Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor

My rating: five stars

Genre: YA, fantasy

Edition: paperback

Goodreads Summary: The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

I have been wanting to read this book for the longest time! Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favorite series EVER and it made me curious to read this series. Chloe from bookswithchloe on YouTube had a read along and a liveshow where she talked about this book on her Patreon at the end of February. It was just so perfect that this book was chosen (as I read it in February and am just super behind on my blog posts)! I honestly wish I hadn’t waited this long because I LOVED it.

Likes: All the suspense and questions were beautifully worked into this story. I usually don’t care for not knowing things, but the way that it is done in this book makes it fun and like a game. I love the characters in this story so much. They each have their positives and negatives, but they have such rich backstories that explain why they are who they are. The only person I did not care for might be a spoiler, but I swear they are the worst. I get that bad things happened in their past, but that just doesn’t excuse the things they are doing in my eyes. There is so much beautiful imagery in this book. The descriptions of dreams and the different parts of the world are incredible. I truly love Laini Taylor’s writing. Something else besides her descriptions that I love are the plot twists and crazy surprises that are in her stories. She always makes mysteries that I think are the main big one that I am trying to solve throughout the book, and then, BAM, there was really a huge twist that comes that I didn’t see because I was so focused on the smaller mystery. It is insane how skilled she is to be able to do this, and it makes her stories powerful and unique.

Dislike: The book was a little slow in the beginning. It wasn’t to where I was bored or anything, it was just kind of dragging on. I don’t know how to explain it exactly. I was loving what I was reading, but I wasn’t enjoying the process of reading it because of the pacing. Another thing that I did not like was a huge spoiler at the beginning of the book. I won’t say any more about it except that it really made me enjoy later parts of the book less.

Overall, I was not disappointed in this story at all. I had high expectations because of how much I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and this book lived up to them! I don’t think I liked it as much as that series, but I did truly love it and look forward to reading the next one!

January 2020| Reading Wrap Up

Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

Throne of Glass is about an assassin who enters into a competition to become the King’s Champion. It is a story full of training, trails, secrets, and even some romance. The writing was incredible and kept me at the edge of my seat. I liked Sarah J. Maas’s descriptions and how well she paced the book. It didn’t seem to lull, and I enjoyed how well I was able to picture the story. The ending wasn’t my favorite, but I didn’t deduct a star for that because I loved the rest of it so much.

Pros: had great pacing, a strong female main character who had other interests than just being an assassin (reading, fashion, etc).
Cons: did not appreciate how she treated the two male leads, ending was bizarre.
Full Review: https://classicsquidney.com/2020/04/03/throne-of-glass/

Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

Shadow and Bone is the story of Alina, a “normal” girl who ends up finding out that she has powers of Light – a rare ability that could save the entire country. She is taken away to be trained with the Grisha – the magical elite – under the watchful eye of the Darkling. I did really enjoy this story. The magic system with the different types of Grisha was interesting, I loved hearing about all the different types of magic. There was great world building too, I liked learning about the Shadowfold and all the mysteries surrounding it. I didn’t care for the ending and the “plot twist”, nor did I enjoy the weird love scenario that was going on.

Pros: interesting classes of magic users, great world building, many enjoyable characters – some of her instructors were hilarious
Cons: her “insta-love” with a character that is supposed to literally be the Boogie Man and terrify her, the twist was relatively predictable and I didn’t believe a certain character would take the actions that they did, I was surprised that there didn’t seem to be a negative to magic – there was no trade off besides becoming more beautiful and living longer…
Full Review: https://classicsquidney.com/2020/04/14/shadow-and-bone/

Loveboat, Taipei
Author: Abigail Hing Wen
Genre: YA, Romance
Rating: ★★★★★

Loveboat, Taipei is a story of Ever Wong who is sent to a summer program in Taipei against her will. Her parents sent her there thinking it was a prestigious program where she would study for college the whole time, however, it turns out that it is full of partying and very little supervision. This story is all about Ever trying to find herself and become more confident in who she is and who she wants to be. I will be honest and say that the first half or two thirds annoyed me to no end. The characters were unlikeable and I hated the romance. However, as the story went on and I learned more about character backstories, and as the characters themselves grew into stronger people, I started to love it. The character growth itself was so powerful that it completely turned around my views of this story and made me love it!

