BLOG TOUR!!! Review for Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

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Disclaimer: ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

I’m so elated to have been invited to partake in yet another blog tour hosted by Algonquin Young Readers! This time, it’s for a book that I couldn’t be more excited for the release of– Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small!

Before I begin my review, however, let’s go over what this book is actually about.

Bright Burning Stars follows best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders– The two girls have trained since childhood at the Paris Opera Ballet School, where they’ve forged an inseparable bond through shared stories of family tragedies and a powerful love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves how far they would go for the ultimate prize: to be named the one girl who will join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic will make them shine, too? Would they risk death for it? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

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***VAGUE SPOILERS AHEAD***

This was a truly excellent book. Everything from the plot, characters, and relationships were magnificently crafted, and I couldn’t help but be captivated by the way A.K. masterfully weaved together a story of two very different girls who both had many flaws, yet still managed to be worth rooting for. It’s an understatement to say Bright Burning Stars swept me off my feet, as I honestly was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

But the thing is, I almost put this book down.

For the first 30% or so, I was sceptical of the way the author was handling heavy topics such as mental health and disordered eating. You see, in the book, the two main characters both feel pressured to restrict their bodies of proper nourishment in order to stay “in shape”, or in other words, look like what an accomplished ballerina is “expected” to look like. And I don’t have a problem with this, as I understand that eating disorders are unfortunately common in the world of dance and that they should be discussed and brought awareness to. But I guess you could say my concern was that the author wasn’t actually addressing these characters’ struggles with eating as what they were– mental illnesses. The glorification of mental illness is something that I, and many others I’m certain, despise seeing in literature, which is why I was slightly reluctant to continue reading Bright Burning Stars. I felt like the way Kate and Marine viewed food and calories was something to take seriously, and again, I was worried that the author wasn’t showing that the way the girls’ were thinking was dangerous and that it’s not something readers should embrace or fall into.

But thankfully, the author did do that, as one of the two protagonists ends up in a heartbreaking situation where she is forced to confront her unhealthy habits and seek help to get out of them.

With that being cleared up, I can honestly say that I loved this book!

For starters, as I briefly mentioned previously in this review, both of the main characters won special places in my heart. The girls were both determined, passionate, and unwilling to give up on their goals, yet they were also different in so many ways. Kate’s burning desire to win the prize that led to some of the questionable choices she made throughout the book was a complex aspect of the plot that I really enjoyed reading. And I could say the same thing about the intense grief, sorrow, and guilt Marine feels when she thinks of the accident that took the life of her beloved brother, Oli. And while these differences certainly made Kate and Marine stand out as unique, individual characters, there was one thing that they shared in common throughout the whole novel, from the first page to the last: their unflinching love for one another that remained strong no matter what obstacle got in way– Whether it was the Demigod, the Prize, or the secret that Kate spent a great portion of the book harbouring, at the end of the day, Kate and Marine’s bond was heartwrenchingly unbreakable. Even though their relationship faced hardships, they still cared for each other in a way that only true friends do.

Aside from characters, another thing I really loved about Bright Burning Stars was the ending. Many things were left unsolved– how Kate would move on from a devastating loss she faced in the book, what Marine would do to accept what happened to her brother, and most importantly, what would become of the two girls’ friendship. But I think that’s the beauty of it all. A.K. Small leaves nothing set in stone. None of the previously listed plot-points are completely determined, so it’s up to us, the readers, to let our minds ponder the possibilities of what the fates of Marine and Kate could withhold.

Overall, I’m so grateful for the emotional experience reading this book has given me. The story of Marine and Kate is one that I won’t be forgetting any time soon, as it has touched me in a way more memorable than I can put into words.

Colossal gratitude goes to Algonquin Young Readers–  Thank you so much for providing me with yet another wonderful book to review!

Bright Burning Stars is released on May 21st, only two days from now! Go preorder your copy here so you can get your hands on this gem of a book as soon as it hits shelves. You won’t regret it!!

Also, feel free to take a peek at some other recent releases from Algonquin Young Readers! Here are the links to my reviews for Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby and In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Carlton!

