Night of Cake & Puppets Novella Review

nightofcakeandpuppetsTitle: Night of Cake & Puppets
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2.5
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance, Novella
Pages: 80
Format: Purchased eBook

In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.

This novella was everything I wanted between Zuzana and Mik and I’m so glad that it exists in this world.

Zuzana and Mik are two of my absolute favorite side characters ever. They’re both so three dimensional, just like the rest of Taylor’s characters, and I felt like I got to know a lot more about them in this short novella.

Zuzana is best described as she’s described in the novella: a rabid fairy. She’s fiery and sarcastic and witty, but she also has feelings and insecurities and I just. Love. Her. Anytime I read her sections and saw something witty or something, I’d be smiling like an idiot and laughing out loud. I never laugh out loud when I’m reading! This was big.

I felt that I got to really know her and her thought processes, because even though we do get her POV in the main series, I thought that this really helped to not only show her rabid fairy personality, but it also allowed us to know more about her inner thoughts and her world (family, friends, lifestyle) in such a short span of pages.

And then there was Mik and oh my God, I love him. He’s such a gentleman – even if his other guy side pops out every now and then; it’s still entertaining – and he really likes Zuzana! He doesn’t even really question or doubt that the “treasure hunt” to find her was anything but genuine, and I love that. Even he has some insecurities about the whole things, of whether or not Zuzana might actually like him, and I think that that fact is key and important because neither one was too cocky about that aspect of who they are. They don’t even deny that they don’t really know anything about the other except for a few simple (and sometimes biased) facts.

Even his parts were full of witty banter, but not as much as Zuzana’s. But he still had several parts that made me smile like an idiot and laugh out loud. Best couple award goes to them because they are too adorable for words. I can’t even.

I also enjoyed the fact that there was interaction with Karou in here and that we got to see more of their friendship – and even a time when they had just recently became friends at the beginning. I find that friendships are important, and healthy female relationships and friendships are so important because oftentimes it’s not enough for them to just be there or cause drama. These two stick together and love each other unconditionally as sisters and soul mates and they make my heart happy.

If you’ve read the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy (at least the first two books) then definitely check out this novella because it will make you feel things, and most of these things will be swooning.

I rate this novella 5/5 stars and absolutely recommend it!

Morrighan Novella Review

morrighanTitle: Morrighan
Series: #0.5 in The Remnant Chronicles
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Publication Date: January 12, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 86
Format: Purchased eBook

Before borders were drawn, before treaties were signed, before wars were waged anew, before the great kingdoms of the Remnant were even born and the world of old was only a hazy slate of memory told in story and legend, a girl and her family fought to survive.

And that girl’s name was Morrighan.

In this prequel novella to the Remnant Chronicles, a girl and a boy from enemy camps meet, fall in love–and set history in motion.

This novella was a tale about Morrighan, the one that came long before the tale of Lia, Rafe, and Kaden. It told the story of her growing up, falling in love, and knowing just where she stands in the world.

I thought that this novella was well put together and it enhanced the story. I do recommend that you read the novels before reading this because you pick up clues as to where they are, who some of the people are, and what happened to lead to where the characters from the trilogy are.

I loved the romance in this novella. It was beautiful and loving, but not without hurt or tragedy or struggle. I loved how both were young but understood what it meant to love and be loved and how they could love with all of their hearts and souls for the other.

I thought that the plot enhanced the story in that it told of not just their love, but also the struggles of Morrighan’s tribe and Jafir’s clan, of how one hunted and the other gathered, of how there almost was a war between the two without the battles of bloodshed. It was one in which I thought drove the characters in the directions that they needed to go; the plot lead itself. I could pick up on clues on what happened in the main trilogy from long ago, which was fun and exciting.

Morrighan reminded me of Lia in that she holds so much hidden potential and intelligence, trusting in herself and her gift to lead her to where she needs to be. She was strong when she needed to be and weak when she knew there was no other choice.

Jafir reminded me of Kaden not only for the place where he is from, but also because of the ruggedness of his life, his wild behavior. But he also had his own strengths and weaknesses, and I think many of both were ones that involved his emotions and his heart.

My only critiques of the novella were that there were several grammatical and spelling errors throughout, but not enough to really deter from the story, and that I wished that the last chapter had been expanded. Honestly, I just want more of Morrighan and Jafir and their lives together.

Overall, I loved this novella and think that if you’re a fan of the Remnant Chronicles that you should definitely give this a go. It was fantastic and I personally think that it added to the lore of the story.

