A New Book for You and Me…

You might have been wondering if I still roamed this earth (or blogerverse, depending on how you want to look at it), since it has taken me nearly four months to get back to my blog. *sighs* Well, I got lost to life, work, and college, but I was reading that entire time, and I hope to start writing on this blog again soon.

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Although, I am not back writing a review on my blog today, I did want to remind you all that “Blacksouls” by Nicole Castroman came out yesterday, and that you all should read “Blackhearts” as soon as you can so that you can be prepared for Nicole’s latest book. Here’s my review of “Blackhearts” by Nicole Castroman, in case your on the edge about reading it. I am very excited to read “Blacksouls” despite wishing that it was a one novel story, and I am anxious for my copy to come in the mail to see what is going to happen to Anne and Teach!

*waiting for my mail to come*

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If you like historical fiction with a twist, I definitely recommend “Blackhearts,” and if that does not tempt you to read Nicole’s books, I also heard that some piracy is about to make an appearance in “Blacksouls”…

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New ‘Heist Society’ Book by Ally Carter!

I have been waiting for this day for the past three years, and I am SO excited to announce that Ally Carter is finally coming out with another “Heist Society” book!

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I’m terribly depressed that it is just going to be a novella and only available in e-book, but honestly, I’ll take anything that I can get when it comes to the characters in Ally’s “Heist Society” series. My only wish is that her new novella doesn’t sign the end of this series, because I desperately need just one more full-length novel with Hale, Kat, and Gabrielle.

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Okay, on to the novella!

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“The Gift of the Magi” by Ally Carter

(Heist Society #4)

Release Date: November 15th

Format: e-book

Summary:

“Katarina Bishop is a thief. To many it wouldn’t matter that she now uses her considerable skills to resteal valuable works of art and return them to their rightful homes. She’s still a thief.

So that’s why Kat’s surprised when an Interpol agent comes to her one snowy evening, asking for her help.

The Magi Miracle Network was set to auction off a very rare, very valuable Fabergé egg two days before Christmas, but the egg’s been stolen and now the charity’s reputation—and their future—is on the line.

Kat’s family and Interpol might be on opposite sides of most jobs, but someone just stole Christmas.

Now it’s up to Kat and her crew to steal it back.”

I am super excited to read another book by Ally Carter, especially a Christmas themed story, and I just hope that this isn’t the last time we get to see these wonderful characters!

Happy reading to my fellow Ally Carter fans!

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Spoiler Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #5)

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“Empire of Storms” by Sarah J. Maas

3 1/2-4 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?”

So, I have mixed feelings toward “Empire of Storms.” Don’t get me wrong, I think that Sarah J. Maas’s fifth “Throne of Glass” novel was very well-written and had an engaging cast of characters, but I think my problem with it was the fact that I felt like I had read “Empire of Storms” before; the plot and main romance between Aelin and Rowan did not strike a chord with me because I had already seen and experience a painfully similar romance in “A Court of Mist and Fury.” Beyond the nearly verbatim lines and predictability of Aelin and Rowan’s romance, though, I also found the plot of “Empire of Storms” to be repetitive of what us readers have already read by this author, and it was frustrating to me that the supposedly suspenseful moments ended up being fairly anticlimactic. I wanted to be on the edge of my seat, but I felt like I had already read “Empire of Storms,” just under a different title, and that sometimes killed the momentum of my reading experience. If it hadn’t been for Dorian, and Elide and Lorcan, I probably would have skipped half of this book. But let me tell you, Elide and Lorcan were completely worth reading this novel.

