Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

“There are some things that can’t be changed with words. Some things have to be seen. They have to be felt.”
― Shelby Mahurin, Serpent & Dove



Alright, so I just checked when my last update was on here and it’s been well over a year. I didn’t post a thing all of 2019. ZIP. NADA.

I think being a mom to a toddler consumed my life for a bit. I had to figure out how to balance being a teacher, with being a mom, with being a wife, with just being an individualistic human. It took me 1 year and 5 months but I think I have figured it out!

In November I began working out again. Nothing crazy, but thirty minutes a day to myself at the gym with whatever audiobook I’m listening to or with some good music. I feel much more focused and less sleepy after I work out. But since it’s the start of a new year and whatnot I thought,”Why not? Let’s set another goal and see if we can achieve it.” In reality, I should be goal setting to eat more vegetables or to get more restful sleep but I want to start writing again. I still read constantly and would love to actually write a novel one day and I need to start somewhere!

So if you are still out there…

If you still read blogs and not just watch Youtube vlogs…

I thank you for sticking around.

Thank you for giving writer’s a space to create.

And for sharing an interest that not many cultivate anymore.

You know it’s hard out here for a writer.


So I decided to start blogging again with one of my favorite reads of 2019. It’s also a YA novel that had the MOST polarizing reviews of last year. I am beginning again with, Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.


Goodreads Blurb 

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.



As stated above, I whole-heartedly loved this novel. It took me by surprised and gave me everything I wanted. The first thing I noticed was the stunning cover. STUNNING. I love the black with the raised gold foiling. It was very eye-catching on the Barnes & Noble YA shelf.


However, I knew I wanted this novel before ever stepping into the bookstore. It took Booktube and Bookstagram by storm and at first all of the reviews were 5 stars. Then when the book came out, people started saying there was a lack of world building and that the magic system was not explained well. Which I somewhat agree with about the magic system. I felt a little confused when Lou and Coco would discuss their different magics. I have a feeling we will get more information on the difference between the two types of witches in the next novel though. But at first I didn’t understand that there were differences between the two clans.

As for the world building, I thought it was fine. I got the French influence, and the time period and how that had an effect on some social norms and impropriety, and I understood the historical background with witch hunting. So I don’t agree with that criticism of the book.

I absolutely loved the relationship. I liked Lou and Reid together. They are the perfect example of “opposites attract” and one of the best “hate to love” YA tropes I have ever seen done. The build up was slow and meaningful. And I honestly think that experiences such as the ones they went through together can build strong feelings of affection. So I was 100% happy with that aspect of the book. In fact, I loved all of the characters relationships. Lou and Reid. Lou and Coco. Coco and Reid. Lou and Ansel, etc. To be honest, I lived for Lou and Ansel’s parts of the story about as much as Reid and Lou’s.

One criticism that I would slightly agree with is about the ending. Some reviewers agreed that it was too rushed and that all of the power that Lou had throughout the book was taken away. I do agree on both parts. Do I maybe feel this way because I just wanted MORE? Yes, it’s a possibility. But I wish it had been stretched out over a longer period of time so that it made more sense and wasn’t rushed all within the last few pages of the book.

The next novel, Blood & Honey, is said to be out September 2020 and I will for sure preorder this one. I am completely invested in these characters and want more! I gave this novel 5/5 stars on Goodreads!


The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw



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Goodreads Blurb

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.



This summer I have been reading so many middle grade books to get ready for teaching 5th grade English next year. I’ll have a review coming soon for some middle grade graphic novels I’ve been loving. But I’ve also been reading some creepy books. It feels like it should be Halloween based on my reading mood lately! The Wicked Deep is YA but definitely falls into the creepy book category.

Okay, so this one is going to be a very mixed review. I needed to sit on it for a few days. I really loved this book. I want to go in first with that. However, I’ve seen some very mixed reviews online and on instagram about this book. The first thing I ever heard about it was that it is compared to Hocus Pocus and that’s all I needed to hear. I loved Hocus Pocus growing up. And the cover of this book is absolutely stunning. It’s minimalistic but kind of not. I much prefer the US edition to the UK for this novel. And usually the UK editions are a lean more to the minimal side.

