Oh look, I’m Obsessed With Another Group of Shadowhunters: Chain of Gold Review

Title: Chain of Gold

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical

Rating: 4.5/5 paws

**spoiler free**

Goodreads Synopsis: Welcome to Edwardian London, a time of electric lights and long shadows, the celebration of artistic beauty and the wild pursuit of pleasure, with demons waiting in the dark. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world. James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, have grown up in an idyll with their loving friends and family, listening to stories of good defeating evil and love conquering all. But everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London…and so does a remorseless and inescapable plague.

James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love. 

“I never quite thought of friendship like that – as something that makes you more than you are.”

I think this goes without saying, but I loved this book so much! I will forever and always continue to read all of the Shadowhunters books that Cassandra Clare puts out and I will tolerate zero slander towards these books and this world so, just keep the coming Cassie.
Knowing that this series follows the children of the characters featured in The Infernal Devices series, I was soooo excited to read it. Will Herondale will forever and always be my number one book boyfriend (although his son is now giving him a run for his money…that sounded weird but let’s ignore it, thanks) and I couldn’t wait to be back in the world of the London Shadowhunters.

This book features so many amazing characters, and I think that was both a strength and a weakness of the novel. I’ve read every previous book plus all of the short stories set in this world so I was familiar with a lot of the newer characters coming into this series. However, I was still a bit lost for the first few chapters. I honestly had to write down a list of the families so I knew whose parents were whose and which siblings were related. Don’t get me started on the cousins, I think all of the kids in this book were cousins in one way or another honestly. I loved getting to read about such a big cast of characters, but it also felt like I wasn’t able to get to know all of the characters in the way I would have wished for because the focus of the book had to be split up into so many different directions. That being said, I loved what I did get to know about the characters and I’m absolutely obsessed with the Merry Thieves. James, Matthew, Christopher and Thomas make up one of my favorite friend groups that I’ve ever read about. It was so fun getting to see them plotting together with the help of Lucie and Cordelia. This book also gave me a newfound appreciation for characters that I had judged based on previous short stories, like Alistair, who had such a great redemption arc. I loved how his character was portrayed in this book and I’m really interested to see how he continues to develop throughout the series.

The romance was, as always, so extremely well done. Cassie comes up with the most creative obstacles for her couples in every series and this book was so full of tension. I have so many ships from this story I could fill up a whole marina.
The ending just about destroyed me and I’m fully okay with that. I need the next book ASAP so I can keep rooting for Shadowhunter kids who continue to get shit done while the adults who think they’re in charge make bad decision after bad decision until the true heroes save the day.
This book was full of action, mysterious demons, twists, turns and secret agendas and I loved every second of it!!

Comment below if you’ve read this book or any of Cassie’s other series!

ARC Review: One Way or Another by Kara McDowell

Title: One Way or Another

Author: Kara McDowell

Genre: young adult, contemporary, romance

Release Date: 10/6/20

Rating: 5/5 paws

**spoiler free**

Summary: This story follows Paige Collins, a high school teen who loves to bake and aspires to travel, as she tries to decide how she should spend her holidays. She’s conflicted between celebrating Christmas in New York City with her mom and a family friend she hasn’t seen since she was little, and meeting her best friend (and long-time crush), Fitz, at his family’s romantic cabin in the mountains a few hours from her small hometown in Arizona. Paige falls and hits her head and her world splits into two alternate realities where she’s able to live out each fate of both going to NYC and Fitz’s cabin. 

“Next time you find yourself in a what-if spiral, stop yourself and ask a positive what-if.”

One Way or Another was a fantastic, fun and meaningful book that will warm your heart while making you wish for your first sight of snow. I absolutely love winter and this book gave me all of those warm and fuzzy holiday feels. 

