Thursday, February 28, 2019

Who loves a sad ending?

Recently a friend asked me to read his NaNoWriMo project from last year. It was an adult horror book, so right up my alley! It was totally creepy and I loved it, but the ending truly shocked me. It ended with the main character dying in a way that had been hinted at throughout the book.

This got me thinking about why more books don't have sad endings, specifically fantasy books with huge wars and high stakes. The fact is, most people love a happy ending. The ending of my friend's book has been on my mind for weeks. In fact, he has asked for my thoughts and I've had serious trouble putting them on a page because I was so thrown off by the way it ended. But why?

Looking at the books on my (YA) shelves I can think of exactly one that ended in a main character's death and the YA community RIOTED and many vowed never to trust the author again. I'm sure you know which book I mean. But why are we like this? Why do we demand that none of our main characters get a bad ending, especially when other characters around them die? What makes them special?

There are definitely some YA fantasy and sci-fi books that (I think) should have ended in a bit of a different way. Here are a few that come to mind:


As someone who reads primarily young adult books, my main question is whether or not this is limited to YA. Someone who reads mostly adult fiction let me know if it's more common for sad endings there. Maybe it's just the YA community who prefers all their endings to be happy. Based on the handful of adult fantasy books I've read, I'm guessing not though.

The thing about it is, I don't think it's entirely realistic to have happy endings in every single book. The main character shouldn't always win or get the hot guy. Honestly, I think I prefer more realistic endings where no one dies, but everything isn't sunshine and rainbows. Actually, most of my absolute favorite series end like this!

What kind of ending do you prefer?
Happily ever after or something more real?
Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #228: Magical worlds I'd like to see

Today's Topic: 
Fantasy Worlds I'd Love To Visit

Hi everyone! This week's topic was supposed to be about places I'd like to visit from books I've read. Since I very rarely visit places in the real world, I'm going to talk about fantasy worlds instead. I think they're much more fun anyway! 

The Night Court | A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Emberfall | A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Caraval | Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Mines of Moria | The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Asgard | Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Ravka | Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Wonderland | Splintered by A.G. Howard
Nerezeth | Stain by A.G. Howard
Neverland | Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Underground | Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Monday, February 25, 2019

ARC Review: Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury

Title: Last of Her Name
Author: Jessica Khoury
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 400
Add to Goodreads

Sixteen years ago, rebellion swept the galaxy known as the Belt of Jewels. Every member of the royal family was murdered--down to their youngest child, Princess Anya--and the Union government rose in its place. But Stacia doesn't think much about politics. She spends her days half-wild, rambling her father's vineyard with her closest friends, Clio and Pol.

That all changes the day a Union ship appears in town, carrying the leader of the Belt himself, the Direktor Eminent. The Direktor claims that Princess Anya is alive, and that Stacia's sleepy village is a den of empire loyalists, intent on hiding her. When Stacia is identified as the lost princess, her provincial home explodes into a nightmare.

Pol smuggles her away to a hidden escape ship in the chaos, leaving Clio in the hands of the Union. With everything she knows threading away into stars, Stacia sets her heart on a single mission. She will find and rescue Clio, even with the whole galaxy on her trail. 

Last of Her Name is a YA science fiction retelling of Anastasia and is so far up my alley that I HAD to get my hands on it! Luckily I did and I dived in as soon as I possibly could. This was my first ever Anastasia retelling, although there do seem to be a lot of them being published lately. I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, but I can definitely say it surprised me.

Stacia has lived in a small town on a small planet for her entire life with her parents and best friends Clio and Pol. Stacia loves spaceships and she's good at fixing them. When she and her friends spot a particularly impressive ship coming toward their town, they run at the chance to see it, but quickly find themselves in a very dangerous situation. This leads to Stacia finding out she's really Anya, the princess, which prompts her and Pol to go on the run. That's when things get really wild.

This book is non-stop action from the first chapter and, for maybe the first time, I don't think that's always a great thing. Last of Her Name is just a lot. There's a lot of world building, a lot of characters, and a lot of information thrown into a relatively short book. I'm not usually one for dragging things out, but I truly believe this could have worked better as a duology. Despite there being SO much going on, there's never much time to process, to get to know new characters or situations. Because of that, I never really felt able to fully connect with much in the story. New characters would be introduced and we're immediately expected to care about what happens to them without knowing them at all.

