Top Ten Tuesday | Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers are encouraged to post their own top ten list responses to the topic of the week.  This week’s topic is: Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015!  This is actually a super fun Top Ten Tuesday post/topic for me because last week I completed my 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge and am continuing to add more books to it because I just can’t help but continue reading, lol!  So without further ado, I am excited to share with you my favorite reads from 2015!

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1.)  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I still can’t properly express in words just how much I enjoyed this book.  I loved the story, the critical looks at the impact of anonymity on the Internet, and the overall homage to the world of geek culture and video games found in this book.  It was such a great, fun read that I really enjoyed.  It was also my first audio book experience and I absolutely loved Wil Wheaton’s narration of the story, it made it just that much better!

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2.)  You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day

You can’t be a part of geek and video game culture without having heard of Felicia Day.  It was incredibly interesting to read about her life growing up and her thoughts regarding her sudden rise to fame.  I loved how honest she was about anxiety and how she has had to deal with it over the years.  I have such a huge amount of respect and admiration for Felicia Day because she made a career out of things that she was passionate about and that is something that many of us only dream of doing.  Her memoir was a super quick, fun, and real read that I will find myself remembering fondly.

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3.)  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I admit, this book is a reread for me but it has become one of my favorite stories of love, magic, and mystery in recent years.  Each time I have read this book I am left feeling reinvigorated and filled with an even deeper appreciation for books, stories, and the written word.  Anytime that I feel myself falling into a reading slump this book is able to snap me right out of it and I will always love it for that.

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4.)  The Shining by Stephen King

This was a read that I had been planning and somewhat putting off for a long time because I am not the biggest fan of horror though I consider myself to be a fan of the works of Stephen King (The Dark Tower and 11/22/63, being my favorites).  After the release of Doctor Sleep (see below) last year, I made the decision that I was going to finally read The Shining and follow up with its sequel and I am so so so happy that I did.  I really enjoyed reading the devolution of John Torrance over the course of the book and found this to be more creepy than scary, definitely a worthwhile read.

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5.)  Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Following in the same vein, Doctor Sleep was an amazing sequel to The Shining!  I enjoyed following the story of Danny (Dan) Torrance’s life after the events at the Overlook and seeing the person that he became.  Overcoming his faults and learning to accept his abilities and help someone else grow into their own.  It was fascinating to watch as the student became the teacher.  It was a very fulfilling read and as I said, a great sequel.

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6.)  Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

This year, I finally hopped on the bandwagon and took the time to read Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass Series and can’t believe I hadn’t read it sooner.  My favorite book in the series was definitely Heir of Fire because of its pure, raw emotion as Celaena Sardothien found herself and was ultimately reborn as Aelin Ashryver Galathynius.  This book explored the ideas of depression and grief without shying away from them.  The emotions were dealt with in a very honest and real way without shying away from the darker aspects of them.  It was a beautiful and heart wrenching book because of that realism and I will always appreciate the brutal honesty.

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7.)  A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

This book was the conclusion to an epic year long read through for me and it was a journey that I truly enjoyed.  Wheel of Time is a series that is truly worthy of its title as an epic fantasy saga and is a story that I am sure will stay with me.  It really is a tale of self discovery, finding your place in the world, and learning to accept said place and what it entails.  I can’t help but remember this series fondly and appreciate that my friend Kyle suggested it to me.

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8.)  Inferno by Dan Brown

I have previously expressed my dislike of the somewhat repetitive themes of betrayal found within Brown’s Robert Langdon Series, basically a similar story that had a different subject and setting.  I read Inferno at the beginning of the year and found myself enjoying it because of the central theme regarding Dante’s Divine Comedy.  I haven’t actually read Dante’s work, but I am always fascinated by stories depicting ideas of heaven and hell, angels and devils.  Inferno was a good book and a good installment in Langdon’s story.

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9.)  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I absolutely loved this book because I really appreciated the focus on the idea of the importance of family.  It is true that a great deal of the story does focus on the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter, but I felt myself drawn more to the relationship between Lara Jean and her sisters.  The relationships between Lara Jean and her sisters change after eldest sister Margot goes abroad for college and youngest Kitty sends out all of Lara Jean’s love letters in a moment of anger.  Lara Jean truly grows into herself as a sister and on an individual level because of her letters getting out and the ensuing relationship she has with Peter.  It really was a cute, quick, contemporary read.

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10.)  Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I just finished this book last week and fell absolutely in love with the writing style.  Laini Taylor’s storytelling is beautiful, lyrical, and magical.  She brings Karou’s story to life in such a way that you find yourself devouring page after page of it and left wanting more.  I have found Karou’s story to be a beautiful love story that is truly defined by the idea of hope for a better future.  I am super excited to finish the series, hopefully before the end of the month/year!

 What are your Top Ten Best Books Read In 2015?  Leave me a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments below!  Don’t have a blog, but want to share your Top Ten with me all the same?  Then feel free to list them in a comment below!  Until next time<3

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Top Ten Tuesday | Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels I am Interested In

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers are encouraged to post their own top ten list responses to the topic of the week.  This week’s topic is:  Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels I am Looking Forward To!  I changed my topic to apply more to me by stating they are novels I am interested in rather than looking forward to.  I admit, I don’t follow upcoming releases in general unless they are for series I have been following.  Regardless, I found a few lists on Goodreads for 2016 upcoming releases and read some synopses to find some interesting sounding debut novels.  I also focused on books which are going to be released early in the year rather than comb a whole year’s worth of upcoming releases.  So without further ado, let’s get started!

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1.)  Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace, release date:  January 26th, 2016.

Synopsis:  For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.

When sixteen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who among her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.

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2.)  The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry, release date:  January 26th, 2016.

Synopsis:  Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

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3.)  The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, release date:  February 16th, 2016.

Synopsis – Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City, to nineteenth-century Hawaii, to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility. Its witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, multicultural cast, and enchanting romance will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

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4.)  Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman, release date:  February 9th, 2016.

Synopsis – Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything. This is their story.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

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5.)  After the Woods by Kim Savage, release date:  February 23rd, 2016.