I was initially really interested in this book based on the description of the Paige and I felt that I would really be able to connect with her. Her struggles with decision-making, always pondering the what-ifs of life and letting fear get in the way of doing things she wants to do are all things I could identify with. Beyond Paige’s anxiety, I was also able to relate other things like her wanderlust and her love for The Great British Baking Show -a show that is absolutely binge-worthy. I saw a lot of myself in Paige and it was really comforting to have her character reflect so much of myself. 

As someone who experiences anxiety, I felt that the anxiety representation was done very well. Paige’s character arc and acceptance of her condition was really nice to see and the book provided examples of coping mechanisms as well as demonstrating what a healthy support system looks like for someone with anxiety. I especially like how this connected to the romance and Paige’s fear that no one can love her the way she is. This is something I think so many people can connect to and One Way or Another showed that the right person is out there to accept us for who we are and help us whenever we need it. Paige has become one of my favorite and most relatable characters I’ve ever read about. 

The side characters in the book were also super enjoyable. Paige and Fitz’s friendship was so sweet. They were honestly so cute and Fitz was really supportive and understanding. They know each other better than anyone and truly believe in the big dreams they each have. Even if they may not have seen it at first, Paige and Fitz were always trying to do what was best for the other and prioritized each other over everyone else. 

Paige spent most of her time in New York with Harrison, the son of her mom’s old friend. He was a bit rough around the edges at first but the reader soon finds out that he was really misunderstood just at the beginning and the moments of him and Paige getting to know each other were pretty adorable. He and Paige help each other to understand parts of themselves that they may have never realized if they had never met and gone through their shared experiences. 

The format was perfect for the plot. One Way or Another is told from entirely from Paige’s perspective, but in alternating chapters between each fate as it follows her storylines in both New York and Arizona. This format made for such a quick and enjoyable read. A lot of the chapters ended in mini cliffhangers which made it really hard to put this book down. I also really appreciated the parallels between the two fates. They loosely follow the same pattern and trajectory, which led to one of my biggest takeaways from this book. 

From Paige’s story, I learned that the big decisions of life don’t have to be all that scary. It’s possible that making two different decisions can have the same results that were originally hoped for. In two parallel universes, Paige made the decision to spend the holidays across the country and also celebrate just a few hours from home. Thousands of miles apart, there was still the chance to see snow for the first time, learn important life lessons, and get the guy in both scenarios. 

I loved this book as much as Fitz loves romcoms and Harrison loves quoting philosophers. Speaking of romcoms, this would make a really great movie (I’m looking at you, Netflix).

Thank you so much to the author, Kara McDowell, and the publisher, Scholastic Press, for providing me with a copy of this book!

An Epic Conclusion: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Kingdom of Ash

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 5/5 Paws

**Spoiler Free**

Goodreads Synopsis: Aelin Galathynius has vowed to save her people ― but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unraveling with each passing day…With Aelin captured, friends and allies are scattered to different fates. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever. As destinies weave together at last, all must fight if Erilea is to have any hope of salvation.

“Let’s make this a fight worthy of a song.”

This was easily my favorite book of the series! What a truly epic conclusion. I love how everything wrapped up and this was just a fantastic read overall.
This book was super fast-paced and definitely had some crazy and wild action. The battle scenes were so vivid and played out almost like a movie. With the previous books in the series I’ve felt like some parts were too romance-heavy and other parts were too action-heavy, but this one had a perfect balance!
I feel like every character had their own moment to shine in this novel and that was on of my favorite aspects. Aelin is such a strong lead, but this whole series was really built on its entire cast of characters. From Dorian’s plan to trick Maeve to Yrene’s stand against Erawan, each of these characters brought so much depth to both the plot and emotional pull of the book.

Speaking of emotional, I definitely got a bit teary-eyed at Dorian and Chaol’s reunion. They have one of my favorite bromances of all time. And the ending is also sure to tug at your heartstrings, there’s a certain goodbye that that gave me big time happy sad feels.
I really loved how all of the strong female characters were recognized for their bravery and contributions throughout this book, not just Aelin. There are some super badass women in this book and they all deserve the credit they were given.
I honestly can’t believe I’m done with this series now. This was such a fulfilling conclusion! I’m going to miss these characters and this world so much.