I was completely enraptured by the dynamic that existed between Elide and Lorcan and the relationship that slowly bloomed between them in “Empire of Storms.” I adored Elide as a character because she was one of the few human characters in this book; she had no powers, no special abilities beyond her own courage and cunning, and that made her such a compelling character when compared to the “perfectly” gifted Fae and their robotic queen, Aelin. Elide was a wonderful character to read about, and I adored the chapters that were written from her perspective because she had such a dynamic voice and moving past. Elide and Lorcan probably only got about two hundred pages of screen time out of this seven hundred page novel, if even that, but every moment, every word between the two of them was impacting. If anyone were to ask, I’d say Elide was the queen of this book (Manon also, but we’ll get to here in a minute), not Aelin. And Lorcan wasn’t hurting matters, either…

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Just yes, yes to everything about this character and his relationship with Elide. Lorcan was a real tool in the previous “Throne of Glass” books, and I had had zero affection or interest in the coldhearted Fae when Sarah J. Maas first introduced him, but the first chapter of “Empire of Storms” completely changed how I perceived this character. I had forgotten how good Sarah J. Maas can be at introducing new characters and shaping them into dynamic, key-players in her series, so at first I was taken aback by how interesting and layered I found Lorcan’s character to be from the very first chapter of this book. It was nice to find a character who completely captured my attention, and after his and Elide’s entrance into “Empire of Storms, ” I was wholly invested in them as characters, as well as in their romance.

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One of the things that I loved most about Elide and Lorcan’s sections of this book was how the tension just crackled between them. It has been a while since Sarah J. Maas has written a good relationship with that kind of ever present tension that is not angsty, but it is always there, keeping you on the edge of your seat. “Heir of Fire” was a great book, second only to my beloved “Throne of Glass,” but even in that book I did not feel the same kind of tension between Rowan and Celaena/Aelin. Dorian (be still my heart) also had a romance in that book with Sorcha, and although I shipped their relationship to the ends of the earth and back while it melted my heart into a puddle of feels, theirs was a romance built on friendship and partnership, as well as blossoming affection. Dorian and Sorcha were beautiful and perfect together, but they did not have the same tension between them that Elide and Lorcan had in “Empire of Storms,” which was due to their differing circumstances. Elide and Lorcan’s sections in this book were always weighty and interesting, and the two characters and their reluctant partnership made for an insanely dynamic story. I was honestly on the edge of my seat while reading from Elide and Lorcan’s perspectives, not just because of the amazing tension and character development that they experience, but also because of everything that was at stake for both of them. Elide and Lorcan’s story was unrivaled by anything else in this book, and I honestly wish that “Empire of Storms” had just been about the two of them and their journey, rather than having six additional characters thrown into the mix. Despite my desire to read a book about just Elide and Lorcan’s journey, I still loved seeing Dorian and getting to know Manon.

My heart hurt this entire book for the wonderful but forsaken Dorian Havillard. He has been the best and most consistent character throughout this entire series, and he has been the one to keep me coming back for more torture and torment with this series. Dorian was and is my everything, and that was why it was so heartbreaking to read about how his character changed in “Empire of Storms.” Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed every moment I got with him, but I feel like Sarah has tormented and abused this character too much to not give him more page time. Dorian deserved more time in this book, and so did his fans, to rediscover the recognizable but altered boy with the sapphire blue eyes. I understand that his experiences at the end of “Heir of Fire” and through all of “Queen of Shadows” justifiably broke him, but I wanted to get to know the new, haunted King Dorian for longer than Sarah J. Maas allowed me to. I have loved Dorian as a character since the first chapter of “Throne of Glass,” and I continued to love him in this book, but I was not a fan of how Sarah J. Maas approached his shift in character. I was also very frustrated by how carelessly Sarah threw together the romance between Dorian and Manon.

After the end of “Queen of Shadows,” I was rooting for Manon and Dorian to get together, especially since Manon was the only person who believed that Dorian was still alive despite the awful things that Erawan had done to him; Manon’s also pretty epic, so it was kind of a given that I would want them to be together eventually. I was still really rooting for their relationship throughout this book, but I did not fall in love with them as a couple because Sarah J. Maas never gave them enough time! I was pretty frustrated with the lack of development in their relationship, and I felt thoroughly disappointed with how little effort Sarah seemed to put into writing the romance between these two characters. All that happened between Dorian and Manon was that she saved him a couple of times from and dying and he saved her multiple times from being killed, and then suddenly they were a couple.