Thank you so much for reading this review, I hope it has helped you find a book recommendation you might really enjoy! ❤

Have a lovely rest of your Sunday!

-Octavia ❤

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Bookshelf Swap with Autumn @ Autumn Book Reads

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend.

Today I’m doing something that I’ve never done on my blog before… a collaboration! The lovely Autumn @ Autumn Book Reads and I have teamed up to bring you a delightfully fun set of posts! We’ve decided to “swap” bookshelves with each other and analyze and discuss everything on them from the books themselves to some adorable bookish items! Idea credit goes 100% to Autumn– She’s the brains of this operation! 😂

But anyways, I’ve been rambling for long enough, so let’s go ahead and dive into Autumn’s bookshelves!

Here they are, in all their glory:

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Autumn’s Bookish Items:

These are all of the adorable bookish items on Autumn’s shelves!

  • Drogon Funko
  • Grey Worm Funko
  • Ghost Funko

I’m sure that all of you Game of Thrones fans love these! I myself haven’t read the series or watched the TV adaptation, but I’m planning on doing so soon!

Read and Recommend:

The following titles are books I myself have read and would recommend since I enjoyed them a great deal!

  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Basharoousi: I’m not usually a fan of Snow White retellings (The tale is, after all, the epitome of sexism, dependent female cliches, and the idea of male dominance… Plus, it glorifies kissing without consent, and I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of that)… but this book completely changed my mind! I LOVED it, it’s one of my favourites to this day!
  • The Conquerer’s Saga by Kiersten White: This series is everything… It’s powerful, captivating, and fantastically feminist! I actually got to meet Kiersten White on her tour for Bright We Burn, which was EPIC!!
  • The Three Dark Crowns Series by Kendare Blake: I really like this series, and I couldn’t be more excited for the release of its fourth book, Five Dark Fates! I will, however, say that I didn’t exactly enjoy the series’ third instalment, Two Dark Reigns. I found it terribly slow, but I’m hoping that Book 4 makes up for it!
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: This book was incredible! I actually only read it last year, so I’m a little late to the party, but I loved it all the same! I’m so excited for the Queen of Nothing, which comes out this November! *squeals*
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: I didn’t love it as much as the other books on this list, but I enjoyed it nonetheless and would still recommend it!

Read and Do Not Recommend:

The following titles are books that I have read and would not recommend to other readers. I understand that many others have enjoyed these novels, so don’t worry if your opinions on them differ from mine, they just weren’t for my personal taste! ❤

  • Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young: I had such high hopes for this one, but in the end, it didn’t live up to my expectations. It was very slow and lacking some much-needed action.
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard: Like Sky in the Deep, this is a book that I really thought I would enjoy since it got so much hype, but it simply wasn’t my cup of tea. I found it very dry, boring, and uninteresting.

Indifferent About:

These are books that I neither liked nor disliked.

  • Furyborn by Claire Legrand: It was decent, but it didn’t stand out amongst other YA fantasy books I’ve read in the past. Plus, the romance was just, er… weird.
  • The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: I bet you all were surprised to see this series in this category! I don’t dislike the Harry Potter books, I just don’t understand the insane hype… Are they really that good? 😂 You guys tell me!

On My TBR:

These are books on Autumn’s shelves that I already have on my TBR.

  • The Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson: This is a book that I’ve heard both good and bad things about, but I’m choosing to focus on just the good! The synopsis of this novel sounds promising, and the cover is gorgeous, so why shouldn’t I have hope of it being a fantastic read?! I’ll have to pick it up soon!
  • King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo: I love anything by Queen Bardugo, and I’m disappointed in myself for not having read this yet! I need it on my bookshelf now!

Added to my TBR:

These are books that (after examining Autumn’s shelves) I looked up and found interesting enough to add to my TBR!