Synopsis – “Statistically speaking, girls like me don’t come back when guys like Donald Jessup take us.”

Julia knows she beat the odds. She escaped the kidnapper who hunted her in the woods for two terrifying nights that she can’t fully remember. Now it’s one year later, and a dead girl turns up in those same woods. The terrible memories resurface, leaving Julia in a stupor at awkward moments-in front of gorgeous Kellan MacDougall, for example.

At least Julia’s not alone. Her best friend, Liv, was in the woods, too. When Julia got caught, Liv ran away. Is Liv’s guilt over leaving Julia the reason she’s starving herself? Is hooking up with Shane Cuthbert, an addict with an explosive temper, Liv’s way of punishing herself for not having Julia’s back? As the devastating truth about Liv becomes clear, Julia realizes the one person she thinks she knows best-Liv-is the person she knows least of all. And that after the woods was just the beginning.

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6.)  The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin, release date:  February 2nd, 2016.

Synopsis – Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah’s single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now – and life as she knows it stops.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought – I’m not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn’t care – something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he’s found it.

Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years – and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Sharon Guskin has written a captivating, thought-provoking novel that explores what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between. In equal parts a mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, THE FORGETTING TIME marks the debut of a major new talent.

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7.)  Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin, release date:  February 2nd, 2016.

Synopsis – A sharply honest and moving debut perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Ask the Passengers.

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. But Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in über-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s really like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. And Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

From debut author Jeff Garvin comes a powerful and uplifting portrait of a modern teen struggling with high school, relationships, and what it means to be a person.

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8.)  The Oxford Inheritance:  A Novel by A.A. McDonald, release date:  February 23rd, 2016.

Synopsis – At prestigious Oxford University, an American student searches for the truth about her mother’s death in this eerie, suspenseful thriller that blends money, murder, and black magic

You can’t keep it from her forever. She needs to know the truth.

Cassandra Blackwell arrives in Oxford with one mission: to uncover the truth about her mother’s dark past. Raised in America, with no idea that her mother had ever studied at the famed college, a mysterious package now sends her across the ocean, determined to unravel the secrets that her mother took to her grave. Plunged into the glamorous, secretive life of Raleigh College, Cassie finds a world like no other: a world of ancient tradition, privilege—and murder.

Beneath the hallowed halls of this storied university there is a mysterious force at work . . . A dark society that is shaping our world, and will stop at nothing to keep its grip on power. Cassie might be the only one who can stop them—but at what cost?

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9.)  Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie, release date:  March 1st, 2016.

Synopsis – Red Queen meets Shadow and Bone in a debut fantasy about a girl forced to use her gift for sensing—and absorbing—other people’s feelings to protect the empire from assassins. Steeped in intrigue and betrayal,Burning Glass captivates with heartrending romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s quest for redemption. 

In Riaznin, it’s considered an honor for Auraseers like Sonya—girls with a rare form of synesthesia—to serve as the emperor’s personal protector, constantly scanning for feelings of malice and bloodlust in the court. But Sonya would rather be free.

After the queen’s murder and a tragic accident, Sonya is hauled off to the palace to guard a charming yet volatile new ruler. But Sonya’s power is reckless and hard to control. She’s often carried away by the intense passion of others.

And when a growing rebellion forces Sonya to side with either the emperor who trusts her or his mysterious brother, the crown prince, Sonya realizes she may be the key to saving the empire—or its greatest threat.

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10.)  The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith, release date:  March 22nd, 2016.

Synopsis – In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

What are your Top Ten 2016 Debut Novels?  Leave me a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments below!  Don’t have a blog, but want to share your Top Ten with me all the same?  Then feel free to list them in a comment below!  Until next time<3

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Top Ten Tuesday | Ten Books I am Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers are encouraged to post their own top ten list responses to the topic of the week.  In honor of Thanksgiving being celebrated in the United States this week, the topic is a Thanksgiving freebie discussing the bookish things we are thankful for and I chose:  The Top Ten Books I’m Thankful For!  Here are my choices:

1.)  Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

In the past I have talked about my experience with depression and I have always felt a certain affinity to Impulse because it is a book that talks about depression without shying away from the darker sides of it.  It was brutal and honest in a way that few novels were at the time of its release, or at least few novels that I had read.  I am always going to be thankful to Impulse and Ellen Hopkins for this novel.

2.) Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

 Where the Sidewalk Ends is a fun collection of poems from Shel Silverstein and I will always be thankful for it because it is a book which helped to solidify my love of reading by showing me that reading could be fun.  I moved back to California when I was about to start the seventh grade and I can remember that year in my English classes we were learning about poetry and this was one of the books we were using in class.  One of the in class activities we did was reading one of the tongue twister poems out loud as quickly as we could and see who came the closest to doing it correctly with the best time.  It was a fun game and I ended up winning by a long shot.  This experience and this book of poems solidified in me a love for reading that I still have today, I will always be thankful for that.

3.)  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I listened to the audio book version narrated by Wil Wheaton earlier this year and I still can’t get over just how much I loved this book.  I am thankful for this book because it embodied every facet of the world of video games that I could possibly think of and made a book out of it.  This book is likely to be one of the biggest homages to nerd and video game culture, and my nerdy video game loving self loves that.  I am thankful that Cline was able to bring his characters to life inside this virtual world meshed up with so many established game worlds and them not become lost in it.  I am thankful that his characters were real and imperfect and realistic representations of members of the gaming community.  I am thankful that Cline addressed the real problems found within the world of online video gaming today and didn’t shy away or gloss over them.  I am always going to be thankful for this book, for this story.

4.)  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I am always going to be thankful for Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.  I was going through a really bad reading slump last year and decided to pick up this book on a whim and fell absolutely in love with it.  This book snapped me out of my reading slump and every time I start to feel sluggish reading, I have picked up this book and snapped myself right back out of it.  Those feelings may not last forever, but I still appreciate this book for snapping me out of it and reinvigorating my love for reading.  It truly is a magical read and is something you will never forget.

