This should come as no surprise to anyone, but A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas is my all time favorite book. This is the second book in her A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy and it is a WORK OF ART. I mean, all of the character arcs are amazing, especially with the depiction of depression and PTSD going on. It's beautifully written, and not only are the character arcs amazing, but so are the characters, the relationships, the RELATIONSHIPS, the plot, the setting. Everything is perfect and I love this book with all my heart and soul. It's amazing how far ahead Sarah plans it, because there are so many little hints dropped in the first book about things that happen in the second that you'd never notice until you go back and reread. We all know I love Sarah J. Maas, but this is my ALL TIME favorite book. I would obviously highly recommend this series, and everything else Sarah has written.
“Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.”
Here's a book that has been sitting on my shelf for YEARS. I bought it basically right when it came out, there was a lot of hype surrounding it and I wanted to get in on it. I remember starting it and reading the first couple pages, but for some reason I put it down and just never picked it back up again. Until 6 years later.
Well, now I've finally sat myself down and actually read the book and I have to say, I understand the hype. (A little late, I know). It's a very well written story, with beautiful, almost poetic writing. And the story itself is utterly heartbreaking. It follows twins Noah and Jude in different time frames. They used to be inseparable, but now they are estranged and barely talk. Noah narrates when they were 13, and the rocky road leading to their estrangement, while Jude narrates 3 years later, when they're 16 and barely speaking to each other. It's so sad to see them fall apart, and it's also heart wrenching seeing both sides of the story, because each twin has a story to tell and secrets they're harboring that are holding them apart.
“People die, I think, but your relationship with them doesn't. It continues and is ever-changing.”
The twins' relationsip is what I found the most appealing about this book. I love a good sibling dynamic. While it was a very central point to the whole story, I felt disappointed by the lack of actual interactions between Noah and Jude. We got some, but I wanted more. I loved seeing them together, and how they talked and acted with each other, in both timelines. Even when they are estranged you can still see how much they love each other. Honestly, though, the person-to-person interactions were pretty limited in this book in comparison to others. I'll Give You the Sun is a lot more of a narrative tale than one with a lot of dialog and interaction, which is cool to really see inside the twins' minds and the poetic way that they think and see the world, but also disappointing because interactions are always fun to read and help you really get attached to the relationships being displayed.
While I did enjoy the romance, I have to admit, it fell strongly into the category of instalove. Which is one of my least favorite tropes-- it's really hard to fall for a relationship when you don't get to see it build. Of course, with this book you do semi get to see the relationship build, but the feelings are there instantaneously. Plus, when you think about the timespan of Jude's story, it's not that long. So the intensity of the feelings is insane. So, while I did enjoy the connection, I can't say that the romance was world-endingly amazing. Instalove just has always been a turn off for me. I guess it's impressive that I even liked the relationship at all, because usually instalove romances lead me to not caring at all for the relationship or the book.
The one of the best parts of this book is its complexity. It weaves a tangled tale-- or two tangled tales, and there's so much going on. Dealing with love, loss, jealousy... you name it. It has a lot of depth, which can lead it to feel a little dense and heavy at times, especially since there's not as much dialog and interactions. It really hits you, with all the heavy themes it's hard not to feel like you've just been punched in the chest. Still, I wouldn't let that discourage you from reading the book seeing as that's what makes it so good-- just how impactful it is. Definitely an emotional read.
I'd give this book 7/10 stars. It was really good, and it made me feel things-- I hurt so much for these characters and just wanted what was best for them. It's a beautiful tale, and one I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for something impactful.
"We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story."
At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. The early years are Noah's to tell; the later years are Jude's. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they'll have a chance to remake their world. This radiant, award-winning novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.
Printz Award Winner Stonewall Honor Book.
So here's the thing, I can't think of any books that I especially remember a lot of people excessively hating that I really liked. I just looked in goodreads under my favorites and looked at lowest average ratings-- but even then the average ratings aren't all that low. Oh well.
Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
I really enjoyed this book. It had a lot of fun elements, twisting together in a fantasy-historical fiction mix of Alexander the Great as a teenager. It was one of my favorites for a long time, I even worked with Herman's publishing team to do blog tours to publicize the last few books!
However, its average rating on goodreads is 3.65, which, while still fairly high, is lower than most of my favorited books on the site.
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.
Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to a newcomer…
Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But she doesn’t account for her first love…
Jacob will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means having to compete for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince.
And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet betrothed, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.
Weaving fantasy with the shocking details of real history, New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known, Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.
I love a lot of book titles. As many jokes as there are about Sarah J. Maas books I love all her titles. But here, I'll do something a little different.