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It was a bit disappointing to be anticipating these two amazing characters getting to know one another, and to help each other heal from their broken pasts, only to get a few minuscule conversations that barely even developed a connection between them. The romance of Dorian and Manon felt vague and carelessly thrown together, when what they deserved was some epic development like Lorcan and Elide received. I still loved Dorian and Manon, but there were just some things that Sarah J. Maas did that really frustrated me, and I am pretty disappointed and heartbroken over the lack of respect with which she treated Dorian, Manon, and their romance. I am also pretty angry at what this lack of development means, but we’ll get there a little bit later.

Besides Manon, Dorian, Elide, and Lorcan, there were about four or five other characters who played a central role in “Empire of Storms,” but since a blogger only has so much time to analyze a dozen characters before they drive their readers to boredom or irritation, I will just finish up talking about Aelin and Rowan.

I had really liked Celaena as a character for the first three books. I thought that she was entertaining, intelligent, clever, and caring character when she wanted to show her heart, and I enjoyed the fact that Celaena was a flawed person. She did not always have the answers or solutions to every problem, nor did she always make the right calls during certain situations, but that was a part of her draw as a heroine; she failed many times, but she never stopped getting back up and dusting herself off. Celaena was a well-developed and interesting leading lady, if a bit overpowering at times, yet it has felt like the heroine of this series has been missing since “Queen of Shadows.”

I know that Celaena was just a name that Aelin chose to hide her true identity, but I found it frustrating that the dynamic and flawed Celaena suddenly disappeared after Aelin decided to use her given name again. The experiences and trials that Celaena had gone through, her flawed personality and decision making skills, were suddenly non-existent when she donned her royal name, which just seems silly to me because our experiences and memories make us who we are. Why did Aelin suddenly have everything figured out when Celaena did not? The swagger and charm of Celaena seemed to disappear with Aelin’s rise to power, and now I find everything Aelin-related to be very anticlimactic because I know as a reader that she already has the perfect plan up her sleeve, and that she’s going to make it out on the other side smelling like a rose. Even her romance was too good to be true with Rowan.

Personally, I had really liked Rowan in “Heir of Fire.” Dorian shall forever hold my heart, but it was really nice to have a sexy adult male as a lead character. Rowan had presence in every scene that he was in during Heir of Fire,” and I am going to be honest, I enjoyed the fact that he did not take crap from Celaena and occasionally (but only when justified) put her in her place. I was even rooting for their relationship after finishing the third “Throne of Glass” book, but when “Queen of Shadows” came out, their romance just did not seem as good as it was in “Heir of Fire.” I also felt like Rowan got less time to shine than he deserved in the fourth book because of Aelin overwhelming the show with her queenlyness. Because of the previous book, I was not particularly excited for a lot Rowan time in “Empire of Storms,” so I was quite surprised when I found myself liking this character again.

At first, I felt like I was greeted with a watered down version of the Rowan that I had liked in “Heir of Fire,” especially when he was around Aelin, but as this book went on, I kind of started to like Rowan again. He and Dorian had this epic bro-cation, and it was interesting reading how much the two of them had in common, other than Celaena/Aelin, with their first loves being murdered and losing their way a bit. Rowan all by himself was great in this book; he was a strong and decisive character, but it was the romance between him and Aelin that really felt kind of lame.

“Where have I have seen this romance before?” That was the question I kept asking myself every time Aelin and Rowan had a moment together, and the answer was always the same: I had already seen it in “A Court of Mist and Fury.” For all of you who adore the romances between Feyre and Rhysand and Aelin and Rowan, I am truly happy for you. I think my problem with these two romances, though, is how identical both of them are. Both Feyre and Aelin went through a couple of boys before they got to there current romantic interests, and now they are perfectly matched to their perfect life-long mate, and they are all going to live happily ever after (for all eternity) because their all freaking Faeries! Oh, yes, and let me throw a spoiler for the end in for you! Aelin ended up offering herself to her foe and was taken captive by enemy forces at the very end, and Rowan vows to not rest until he finds and saves her. Sound familiar?