5.)  Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

I can remember the first time that I caught sight of this book perfectly to this day.  I was in high school and was walking through the bookstore with my family when I came across this book on a display shelf and was in complete awe.  It wasn’t just the beautiful cover, or the girl on the cover, it was the name of the place – Moloka’i, a small island in Hawaii.  I am 25% Hawaiian, I have family that lives in Hawaii and we can trace our lineage back to the earliest people of the islands.  This was my first time seeing a book which I felt akin to, a book where I felt a part of my ethnic identity was being represented on the same level as characters of other ethnic backgrounds.  I will always feel thankful for this book because it helped me further establish confidence in my own ethnic identity (25% Hawaiian, 25% Syrian (possibly Lebanese, not 100% sure), and 50% White/European mix).

6.)  His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

I will always be thankful to the His Dark Materials trilogy because it is actually through these books that I met one of my closest friends.  During the days of Myspace you could list on your profile books, music, movies, etc. that you were interested in and they became clickable hyperlinks you could utilize to find others who were also interested in that specific thing as well.  I had His Dark Materials listed among my books and that listing brought me and my close friend Kyle together.  Our friendship started off just exchanging messages on Myspace about books, life, etc. and we eventually hung out and have gamed together over the years.  To this day we are still very close friends and talk on a pretty much everyday basis, still ranging from books to life and everything in between.  Books really can bring people together!

7.)  Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

This book…this book is likely one of the most important books that I have ever read.  Again, I have talked about my experiences with depression, I have also mentioned (briefly) my experience with rape.  I went through a very difficult time immediately afterwards, I freely admit that and this fed into the depression I was already suffering from due to my history with abuse.  I believe it was in 2007 that I read this book, it was the first book I ever read on my Kindle 2.0 (new at the time).  I can’t remember every feeling or emotion that I felt while reading this book, but I can remember feeling akin to the protagonist and her experience and came away understanding that there is a life after these tragic events, you just have to go out there and live it.  I still experience good days and bad days, but I’ve had more good days than bad in the aftermath of my experiences and I will always be thankful for each good day and for the reminder this book served as.

8.)  Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Grief is one of the most difficult emotions to deal with and yet it is beautiful how each individual has their own unique way of handling grief.  I remember coming across this book on Amazon and becoming obsessed with the concept, the idea of writing letters to those lost to us in an effort to deal with our own feelings of grief.  I felt akin to Laurel and appreciated the choices she made regarding who she wrote to.  The quote above is one of the reasons that I am most thankful for this book because it purely captures one of the many truths of this life, that we change just as those around us are changing and that is how we become who we are supposed to be.  Each life we touch is changed and we are minutely changed by every life that touches us.  We live in such a beautiful and complex world and we are shaped by the world just as much as we shape it.

9.)  The Pact by Jodi Picoult

This book has had a huge impact on me since I read it for the first time in the early to mid 2000’s.  As with many of my previously mentioned themes, I have mentioned my fight with depression over the years and I will openly admit that there were times where I self-harmed and I had considered killing myself.  Just FYI, I am not suffering from these same thoughts and while I still deal with depression it isn’t to the same extent as years past, nor have I participated in self-harm for 9 years as of this month.  The Pact gave me an unvarnished look at how suicide impacts those who are left behind.  This book was definitely a reality check in some ways, a fact I will always be thankful for.  Please, if you are suffering from any of these mentioned issues, please please please seek help, you don’t have to suffer alone.

10.)  Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is one of the books that I expect to be highly mentioned across many of today’s Top Ten Tuesday posts.  For me, I am thankful for Matilda because it is a book which celebrates a single child’s love of reading and I am sure that the majority of us were that child at one point dealing with family or friends who don’t understand your love (or near obsession) with books and reading.  Matilda celebrates reading and teaches kids that it is okay to like books, that it is okay to enjoy reading.  My class read Matilda in elementary school, I can remember finishing it and feeling much more confident in my love of reading.  As I have grown up and become an adult my love for reading has only continued to grow as well.  I am still an avid reader, though not as avid as I wish at times, and still love to read and share my bookish thoughts with others.  I will always be thankful for the reading inspiration that Matilda was to me and continues to be to children everywhere.

What are the Top Ten Books YOU are Most Thankful For?  Leave me a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments below!  Don’t have a blog, but want to share your Top Ten with me all the same?  Then feel free to list them in a comment below!  Until next time<3

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A Long Overdue Update – Status Update – 11/19/15

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Greeting to any followers I may still have and to all the bloggers in general who come across this.  It has been more than a month since my last post and I have some pretty cool things to share with you on the work front, school front, personal front, and bookish front – so let’s get started!

Work

Things are finally starting to slow down at work again, i.e. everyone is back in the office.  I am back to focusing solely on transcription and other minor office tasks.  I have missed just being able to focus on my own job.  While I was able to handle acting as the office manager/receptionist while ours was on medical leave, I am not sure it is something I would want to do on an everyday basis.  There are just so many nuances involved in that job which I don’t possess because I don’t have the experience of having worked the job everyday.  It is possible that were I to act in that capacity on an everyday basis for a while I would pick it up and do fine, but right now I am still not entirely confident in my capacity to do the job.  Thankfully, I don’t think I need to worry about that.  Upon her return, our everyday office manager/receptionist said that while I made a couple of small mistakes, the majority of the work I did was fine and that she appreciated me covering her desk for her.

We have also hired another employee who is going to be working as a psychological assistant to the boss.  She is going to be handling some of the patient medical record review and some of the patient testing as well as training me in those tasks which I am pretty excited about.  Originally, I was going to be taking over as the psychological assistant and we were going to find a new transcriptionist, but she took a shot applying to us (though we weren’t advertising) and the boss hired her on the spot.  Honestly, this will probably be better in the long run for all of us because she will be able to train me in the position properly and our boss will be able to continue focusing on patients.  It is funny, for an office that only sees one patient per day normally, we are incredibly busy.  Right now, we are scheduling patients into late February or early March of next year.  Honestly, I really like my job.  Transcription may not seem like a desirable job, but I enjoy the work.  I like my co-workers.  I like the office environment.  I really feel like this is a place where I can grow professionally.  Like I said, transcription isn’t exactly elaborate but it is a position I can grow from and work to develop desirable professional skills which I will retain over the course of my professional lifetime.  I am honestly pretty happy with everything going on in my professional/work life right now.