  • The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout: After reading and thoroughly enjoying Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Storm and Fury, I’m desperate to get my hands on more of her writing! I’ve heard great things about this one, so I’ll have to check it out in the near future!
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor: This book has received so much hype and praise, I’m surprised I haven’t read it, let alone add it to my TBR! Is this book worth reading? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: I’ve seen this book everywhere (my local library, the bookstore, etc.), but I still haven’t picked it up! It actually sounds quite interesting, so I need to get my hands on it!
  • Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning: I’m not usually one to be interested in murder mysteries, but this one sounds very intriguing! It involves the fae (which is exciting!), and the cover and title are giving me super eerie vibes that I’m totally living for!
  • Red Sister by Mark Lawrence: When I was reading this book’s synopsis, all my brain needed to register was “young girls are raised to be killers”, and I was hooked! But seriously though, once I got over my initial excitement, I actually took the time to read the full synopsis, and this book sounds incredible! And the funny thing is, I’ve never even heard of it before! Well, rest assured, that I’ll be getting my hands on this book in the near future one way or another!

Doesn’t Interest Me:

These are books that, for whatever reason, simply don’t sound interesting to me.

Not Sure About:

These are books that I’m still uncertain about.

  • Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin: I know that this book is set in the Game of Thrones universe (right???), but I haven’t read the GoT series yet! It is, however, on my TBR, so if I pick it up and enjoy it, then this book will definitely be one that I end up reading!
  • Bloodlines by Richelle Mead: I have a love/hate relationship with Richelle Mead’s novels– I enjoyed Vampire Academy, but I found the Glittering Court awful… So it’s hard to predict if this one will be a hit or miss!
  • Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes: Falling Kingdoms sounds like it could either be really bad or really good… Hopefully the latter, but I’ve been too scared to pick it up and find out! What do you guys think, should I give this book a chance?

And, there you have it!

Those are my thoughts on Autumn’s wonderful bookshelves!

This collab has been such a blast, and I’m so glad Autumn proposed this idea because I honestly couldn’t have had more fun swapping bookshelves with her!

Autumn has posted her reaction to MY bookshelf on her lovely blog as well, so be sure to check that out here!

I hope you all enjoyed this collaboration, as it’s something I’d like to do more often on my blog!

Thank you for reading!!

-Octavia ❤

April Wrap-up!

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Hey everyone, I hope you all have had a wonderful April!

You might have noticed that I did not post a wrap-up for March. That’s simply because I was very overwhelmed at the time and needed to take a break from blogging for the sake of my mental health. If you are ever struggling mentally and feel as though actively blogging is too much, please give yourself a break! Remember that your mental health comes before anything else and that you shouldn’t feel any pressure to blog when you’re not up to it.

But, with that being said, I’ve given myself some time to recover and now I’m back! I feel like April has been a decent blogging month, but reading-wise… well, things could have gone better. I’m not going to give myself a hard time for only reading a fraction of the number of books I’ve read in previous months, but I do wish I could have read a little more. Nevertheless, I did read some amazing books this month, so that makes up for the fact that there were so few of them!

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Note: You may have noticed that I’m no longing writing brief blurbs/mini-reviews for the books listed in my monthly wrap-ups. This is because I’m *gasp* lazy (as I’m sure you never guessed), and writing 20-something reviews, however short they are, for the months that I read A LOT is a ton of work. But I am making an effort to publish more full-length reviews, so hopefully that balances it out! Thanks for your understanding! ❤

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I’m actually quite proud of what I accomplished this month blogging wise, considering I just got out of a major slump! My goal is to post even more in May!

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Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

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This is typically where I’d write a little mini-review for my favourite book of the month, but I’ve already written a full-length review for Bloodleaf because I couldn’t wait to gush about it! Read said review here.

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And… That’s my April in a nutshell!

How has this past month treated you? Have you discovered any new favourite books? Are you happy with the content you posted this month? Did you just come out of an awful slump like I did? Let me know down below!

Thanks for reading!

-Octavia

Sunshine Blogger Award 2019

Hello wonderful people!
I am so incredibly grateful to announce that I have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by the lovely Autumn @ Autumn Book Reads ! It’s a true honour (and surprise, lol!) to have received this nomination, and I’m so thankful to be in a community with such kind, supportive bloggers. Please do take a moment to check out Autumn’s wonderful site, she is such a great blogger who posts amazing content that you need to read! 

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What exactly is the Sunshine Blogger Award? 