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* sighs * Please, Sarah, I beg of you to throw in something that is not exactly like your other series, or something that is at least a tiny bit less predictable! I’m sorry to all of you who adore the romances in Sarah’s two series, but I just don’t feel any sort of attachment to either couple.

In the end, I enjoyed “Empire of Storms,” but I did not love it nor did I feel held in suspense by its ending. I have a strong sense of what is going to happen in the final book, and everything that Sarah J. Maas wrote in “Empire of Storms” has led me to the conclusion that she is going to kill off Dorian in the sixth “Throne of Glass” book. Aelin will get her happily ever after, Elide and Lorcan will probably survive, (or he’ll redeem himself by dying *sobs*), and Dorian will sacrifice himself in order to make the lock that can save everyone he loves. * sobs harder * It just doesn’t seem fair that this amazing, beautiful character will get the short end of the stick by being the emotional martyr of the series. Someone important but expendable (in the the author’s eyes) always gets sacrificed in the end of a series, and Dorian has the emotional connection to bring tears to the audience. He is also technically expendable because he does not have a solidified romantic relationship with anyone (maybe the romance that Sarah ended up giving him was vague and haphazardly thrown together for a reason!). My heart and soul have dreaded this truth for about four books now, and I feel like Sarah is just that cruel of a writer that she would kill off this wonderfully written character in order to preserve her beloved Aelin.

Due to my dread of impending events, I honestly do not know if I can read the last book. Dorian was my reason for continuing on with this series, and I kind of just want to ignore any ending where he does not get his own happy ending.

Besides my whole Dorian theory and Aelin’s predictably happy ending, I did enjoy reading “Empire of Storms.” Elide and Lorcan were the heart of this book because they were such amazingly dynamic characters with an insanely gripping story, and I am anxious to see where Sarah takes them (if I can somehow pick up the last book). Dorian was still absolutely fantastic, and I’ve enjoyed watching him come into his own over the course of this series; he has always been dedicated and invested in protecting his friends and people, and he did what was necessary in this book to get business done. I do hope that Sarah J. Maas develops his and Manon’s relationship more, because there was a lot of potential for the two of them together. I think that my only major problem with this book (besides the whole Dorian thing, and the plot holes that I don’t have the energy to discuss right now) was that Aelin felt kind of worthless toward the plot. I felt like this massive book would have kept moving without her presence, and I might have liked it more if there had been King Rowan and not Queen Aelin as the star of this series. I also found things involving Aelin to be very predictable, which killed the suspense of this book for me. We all know that Aelin will survive and rise again, so there’s nothing to be anxious about concerning her character and her relationship with Rowan. Despite this book’s predictability, it was a fast read, and I did find myself enjoying most of it. “Empire of Storms” couldn’t beat the first three books of this series in quality or original plotline, but it was still interesting and enjoyable to read.

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Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (The Dark Artifices #1)

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“Lady Midnight” by Cassandra Clare

4 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?”

Alright, it is high time for a review of “Lady Midnight,” especially since I finished it a month and a half ago. *sighs* At least I am keeping up with reading, if not reviewing!

Wow, “Lady Midnight” was a big book. Personally, large books do not intimidate me, and I actually like the fact that I get more book for the same amount of money, which is the deal-seeker in me coming out. The only problem with large books (more than 500 pages) is that there is a recovery time for the hands and wrists after reading one. I was prepared for this after seeing the page count of Cassandra’s newest book, but I was personally not prepared for the C.C.H. (Cassandra Clare Hand is an acute case of carpel tunnel that only reading “Lady Midnight” can produce) that ensued after I finished reading this book. All that being said, just have a wrist brace on hand when you pick up Cassandra’s latest book, and you’ll be fine.

