Tea & Book Chat: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Personal Thoughts:  To be completely honest, I had no intention of reading Thirteen Reasons Why.  I had the book on my Amazon wish list for years without ever purchasing it and I just felt like I got to the point where I lost interest and wouldn’t ever get to it.  Then Penguin Teen was kind enough to mail me the cutest promotional package in celebration of the Netflix adaptation of Thirteen Reasons Why (which actually airs today March 31st!).  It came with a plastic popcorn container (I’ve always wanted one of these for some irrational reason), a box of Mike & Ike’s (my deceased uncle’s favorite candy), a pack of tissues (because have you read the premise?!) and a copy of the TV-tie in edition of the book.  After one of those brief crises where I’m incapable of choosing what to read next, I remembered that the show would be releasing in just four days and so the book called to me.

Plot Summary:  Thirteen Reasons Why follows Clay Jensen, an average teenage boy who returns home from school one day to find a mysterious unmarked package waiting for him.  The package is full of seven cassette tapes and when he begins playing the first one he instantly recognizes the voice as that of Hannah Baker, a classmate of his who committed suicide two weeks earlier.  Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons that contributed to why she made her decision and whoever receives the tapes is one of the reasons.  Clay spends the entire night following a map that Hannah left and listening to each tape, anxious to discover how he was a contributor to such a tragic end for a girl he really liked.

Critique:  It’s hard to say that I enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why because of the sensitive subject matter, but I can say that I am very happy I chose to read it.  It was heartbreaking to hear Hannah’s narrative explaining the reasons that snowballed into her reaching her eventual end.  I liked that Clay’s internal commentary is given to us in real time instead of having to wait for pauses to understand what he’s thinking or how his viewpoint differed from Hannah’s.  It really makes the reader think about such seemingly little moments in our own lives and how they can affect others in ways that we would never foresee ourselves.  There were definite wrongs committed by the people Hannah places blame upon and I like to imagine that many of them would’ve acted differently had they known what would happen, (even though it’s doubtful because so many of these high school boys she interacted with are garbage humans).  The book talks about very important issues like rape culture, underage drinking and of course, suicide (including signs and prevention tactics).  There are so many pivotal moments in Hannah’s narrative that could’ve changed and prolonged her life if only anyone had been persistent about offering help.  I’m so curious to see how faithful the adaption is, even though it’s going to be difficult to relive Hannah’s story two times in one week.

Do I Recommend?:  I do.  Thirteen Reasons Why covers incredibly important subject matter and I think all teenagers should be required to read this as part of their school curriculum.  If it could impact even half of the kids in a way that makes them more sensitive to their peers, I would argue that it’s worth it. I’ve since finished watching the Netflix adaptation and I actually think I liked it better than the book.  The changes they made worked really well to modernize the story and I appreciated that we’re given insight into the other characters that have effected Hannah.

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Kristin

Super Space Chick’s Weekly Round Up (#1)

Super Space Chick’s weekly round up is a new blog series in which I’ll be chatting to you about what’s going on in my life, what I’ve been posting on YouTube and my blog, some favorite instagram photos of the week, and such.  So basically just general life happenings and feelings!  I looooooove writing book reviews but I also love reading more personal blog posts so I want to make an effort to share more of my full life here and not just my reading life.

For my first weekly recap, I’m actually going to be recapping the past two weeks.  I had every intention of starting this blog series last weekend but things have been crazy around here and I just didn’t have the time.  Right after I had the idea, I was so excited to begin writing and then my mom ended up in the hospital again so naturally, that took priority.  Even today as I’m writing this on Easter Sunday, Andrew and I are about to start getting ready to take a train into NYC and head over to Sloan Kettering to see my mom.  But do to some pre-planned events, I do have other things to share as well.  Last weekend, my sisters and I planned the most fun weekend ever!  My sister-in-law Kristin (yup! same first and last name, spelled the same way!) and I drove into Brooklyn to meet up with Brittany and Molly at their Williamsburg apartment.  We briefly stopped at Barcade where Andrew and his brothers Joe (Kristin’s husband) and Greg were hanging out as part of the weekend Andrew and Joe planned for Greg’s bachelor party (Molly had extra game tokens to give them).  Then we continued on our way to Smorgasburg which I’ve always wanted to go to!  We got giant mozzarella sticks from Big Mozz, way too many french fries with garlic lemon aoili sauce from Home Frite, and churro ice cream sandwiches with sea salted caramel ice cream.  Which is WAY too much food for any one person but so worth it.  I really want to plan a trip back to try more!