The Sunshine Blogger Award is a mark of recognition given from one blogger to another to acknowledge the creativity, originality, and positivity their blog inspires (:

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Rules:

  1. Write a post about your nomination and the award.
  2. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link to their blog.
  3. Display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo.
  4. List the rules within your blog post.
  5. Answer the eleven questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you in your post.
  6. Nominate up to eleven other bloggers and give them eleven questions to answer.

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Questions:

If you could read any book again for the first time, which would it be and why?

Probably Cinder by Marissa Meyer. It was sort of my introduction to the YA genre, which makes it very close to my heart. Whenever I think about it, I’m filled with an unbelievable amount of nostalgia and longing!! I’ve made attempts to reread this book before, but I’ve never found myself enjoying as much as I did the first time, and I think that’s pretty common when it comes to rereading your favourite book. Ah, how I wish I could go back and find myself immersed in the wonderful world of the Lunar Chronicles once again!

What is your biggest unpopular bookish opinion?

Hmm… I’m probably going to get tons of hate for this, but probably that sometimes the movie is better than the book. For example, I enjoyed the Hate U Give movie more than the book– not in all aspects, but I still thought it was better being able to actually see the events of the plot on screen (still LOVED the book though). I’m not saying that I always enjoy the movie more than I do the book because let’s face it– that rarely happens to anyone. I find that most book to movie adaptations are nothing more than “meh” (*cough cough* the Darkest Minds *cough cough*). But I will admit, there have been occasions where I shamelessly found myself more interested in the movie than the book.

What is a book that you keep intending to read, but always seem to put off, and why?

The Hobbit… or anything by J. R. R. Tolkien for that matter. I really do want to read his books, as it feels like an obligation for any bookworm AND I’m genuinely interested in them, but I don’t know… Some of them seem kind of intimidating to pick up. I’m just scared that I won’t enjoy them, which would be a total bummer because so many people are obsessed with them. Well, sooner or later, I’ll have to give them a chance, so let’s just hope for the best!!

What is a book that you have read that has very few ratings on Goodreads, but you still enjoyed it?

Trail of Crumbs by Lisa J. Lawrence! This book was so wonderful and touching, yet it only has 41 ratings! To be fair, it only came out recently, at the end of March to be exact, so it makes sense that it doesn’t have tons of readers flocking over it. But still, it deserves more attention that it’s getting! Read my review for this lovely book here.

What is an underrated series that you feel more people need to know about?

The Wildwood Dancing duology! Juliet Marillier’s writing is absolutely stunning, and I feel like a lot of people are missing out on it because her books don’t receive too much attention. I encourage everyone to go on Goodreads right now and add these to their TBRs, because you won’t regret reading them!

Are book to movie or book to TV show adaptations better?

For me it really depends. If I feel like there’s enough story to tell for the adaptation to be extended into a TV show, then I’m all for it! But it seems pointless to make a TV show out of a book or series that won’t engage audiences for long amounts of time. In that case, I would just go with a movie adaptation!

What is your favourite post that you have done?

Off the top of my head, I would say my Books I Would Love to See Made into Musicals post. As an avid theatre nerd, it brings me so much joy when my two all-time favourite things are combined– theatre and book blogging! That post was so much fun to create, and I’m even considering making a part two of it!

If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be and why?

Well first of all, I would never get a tattoo period. The idea has just never appealed to me, as I wouldn’t want to make an irreversible change made to my body, and the process of getting a tattoo sounds downright painful. But if I, for whatever reason, did decide to get one, it would probably look something like this:

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I just think that it’s such a cute design, and it doesn’t seem like something I would really regret getting. I still doubt that I’ll ever get a tattoo, but this is one that I like a lot!

If you could have a conversation with any author, what three questions would you ask them?

If I could have a conversation with any author, I would choose Ashley Herring Blake, and these are the questions I would ask her:

  • How have your personal experiences influenced your writing and the heavy subject matters you choose to discuss in your books?
  • Which of your books was the most difficult for you to write and why?
  • Do you have any regrets of what you did or didn’t do in the process of writing one of your books?

What is one of your ships that didn’t work out, but you will still go down with it and defend it anyways?