Pros: Extreme character growth for most of the characters, the culture and how well it was shown.
Cons: The characters were so unlikable at the beginning that I seriously thought about not finishing it.
Full Review: https://classicsquidney.com/2020/04/16/loveboat-taipei/

Warriors Fire and Ice
Author: Erin Hunter
Genre: Middle Grade
Rating: ★★★★★

Warriors Fire and Ice is the second book in the Warriors series. It is about Fireheart – a warrior of ThunderClan – and his struggles becoming a warrior and keeping his clan safe. There are threats from other clans, and even within his own clan, that he has to worry about. I liked Fireheart’s loyalty and his tenaciousness when trying to help other cats. I like how much he cares about other cats and how he is so determined to prove that he is meant to be a part of ThunderClan. This book had more adventure than the first book, and I loved seeing more of the other Clans and the outside world. I did not really care for Greystripe in this book… I did not believe that his character would act so carelessly, no matter what the reason, because he has such respect and love for his clan and for Fireheart.

Pros: Fireheart’s character growth, expansion upon the world, the strong bond between Greystripe and Fireheart even when they are going through a tough time.
Cons: Greystripe’s character regression for most of the book was pretty unbelievable, Bluestar’s distrust of Fireheart.
Full Review: https://classicsquidney.com/2020/04/21/warriors-fire-and-ice/

House of Teeth
Author: Dan Jolley
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Rating: ★★★

House of Teeth is about a boy named Henry who is sent to the Louisiana bayou one summer to stay with his uncle and cousin. While he is there he learns that he is part of a long line of rootcrafters – people who can see memories of people whose teeth they touch. Throughout the story he learns there is so much more to rootcrafting than he could ever imagine. I did have fun listening to this story. The history of rootcrafting along with the abilities that it gives people was pretty unique and interesting to read about. However, the characters themselves and their actions weren’t as believable as I would have liked.

Pros: The story building and history behind rootcrafting, the abilities that are discovered throughout the book.
Cons: Certain characters choices were out of character which made a lot of the story unbelievable.
Full Review: https://classicsquidney.com/2020/04/27/house-of-teeth/

Interview with the Robot
Author: Lee Bacon
Genre: Middle Grade, Sci-fi
Rating: ★★★★

Interview with the Robot is a middle grade sci-fi book about a robot named Eve, who discovers some crazy things about the place that she grew up in, and therefore runs away. She is caught shoplifting and is inverviewed by a woman from the Child Protective Services. This is where the story starts – her being interviewed. While being interviewed, we learn about her life and what caused her to run away. I really liked the interview format, it is something that I don’t see often in books and it made it interesting to listen to. The full cast of characters added some enjoyment to the story and they all did a great job narrating. As for the story itself, I enjoyed the character growth that happened, as well as the way in which the author slowly unraveled secrets. I was so surprised by most of the plot twists and information that was uncovered, I definitelly did not see most of it coming. Even though I loved the mystery of this novel, the ending was not the best. The story was short so I understand that the author did not have much time to wrap things up, however, I did not like how the ending was so abrupt and we didn’t get any closure. I would have loved to see where Eve’s relationship with some of the characters went.

Pros: character development, surprising plot twists, slow reveal of shocking information, cute relationship between main characters.
Cons: abrupt ending with no closure, character relationship regression.
Full Review: https://classicsquidney.com/2020/04/24/interview-with-the-robot/

Legend

Legend (Legend, #1) by Marie Lu

My rating: five stars

Genre: YA, dystopian

Edition: audiobook

Goodreads Summary: What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

After reading Warcross, I knew that I needed to read more by Marie Lu. I love her writing style, and the audiobooks are incredible! I chose to listen to this book and I was not disappointed in the quality of it.