Then we went to a cute little dive bar on Bedford Avenue where you get a free personal pizza which each drink you order.  We also saw a really cute pig in a sweater named Franklin at the local hardware store before heading home to meet up with our future sister in law Moira.  I also saw She’s the Man starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum for the first time ever and I could not stop laughing.  I’m so sad that I missed out on this wonderful movie during my younger years but I’m so happy it’s in my life now.  And I love that it’s based on Shakespeare!  The next day we all had brunch together and Brittany shared her White Girl Rose with us which was delicious.  And we played some Cards Against Humanity with all 6 of the siblings I’ve gained in marrying Andrew before driving back home.  There’s so many of us so it’s always a blast when we all get together!

Then we spent our next couple of nights at the hospital with my parents and my brother (side note, my brother got to interview Axel Alonso of Marvel, how cool is that?!)  But later in the week, Andrew and I already had tickets to Broadway shows on both Thursday AND Friday.  We went to the W Hotel in Times Square for some pre-show drinks (I had rose with bubbles and Andrew had Dark and Stormy’s).  I love it there.  It’s such a fun atmosphere- there are lots of neon lights and the table set up makes you feel a bit like your in a spaceship.  Actually, the ladies room even had a giant poster slide show of Star Wars images which I was not at all expecting.  We saw Waitress starring Sara Bareilles (she’s playing the starring role of Jenna for 10 weeks only!) and we really loved it.  I got a mini key lime pie and they actually infuse the scent of pies into the theater before the show and during the intermission.  We had previously seen half of Waitress when Jesse Mueller was in it because we made the mistake of eating at a sketchy Asian restaurant beforehand and we both needed to leave at intermission.  This time around we got to see the full thing and I thought Sara was amazing! My favorite characters are Dawn and Ogie though.  They’re basically the cutest couple ever.

Then on Friday night we saw Bandstand with Kelly and Gil!  Unfortunately, my mom was in her fifth surgery of the week and before the show was starting, I still hadn’t heard an update from my dad or brother.  I think that combined with the false report of an active shooter near Penn Station and being seated in the middle of the row, feeling like I couldn’t get out without disrupting anyone if my dad was going to call triggered a major anxiety attack.  I didn’t get to enjoy the show as much as everyone else because I was mostly trying to calm myself down and tell myself that everything would be okay.  Even after hearing that everything went well from my dad, I still was having trouble calming myself down.  I did really love the music in the show and I was able to pay attention enough to understand the story but I do wish I could’ve gotten more lost in it.  The play was really sad and the music was all 40’s style, taking place right after World War II ended.  It’s a very accurate portrayal of what soldiers experience once they get home (it’s actually the only Broadway play approved by “Got Your 6 which highlights projects that depict veterans both accurately and responsibly.”- a piece of trivia Kelly told us after the show).  Once the play ended and we left the theater, I felt almost instantly better and calmer.  Then on Saturday morning, Andrew and I went to the local high school and jogged around the track.  When I told my dad he was like wait YOU were running though?  I’ve always hated running so this is a pretty big deal.  It ended up being really good for me and despite being completely sore in every place you can imagine today, it also feels really good.  When we got home, I made pizza with a cauliflower crust for the first time and I’m definitely adding it into our weekly dinner rotation.  Anyway, these will be much shorter in the future but I wanted to highlight the good things in the past couple of weeks because it’s been EXHAUSTING.  We’ve been getting home from the hospital between 11-12AM each night and then we get up between 5-6AM for work so it’s been a lot.

Reading: I finished reading: The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson #3) by Rick Riordan which I enjoyed much more than the first two books, The Long Game (The Fixer #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and I’m DYING for a third book so everyone please buy the first two so she can write and publish a third, Fireworks by Katie Cotugno which takes place in Orlando in the 90’s during the boyband craze and once again Katie wrote an incredibly messy and addicting story, and Princess Jellyfish volume 3 which went in a different direction than I was expecting but I’m still enjoying this series very much!

Watching: We finished watching: 13 Reasons Why which is such an important story and will hopefully help teens realize how much our actions can affect other people, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid which I really hope gets a second season because this anime has a very special place in my heart and we continued watching iZombie season 2 which seems to keep getting better, and our usual shows: New Girl, Fresh Off the Boat and we started Powerless which is pretty funny!