I rate this novella 4/5 stars.

The Assassin’s Blade Book Review

theassassinsblade

Title: The Assassin’s Blade
Author: Sarah J Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s – an imprint of Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Genres: Young Adult – Fantasy
Pages: 435
Format: Purchased eBook and Hardcover

“The Assassin’s Blade” by Sarah J Maas is a compilation of five novellas that tell Celaena’s story before the events of “Throne of Glass.” This bind up was told all from Celaena’s perspective through five different kinds of “trials” in the year before the events of the first book.

Fair warning: this is a long post.

As it says on Goodreads: Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

So before I go into a bit of detail into each novella, let me just say that this bind up was definitely worth the read. If you’ve read the first book and didn’t think it was up to par, or if you loved it and have read all the books out so far, I highly suggest reading this to get a sense for who Celaena was before shit went down.

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord

This first novella was about how Celaena was sent on a mission with her rival from the Assassin’s Guild, Sam Cortland, and how the two had to work together to see a deal through with the Pirate Lord, Rolfe. Celaena doesn’t question the mission and begins to go through with it, Sam begrudgingly by her side. But when they learn the true purpose behind the mission at hand, they do everything in their power to destroy the original deal while trying to make them as inconspicuous as possible.

This novella really showed who Celaena was at the beginning before she had a lot of bad things happen to her. She was ruthless and cunning, and so willing to get in and get her hands dirty without question. But I believe that her inner compassion for those who would otherwise not otherwise be looked at twice really shone through. She could see the anguish in the eyes of those she would help and she could see the fear and pain in all of their faces. I think this really shined a light on Celaena as a person. Though she’s supposed to be Adarlan’s Assassin – this tough brute of a young woman who kills her mark every time – she’s really still a young woman in the world who has feelings and compassion for others.

I really enjoyed this novella as it not only showed some budding romance (though it was kind of blind to Celaena at first), it also showed the beginnings of a softer side of Celaena that is a recurring theme in the main book series.

The plot itself was good and engaging and it allowed to really see how things would turn up in the future.

The Assassin and the Healer

This was probably the most boring of all the novellas as it was from dual perspectives and not a whole lot happened in this one, except Celaena taught a girl who was working in an inn for little to nothing and who wanted to be a healer how to defend herself. Again, this showed Celaena’s compassion even though she didn’t really care whether or not the girl actually learned anything.

But it did show a lot more action and just how skilled Celaena is with a blade. Oftentimes in “Throne of Glass” Celaena would say how she could easily dispatch a guard or a person with a flick of her wrist, but she rarely acted upon it.

In this novella, though, she acted upon it and it was awesome.

There was blood and guts and it was a story that mostly told of how she thinks of others before herself. She knows the importance of the girl becoming a healer on another continent in an academy that could specially train her and how the world needs more people like her in it.

Overall, this was my least favorite novella, but it was still a good read because yay, kickass scenes!

The Assassin and the Desert

This one was probably my favorite novella. It’s about how Celaena has to go to the Red Desert after having essentially given up Arrobyn’s business contract with the Pirate Lord and how she has to train with the Mute Master and have a signed paper telling of her accomplishments at the end of a month before he would forgive her.

When she first gets to the desert, it’s hot and disorienting, obviously, but once she’s in the actual assassin’s keep area, she is almost instantly tested for her skills and how she would survive in a place like that. Though the Mute Master doesn’t train her right away, he does eventually teach her their ways and how the importance of observance and patience in a given situation can either make or break you.

She also meets a girl there, Ansel, who is different in that she bears armor that’s entirely shaped like wolves. It’s the symbol of her homeland and she’s kind of a spirited girl. When she takes Celaena on an errand one day, they end up stealing very expensive horses. In fact, Celaena even considers Ansel to be a friend.

And then it all kind of hits the fan.

Though this novella was heartbreaking in some places, it was a fun novella with more humor than I was expecting. It also showed how Celaena’s training came into play and how she was brave enough to turn back and help others rather than just helping herself (see a theme?).

The Assassin and the Underworld

This one was a bit different in that Celaena was given a contract to kill a woman’s ex-husband and get her documents for plans for some sort of slave road that’s being built. Now this novella in particular had a lot of up and down moments, particularly in the romance area between Celaena and Sam. There was dancing and plenty to observe on her mission.