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
This book series is particularly unique because the book titles form a sentence together. This is also a SPECTACULAR series and I would highly recommend. The first like, 50 pages of the book aren't all that interesting but trust me it picks up the pace and then becomes absolutely amazing.
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
"Letting go is not forgetting. It's opening your eyes to the good that grew from the bad, the life that blooms from decay."
Here's another beautifully written, and beautifully told story by Emily Henry. It's a story of love, loss and letting go. Henry has a knack for artfully stringing words together. Her words are, like I said before, beautiful, poetic, even. There are so many metaphors and stunning visuals used throughout. You just get lost in the words, swept up in the magical realism of the story.
"Maybe for some people, falling in love is an explosion, fireworks against a black sky and tremors rumbling through the earth. One blazing moment. For me, it's been happening for months, as quietly as a seed sprouting. Love sneaked through me, spreading roots around my heart, until, in the blink of an eye, the green of it broke the dirt: hidden one moment, there the next."
Like Henry's other novel that I utterly fell in love with (Beach Read), A Million Junes isn't pitched all that accurately. See, I was attracted to the novel because it promises a forbidden romance, which sounds like that'll be the central point to the book. And while yes, there is an adorable romance, it's not the central point. If anything, the romance is the inciting incident. I would argue that the focal point is loss, grief-- and learning to let go and deal with it. And while that wasn't exactly what I was expecting when jumping in, it was somehow exactly what I needed.
"Grief is an unfillable hole in your body. It should be weightless, but it's heavy. Should be cold, but it burns. Should, over time, close up, but instead it deepens."
This doesn't happen often, but I got a little teary while reading this. That's how well-written the story, the characters and their relationships are. I almost cried. The themes of loss and grief really hit home, and they're presented so accurately, so realistically that it was hard not to really feel the characters' emotions as my own. It hit especially hard towards the end-- when you get to see the beauty and the happiness of it all hidden along with all the sadness.
Okay, okay, the way I'm presenting this is like A Million Junes is a dark and depressing novel. It's not. It's... hard to describe. It fuses together so many different things that shouldn't work and yet somehow they do. The story and tone as a whole start off pretty whimsical, set in a contemporary world with magic intertwined along with it. It's hard at first to really combine the real world aspect of the story with the oddities going on, but once you do it's not hard to truly lose yourself in it. Yes, loss and grief are very prevalent throughout the read, but somehow the author is able to entwine those with other pieces so they don't feel quite as dense but you still get the umph from them. Does that make sense? I don't know if it does, but I can't think of a better way to describe it. Don't let the idea of some "darker" themes scare you away. There's still plenty of lighthearted, sweet moments and while it is a read that presents a lot of depth, it's not dense. The flow of the writing feels like you're really living in that moment-- it's not boring or heavy in any way.
"We both know that pain comes for us all. It's almost a relief. Because if all of us are going to someday lose the people we love the most, or be lost by them, then what is there to do but live?"
I absolutely loved the relationships in this book. Both romantic and otherwise. The romantic relationship between Saul and June is that "forbidden romance" that's pitched in the synopsis. While, yes, there is an element of forbidden-ness to it, that's not really the central point of their romance. They have intense chemistry, and their banter is to-die-for. I also adore both of their characters-- neither of which fall into any pre-set stereotype. They just fit so well together and I love it. I also want to mention that the main character's (June's) relationship with her best friend was beautiful and perfect as well. They're so loyal and dedicated to each other. There's no stupid misunderstandings that pull them apart like what tends to happen in this kind of story. Their friendship is strong, and they don't let anything pull them apart. I love that.
I also appreciated seeing June's relationship with her family. It's complicated, but hey, isn't that what makes it more realistic? June's relationship with her father is particularly interesting. She always saw him as golden and perfect-- and throughout the novel she realizes there's more to him than that, which doesn't necessary make him bad, but just real. I love that too.
"My inheritance is grief and sunlight and the ability to choose which to hold on to."
If you didn't catch on while reading this, there's nothing about this book that's "typical" or can fall into a pre-set stereotype. Every aspect, character, relationship is actually pretty unique-- you won't be stumbling across many cliches in A Million Junes. While cliches can be fun, this book shows how breaking out of those can be a breath of fresh air. This was an immensely enjoyable read. It was nothing like I expected it to be going in, and somehow that made it even better. It really made me feel things, and will have a special place in my heart. I'd rate it a good 7.5/10 stars. A definite must read for anyone out there dealing with loss or just looking for a good book that'll make you smile, laugh, cry and just all together feel all the feels.
For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.
Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.
As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.
Wicked King by Holly Black
This ending had me shaking to my core. I remember closing the book and just staring at the wall wondering what the hell just happened, and how I was going to wait so long for the follow up. It was a shocking ending but I was still ashamed of myself for not seeing it coming.
