Book Review: Arcana Rising by Kresely Cole


Title: Arcana Rising by Kresley Cole

Publication Date: August 15, 2016

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Losses mount and deadly new threats converge in this next action-packed tale of the Arcana Chronicles by #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole.

When the battle is done . . .
The Emperor unleashes hell and annihilates an army, jeopardizing the future of mankind–but Circe strikes back. The epic clash between them devastates the Arcana world and nearly kills Evie, separating her from her allies.

And all hope is lost . . .
With Aric missing and no sign that Jack and Selena escaped Richter’s reach, Evie turns more and more to the darkness lurking inside her. Two Arcana emerge as game changers: one who could be her salvation, the other her worst nightmare.

Vengeance becomes everything.
To take on Richter, Evie must reunite with Death and mend their broken bond. But as she learns more about her role in the future–and her chilling past–will she become a monster like the Emperor? Or can Evie and her allies rise up from Richter’s ashes, stronger than ever before?

The Arcana Chronicles has spanned what feels like a decade. This is one of my favorite yet incredibly spaced out series. In fact, I did not see a date for this installment until the beginning of the summer and even then I did not believe until I saw it on the internet by Cole herself. For those of us who have stuck around for the past several years, these books continue to be a bit of fresh air in the YA paranormal, post-apocolyptic realm. For those who haven’t stuck it out, what the hell are you waiting for, grab the next book! Beware though, there are some spoilers ahead. 

What I liked: I’m team Death/ Aric. Him and Evie are #goals in my opinion, and honestly, I’d be okay if Jack died. I’m beginning to feel like he is more of a tertiary character with little purpose; though I suspect he is somehow involved in this ever-loving cycle of the Arcana. For those of you who love death as much as I do, this is your book. There is major, major steam, and once again, I find myself surprised that a book with this much sex is being marketed to young adults. As much as I love this, I can’t recommend to any of my students (yikes). Once more, we meet new arcana friends and foes, and this installment particularly centers around the mysterious Emperor, who sounds like a douche bag. Because this book focuses so heavily on Evie and Death, we do not actually get to meet the Emperor, but the random tidbits we are privy to ain’t good. Nope. I’d be fine with another book where Evie and Death ride out the apocolypse in their little love nest, but I have a feeling that the next installment will contain more killing. 

While we see a softer side of Evie with Aric, we also are treated to a taste of Evie as a badass, heartbroken, vengeful Empress. In the beginning there, I expected her to burn the world down. Kind of sad that she did not.

Also, THE ENDING! Honestly, don’t read ahead. It’s worth it.

What I didn’t like: I missed the other arcana and the sense of camaraderie we built with them over the years. At this point, we can only speculate as to who is dead and who is alive (though a lot of people are dead). I miss the intrigue and freshness brought by new arcana and their bat-shit craziness. Old lunatics get old. I also did not feel like Evie’s grandmother contributed much to this overall story. She was old, demented, and kind of a psychopath. The only real purpose she served was to leave Evie some cryptic message before she died. YAWN.

Overall, I continue to love these books and I’m grateful the next one will be out sometime this spring (apparently). 5/5

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books to Get Students Reading


Hi all and welcome to this addition of Top Ten Tuesday, as hosted by The Broke and Bookish. I’ve been away from the blog for a minute really because I have been an uninspired reader, but I’m hoping that some of the kick-ass August releases will re-inspire me and you’ll be back to reading my thoughts soon. For this Top Ten Tuesday, I thought it would be fun to do a Top Ten on what books will get kids reading. Since this is the Back to school edition and I am a teacher, I figured this is perfect! I encourage all of my students to read, but have found that by keeping a steady stream of new books in my classroom library, my students are much more likely to grab something when they are done classwork. So, low and behold, my list of books that will get kids reading. 

  1. The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: I have had to buy several copies of this one since it always seems to be out of circulation. I asked a few of my students why they like it and they all say because of the fast pace.

2. Isle of the lost by Melissa De la Cruz: Disney strikes again. I’ve never personally read this one, but my younger kids love it.

3. Compulsion by Martina Boone: All the girls love Eight and the idea of Gone With the Wind.

4. Cinder by Melissa Meyer: I actually use this in a lesson on retellings, but even before that the cover grabs kids interest. Sometimes I have to explain the re-telling aspect, but for kids who like a challenging read

5. City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau: I love weird dystopian novels, but often times the level of violence is not appropriate for Middle-Schoolers. I love “City..” because it describes un unrealistic society without the gory blood shed.

