

SO MANY people told me to read this book. I was skeptical because I hadn’t really gotten into the contemporary scene at that point. But I finally decided to dive in on a sick day and I’m so glad that I did. Since I finished reading about Anna and Etienne, I’ve read the next two books in this companion story trio and I loved them. This book is the reason I reach for a contemporary romance. Plus that cover art. *Swoon*

throne

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I love high fantasy. I’m always interested in new worlds and innovative magic systems. I’d heard a lot of people talk about this series after the sequel came out, but the cover threw me off. It seemed weird, I’ll be honest. But I watched a spoiler-free review of the first book and the vlogger was SO into it. I love fangirling, so I wanted what she was having. And now? I freaking love this series. I always pre-order the new books long in advance and anxiously await their arrival, even clearing my schedule for them. These stories consume me. There are so many characters and so much world building that I’m too invested to stop now.

outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Everyone and their cat’s mom has talked about this series. I’m all about historical fiction and time travel, plus romance and Scotland…hubba hubba. But then, the romance also made me hesitated. I’m not one of those people who just LOVES blush inducing love scenes, call me crazy. Once the TV show started airing, I wanted to be part of the conversation, so I picked up the first book. I actually read it as I watched the episodes, which was pretty interesting. Then I watched the second season of the show and haven’t read the book. I AM glad that I read it. I thought the writing was powerful and the world was engaging. I would like to continue the series, but I haven’t settled on whether it’ll be print or TV, or both.

wrath

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

I read a few blog posts and watched some booktube videos of readers raving about this story, so I picked it up. I sat down and read it cover to cover in one sitting. Not necessarily because it was a work of genius, but because it hooked me in and I had the time. Since then, the sequel has been released and I have yet to read it. I don’t really remember what happened in the first book, probably because I read it TOO quickly. I don’t know that I’ll pick up the second book any time soon. I already have it on my Kindle, staring at me, longing to be given a chance. Maybe the hype sucked me in TOO much the first time around.

all the light

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Again I say, I love me some historical fiction. Last year, I was on a major WWII kick and read book after book about that time period. I was also teaching The Diary of Anne Frank along with a WWII unit, so I was thirsty for more information. Everyone kept telling me that I should read this book, but the page count was daunting. Once I finally decided to give it a chance, I flew through it. The characters lept off the page and I was so emotionally invested in their fictional little lives. I love this book. It’ll forever be one of my favorites.

What books has hype made you read? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

This was the LAST book I read in 2016!

“Three dark queens/Are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets/Will never be friends

Three dark sisters/All fair to be seen,
Two to devour/And one to be Queen”

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Synopsis from GoodreadsEvery generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

Feelings: I read this book in one sitting. I found myself with some “me” time (AKA while everyone else was out partying on New Year’s Eve), started this book, and shortly realized I was almost done with it. I was quickly hooked into the world and desperate to understand how it all worked. Sometimes authors give us a giant information dump in the first few chapters to where it reads more like a history lesson. Blake, however, slowly weaves information in and out of the characters’ lives. I wrote down many questions I had while reading and by the last page, they were almost all answered.

The politics! The intrigue! The family drama! The danger! Oh my! There was so much going on that kept me wanting more and more. So many possibilities for the second book and I have zero predictions and guesses. Everything I thought would happen in this first book got spun on its head, so I’m just going to wait and see how it all plays out!

Issues: Each place we went to was different and for me, it was easy to figure out where I was and who was there when the POV changed with the chapters. However, sometimes the world building became confusing and we didn’t find out important information until the second half of the book. Sometimes it was done well, filling us in at the best time. At other points, it made me more confused and have more questions. Most of the things I was stumped on included the world itself, like the government system, the process of finding king consorts or suitors, and the history of this queen ritual.

The other kind-of issue I had was with the romances. Part of me didn’t care about the romances because I was so invested in who was going to become THE queen and learning about their powers. The other part of me loves a good romance story and was disappointed that each individual love story had some sharp turns and side steps. None of them really ended well…which was kind of let down.

Characters: One thing I really enjoyed about this book were how the main characters are triplets, but they’re totally different. Each one had their own unique personality, struggles, and hopes. I found myself being totally invested in each one equally. I wasn’t speeding through certain chapters to get back to a beloved character. I loved all of them!

Katharine’s storyline was the darkest of the three…probably because of all that poison. I really wanted everything to work out for her, but I kept getting conflicted because I just knew that two of the sisters would have to die. Kat was probably the weakest of the three girls in the beginning. By the end, I wasn’t so sure anymore. I think she’ll find power in other ways, rather than some inherent gift.

Mirabella was expected to be the most powerful and the queen to fear. I think her particular story arc showed just how much of a teenage girl that she is and I liked that the author did that. She needed some kind of weakness in order for her to be relatable and worthy of our cheers.

Arsinoe was probably the most underwhelming of the sisters to me at first. She seemed rough and tumble, then she was sweet and caring. Then we questioned her gift and she showed us just how cunning she could be. I’m really excited to see where her story arc goes in the next book. She probably had the biggest plot twist by the end of the book!

Final thoughts: This is one of those books that I’d recommend you have some knowledge of before reading. It’s not the kind you just dive into. I mean, you could, but for me it would have taken longer to figure out the world that way. I’d highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a girl powered fantasy ride!

Pick this up if you liked: (How about some other QUEEN books?)

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Goodreads rating: 3.85/5

Amazon.com rating: 4/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn