Book Reviews

Love & Gelato Review

Goodreads Summary25756328“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

My Thoughts:  This book was very nostalgic for me.  It brought me back to when I was in high school and I LIVED for this type of story.  A teenage romance in Italy with a mysterious flashback story? What else could you possibly want?  When I first started reading, I wasn’t sure I was going to love this book.  It took me a while to get on board with the characters, and the writing seemed a little juvenile.  I was annoyed that Lina wouldn’t give Howard a chance and I was even more irritated at her friend, Addie, for not supporting her.  But then I thought back to when I was 16 and I would have felt the same way.  Once I got into the meat of the story, I admit that I was hooked.  I read the whole book in a few hours.  I was swept up into Lina’s journey, her relationships, and her mother’s secret past.  I thought that the unveiling of her mother’s story was done really well in the journal, and I just fell in love with Howard.  There were some twists that I expected, and others that I didn’t, which surprised me.  I thought it would be a predictable ending.  Lina was a very likable and relatable character.  I did get frustrated with her a few times, but I knew she’d figure it all out in the end.  I liked her love interest a lot.  It was a little insta-lovey, seeing as they only knew each other for a couple days, but with they way their relationship developed I was ok with it.  There was a great collection of minor characters as well.  I especially loved the different students at their school.  They created a great environment for Lina to fall in love with Italy. Speaking of Italy, Welch clearly did her research on her location.  I felt like I was there with Lina and her descriptions were very specific and beautiful.  This book definitely awakened my wanderlust, and I might have looked up flights to Italy after finishing…  In the end, I liked this book far more than I expected to.  It was such a cute, heart-warming story, and I haven’t read one of those in a long time.  I laughed, I cried, I had all the feels.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Book Recommendations for People Who Love Downton Abbey

I am SO excited that The Broke and Bookish are back with some new Top Ten Tuesday Topics!  I have recently been binge watching Downton Abbey and I am obsessed.  I love historical fiction and the turn of the century is my absolute favorite time period to read about and watch.  This weeks theme was “Ten Recommendations for….” so I decided to combine my latest obsession with my book obsession.  Here are my Top Ten Recommendations for People Who Love Downton Abbey!

215679No Angel by Penny Vincenzi:  The Spoils of Time is one of my all time favorite trilogies.  It is an epic family saga full of drama, romance, war, scandal, what more could you want?   My favorite thing about this book is the characters.  All of them were so flawed, and yet I fell madly in love with them and their relationships.  The first book, No Angel, was my favorite in the trilogy.

7315573Fall of Giants by Ken Follett:  Ken Follett, made a masterpiece out of this trilogy.  It follows 3 generations of families all over the world, and how their lives intertwine throughout the big events in history.  Fall of Giants follows the first generation during WWI.  The plot is engaging, the characters are complex, and following the links in the families is really exciting.

 

825508A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett: Another book by Ken Follett? Yes.  I love him, and this book is incredible.  The social politics and the drama alone are enough to make this book worth while.  Not to mention the characters are lovable (and despicable), the plot is fast paced, and the writing is super juicy.

 

6723017The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton: This book gave me a huge book hangover! It had a darker, gothic tone, which I really enjoyed.  It kept me on the edge of my seat and awake way past my bed time.  You can read my full review here.

 

 

14935Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: If you’re in the mood for a classic, Downton lovers, Sense and Sensibility has all of the snark of Aunt Violet mixed with the beautiful writing of Jane Austen.  Find my full review here.

 

 

6867Atonement by Ian McEwan: This book is beautiful, tragic, and perfect for Downton fans.  It has a haunting story that will leave you frustrated (in a good way) and questioning every choice you make and the consequences. The movie is also really well done.

 

 

15701533The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig: Who doesn’t love a good flashback story?  With plenty of dark family secrets, this book will keep you reading and involved in Clementine and Addie’s lives until the very last page.  I got lost in this story on a vacation and I had to be pulled out of it and back to real life.

 

1254951The Luxe by Anna Godbersen: I have raved about this book before on my blog, but I really can’t say enough good things about it.  This is the book that made me fall in love with this time period and its social politics.  Years later, I still vividly remember how invested I was in these characters, and reading it backstage at my dance recital because I couldn’t wait to get home to find out what happened next.

 

9999107The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin:  This book didn’t have the most exciting plot, but the overall feel of it was very grand.  I found it interesting to see the dynamics between the American and the British aristocrats.  It reminds me of what it would have been like for Cora before the start of Downton. Coincidence, the heroine of this book is named Cora too.

 

3682A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray: Now if you love Downton Abbey and Fantasy, then this is the book for you.  I absolutely LOVED this book.  The world created was so unique, and the dark gothic style worked really well.  This book was unlike anything else I’ve read, and the rest of the series continued to be just as good.

 

Book Reviews

Netgalley Review: Starswept by Mary Fan

34377743Goodreads Summary: Some melodies reach across the stars.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

My Thoughts: I recently joined Netgalley, and Starswept was my first approved book! I was immediately drawn to the beautiful cover.  When I read the description, I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous.  I usually stick to the fantasy side of the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre, but I was intrigued by the idea of this story.  A dystopian-future performing arts school? Sign me up!  From the first sentence, “They tell us not everyone deserves to matter.”,  I fully bought into Fan’s future world, and the more that was revealed, the more interested I became.  As a performer myself, I absolutely loved the idea of Papilio.  The arts world is cut-throat enough as it is, and the heightened competition was interesting and morbidly exciting.  It started off a little slow, but I was so invested in the world of Papilio that I didn’t care.  The world of the Adryil was also very intriguing.  Fan did an amazing job of building it and I found myself actually becoming afraid of them and the idea of their powers.  She created a great, sinister environment, that made me wonder “How did things get this way?”  I did find the characters a little sterile and bland, but it almost worked with the style of the story.  I wish we were shown more of the depth in their relationships though.  I didn’t feel the strong connection between Iris and Dámiul, and their relationship was a little too insta-love for me to fully support.  However; Fan’s writing style is absolutely gorgeous, and I found myself awed by certain sentences.  The ending was really exciting, fast-paced, and maybe open ended?  It definitely left room for a sequel.  Overall, I liked this book, and appreciated reading something really original and different.  The plot and the world building made for a very enjoyable and immersive read.  Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the chance to read this beautiful story!

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Uncategorized

July 2017 Wrap-Up

I can’t believe it’s already August!  I spent July in beautiful Ogunquit, Maine with some of my favorite people in the world, doing a show that I am in love with.  What could be better?  I also got started on my Classics Challenge, and discovered some awesome new books on Netgalley.

Books read:

Favorite Book of the Month:

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Books Purchased/Received:

I found a bunch of Nancy Drew books at a thrift shop in Maine, and I had to buy them.  I also recently discovered NetGalley, and have been LOVING it.

Currently Reading:

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July Reviews:

Sense and Sensibility

A Court of Wings and Ruin

July Posts:

The Ultimate Harry Potter Tag

Broadway Book Chat: Bridget Elise Yingling

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

Discussion Post: Reading Classics

The Classics Club

Happy reading friends! 🙂

Tags

The Ultimate Harry Potter Tag

In honor of our favorite hero’s birthday, I decided to do the Ultimate Harry Potter Tag created by Isabeau’s Literary Musings.  I have seen this tag everywhere, and as an avid Potterhead, I just couldn’t resist!

General

What is your favorite book?

Half-Blood Prince is without a doubt my favorite.  I love that it’s a bit darker, and that we get to see more of how Voldemort came to be.

What is your least favorite book?

I honestly can’t answer this question.  I love all of them, and each one is so important.  Whenever I try to think of my least favorite, I’ll re-read it and find a million brilliant things that I forgot about.  They’re just so good.

What is your favorite movie?

Chamber of Secrets.  Whenever I need a Harry Potter fix, this is my go to movie.  I can quote it verbatim.

What is your least favorite movie?

I have to go with Order of the Phoenix.  They just left so much out of it.  Whenever I read it I realize how much more happens that we don’t get to see on screen.

What is your favorite quote?

Ahhhhh. There are so many from the books, but I honestly think my favorite quote is from the queen herself:

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”-J.K. Rowling

I literally get emotional every time I hear it.  Seriously, sometimes my love for this series overwhelms me.

Who is your favorite Weasley?

Fred and George

Who is your favorite female character?

Molly Weasley.  She is the ultimate mamma bear.

Who is your favorite villain?

Lucius Malfoy for sure.  I don’t know what it is about him, but I’ve always had a thing for Lucius Malfoy.  I also love his character arc throughout the series.

Who is your favorite male character?

Remus Lupin.  He is such a complicated character.  His struggles with Tonks and fatherhood are heartbreaking and frustrating, but underneath it all he is truly one of the best men Harry has in his life.  I love him.

Who is your favorite professor?

McGonagall. Duh.

Would you rather…?

Wash Snape’s hair or spend a day listening to Lockhart rant about himself?

Wash Snape’s hair. Just get it over and done with.

Duel an elated Bellatrix or an angry Molly?

Oooh. It depends on what Molly is angry about.  If she’s defending her children, Bellatrix all the way.

Travel to Hogwarts via the Hogwarts Express or Flying Car?

Hogwarts Express 100%

Kiss Voldemort or give Umbridge a bubble bath?

OOF. Kiss Voldy I guess…. there’s no winning here.

Ride a hippogriff or a Firebolt?

I’m gonna go with the Firebolt because I would rather be in full control.

Is there a character you felt differently about in the movies vs. books?

Lavender Brown.  The first time I read it, I loved Lavender (probably because I was in love with Ron, and wanted to be her), but in the movies she was so annoying and cuckoo.  Now when I re-read it I like her less than I did originally.

Is there a movie you prefer instead of the book?

No.  I love the movies.  I think they are amazing, but they cannot compare to the books.

Richard Harris or Michael Gambon as Dumbledore?

Richard Harris.  Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore was too harsh.  I also take umbridge with the fact that he never read the books.  As an actor, how can you have a good grasp on your character without having read the source material?  Especially in a fandom like Harry Potter, you have a job to do to bring these characters to life, and if you don’t know who this character is supposed to be, how can you do it justice?  I understand wanting to make your own choices as an actor, but I feel that some of his just didn’t fit the character we know and love from the books. (DID YOU PUT YOUR NAME IN THE GOBLET OF FIYAHHHHH)

Your top thing (person or event) which wasn’t included in the movie that annoyed you the most?

Hmmm… I do actually think they did a good job of editing for the movies.  It’s mostly just little things that I miss.  I guess I would have liked to have seen Peeves on screen, but I understand the omission.  I also love Voldemort’s memories in HBP, and would have liked to see those as well.

If you could remake any of the Potter movies, which would it be?

Order of the Phoenix

 ❤ Happy Birthday Harry Potter ❤

Broadway Book Chat

Broadway Book Chat: Bridget Elise Yingling

Broadway Book Chat

As an actor, every job you do, you make a new family.  There is something special about theatre and it’s ability to bring people together in a way that is unlike any other.  I have made so many amazing friends throughout my career, and many of them share my love of books and literature.  Since theatre brings stories to life, I thought I would feature some of my favorite performers (my fabulous friends and castmates) and see what their bookshelves look like! Welcome to my Broadway Book Chat!

Bridget Elise Yingling

Most Recently Seen In: Bullets Over Broadway at The Ogunquit Playhouse

www.bridgeteliseyingling.com

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What are you currently reading?

1984 by George Orwell.  I never read it in school, so I’m reading for two reasons: 1) I want to read it before I see it on Broadway, and 2) our current political climate… self explanatory.

 

What is your favorite book/series?

I LOVE thrillers and mysteries so I’ve definitely read and loved all of Gillian Flynn’s books.

Who is your favorite author?

I don’t have a favorite author, but my favorite book ever is Native Son by Richard Wright.

What book inspires you?

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan- It is a collection of essays and stories by a young college graduate who died a day or two after her college graduation.  What she was able to see and understand about the human race at that young of an age is all too inspiring.

What literary character would you like to play?

If age didn’t matter, I would LOVE to play Scout from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

What book would you love to see made into a movie/play/musical?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It’d be a 3 day long movie, but I would LOVE to see that book as a film.

What book is next on your reading list?

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

I plan to feature a new performer every month! I would love some suggestions for questions you would like to ask, or things you want to know!  Leave them in the comments and I will add them to future interviews! Thanks to Bridget for sharing with us!  You’re a rock star. 🙂

Book Reviews · The Classics Club

Sense and Sensibility Review

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

14935Goodreads Summary: ‘The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

My Thoughts: I read Pride and Prejudice a few years ago, and I wasn’t the biggest fan.  Everyone loves Austen, so I have been wanting to give her another shot for a while now, and I am actually glad that I did.  I liked Sense and Sensibility a lot more than I expected to.  I was fully engaged in the plot, which surprised me.  Part of the reason I didn’t love Pride and Prejudice was because not enough happened.  They kept dancing around everything, and I needed more action.  This one had a bunch of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, and I thought that the speed in which the events happened was well paced.  It still dealt with the manners and social graces of the time, but there was more to it.  There was also a ton of shade and passive aggressive drama that made me inwardly squeal.  I loved the characters too, especially Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.  I found my self getting frustrated with both of them for opposite reasons, which I enjoyed and kept me reading and wanting more for them.  I loved watching both of them deal with all of these ridiculous people, but my favorite was the battle between Lucy and Elinor for Edward’s heart.  It did take me a while to get used to Austen’s language, but once I got accustomed to it, it was easier to comprehend.  I did have to focus more than normal, so reading it backstage with a big load of distractions wasn’t easy, and it took longer to finish than it normally would.  That said, I really enjoyed it and now I can say that I get it, and I am an Austen fan.  I am excited to read more of her work.

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Tags

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

Since we’re well into July, I decided to do The Mid-Year Freak Out Tag created by Ely and Chami at A Book So Fathomless.  I keep seeing this tag pop up everywhere, and I just couldn’t resist joining in the fun!  I have read a bunch of great books this year so far, and I’m excited to see where the rest of the year takes me!

Best book you’ve read so far in 2017?

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The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I absolutely loved this book. It was everything I wanted and gave me my first book hangover of the year.  You can see my full review here.

Best Sequel of 2017 so far?

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. This sequel blew away the first book, and was easily one of the top 3 books I’ve read so far this year.  I feel like it’s rare for a sequel to actually be better than the original, and this one was so beyond the first one in every aspect.  You can see my full review here.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to?

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The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder. I’ve been eyeing this book for a while, and I am really excited to read it.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

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A Column of Fire by Ken Follett. I. Cannot. Wait. For this book. The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End might be my favorite books of all time (excluding Harry Potter of course), and I am so ready for the next installment in The Kingsbridge Novels. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a book release.

Biggest disappointment?

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The Witching Hour by Anne Rice. I wanted to like this book so much.  Anne Rice has such a cult following, my lovely roommate included, and this book has really polarized reviews.  People either love it, or hate it, and unfortunately I was one of the latter.  There were some interesting scenes, but overall it was a huge snore, and I almost DNF’d it.

Biggest surprise?

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Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.  I had never heard of this book when my roommate brought it home.  It sounded like it had a really great premise, and we were not disappointed.  I DEVOURED this book and it gave me the biggest book hangover.  I cannot wait for the second one to come out in September.

Favorite new author? (debut or new to you)

I’m torn between Kate Morton and Sarah J. Maas.  They’re very different though, so they speak to different parts of me.

Newest fictional crush?

Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.  Move over Feyre.

Newest favorite character?

Sookie Stackhouse from The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris. She is just so damn loveable.

Book that made you cry?

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Uncontrollable sobbing. I scared my boyfriend.

Book that made you happy?

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Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham.  I love Lauren Graham.  Her book was so inspiring and had me smiling the entire time.  I want to be her best friend.

Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year?

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I thought the HBO show was really well done.  The acting was fantastic.  See all of my thoughts here.

Favorite review you’ve written this year?

STRANGEMEDICINE

I had a lot of fun reviewing Strange Medicine by Mike Russell for StrangeBooks.  It was one of my first reviews ever, and it was a completely new genre for me.  See my review here.