6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl: Kind of an easy one, but it is a great starter book for kids who either struggle as readers or do not necessarily enjoy reading.

7. Wonder by R.J. Palacio: Again, this is one I have never read, but that my kids adore. I like hearing them use it as a talking point on how to better relate to people who are different from themselves.

8. Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley: This MG I actually have read and adore! It’s better suited for the lower end of the MG spectrum (so maybe not 7th or 8th graders) and is so appealing as an urban fantasy type novel.

9. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: I love diverse novels from diverse authors, especially as a teacher of a minority group. What I especially love about this though is the exceptional world building. I use excepts in class and my students are ravenous for more.

10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney: Because, of course.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Buy This Second With Fully Loaded Gift Card


This weeks Top Ten Tuesday as hosted by The Broke and Bookish is all about what I would buy if I had a fully loaded gift card and let’s just say that if that were the case I would be able to do some serious damage. As is, I can charge up my Amazon account like I am not a low-paid teacher. Check out below to see what I would buy and don’t forget to leave a comment!

1. The Glittering Court by Richelle Meade: Huge fan of Meade’s but I did not allow myself to buy this one for fear of not liking it. My method is to grab a copy from the library first and then buy the book.

2. Day Zero by Kresley Cole: I’m a HUGE Arcana Chronicles fan. I mean HUGE! But given the many, many fantastic books coming out this August, I am putting this prequel on hold.

3. Torn (Wicked Saga Book #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout: I did not love the first installment of this book. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it, so this goes on the current-life wish list.

4.The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye: I have heard great things about this one, but because Skye is a new author I will grab this from the library first.

5. Ivory and Bone by Julie EshbaughI’m sold on the P&P aspect of this because who does not love Austen, but pre-historic….meh…idk.

6. Futhermore by Tahereh Mafi: This isn’t out yet but I already know I’m wish-listing it.

7. The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard: I’ll buy anything A.G. Howard creates. She gets me.

8. Unknown by Wendy Higgins: Wishlisting this until I hear reviews. Love Higgins but I haven’t heard a lot about this and it makes me nervous.

9. All Those Standalone Short Romances: Thank you for selling 12 books for $3.99….I can’t even start these because I need to know what happens at the end and I can’t afford that noise.

10. A Ton of MG Novels for My Classroom. 

Book Review: Riders by Veronica Rossi


Title: Riders by Veronica Rossi

Publication Date: February 16, 2016

Genre: Paranormal YA

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: Nothing but death can keep eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.

While recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen—Conquest, Famine, and Death—are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.

They fail.

Now—bound, bloodied, and drugged—Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen for—not to mention all of humankind—he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.

But will anyone believe him?

Having never read anything by Veronica Rossi, I came into ‘Riders’ with a complete fresh perspective. As a big fan of apocalyptic/ biblical type of lore, I decided to pick this up after a browse through the bookstore. It was an interesting take on the legend of the four horseman. 

What I liked: It is very rare to read a YA with a male voice and to be honest, I generally shy away from books with male POV because I have difficulty relating to them, but I actually enjoyed Gideon’s voice. Gideon is an interesting character, a series of contradictions. He is a solider who has definite OCD tendencies, but he was also emotionally crippled and incredibly kind. I’m not sure this book would have worked had it been from someone else’s perspective. What truly made ‘Riders’ a stand-out was the way in which the story unfold for the reader. Everything has already taken place for our band of merry-warriors, so the reader is getting a recount from Gideon. Sure this happens in other YA, but what the reader soon learns is that Gideon is not a reliable narrator. In fact, half-way through the book, Gideon begins leaving vital information out of his recount because of circumstances out of his control. 

What I didn’t like: Outside of Gideon, the characters felt incredibly underdeveloped. This is a duology so I don’t expect to read a book from each horsemen, but I would like to see them more developed as people rather than caricatures. My biggest regret when reading this was the Daryn/ Gideon of it all. I’m rarely one to say ‘vomit’ over a romantic relationship, but that’s where I ended up here. The chemistry was absolutely non-existent and felt completely stilted.

