Novellas: Which Ones Are Worth Reading, and Which Ones Miss the Mark?

21bf9bcad0093d62c22cbadb5f9c937c (1).jpgAs many of us know, a common thing authors do after finishing writing a series, or sometimes even in between the publishing of books, is writing novellas. These short novels allow the series we love to live on, and often give us a glimpse at the pasts and futures of our favourite characters.

This sounds like a great way for us to enjoy our favourite series even after they’ve ended, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out like that. Novellas sometimes miss the mark when it comes to interesting plots and enjoyability, at least in my experiences. Additionally, they often contribute very little to the overall development of the series. This isn’t always the case, but it is nevertheless quite common.

I’ve found that sometimes, there’s simply something about reading an extension of your favourite series that makes it fall flat of your expectations.

Is this just me? Eh, probably.

But regardless of whether or not I’m alone in this struggle, I thought I’d share with you some novellas that I really enjoyed, and some others that weren’t exactly my cup of tea.

Let’s start with the good:

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Fairest by Marissa Meyer

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While this book isn’t one of the four main instalments of the Lunar Chronicles series, I consider it to be just as good. Fairest is a prequel to this series, as its events, following Queen (then Princess) Levana, the main antagonist of the Lunar Chronicles, take place nearly two decades before the events of Cinder. 

Fairest is an absolutely captivating book. It takes one the most horrible, cruel villains I’ve ever encountered in the YA genre and gives her humanity. Throughout the book, we’re shown Levana’s devastating past, and all the things she was exposed to as a child that morphed her into the wicked queen she eventually became. I absolutely hated Levana when reading the Lunar Chronicles, but reading Fairest made me really sympathize with her character. I think it was really genius of Marissa Meyer to take such an evil character like Levana and give her so much more depth and complexity. I love this novella!

Happily Ever After by Kiera Cass

This book is a very sweet collection of novellas, all of which I loved. It gives us a lot more background information on some of the characters in the Selection series, such as Prince Maxon and Queen Amberly. It was nice to be able to see some more development of these characters– Especially Maxon.

I feel like in the Selection series, his character was completely defined by his relationship to America, the protagonist. There’s nothing wrong with this, as she was the main character of the series, but I did really appreciate getting to learn more about Maxon’s character before he’d even met America.

Now that we’ve discussed a couple good novellas, let’s get into the bad ones!

***Disclaimer: When I say “bad ones”, I only mean based off of my own personal preference. If you enjoyed any of the following books, that’s perfectly okay! After all, there is never going to be a book that everyone shares the same opinions on.

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A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

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Oh, how I hated this book.

It was dull, and dry, and cringeworthy, and all the things a book shouldn’t be. When I finished ACOFAS, I was really disappointed, because I actually like the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, despite having a love/hate relationship with it.

Not only was this book bad, but it was also very, very pointless. If you asked me to describe the plot to you in a few sentences, I doubt I’d be able to because the plot, essentially, was non-existent. It was just a bunch of shallow imagery and narration and make-out scenes that didn’t even make sense.


Four by Veronica Roth

This wasn’t the worst novella ever, but I definitely don’t think it was worth reading. When you compare it to the books in the Divergent series, the writing style is obviously different. While this might be because it’s from a different character’s perspective, the writing itself still feels very off. I honestly think Veronica Roth just slapped this book together as an easy money grab, you know? It hardly features Tris at all, so if you’re looking for further development of Tris and Tobias’s relationship, don’t waste your time.

What are some novellas that disappointed you? Or some that you loved?

Let me know down below! I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend! Happy reading!



Review for Cold Queen by K Webster


TW: Bloodshed, force-feeding, starvation, sexual descriptions and content.

When I read this book, I legitimately thought it was a joke. Without a doubt, this is the most immature, cringeworthy, and nonsensical work of literature I’ve ever read– If you can even call this book a work of literature.

After finishing Cold Queen, I immediately logged onto Goodreads to see what other readers thought of it. Surely people must have agreed that this book was downright dreadful, with all of its uncomfortable narration and disturbing details (all of which I will get into later in this review). But no. In fact, this book was practically showered with praise and 5-star reviews…

I’m confused, did I miss something?

Cold Queen disappointed me in so many ways. Its synopsis gave me a lot of hope that I would love it– It sounded like just the kind of sinister and mysterious young adult novel I would enjoy. But, alas, I did not enjoy this novel in the least. For many reasons.

