Review: Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen, #0.1 & #0.2)



Rating: 4.5 Stars

Two women on either side of the Silver-Red divide tell the stories no one else knows.

Discover the truth of Norta’s bloody past in these two revealing prequels to #1 New York Times bestseller Red Queen.

Queen Song
Queen Coriane, first wife of King Tiberias, keeps a secret diary—how else can she ensure that no one at the palace will use her thoughts against her? Coriane recounts her heady courtship with the crown prince, the birth of a new prince, Cal, and the potentially deadly challenges that lay ahead for her in royal life.

Steel Scars
Diana Farley was raised to be strong, but being tasked with planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected. As she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital, she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation—Mare Barrow.

I’ll say it now: Cruel Crown was the explosive bomb of beauty that I wanted Red Queen to be. I knew that Aveyard had the gift, but hey, debut novels tend to be shaky.

Although it’s technically just a pair of novellas, Cruel Crown’s well-written contents have propelled it near the top of my favorites list. Reading Cruel Crown, I got everything I’ve ever wanted from a book: real emotions, developed characters, intricate worldbuilding, and the literary knife into my heart that means the author’s actually managed to make me dedicated to her characters.

I went into Cruel Crown like this:


And came out of it like this…


I’m not a beach reader, not one who reads books for fun. I read them to see if they make me feel something. Cruel Crown did the job.

My emotions were stabbed, repeatedly, leaving numerous bloody holes behind that still need healing. And that’s exactly what I want from my books; as a reader, I search and search to the ends of the universe for the worlds that will hurt me most.

Cruel Crown consists of two novellas: Queen Song and Steel Scars. I’ll dedicate a piece of the review to each.

Queen Song

My favorite of the two. Queen Song tells the story of Coriane Jacos, Julian’s younger sister who fell in love with the young Prince Tiberias, married him and bore his sweet summer child: Cal. Admittedly, I’ve wanted to know more about Queen Coriane ever since Julian first told Mare about her.

This novella follows Coriane from her days at the languishing family estate to her bloody, untimely end. She and Julian are the last children of the singer line; with that comes great responsibility, so Coriane and Julian move to court with Coriane’s best friend–skin healer Sara Skonos. Coriane is just 15 years old at the time.

At court, Coriane meets the cunning Elara Merandus along with dozens of other High House children (and their equally treacherous parents) who are vying for closeness to the crown.

I’m not going to give anything else away, but let me just say this.

The first few pages made me care about Coriane; the last made me want to rip my heart out, it hurt so much. Queen Song is a dark little story that captivated me due to its harsh sincerity and fascinating protagonist.

Also, before I move on: Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion…but several of the reviews for Queen Song are just irritating. It’s fine to not like a book, but I’ve seen so many complaints that Coriane was a ‘weak’ character, that she deserved what she got, that she was whiny, that Elara was so much stronger than her, etc. There are many things very, very wrong with that mindset.

Coriane is just 15 when she meets Tiberias, and she’s 16 upon marrying him. She was told her entire life that nothing she did was ever good enough. She was depressed to begin with. Her true passions were not encouraged and her family was relentlessly mocked and lied to. Coriane’s grown up with no mother, a disappointing father, and a critical old cousin. Most importantly: she’s still a child. 15, for crying out loud. Those who are calling a vulnerable child weak: Do you know how silly that makes you look?

Do you think fracking Elara Merandus just burst out of the womb with her confidence and strength? She was groomed since the day she could talk. Her house was in HIGH ESTEEM and extremely wealthy, the opposite of Coriane’s situation. She was told that she could do anything from the moment she first practiced her power.

The reality is that a lot of young teenagers struggle with depression. Thousands of them are just like Coriane (minus the supernatural power).

We need to do away with the notion that a female can only be strong if she lets nothing hurt her, if she’s constantly on the offensive, if she works her ass off every day, if she always tries to be the best. No. That’s not how it works. Coriane is strong in her own way, which might not be obvious when she’s compared to fully realized heroines who’ve had supportive mentors and time to hone their abilities.