Dramatics aside, after having finished the monstrous beauty that is “Lady Midnight,” I had (almost) no regrets. Cassandra Clare has written another wonderful and adventurous novel, and I was so excited to get to know some of the new characters that she had written in “The Dark Artifices” trilogy. Per usual, I was just as anxious about meeting the characters as I was excited to get to know them, because sometimes I just don’t connect with the individuals in new series of a well-liked author, even though I really want to. But I shouldn’t have worried, because Emma Carstairs and all of the Blackthorns were such great characters, and I fell in love with them while reading “Lady Midnight.” I personally don’t think that any of Cassandra Clare’s other characters, past, present, or future, could ever take William Herondale’s place in my heart, and no parabatai bond is as precious to me as his and Jem’s, but I still felt myself fall a little in love with everyone in “Lady Midnight.”

I liked Emma Carstairs a lot, not just because she was a distant relation to Jem, but also because she was a fun, albeit wild, heroine who kept me interested in “Lady Midnight” as I read her parts of this book, and her past was as interesting as it was heartbreaking. I still have not read Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments” series, so when I first started “Lady Midnight” I was a tiny bit lost with some of back stories of certain characters and with what happened in the war that went on before this book began. Emma’s background was tied closely to “The Mortal Instruments,” so it did take me a little bit of time to put the pieces of her past together, how some things went down in the other series, and how Emma ended up becoming a part of the Blackthorn family. Once I kind of deciphered those few things, I was able to follow along easily with what was going on within the Shadowhunter world, and how Emma and the Blackthorns were affected by the Cold Peace that came about as a result of the war. Cassandra did a good job of not making some of the rehearsed facts about the Shadowhunters become mundane (no pun intended!) or arduous to read, and I feel that anyone, regardless of whether they’ve read “The Mortal Instruments” or not, could easily pick up “Lady Midnight.” Oddly enough, though, I do think that reading “The Infernal Devices” could be far more helpful to readers coming into this book because of how those events people in Cassandra’s historical Shadowhunter novels are tied so closely to everything in “Lady Midnight.” It is not absolutely necessary to read “The Infernal Devices,” but it seemed like, having read that trilogy, I was able to understand the underlining tones that were going on within this book, because the history behind “The Infernal Devices” was not described or eluded to, whereas the events of “The Mortal Instruments” were broken down for readers in “Lady Midnight.” All of that being said, I felt that jumping right into Emma’s story was pretty easy, and I thought that she had a much more enjoyable and active protagonist, especially when compared to Tessa Gray.

The only thing that really saddened me about “The Infernal Devices,” other than its soul-shattering and sob-worthy ending, was that Tessa ended up being the kind of female character who felt mildly worthless and ineffective. I know the story was technically about her, but I felt like Will and Jem, as well as the other Shadowhunters, carried the story so effectively all by themselves that if Tessa had disappeared from the trilogy, I would not have felt impacted by her departure. With Emma, however, I felt like she played a truly important role in how the story of “Lady Midnight” unfolded, and despite not always agreeing with her brash behavior, I appreciated the fact that she was an active protagonist who was fairly impacting. Although I liked Emma, the characters who really stole my heart were the Blackthorn siblings, especially Julian.

Thirty pages into “Lady Midnight,” and I was in love with Julian as a character. Call it insta-love on my part, but I felt so emotionally attached to this male character only a few chapters in that I became really invested in this fiercely loyal and loving young man by the time I finished Lady Midnight.” His past and present circumstances tugged at my heartstrings, and I couldn’t help but feel the pain and weight that Julian carried around on his shoulders due to the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings his whole life. He was only seventeen or eighteen-years-old, yet he’d had to take on the immense responsibility of keeping his family together when no one else would after the Shadowhunter war ended, and his story and love for his siblings, the sacrifices he had to make in order to take car of his family, made him a truly compelling character. I liked Emma, but I loved and was rooting for Julian throughout “Lady Midnight,” and although this book was supposed to be about Emma’s parents’ murder, it really turned out to be a Blackthorn book. The summary for this book might have been slightly false advertising, but I was personally happy that “Lady Midnight” focused mostly on Julian and his family. Julian was an amazing character, and I thought that Cassandra’s choice to make him an artist was a good one because his gifting and love for it helped to make him feel even more rounded out as a protagonist and hero of this story. I fell for Julian while reading this book for a lot of reasons, but it was mostly how much he cared about his siblings and the dynamic that existed between them that made him such an interesting and compelling character.