When it comes to characters, they were fine, for the most part. Stacia was fine. She was a pretty typical YA heroine who learned the truth about her past and was forced to deal with it. I did enjoy her growth as she came to accept her true nature. Pol, the Dimitri character in this retelling, was just... not it. I can't really put into words what I didn't like about him, but the romance didn't work for me. Probably my favorite part of this book was Riyan, a character who's introduced fairly early on and becomes a huge part of the plot. His abilities and the world he's from were so fascinating to me! He reminded me a bit of Spock, who I also love. Honestly, I'd read a book all about him and his sister.

As with Riyan's world, the rest of the world building was really fascinating! There were multiple unique planets and systems, and the prisms that powered the technology were a really interesting concept. That did get a little too weird for me as the book went on, but I can't say much more about it without spoilers. I thought the struggle between the Union and the Resistance was interesting, although the Big Bad was a little too over the top in his motivations.

Overall, this book was just okay. I expected a really fun sci-fi retelling and, while I did get it, it was just too much in too little space. I think I'd have loved this story a lot more if there had been more time to get to know the world and the people in it.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Weekly Recap: 2/17 - 2/23


Hi everyone! This has been yet another busy week, but I accomplished quite a bit! I got some reading done and managed to finish three books and start a couple more! I also stocked up on some new adult romance at the local used bookstore since it seems like I never have any on hand when I want to read it. Have you read any of the ones I bought? Are they any good? I was excited to receive The Everlasting Rose from the publisher and Skyward in a trade and I can't wait to read them both! Two of my dogs had to go to the groomer this week, which they are not used to and did NOT enjoy. Their nails look fabulous though. XD Today I'll be heading to my second IRL book club meeting where we're discussing Letters to the Lost. My introverted self kind of wants to stay home but I'm forcing myself to be social! Anyone else have to make themselves keep plans?






The topic was underrated favorites for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday audiobook review of Letters to the Lost
Thursday blog tour ARC review of Warrior of the Wild
On Friday I did the books I'll (probably) never read book tag
I watched a lot of thrillers for Saturday Screen Time



I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, February 23, 2019

Saturday Screen Time #29: Thriller!

Happy Saturday, everyone! Recently I have been binge watching horror, thrillers, and creepy science fiction. I'm not sure what has gotten into me, but I have a watchlist a mile long. Definitely expect more of these in the near future! While nearly everything was mediocre this week, I still had a blast watching most of them. 


Gerald's Game - I've seen this movie suggested on Netflix approximately three million times, but never gave it a chance until recently. I was in a mood for something creepy but not straight horror, so I decided to go for it! It was... something. While it was a pretty decent movie, I couldn't really get into the woman hallucinating everything for days on end. There were some good scares, but most of it went about as you'd expect a movie about a woman chained to a bed alone to go. The ending wasn't quite what I'd expected and I think it could have ended about 5 minutes sooner and been better. (3/5 stars)

A Simple Favor - I finally rented A Simple Favor after hearing a friend rave about how it was SO good for weeks. I asked why it was categorized as comedy on IMDB and was assured repeatedly that there was no comedy, it was straight thriller and horror. (Narrator: It wasn't.) I guess it's not a surprise that an Anna Kendrick movie can't keep a straight face, but that's also why we love her. As a thriller, this was just okay. The first half was really good and kept the tension going, but it got a bit too over the top and silly by the end. (3/5 stars)

Creep 2 - Have I mentioned I've been in the mood for horror? I vaguely remembered Creep being one of the BEST movies I'd seen in awhile way back when I watched it. Sadly I can't remember anything about it, so I'll have to give it a rewatch. Even without that, I can confidently say this is not as good, but it isn't bad either. It's just not horror. There is a steady sense of unease from the first time the the two main characters meet and they continue to be really weird, but I'd definitely classify this as thriller. (3/5 stars)

The Endless - I found The Endless when I looked to see what else the man responsible for Annihilation had made. Apparently this movie ties into a larger universe. This is the first one I've seen, though the other two are in my Amazon cart! The Endless is one of those super weird movies that I can't watch when my husband is around because he complains the entire time. It will mess with your head and keep you trying to figure out what is going on. Again, this isn't really horror, but it will make you feel super uneasy from beginning to end. (3.5/5 stars)