Anyway, back to the story. I don’t want to put too many spoilers in this one because the book is still fairly new and I know some people are reading it for different readathons that are taking place right now. I’ll start with the things I loved…

  1. The setting. I love the name of the tiny, creepy town Sparrow. It was perfect and rainy like how I wanted the weather to be while I was reading!
  2. The novel itself gave me Twilight vibes. Partly because it was set in Oregon, but the writing style and the romance in the story reminded me a lot of Bella and Edward. And I wasn’t mad about it! I read this book so quickly because I loved the atmosphere so much. Even though this book does get pretty creepy and I don’t always like creepy books.
  3. I like the trope of the villain deciding to be good. This book showed a lot of grey areas in this world which I like. People aren’t always black and white. Sometimes our decisions lean more to the grey side or people change. I think Ernshaw pulled this trope off very well without coming off cheesy.
  4. The flashbacks were great! I normally get bored during flashbacks in movies and in books. You can tell when they’re just being used to fill space or to add random bits to the plot but I loved the flashbacks. I enjoyed seeing the Swan sisters in their normal life and watching how their curse came about and why they were so full of revenge.
  5. The ending. The ending was very honest. It wasn’t trying to put a pretty bow on top of the story and make everything work out. It’s a breath of fresh air sometimes when reading YA and the story ends realistically instead of in a “Happily Ever After” way. People were hurt, some things are unforgivable, you need to realize when it’s time to let go, etc. These are all very good themes that this book has and I think the ending resonated with me because it went out with a bang.

Somethings I understand other people probably didn’t like about this novel…

  1. Every hint in this book was thrown in randomly and not folded into the story very neatly. I think it was fine, you can tell it’s Ernshaw’s first novel but where she struggled with this she made up for in other areas.
  2. Because of how haphazardly these hints were thrown in, it made the book predictable. I know about 1/3 of the way in what the plot twist was. Not that it ruined the story for me, because I really liked seeing how the story unfolded after.
  3. The romance was a little rushed. Again I wasn’t too mad at this because it reminded me so much of Edward and Bella. And sometimes a girl wants to picture herself staying up late getting to know a hot newcomer to town and hitting off. Love at first date!

I ended up giving this book 4.5 stars. I will be keeping it on my bookshelves and I am more than a little excited to read Ernshaws next book Winterwood. She does really well writing about nature and it doing so in an atmospheric way. I loved it!

North Texas Teen Book Festival 2018

This post is a little late but I loved this day so much that I still want to share it with y’all! I had the opportunity to attend the North Texas Teen Book Festival – Educator Day this year in April.

I usually attend the Texas Teen Book Festival in Austin but I had a baby a few weeks before it this year so I was happy to get invited to the North Texas one! And while I like the setting at St. Edward’s in Austin for the Texas one better, I really liked the author lineup they had at this one.

And I was lucky enough to get to attend the author luncheon. I sat at a table next to authors such as Morgan Matson, Roshani Chokshi, and Holly Black! I was awestruck the entire time. I barely ate any of the $50 lunch I paid for. During the luncheon Leigh Bardugo, Dhonielle Clayton, Sabaa Tahir and Renee Ahdieh spoke about diverse books in YA and middle grade.

I got to meet Leigh Bardugo, Cassandra Clare, Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh, Roshani Chokshi, Dhonielle Clayton, and Holly Black personally. It was such a neat experience. I forgot my Aru Shah and the End of Time book in the car but I stopped Roshani Chockshi while she was talking to some people and asked to take a picture with her because we were currently reading that novel in our book club at school and I knew the kids would think that was cool! They loved it. I sent the picture out to them on Remind and they were so excited. She is so sweet and humble. I loved all of them!

I definitely plan on going back next year. I got to connect with some librarians and English teachers across North Texas and hear some really cool panels about diverse books and needing broader representation for people of different cultures and for there to be more books written with LBGTQ representation. I also enjoyed all of the world building and setting panels. Those always fascinate me!

The books pictured above were the books that were given to me and the ones I got signed. I came home with a nice little stack. I fully plan on attending this even next year too, along with the one in Austin. I can’t wait!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young




Goodreads Blurb


Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield — her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.