To begin, the narration was incredibly immature. The book contains the perspectives of two characters, both of which narrate in disturbing ways… by literally sexualizing EVERY. SINGLE. THING. Look, I understand that some YA readers enjoy more, errr… spicy content, and that’s completely fine. I myself don’t mind if a book has a little raciness throughout it. But it’s one thing to have a bit of steaminess here and there, and a whole ‘nother thing when your book is nothing but over-sexualized smut, written very immaturely at that. I’m not one to criticise anyone’s writing style or artistic choices… but the fact that the author used the word c-o-c-k, a word I have never before seen in a YA fantasy retelling, every other page kind of concerns me.

Truth be told, if every other thing about this book was great, I could move past that. But the thing is, this book wasted so much of what could have been intense action scenes, world-building, or moments of character development on sexual descriptions and “imagery” that had no depth whatsoever. And honestly, that’s the most disappointing thing about this book. It had so much potential to be an exciting story with a captivating plot, but unfortunately, that potential was never put to use.

Additionally, I hated one of the main characters more than you can ever imagine. Ryke (I know, the name of a jerk), is the most disgusting, barbaric, womanizing “love interest” I’ve ever encountered in a book. In Cold Queen, he invades Elzira’s (the other main character’s) castle, separates her from her sister and imprisons her, practically forces himself on her, says incredibly disgusting and degrading things to her, and, just when you think it can’t get any worse, violently force-feeds her. And yet, we’re still supposed to view Ryke as some sexy, brooding hunk of meat that will eventually become Elzira’s love interest. We love authors glorifying abusive romantic relationships!

Ugh, I’ve seen horrible love interests in YA fiction before, but never as terrible as Ryke. Let’s take a look at some quotes directly from the book to see what a “wonderful” dude Ryke is:


“‘Claw me again and I’ll take my whip to your ass,’ he snarls.” (Ryke to Elzira)

“He grabs my throat and squeezes. I cry out in shock. The moment my mouth opens, he shoves the meat inside.” (Ryke force-feeding Elzira)

“‘You’re to stay in this room while I’m gone.’

‘And if I don’t?’ I challenge, anger surging up inside me.

He [Ryke] smiles. ‘Then I’ll hunt you down. I will find you. And then I’ll fuck you into submission, frigid queen.'” (An exchange between Ryke and Elzira)

“‘…I’m well versed in breaking a mouthy woman.'” (Ryke to Elzira)


K Webster, please tell me, what are your intentions when writing Ryke’s character like this? How do you want us to view him as?


And what makes me even angrier is that Ryke‘s character completely butchers Elzira’s character. Elzira, who was a very promising protagonist for the first few chapters of the book (before Ryke entered the picture). Ryke takes Elzira’s strength and independence and steps on it, turning her from a strong, fiery woman, into a weak, one-dimensional dingbat. So much for a story of female empowerment and independence.

I don’t know what else to say about this book other than that I had very high hopes for it, but ended up being quite disappointed. Despite having a premise with so much potential, Cold Queen failed to deliver. With little character development, many immature details, unlikeable characters, and the glorification of abusive relationships, it was basically everything I try to avoid in a book.

Cold Queen, a novel I hoped to enjoy, really let me down.

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November Wrap-Up


In regards to reading and blogging, November hasn’t been a very productive month for me. I’ve just recently dragged myself out of a reading/blogging slump that lasted over half of 2019, so as you can imagine, I’m still not quite back to my normal swing of things.

But, regardless of that, I still think that it would be fun to post a monthly wrap-up, something I haven’t done in, well, over six months. While I haven’t done an incredible amount of reading or blogging this month, publishing a wrap-up feels like another big step towards getting back to the great place my blog was at before I fell into this slump.

So, let’s begin!

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  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer

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That’s right, my whole November consisted of me jamming through this series for a second time! Rereading the Lunar Chronicles, one of my favourite series, really helped pull me out of this awful slump. Thank you to the angel that is Marissa Meyer!

(Oh, and in case you were wondering, all of these books receive 5 stars from me!)