***SPOILER ALERT FOR THE THRONE OF GLASS SERIES***

Celaena and Chaol! They had such a complex relationship, and I really loved how beautifully flawed they both were and how that contributed to the depth of their feelings for each other. I hate how Sarah J. Maas abruptly ended their relationship just because another hot dude entered Celaena’s life… blech, Rowan. I really hate that guy. Seriously, I dedicated a whole post towards my hatred for him. See: Why I Hate Rowan Whitethorn Galathynius From Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass Series

If you could reverse any three character deaths, who would they be?

***SPOILER ALERT FOR THE DIVERGENT SERIES***

Okay, I’m just listing one answer for this question, because it pisses me off SO FREAKIN MUCH, and I’m sure many of you can relate… THE DEATH OF TRIS IN ALLEGIENT!! It was so. utterly. POINTLESS! I literally think that this was Veronica Roth’s thought process when writing Allegient: Hmm, how do I sell more books??? Ah yes, by adding a heartbreakingly tear worthy ending to the final book of my trilogy. Oh, I know what I’ll do! Kill of my main character for no apparent reason other to draw tears from the eyes of my readers! Brilliant! 

No, Veronica. NOT BRILLIANT. And it’s even worse that the romance between Four and Christina was hinted at the end of the book… Like, what? Your girlfriend and best friend just DIED, and you guys are already starting with this stupid romantic tension?! Ugh.

Well, it appears that I’ve started ranting, which was not my initial intent, so I’m going to cut myself off now! 😂

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Questions I Have For My Nominees:

1. What is your favourite thing about the book blogging community?

2. If you could witness any event of the past, present or future, what would it be?

3. What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

4. Do you re-read books, or is reading them once enough for you?

5. If you could live in any fictional world, what would it be?

6. How did you come up with your blog name?

7. Is there a book you wish you had never read?

8. What is your favourite food to snack on while reading?

9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

10. What is your favourite season?

11. Give us three words to describe your 2019 so far.

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I nominate…

Alicia @ A Kernal of Nonsense

Amy @ Tale at a Time

Xandra @ Starry Sky Books

Aurora Librialis

Melanie @ meltotheany

SepiaReads

Mahana @ Sapphic Library

Kayla @ Books and Blends

Right Writing Words

Destiny @ MyHoneyReads

El @ Elated Books

I encourage you to check out the blogs of each and every one of these wonderful people! They truly are making the book blogging community a more positive place by constantly spreading joy and inspiration through their delightful posts!

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Once again, I am so honoured to have been nominated for this award, as it has been such a great opportunity to spread positivity on this blog! I’m so happy that I got to acknowledge some bloggers that deserve to be praised for all their kindness and creativity, and I hope that this post allows the positivity of the Sunshine Blogger Award to reach more people!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I did writing it!

xoxo,

Unicorn Crate April Unboxing!

For the past few months, I’ve been a subscriber of Unicorn Crate, a book box subscription that provides you with a highly-anticipated YA release along with numerous bookish goodies every month! And so far, I’ve been absolutely loving it! All the bookish items have been wonderful, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to read some amazing books, such as one of my recent favourites, Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith (read my review for it here)!

So, this month, I thought I’d I share some of the *magic*  with you lovely people by doing an unboxing of Unicorn Crate’s April box on Mythical Reads! Yay! *throws confetti in air*

This month’s theme is Animal Companions as you can see from the April Crate Postcard image here:

Gorgeous, isn’t it?? Right when I saw this image, I knew I was going to be in love with the April crate! Speaking of which, why don’t I reveal what you all probably came here for… The items inside the crate!

We’ll start with the…

Unicorn Printed Bookmark Holder

(Sorry for the eyesore that is my horrendously messy dresser… My organization skills could use some work)

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In every single box, Unicorn Crate (being Unicorn Crate) includes one unicorn themed item! This month’s item was a gorgeous bookmark holder that can be hung wherever you’d like so you have convenient access to all of your bookmarks! As you can see, I’ve already hung mine on my bookshelf, so I have my books AND my reading accessories all in one place! I’m absolutely obsessed with this item, and I can honestly say that I will get TONS of use out of it!!