It’s been a minute. But that’s okay because I just read a super awesome book and I can’t wait to tell you about it! My mom grabbed an ARC of Sky in the Deep at TLA for me this year and had it signed. Huzzah! I was thrilled to say the least. Vikings, yes! Bad ass female character, yes! Intriguing plot line with a brother mysteriously is back from the dead and fighting you across the battlefield, yes! Steamy, slow burn romance, YAAAASSSSS!

This standalone novel earned 5 stars from me. I loved the characters (Eelyn + Fiske = True ❤ 4eva), I loved the setting, the plot, the world building, the Viking culture, and all of the grey areas in this book. I really loved how the relationships were not all black and white. There were some definite grey areas that make it relatable. For one, the betrayal between Iri and Eelyn. I don’t feel that it’s ever actually resolved nor do I feel like something like that in real life ever would be. You can’t take a sting out of something like that and Eelyn knows this but more importantly Iri knows it too. But he doesn’t really beg forgiveness. He leans more towards the “I’m sorry you feel that way, sister but this is my life now”.

And then the whole “Do we trust Eelyn, or has homegirl lost her mind” vibe coming from Myra and Aghi. Of course they’re extremely apprehensive about Eelyn coming back out of nowhere with the enemy in tow. It would be crazy if they were like SURE ARCHENEMY COME INTO MY KITCHEN AND HAVE SOME NICE VIKING TEA. No. I’m glad that not everything was easy in this novel. I appreciated the complexity of relationships of all the characters.

Of course Iri’s relationship with both of his families. Because how could that not have some grey in there? Talk about having a “complicated” relationship status.

Especially Fiske and Eelyn’s. He knows he’s mad about her early on but realizes that she’s a little crazy, if not a little immature in the beginning with a lot of life changes happening around her so he doesn’t push the subject. I loved reading all of the little hints he would drop her. He would casually throw a statement of unreadable undying love at her and then walk away all broodily. It was the cutest thing ever.

I don’t really have many dislikes for this novel. I feel like Young did an amazing job for her debut. Some small things I noticed were that Eelyn sobbed A LOT. Not that she didn’t have a right too. She definitely seemed like the moody 17 year old who covers up heartbrokenness and change with anger but she would start sobbing about just about everything. I don’t know, maybe I’m being too tough on the girl. She lived a hard Viking life anyway. Another thing that seemed a tad bit distracting in the beginning of the book was there are quite a few short, punctuated sentences. I think they’re used for emphasis but I think that could have been edited a little better.

I feel like I need to comment on the title of this book. I was so confused about the meaning in the beginning. When I first heard about it I thought it was about a girl named Sky but it’s actually based off a beautiful scene that takes place in the book. I thought that was creative and needed to be noted. It’s one of my favorite scenes in the book.

Lingering Questions

I merely want to add this section to the review because Young has stated on her Instagram that she is in the process of writing a companion novel to Sky in the Deep, and that we will see Eelyn and Fiske make an appearance in it.

  1. Are the Herja actually supernatural? In the book they’re described as having white eyes. Are they actually demons or are they just taking some crazy berserking drug that makes them look otherworldly?
  2. What are the relationships between the Riki and Aska clans like after the Herja battle and after they decided to end the fighting season?
  3. Do Iri and Runa stay in Fela or does he go to Hylli since everyone in his adoptive family move their for Eelyn? I feel like the novel leaves the impression that they stay but Runa’s parents are both dead now and everyone else Iri loves has now moved down to the fjord.


The Girl in The Tower by Katherine Arden



Goodreads Blurb

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop. 



I love both of these books. I love the light romance between Vasya and Morozko, I love the setting, the characters, the entire plot, the book covers, everything! I’m anxiously awaiting The Winter of the Witch release later this year. Vasya is one of my favorite female characters in a book. She’s so strong-willed, brave, caring, and honest. We need more strong, female characters in literature! Move over Bilbo! 😛

I feel like this second book was all about her having to grow up and learning how to be conscious of other peoples desires and less impulsive. She has a tougher time in this book versus the first book because she is no longer at home, no longer has a parent, and is thrown into her older brother and sisters world at court in Moscow. She must learn to behave herself and fit into the role of a woman instead of a young girl. Her brother and sister have now spent several years away from the frontier and at court and do not understand why she still behaves the way she does.