Likes: I absolutely love the two main characters. They are so similar to each other, and yet they both have completely different goals and are on different sides of the war. It reminds me of Renegades in the fact that it is about two people who both want to do good, and they both think they are on the right side of the war. I love these type of stories! Another thing that I liked about the book is the fighting match that takes place later in the book. I know it is such a minuscule part of the story, but I love how Marie describes the character’s thought process while fighting and I love how she describes the moves. I also like how surprised I was through the whole thing. The whole book was fast paced and there seemed to be surprise after surprise. Usually this could get tiring, but somehow Marie just made me want more. It was wonderful pacing and terrific writing.

Dislikes: I thought the relationship between the two main characters happened in a strange way. It just seemed fast to me considering the circumstances that they were under. She is so distraught and laser-focused on finding her brother’s killer, it just seems unlikely to me that she would be able to be distracted that easily. It would have made more sense to me if they had just been friends in this book, their relationship just seemed unnecessary to me.

Overall, I am again blown away by Marie Lu. She really can make some great books, this one was extremely entertaining. I loved the characters, the growth that they exhibit as more information is given to them, and the conflict between them. I would recommend this to everyone, but if you liked Warcross or Renegades, I think you will especially like this.

Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: five stars

Genre: YA, fantasy

Edition: paperback

Goodreads Summary: From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

The Throne of Glass and Shadow and Bone series are two of my most anticipated series to read of the year. Since I can’t choose between the two, I am planning on going back and forth between the two. I loved Throne of Glass, but the ending was odd and therefore I didn’t have the highest expectations for Crown of Midnight. I was unexpectedly surprised with how incredible it was!

Likes: I had no clue where this book was going to be going with how Throne of Glass ended. However, I really liked it! The mysteries, the secrets, and the new discoveries kept me on the edge of my seat. The entire book Celaena is trying to figure out a certain mystery, and I loved getting snippets of information continuously throughout the story. This is one of the only books that made me cry and cry and cry, want to throw it on the ground, and yet, still love it. There were parts that had me crushed, wanting to hate the book, and somehow I don’t. There are few stories that I have found that can make me feel this way, and though I want to put it in the dislikes – because this story broke me – I won’t, because that is a sign of beautiful writing.

Dislikes: There are so many secrets between characters and honestly there is no point to a lot of them. This frustrated me throughout the whole book, and made me honestly angry with one of the actions a character took that completely changed the story. If the characters would have just talked then so many horrific things wouldn’t have happened and that was annoying. There was so much trust between many of the characters so it doesn’t make sense that they wouldn’t share information.

Overall, I did love this story. It had added elements that the first book didn’t have, and though I thought I wasn’t going to like that, I ended up really enjoying it! There was more political intrigue in this book, more insight into Celaena’s background, and more POVs in this story which I loved. The only dislike was the catastrophes that could have been easily avoided if characters would have just talked with each other. However, I loved it so much and it ripped emotions out of me that most books can’t. Because of this I rated it five stars and can’t wait for the next one!

O.W.L.s Readathon 2020 TBR

I know this is extremely late because the readathon is almost over, but I still wanted to post it just to spread the word and show what I read. If you are just hearing about this, you can still participate in the N.E.W.T.s in August.

Introduction

The O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon is a yearly readathon taking place in April that is based off of the O.W.L. exam in Harry Potter. There is a second part of this readathon called the N.E.W.T.s that takes place in August.
For the O.W.L.’s Readathon you can pick a Wizarding Career. These range from Aurors to Broom Maker and each of them have different exams that you have to take.

There are 12 reading prompts for each class subject exam, and each Wizarding Career requires you to do a certain number of prompts to pass. I will show an example of this down below when I explain what path I am taking.

