Wicked King Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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Author: Holly Black

Genre: Fantasy

Published January 8th 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 336

Rating – 4/5

GoodReads

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You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

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WHOA. Talk about major politics! When most sequels fall into the “second book syndrome,” I felt that Wicked King was a great follow up to the series. While I will say it was not as addicting as the first book, it still kept me intrigued with it’s mystery, character schemes and motives. With the second book, Holly Black expanded on the world but it was not too much that it become confusing. In fact, it actually did the opposite! The characters were always a strong point to these novels since they are very different from any other book series I have read. They are not entirely black/ white or good/bad but I think that is what makes them fascinating to read about. I also expected this sequel to be a long read but I was surprised to find out it was only 336 pages so I ended up flying through it!

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Jude DuarteCunning, Determined, Power Hungry – In the first book, we seen Jude struggle with her status in the faerie world and she wants nothing more to move up the ladder. Now that she managed to outsmart everyone with her schemes, she has to face the harsh realities of being in power but more importantly, how she can still hold onto that power. The aftermath of the first book does leave her questioning where her loyalties should lie and this is what makes the plot so endearing.  We also see her struggle with her conflicting emotions for Cardan but she can’t help but place barriers due to her past experiences with him.

CardanCold, Aloof  – I am a bit on the fence about Cardan at the moment. While it is clear that he is a bit different from his cruel behaviors in the first book, I am not sure whether I can fully be onboard with this character. Again, it may be due to the fact that Holly Black’s characters are not fully black or white so its difficult to classify them as good or bad; yet, there were occasions where I did feel for his character. Holly Black definitely brought a lot more background into his past and I am curious to learn more.

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*Side Note – Well Dayumm. Taehyung seriously gives off major Cardan vibes here*

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Power. Politics.

The major themes within this novel have to be power and politics. While the first book dove into the struggles of acquiring power, this sequel deals with the struggles of maintaining that power, which as we read through the novel we find it is not as easy as it may seem. I think Holly Black did a great job delineating this theme as its not something that is talked about in many novels. For example, a lot of the YA novels talk about the journey in which a main character travels in order to reclaim the power of a nation from a corrupt individual but never fully talks about the aftermath or the struggles that one has to endure within politics. This something I can truly appreciate from this novel.

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As soon as I picked up this book, I knew I was in for a wild ride. This is partially due to Holly Black’s talent for transporting us into worlds which are sure to fascinate us. Is there some world expansion from the first book? ABSOLUTELY! And Holly Black is able to do this which such ease that it doesn’t become too complicated as I have seen with other fantasy series. In fact, it provides us with enough that it keeps us intrigued with  the plot and curious as to what will happen next. This is one of the high points of the novel. The politics and character schemes always keep you on the edge of your seat!

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Overall, I though this was a brilliant follow up to the first book of the Folk of the Air trilogy and I am so curious to learn what happens in the final book – especially with THAT ENDING!! I need to know what happens! How can you just end it like that Holly Black??? Why must you do this to me? While I will say that it was not as much as an addicting read as the original, it definitely peaked my interest in terms of its politics and characters. I believe these two are the main highlights on the novel and it is done so well!

Have any of you read The Wicked King? What were your thoughts on it? Let’s chat!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Things I’d Have at My Bookish Party

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*Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.*

First of all, Happy Cinco de Mayo! And second of all, can I just say that this might be one of my favorite Top Ten Tuesday prompts ever!? To have a bookish themed party with other fellow book lovers would be an absolute dream! I would most likely love to have fantasy themed party inspired from novels like Harry Potter, Caraval, The Lunar Chronicles or A Darker Shade of Magic. When I put together this list, I was under the impression that we can use both magical and non magical locations or items so I created a list incorporating a little bit of both.

So without further ado, lets get on with the prompt!

Location – I had a couple of options I was considering when thinking about this but in the end I decided to choose Red London. I mean a land flourishing with magic would probably the best place to host a Magical Bookish themed party right? Maybe I could ask Rhy to hold the event at the castle? I’m sure he wouldn’t say no to some entertainment 🙂

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People – Alright, I think I am cheating with this one since I HAVE to invite all the main characters from my favorite series – Harry Potter, The Lunar Chronicles and A Darker Shade of Magic. So I will count each novel as an answer for a total of 3.