To tame her, they try and find her a husband. All the while, Vasya is trying to unravel the mystery behind all of the village burnings in the countryside and all of the young girls being kidnapped. She and Solovey, her horse, are the only ones able to track down the raiders. And she ends up catching up to her brother Sasha at a monastery but he does not want to reveal her as a female because of the gender roles of the time. It would ruin her reputation.

He ends up bringing her to court where a mysterious guy takes an interest in her, even as a male. Which makes his character very confusing and his motives unclear. I don’t want to put too many spoilers in this review because it’s a rather large piece of the plot 🙂

Anyway, this novel is all about the journey to adulthood, making the right decisions, romance, and the relationship between a girl and her horse. I think Solovey is my favorite character in these books. He’s hilarious! And is always looking out for Vasya.

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden



Goodreads Blurb

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.



This was my first read of 2018. My mom had read it and recommended it to me around Christmas time. I have actually owned the book since it came out in early 2017. I bought it because I thought the cover was so beautiful, and since seeing the UK version I’m not sure which I love more.

This novel follows the main character, Vasilisa Petrovna, through her life and upbringing in medieval Russia, or Rus as it was called back then. Arden’s depiction of the time period and the way of life is absolutely amazing. I feel as if I learned so much about the way the people lived and about how Christianity was integrated into their way of life. For instance, to stay warm during the harsh winters the family had a sort of platform built above the stove in the house and that is where they all slept together to stay warm through the winter. Pretty cool, huh?

And out on the frontier the people actually believed in these types of guardians, domovoi, that watched over their house and animals. Like you leave scraps of food for the house domovoi to protect you and your family and you feed the stable one to protect and care for the horses. It was very fascinating to read about. And the domovoi reminded me of Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle which was cool.

Throughout all of this you’re also learning about the folklore, such as Morozko, basically our version of Jack Frost and his brother is basically Death. But the less people believe in them, the more they fade away. So when the church begins to rise to power in Moscow the domovoi and Jack Frost and the Bear begin losing their powers slowly as people convert. The church sees it as evil and giving into demons when the frontier people leave offerings to the domovoi.

And when this happens The Bear becomes stronger and evilness corrupts the land, turning all of the sprites and wood nymphs to bad instead of good. And as the story progresses you learn that Vasya is the only person who can help, because she has special powers that her grandmother had.

This novel actually leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth in regards to the church and it’s priests. Everything about them are corrupt and close-minded. And the Father who comes to Vasya’s town to convert the people is a really horrible person. It’s like he loves Vasya because she represents everything he cannot have, such as freedom and her love of the wilderness, but he hates her too. I think he blames her for tempting him, which is sick and twisted. And I didn’t like how her brother decided to leave to join the church because I really liked his character in the beginning of the novel so it was a shame to see him leave. I thought he would have stayed to protect the family and to watch over Vasya.

Vasya’s father also finds a new wife from Moscow when he goes to marry off his eldest daughter. He is already in the good graces of the royalty because his wife came from that family so they offer him a slightly “crazy” daughter for him to marry and take away to the woods. She’s actually related to his late wife. But you come to find out that she has been endowed with the same gifts as Vasya but she’s been raised in a place that shuns the domovoi and anything of the like so she thinks she is always seeing demons.

She hates Vasya because she sees that she is at peace with this gift and she assumes she is a devil-child instead of a normal girl.

I loved seeing how the family dynamics came into play during this time period. It was very unique and I feel as if I learned a lot. Not to mention this book also has a slight romantic twist along with a magical bird that becomes a sassy horse. It was a magical wintertime read from beginning to end and I devoured the second book as soon as I finished this one. The Winter of the Witch, the third and I think last installment in this series is due to come out this fall if I’m not mistaken. It’s one of my most anticipated reads for this year!

I gave this book 5/5 stars. It was wonderful and everyone should read it. A warning for younger/young adult readers though, it gets pretty dark. There are some graphic elements to this book, such as when they are describing this cultures take on vampires. It was much darker than I thought it would be but no less fascinating.


Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo


Goodreads Blurb

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.


Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.