Along with a Wizarding Career, you can also choose a Magical Feature. For example, Dragon Tamer Training. These don’t require as many prompts as a Wizarding Career so they are nice if you don’t think you can read enough to get a Career or if you want to read even more than a Career has.

My Wizarding Career and Training

This is my first year participating in this challenge, and I am extremely excited to hopefully complete it! I chose the Career Path Astronomer with Animagus Training as my Magical Feature.

To complete the Astronomer path, I have to pass three O.W.L.s:

  1. Arithmancy
  2. Astronomy
  3. History of Magic

To complete the Animagus Training, I have to pass three more O.W.L.s:

  1. Arithmancy
  2. Potions
  3. Transfiguration

Thankfully, Arithmancy is a common test that I have to pass, so overall I just need to read 5 books.

Arithmancy: read something outside your favorite genre

The Hidden Power of F*cking Up by The Try Guys

I usually don’t read non-fiction, and when I say that I “usually don’t”, I mean almost never. However, I watch The Try Guy’s videos and love them. I even went to their concert last year! I find them humorous, and yet inspiring. I am excited to hear about what they learned from their failures and their different “Trys”.

Astronomy: read the majority of this book when it is dark outside

Warriors: A Dangerous Path by Erin Hunter

This is really going to show how far behind I am on reviews still, but the book I want to read for this prompt is the fifth book in the Warrior’s series. My goal for the year is to read one or more Warriors books a month, and I have been sticking to that pretty well!

History of Magic: book featuring witches/wizards

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Another one of my resolutions for 2020 is to read the entire Throne of Glass series. This is the next one that I have to read, and I especially look forward to this one because there are supposed to be a bunch of new characters and the this is supposed to be a book that changes the story significantly.

Potions: book under 150 pages

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard

I am counting this one as being under 150 pages because I am not including the exerpt of Glass Sword since I have already read that. This is a wonderful series that I love and so I look forward to reading these short stories, especially the first one that is supposed to discuss what happened to Queen Coriane.

Transfiguration: a book/series that includes shapeshifting

Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

I read the first book a couple months ago for a book club that I am a part of, and since Night of the Dragon just came out, I definitelly want to read this so I can get to the last one. The first book was so enjoyable, and I have heard nothing but good things about this one, so I am extremely excited for this!

Are you joining this readathon and if so, what Career/Magical Feature are you going for and what books are you reading?

House of Teeth

House of Teeth by Dan Jolley

My rating: three stars

Genre: Middle grade, contemporary fantasy?

Edition: Audiobook

Goodreads summary: There’s more to the swamplands than meets the teeth. In this supernatural tale of magic and mysticism, Henry Lemarchand grew up in Philadelphia knowing very little of his family—his father disappeared when he was young, leaving behind only a strange pouch of animal teeth. When he is sent to the Louisiana bayou to spend the summer with his eccentric uncle and cousin in their decaying ancestral mansion, Henry learns about his family’s supernatural legacy—he is part of a long line of rootcrafters, folks who can absorb the powers and memories of anyone whose teeth they touch. In delving into his family’s strange legends, Henry soon discovers that some secrets bite back, especially in the swamplands. This tale of identity awareness and the need for belonging, is set in a world where everything is not as it seems.

This was one of my two free Audible originals for the month. I don’t know if I would usually pick up something like this, but I actually had a good time listening to it. It is a middle grade novel, so I took that as a factor when reviewing it. I didn’t expect this book to be super complex and deep, but it honestly took me by surprise.

Likes: The idea of rootcrafting was so cool!! Being able to gain powers by touching the teeth of animals is just insane! There are other things the teeth can do but I won’t say because it is a slight spoiler. The story was predictable to me in some parts, however, there was one thing in relation to the bad guy that I never saw coming. So that was a nice surprise, especially for a middle grade book. I also liked how the book went into the background of the different characters and the history of rootcrafting. A lot of books would usually gloss over that, and so it was nice to have some history in the story.