Calling a young girl weak because she struggles from depression–and eventual madness that was not her fault, but the doing of another–is stupid even if that girl is a fictional character. Every woman is strong. Some just don’t see it yet; they haven’t realized their worth. And I feel like it’s really counterproductive to dismiss a character as weak because she wasn’t bold enough for you.

Newsflash: the strongest people have had to go through a shitload of terrible experiences, wherein they were depressed and hopeless and not as cool, to get to where they are now.

The fact that Coriane never got a chance to do that, because she was MURDERED for night’s sake, makes her story all the more tragic.

So, yeah, call Cal’s mother weak if you want. But I’ll fight you on it till my dying breath.


Steel Scars

Steel Scars follows Farley and her operations in the Scarlet Guard before she met Mare Barrow. Those who’ve read Red Queen might remember Farley as the badass blonde chick with a fierce determination (and even fiercer scars). Yep, that’s the one.

I’ve taken off half a star because Steel Scars wasn’t a 5-star work. Nothing wrong with the storyline or characters, but I just wasn’t quite as invested in this one.

It was interesting to read about the Scarlet Guard–turns out, this group goes deeper than I ever thought, with locations in different countries and cities plus an admirable secret-keeping system. Oh, and I was delighted to find out that Farley isn’t the Scarlet Guard’s supreme leader after all.

Farley’s character development is more firmly fleshed out. This chick’s not just a bloodthirsty revolutionary; she’s got a past (duh), feelings, and a hunger to prove herself. Farley’s a witty young girl underneath all the bravado.

Steel Scars takes you from Harbor Bay to the Stilts; oh, and you may meet a few recognizable characters along the way.

The Verdict:

I think I’ve made my opinions pretty clear. I do recommend Cruel Crown to fans and/or casual readers of Red Queen.

(If you haven’t read Red Queen, you should peruse that book first–otherwise this novella probably won’t make sense. These are prequels to add more information to a previously explained story, so don’t expect any introductions. Cruel Crown dives right in. It’s really not fair to say that “you had no idea what was going on,” blaming it on the book when you never read its predecessor.)

Try Cruel Crown if you enjoy any of the following literary flavors:

  • sci-fi/fantasy fiction
  • magical powers
  • political upheaval
  • female protagonists

Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)



Rating: 3.5 Stars

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Winter is the latest and hottest YA finale this year. From Goodreads to Tumblr, Marissa Meyer’s fandom grows more and more each day, inching further into our minds and gripping our brains–just like the Lunar gift.

So. What’s all the hubbub about? Has Meyer written an original swan song to end an epic, heartbreaking series of books? Or has she simply mimicked and repackaged marketable YA concepts? I like to think that the reality lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

Allow me to introduce you to Winter.

The Skinny:

Every book in this series has focused on a new character, and unsurprisingly, this one’s about Levana’s beautiful, slightly unhinged stepdaughter. Because she refuses to use her gift, Winter has developed Lunar Sickness–which causes the mind to deteriorate into madness. Hallucinations, paranoia, the works.

Meanwhile, Cinder and the gang are trying to find a way to invade Luna and dethrone Levana–on a serious time crunch, no less, since the queen is threatening intergalactic war unless she gets her crown AND her man (Kai, mister sassy emperor roll).

Personally, this is how I’d like to imagine Cinder dethroning Levana:



As the final showdown draws closer, our beloved protagonists must dodge execution and betrayal at every turn. Levana grows more dangerous; her thaumaturges get more bloodthirsty by the minute. If Cinder cannot gather an army, then she’s done for. CrazyPants McNutNut will win.

And so…the debacle that is Winter begins.

What I Liked

– Winter the Character –

“I am a girl of ice and snow, and I think I’m very glad to meet you.”

She’s beauty, she’s grace, she sees blood dripping all over your face.

I really, really loved Winter the Character.

We’ve had Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and the Rapunzel stories covered so far (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress). Winter’s our resident Snow White. The best part: She’s actually black.

Honestly: Winter is probably my favorite character in this entire goddamn series; she’s the realest and the most relatable. See, some readers disagree with me because Winter is so beautiful and beloved by her people. They think that Winter gets a pass on everything due to her beauty and likability. But that’s how the real world works. That happens. All the time.