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  • Last Christmas: This was a very cute film that really got me into the Christmas spirit! It was sweet, funny, and emotional, yet not cloying. Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding act really well together!                                        Related image
  • Frozen II: While I wouldn’t necessarily call Frozen II a “good movie”, it was still fun to revisit Arendelle and all of the characters from Frozen I just for the sake of nostalgia. Again, the movie itself wasn’t nearly as good as Frozen I, but I still enjoyed it.                                                                                            Image result for frozen 2 showtimes


  • Frozen II Soundtrack: In my opinion, Frozen II doesn’t have as many musical hits as Frozen I did (and honestly, did any of us expect it to?), but there are a couple of sick bops I’ve been jamming out to since seeing the film. My favorite songs from the movie are Show Yourself, Into the Unknown (both sung by Elsa aka Idina Menzel), and All is Found.                                           Image result for frozen 2 soundtrack
  • Six the Musical: Being a theatre nerd, I obsess over a lotttt of musicals. This is one that I’ve been listening to a long time now, and I just can’t get enough of it! Six, a British musical, is a modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII presented as a pop concert. I absolutely love it and highly recommend you listen to it! Even though I adore the whole album, if I had to choose a few favourite songs, they would be Don’t Lose Ur Head, All You Wanna Do, Heart of Stone, and Ex-Wives.Image result for six the musical soundtrack


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Life has been pretty good lately. I’m lucky enough to say that currently, both my mental and physical health are pretty stable, and I’ve really been putting in extra effort to take care of myself.

Last Thursday, I enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving with family. We do this thing called “the thankful game”, where we all go around the table and talk about the things we’re thankful for. When it was my turn, I got a little choked up when talking about how grateful I am for my sister, and how I don’t know how I’ll manage when she goes off to college in 18 months. It’s something I’ve been thinking about more and more often lately. I have a really close relationship with my sister, and it scares me to think that in a year and a half, my best friend will be leaving me.

But I try not to think about it a ton, because 18 months is a very long time. I want to enjoy the time I have left with my sister without constantly thinking about her leaving.

Other than that, I would say that not many negative thoughts have been on my mind. I think that getting back into reading and blogging has really helped me stay healthy and positive.

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How has your month been? Please feel free to leave a link to your November wrap-up in the comments. I hope you all had a happy and healthy November! Happy Holidays!


My Bookish Christmas List

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🎶 All I want for Christmas is… 🎶


Not really, though. But actually, kind of.

Hey everyone, welcome to my third post since I recovered from my terrible blogging slump that lasted half of 2019! Whoo-hoo!

Since the holiday season is basically here (my rule is that it is acceptable to start speaking of Christmas the day after Thanksgiving), I thought I’d assemble a little list of books that would bring me much joy this Christmas 😃 There’s nothing like waking up on Christmas day and ripping apart a beautifully wrapped package to find the book you’ve been hoping for laying before your eyes in all its bookish glory. Anyways, let me share with you my list!

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty


Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.


I love the idea behind this book, and I really hope it delivers! I’m always up for a good mystery, so I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising by Pierce Brown


Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he toils willingly, trusting that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.


I don’t know how or why I haven’t read this one yet– It sounds like exactly the type of book I would love! The idea of a book set on Mars as it’s being colonized by humans sounds epic to me!

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel


A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?


Based off of its synopsis, this isn’t usually the type of novel I’m drawn to, but it sounds like something I might find surprisingly enjoyable. And I absolutely love the cover!

Girl at War by Sara Novic

Girl at War by Sara Novic


Zagreb, 1991. Ana Jurić is a carefree ten-year-old, living with her family in a small apartment in Croatia’s capital. But that year, civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, splintering Ana’s idyllic childhood. Daily life is altered by food rations and air raid drills, and soccer matches are replaced by sniper fire. Neighbors grow suspicious of one another, and Ana’s sense of safety starts to fray. When the war arrives at her doorstep, Ana must find her way in a dangerous world.

New York, 2001. Ana is now a college student in Manhattan. Though she’s tried to move on from her past, she can’t escape her memories of war—secrets she keeps even from those closest to her. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, Ana returns to Croatia after a decade away, hoping to make peace with the place she once called home. As she faces her ghosts, she must come to terms with her country’s difficult history and the events that interrupted her childhood years before.

Moving back and forth through time, Girl at War is an honest, generous, brilliantly written novel that illuminates how history shapes the individual. Sara Nović fearlessly shows the impact of war on one young girl—and its legacy on all of us. It’s a debut by a writer who has stared into recent history to find a story that continues to resonate today.


I really enjoy all types of historical fiction, and Girl at War sounds like a book that I have to read. I haven’t read much on the Yugoslav Wars, so I feel like this book would give me a great opportunity to become more familiar with a part of history I know little about.

Anyways, that’s my list! 

What’s yours? I’d love to hear what books you all are hoping to get this holiday season– Or which ones you’d recommend I add to my own list! 😂❤

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post! I’m wishing you all a very joyful rest of your week!