The next item, which kind of goes along with this one, is a…

Shadowfax Wooden Bookmark

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I haven’t read anything set in the world of Middle Earth, but this bookmark is stunning! The artist (Torin Judd) did an incredible job at drawing this majestic horse (you Tolkien fans will recognize him as Shadowfax) that goes perfectly with this month’s theme, Animal Companions!

Toto Square Button Pin

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Nothing much to say about this cute, miniture item except that it’s absolutely adorable and that it captures Toto, one of my favourite on-screen furry friends, in such a lovely way! I need more Wizard of Oz items in my bookish collection, so thank you Unicorn Crate!

Zelie and Nailah Art Print

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When I saw this item, I quite literally squealed with delight! It’s Zelie, the kick-butt heroine from Children of Blood and Bone, and her awesome animal companion, Nailah! With the number of days until the release of CoBaB’s sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, growing fewer and fewer, I’ve been desperate to get my hands on some form of bookish goody to get me ready for the next instalment of this series!! And now I have this gorgeous print to obsess over! Agh, I think I’m in love!

Fawkes Phoenix Notepad

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Look at this lovely little notepad featuring a beautiful illustration of Fawkes, the much-loved phoenix from the Harry Potter series! This item is so adorable… AND convenient! I can take it with me wherever I go, so I’ll always have a place to jot something down if I feel the need to! Yet another item that I know I’ll be using often!

‘Faery and her Foxes’ Pillow Case

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I LOVE this pillowcase! The art is so sweet and endearing, agh it just makes me want to grab my cats and snuggle up in a warm blanket!

Unfortunately, I do not currently have the right size pillow for this item, so I’ll have to hold off on using it for a while. But I still adore it, and I’ll be content just staring at it affectionately until I have the proper resources to utilize it! 😂

And now…

THE BOOKS! 

Yes, you read that correctly! BookS, plural. Unicorn Crate was generous enough to *gasp* INCLUDE TWO BOOKS IN THIS MONTH’S BOX!!!!

Both of these books look absolutely incredible, and I can’t wait to read them! Allow me to present them to you…

*Cue royal trumpet sound noise thingy*

BOOK NUMBER ONE:

Norroway by Kit and Cat Seaton

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I haven’t read a graphic novel in a hot minute, so I’m very pleased to have a new one in my collection! From the quick skim that I did earlier, I’ve already seen how incredible the illustrations in Norroway are! I’m hoping that the story itself is just as good!

Now, let’s take a look a BOOK NUMBER TWO, the featured title of the month!

*drumroll*

Through the White Wood by Jessica Leake

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I am so so so excited that Through the White Wood is the book of the month! I read Jessica Leake’s previous release, Beyond a Darkened Shore, a while back and loved it, so I can’t wait to read more of her work!

I actually have a funny story in relation to this book! I stopped by my local book store yesterday evening (a few hours before this crate was delivered to my home), and got super excited when I saw this book on the “New Release” shelf. You see, I’ve been anticipating the publication of Through the White Wood for a long time now which is why I was so pleased to see it… If you’ve been here for a while, you might have even seen it on my Most Anticipated Reads of 2019 post I published last year.

Anyways, I very nearly purchased the book, until I caught a glimpse of the Priory of the Orange Tree in all of it’s grand, MASSIVE glory (the book is a whopping 800 pages)!! So instead of purchasing TtWW, I spent… get ready for it… $32 on Priory! Good for my epic fantasy yearnings… not so good for my wallet!

But hey, I obviously made the right choice because if I’d gone with Through the White Wood, I would have had an extra copy wasting space on my shelf as well as $20 wasted!

But getting back to the point, I’m so hyped for this book! Jessica Leake’s writing is amazing, and I have faith that this new release of hers will blow me away just like Beyond a Darkened Shore did! Agh, I can’t wait!!

And… That’s Everything!

I hope you enjoyed this unboxing! I’ve never done anything like this on my blog before, so do let me know if you like this kind of post, and perhaps I’ll make one for the Unicorn Crate May box as well! 😃💕

Have you ever been a member of a monthly bookish subscription crate? If so, which one, and did you like it? If not, are there any bookish subscription crates you’d like to subscribe to in the future? Let me know down below!