Most beautiful book you’ve bought this year? (or received)

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This book wins again for most beautiful cover and content.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

There are too many to list all of them, but one book that has been on my list FOREVER and I need to finally read is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

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What are some of your favorites so far?  I’d love to hear some more recommendations to add for the second half of the year! I tag anyone who, like me, wants to join in the fun! Happy reading!

 

Discussion Posts

Discussion Post: Reading Classics

I have always been a huge book worm.  I was the kid in class who used to get yelled at for texting under my desk, and then would bring up a book instead of a phone.  I just couldn’t help myself.  My favorite class in high school was my AP English class senior year, taught by one of the best teachers I have ever had, Mr. Bud.  This class made me love books I never would have fully appreciated had I read them on my own (Slaughterhouse 5 for example).

Mr. Bud and I used to talk about books all the time, but for all my reading, he always used to nag me about reading more “books of literary merit.”  I used to fight him on it, and stuck to my escapist literature for the most part.  It’s not that I didn’t want to read classics, I just never had outside of school.  I had an association of classic literature and homework, and I read for entertainment.  I was intimidated by the thought that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them.

Mr. Bud assigned a project where we had to choose our own “book of literary merit,” and do an old school book report.  I chose Pride and Prejudice, because I felt it was an easy intro for reading classics, it was pretty short and non-intimidating, and most readers are big fans.  I’m not going to lie, I didn’t love it, but what surprised me the most was that I didn’t hate it.  I was able to enjoy myself while reading it, and I felt good when I finished it.  This first step into the world of classic literature, opened my mind to the idea that maybe I could actually read classics for fun.

I’ve found that the biggest difference is that I have to really focus while reading a classic, and sometimes on a crowded, noisy subway, or backstage with music and scenes playing over the speakers, it can be hard to do.  Because of this, I am still a little hesitant when I feel the urge to tackle a classic book, but I am setting a new goal for myself, and finally marking some off my list.  I’m currently giving Jane Austen another try, and I am half way through Sense and Sensibility, which I’m enjoying.

With how much I read, I almost feel like a fraud for how small a dent I have made in my classic literature TBR list.  I strive to be well-read, and I am finally understanding what Mr. Bud was trying to get me to do.  These books are important, because they are good.  I still have mixed feelings about classics in general, but I have found some that I have LOVED, and have become some of my favorite books (Jane Eyre comes to mind).  I’ve also found some that I haven’t liked at all, and realized that just because it is considered a classic, does not mean that I have to like it.  I might always have a stigma associated with classic literature, but the more of them that I read, the less intimidating they become, and that in itself is a victory in my book.

How do you feel about reading classics?  Are they important to you? What are some of your favorites that you would recommend to a classic-newbie?  I would love to hear your thoughts and comments! 🙂

Book Reviews

A Court of Wings and Ruin Review

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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Goodreads Summary: A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

*Minor Spoilers Ahead- Proceed With Caution*

My Thoughts: After taking a few days to process my feelings about this book, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I was a little underwhelmed.  Still reeling from the magnificence of ACOMAF, I had such high expectations for this one that unfortunately weren’t quite met.  Don’t get me wrong, I still loved it, but I was a little let down after how obsessed I was with the second one.  The plot was slower than I expected- not enough to deter me from wanting to read it, but I expected more of a punch.  The pace reminded me a lot of the first book, as opposed to the non-stop action of the sequel.  The ending, while action packed, was a little lackluster.  I felt like a lot of things were just thrown in at the last minute that were unnecessary (like the arrival of a certain someone on a ship).  I love happy endings as much as the next person, but it almost seemed like things turned out a little too well for our heroes in this war.

Despite my general lukewarm feelings, I am so invested in the characters from this series.  I love Rhys and Feyre and the rest of the Night Court clan.  My favorite thing about this book was the meeting of all the other courts.  They all have such interesting backgrounds with so much diversity, and I would love to have stories about each of them- Give me more!   I thought Maas handled the LGBT stuff very well, and it made me happy that she just made it a part of the characters and didn’t try to make a big deal out of it.  She continues to create and grow complicated, lovable relationships that fully capture my heart.

Although it didn’t quite live up to A Court of Mist and Fury, I was, overall, really happy with where she took this story and these beloved characters.  I can’t wait to see what’s next for this series.  I’m still hooked.

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