I posted a bit less over the past two weeks.  I did happen to bulk film a bunch of videos right before my mom went into the hospital so I was able to post regularly for the first week but last week when the exhaustion kicked in, I only managed to get one video up.  But I should be back to normal shortly!

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Kristin

Spines With Wines: Caraval by Stephanie Garber + April Book of the Month

This month Cassie and I finally coordinated our schedules to discuss Caraval by Stephanie Garber for the Spines With Wines book club!  Caraval was supposed to be our February book of the month, but we just couldn’t get it together for our liveshow until the first weekend of April.  So we’ve decided to skip March (since it’s over already anyway) and we’ll be resuming with our April book of the month.  You can view the full video below:

April Book of the Month:

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han (Summer #3)

Personal Thoughts:  To say I’d been putting off reading We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han would be an understatement.  Being my last currently published unread work of Jenny’s, I found myself unable to pick it up because I was so not ready to say goodbye to Cousins, Belly, Jere and Conrad nor to the prospect of having another book of hers to read should the mood strike.  Since Always and Forever Lara Jean is releasing in just over a month, I finally decided to go for it.  I can also say that my subconscious fully backs up the above reasoning because the night that I finished We’ll Always Have Summer, I had a dream that I was vacationing at Zoella’s house, eating an ice cream cone and perusing her bookshelves when I found a never before seen Jenny Han YA book (the cover had a boy and a girl laying in the grass- the girl was wearing a red polka dot dress and heart sunglasses) and I was in all my glory.  Imagine the disappointment when I awoke to find that I had no ice cream, nor the new Jenny book that my mind invented to fill a deep need.

Plot Summary:  I think this goes without saying but as this is the third and final book in the series, there will be spoilers ahead.  We’ll Always Have Summer picks up two years after It’s Not Summer Without You ends.  Belly and Jere have been dating and attending college together and Conrad’s been off at med school in California.  After Belly and Jeremiah’s relationship hits a really rough patch, things between them start accelerating and then Belly must decide once and for all which brother her heart belongs to.

Critique:  This book definitely won’t be for everyone.  Heck, if Jenny Han hadn’t written it, chances are it that it wouldn’t have been for me either.  It’s hard to get behind a series that leans on the angsty side of teen romance and who’s plot revolves around a love triangle.  As if that weren’t enough, it’s a sibling love triangle to boot.  But nonetheless, Jenny Han has once again gotten me invested in the characters she crafts.  No matter how immature Belly may act, how self destructive Conrad can be or how possessive Jere is, I had to read their story through to the very end.  There were a ton of moments where I wanted to slap each one of them, especially in this final installment, but still, I needed to know the outcome of their story.  I don’t want to get into the plot of this final book because there’s an event that sets the whole thing in motion and I don’t feel right spoiling either the trigger or the actions taken afterward for you.  I can tell you that this is the most satisfying conclusion I could’ve hoped for.  My ship has sailed!

Do I Recommend?:  I thoroughly enjoy Jenny Han’s characters and storytelling so if you’re in the same boat I would recommend you give this series a try.  As I mentioned above, the Summer series revolves around a sibling love triangle for all three books so this book is definitely not for everyone.

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Personal Thoughts:  I made it a goal of mine to read at least one book from several different authors this year (I actually made a video about it if you’re interested!) and Huntley Fitzpatrick was one of the names I planned on crossing off my author bucket list.  I think it’s good to branch out and try new authors because you never know if you’ll find a new favorite which is what happened to me with Huntley when I finished reading My Life Next Door.  I decided to read her books in publication and after finishing, I found out that her second novel, The Boy Most Likely To is actually a companion novel (following one of my favorite characters!!!!) so now I’m even more thrilled to have more to look forward to.

Plot Summary:  Samantha Reed is the daughter of a politician with a seemingly perfect life, and yet, she takes nothing for granted.  Despite money being no object, Samantha works several jobs, studies hard and always follows the rules her mother has set forth.  But still, Samantha has spent a lot of her time sitting outside her window watching the family next door, the Garretts, with their many children live life in a way that her own mother has always deemed irresponsible.  Still Samantha, yearns to get to know them and everything changes for her when Jase Garrett climbs her roof and the pair start falling deeply in love with one another.  Samantha keeps Jase at arms length from everything and everyone in her life but she has no issue falling into Jase’s.  And as most stories go, once everything seemed perfect, tragedy strikes and Samantha is torn between Jase’s family and her own.