And emotionally fragile, scarred girls who still have a pure heart after everything that’s happened to them? They’re something special. Winter is a flower among thorns. She’s refreshing.

I love Cinder and Cress, but let’s be real, how many girls are expert mechanic cyborgs or the best programmers in their nation by age 16? How many? I’ll wait. I can’t relate to feisty, snappy Scarlet either. Others say that Scarlet’s bold; I say she’s a bit conceited.

It’s fine to idolize such characters, but make no mistake: When you call Winter weak, you’re showing your blindness to her true power. LOVE.


– The Jacin x Winter Dynamic –

Of all the relationships force-fed to us by The Lunar Chronicles, Jacin and Winter are by far my favorite couple. Their love and understanding of each other is a fantastic thing in a sea of heartless partners and desperate stage-five clingers. This is the only romantic relationship in the series that I 100 percent approve of. (Don’t hate me. I mean, I’m alright with Kai and Cinder…)

Bonus fanart pic of Jacin and Winter! (Created by Tumblr user taratjah)


They are just the cutest.

– Battle Scenes –

Meyer has a knack for writing action-packed paragraphs. I enjoyed reading about the group’s efforts to rally people to their side, and I glued myself to the pages during Winter’s battle scenes. For the most part, these were well-done and highly developed. I do have a soft spot for battle preparations.

What I Didn’t Like

– Pacing Problems –

Winter (the book) suffers from the same pacing issues that have plagued this series since Scarlet. Literally, the only novel without awful pacing is Cinder, which is strange since that was Meyer’s debut work. Although the writing and world-building became more complex and interesting, the pacing continued to deteriorate as the chronicles went on.

The result is a slow read that sometimes feels like a chore to get through.

– Undeveloped Relationships –

If Meyer didn’t give her characters such stale dialogue in a dull effort to develop romantic relationships, then maybe the pacing wouldn’t be so bad. But as it is, way too much time is dedicated to low-quality banter.

It doesn’t help that I have never rooted for these relationships. They are way too forced and always will be. No amount of convo-stuffing is going to change that.

  • Bad Relationship #1: Cress & Thorne

This is the most undeveloped relationship in the series. So Cress falls in love with Thorne before she even meets him, due to her being a naive teenage girl. Then Thorne & Cress meet, subsequently becoming stranded in a desert. They band together to survive, yadayada. Later, the gang reunites, Thorne starts having real feelings for Cress, and Cress is insecure because Thorne flirts with everything that moves. You get the gist of it.

Unfortunately, their scenes together–particularly their earliest ones–were cringeworthy. Seriously. UGH. It gets a little bit better in Winter, but this ship is still unbelievable. Cress deserves better than Thorne. She’s a genius, for space’s sake; Thorne’s just a flirty criminal with cheap charisma. Cress must have serious self-esteem issues. >.>

  • Bad Relationship #2: Scarlet & Wolf

See, I almost excused this couple from the Bad Relationship Category due to Wolf’s animalistic instincts. That does make him possessive and eager to mate more quickly than the typical human male. But that seems like a shitty excuse. Yeah yeah, Scarlet & Wolf have been around a while, too, much to my annoyance. Book Two (which featured them) was so drawn-out and boring.

Sure, Scarlet & Wolf have chemistry. But love? Nuh-uh. They can be protective of each other; they can want each other; and yet… I don’t see these two being endgame.

I might be slightly biased, as Scarlet is my least favorite character. Oh well.

I’m leaving Cinder & Kai out of this one since their partnership is passable. They’ve been around since Book One, and they’re royalty. Of course they need to end up together for the Earthen-Lunar alliance (and for swooning fans). Kai certainly isn’t the most caring of men. But I’ll let it go because Political Reasons.


– World-Building –

I don’t necessarily hate the world-building in this series…but it could be better. At first, Luna intrigued me with its gifted populace and privileged classes. But in Winter, it becomes sadly obvious that the author has borrowed a bunch of tired dystopian concepts to describe the Lunar civilization.