School

I can’t really talk about my work and professional life without talking about school and education.  As many of you already know, I have an AA in Business Administration and am close to completing a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting, but due to issues with financial aid I had to stop attending school with a couple of classes to complete before graduating.  I took a year off from anything in order to deal with this disappointment, eventually I started to apply for jobs again and I wound up in my current job due to lucky circumstances.  Since I started working here, I decided that I would go back to school and work on a psychology degree of some sort since I am now working in the field and want to have some practical knowledge of the subject.  I only need five classes total to attain an AAT (Associate of Arts Transferable) in Psychology and I will be starting my first two classes on January 11th.  I will be taking my classes online through the local junior college, this is how I completed the majority of my general education requirements for my AA in Business Administration originally.  My first two classes are going to be Introduction to Psychology and Human Sexualities, intro is a prerequisite to all the other psych classes and Human Sexualities meets an elective requirement (I think?).   Honestly, the semester doesn’t sound like it will be too difficult which is always preferable for a first semester back to school.  There are a couple of classes that I will possibly have to travel to campus for, but I will deal with that when the time comes.  I really don’t want to have to take off time from work for classes and honestly I don’t think I will be able to afford to do so either.  I have about half a year between now and then to figure it out, need to focus on completing the first semester back before I start worrying about future classes!

Personal

On the personal side of life, things are going pretty well overall.  The boyfriend and I went on a week long vacation at the beginning of November for Blizzcon in Anaheim.  It was a great trip as we spent the majority of it with another couple we met through World of Warcraft, specifically they joined the guild we were in during the Cataclysm expansion while we were raiding Firelands.  While we haven’t raided together since towards the end of the Mists of Pandaria expansion, we have always remained friends and in contact with each other, so it was great to get to hangout again.  We also hung out with our off-tank during Mists of Pandaria and his brother.

We spent a good amount of our time at Blizzcon looking into the upcoming expansion for World of Warcraft.  The story for Legion is going to be incredibly interesting, in my opinion, because it is bringing back a lot of the themes and stories from The Burning Crusade (the expansion when I started playing).  There is a new hero class for the expansion being released called Demon Hunters.  If you are at all familiar with World of Warcraft, you will basically now be able to play a character modeled after Illidan Stormrage.  I had the opportunity to demo the intro quest line and zone for the Demon Hunter, my thoughts on it were sort of mixed.  I really liked the introductory quest line and zone, really liked some of the changes they are making to the questing system (which now includes more dialogue and immersion that doesn’t impede your questing), and found the Demon Hunters to be aesthetically pleasing due to the seeming amount of choices you can make regarding your character’s look.  All in all, I am going to be interested in seeing just how the Demon Hunter fits into not just the lore and storyline of the expansion, but how it will fair in high end raiding progression.  Honestly, I am interested to see how a lot of the announced changes will impact the classes and what Blizzard defines as “balance” in general.  They are further separating Holy and Disc priests (priest being my main/preferred class since Firelands/MoP) which is a good thing and much needed.  Holy isn’t going to be all that different overall, rather it is getting access to three new spells which had originally been restricted by the Chakra system.  Now, rather than having to utilize a Chakra and be locked into it Holy priests will be instead able to utilize a specific Chakra spell as necessary, though it has a one minute cooldown that is reduced by a certain amount every time a specific spell is utilized by the priest.  It will be an interesting system in healing and is largely being pulled over from Diablo 3.  Honestly, that was the theme for a lot of the World of Warcraft changes, let’s take some well liked features from our other games (such as Diablo 3) and implement them into WoW.  GENIUS!  I mean, it is going to potentially solve a lot of the problems/issues people have had with WoW, but I don’t think it is a perfect solution.  We will have to see how things play out when the game is released.

Other Blizzcon adventures included Hearthstone announcements and watching professional matches as well as Overwatch announcements and details.  I am working on getting back into Hearthstone, but am finding that it is somewhat difficult given how behind I am in collecting cards to build my deck with.  I have a basic Mage deck I have been working with and it has had some decent results, but in “Play” mode against other players with a lot more time devoted to the game and more cards, it is easily destroyed.  I may spend a little bit of money to purchase some of the previous solo adventures so I can get caught up, but we will see.  I haven’t been playing Diablo 3 or Heroes of the Storm as much as I was previously, and my WoW subscription is currently inactive since I haven’t been raiding or anything.  Diablo 3 has a new season starting which should be fun and I may look into playing it.  I played a Witch Doctor for season 4 and created a seasonal Demon Hunter as well.  My non-seasonal Demon Hunter is in need of some play time (she is also much better geared than my seasonal one as I have put the majority of my hours into her).  Overwatch stress test this week, we will see who gets invited to participate and whether or not we will actually get to play!  My issue with Overwatch though is that it is a first person shooter, typically not my type of game, but I will try it out before I completely write it off.

After the couple of days of Blizzcon we chilled out.  The boyfriend and I visited my sister and her boyfriend having dinner at a nice Vietnamese restaurant.  By the way, Vietnamese coffee is probably one of the most delicious coffees I have ever had in my life, it was just so good.  Then we did a day at Disneyland.  The whole park was done up for Christmas!  I mean, Disneyland is Disneyland and the crowds and misbehaving children can rub a person’s nerves raw, but overall it was a good time.  Vacation was a serious success.

In addition, the boyfriend and I have been looking into our options regarding moving back out on our own.  We are currently living with his family and while I appreciate them having us, I just miss having my own place.  I can’t really go into the details of the entire situation, but living there has me seriously frustrated and stressed out the majority of the time which just isn’t any way to live.  It is incredibly unhealthy on a emotional, mental, and even physical level.  We have found an apartment complex we are interested in.  It is located in the same city as my office and is closer to my daughter’s school.  Overall, I think it will be a good move for us but I just am not 100% confident in our ability to do it right now.  I’ve been researching, budgeting, and planning it out.  It is all I can do right now and that is the most frustrating part.  I want to be able to move by March, but I don’t know if we will be able to do so.  Hopefully we will, we will just have to see.

Books

On the bookish front, I left off talking about how I had finally finished Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s epic fantasy saga, Wheel of Time.  I still need to write up a review for both Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light as well as an overall review of the series as a whole.  The reviews are the somewhat easy part, but the overall series review will be a project that I likely won’t get around to until after Thanksgiving.  I am not going to give myself a deadline or anything, but I hope to have it out before the end of this year since 2015 was the year of my read through for this series and that just makes the most logical sense to me.

I made the decision that October was going to be my month for reading a few books by Stephen King, specifically ‘Salem’s Lot, The Shining, and Doctor Sleep.  As I keep mentioning, the increase in work related responsibilities had a huge impact on my reading but I was able to read and finish ‘Salem’s Lot.  I am still reading The Shining and still plan to read Doctor Sleep afterwards, it has just been going a lot slower than I originally had planned.  I wanted to read all three of them in October, but here we are more than halfway through November and I am still reading them, oops.  I just need to actually take the time to read when I am home after work, especially now that I am not taking work home with me.  I think part of my problem is that my reading nook has stuff piled up on it and reading on the bed just isn’t all that comfortable for me and I don’t really have anywhere else to sit and read.  Maybe I will work on cleaning off my reading nook so I can get back in the habit of using it after work for my reading pleasures.

I also finished reading Wonderland by Robert McKay, a space themed fairy tale retelling of Alice in Wonderland which I found myself enjoying.  I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review and promise that I will be working on and publishing my review as soon as possible.  Honestly, if you are interested in fairy tale retellings this book is a good pick up.  The story remains true to the themes and story of Alice in Wonderland while also bringing attention to some interesting issues of ethics, morals, and philosophy without shoving them down your throat as lessons.  They are brought up in such a way that the reader is left to think about them and form their own opinion, a quality which I greatly appreciated.  Anyways, look forward to my upcoming review!

I still have many other books listed on my Fall TBR List, but I don’t know how many I will actually get through before the first day of Winter on December 22nd.  I doubt I will finish and review all of them, but I am sure I can at least make a dent in that list!

As always, I hope that this post finds everyone well.  To all of you who are still sticking by and checking out my content, thank you.  I really appreciate your support and hope to be found deserving of it.  I promise that I will try to blog more often now that things are returning to normal at work.

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Top Ten Tuesday | Ten Books on my Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where bloggers are encouraged to post their own top ten list responses to the topic of the week.  This week’s topic is:  Ten Books on my Fall TBR!  It is always exciting to plan out and share what books you are looking to read next, so without further ado here is my Fall TBR list!

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1.)  Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light, books 13 and 14 from The Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.  This is a pretty significant personal milestone in my reading career because it was at the behest of a very close friend of mine that I start reading these books in the first place January of this year and I have finally reached the end and I am looking forward to seeing how this epic fantasy saga ends!

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2.)  You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) – Felicia Day.  I have talked a bit before about my general geeky side and very briefly about my own experiences with the internet and the gaming communities as a female gamer, so it will be incredibly interesting to read about her own experiences with such things and her subsequent rise to fame.

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3.)  The Girl in the Spider’s Web, book 4 in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series – David Lagercrantz.  This is going to be a very difficult read for me because I absolutely love the character Lisbeth Salander and want to read more about her, but the series is being continued by someone else which makes me extremely nervous – I am willing to give it a chance though and hope it is well done.

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4.)  Jason and Dead Ice, books 23 and 24 in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Series and A Shiver of Light, book 9 in the Merry Gentry Series – Laurell K. Hamilton.  These books are most definitely going to be my guilty pleasure reads for the fall, that is if I was one that felt guilty over pleasure and much like Jean Claude I most definitely do not.

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5.)  A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas.  I have heard such great things about this book and after reading Throne of Glass and experiencing the wonder that is Maas’s writing, I am definitely willing to give this book a try.

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6.)  Salem’s Lot, The Shining, and Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2) – Stephen King.  Time to reveal a bit of a secret, while I am a huge fan of King because of The Dark Tower Saga, The Talisman/Black House, and 11/22/63: A Novel; I have actually not read very many of his novels in the grand scheme of things.  Everything that I have read from him has been in some way directly related to the Dark Tower.  Basically, it is about time that I actually read some of his other works and I figure that fall is the most perfect time to take up reading some of King’s creepier novels!

7.)  The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux.  So, anyone that knows me from my high school days knows of my obsession with all things “Phantom of the Opera” – the music, the play, the movie, etc.  Yet, in all of this obsession I have never taken the time to read the book and think it is about time I actually do so.

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8.)  Of Metal and Wishes and Of Dreams and Rust, books 1 and 2 of the Of Metal and Wishes Series – Sarah Fine.  Another reason for my interest in actually reading The Phantom of the Opera is because of these two books which I featured in a recent “Top Ten Tuesday” regarding Top Ten Fairy Tale Retellings I’ve Read/Want to Read.  I am very excited to read these two books!

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9.)  Out of Oz, book 4 in The Wicked Years Series – Gregory Maguire.  I have had this book on my TBR list for far too long and I think that it is finally time that I finish the series.

10.)  Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy – Laini Taylor.  I have been saying for so long that I am going to read this trilogy and just haven’t picked it up because of other books.  I think it is finally time that I make time to read these books.

Honorable Mentions/Upcoming Reads:

11.)  The Lunar Chronicles – Marissa Meyer.  Hopefully I can read these three before Winter is released on November 10th.  Honestly, I am likely going to be cutting it close but I want to read them and read Winter!

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12.)  Tiger Lily – Jodi Lynn Anderson.  A book about my first Disney idol because she was the only female Disney character, at the time, that was relatively close to my appearance as a child.  I think this will be an interesting read just seeing someone’s take on such a seemingly minor character.