Dislike: I don’t like how the mom kept all these secrets, even after she knew that it was likely that Henry is a rootcrafter. She just sent her son to another state across the country without explaining anything to him. I am trying to be vague here so that there aren’t any spoilers, but something happens in the book to where they don’t have supervision for a long while. This thing that happened seemed to have no purpose except to get rid of certain characters which was annoying. I just thought there could have been a better way to do that. The character’s choices also seemed unrealistic at parts. Henry goes off on his own a lot, and I understand that he is an adventurous kid who would do that, but there are scenes where I doubt that he would. Other characters that you learn about later in the story also did things that just seemed unrealistic and like they chose those actions to make conflict.

Overall, I gave this book three out of four stars. I deducted one star because I just didn’t love this book. As stated in earlier reviews, the difference between a four and a five is usually just a feeling (unless there is actually something I didn’t like about the book). I took another star off because of the event that is unnecessary and because of the unrealistic character choices. I just feel like the mom wouldn’t keep that secret when she knew her son would need help, and I feel like the characters themselves wouldn’t have acted the way they did. It seems like a lot of the action characters took were simply to help the author take the story where he wanted it to go, instead of the characters doing something that seemed realistic given their personality.

Interview with the Robot

Interview with the Robot by Lee Bacon

My rating: four stars

Genre: Middle grade, sci-fi

Edition: Audiobook

Goodreads Summary: Fugitive. Criminal. Robot.

Eve looks like an ordinary 12-year-old girl, but there’s nothing ordinary about her. She has no last name. No parents or guardian. She’s on the run from a dangerous and secretive organization that will stop at nothing to track her down.

And most astonishing of all: She’s a robot, a product of Eden Labratories.

When she discovers the truth, she realizes everything she thought she knew about herself is a lie. Eve manages to escape, fleeing the lab, the only home she’s ever known.

After being arrested for shoplifting, Eve is interviewed by Petra Amis from Child Welfare Services. Her incredible story unfolds during the interrogation, with flashbacks to her life inside Eden Laboratories, which has a dark secret.

Exploring a range of topics that drive our society and our lives – topics such as artificial intelligence and human nature – Interview with the Robot is a story told by a startlingly original protagonist, a story that explores the vast potential of technology and the deep complexities of humanity.

To be honest, I listened to this book because Audible was having a deal where they would give you $20 if you listen to three books in two months. However, I did think that this story sounded interesting and looked forward to listening to it.

Likes: This book truly fooled me. One of the things that I pride myself in (but is slightly annoying) is that I can figure out where a book is going. It is fun to be able to guess correct, but at the same time it is really annoying to know what is going to happen the whole time. I honestly had no clue what was going to happen in this book though and that was such a nice surprise. There were quite a few twists and I did not guess any of them. That really blew me away since it was a middle grade novel. The way that Eve grows and becomes more advanced was awesome to read about, and I found it interesting the ways that they taught her how to do things. I also enjoyed how the story was told in Eve’s POV in an interview setting. It made it interesting and I don’t read books like that very often, if at all!

Dislikes: It was a short story and I wasn’t super happy with how it ended. There was some character progression that seemed to turn a full 180 degrees and there was never really any resolution to that. It seemed like a rushed ending and I would have loved for it to be more flushed out. Those are really the only things that I did not like about the book, I enjoyed the rest completely!

Overall, this was a fun, quick read. The concept was fun and even though it was a middle grade novel, there were twists that surprised me! I did take off a star because the ending was so abrupt and there was some character digression that did not quite make sense. I still had a great time reading it, I only wish there had been some changes to the ending.