 

Food – Lets be real. Sometimes the best treats and cuisine are depicted in our favorite novels and what better way to bring them to light with A Bookish Party? Some examples I can think of are:

Butterbeer, Scarlet’s Velvet Cupcakes (Caraval by Stephanie Garber), Scarlet’s Le Croque (The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

 

Activities – Now a party is not complete without any fun activities. A few which I would love to have are:

OASIS (Ready Player One by Ernest Cline)

Element Games (A Gathering of Shadows by V.E Schwab – this may serve as a form of entertainment for us muggles since we cannot really participate and it would be interesting to see how the gang from Harry Potter would face off against the ADSOM crew )

Triwizard Tournament (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K Rowling) but with Harry Potter trivia for us muggles where winner gets a vial of Felix Felicis!

 

What would your choices be for a bookish themed party? Let’s chat!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Stay at Home Book Tag

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Hello everyone! I hope you all are having a fabulous week! Today I decided to do a tag I saw floating around the book community amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and this is the Stay at Home Book Tag! This tag was created by Madison Mary over at Princess of Paperback. Definitely check her out since her videos are awesome!

So without further ado, let’s jump right into the prompts!

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*Not going to lie. I have been slouching and just chilling in my bed watching my favorite series for most of the time. #QuarantineLife*

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I would have to go with a classic and say pretty much any one of the Harry Potter novels. Its just something about the world, the magic and the characters which automatically transports you to your second home away from home that is Hogwarts. Who wouldn’t want to experience a bit of magic in a time like this?

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*I will admit my biggest fear with the current state that we are all in is that I will eventually run out of quarantine snacks! But my sister and I are prepared. We managed to save some brownie/cookie recipes that we wanted to try out so in case our pantry does become empty, we have a back up! I have been cooking a lot more too so I guess there is brighter side to all this chaos, right? 🙂

doon

The Doon series is definitely a guilty pleasure read for me. I remember the first time when I read the first book, I immediately wanted to grab a copy of the second and pretty soon, I finished the entire series! I am grateful for this series since it was one which got me out of a reading slump and become a quick, pick-me-up type of read.

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*OMG the amount of series I started is ridiculous! I mean, we have the time, so what better way to make use of it than to watch some great shows right? I recently started to re-watch Avatar- The Last Airbender and WOW, the amount of nostalgia! There was a reason I loved that show when I was a kid and watching this again makes me love it even more!*

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Vicious is a series I really want to start! I have heard nothing but great things about it. I was always a fan of V.E Schwab ever since I read the ADSOM series and I knew that I wanted to read her other novels. Victoria always comes up with the greatest plot and gray characters which we can’t help but find intriguing. I really hope I have the opportunity to start this soon!

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falling

Honestly, I can’t recall how long I had this book. It must have been on my shelves ever since I started this blog! And what’s crazy is that it is one of the most iconic YA Fantasy out there so you would think that I would have at least picked it up! Who knows? Maybe during this quarantine I actually might have some time to read it. It does seem quite interesting and maybe a fantasy adventure could really help with these times.

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serpent and dove

I’m not going to lie – Ever since I saw the massive reviews on this book all over BookTube and the Book Blogging community, I just had to know what the hype was so I did end up buying it. Plus, take a look at that gorgeous cover! I really hope the story delivers though!

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*I can say that quarantine really did help me dive back into doing the things I enjoy. In way it helped slow down time so we can focus a little bit more on ourselves and I am thankful for that. I started blogging again and this time, I am trying to create more creative post ideas/ graphics, etc. I also started reading again which was great since I have so many books on my TBR! I also started Journaling – something that I missed doing for a long time!*

between shades of gray

I was stunned after reading this novel. I mostly do not reach for historical fiction but this one so intriguing that I could not bring myself to put it down. I love how Ruta Sepetys bases her novels on unheard historical stories that should be brought to the light. Sometimes there are moments in history which we do not talk about and are equally important and Ruta Sepetys was able to give voice to those people. I can definitely appreciate her efforts for writing these stories and I really want to read more of her novels.