But then when she goes to fulfill said mission, one, she’s almost killed, and two, the second time she goes, she’s played for as a fool and ends up giving the enemy exactly what they want.

And she refuses to play those games anymore.

She ends up buying her freedom, and Sam’s, and the two become much more engrossed in one another soon after that.

But this one showed that Celaena isn’t invincible, that she is capable of making mistakes. It showed a human side of her, and a girly side of her.

The Assassin and the Empire

Okay, this one was the most heart wrenching even though I knew what was going to happen. But still, the feels strings were tugged during this novella. It was a risky move that Celaena and Sam were willing to make in order to keep their freedom and to live separately and far away from Arrobyn and his Keep, but the events that lead up to the devastating thing were even more devastating because of how and why it happened (and you do find out why after and oh my gosh did I want to punch a certain someone in the face).

This novella was the one that lead right up to the beginning of the events of the first book. It showed how and why Celaena was captured and then to be imprisoned in Endovier. It was… an emotional roller coaster, really. I really enjoyed this novella, except when it wrenched my heart out. This one showed how Celaena is broken by traumatic events in her life (and if you’ve read the second and third books, you know what I’m talking about).

WOO. Okay. That was a lot to go through. But overall, these novellas are definitely worth the read for the background story information that we get about Celaena and how they all somehow portray different parts of her – whether it be revenge and rage, or compassion and kindness.

If you’ve read the series, I highly recommend this novella bind up.

I rate the entire bind up 5/5 stars.

This Night So Dark Book Review

thisnightsodark

Title: This Night So Dark
Authors: Amie Kaufman; Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound novella #1.5
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Genres: Young Adult – Science Fiction
Pages: 109
Format: eBook for Nook

“This Night So Dark” is a novella in the Starbound series by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner and tells a story after the events of “These Broken Stars” about a time Tarver was in a facility and had to escape from mercenaries while also rescuing scientists from the facility. It’s a fast-paced novella that’s only about fifty or so pages long, but there are extra pages toward the end with excerpts from “These Broken Stars” and the second Starbound novel, “This Shattered World.”

Overall the novella was fast-paced and placed in the world at a good place. As a reflection story, it definitely told about the past events as through the eyes and memory of our lead character, Tarver. His voice is dominant in this story and it reflected the flow of “These Broken Stars.”

As a sci-fi adventure, it does hold a few aspects of science fiction, such as taking place in space upon another planet, with different weapons, facilities, terms, and other such things. But it also focuses a lot on fighting and military aspects, keeping in line with how a soldier would react in certain situations.

The story itself was engaging and it kept me wanting to read more. Sometimes, though, I did feel that it dragged on in a few parts, or that a few details could have been left out, but it was overall enjoyable and a believable story within the world that the Starbound novels take place in.

A few new characters were introduced that played important roles in the story, such as a solider-mercenary, Gil, who turns out to be working for the “bad guys” in the story, and a scientist, Sanjana, helps Tarver out throughout a majority of the novella. Each is portrayed well in their respective positions and add to the story rather than take away from it.

If you’re a fan of “These Broken Stars” I suggest reading this, too. It helps to know more about the world and how the story played part in the first novel in terms of Tarver’s character.

I rate this novella 4/5 stars.

Divergent Series Review + Movie Review

Titles: Divergent; Insurgent; Allegiant; Four
Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Books 1-3 + Novella bind up of the Divergent series
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books – an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Dates: April 25, 2011; May 1, 2012; October 22, 2013; July 8, 2014
Genres: Young Adult – Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 487; 525; 526; 208
Formats: Purchased Paperback + Hardcovers

Hello all! Today I’m going to be reviewing the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I’ve already done the various videos about each book in depth, so if you want to take a look, I’ll link them at the bottom of each review section.

Just so you know, any review I do on this blog will be spoiler free unless otherwise stated. Sometimes my videos will include spoilers, so fair warning now!

divergentDivergent Review

I thought that this book was very enticing. I will admit that I did see the movie before I read the book, and though I’m not a fan of doing that, I was still able to make comparisons and pick out my favorite parts from both book and movie.

So, when I read Divergent I wasn’t sure what to expect when I had first heard of it. I thought the premise of the story was a good one, and when I started to read, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a fun, epic adventure that follows the journey of a 16 year old girl named Tris as she leaves her faction behind to seek the thrilling life of her new faction. She meets some interesting people along the way who help mold her into the person she becomes, including Four, who is a mysterious, and oftentimes harsh, guy who is not only her initiation instructor, but someone Tris becomes very close to.