Morning Skin Care Routine

Introduction

I have been working on my skin care routine for around 7/8 months now and I am finally satisfied with it. I have tried to create a simple routine because I don’t want to put too many products on my face (and frankly pay for that many products). I have normal skin – leaning toward dry in the winter and oily in the summer. I get hormonal acne around my chin/mouth during my menstrual cycle. I am in my mid-twenties and so I have started implementing some more active ingredients in my morning and nighttime routine – focusing mainly on wrinkle prevention. I think my skin has looked so much better since implementing this routine so I thought I should share it!

Cleanser

Banila Co. – Clean it Zero Foam Cleanser

Not everyone needs a cleanser in the morning, but I like to use this one because it makes me feel clean without stripping my skin. It is light-weight but still does what I want it to do.

Vitamin C

Biossance – Squaline + Vitamin C Rose Oil

I use Vitamin C to help brighten and smooth out my skin. I have some acne scars and fine lines that I am using Vitamin C to try and treat.

Moisturizer

In the morning I like to use lighter moisturizers so that I am not too oily. Currently I switch between a CeraVe and Biossance moisturizer.

CeraVe – Moisturizing Lotion

This CeraVe is a little thicker than I would like (which is why I switch between it and the Biossance), however, it works very well, especially for the price.

Biossance – Squaline + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

I started using this moisturizer because I got a free sample with the purchase of my Vitamin C and I love it! It is super light for in the mornings but it still makes me feel moisturized. It is on the pricier side but I love the gel texture enough that I think it is worth it.

Eye Cream

I really only use eye cream in the morning when I feel like my under eyes or especially dry, puffy, or dark. I use these two for different reasons, which I will talk about below.

Innis Free – Green Tree Seed Eye and Face Oil

I use this eye cream when I think my eyes are puffy because the roller ball on the end is cooling and soothing to my under-eyes. I don’t think it works crazy well to be honest, but I enjoy the feeling of the roller and it does help moisturize my under-eyes and makes my makeup go on smoother.

SWLKG – 24K Gold Eye Treatment Mask

I love these so much! The only negative is how long you have to leave them on. Because of this, I don’t really have time to use them during the week, but on the weekends I will use them

SPF

Shiseido – Color Smart Day Moisturizer

I wanted to try this out because I have been looking for a CC cream or something more natural that had SPF in it. I really like this moisturizer/SPF, however, I heard that it doesn’t work well on darker skin tones which is a shame… I am very very pale so it matches all-right, but it does look slightly orange. It also doesn’t go on well with a brush, but I found it looks great when applied with a beauty blender. I am still debating if I should buy more when it runs out, but I wanted to include it on here because I have been using it in my morning routine and it has worked pretty well.

Conclusion

I plan on incorporating a toner in either my daytime or nighttime routine. If I make any big changes, I will post an updated routine, and I plan to post my nighttime routine when I am completely satisfied with it.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my skin care routine! I am in no way a dermatologist or esthetician, but I have been researching skincare for a while now. So if you have any questions feel free to ask and I will answer to the best of my ability or I will point you in the direction of someone who knows!

Warriors Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice (Warriors #2) by Erin Hunter

My rating: five stars

Genre: Middle grade

Edition: paperback

Goodreads summary: Fireheart could hear a roaring around him, like wind in tall trees. The acrid stench of the Thunderpath stung his nostrils, together with a new smell, sharper and more terrifying. Fire!

Book Two of WARRIORS continues Fireheart’s quest to be a true warrior, when he finds new danger lurking in the woods as the chill of winter sets in.

WindClan is missing, and hostilities between the remaining three clans place all the cats in peril. Illness and tragic accidents weaken the camp, and ThunderClan needs all its warriors to defend itself – but Fireheart suspects that certain cats may not be as loyal as they appear.

 My goal for 2019 was to re-read this series. I ended up only reading one… So my goal for this year is to just read one a month. This was my January Warriors book read, and though I don’t know if I like it as much as the first one, I still love this story so much.