Triangle - I saw this recommended on Reddit in a discussion about The Endless, so it's somewhat similar in its premise and mood. This is about a woman who finds herself in a time loop onboard a super creepy ship and I promise I'll be watching it again! I can't say much about it without spoilers, but this is definitely a movie for people who enjoy not knowing what the heck is happening until the very end. (3.5/5 stars)

Glass - I've been waiting for this movie for SO LONG and then I decided to wait and see it at the last possible minute before it left theaters. I saw Unbreakable many years ago, then recently rewatched it, and found it to be an okay movie. Split was amazing, though! Glass fell right in the middle for me and did a great job of bringing the two movies together. I loved the way Shyamalan told this story without the over the top superhero tropes we're so used to. James McAvoy is worth the price of admission alone. He switches back and forth between personalities seamlessly on screen and it's incredible to watch! I can't wait to get this and watch it a second time. (4/5 stars)

Ghost Ship - Here's a true throwback! I watched Ghost Ship in the mid 2000s and remember being absolutely terrified by it so I was eager to see if it was anywhere near as good as I remembered. It was definitely an early 2000s horror movie. Uncle Jack from Gossip Girl is in it, along with Alicia from The Good Wife and they are honestly pretty bad. At least one of them improved over time. This movie is cheesy, but the ship is really creepy, which I loved! You also can't mention this movie without talking about the opening. Incredible. (2.5/5 stars)

Do you like movies that are confusing?
What's your favorite genre to watch?
Let me know in the comments!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Books I'll (Probably) Never Read Book Tag

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I thought I'd do a book tag since it has been quite a while. This one was originally created on BookTube and, no, no one tagged me. Tag yourself! I have a tendency to have unpopular book opinions, so this tag all about what I'm NOT going to read seemed right up my alley!



I hate to even go there, but the entire Shadowhunters universe does not interest me in the slightest. I may have honestly been interested once upon a time, but I tried one of the books and couldn't STAND the main character (I can't even remember which). That coupled with my general dislike of the author means the chances of me ever reading any of these insanely hyped series are slim.



Throne of Glass. I KNOW what you're thinking, but... it's just not for me. I read the first two books in the series and when I found out it branches off into other worlds and introduces tons of other new characters, I just couldn't. The ending of A Court of Wings and Ruin definitely confirmed my decision not to finish it.



Pretty much anything by Jane Austen. I'm sorry! I know that a lot of people adore her books, but I've just never felt any desire whatsoever to dig into them. The classics I love are things like Lord of the Flies or Metamorphosis. My favorite classic romance is Wuthering Heights! I've just never been into the Jane Austen stories. If there's any I might give a chance it's Pride and Prejudice, just so I can figure out what all the Darcy hype is about.



Young adult contemporary romance. It just is NOT my thing. If I do stray into the realm of contemporary, it's usually new adult or adult romance. Although I love reading YA fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and others, I just can't deal with the teenage angst and drama when it comes to contemporary. If I do end up reading one there's usually a good reason (like a book club). There are rare exceptions, but it's a genre I avoid like the plague.


I had to watch Doctor Zhivago in English class in the 12th grade. That's right, we watched the MOVIE. While I did love the movie, I've never really cared to read the book. It's long and I already know what it's about. The book is on my shelf though.

Do you agree with any of these?
Have I completely disrespected your favorite book?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Blog Tour ARC Review: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

Title: Warrior of the Wild
Author: Tricia Levenseller

Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 336
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//
How do you kill a god?

As her father's chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.

Tricia Levenseller is an author I have heard a ton about but never read before now. Although pirates never really struck my interest, this Viking-inspired book most definitely did! I was intrigued by this female character being tasked to kill the god and couldn't wait to get my hands on this beautiful book!

Rasmira has spent her entire life preparing to lead her village as her father's heir. She's a warrior-in-training and just needs to pass her final trial before being considered a true warrior. When she's betrayed by someone she trusts and her trial is sabotaged, her father has no choice but to banish her and assign an unbeatable task in line with their customs. Banishment is as good as a death sentence because of the dangers of the wilds outside the villages. Unlike many, though, Rasmira doesn't accept that her task isn't one she can complete and sets out fully intending to restore her honor and return to her village.

I. Loved. Rasmira. She was such an incredible, strong heroine and I loved her persistence from the very first page! Although she had moments of doubt, she never let herself be swayed from her goal and always kept fighting. She was fierce and a complete badass and I would love to read a whole series about her adventures!