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a heart so fierce

Unfortunately, not many people around me are into reading as much as I am which is why I am thankful I have the blogging community to share all my FEELs after finishing a great novel. I don’t believe anyone has gifted me a book but there is one I personally bought – because WHY NOT? And this recent purchase is  A Heart so Fierce and Broken. Let’s face it. After the ending of the first novel, I just had to find out what happens next!

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I would say that Journaling really helps calm my anxiety sometimes. I find it quite relaxing and its interesting to see how my journals spreads grew over the years. What started out as a diary format soon became one that started to look more like an art journal where I created colorful spreads of the events, birthdays, or hangouts I have been to. It’s definitely a creative way to capture moments of your life. Another important piece of self care involves Music – anything from OSTs, Pop/ R&B, BTS – really does help me deal with the situation we are in right now. I know its crazy times we are living in, but we will overcome it!

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the ballad of songbirds

Release Date:  May 19th 2020 

I am pretty sure nearly everyone in the book community knows about the release of this book in May. I am really curious about this Hunger Games prequel. Its been nearly 10 years since the release of the last Hunger Games book which spurred a global sensation with the release of films. But now that we are taking a step back into the past, I am curious as to what stories Suzanne has to offer. It will definitely be interesting to revisit Panem!

And now I nominate anyone else who would like to do this tag! If you do end up completing it, share your link below and I will definitely check it out!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Between Shades of Gray Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.”

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction, World War II,

Published March 22nd 2011 by Philomel Books

Pages: 344

Rating – 5/5

GoodReads

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Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

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WOW. This was absolutely breathtaking, heartbreaking yet the most alluring read I have read for a long time. I absolutely loved it and I definitely would recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction or just a powerful story. One of my favorite things about Ruta Sepetys is that she writes about historical events which are not commonly studied about and that is what makes her stories so interesting. In terms of World War II, I was definitely aware of Hitler’s regime and his genocide of the Jewish community, but I never knew about Stalin’s crimes against the people of the Baltic region. The title accurately reflects the plot/characters of the novel in which we see that a person’s character is not entirely black and white – there are those who may be on the “wrong” side but are actually kind and there are people who may be on the “right” side and can end up hurting others.

And I’m sure you all may be curious – Did I cry? OH YOU BET I DID!!! OMGGG!

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Lina Vilkas – Outspoken; Courageous; Strong; It was definitely interesting to read through Lina’s perspective. While I will say that she is flawed in the beginning, with less regard for others and a bit defensive, she gradually grows and we see her become someone who uses her voice and provides hope and strength for others.

Jonas Vilkas – Sweet and Cute LOL; Ahhh what can I say about this cutie patootie? I love this kid to bits. He’s just the sweetest little cinnamon roll that you want to protect forever! There were some scenes which described this character so well that you just want to pick him up and give him a hug.

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Elena Vilkas – Warm; Comforting; I will have to say Elena is probably the sweetest and iconic motherly figure I have seen in all YA novels. There is a level of grace, strength and love that she has not only for her family but for the people around her which makes her such a beautiful character. As the mother of Lina and Jonas, she makes it a priority to safeguard and protect her family while simultaneously giving them ample amounts of courage and hope and I loved that about her.

Andrius Arvydas – Smart; Empathetic; While it did take a while for him to grow on  me, I eventually found myself falling hard. I absolutely love the amount of effort he goes through to help others despite his the precarious situation he is in. It shows that he has a lot of courage and a strong desire to help those in need. It was also beautiful to see the relationship between him and Lina grow that it tugged on your heartstrings.

“Don’t give them anything, Lina. Not even your fear”

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Human Spirit. Hope. Love. Courage. 

If I were to tie the themes of the book together, I think those words truly capture the aura of the novel and it is so well done! In a time where the most ugliest parts of humanity were showcased, one may wonder how anyone can survive something like this. And I think Ruta Sepetys showcased this clearly through weaving the theme of love and hope into the storyline. Whether it be love for family and friends or love for your art/music, it served as a focal point which many people used to combat this horrible event in history. I also appreciated how she delineates the strength of the human spirit in this novel.