If you’ve read the Throne of Glass series, what was your favorite book from it?

Learning About Great Love: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Rating: 4.5/5 Paws

Goodreads Synopsis: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways. 

“It’s always been fascinating to me how things can be simultaneously true and false, how people can be good and bad all in one, how someone can love you in a way that is beautifully selfless while serving themselves ruthlessly.”

I loved this book and I’m so happy it lived up to the hype!! Before reading this novel, I already knew that I loved Taylor Jenkins Reid and her writing style. It’s quite frank but also emotional and relatable at the same time. She puts together such a well-written novel and characters that have you constantly questioning how you feel about them.
Evelyn Hugo was definitely one of those characters. She’s a woman who knows what she wants, is protective of those she loves and is willing to do anything to achieve what she sets out to do. After reading Evelyn Hugo’s story, I’m still not sure how to feel about her as a person; similar to how the reader’s second narrator, Monique Grant, feels at the end. She’s made ruthless and cutthroat decisions, but it seems that Evelyn is always trying to do what she thinks is right for her family and it’s difficult to fault her for that. Evelyn Hugo is an extremely complex character and I can’t fully express how captivating she was to read about.
I really enjoyed how big of a role family played in the book. There was a lot of discussion surrounding both one’s biological family and the family that we find throughout the journey of our lives. It was really thought-provoking and I enjoyed the full circle aspect that was provided through the dual-perspective structure of the novel.

While the book provided a lot of emotional content, I also had fun reading about the more surface-level things like Evelyn’s Oscar award hopes and the frenemy relationships between actresses. I always love reading about celebrities and reading about fame during this time period (from the 50’s on) in particular was really interesting. The multi-media aspect with the inclusion of newspaper and online articles added a nice touch to the novel and helped to show just how good Evelyn Hugo was at what she did both on and off the screen.
Although this book is about the life, trials and tribulations of a fictional superstar celebrity, I think everyone can relate to this book and its lessons. The reader discovers that Evelyn’s greatest desire to be seen and understood for who she truly is, which is something I think we all want. There is also a large emphasis on love and the fact that love can take so many different forms for different people and different relationships. Everyone’s great love will look a bit different than anyone else’s and that’s something really special.
This was a fantastic and mesmerizing book that is sure to leave an impact well after you’re finished reading.

If you’ve read this book, let me know your thoughts down below!

Lovely War by Julie Berry: New All-Time Favorite Book

Title: Lovely War

Author: Julie Berry

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5/5 paws

Goodreads Synopsis: It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep–and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields. Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans. Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.

“The most ordinary mortal bodies are housed by spectacular souls.”

I think I might be gushing about this book for the rest of my life.
That being said, it’s almost too good I don’t even have the words to describe it, I loved everything about it.
Beautiful is really the first word that comes to mind. The construction, the format, the writing, the plot, the characters; everything came together so perfectly.

The whole premise of the book sounded so interesting to me and I absolutely love how all of the ideas in it were pulled together. Lovely War covers so many different things from war to romance to discrimination to mortality and it does so in such an exquisite manner. Each topic is covered in great detail without feeling like the book is trying to do too much.
The biggest thing that stood out to me at first was the writing itself. I adore the writing style. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was about it that pulled me in so much but I feel like each character had such a distinct voice that were each captivating in their own way. I loved the descriptions and the overall flow of the novel as we follow the events across time.

The romance and relationships will completely pull at your heartstrings. These are deep and impactful connections that resonated so much as I was reading. I genuinely cared for all of these characters and their relationships and was so eager to see how things turned out for them.
The fact that this was told through the perspective of Greek gods made for such an interesting experience and I think that, while the love and war storylines were enough to stand on their own, the side trial of Aphrodite added the perfect extra layer.
If this book even sounds mildly interesting to you, I highly recommend giving it a try. It has easily become one of my new favorites of all time.