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely rest of your day!

 

Top Ten Tuesday– My First Ten Book Reviews

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Hi, and happy Tuesday! I hope you’re all having a great week so far! 😃💕

Top Ten Tuesday (also known as T10T, TTT) is a weekly meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by one of my favourite book bloggers, That Artsy Reader Girl!

Today’s topic is First Ten Books I’ve Reviewed… aka the ultimate try-not to-cringe challenge!!!

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I don’t know about you, but when I reread any of my old blog posts or reviews (even ones from a few months ago lol), it typically results in me thinking, ew did I really write that?? and then proceeding to curl up in a little ball in my closet, determined to never show my face to the world again.

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So… you can see why this topic might be slightly torturous for me. But despite the fact that I’ll have to reread some horrendously cringeworthy posts written by yours truly, I do think that it will be interesting to see what the first books I chose to review were. So, without further ado, let’s begin!

1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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Ah, my very first review. City of Bones is a book that I, unlike most of my fellow YA readers, didn’t enjoy… hence the negative review. It took me a while to dig this one up on Goodreads, but when I finally found it, I wasn’t TOTALLY ashamed of what I had written. I feel like I made some valid points in that review, and my ranting abilities were in full swing (in a good way of course)! Probably one of the *better* reviews within this post!

2. The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

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This review is the epitome of CRINGE. It’s literally me gushing about a book that was like, mediocre, just for the sake of it!! Whyyyyyyyyy… I didn’t even like this book THAT much. If you read my Books I’ve Changed My Opinions On post, you’ll see why (I’m too lazy to explain it).

Anyways, my review for the Heart of Betrayal is definitely not one I’m proud of.

3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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The review I wrote for the Nightengale is similar to the one I wrote for the Heart of Betrayal in the sense that is was just obnoxiously gushy. Like, I loved the Nightingale, and I DID NOT do it justice by writing some shallow, over-the-top cheesy review that really had no meaning to it. Now that I think about it, I think I’d like to re-write my review for this book to give it the praise that it deserves!

4. My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

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Well. I don’t totally hate this review, so I guess that in itself is something. But I’m still getting some of the shallow, cringe-worthy vibes nonetheless. Gosh, did I really used to write that way?!

5. Sadie by Courtney Summers

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Another review of mine that I find OKAY. There’s definitely more depth to it, so I think at this point my review writing skills finally started improving! Also, this review is much longer than my previous ones, a sign that I put a lot more detail into it! Yay!

6. Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

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I think that my review for this one was pretty decent, but if given the chance, I would still probably edit it, only because my opinions on certain aspects of the book have changed since I read it.

7. Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

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My review for Reign of the Fallen wasn’t terrible, but I don’t think I completely explained my thoughts on the book well enough. After all, my review was awfully short despite the fact that I had very mixed feelings on this title.

8. Roar by Cora Carmack

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So, I actually LIKE this review, and I think that’s because I HATED this book. When writing reviews, I tend to be a lot more, er, passionate when it comes to a book I disliked, because then I feel like I can really rant about it! So with that being said, I’m gonna go ahead and deem this review acceptable 😂

9. East by Edith Pattou

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Eh, this one was decent enough but I feel like it’s brought back the whole cheesy, suck-up pattern in my reviews. I enjoyed East and all, but my review was all adoration and very little depth. This is another review that I’d like to take the time to rewrite.

10. Trail of Crumbs by Lisa J. Lawrence

Yay, this review didn’t totally make me cringe! I think that that’s because I put a lot of time and thought into it since it was for an arc, one of my first arcs at that. But regardless of that, this review is probably my favourite within this post! 😂

And… That’s a wrap, my friends!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Have you recently gone back and read your old reviews? And if so, did you cringe as much as I did?!  😂❤ Let me know down below, and feel free to drop a link to your own T10T post if you have one!

Thanks for reading!!

Review for Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

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Title: Bloodleaf

Author: Crystal Smith

Publisher: HMH Publishing Company

Publication Date: March 12, 2019

Page Count: 373

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

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MILD SPOILERS AHEAD

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I am so grateful that I came across this book when I did, because holy crap… it got me out of one heck of a reading slump.