I also must mention the two incredible side characters of this story, Soren and Iric. Both have managed to survive the wild against all odds and fully intend to live out their lives there, with no plans of attempting their quests. Rasmira befriends them and helps them both to be their best selves and, of course, there's super swoony romance! These three were so wonderful together. Their friendship, even without the romance, was wonderful and refreshing.

But let's talk about the world of this book! I admittedly have not watched Vikings. I don't watch many Viking movies or shows or read many Viking-inspired books, but this absolutely planted me right in the middle of the world and made me feel like I was there. I was especially fascinated by the god's mountain and his lair. I would have perhaps liked to see a little of the wider world. It's true that Warrior of the Wild doesn't span a very large area, but the world we're given is incredible.

This story is unique and action packed and I loved every second of it! There are twists and not all of them are hard to guess, but they're all a lot of fun. Warrior of the Wild has definitely found a spot on my favorites shelf and Tricia Levenseller has made it to my auto buy list. If you're a fan of YA fantasy, badass heroines, and amazing friendships, you don't want to miss this book!


Tricia Levenseller is the author of the Daughter of the Pirate King duology and forthcoming standalone, Warrior of the Wild. She likes to describe her books as young adult alternate–world historical fantasies with heavy romantic subplots.

Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing, and she is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, playing Overwatch with her siblings, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Audiobook Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Letters to the Lost (Letters to the Lost #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 391
Add to Goodreads

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. 

You may be wondering how I ended up reading a YA contemporary romance novel since we all know this isn't my normal kind of read. Last month I went to my first ever book club meeting. The first month we read a YA fantasy, which is right up my alley. This month the club selected Letters to the Lost and here we are.

Letters to the Lost is about Juliet, a teenager whose mom died tragically in a car accident on her way home from a work trip. Juliet has always blamed herself for begging her mom to return early and continues to cope by writing letters and leaving them at her mom's grave. One day there's a response to one of her letters and, after a brief period of anger over her privacy being intruded upon, Juliet begins to write to the mysterious person known only as The Dark.

Of course, the mysterious other person is the romantic interest, also known as Declan. Declan has his own issues after his sister died and his father went to jail. Basically, they both have stuff to work through. But Declan has a reputation for being a bad guy at school and that's all Juliet can see him as. As they write to each other anonymously, they being to catch feelings, drama ensues, etc.

Juliet was a great character who was super easy to sympathize with! I could totally understand her actions and how she could blame herself. I can't imagine losing my mom, especially if I felt like it could be my fault in some way. I also understood the difficulty Juliet had with taking up hobbies she'd previously enjoyed. I think the author did a great job of painting a picture of a young girl who was grieving.

Declan was also a sympathetic character, but I did have a hard time with his obvious anger issues and the way that no one seemed to go out of their way to help him work through his issues. I hated the way that he treated people and had no desire to be anything other than what everyone expected. I can understand why he had the anger issues that he did, but I have a difficult time with characters who are so aggressive all the time. I was glad that he was eventually able to let down some walls.

The mystery pen pal storyline was definitely intriguing and I think it's why I was able to enjoy this book when I really am not a fan of contemporary romance. I liked the added level of non-angsty drama and how the anonymous connection allowed two people who would never have been friends get to know each other. I didn't care for how it started to drag out a bit near the end, though.

Although the direction the book ended up going was a bit predictable, I did still enjoy it and I kept listening, wanting to know how things would wrap up. Speaking of which, I really did want there to be a bit more resolution to both these characters' stories. The ending was fine, I guess, but after such a long book, I'd hope for a bit more... something. I did see that there's a second book in the series, but I haven't decided whether to pick it up yet.

Overall, I did enjoy this YA contemporary romance that I never, ever would have read without a book club forcing me to do it. I did find it a bit predictable and drawn out, and I never really fell in love with Declan, although it seems like everyone else swoons over him. Still, if I had to read a contemporary romance, I'm glad it was this one!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday #227: Underrated favorites

Today's Topic: 
Books I LOVED with Fewer than
2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

Hi everyone! This week we're talking about books that are severely underrated. Each of these books are incredible and deserve way more attention than they've gotten. Not surprisingly, there's some horror, some dystopian, and some retellings. Go read them all!

Anyone? by Angela Scott
The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard
Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
Floor 21 by Jason Luthor
The Merciless IV by Danielle Vega

Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum
Of Dreams and Rust by Sara Fine
Return to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Stain by A.G. Howard
Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.