Review for Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, Book 3) by Marissa Meyer

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This is my second time reading this series, and somehow it’s only gotten better. I’ve never been a big re-reader of books, but the Lunar Chronicles have managed to make an exception.

Cress, the third book in this series, is a fantastic addition to an already captivating story. We’re now engrossed in the perspectives of three heroines, all of which are extremely different, yet share the same ability to engage us with their varying characteristics and backgrounds.

We have Linh Cinder, our primary viewpoint in the series, who our story focuses around. Her whole life, she has been looked down upon for being a cyborg, and was mistreated greatly by her stepmother, Adri, because of it. She has been revealed to be Princess Selene, the long lost heir to the throne of Luna, and is the only hope of stopping Queen Levana’s reign of terror once and for all.

There’s Scarlet Benoit, who is inserted into the story when she goes searching for her missing grandmother, Michelle Benoit, who assisted in hiding and protecting Princess Selene when she was brought to Earth. Scarlet becomes involved with Wolf, a Lunar whose genes have been mutated for the purpose of being part of Levana’s wolf-hybrid army. The two are saved by Cinder and Thorne, the fugitive with whom Cinder is on the run, when Levana orders an attack on Earth that kills 16,000 people. Scarlet is a fiery and confident character, who will do everything she can to stand up for what’s right and protect those she cares about.

And then that brings us to Cress. Early in the series, she alerted Cinder of Levana’s plans to marry Emperor Kai and murder him afterwards, all in order to gain control of the Commonwealth and eventually the planet. Later, in Cress (the book, not the character!), Cress receives an order from the queen to track down Cinder so she can be brought to Luna and killed, ensuring she won’t be a threat to Levana’s rule. But instead, Cress contacts Cinder and the two come up with a rescue plan, one that will free Cress from her satellite prison for good and finally allow her to step foot on Earth. But events don’t go as planned, and soon Cress finds herself on Earth, yes, but completely stranded, her only company Thorne, who she may or may not have a huge crush on.

I find that Cress’s character really differs from Scarlet’s and Cinder’s in the sense that she’s had such different experiences than them socially. Having spent seven long years of her life imprisoned on a satellite with no company whatsoever, she is a very shy, timid, and slightly socially awkward character, whereas Cinder and Scarlet lean more on the loud and expressive side. This makes her very interesting to read, as most YA heroines, though many of them intriguing as well, are written as feisty, intense, and badass… Not to say Cress isn’t any of those things. As shown in the book, Cress is very intelligent and skilled, but fails to recognize how incredible she is as a result of spending her whole life being degraded by her “Mistress”, Sybil Mira. This gives Cress a very complex character dynamic that really kept me hooked throughout the whole story.

Another thing, regarding characters, that I appreciate about this book is that it introduces Cress, a new main character, to the series, and while she is the primary character in the book, Meyer still spends portions of the book developing other characters too, such as Cinder, Scarlet, Thorne and Wolf. This is something I really love about the Lunar Chronicles, as most YA series that switch point of view every book completely stop the development of one character to move on to the development of another. For instance, not to throw any shade, but in the Caraval series, book one is told in one character’s perspective and only spends time developing said character’s personality and traits. Then, in book two, that character is completely abandoned when the perspective switches to that of another character, and the only character that is developed is her. Do you guys see what I’m getting at? The Lunar Chronicles, Cress in particular, are able to introduce and develop new characters throughout books, while still continuing to develop characters that have been around since earlier in the series.

Beyond characters, I also enjoyed this book simply because it was absolutely gripping. For me, with the exception of Renegades, Marissa Meyer’s books have always been aggressively unputdownable, and Cress is no different. The plot moves quickly, juicy action sequences and dramatic twists and revelations keeping you on the edge of your seat.

The weird thing is, the first time I read the Lunar Chronicles, I actually thought that Cress was the weak link of the series. I liked it, but not nearly as much as its predecessors, Cinder and Scarlet. After reading it a second time, I’m not sure what’s changed, but I’m certain that my opinion of this book has definitely improved.

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To wrap this review up, I will confidently say that I think Cress is one of those hyped-up YA novels that actually does deserve the buzz– With incredible character development, stunning imagery, and excellent pacing, it is a book that is well worthy of being apart of this wonderful series.

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Have you read any of these books yet? If you have, definitely leave a comment down below, as hearing your thoughts would be great! If you couldn’t tell, I’m kind of a Lunar Chronicles fanatic, but if you absolutely hated this series, I promise not to go off on you! 😂 I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your weekend!! ❤

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How One Book Dragged Me Out of a 6 Month Long Reading Slump and Blogging Hiatus

Hey everyone… Guess what? I’m not dead!