As the story progressed I was surprised with how much time was spent talking about the Dauntless training and the various things that happened in Dauntless. It’s not necessarily a bad thing at all, but it was different from the movie, in my opinion. I actually enjoyed the book more because of it and felt that I got a really good feel of what living in Dauntless would be like.

The antagonist of the book, Jeannine Matthews, is a good villain. She has a goal she wants to reach and will get rid of anyone standing in her way, literally, including the Divergent – people like Tris. Jeannine is manipulative and cunning, making for a good villain that you can’t help but be mad at.

And then there’s Eric. I don’t like him.

The book is well written and the content can pull you in. As Veronica Roth stated in a Q&A in the book, she wanted to create a character that would cause the plot to keep driving forward. I believe Tris did just that.

The story left off with a cliffhanger and there was definitely room for a sequel to come into the mix, which I will talk about… now.

I give this a 4.75/5 stars.

Corresponding video: Divergent Book & Movie Review

insurgentInsurgent Review

As far as sequels go, I wasn’t completely disappointed with Insurgent. Some sequels are often lack-luster and can leave the reader feeling like it was just filler and didn’t need to be there, but Roth did a good job in presenting a sequel that followed the story line and didn’t disappoint.

It starts off with Tris dealing with a lot of emotional damage after the last book and it makes for a tough beginning for her as she and some of her friends have to lie in hiding from Jeannine Matthews and those that follow her. Though this doesn’t work out and the group has to run for their lives, they still manage to escape Jeannine’s clutches – for now.

The premise of this book focuses mainly on how much Jeannine wants to get rid of the Divergent. There’s a big secret surrounding them that isn’t discovered until the end of the book, but leading up to it there is a lot more action, bloodshed, and loss, but also a lot more budding romance between Four and Tris.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I will tell you that I do recommend this book and I give it a 4.5/5 stars.

Corresponding video: Insurgent Review

allegiantAllegiant Review

The third installment in the Divergent series let me down a little. I was expecting a different story, a different ending, and though the ending itself was heart-wrenching, it still made for a good ending. The premise of the story, though, felt off for the series as a whole. Let me explain why.

The premise of this book was following Tris, Four, and various other members of different factions outside of the fence lines. The point of view of this book changes, though, and is told from both Tris’s view and Four’s view. It surprised me and I questioned why Roth did it that way, but as I continued reading it did make sense for the story itself.

But that’s where it started to fall short.

The main plot to this last book was about genetic damage and how a corporation outside of the fence, known as the Bureau, was conducting experiments and watching them the whole time from outside the city limits. Our main heroes discover what they were really up to and try to stop them.

Now, this book had a lot of potential. I think if this were written for a different series, a different set of characters, it would have worked. But it didn’t seem to flow as well as Insurgent had from Divergent in terms of plot. In terms of story line, there was a continuous flow that occurred.

I give this book a 3.5/5 stars, but if you’ve read the first two books, you may as well read this one, too.

Corresponding video: Allegiant Review

fourFour Review

This was a novella collection of the Divergent series told from Four’s perspective. I enjoyed the collection and it was a fast and easy read as it told about Tobias’s past and how he joined Dauntless, flew through the ranks, and discovered a few secrets.

There were a few major continuity issues, though, and the parts that were included that made it that way really didn’t need to be and it took away from his stories overall.

I give this novella collection a 4/5 stars.

Corresponding video: Four Review

Divergent Movie Review

As stated above, I saw the movie before I read the book, but when I did see it I was hooked from beginning to end. I was rooting for Tris, I was rooting for her relationship with Four, I was captivated by the world of it, and I wanted Jeannine Matthews to pay for what she did so bad. The action scenes were enticing, the script was good, and the acting was well done.

Yes, there was one cheesy line at the end that really didn’t need to be there. Yes, the actor who plays Four, Theo James, is obviously not 18, but that’s okay. Yes, it was different from the book in the end.

If they had stuck with the original premise of the book at the end, I think it would have made for a much better lead into the next movie, but it’s obviously too late to change that. Overall, this was a well done book-to-movie adaptation and I rate it 4/5 stars.

So, there you have it! A bunch of reviews in one giant post. I probably won’t do this again unless it’s another series that I finish, but I will try to keep up with this blog, as well as my vlog, and I hope you all enjoy it.

Corresponding video: Divergent Book & Movie Review