What was your last 5-star read?

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson: An Unpopular Opinion

Title: Sorcery of Thorns

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 3/5 Paws

Goodreads Synopsis: All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power. Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them. As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

“It was always wise to be polite to books, whether or not they could hear you.”

I absolutely loved the premise of this book as soon as I read the description. I mean, books that are alive and have personalities?? That’s pretty awesome. It sounded so promising from the summary and the previous reviews that I really thought this was going to be a 5-star read for me, but I was sadly disappointed. I ended up liking this but not loving it. It was overall just meh for me.

I liked the characters, from Elisabeth’s stubborn yet righteous ways to Nathaniel’s sarcastic and snarky ego, but I never felt fully connected to them or very invested in their story. I did really enjoy the descriptions of the world and the setting, it was extremely atmospheric and easily-visualized.

This story just didn’t wow me in any way and I just think that the hype surrounding it and how I had built it up in my head lead to me being disappointed in the end. I really did want to love this book like so many others did, but it unfortunately didn’t live up to my expectations.

Have you read any hyped books that didn’t meet your expectations?

The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Title: The Six of Crows Duology: Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 paws

**Spoiler Free**

Synopsis: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone… A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Here are my reviews for both installments in the Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo, a classic in the YA fantasy world!

Six of Crows

I loved this so much!! The characters are great, the setting is great, the action and moments of suspense are great *cue Everything is Awesome* from the LEGO movie.

This was a super quick and fast-paced read for me and I just loved everything about it so much. The whole group of criminals banding together for a common goal was an awesome premise and it really made me want to read more books involving the the band of misfits concept. The world-building in this book was also incredible, Ketterdam is a made up city but it was described so well that it feels completely real.

I absolutely love Kaz Brekker and totally understand everyone’s obsession with him. He can get himself out of literally any situation and he may just be the smartest, most intuitive and manipulative character I’ve ever come across in a book. But I also really love Jesper!! He’s so snarky and funny and he really brought some great comic relief to the story line. I think that every single one of the six members in the group shined in their own ways and Leigh Bardugo just wrote them all so perfectly.

The romance aspect is really interesting, it’s like super slow burn for the main characters so it’s actually the supporting characters the supply the romance which was a nice change. There was a perfect amount of action with the romance sprinkled in and I definitely appreciated that aspect.

This was easily one of my favorite reads of the year and I can’t wait to read Crooked Kingdom!!

Crooked Kingdom

As if you haven’t read enough rave reviews of this book, here’s another one for you!

I have to start off by saying that I absolutely adored this novel, this duology and the world of the Grishaverse. I think it’s amazing how Leigh Bardugo can create such an atmospheric books while still including an intricate plot with so many little twists and turns that keep you on your feet. I found myself so immersed in the city of Ketterdam. I’m so impressed with the setting and the world building is honestly just spectacular. I felt that aspect come through more so in this second book especially as so much more of the story actually takes place there.

I loved the multiple points of view and getting inside everyone’s heads. Seeing how each of them thinks and processes differently was so interesting to me. Leigh Bardugo did a great job of picking what situations should be from each point of view. Each character brings so much to the novel and I love that their all so beautifully broken in their own way. Leigh writes the morally grey character in such a perfect way that you can’t help but root for each of them despite their decisions. Each of the six anti-heroes have been wronged in the past and those wrongs have brought them all together to fight for their lives in the only way possible. They do some awful things but, as the reader, you really question if they are justified because people have also done awful things to them. I loved getting to know the characters more in this book, especially Wylan. I felt much more of a connection to him and more empathetic as his past was revealed.

I simply cannot conclude this review without mentioning that the Kaz and Nikolai interaction was just everything I could ever want. I felt nothing but pride reading about my two boys plotting along together.

The end of this book hit me so hard, I had all the feels, and I miss reading this already.

Let me know in the comments below whether you’ve read either of these books and which one was your favorite!

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