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Ruta Sepetys writing really helped transport us to 1941 and it is clear that she had done extensive research to showcase the harsh realities of the Baltic Genocide. The World during this time really did strike fear into our hearts and it pains you as a reader to read through the bloodcurdling and terrifying experiences that the people had to go through. Being transported through a cattle car train, being separated from families, forced to work in labor camps and facing the most cruelest abuse from the Soviet guards were only some of the conditions which these people had to face but you end up admiring their resilience through these events. In fact, there were moments which Ruta Sepetys sprinkled throughout the book which warmed your heart – moments with Lina and her family, moments with Lina and Andrius, etc.

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Overall, I absolutely loved this story. I learned so much about a part of history which I never heard before and I am so thankful that Ruta Sepetys shared story like this. Honestly she had now become one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to pick up her other books!

In addition to the storyline, the characters and the world, the writing was also exquisite. It was not super detailed and thorough like something out of a textbook, but it was just enough and to the point which evokes emotion and compassion for the characters’ immense struggles. Ruta Septeys definitely has an addicting quality to her writing. I never wanted to stop reading. I think it helps that the chapters are short but they end with a cliffhanger or an interesting moment which just compels you to keep going. And I was HOOKED! To add on to that, I also noticed how she never shies away from the harsh brutalities that the characters had to face. She keeps it real and I think that is what makes this story so powerful. And not to mention heartbreaking, I lost a bucket of tears!

Have you guys read Between Shades of Gray? What were your thoughts on it? Let me know!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Ready Player One Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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“. . . as terrifying and painful as reality can be, its also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.” 

Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, YA

Published August 16th 2011 by Crown Publishers

Pages: 390

Rating – 4/5

GoodReads

Finally. I can’t recall how long I had this book on my shelf and I am so happy I got to read this at the end. One of the reasons why this social isolation is not too bad for us book nerds! It gives us the opportunity to tackle our TBR! I finally came to understand the hype behind this novel and why it is so loved by people. And what better time to read it than now, when we are basically in the same situation as the society in the book!

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IN THE YEAR 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

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While it did take a few pages, for the the plot to thicken, it wasn’t long before I was HOOKED! In all honesty, I was not a huge fan of the romance aspect of the book. In fact, I was more intrigued with the games and how the characters were planning to overcome the challenges. I was a little apprehensive going into this since I did hear that there was a lot of 80s trivia which I was not sure whether I could relate to. But thanks to Google, I did not mind it a bit. In fact, I actually learned a lot!

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Wade Watts – Determined; Smart; Socially Awkward; Nerdy – Having had a rough childhood and with his early living circumstances, its clear that Wade is very closed off from the real world. In fact him and so many others find their only escape in the OASIS. What I really liked about him was the extensive character growth, when at the end of the novel he truly becomes the best version of himself despite having to overcome challenges and the fear of the real world.

Artemis – Clever; Intelligent; Friendly – I knew she was going to be an awesome character from the moment she made her first entrance. In a world where Video Games and VR are mostly male dominated regions, she never let it bother her and was mentally focused on using her skills in the games. I loved it! And how clever she was! There were times when she would decipher clues that the other characters could not even figure out and I was like YASSS GURLLLL

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AechHilarious; Witty; A Good Friend – I really liked the interactions between Wade and Aech. They do have their disagreements when it comes to their opinions and also certain challenges they face off in the book but I love the amount of support they have for each other. And eventually, it grows to an even stronger friendship after the trials they face. Its always so encouraging and supportive. I loved it!

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I really loved how Ernest Cline tackles the themes surrounding Video Games and Technology. While it can be enticing at first, there is a darker side to it. In fact, he describes the dangers of social isolation and that it can lead to depression, sadness and an overall unhappy life. So even though it is for these reasons that people reach out into the OASIS for comfort, it can end up hurting them if they fall too deep within it.