"People were complicated. They weren't math problems; they were collections of feelings and decisions and dumb luck. The world was complicated too, not a beautifully hazy French film, but a disastrous, horrible mess, speckled with brilliance and love and meaning."
This is an incredible read. Honestly, while it's a cute title, I think the title of "Beach Read" does this novel an injustice. "Beach Read" sounds like it's just some cute, lighthearted romance that you'll read and enjoy, but won't necessarily stick with you once it's over. While this novel does have a cute romance, it's certainly not one that you'll be forgetting about anytime soon. Beach Read delves so much deeper than your typical beach read (confusing sentence, I know). It's not just a romance. While romance is an aspect of the book, it certainly isn't all of it.
I dove into this book fully expecting what the title said I'd get-- a simple beach read. I was pleasantly surprised the deeper I delved into the pages to discover that it's so much more than that. This book is love. It's loss. It's discovery, and realizing that people aren't perfect, and that's okay. Don't let this turn you off if you're not looking for a particularly deep, dense and heavy novel. The deep, emotional side of this novel is somehow masked with the light, sunny tone of the story. So yes, it's deep. It's emotional, you can really feel and emphasize with the characters. But it reads like a light and warm contemporary novel. While there are deeper and more emotional ideas and scenes in this, don't worry. There's still plenty of sassy, laugh out loud or giggle moments. The romance is amazing-- it's built up at just the right pace and the two leads have magnetic chemistry. The added depth just makes the book all the more better because it makes the characters feel so much more real and relatable. They're imperfect, they have issues-- just like the rest of us. Honestly, I was disappointed when I finished, and then I just turned the book over and started again. That's how much I loved reading this.
The book follows January Andrews, a romance writer who has recently been disillusioned with life. The death of her father, and the realization that he wasn't the man she'd thought he was knocks the rose-colored glasses off her face, making her realize that the world isn't nearly as perfect and beautiful as she'd thought.
Throw in Augustus Everett, January's ultimate rival since college and polar opposite. He's dark and a bit brooding. Someone mentioned this in another review that I read and I thought it was worth mentioning: while he's a dark and a little bit mysterious, he manages not to be a total asshole as the typical dark male lead usually is. He's actually a big sweetheart and I adore him with all my heart and soul.
The two make a bet-- try to write in the other's genre. January will write more 'literary' novels, and Gus will write romance. Every week they take each other on "field trips" to help the other get in the mindset of their writing. And let's be real here, these are basically dates but am I so down for them? YES I AM. Like I mentioned earlier, the pacing of this romance is perfect. From the beginning there's chemistry between the two main characters. Their teasing and banter is enough to put a goofy grin on anyone's face.
I'd give this book 9/10 stars, the writing is beautiful, the relationships are amazing, the plot is perfect and the characters are imperfect in ways that make them even more perfect. It was a stellar read and I honestly just want to sit down and read it again, again and again. If you're looking for a book that will melt your heart and hit you right in the feels while simultaneously making you giggle and grin? This is the book for you.
Here's the actual synopsis: (Again, like the title, I don't think the synopsis does this book justice-- it just makes the story sound like a rom-com, when it's SO much more than that, but, you know, the romance element is quite nice too...)
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.
They're polar opposites.
In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She'll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he'll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
This book was an exceedingly well written journey. I don't want to talk too much on it, because the surprising aspect of it really is vital for understanding the goal/theme of the story.
There are a lot of characters out there that I can relate to a bit so here are a few that stand out in my mind.
Lara Jean Covey from the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series by Jenny Han
This character and I share a lot in common. We both love to bake, have similar personalities and very similar familiar situations. Although she's a bit more naive and oblivious than I'd like to think myself to be.
This is a great series, if you've seen the movie, ignore your opinion on it and try the books! They're so much better in a million different ways.
Sloane Finch from This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
I know I've mentioned this book already, but I just love it so much. Also it's not technically breaking my decision not to recommend books more than once on this challenge because I'm not recommending the book! I'm saying I relate to the main character. A lot of her thoughts, and just the way she shows how she feels are very similar to me. She's a very relatable main character. Ahha sorry that was repetitive but I'm trying not to go too deep in depth into my psych.
Macy Lea Sorensen from Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
Again, yes, this book has been mentioned before. I'm talking about the main character now. I related a lot to Macy Lea in the way that she deals with things, both in the present and the past.
Here are two that I've read recently and utterly fell in love with! Meaning I really wish more people have read them and would talk about them!
Best Contemporary Novels
Best Fantasy Novels
Best Action Novels
Best Dystopian Novels
Favorite Novels (Website)
Favorite Novels (Goodreads)