13.)  The Looking Glass Wars – Frank Beddor.  Apparently I am just in the mood for some fairy tale retellings, looking at my list I have a good amount of them.  There’s nothing wrong with that if you ask me!  My grandmother was originally the one who heard about this series and said it sounded like something I would enjoy, so I look forward to giving it a shot.

So this closes out my Top Ten (Plus Extras) Fall TBR List!  What are your Top Ten Fall TBR’s?!  Do we have any of the same books?  Did you find a book on my list that you think you would like to read?  Share your thoughts on it!  Have you read a book/series I have listed?  Share your thoughts on it!  Post a Top Ten List of your own?  Leave me a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments below!  Don’t have a blog, but want to share your Top Ten with me all the same?  Then feel free to list them in a comment below!  Until next time<3

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Book Review – One Fling to Rule Them All by Deanna Dee

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TITLE:  One Fling to Rule Them All

SERIES:  The Games of Love, book 2

AUTHOR:  Deanna Dee

FORMAT:  Epub via Google Play Books

PAGES/LOCATIONS:  174 pages

GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING:  4.10 out of 5 stars; 10 ratings

SYNOPSIS PROVIDED:

It began with the forging of a great friendship.

For three months, Lydia Bell has watched Craig, her best friend and the love of her life, be in a happy relationship with someone else. But she’s over it. Or thinks she is until she hears Craig’s voice on the phone. Desperate to put her romantic feelings behind, she joins her roommates for a night out. Maybe she’ll meet someone.

And meet someone she does—a guy named Scott, who looks a lot like Craig. Despite their awkward introduction, flaming arrows fly, and soon Lydia is running off the dance floor to get away from feelings she shouldn’t have. So much for getting over Craig, and so much for Scott.

Until Monday morning, that is. Turns out Scott goes to her school. Worse, they share a class. As if that’s not weird enough, Scott is also trying to get over someone. To help both Lydia and himself, he proposes a fling, and reluctantly, Lydia agrees. Now she just has to hope this fling rules and doesn’t crash into a fiery mountain.

DATES READ:  August 28th to September 11th, 2015

DISCLAIMER:  I WAS PROVIDED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM THE AUTHOR, Deanna Dee, IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.  THIS DID NOT IN ANY WAY IMPACT OR INFLUENCE MY OPINION OF Ms. Dee’S NOVEL.

MY REVIEW:

I do a double take. The guy I agreed to have a fling with makes Star Wars references. Perhaps this will not be awful. Perhaps we could even have something.~Lydia

One Fling to Rule Them All was a cute story, it was a light read filled with a great deal of references to geek/nerd culture.  Lydia is a geeky, computer programming major who has been in love with her lifelong best friend, Craig, for years.  Apparently the first book in the series (Critical Hit-On) tells the story of Craig meeting his girlfriend Molly with this sequel telling Lydia’s story (when I was originally asked to review this book I didn’t realize it was a sequel, however, I don’t think it is necessary to have read the first book to enjoy this book).  They have a perfect friendship until Craig meets Molly and Lydia’s life feels as if it is subsequently falling apart around her.

Lydia’s tale starts with her in the midst of a really bad headache and having to choose whether she will visit and play “M and M” (this series version of Dungeons and Dragons) with her friends from home or if she will go out with her college roommates according to tradition.  Lydia ultimately goes out with her roommates to a popular nightclub and her group separates.  Still dealing with the remnants of her headache, Lydia comes across a guy in the club who looks like a spitting image of Craig.  Lydia even goes so far as to say, “He really does resemble Craig. His hair is almost identical, and if I was facing away and pressed against him, my body wouldn’t know the difference.”  This is the quote which introduces the reader to Scott and embodies the entirety of the book’s plot – Lydia ultimately wants to get over her love for her lifelong best friend by having a fling with a guy who looks almost exactly like him.  Brilliant idea.

If we are being truthful, flings in real life are typically nothing like the flings we read about or watch on television and the movies.  In this case, Lydia and Scott are both looking to move on from their respective unrequited crushes by having a fling with each other, but they wind up having probably one of the worst flings in the history of flings.  There are always complications which come up such as upset roommates, roommates video gaming who weren’t supposed to be in the dorm, and then comes the eventual development of feelings.  This is a very familiar trope, a fling which is complicated by other factors and then one or both of the participants develops feelings for the other only to be hurt but they still wind up together in the end.  Lydia is in an almost constant state of confusion it seems regarding her feelings because she is unable to separate what she actually feels towards Scott himself and what she feels towards him because of his similarity to Craig.  It takes her thinking that she has lost Scott for good to finally admit her feelings for him as an individual, rather than as a replacement for Craig, and I think this was incredibly important for her.

The majority of the book focuses on Lydia cataloging everything about Scott into how he is or isn’t like Craig which is a frustrating way to learn about a character.  We ultimately do come to find out that Scott is a relatively good guy.  He is practical, yet passionate about music, and working towards a degree in business with the hopes that he can use it to his advantage in getting into the music industry.  He is the lead vocalist and lyricist for his band, yet he is outside the stereotypical norms expected of college aged musicians (i.e. sex, drugs, and rock & roll!).  For example, there is a dorm party held in Scott’s dorm and rather than the typical making out you might expect, Lydia and Scott wind up sitting there cuddling, talking, and just gaining a sense of comfort in each other’s company.  Definitely atypical behavior of two people looking to have a fling.  They do eventually decide to go somewhere more private (like Lydia’s dorm room), but complication arises in the form of a roommate who had a fight with her boyfriend and now wants to watch sad movies and complain about guys in general.  Good guy Scott though doesn’t react in an overly negative manner, he instead supports Lydia in being a good roommate and leaves it at that.  The one time that the two of them do end up alone in Lydia’s dorm room is filled with a bit of making out and cuddling on her bed with video games.  Honestly, that makes for a pretty perfect night if you ask me.