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Another reason I was apprehensive about going into this book was because it was a Standalone and I was not sure whether we would fully be able to immerse ourselves into this new world. But Ernest Cline made it happen! The way he described the Dystopian world and the OASIS was absolutely stunning. You could honestly picture the environment so well that you felt as if you were right beside the characters. And this is remarkable because there are different regions/ worlds within the OASIS but they are distinctly different from one another!

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As mentioned before, I really liked the characters and I appreciated all the snarky comments and witty wanter – despite some few moments which irked me. I am not going to lie, there were times when I actually starting scolding Wade actions in the book – Like Hello! Why are you off doing this when you should try focusing on X,Y, and Z? Do you not want to win the games? GAHHH the Frustration! But I can understand why his choices based on his motives and character. Sometimes there are occasions where you can lose focus and it takes time to reset and re-prioritize. Eventually, we find our way back 🙂 But overall, I really enjoyed this book despite the slow start. I found it the perfect novel to jump out of my reading slump!

Have any of you read Ready Player One? What were your thoughts on it? If you have reviewed it on your blog, let me know and I will check it out!

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Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Holiday Reads

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Hello everyone and Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday! Can you believe it’s already December? I feel like this year just flew on by! Its crazy! But one of my favorite times of the year is December due to the Holidays! There’s nothing like snuggling up close to the fire and the Christmas tree with some hot cocoa and a book in my hands! It just creates the best ambiance for reading, don’t you think? And so for today’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt, I wanted to share with you all my Favorite books I love to read during the Holidays!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

So without further ado, let’s get on with the list!

I love stories which incorporate a bit of magic and fairy tale elements for this time of year! I think these genres perfectly capture the wonder and fantastical aura during the Holiday time. Such book include Fairy Tale retellings like Cinder, Heartless and A Curse so Dark and Lonely. I think re-tellings offer a bit of adventure and comfort when we follow our beloved characters through trials and tribulations. Harry Potter is definitely a classic to read during the Holiday Time and Caraval is a perfect example of escaping into fantastical worlds which is a type of story which is great to read during this time of year.

Another set of genre would be contemporary, middle/grade or whimsical novels and mangas. I think the books seen above perfectly capture these elements. Middle grade novels are absolutely fun to read during the Holiday Time since it has a perfect blend of comedy, adventure and a whole lot of heart! Heartwarming contemporaries are also wonderful to read as well since it provides a bit of comfort within a real life setting. Mangas are another genre I love to read as well since they are often a quick and easy read. Since it can be a pretty hectic time during the Holidays (planning parties, attending parties/ get together, buying gifts, decorating the house etc), I feel as though having a manga is a great way to get a bit of reading done during this crazy yet enjoyable time of the year!

How about you? What are your favorite reads during the Holiday Season?

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I am Thankful For

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Hello everyone! I hope you all are enjoying your week! And since it’s Tuesday, I’ve got another Top Ten Tuesday post for you all! This week’s prompt is a thankful freebie due to the Holiday coming up so I thought I could share with you lovelies my top ten books that I am thankful for.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Without further ado, let’s get on to the list!

Harry Potter, Cam Jansen, Fablehaven, Boys Against Girls series, Ella Enchanted

Starting off in my days of being an early reader, I would say I am most thankful to the five books above. This is mostly because it was these books which originally sparked my interest in reading. They also exposed me to various genres such as fantasy, mystery, fairy tale retellings and contemporary/ comedy. Without these books, I would definitely not be the reader I am today!

A Darker Shade of Magic, The Cruel Prince, An Ember in the Ashes, Children of Blood and Bone, Cinder

If I were to introduce someone to reading, I would most likely reach for these books. These novels truly reminded me of why I love reading so much. And now that I am older, I appreciate so many aspects of them which I did not immediately grasp in my early reading days. Such examples would be the unique parallelism to our current world no matter how diverse the setting is, the enlightening and higher themes dispersed throughout the novel, and the appreciation for diversity in setting, characters and storylines. And not to mention, they were super addicting reads which you could not get enough of! 🙂

How about you all? What books are you most thankful for? Let’s Chat!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!

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