Overall, this was interesting enough format wise, but the underdevelopment of the secondary characters and crappy romance pulled from the content. 3/5

Review: The Rose and The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh


Title: The Rose and The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

Publication Date: April 26, 2016

Genre: YA, Re-telling, Romance

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

While I definitely came late to this party, I have since become absolutely obsessed with this series. I have recommended it to everyone, including the guy at my local bookstore. Generally, I’m split on sequels and find them polarizing. Either they are fantastic or they feel irrelevant. Because this is a duology, this book was completely relevant. Because Ahdieh knows how to pen a story, this was completely enthralling. Though I enjoyed the first installment more, “The Rose and the Dagger,” is a strong follow-up. 

What I liked: One of the main pleasures I got from reading this next installment was getting to know the secondary characters more. Instead of just reading from Shazi’s or Khalid’s perspective, Ahdieh writes from the minds of several secondary characters, which flushes out their motivations and makes their support of Khalid more believable. Speaking of support, you actually get quite a lot of scenes between Tariq and Khalid, which I particularly enjoyed. Their relationship is definitely a strained one, but through a series of events and their mutual love of Shazi they develop a grudging respect. Ahdieh’s story is very character driven and I think that is highlighted in this sequel. If you love character driven drama then you’ll enjoy this. 

What I didn’t like: Everything seemed to be fixed very quickly and sometimes very confusingly. I want to elaborate here, but I also don’t want to spoil things. Essentially, I feel like because this was so strongly driven by the relationship between Shazi and Khalid and because of that the ‘action’ i.e. the curse and some random political intrigue was incredibly secondary and not as well developed.

Overall, great character-driven sequel that you’ll be unable to put down 5/5.

Top Ten Tuesdays: 10 Things About Me


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday as hosted by The Broke and Bookish. This weeks topic is 10 Things About Me. I must admit I’m terribly boring. Right now, I’m sitting in bed (it’s Saturday evening) blogging, watching Gilmore Girls, and eating an apple pastry, but I promise I’ll try and scrounge up some interesting facts. 

1. I’m a Middle School teacher. I teach English Composition for 5-8th grade. It’s both the best job ever and the most stressful job ever. I’m very thankful for Summer break. 

2. I am a book hoarder. My friends often talk about how I can trade books, give them away, etc. but I feel a deep sense of panic at the thought of giving away my babies.

3. I love cheese and also potatoes. I could live off these things if only they were healthy.

4. My best friend is my college roommate who I asked to be my roommate in a class after barely knowing her. (It worked!)

5. Harry Potter is my favorite book series ever and will never be replaced.

6. I have two dream vacations. First one: U.K. I love history, royalty, and accents. Second: DisneyWorld. I’ve never been but I have always wanted to go.

7. I’m obsessed with cat memes…who isn’t?

8. I didn’t go to my first book signing until my 24th birthday. I was unaware that there was this magical thing called author events, but now I’m aware.

9. I love to bake but I hate cake/cupcakes unless I need sugar.

10. I love libraries.

So, that’s me. The 10 most exciting things I could think of anyway.

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas


Title: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: May 3, 2016

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

I totally fell in love with the first addition of this book, “A Court of Thorns and Roses” and anxiously awaited the next installment. It’s a long one, clocking in at 640 pages, I wanted to be able to sit and savor the read so I waited to begin this until summer break began. I had high expectations and let’s just say that this totally delivered. It’s no secret that I’m not a lover of the “Throne of Glass” series, but after this second edition I’m a Maas convert. 

What I liked: The romance. Yesssss. I’m not someone who can read a book without a little love in it and sometimes with Fantasy that is the case, but if you are a lover of steamy romance, grab this. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this second addition much more than the first one, which I did not think was possible. Feyre really comes into her own in this book. In fact, the whole plot centers on building her up into a strong female character. The decimating events of the last book are not ignored and Maas explores the ramifications on her characters psyche. The action is kicked up a notch as Feyre is in the middle of the fey world. I don’t think there was a single point where I skipped ahead mainly because each page held some sort of captivating plot point. 

What I didn’t like: There is a small subplot involving Feyre’s sisters that I thought felt unnecessary. It happened at the end but detracted from an otherwise awesome book.

Overall, pick this up. Just do it. 5/5

Throwback Thursday Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake


Title: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Publication Date: October 17, 2011

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

I’m slowly but surely getting through my TBR list. Doesn’t help that I grabbed 6 new books from the library today…yikes. I heard this was being made into a movie so I figured I’d grab it and see what’s the what. Read the breakdown below. 