Critique:  This book is just full of swoons.  Samantha is a really likable protagonist.  She always tries to do the right thing, plus she’s responsible, caring and trusting.  When Samanatha’s sister leaves for the summer and her mother hires a new campaign manager / much younger boyfriend, she finally opens up to the incredibly handsome boy next door about her life. Jase is such a sweetheart- the quintessential nice guy- who does everything he can for the people he loves.  Jase is great with his younger siblings and he works hard and trains hard to make college an attainable future path for himself.  Despite how different Jase and Samantha are, they form such an incredible bond and it is a pleasure to see their love for each other grow.  Sam also has twins Nan, a nut about getting into the perfect college, and Tim, an addict who is basically a ticking time bomb to contend with.  What I loved most about this book is the big family aspect.  Every member of Jase’s family has such a distinct personality and I love how open and accepting they are of everyone.  Their house might not be the tidiest, but there’s just so much love there!  Each character had an intriguing story arc- whether on a personal level or as a contributing factor to the overall story- and there were some really high stakes conflicts that I did not see coming.  While this may seem like a cute fluffy contemporary, do not be fooled! There is depth galore and some really high stress moments.

Do I Recommend?:  Yes! I really and truly loved this book and I cannot wait to read the companion novel!  The Garretts are not a family that I’ll be letting go of anytime soon.

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Kristin

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis Book Look + Giveaway

I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for Mindy McGinnis’s newest book, Given to the Sea.  Last year, The Female of the Species ended up being one of my favorite contemporary reads of the year so, naturally, Given to the Sea has been one of my most anticipated 2017 releases.  This time around, Mindy is delving in the world of fantasy and she’s tackling another important social issue- a female’s obligation to reproduce. Here’s a synopsis of the story (Let me know if you also get Moana songs stuck in your head when you read the plot summary!):

Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given. 

Book Look

Given to the Sea

 

Given to the Sea Book Look by superspacechick

It was so much fun putting together this book look! I love beach inspired fashion and now that Spring weather is finally on its way here, finding these pieces was a real treat! The long blue dress reminds me of Khosa’s gorgeous gown on the cover and then I pulled accessories that tie into the colors of the sea as well as the gold typography.  If you’re interested in buying anything in the look, you can click on the Polyvore link above for details!

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (ARV: $17.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 3, 2017 and 12:00 AM on April 24, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about April 26, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

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Tour Schedule

Week One:

April 3 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Author Guest Post

April 4 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Reasons to Read Mindy’s Books

April 5 – Mundie Moms – Review & Favorite Quotes

April 6SuperSpaceChick – 5 Reasons to Read Given to the Sea

April 7Fiction Fare – Author Q&A

 

Week Two:

April 10Alexa Loves Books – Bookish Style File

April 11Good Choice Reading – Author Q&A

April 12Oh the Book Feels – Given to the Sea Pinterst Board

April 13Bookworm Everlasting – Review

April 14Dark Faerie Tales – Author Q&A

 

Week Three:

April 17The Young Folks – Author Q&A

April 18Once Upon a Twilight – Review

April 19The Hardcover Lover – Given to the Sea Mood Board

April 20Bibliophile Gathering – Review

April 21YA Wednesdays – Author Guest Post

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Kristin

READING CHALLENGE WRAP UP: MARCH 2017

Welcome to my reading challenges recap for 2017!  This is a monthly post where I’ll be updating my progress throughout the year by challenge so you (and I) can see a breakdown of what I’ve read and which goals those books apply to.  I’m always open to suggestions in the comments as well! If you’re interested in learning more about any of the challenges below, you can view my sign-up post!

Goal: 75

Read so far: 31… thinking I’ll be upping my Goodreads goal

Books Read: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers, By Your Side by Kasie West, Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare, Wires and Nerves by Marissa Meyer, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by JK Rowling, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Favorite read of the month:

Oh man this is way to hard. March was such an exceptional reading month for me!

Goal: 40

Read so far: 8

Favorite Read of the month: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (The Dark Artifices #1)

Goal: 21+

Read so far: 7

Favorite read of the month: TIE: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon & My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Goal: 1-30

Read so far: 7

Favorite read of the month: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Goal: 20

Read so far: 6

Favorite read of the month: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (are you sensing a pattern here too?)

Goal: 30

Read so far: 23

Favorite Read of the monthLady Midnight by Cassandra Clare – Still killing the RockMyTBR challenge!

Goal: 51-75 points

Points so far: 36 points

Favorite read of the monthMortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

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Kristin

April Small Goals

I’ve seen a bunch of people post small monthly goals and I really like the idea of re-centering and re-evaluating everything more frequently.  It’s awesome to make yearly goals but it’s also easy to lose focus or forget about them entirely over the 365 day period we’re aiming to accomplish them in.  Having small monthly goals to help get to those bigger picture yearly ones is something I’m eager to try out!

Oops, I totally forgot to do a February small goals post until most of the way through the month so we’re just skipping it and resuming with March!

MARCH CHECK-IN

1) Read all the books – Well, obviously not ALL the books because I do have the gift of unlimited time but I feel like I’ve had a rocky start to my reading year and I want to turn that around in March.  Both of the books I’ve started so far this month (The Star-Touched Queen and Mortal Heart) are completely gripping me and I just feel myself emerging victorious from this slump that has plagued me since December. 

DONE! I read a total of 12 books in March which I’m pretty happy with! One of them was Lady Midnight which is my longest book for the year so far at 698 pages.

2) Clean out my closet… AGAIN  – I already did this one time after Marie Kondo-ing but I feel ready to do a second go around.  I still have more than I need and I really want to pare down my wardrobe even further.  Also along with this goal, I want to finish reading The Curated Closet!

Mostly!  I did do a second clean out but I still feel like I could let go of more as I replace the things I wear most often.

3) Be more active / enjoy these random spring days that keep coming our way  – I can’t decided whether to be happy or horrified with our recent weather but I do know that I want to take advantage of it completely! After our little mini-vacay I’ve been craving some outdoor adventure and I refuse to let the extra sunlight pass me by!

FAIL (but it’s not entirely my fault). The weather has been CRAZY but I’m finally feeling like Spring is on the way so this seems like a more realistic April goal.

APRIL GOALS

1) Read at least 10 books – I have another exciting TBR set aside and I’m hoping to get through a bunch of backlist books before May, the month of a million new releases, is upon us!

2) Complete the #BookishPotter17 Instagram Challenge  – I usually try to commit to 3-4 instagram challenges per month so if I don’t like a specific prompt for a day I can chose to take a photo of something in one of the other challenges but I’m pretty confident that I want to stick to the #BookishPotter17 challenge because HARRY POTTER<3.

3) Order & send out Wedding Thank You Notes  – Andrew and I are coming upon our first wedding anniversary and the time has come to order and send out our thank you notes! This one has been on my goals list for months at this point but we just haven’t ordered them yet.  This year, there’s no excuse!

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1

A Court of Thorns and Roses Wrap-up Post + Giveaway

Welcome to the first wrap up post which is part of the A Court of Thorns and Roses re-read organized by Alexa of Alexa Loves Books, Cristina of Girl in the Pages and myself!

  1. What were the differences between your first and second experiences reading A Court of Thorns and Roses?

Well, the most obvious difference is that my initial impressions of Tamlin have been completely changed.  When I first read A Court of Thorns and Roses, I was so enchanted by the Spring Court and everything going on there.  By the end of the book, I already had my suspicions that Rhysand would play a bigger role, but I never expected to love him more than any other male character in any book series in existence.  This time around, it was pretty evident that Tamlin is a possessive fae with no regard for female freedom.  Some of the lines that he said that stuck out to me most are “So, if Feyre can’t be bothered to listen to orders, then I can’t be held accountable for the consequences.”  He also says “No, I don’t want you to live somewhere else.  I want you here, where I can look after you- where I can come home and know you’re here, painting and safe.” The first statement comes off as completely rapey and the second proves that he doesn’t care what Feyre wants, he just wants her to be his female accessory to the throne.  I also loved the beginning conversation between Lucien and Feyre where she says that if she were fae, she would fit in with the weaker servants and he doesn’t disagree… boy are they in for a surprise!

  1. What parallels can you draw between ACOTAR and Beauty and the Beast?

The are several parallels to be drawn between A Court of Thorns and Roses and Beauty and the Beast.  My favorite of which being the curse in the Spring Court.  Amarantha tricked Tamlin and his court into attending a masquerade ball and since then, no one has been able to remove their mask (except for Tamlin who can shapeshift into a beast which frees him).  I had forgotten that Lucien is stuck in a fox mask but it makes sense since that’s my favorite animal and he was my favorite character in ACOTAR.  Another parallel is the fact that Tamlin takes Feyre away from her family and her old life.  He “saves” her from the life she’s been leading, all the while keeping her as a captor in his own home.  Feyre ends up falling in love with him despite their beginning just like in Beauty and the Beast.