To fill those of you in who forgot this blog existed, six long months ago I (unintentionally, I prefer to think) quit using any form of social media, stopped reading, and basically abandoned my blog. Yup, you read that correctly– I haven’t read a single novel or typed a single word on this blog for over six months. Nor did I inform anyone about it. So, I guess you could say I took an unexpected six month-long hiatus… yay me!

I don’t think there’s an exact reason for why I’ve been gone so long, but I’m comfortable saying that I think my mental health just needed a break from blogging… A longgggg break, apparently. 2019 has been a wild year, not necessarily in a good way, and I think that back in May, when I slowly started disappearing from the online world, it was simply because blogging was too much to handle at the moment. And, in a way, it still kind of is. I don’t think I’ll be back to my four-posts-a-week norm for a long time, if ever, and there’s a chance that after this, I won’t post again for a while.

But I’m fine with that. Blogging is still something I love, and it’s something I can do when I feel like it, and without any pressure.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that yes, I’m back, but my blog isn’t going to be run the same way it used to be… at least for right now. Currently, I’m more focused on posting genuine content when it makes me feel good, and when it boosts my mental health. I think an important thing for me is not forcing myself to use any online platform unless I want to. Blogging should feel like a fun hobby, not a chore or obligation.

In fact, right now, blogging really isn’t my top priority… Instead, reading is!

After not doing any real reading over the past six months, picking up a book has been so exhilarating! I’ve missed the experience of getting lost in a story and being swept away into new, incredible worlds with captivating characters. And more importantly, I realize now that a while back, not long before I took my leave of absence, I had stopped reading for the fun of it– Really, I was only doing it for the purpose of blogging about it, which pains me to think about. I love reading, and I hate that I lost sight of why I’ve always been an avid reader in the first place: because reading brings me joy. Not because I have to blog about it, but simply because it’s something I really enjoy.

So now, looking back at this vicious cycle of unhealthy reading and blogging, I’m trying to keep the two separate. I don’t want my blog to become dependent on my reading, or vice versa. Coming out of this reading/blogging slump has really opened my eyes, and I intend to be more aware of when blogging feels like a fun activity, versus when it feels like a mandatory task.

Which brings me to my next point, and primary purpose for this post. You might be wondering, how did I even manage to get out of this awful slump? Well, it’s all thanks to one incredible book that holds a very special place in my nerdy heart…

Cinder, Book One in the Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer.

I know, it’s cheesy, but surprisingly enough, I’m not ashamed to be in love with one of the leading series of the YA genre. You see, a long time ago, when I was 10 or 11, I read these books when they first came out and loved them. What sci-fi addicted kid couldn’t be obsessed with an addictive mash-up of classic fairy tales and science fiction? But anyways, after finishing it, I, not being a re-reader, never expected to pick up this beloved series again. And for a long time I didn’t.

Which brings me to present day. Maybe a week ago, I was sitting in my room, bored, with nothing to do. I gave a wary glance at my bookshelf, still having not read a book in six months. But that’s when Cinder caught my eye. Gazing at its cracked, worn down spine (only evidence that it was a very well-loved book, of course), I had flashbacks to the fifth grade, when I was absolutely obsessed with the Lunar Chronicles. Nostalgic for the golden days of YA fiction (and let’s not forget, very bored), I slid the book out of its spot on the shelf and began reading.

I finished it in less than 24 hours. I don’t know what came over me, but I was suddenly hungry for books. I quickly grabbed Scarlett, the second book in the series, and dove into it. When that was done, I moved on to Cress, the third instalment.

And so on.

Guys, this series saved me. Dramatic I know, but’s it’s true. I never re-read books (I can’t stand it, knowing what’s going to happen next, expecting all the plot twists, etc.), but these books make an exception. I love the Lunar Chronicles with all my heart, and I’m so thankful that this world and these characters have made me love reading again.

That’s really all I wanted to get across through this post. If you’ve ever gone through a similar experience as me, as I’m sure many of you have, or you have a series that is to you what the Lunar Chronicles are to me, please let me know in the comments!

Since I’m not sure when I’ll be posting again, I don’t really know how to sign off, so I guess I’ll just say I hope this post helped you understand that you should never let the things you enjoy become, well, the opposite, and you should be aware of how the online world affects you.

I really hope you’re all doing well, and that this post reached you in some way.

Thank you for reading!!!



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

Trigger Warnings: Drug use, abortion, self-induced starvation.

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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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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