Likes: I feel like I am going to say this about every single book, but this is seriously so nostalgic to me. That alone makes me love it, but I won’t talk about that any more than I have already. I love the pacing of these stories, there always seems to be something exciting happening. Sure, there are some parts that aren’t crucial to the plot, however, they are still fun. I like how even though Fireheart and Graystripe are going through stuff, they still have each other’s backs when it comes down to it. They fight each other and ignore each other, but when they are in danger, they help each other. That shows true loyalty that I appreciate.

Dislikes: The character drama between Graystripe and Fireheart is just a little much. I honestly feel like Graystripe wouldn’t have done the things that he did. Sure, he is a character that tends to get swept up by his emotions. However, he loves his clan and his best friend. By doing the things he did, he was putting both in danger, and this was out of character for him. He is extremely loyal and so I do not believe he would do this. It is also hard to believe that Bluestar wouldn’t have believed Fireheart at all when he tried to tell her about Tigerclaw. Sure, she believes Tigerclaw is a great warrior, but there were many things going against him, and Fireheart is such an honest character, I don’t believe she would have just dismissed the whole idea. She is so much smarter than that.

Overall, though there were some character discrepancies, I still loved this book. It was a quick read, and a fun one. A lot of my love for it is my nostalgia and my love of cats, so I know this story is not for everyone, but I still would recommend it. I think that it has good themes and fun characters.

Loveboat, Taipei

Loveboat, Taipei (Loveboat, Taipei #1) by Abigail Hing Wen

My rating: five stars

Genre: YA, romance, contemporary

Edition: hardback

Goodreads summary: For fans of Crazy Rich Asians or Jane Austen Comedy of Manners, with a hint of La La Land

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?

This book was the January Barnes and Noble YA Book Club pick. Honestly, I pre-ordered it forever ago though, so that was the greatest coincidence ever! I have been interested in this story for a long time and was so happy to have an excuse to read it immediately after getting it.

This time I am going to do the dislikes first because the likes have to do with the dislikes.

Dislikes: I swear, at the beginning of this story I was so frustrated. I was complaining to my boyfriend. I was texting my friend complaining to her. I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. The characters were SO FRUSTRATING! The best friend was terrible, the main character was interested in someone she shouldn’t be, the love interest needed to get his life together, and the second love interest wasn’t even a love interest. Just thinking about it right now is making me upset! Anyway, so the only thing that I disliked were the characters themselves and their interactions with each other, but I disliked it A LOT. I was not sure if I could read the book, but since it was for the book club I pushed on. The characters were driving me insane, but I am glad that I stuck through it because it was worth it, I believe.

Likes: If you read the fact that I rated five stars, you are probably wondering why, since I clearly had a hard time with the beginning half of the book. The reason that I ended up loving it so much was the character development. As the book goes on you learn more about all of the characters and why they are the way they are. Sure, that doesn’t justify the stuff that they did, but it does give a background as to why they are hurting so much and why they are lashing out or not going for what they want. I would actually love to read the book again to see if I have a different perspective on how the characters act now that I know why. Along with the information came growth. I saw so much growth in almost every single character. They weren’t the same people that they were at the beginning of the story which was beautiful to watch. It was so lovely to watch their growth, and though I would have preferred a different ending, I was still awed by it. Besides the character growth, I loved how realistic this book is. I have several friends whose parents act very similar to Ever’s parents. The guilt that they feel that their parents gave up so much for them, and the strictness and suffocation they feel because of this were direct parallels of each other. This story was a heart-wrencher and I loved the fact that this story could make me feel so connected to the main character.

Overall, I gave this story five out of five stars because I could go on and on saying good things about it. It is a book that I would love to re-read several times just to unpack the story and discover things I may have missed the first time. The beginning of the book did almost make me put it down, but the descriptions, the character growth, the explanation of the culture, and much more made me stay. This book gave me insight into a hardship that I can never experience and that made me understand and feel more sympathetic toward people that do go through that. I recommend this book so much, it really opened my eyes and made me feel more compassionate towards people – because who knows what someone could be going through. Let’s try and make the world a little less judgmental.