Regardless of the original reason why Lydia and Scott ended up together, I actually did like them together as a couple.  They were a cute couple who enjoyed one another’s company and came to share their differing interests and ultimately enjoy them more in doing them together.  I appreciated that Lydia was forced to grow up because of their “fling” and be honest with not only herself but Craig as well.  Lydia was finally forced to tell Craig exactly how she felt about him, how she had always felt and explain how Scott was originally nothing more than an attempt to get over Craig.  This fight, this moment is pretty much when Lydia recognizes that all this time that she was spending trying to get over Craig using Scott led her to actually develop real feelings for Scott as well.  “Scott’s not Craig. Those three words hit me in the chest…It’s taken me way too long to admit that. He may look like Craig and make me feel as safe and wanted as Craig does sometimes, but he’s a different person.”  Lydia’s ability to admit this and ultimately tell Scott how she feels about him, not Craig but him, is important because it is what allows them to actually have a real shot at a relationship and not just a fling.

TL;DR REVIEW:  3.50 out of 5.00 stars.  Overall, this book is a solid, quick, cute, geeky, romantic read, but it does suffer from that sense of over familiarity with the plot line and perhaps too many geeky references?  Is that even a thing?  Anyways, if you are looking for a cute, geeky, quick, romantic read – One Fling to Rule Them All may be a good choice for your next book!  Thank you again to Ms. Deanna Dee for providing me the opportunity to read and review your book!

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Book Review – Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

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TITLE:  Queen of Shadows

SERIES:  Throne of Glass, book 4

AUTHOR:  Sarah J. Maas

FORMAT:  Ebook via Google Play Books

PAGES/LOCATIONS:  573 pages

GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING:  4.69 out of 5.00; 9,154 ratings

SYNOPSIS PROVIDED:

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

DATES READ:  September 3rd to 9th, 2015

MY REVIEW:

She was the heir of fire.  She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers.  She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.~Aelin

I came into Queen of Shadows expecting an incredible story, but I am still unsure if I was properly prepared for this.  This book was such a satisfying read, so much so that I was unable to formulate proper thought upon completing it.  Honestly, Queen of Shadows felt like an epic close to one story arc and the opening of the next – full of infinite possibilities.

The impact of this book greatly stemmed from the death of Celaena Sardothien and the rebirth of Aelin Ashryver Galathynius.  We watched as Aelin got justice for not only herself, but for Sam, for Wesley, for Lysandra, and for countless others who were wronged by Arobynn Hamel.  I discussed my thoughts on Arobynn in my review of The Assassin’s Blade and they most definitely haven’t improved since.  Arobynn was only out to do what was best for Arobynn and no one else, regardless of what he claimed to Aelin.  Yet, Aelin was willing to give him a single chance to prove her wrong and when he instead proved her right she continued on without mercy.  While this moment was a large culmination of Aelin being able to let go of Celaena, I felt that this was further accomplished when she finally visited Sam’s grave.  It was only upon finding that sense of closure that she was ultimately going to be able to move forward in life and I am glad that she found it.  The moment of true rebirth for Aelin is the fight with the King of Adarlan, this is the point where she takes up her mantle and claims it.  In the aftermath of the King’s death, Aelin names herself to the crowd as Queen of Terrasen and states she is seizing control of Adarlan and subsequently Rifthold until such time as their prince is well enough to be crowned king and assume responsibility.  And when all’s said and done, Aelin took the biggest first step in establishing herself as queen – she at long last returned home, her court at her side.

Truthfully, I absolutely love Aelin’s court and her relationships with each of them.  Aedion is Aelin’s connection to the past, to her life in Terrasen before its downfall.  He will ever be the sword at her back and loyal to her as his Queen and cousin, he is the family she has always needed.  Then we have Lysandra, a most unexpected member of her court based on their history.  To find out that Lysandra had ultimately been waiting for Aelin to strike back and wanted to help her do so was shocking.  In The Assassin’s Blade, their animosity towards each other is blatant and yet everything changed for them both after Sam’s death, and Lysandra further after the death of Wesley.  To find out Lysandra helped to spare a child from sharing in her fate as a prostitute by disfiguring the girl’s face was somehow beautiful in its sadness.  I couldn’t help but be proud of Lysandra for saving Evangeline and taking on the ensuing punishment for doing so.  Further, Lysandra is a shape-shifter making her an incredibly strong ally and good in a fight.  In spite of all these things though, I ultimately believe that Lysandra and Aelin just need each other’s friendship more than anything else.  To be raised in such a way where you are constantly being played against others, such as Lysandra and Aelin were, doesn’t leave much room for friendship so to see them ultimately overcome that is beautiful.  It is important to celebrate those strong female friendships when we find them since a great deal of female interaction is typically tearing each other down.  Women should be allies for other women, building each other up rather than tearing each other down.  Last but not least, we have Rowan.

I mentioned in my review of Heir of Fire that I had a deep appreciation for Rowan’s introduction as more than just a potential love interest, I stated that the relationship he had developed with Aelin was everything that she needed and it ultimately was everything he needed as well for them to both move forward with their lives.  Even after the events of Queen of Shadows, I am still left appreciating the relationship between Rowan and Aelin because of how it developed.  Aelin reflects on her relationship with Rowan thinking:

Not a monster—not for what she’d done, not for her power, not when Rowan was there. She’d thank the gods every damn day for the small mercy of giving her a friend who was her match, her equal, and who would never look at her with horror in his eyes. No matter what happened, she’d always be grateful for that.

Their relationship wasn’t some quick paced new romance, it was a love which grew out of their mutual acceptance and understanding of each other’s past and an eventual friendship which became more.  For me, there is something more meaningful and slightly romantic in the development of their relationship.  Both Rowan and Aelin have expressed the same sentiment stating, “You make me want to live.  Not exist—but live.”  There is something innately sad in those few words because it is a subtle reminder that both of them have spent a large portion of their lives focusing on surviving day to day rather than living it.  One of the great declarations of love in the past has always been expressing a willingness to die for someone, but I think I find the idea of someone declaring they are willing to live for me to be so much more meaningful.  Further, there is this little gem from Rowan:

I spent centuries wandering the world, from empires to kingdoms to wastelands, never settling, never stopping—not for one moment. I was always looking toward the horizon, always wondering what waited across the next ocean, over the next mountain. But I think … I think that whole time, all those centuries, I was just looking for you.