Exhibit A: Luna has different sectors (lumber, mining, etc.) that don’t communicate with each other, along with a wealthy capital that gorges on every luxury.

Exhibit B: Everyone in the poorer sectors wears the same utilitarian clothing in dull colors.

Exhibit C: Each sector exists for a different purpose with its entire population working in the same industry. The wealthier sectors make the luxury items for Luna’s aristocratic families.

The Hunger Games, anyone??? Meyer didn’t even try to be original here. Winter could’ve fared far better if the author had taken some time to describe unique facets of Lunar society. I was so excited to finally see Luna culture; sadly, it was a disappointment.

In Fairest–a prequel about Levana–the Lunar capital was described in a fascinating way, erasing any thoughts about cliches before they appeared. The author failed to do this in Winter.

The Verdict

Winter is a moderately entertaining read that suffers from pacing issues and undeveloped character relationships. However, it’s a satisfying finale for those who have stuck with Cinder and her amazing sidekick Iko from the very beginning. This is the epic ending that we’ve all been waiting for–will you join Princess Selene’s rebellion?

A solid 3.5 Stars.

Try The Lunar Chronicles if you enjoy the following literary flavors:

  • futuristic society
  • science fiction/fantasy
  • cyborgs
  • robots/androids
  • magical powers
  • oppressive governments
  • princes and princesses
  • true love
  • the power of beauty
  • intergalactic war

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas



Rating: 3 Stars

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

I’M BACK, BITCHES–I mean…bloggers. Where have I been, you ask? Working on computer science and eating pounds of fudge while crying, of course. But no need to worry. Since my last post, I have achieved a solid A in all of my courses–all higher than 95 percent. Including my computer science class. *cheers myself on*


And, in celebration of school ending soon, I’ve decided to slowly get back into the swing of actually reviewing the books that I read.

SO. What better way to kick that off than to review yet another hot book?

A Court of Thorns and Roses. Here we go.

I had high expectations for this book. I’m a rabid fan of Sarah’s other works, and A Court of Thorns and Roses has FAERIES and WICKED SHADOWS and a STUBBORN FEMALE CHARACTER. When mixed together and cooked at exactly the right temperature (with appropriate adjectives and action-packed scenes sprinkled on top), these characteristics almost always equal deliciousness.

But wait, what’s that I taste? Forced romance? Cardboard characterizations? Boring and flowery scenes piled onto more boring and flowery scenes? I never would have thought that Sarah was capable of such mediocrity.

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Review: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass, #4)


Rating: 3 1/2 Stars


To my forest Fae fans, frosty Dorian dames, spunky Chaol warriors, and Celaena fangirls of all shapes, species and sizes:

Stand At Attention, maties! Every ship must go down with the pirate captain!

There are SPOILERS for the first three books in the summary below! Proceed at your own discretion. For those who wish to continue, I welcome you into the beautiful, bloodthirsty and fiery world that I have come to love so much.

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Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass, #1)



Rating: 4 Stars

In a world without magic, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the vicious king who rules from his throne of glass but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she will be released from prison to serve as the King’s Champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. And a princess from a faraway land will befriend her. But something evil dwells in the castle—and it’s there to kill. When the competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival—and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

[This Book in One Sentence: An infamous young assassin leaves certain death in a prison camp for a fight to become the King’s Champion, but dark forces inside the kingdom might smother Celaena’s life before she has her chance to win.]

Hey guys! I feel like it’s been forever since I posted a new review. Well, not really…  I did discuss Silver in the Blood less than a week ago. I try to maintain a regular posting balance that isn’t annoyingly frequent. In actuality, I read a new book every two days; in fact, I’ve read three books (about 1300 pages) this week. But I must take time to collect my thoughts, and to ensure that I can deliver a post containing a healthy mixture of book-fueled emotions and objectivity.

Unfortunately, the practice of blogging can be quite angering/depressing/UGHHH. Book blogging involves yours truly pounding angrily on the keyboard to get her point across about HOW MUCH SHE HATED THIS and WHICH CHARACTER SHE WANTS TO MARRY.