This review hurts me to write. Especially since I’ve been MIA for 3 months since having a baby I hate to start my reviews out with this one. But honestly, I just haven’t read many books that I really love since before baby girl was born. The few that’s I’ve read have let me down except for the graphic novels I read. But I ended up giving Wonder Woman 2 stars on Goodreads. Maybe it was just my preference because I saw a lot of people who gave it wonderful reviews but for me it did not pick up until about page 235.

I went in thinking I would love this book… it’s Wonder Woman and it’s Leigh Bardugo writing it. I love Bardugo’s other books. But it fell flat. I feel like the whole middle part of the story was drug out and slow. It felt like she wasn’t sure how to get from point A to Point B. I much prefer her fantasy writing style and her ability to world build.

Out of all the characters Diana was my favorite and then Alia’s sassy friend. Alia fell a little short for me. She was needy, lost, and never seemed to get her footing.

And I much preferred reading about the island Diana was from. Tek and her mother made more interesting plot lines and added better character dynamics to the story. I hope they’re on the island more in the next one.

I ended up giving this one 3 stars. For preference I might have given it a lower rating but Bardugo is an extremely talented writer and I think this book just wasn’t my cup of tea. However, I’m sure big fans of Marvel and of Wonder Woman would enjoy it.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out


Goodreads Blurb

For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family.



This was such a quick read! One, it’s written in verse instead of prose. Two, it was a wonderful read so I zipped through it in a day. I originally ordered this book from Amazon because I was looking for a good nonfiction novel to read with my 7th graders this years. And I love the fact that it’s written in verse. I don’t think many of my kiddos have read any books written in verse so it will be good to expose them to that too. And the book is full of symbolism and figurative language to touch on poetry as well. As well as tie in some history aspects of the times (1960-1970’s) and how Communism impacted the whole world.

The story of Ha is based on the author’s life in Saigon in the beginning and then later it’s about how she, her mom, and brothers take refuge in the United States to get away from the Communism in Vietnam. They are hosted by a family in Alabama so that one of her brothers can work as an apprentice car mechanic for the man of the house.

There, Ha and her brothers must adjust to American culture and have to deal with their peers bullying them daily. The author explains it later in the book, that when she moved to Alabama it took her years to realize that she and her family represented what all of these kids were seeing on their TV screens at home and that they had never actually seen Vietnamese people in rural Alabama before. So if the kids were being mean to her she finally realized they were just copying what they were hearing and seeing at home from their parents and from the American news anchors.

I can’t imagine what that kind of culture shock would be like. Ha talks about her memories in Saigon, her friends, the plant life, the food, the landscape and how much she misses all of these things. From reading the book and have never been to Vietnam, they sound sooooooooo different. I cannot imagine. It almost sounds like they moved to a different planet.

I don’t read too much nonfiction so I was really glad I liked it! I think one of the last nonfiction books I read was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand about the World War II pilot and his crew members that survived on a raft for months. And I actually read that one with my kiddos and they liked it so much that we started an after school book club where we finished the YA adaption of the book and watched certain parts of the movie.

I’m hoping Inside Out & Back Again will interest them as much! And I think it would be great as a film if they ever decide to adapt it! I’d definitely go see it.


Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

Never Fade


Goodreads Blurb

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?



I’m really liking Alexandra Bracken’s books. I can’t decide if I liked this book better or the first one, The Darkest Minds, more… I really missed Zu in this one but at least the majority of the characters came back together! I tried going to Barnes & Noble yesterday to find the third book In the Afterlight, and they didn’t have it 😦 So I ended up buying The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virture by Mckenzie Lee instead. Maybe next time they’ll have it or I’ll just break down soon and buy it off of Amazon.

I think Ruby and Liam’s relationship seemed a little more over the top in this one but I loved the new characters Jude and Vida. Vida is the best! I love people who are super caring and protective but they don’t want you to call them out on it. Her tough exterior is entertaining and endearing even though she doesn’t want it to be.

And have you seen the new covers for these books? They’re even better than the original ones! *Photos from Alex Bracken’s website * I think the Never Fade one is actually my favorite.


I don’t want to put any spoilers in this review since it’s just the second book I’m reviewing but the ending was heart wrenching. So so so so so so sad. I wasn’t expecting it! It’s the first time that Bracken pulled on my heartstrings like that and it was very sudden. You’ll know what I’m talking about once you get to the ending. All I can say is, have a box of tissues next to you. All you want to do is console everyone in the end but the team knows they must go on and help the rest of the kids stuck in these awful camps if they ever want their life to be somewhat normal again. What is surprising to me is that Liam and Chubs aren’t exactly in the same boat with Ruby.