The interactions between Julian and his family were what took “Lady Midnight” from being a good book to becoming a great one; I don’t know if any of Cassandra’s other books could capture my heart quite like the “Clockwork Angel” and the “Clockwork Prince” did, but Julian and his sisters and brothers made “Lady Midnight” come quite close to the mark. Each of the Blackthorn siblings were well-written, and I loved their relationship with each other because it felt genuine and real, and everything they went through over the years and getting their brother Mark back, while not exactly getting him back made my heart ache for all of them. Each of the Blackthorns were wonderfully written, and I adored every interaction I got between them and Julian! They were all such great secondary characters, and I loved that they added so much to the story that unfolded in “Lady Midnight.”

Although the Blackthorns made this book for me, I also ended up loving the addition of Cristina Rosales, who was a new Shadowhunter in the L.A. Institute. I thought that she was a cool and very likeable female character, and I wish that there had been a little bit more of this book told from her perspective, since it was so large. Cristina had an interesting and slightly hidden past, which I thought added another great dynamic to this book.

“Lady Midnight” was a large book, nearly reaching seven hundred pages, but I felt like it was well-paced in the fact that I kept reading and was interesting in the story and its characters, despite having my favorites. I honestly don’t have a lot of complaints about this book, but the one thing that did end up bothering me was the romance between Julian and Emma.

At first, I was really rooting for Emma and Julian as a couple, and I was quite torn up over the fact that they were both such awesome parabatai, but because of that bond, they were also allowed to pursuing a romantic relationship. One of the frustrating things in YA books, especially with a story line like “Lady Midnight,” is that miscommunication is used as a plot device most of the time. In this particular situation, I understood why Emma and Julian both kept their feelings secret, because telling each other would honestly do nothing but wreck their relationship as parabatai. I understood why they kept their feelings hidden from one another, and I was shipping them for the first half of “Lady Midnight,” enjoying the tension of untold truths, and even knowing that they both cared for each other when they were both unaware of that fact. But after about halfway through this book, the romance progressed, happening so suddenly and all at once that I was a little bit frustrated because it seemed irrational and to almost belittled what they had. There had been tension throughout the book, but once they had their moment, everything came crashing down around them because they acted without thinking. I know they had history from being friends, so it was not insta-love or anything, but it just happened so fast that it made me like their relationship less because I wanted them to have a few sweet moments, like the scene where they dance together, before it fizzled and crumbled to pieces. I felt like this relationship was over before it ever began, and that was a little disappointing to me, because I had really liked the idea of them together.

Overall, I really liked “Lady Midnight.” I thought that it was a great start to what seems like a promising trilogy, and I really enjoyed the L.A. setting mixed with the world of the Shadowhunters. I found the faerie-related things (the Cold Peace, faerie history, etc) to be quite interesting, and I, as you already know, fell in love with all of the Blackthorns. Their family dynamic and how they got their brother, Mark, back only to have to fight for him to stay was as heartbreaking as it was beautiful, and I adored all of the siblings and thought that they gave this book heart. Julian stole a little piece of my heart away in “Lady Midnight,” but I am anxious to see where Cassandra Clare is taking him after the ending of this book; it did not end on a happy note, and I just hope that he does not go to a super dark and broody place in the second book of “The Dark Artifices” trilogy. “Lady Midnight” was a great new installment to Cassandra’s Shadowhunter world, and if you liked any of her other series or fantasy novels in general, you should definitely pick up this book!

The Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins (Sweet Trilogy #1-3)

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“Sweet Evil”–4 out of 5 stars. “Sweet Peril”–4 out of 5 stars. “Sweet Reckoning”–3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Anna Whitt is a good girl to the core. She’s responsible, a good student, respectful, and a great friend. Addictions to substances, however, have always been a struggle for her, and resisting their dark lure has not been easy to resist all these years.

Despite the fact that dark desires aren’t uncommon among the human population, being able to see other peoples’ guardian angels and their emotional auras is definitely a little out of the scope of an average teenagers abilities, and ever since she was a little girl, Anna has known that “different” was just a small part of who she is. Anna’s adoptive mother has always been there for her, helping her when she struggled with her unique gifts, but despite her mother’s dedication, Anna has always felt that there was something more to who she was than just being special.

Years of wondering what had made her able to know and see things that others couldn’t come to an end when a very attractive and very bad drummer named Kaidan Rowe swaggers into her life, giving her the answer, as unexpected as it is, that she has been seeking for: she is a Nephilim. Anna now knows what she is, but there is so much more to who she is, and even Kaidan is stumped as to why this seemingly unsuspecting teenage girl is so different from the other Nephilim he knows. With a change in heart, Kai begins to help Anna in her search for answers to questions as old as time, and the more times he spends with her, the more Kai wonders if there is something more to life than just surviving it.

During their journey to discovering how to take down the Dukes and stop their reign of destruction on the earth, Kaidan, Anna, and their friends find that there is always hope even in the darkest hours of their lives. And with that hope, they rediscover who they are and that second chances do exist. But facing up against the Dukes in their most dangerous encounter yet, Anna and Kai’s group of reformed Nephilim wonder if they will live to see that second chance…

Last September I was low on books and school was a bit stressful, so upon the suggestion of my older sister, I borrowed her copies of Wendy Higgins’s “The Sweet Trilogy” to take a breather and walk away from the work and anxiety of college for a little bit. I had expected to enjoy Wendy’s books, but dang, they were really interesting and fun to read, and I ended up loving this trilogy and the characters in it!

Anna had a really sweet and good voice, and I enjoyed reading from her perspective. I hate it when sometimes I’m reading a book and I love the style of writing, the secondary characters, and the plot, but I don’t care for the protagonist’s voice, which ends up stopping me from loving the book. Those are the times when I beg for third person rather than first person perspectives, but I was so happy while reading the “The Sweet Trilogy,” because Anna was such a kind person with a pleasant voice that endeared her and these books to me. It was refreshing to have a female character who wasn’t overly wild or rebellious, and I appreciated that fact because it made Wendy’s books stand out from the other paranormal and contemporary novels that have flooded the YA market the past few years. I also loved seeing Anna go from a sophomore in high school to being college age, and it was great seeing her growth as an individual and determination to do what was right in the face of great obstacles. Anna was the kind person who lived by the motto “kill them with kindness,” and it was nice to have a character female who was strong, as well as kind and compassionate towards others. And in the tradition of most great stories, the bad ass heroine had an equally amazing hero to stand by her side.

I fell for Kaidan Rowe. Wendy Higgins did such a great job of writing this character, how the awful world he’d lived in had shaped him into a person who could be very, very bad, but who also had immense depth and potential to do good. Anna was the one person who came into his life and expected nothing of him, and she gave him the tool he needed to turn his life around: love. I liked him in “Sweet Evil” a lot, but it was “Sweet Peril” that made me really love both Kaidan and Anna as individuals, as well as a couple.

“Sweet Peril” was the book where I got to see how much both of them had changed and how they had become stronger because of the things they went through, and I loved their unwavering determination to keep traveling down a better path for themselves. Kaidan  made my heart hurt throughout this trilogy, because for most of it, he was prone to pushing away the people he loved due to the environment that he had been born into and the life he had lived. Whenever Kaidan had a moment of revealing his heart, Wendy did such an amazing job of writing a character who had not let anyone get close to him in a long time and was just beginning to feel again. It was surprisingly emotional to read about, and I may or may not have been drowning in my own feels during the moments when the walls that Kai had built around his heart started to crumble.