Putting it simply, March was an awful reading month for me. I read practically nothing due to how many outside obligations I had going on, and I blogged even less. When I did try to pick up a book, everything I read just seemed tasteless and uninteresting. Honestly, March was quite literally my ultimate reading low.

But then April rolled around, and Bloodleaf came to my rescue.

Where do I start? Bloodleaf has restored my faith in YA fantasy, specifically retellings. It has shown me that not all hope is lost for a genre of books that are seemingly getting more and more bland, repetitive, and unoriginal as time goes on. Because the unfortunate reality is that so many YA novels these days are just recycled versions of the same stories that have been told over and over again (Anna and the French Kiss = Again, But Better, Tempests and Slaughter = Harry Potter, Ash Princess = An Ember in the Ashes… you get what I mean). But Bloodleaf has broken this horrific pattern of repetitive and emotionless books. Because it was so. frickin. good.

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Where do I even start with this one?

How about with its originality, which is something I already briefly mentioned. I can’t think of any other book that has a plot even remotely close to Bloodleaf’s. Sure, it incorporates witchcraft, ghosts, and magic, all things we’ve seen in YA before. But at the same time, Bloodleaf stands completely on its own as an original, authentic YA novel. How? Well, Crystal Smith is an incredible author, as she weaves her unique ideas together in never-before-seen ways that don’t contain the typical tropes and cliches of YA. It’s amazing that Bloodleaf is her debut, for it is truly a well thought out book.

And since we’re still on the topic of originality, let’s talk about how though Bloodleaf is a retelling, it still manages to be its own book, completely separate from the story it was “based off of”. You see, I put that phrase in quotes because to me, Bloodleaf is worlds different than the original Grimm fairy tale the Goose Girl. It consists of its own characters, its own plot, and oh, let’s not forget to mention the fact that it’s set in a totally different world that has unique characteristics and elements that majorly differ from those of the Goose Girl. In my opinion, Crystal Smith didn’t base Bloodleaf off of the Goose Girl, she just drew inspiration from it and made it her own thing!

I also really appreciated the pacing and structure of this book. Events moved swiftly so readers were always caught up in the story’s devourable action, but the author left enough room for necessary details and explanations, resulting in a very well developed world.

The only thing I would criticise about Bloodleaf is its characters… And I don’t exactly mean the protagonist, Aurelia, who was overall complex and interesting. I’m referring to the secondary characters, particularly Aurelia’s relationships with them.

All of the secondary characters were just… boring.

Zan and Kellan, the two male characters both in love with Aurelia (PAUSE: this isn’t a love triangle, as Aurelia doesn’t return Kellan’s affection), could have been the same character if they weren’t distinguished by their names. They had no unique qualities, nothing to make them stand out. This also affected my enjoyment of the romance between Zan and Aurelia, because who likes reading a romance where one of the characters is personality-less?

There were also Kate and Nathanial, the two characters that welcome Aurelia into their home when she escapes her attempted asassination and disguises herself as a commoner. Aurelia spends a good portion of the book in the company of these two characters, so it would have been nice to see some development. But unfortunately, like Zan and Kellan, they had no interesting qualities, thus making them dull, unexciting blobs in my mind.

And then we come to Aurelia’s family– her mother (the queen) and her younger brother Conrad (the prince), plus her former best friend Lisette (who just happens to be involved with her assassination plot, yay!) Surprise, surprise, this is yet another set of characters with no variety in personality. I will give credit where it’s due and say that these three characters in particular didn’t appear much in the book, but still! It’s not too difficult to add a little personality here and there to make characters stand out amongst each other.

But, alas, this is only the first book in a trilogy. I’m willing to be more lenient with the author in hopes that she’s using book 2 to develop her characters more. Therefore, I’m only docking half a star from my rating because EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THIS BOOK WAS EPIC!!!

From its original plotline, to its unique setting, to its ability to keep readers captivated till the very last page, Bloodleaf is an incredible book that you’ll want to get your hands on NOW. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one!!

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Thanks to Unicorn Crate for sending me this in their March box, because I don’t think I would’ve given it a read otherwise! 😂😂😂