If that isn’t a declaration of love, I don’t know what is!  I look forward to the continuing evolution of the relationship between Aelin and Rowan.  They’ve made their feelings clear to each other, but now we will see how they are able to work as a couple once she is officially coronated and begins to rule as Queen of Terrasen.  There have been subtle mentions at the potential for securing strong alliances through marriage on her part or Aedion’s.  Rowan is a Fae prince in his own right which has the potential to lend Aelin great strength to her lands, however, this also has the potential to alienate human allies as well.  Aedion expressed a willingness to marry for an alliance if Aelin wished him to do so, but I just couldn’t see Aelin honestly following through on that (I also suspect that Lysandra would be most displeased were it to happen as well).  I only hope that the political mumbjo jumbo won’t get in the way of the relationships Aelin has formed romantic, friendship, and familial alike.

On the topic of political relationships and friendship, I am glad that Dorian has now been crowned King of Adarlan upon his father’s death.  Dorian suffered so much through Queen of Shadows and yet some small part of him kept fighting the Valg prince and he was able to be restored.  I think Dorian has the potential to be a strong and wise king, but Adarlan is likely going to be quite weak because it is unlikely that many are going to flock to ally with Dorian and Adarlan after the actions of his father.  Granted, with Aelin and Terrasen as an ally he will have the opportunity to make changes that look toward the future and will ultimately strengthen his position as a leader.  It is just going to take time for him to reach that point, but I have a feeling that when he does Dorian is going to prove himself a capable king.  We can’t discuss the king without mentioning his most loyal supporter, Chaol Westfall.  I am willing to admit that I believe Chaol has finally found redemption, but it ultimately came at a very high cost.  Chaol’s redemption, in my mind stemmed from him being willing to finally fully accept and trust in Aelin – he ultimately trusted in her to save Dorian.  Chaol pinned all of his hopes and dreams onto Dorian and when he ultimately failed him (in his mind) by allowing him to be collared, his world shattered and he felt compelled to make it right.  I don’t dislike Chaol but I am not really a fan of his either, mostly because I felt he had a tendency to externalize a lot of his problems and blame other people which is incredibly unhealthy.  My only hope is that after his experiences in Queen of Shadows he has grown as a character and will be more than he was before.

In my Heir of Fire review I mentioned my love for the story line of the Ironteeth witches and that definitely carried over into Queen of Shadows, specifically Mannon and the Thirteen.  The Ironteeth live by the rules of “Obedience, Discipline, Brutality” and yet, Mannon’s story line has continued to veer away from that singular mindset to allow for other emotions.  There are three events which largely exhibit Mannon’s emotional growth:  her interaction and relationship with Elide, her fulfilment of her life debt to Aelin, and the discussion between her and Asterin.  Mannon’s relationship with Elide begins more as a relationship of convenience, Mannon is able to utilize Elide as a spy in exchange for protection from her uncle after Elide claims her blood runs blue and allies herself with the witches.  Elide represents hope, hope for the future – a feeling that Mannon has never allowed herself to feel.  Elide goes so far as to point out, “It is hope for your homeland that guides you, that makes you obey…Because you have been hoping every day of your miserable, hideous life that you’ll get to go home.”  This moment, this single conversation showed Mannon that her and Elide were more alike than she had fathomed because in that moment she recognized that both of them were driven by the same desire to return home.  Yet, I felt like Mannon eventually came to care for Elide though she never expressed it in that manner, though she came pretty close by witch standards:

Regret. It had been regret she’d felt that night she’d killed the Crochan. Regret and guilt and shame, for acting on blind obedience, for being a coward when the Crochan had held her head high and spoken truth.They have made you into monsters. Made, Manon. And we feel sorry for you.It was regret that she’d felt when she heard Asterin’s tale. For not being worthy of trust.And for what she had allowed to happen to those Yellowlegs.She did not want to imagine what she might feel should she bring Elide to her death. Or worse.Brutality. Discipline. Obedience.It did not seem like a weakness to fight for those who could not defend themselves. Even if they weren’t true witches. Even if they meant nothing to her.

Mannon then facilitated Elide in her ability to return home as they both desire through the repayment of a life debt owed to Aelin.  Admittedly, Mannon could have been much more cunning in her interpretation of repayment of the life debt than she was.  Mannon has the potential to live a very long life so long as she doesn’t suffer a life-ending wound and could have determined to repay her life debt at any point in the future.  Yet, Mannon repaid it almost immediately by informing Aelin that Dorian was still trapped inside his own mind by the Valg prince.  This exhibited that Mannon possesses a deeper sense of honor than we were originally led to believe considering her past dealings to acquire the spidersilk for Abraxos’s wings.  Thirdly, the brutally honest discussion between Mannon and Asterin, her cousin and Second, does bring some sense of understanding to emotion as both strength and weakness.  Asterin has been characterized as fire and passion, elements of emotion which are considered weaknesses by the Blackbeak Matron (though her reasons for wanting Asterin demoted from Second were likely more about shunning rather than anything else).  Mannon is seen as ice cold, brutal which are considered characteristics of great strength among the Ironteeth.  Mannon is changing though, she may maintain her composure and appearance of cold brutality, but she is no longer leading a life of blind “Obedience, Discipline, and Brutality.”  I can’t wait to see where Mannon’s changed frame of mind will lead her and the Thirteen.

TL;DR REVIEW:  5.00 out of 5.00 stars.  Truthfully, I am a bit sad that I have caught up in the series because now I have to wait for the next book and that is never a good feeling because you just want to know what happens next now.  Overall, I have been greatly impressed with Maas’s Throne of Glass and I ultimately can’t wait for news regarding our favorite assassin and queen.  To all of my fellow book bloggers and Throne of Glass fans, what were your thoughts on Queen of Shadows?  I would love to hear your thoughts, leave me a comment!

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