Throne of Glass… how can I describe Throne of Glass?

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Review: Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George



Rating: 2.5 Stars

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate… or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

[This Book in One Sentence: In the Victorian era, two high-society girls are taken to their Romanian homeland to learn a shocking family secret that could unravel the very fabric of European society.]

Another book with potential that never even came close to the quality-based finish line.

I was introduced to this novel by the Goodreads new releases page. Silver in the Blood‘s beautiful cover and intriguing synopsis made me take further steps to obtain it–namely, checking it out at the local library! *high-fives the librarian*

Actually, I take that high-five back. Go away, librarian.


Silver in the Blood just doesn’t have the literary it factor.

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Review: Seraphina (Goredd, #1) by Rachel Hartman



Rating: 4 STARS

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

[This Book in One Sentence: In a fantastical medieval kingdom with dragons, knights, and courtiers, one secretive girl works alongside a heartthrob prince to rid the city of its bigotry.]

I was at my local independent bookstore (Changing Hands–the best in Tempe) when I spotted this literary gem. Seraphina was clad in its rich purple cover with a portrait of a dragon soaring over a vast medieval city. The cover art interested me enough to take a glance at the synopsis. As it turns out, every element of the story was an ultra-fave: dragons! magic! a clumsy girl with a secret!

Seraphina is an engaging work; the exquisite prose and complex characterizations made me want to jump into the story and become one of the main protagonist’s best friends. I really, really liked it–but I didn’t love it.

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Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (Grisha Trilogy, #2)




Warning, warning! Danger, danger! SPOILERS for SHADOW AND BONE ahead! Avast, there be spoilers! If ye have not read Shadow and Bone and wish to do so, TURN BACK, me hearties!

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

[This Book in One Sentence: Alina Starkov returns in Shadow and Bone’s thrilling, heart-wrenching sequel; war is brewing, and no one is safe.]

Siege and Storm is the sequel to Shadow and Bone and the second installment in the Grisha Trilogy. Of course, I requested this book from the library as soon as I finished the first one. Upon completing Siege and Storm, I immediately bought it on Amazon after a near-lethal injection of fangirl into my veins. Thanks, Darkling. Thanks for being such a magnificently crafted character. You’re gonna kill me one day. 👿

“I’ve seen what you truly are,” said the Darkling, “and I’ve never turned away. I never will. Can he say the same?”

Siege and Storm picks up where the previous installment left off. Alina and Mal are attempting to build a new life together–away from Ravka and the Darkling’s influence. As Shadow and Bone sadly revealed, the Darkling has much bigger plans for Alina than anyone could have guessed. With Mal’s help, she manages to escape, but not before being traumatized by events that were gory, sorrowful, and could have been stopped.

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Review: Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy, #1) by Leigh Bardugo




Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

[THIS BOOK IN ONE SUPERLONG SENTENCE: An orphaned peasant girl in a Russia-inspired fantasy world works as a mapmaker and longs for her handsome best friend, but her world speeds into darkness when the element-twisting Grisha elites discover that she possesses legendary power.]

I requested Shadow and Bone from my local library after seeing a huge buzz about it all over the online bookisphere. After the first 10 pages, I was surprised— ohmygodholyshitmylifeischangedFOREVER shocked, actually. I became instantly addicted to Alina Starkov’s story.

Her world is dark, bloody, and surprisingly romantic. As I type this, I’m eagerly waiting to pick up the sequel, Siege and Storm, from the library. Anyway, let’s start digging into this non-wonderland that no one should ever want to live in, but we read about it anyway just to get sad, angry, and way too attached to fictional characters in the process.

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Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard



RATING: 3 1/2 Stars

“In school, we learned about the world before ours, about the angels and gods that lived in the sky, ruling the earth with kind and loving hands. Some say those are just stories, but I don’t believe that. The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”

[THIS BOOK IN ONE SENTENCE:  A pick-pocketing teenage girl lives as a second-class citizen without the superhuman powers possessed by the ruling Silver nobles, but when she finds her way into the King’s Court, her own unbelievable magic is discovered.]

Let’s explore one of the most hyped-up young adult books of 2015.

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