In the first book Liam seems like he’s going to end up being a martyr just to help everyone escape the camps but he flip flops in Never Fade. I don’t know if things got too real for him or he just feels like he has something to lose now (Ruby), but he just wants the 3 of them to go into hiding and to protect themselves and to go to California to make sure Zu and her cousin made it there. I think Chubs just wants to be with his friends or his family and that he’s tired of running the way they have been.

The third book sounds like it’s taking them more westward and in the direction of Zu no matter where they end up. I can’t wait to pick it up but we move this week and we’re having our baby the next week so reading may take a backseat for awhile. I have a few more reviews coming for A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi and a middle grade novel called Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai, a nonfiction novel about the author’s life leaving Saigon in the 70’s and moving to Alabama in the United States.



Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare



Goodreads Blurb

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.


I’ve had lots of luck with sequels lately. First I fell in love with the sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper and now I have fallen in love with the sequel to Lady Midnight. I enjoyed Lady Midnight I just think it took me awhile to get back into the Shadowhunter world after not reading it for a few years. I devoured The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices back in college, but then there was kind of a dry spell where there weren’t any new Shadowhunter books for awhile. I think they were busy making the movie and trying to figure out the TV show there for a few years.

But I could not put Lord of Shadows down. I finished it within a week, which is no easy feat with these books because they’re HUGE! I thought I wouldn’t have it finished by the time the baby got here in September. I had already mentally prepared myself that it was most likely the last book I was going to finish during summer. But I completed it and now I’m onto Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken. The sequel to The Darkest Minds. Another sequel! I guess it’s just been a catch up summer for me! I finished all of my professional development by the first week of July so I’ve had lots of time to read.

Lord of Shadows seemed much more emotional to me than the first book. I loved all of the Edgar Allan Poe references and the “Annabel Lee” poem in it but I couldn’t get into it right away. However, I was fully invested in all the characters by the second installment to the series. I loved them all. Emma, Christina, Gwyn, Ty, Livvy, Kieran, Mark, and then the appearances throughout the book by our old favorites Magnus and Alec. The whole plot seemed more cohesive than the first book. More was set up, relationships had been built, there was love, betrayal, and all that’s in between.

I loved when they traveled to Faerie too. I think that’s what hooked me at first. I have loved all Fae books since I was a freshman in high school when I read the Wicked Lovely books. The setting drew me in. I love how mystical and barbaric the world is. It’s such a conundrum! And I feel like this reflected in Kieran and Mark’s relationship. Everything with them and Christina was so emotional and twisted, just like all things Fae. You never know what to expect! And it was done really well in this book. There was no sense of hodge-podgeness.

This is why I enjoyed Gwen and Diana’s relationship too. Nothing is black and white with the Fae. It’s all kinds of shades of gray.

The ending of this book was absolutely heart wrenching. Several people died, loyalties were shattered, and you find out there’s more to the Shadowhunter world falling apart. It’s a great lead for the next book in the series. One of the best cliff hangers at the end of a book I’ve seen in awhile. I have no idea how I am supposed to survive until The Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3) comes out in 2019!!!! That’s two stinking years!

I hear there’s supposed to be another sub-series coming out that feeds out of The Infernal Devices series. Supposedly it’s about the generation of Lightwood’s and Blackwood children that come after Will, Tessa, and Jem’s generation in the early 1900’s. I guess I can bide my time with that. I believe the first book is targeted for 2018 at some point.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about trying the TV show out again. I thought the first season was so-so. I watched the first episode of the second season and gave up though. Should I try again? Does it get better? But then I saw a clip of Sarah Hyland as the Seelie Queen and I thought even her acting was bad as the queen. How can you make Sarah Hyland’s acting bad??? I love her in Modern Family! And I think Sebastian has to make his appearance in the second season at some point. That’s another reason I’m interested. I don’t even know who’s supposed to play him. Let me know what you think!

And I gave this book a 5/5 stars. Wholeheartedly, without a shadow of a doubt. It was splendid.