Happy Friday, everyone!
March is over, and we’ve finally found our way into Spring! At least that’s the case here in Germany. While we still had quite a bit of snow in mid-March, everything is now green and covered in flowers, and I’ve really been enjoying spending time outside. I actually found the perfect audiobook-listening tree stump out in the woods, which is wonderful for clearing my head whenever I’m stuck on some mathematical problem relating to my thesis. Isn’t the view just gorgeous? 😊
Anyway, March has been a mixture of ups and downs for me. I read some great books and a few not-so-good ones. I spent a lot of time with my family. I’ve been making gruelingly slow progress on my thesis. I beta-read a very addicting paranormal fantasy novel that has left me in a serious book hangover. I’m starting to get very frustrated with the EU’s **astounding** vaccination speed. I got a Russian pen pal. I seem to be getting horrible stomach aches whenever I eat something lately, which is very frustrating because I love food and also don’t want to go see a doctor when that might slow down the vaccination process even more (and also because I’m lazy). My friends and I met up for a bunch of zoom meetings and discovered gartic phone, which might well be one of the most hilarious online games we’ve ever played.
So yeah, all around, it was a pretty normal month. And, as always, I have a ton of thoughts on the books I read, so brace yourselves for yet another onslaught! 😁
Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse #3) by James S.A. Corey (2/5 Stars)
Soooo, yeah… I didn’t particularly like this one 🙈 To be honest, I’ve had my issues with The Expanse since book one, but the world was just so intriguing that I wanted to know more! However, after having read Abaddon’s Gate – which also happens to be the final book in the boxed set I so ingeniously decided to purchase in an attempt to save money – I think I’m gonna go ahead and DNF this series 😅
Not that Abaddon’s Gate was absolutely terrible or anything. It picks up a few months after the events of Caliban’s War, which have left the different political factions in the solar system deeply mistrustful of one another. A climate that is not exactly helpful, considering the strange artifact that is now orbiting Uranus. Several military and scientific vessels are sent towards the Ring in hopes of finding out more, not knowing that their personal conflicts might soon outweigh any threats posed by alien artifacts.
As intriguing as this sounds, this book mostly had me supremely bored. It pretty much felt like over 500 pages of filler content – a subplot that had barely anything to do with what the rest of this series is about. I wanted to find out more about the proto-molecule and what was really going on at the Ring, but apart from a few hints, we got nothing.
Instead, the entirety of the plot focused on people floating through space, praying, or brutally slaughtering one another. Which might have been kind of interesting – in fact, I did like the idea of exploring how different religions might develop in the future, and dutiful priestess Anna and murderous Clarissa were intriguing POV additions – but I didn’t understand why this random plotline had to get an entire book to itself!!! So many scenes dragged on and on unnecessarily, and there was such an abundance of new characters that I didn’t feel anything when they were eventually murdered because I didn’t feel as though I had gotten to know them in the first place. And even the old characters had me bored to tears. There was so much focus on all these bizarre new conspiracy theories that their character development was completely shunted aside, which made them even flatter than in previous installments…
So yeah – I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead 😅 Though maybe I’ll try the TV series at some point, just to see what actually is going on with that proto-molecule? Let me know if you’ve seen it and think it’s any good!
A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers #1) by Brigid Kemmerer (4/5 Stars)
Well, you did it, guys 😂 You’ve successfully managed to make me read A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Seriously, the amount of love I’ve seen for this series around the bloggosphere is insane, so since I was craving something fun and fast-paced after the mind-numbing boringness of Abaddon’s Gate, I decided to check whether I could find it on Scribd. Obviously, I was successful 😉
And I did really have a ton of fun with this one! A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling – which means we were already off to a great start, since Beauty and the Beast is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies – and it had the perfect mixture of fantasy, modernity, angst, and flawed, but interesting, characters!
I absolutely adored Harper. Her tenacity and the bond she shared with her brother made her extremely relatable, and I also thought it was very refreshing to see a character with a physical disability that was a natural part of who they were, rather than a ridiculous plot device that eventually ended up being healed magically when the author got tired of the restrictions it gave to that character **cough Chaol cough**. And Rhen and Grey were amazingl, too! Their friendship was so wonderfully complex, their history thoroughly tragic, and of course, I was all here for the angstiness!