What I liked: This is the first YA book I have read with a male POV that I actually enjoyed. And when I say male POV, I mean all the way through. Usually that’s a turn off for me. I’m a brat, what can I say, but the male voice is not one that I particularly enjoy in YA. Cas’s voice kept me reading and I’m glad for that. Blake did a great job of making her M.C. accessible to all reader’s. The crack team was really what got me though. Usually, I’m not into the whole ‘everyone knows about monsters and there are no humans left,’ but I think Cas having friends made him a more likable as a character, because let’s face it, he was also kind of an ass in the beginning. His friends made him more human and added a certain voice to the book. ‘Anna Dress in Blood’ lived up to the horror. Blake is not afraid to kill, anyone. Those human friend, well, they are not all safe. 

What I didn’t like: There’s a romance and frankly it is weird. I’m not into it and I’m usually into the whole starcrossed thing. Plus, the whole thing just seemed rush. After no time Cas begins thinking of Anna all moony eyed and confuzzled. #No. I was a little disappointed that there was not more done to explore Anna’s death since that seemed like the major part of the story to me.

Overall, this was a decent book that kept me turning the page. 3/5

Book Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh


Title: The Wrath and Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Publication Date: May 12, 2o15

Genre: YA

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

I’m beginning to run through my TBR list and this was next up. I was a little nervous about this one because it was so hyped up on so many different level; that being said, I really, really enjoyed it and am eagerly waiting to receive my copy of its sequel

What I liked: The pacing. I was nervous given that this is a retelling of “A Thousand and One Nights,” that the majority of the plot was going to be the main character telling stories to her husband, and while I can get behind the whole story in a story deal, I was not looking to read that for several hundred pages. I’m glad to say that I was wrong. Thought Shazi, the main female character, does tell several stories to the Caliph-her husband, there is more to this tale than a conglomeration of several others. In fact, Ahdieh jumps right into the action and keeps it coming. This book is a slow-burn from beginning to end, but even when there isn’t ‘action’ there’s something happening. The relationship between Shazi and Khalid fills in any gaps between action packed moments, by providing the audience with a relationship they can really sink their teeth into. I’m a huge romance fan here and this one is one for the books. Shazi feels a lot of guilt, Khalid feels a lot of guilt; they come together to feel a lot of guilt. It’s awesome. I love them. Also, way to go Ahdieh for suggesting that married people have sex. #duh. 

What I didn’t like: The ending threw me a little. There is a scene in the last few pages where I could not discern if Khalid knew what was going on. Was he mad at Shazi or mad at the situation; guess I will find out in the sequel.

Overall, be ready for a slow-burn, evocative read. 5/5

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Intend to Read this Summer


I have been seriously remise in my book reading, but not apparently in my book buying. So, naturally, what has happened is that from Spring-Summer I have amassed a TBR list to rival even the largest procrastinator. Some of these are new purchases, some are library books (damn D.C. for allowing me to have them for essentially 20 weeks!), and some are pre-orders. At this point I have had so little time to read that I’ve stopped requesting ARCs, which then causes a ripple effect of me buying the book and it collecting dust. On that note, this Top Ten Tuesday, as sponsored by The Broke and Bookish features Top Ten Books I need to Read this Summer. 

1. Flawed by Cecelia Ahern: I purchased this at a signing and was exciting to read this after hearing the author talk about it, but alas, time. 

2. Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan: Ditto #1

3.  The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood: Ditto #1

(Do we see a pattern here? I have impulse control issues. )

4. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas: Probably my most anticipated book of the Spring and I let myself get intimidated by its size. I’m beginning this one next, promise.

5. The Wrath and Dawn by Renee Ahdieh: I heard her speak at YALLFEST and she was so passionate that I grabbed this like ASAP and then let it sit cause I suck.

6. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: I blame myself for this one. I read an early review and stopped 5 chapters in without giving it a chance. I never refuse to finish, so I’ll get to it and probably be mad at myself.

7. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge: Read “Cruel Beauty” a few months ago and LOVED it. Hope this one is just as good.

8. Court of Fives by Kate Elliot: Again, I let myself read reviews and am now nervous.

9. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendra Blake: Okay, I know this one is super late, but I never really gave it more than a glance despite the hype surrounding it. When I heard there is possibly going to be a movie, I grabbed it thinking ‘what the hell.’

10. Gabriel by Nikki Kelly: This was an impulse purchase. I’ll admit it, so I haven’t really had the heart to crack it open.

So there it is, my list–and trust me this is small fries compared to what there actually is. Anyone have any thoughts about what I should read next, or what should make it into my Fall tbr?