  1. What aspect(s) of the world building in ACOTAR is your favorite?  What world building elements do you hope to see expanded upon in ACOWAR that have not been explored yet?

My favorite part of the world-building is the world of Prythian in general! I live for all of the different descriptions of the courts and the events that take place in them.  Between A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury, we’ve gotten a pretty good idea of the way things are run in the Spring Court, the Night Court and the Summer Court so I’m really hoping for more information about the Autumn Court, the Winter Court, the Dawn Court and the Day Court.  I feel like I already have a clear vision of them in my head based on the names, but I want to get to know the characters running them and see how they’ll play into the eventual war.

GIVEAWAY

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (Dark Artifices #1)

Personal Thoughts:  If you watch my YouTube channel at all, you’ll know that I spent a lot of last year catching up on the extensive backlist of Cassandra Clare’s world of Shadowhunters in anticipation of Lady Midnight.  I thought I had been all caught up until Tale From the Shadowhunter Academy came out of seemingly nowhere and I begrudgingly read that one as well before finally reaching for the first Dark Artifices book.  I’ve had a rocky relationship with the Shadowhunters books (I didn’t love The Mortal Instruments until City of Heavenly Fire, I lived for The Infernal Devices, and the short stories are always hit or miss to me) but I’ve definitely found a new favorite in Lady Midnight.  I’m glad I’ll be all caught up for the release of Lord of Shadows because I have so many questions!

Plot Summary:  Lady Midnight takes place five years after the events of City of Heavenly Fire unfold at the Shadowhunter Institute in Los Angeles.  We meet the new cast of characters in CoHF, an endearing family of Blackthorns, some with ties to the fae, and the middle Blackthorn Julian’s sassy best friend Emma Carstairs.  Julian and Emma become parabati in the short stories preceding Lady Midnight and we find them on their home turf as mysterious murders start plaguing LA.  Emma has reason to believe that the recent murders are tied to that of her parents which occurred five years prior and were blamed on Sebastian but the Clave is uninterested in hearing any other theories so the gang takes it upon themselves to start investigating with an unlikely ally.

Critique:  GUSH. I loved Lady Midnight.  I am so happy that I read everything else prior to picking this one up because there are SO many references to earlier storylines, characters in the previous series and little Easter eggs that wouldn’t have meant anything to me had I not had that emotional attachment to their history.  Does Lady Midnight work as a standalone series? Yes, you do not *need* to read everything else but I would highly recommend it.  I cannot even express how much I love the Blackthorn family.  They are now second to only the Weasley’s in my heart.  Teenage Julian has spent his life from twelve years old and beyond acting as the father to all of his younger siblings and covering for his not-all-there uncle as head of the LA Institute.  He’s shouldered more responsibility than any young person should ever have to deal with and he handles everything with such a level head.  Emma is now my second favorite female in the Shadowhunter realm (Tessa holding the top spot).  Her love for Julian and her love for the kids she helped raise combined with her no-nonsense attitude is something to be admired.  Emma and Julian both do everything they can for the people they love and they’re completely in tune with each other, which is why in theory they would be the perfect parabati.  But, parabati falling in love with one another is strictly forbidden by Shadowhunter law with no explanation as to why (the law is hard but it is the law).  For a pair of teens who suffered a traumatic experience together, took on parental roles of Julian’s brother and sisters, and made a rash decision to become parabati so they would never be separated, you can bet there’s some major conflict as they start to discover the feelings they’ve been suppressing for each other.  Then there’s also the lovable Cristina, who is the Shadowhunter equivalent of studying abroad at the LA Institute while simultaneously running from a past that she’s not yet ready to discuss.  As with all Shadowhunter books, we also run into vampires, faeries, warlocks and more.  Part of what makes Lady Midnight stand out from the other sets of Shadowhunter stories is that Cassandra Clare doesn’t need to rebuild the world.  We’re all so familiar with it at this point that the main focus is on the characters and the story she’s crafting.  Plus, the character cameos from other series just sent my heart fluttering like mad!  I could go on and on but I’ll just say that I really loved this book and I have so many questions after everything that went down.  My conspiracy theories are running wild with me and I need Lord of Shadows in my life as soon as possible.

Do I Recommend?:  So much yes! I really really really recommend you make yourself push through all the previous books though.  I don’t think this one will resonate as much if you don’t have the emotional attachment to certain characters or the Shadowhunter lore to guide you through the current state of their world.

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Kristin
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