So yeah, even though I did think a few events sounded a bit far-fetched – for example, I just don’t buy that you would be able to make up a foreign country and have even seasoned politicians immediately believe it exists – I had a ton of fun with this book and thought it was a really cool spin on Beauty and the Beast! From this first book alone, I thought I might have found a new fantasy favorite. But then came A Heart So Fierce and Broken…
A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) by Brigid Kemmerer (2/5 Stars)
Normally, when I read more than one book in a series during the same month, I review them together. After all, I love being lazy, and writing one review requires less effort than writing two of them 😁 In this case, though, it just wasn’t possible. Because as much as I loved A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I hated A Heart So Fierce and Broken. This book, you guys… It was a mess. If you ask me, it read more like fanfiction than a proper sequel 🙈
Don’t get me wrong – the writing was still good. There were new characters who really grew on me, such as Lia Mara, Iisak and Tycho. But the plot? It was a clusterfuck. I felt as though the author had a very clear idea of what kind of story she wanted to tell, and that she really wanted to write another tale set in this world, so she just forced her idea into this sequel without bothering to pay attention to character consistency.
Rhen went from a caring prince willing to take lashes for his subjects to a power-hungry maniac willing to kill his best friend from seemingly nowhere. Harper turned from a feisty independent woman into a wallflower so blinded by love that she refused to confront Rhen about anything he did. Grey became absolutely paranoid about his heritage for seemingly no reason (at least judging by the first book) but was still dumb enough to fight in an arena when he was supposed to stay undercover. He transferred his affections from one girl to the next in the blink of an eye, which made so many heartbreaking moments in A Curse So Dark and Lonely feel less genuine. Karis Luran had no qualms about killing her daughter, just for the sake of making the plot more dramatic. The list goes on and on…
And then there were so many plot holes it just became ridiculous! Like the fact that Grey could flee into the woods, hide in the most obvious place possible, and then have Harper find him with no trouble at all, while Rhen had no clue where to look? Even if his men had been stupid enough not to find him, wouldn’t someone have been keeping tabs on Harper? This was just one of those instances, but there were so many others that, from a logical standpoint, JUST DIDN’T MAKE SENSE.
So yeah – although the story idea itself wasn’t bad, the way it was forced upon these characters without regard for their previously established personalities or logical plausibility seriously irked me. This was one of the most frustrating sequels I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading, and now I’m very torn about whether I should read the third book or not. I did love A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but A Heart So Fierce and Broken – not so much 😅
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (5/5 Stars)
Adjhsdsjhajxhbclwhqx!! This book, you guys! Its amazingness made up for all the reading frustration I endured at the start of the month 😍 I LOVED IT!
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock: Concrete Rose is a prequel to Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, following Starr’s father Maverick as a teenager. And even though I already loved Starr’s parents before, Concrete Rose made my love increase a thousandfold! Although Maverick basically makes one stupid decision after another, his reasoning seems like a natural consequence of his environment and upbringing, and you can’t help but root for him. He’s young and immature, but clearly a good guy at heart, even though things haven’t always been easy for him. As she did in her other novels, I think Angie Thomas did a marvelous job of showing how the society you grow up in and the way other’s view you can have a huge impact on the way you perceive the world, and I think that is a huge part of why her characters always feel so utterly real and her books resonate with so many people.
And it wasn’t just Maverick! Lisa, Maverick’s girlfriend and Starr’s future mom, is now one of my favorite characters ever. You go, girl! And oh my gosh, my heart just wasn’t prepared for all those adorably cute baby Seven scenes 😍😍😍 Or all that family drama. The dark humor. If you ask me, this book was pretty close to perfection, and I definitely think you should read it!
Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy #2) by Robin Hobb (4/5 Stars)
I finally read it! It only took me what, two-and-a-half years? 😅 But overall, I wasn’t disappointed 🥰
Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy follows a young royal bastard named Fitz as he grows up at court and trains to be the next royal assassin, and it is filled with lots and lots of intrigue, politics, and magic. And if you know me at all, you’ll know those are some of my absolute favorite things to read about! This second book starts almost exactly where the previous one, Assassin’s Apprentice, left off, and if anything, the stakes are even higher in this installment. It was great!
The only thing I didn’t particularly like was the development of the romance. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and I don’t think I’ve been as frustrated with a character’s undying adoration for his girlfriend since Kvothe lusted after Denna in The Name of the Wind. Although in this case, the protagonist’s love was reciprocated, and I just don’t understand why! If anyone deserves a medal for being the douchiest boyfriend ever, it’s Fitz 🙄
Still, apart from the romance, I loved absolutely everything about this, and I would highly recommend you check this trilogy out! Since this is the second book in a series, I can’t go into much more detail here, but if you’ve read Assassin’s Apprentice and would like to know more of my thoughts, you’re welcome to check out my spoilery review 😉
Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare (4/5 Stars)
You guys know that I’m absolute Shadowhunters trash, so obviously I had been dying to snatch myself a copy of Chain of Iron the minute it came out!
And the moment I picked it up, I was sucked back into this world. Who doesn’t love themselves some good Edwardian London, just with demons and magic? It was wonderful, and I absolutely adored being back with these characters. Cordelia, James and Lucie were as awesome as ever. I am falling more and more in love with Alistair. Ariadne and Anna are pretty epic, too. I don’t even despise Grace as much as I originally did! (I know – who would have thought I would ever say that? 🤣)
And that angst!! All the twists and turns! The Jack-the-Ripper-esque sublot! It was really cool, and I was fully prepared to give this book five stars.
Then, however, came the ending. And I was not a fan. Or of one particular aspect of the ending, anyway. Basically, this book brought back a trope I already hated in The Infernal Devices, and to see it AGAIN here, so blatantly copied, frustrated me beyond measure. I hate this!! Why can people in this series never just be friends? And why are otherwise intelligent characters so bent on not talking to each other, even when they were explicitly told they would be given important information? All this miscommunication for the sake of drama is infuriating, and I just wish Cassandra Clare had gone down a more original route this time. I still think how much I eventually end up hating this twist will depend on how it is resolved in the next book, but as of now, I’m not a fan. And I’m petty enough to dock an entire star from my rating for it.
The Anti-Relationship Year (The Pact #2) by Katie Wismer (4/5 Stars)
If you read my author interview with Katie, you’ll know that I’ve been beta-reading her novels for quite some time now, and that I read an earlier draft of The Anti-Relationship Year months ago. So obviously, I was beyond excited to pick up a finished copy when it came out this Tuesday! Working with Katie is always such a pleasure, and because of that, I tend to get quite invested in seeing these books complete their journey to publication 🤗
So yeah, while I might be a little biased, I did genuinely enjoy this book! The Anti-Relationship Year is a dual-timeline friends-to-lovers romance novel set at a college in Oregon, and it had the exact mix of heavier subplots and cute relationship development that I always love in contemporary novels. And the love interest! Why don’t I have any boys like Miller in my life, huh? I simply tore through this, and I loved seeing how far it had come compared to the draft I read last year!
My one complaint is that I still feel parts of it could have been fleshed out a bit more. With just under 300 pages, this book is comparatively short, and I do think it would have been nice to get a bit more background on some of the side characters or some of the more controversial issues it explored.
Still, I had a ton of fun with this, and I think those of you who appreciate a cute, fluffy romance would really like it, too!
And that brings us to the end of this wrap-up! As always, I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these books (or whether you’re planning to), and what you thought of them if you did! Did I offend any of your favorites? Gush about a book you hated? I would love to hear your opinions!
Also, I hope those of you that celebrate it have a very happy Easter! 🐣 My siblings and I are actually planning to dye eggs tomorrow, so hopefully, we’ll survive the arguments over who gets to do the blue and green ones 😁 Because yes, this is a very important matter that can lead to serious controversy!