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I adored Kaidan, and I think that his journey was really beautiful.

Another thing that I loved about this trilogy was that, although its characters were amazing and interesting, they weren’t the only things that kept me reading these books. I really appreciated the fact that I enjoyed a little bit of everything that made up the “Sweet” books, including the dynamic that Wendy Higgins’s paranormal/supernatural aspects created. I found Wendy’s take on the Nephilim to be quite interesting, and I felt like she did a good job of laying it out well for her readers, which added a lot to the story this trilogy tells.

I guess at times you could say that Wendy Higgins’s books were pretty content heavy because of the issues presented in them, but I didn’t necessarily find these books overly heavy or despairing due to how well Wendy dealt with different situations. The various Dukes and their children represented the deadly, and not-so-deadly, sins that we all know exist in the world; this trilogy was brutal at times because the children of the Dukes all struggled with a specific vice more than the humans, and they had to take that predisposed sin and perfect it to use against mankind. Anna’s proverbial thorn in the flesh was substance abuse and Kaidan’s was lust, and they both struggled and fought to overcome their issues while not being murdered by the Dukes for failing to fulfill their “purpose” as Nephilim. It was interesting, as well as heartbreaking, to watch Anna and Kai’s journey, and I really appreciated that Wendy did not shy away from or attempt to sugar coat the heavy issues within her books. Wendy Higgins dealt with the issues her characters encountered and participated in really well, and she did not pass over them as if they, in some forms, were acceptable. Despite how heavy some of the content was, I never felt like Wendy Higgins’s books got gross or seedy, because at no point did she ever hail the destructive tendencies, nor she did not dwell on them more than was necessary to make me as a reader understand what was going on.

Anna’s struggle with addiction felt real the way Wendy wrote it, and her learning to overcome her addictions and fears made for a very compelling story. During these books, Anna had to pretend that she was serving her purpose as a Nephilim, influencing humans to give into their addictions in order to keep the Dukes from discovering that she had her own plans concerning the Dukes’ children. Despite participating in that kind of dark life, Anna was strong enough to be true to herself and to not give into things just because it was  easier than fighting against her own addictions. I admired Anna and thought that her evolution in this series was really great. I really enjoyed this trilogy as a whole, and I loved watching Anna and Kaidan grow individually and as a couple, but I definitely played the favorite card with two of the books in Wendy’s series.

“Sweet Evil” was a great start to Wendy’s “The Sweet Trilogy,” but my favorite of the first three books was definitely “Sweet Peril.” I loved seeing how Anna began to change and grow as a person, and it was admirable how she stepped up to the plate in order to stop the Dukes from terrorizing her Nephilim friends and her family. As much as it hurt me as a reader, I also really liked that Kai and Anna were apart for a little while between the end of “Sweet Evil” and for most of “Sweet Peril.” I liked that there was a fair amount of distance between them geographically and emotionally because it gave them the chance to grow as individuals, so that when they got back together, they were stronger than before due to what they had endured while apart. Another reason why I really loved “Sweet Peril” was that there were a lot more interactions between the secondary characters like Ginger, Marna, Anna’s mom, Jay, and a couple of other Nephilim in it, and all of them added a lot to the story.

I ended up caring a lot about the character that Wendy Higgins had written in “The Sweet Trilogy,” and their journey together in these books was heart-wrenching at times, but it also beautiful. I loved how this trilogy managed to be extremely entertaining while still being full of emotional and spiritual depth, and I thought that Wendy did a great job of showing the grittiness of the darkness that is in the world and balancing it with the power and truth that love and hope possess. I would not recommend the “The Sweet Trilogy” to people looking for a light read, but I think that if you’re up for a trying and emotional journey and you like books about angels, then Wendy’s trilogy could be a great read for you.

P.S. Keep your eyes out for a separate review of “Sweet Temptation,” which is a companion novel to the “The Sweet Trilogy” that is from Kai’s perspective. It is also my favorite of the “Sweet” books.