The King of Crows (Diviners, #4)

The King of Crows (The Diviners, #4)

This is going to be a pretty different “review” (I use this word loosely) because…I couldn’t do it. I tried. I really did. I made it over 100 pages into the book. But there were a few things working against it.

Thing 1: I don’t really remember the other books.

I talked about this in the post about my Fall TBR–I wanted to read this, but it’s been like 3 years since I read the last book. Did I remember the basics about the main characters? Yeah. Did I remember what happened to them in the previous book? No, not really. (Although, just to note, I feel like the early chapters in this book did do a good job catching us up on that. Just to be fair. That was actually stunningly good.)

Thing 2: Our current political climate

This is essentially why I couldn’t read this right now. The similarities between this world and the 1920s of this book were too eerily similar and, on top of that, the entire tone of the book is kind of defeatist? They suffered a major loss. The bad guys totally have the upper hand. The Diviners were about to do something incredibly stupid when I stopped reading. I just felt like if I read more than 30 pages at a time, I couldn’t breathe. Everything was so horrible. I couldn’t do it for another 400 pages or whatever I had left.

Thing 3: I kept putting this down to read other books.

Because of that defeatism/darkness in the book, I would literally read about 25 pages and go, “Nope, I have to read something else,” and I’d pick up a romance novel to completely cleanse the palate. Then, after finishing the romance novel, I’d pick this back up and do the same thing all over again. Rinse and repeat. That’s why, after reading 2 full novels while “reading” this book, I decided that was a pretty clear indicator that this wasn’t the right time to be reading this.

So there you have it. Maybe when we’re not in the middle of a global pandemic, maybe when the political climate changes and we aren’t so divided, I’ll be able to pick this up again.

Or maybe I’ll never go back to this. I don’t know.

I Need Some Recommendations…Would Love Your Feedback!

Ok, fellow readers, I am calling on you…Ironically, this comes just a day after posting that I don’t take recommendations easily from people…


So here’s the deal. I was going through my school bookshelves lately and pulling off books the kids had never showed any interest in. A few of them I brought home with me because I love them.

And it suddenly dawned on me. When was the last time I’d read a really good YA supernatural story?

I’m talking old-school, mid-2000s YA supernatural stuff. Angels and demons (like Unearthly or Sweet Evil), ghosts (like Anna Dressed in Blood), vampires (like Vampire Academy or, yes, Twilight), magic (like A Great and Terrible Beauty), or zombies (like Die For Me).

Like, is it just me or have we stopped writing these stories? I know they flooded the market for a long time and we got really tired of them (and the love triangles they always seemed to have), but they still have to be out there, right? I feel like what I see anymore is either a straight-up fantasy novel, contemporary romance, or sci-fi. And that’s not quite what I’m looking for. I want what would essentially be YA Urban Fantasy.

Can you help me? Have you read anything lately that reminds you of this? Ideally, I’d like a book that’s come out in the last, say, 3 years, but I won’t be terribly picky. Leave a comment if you have! I really want to see how these kinds of books have changed since I was reading these in high school and college!

Top Ten Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them

Sigh. Ok, look. here’s the thing about me. I don’t understand why I’m this way, but when someone recommends something for me that I’ve never heard of, I immediately don’t want to read it. Immediately. Like someone says, “Oh hey, have you heard of this fantasy series? It’s my favorite and you should totally read it.” I’m totally not going to. Absolutely not.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been burned by recommendations before? I find that often people make recommendations based on what they like and not what you like. And I’m bound to be disappointed because I like different things.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve never been recommended books before. It’s just not often I listen. (I’m more inclined to read something if I was already curious about it and someone tells me it’s really good.) So I’ll see if I can find ten and if not…we’ll carry on.

Top Ten Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them

1. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

This was recommended to me by my mom. When I was in 7th grade. If you know anything about this book…yup. Read it when I was 13.

2. Loves Music, Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark

This was also recommended to me by my mom because it was a favorite murder mystery of hers. I also read this in middle school. All I remember of it is that it starts with a guy “dancing” around the room with a dead girl and putting her in a freezer. (Does this explain some things about me/my reading tastes or what?)

3. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

As I mentioned earlier, a recommendation always works best if I already have an interest in the book. I said a few weeks back this was on my Fall TBR and another blogger, Erin, recommended it. Thanks again Erin!

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

One of my best friends from high school recommended this to me. I was already a fan of Douglas Adams quotes (which I found hilarious), so I was willing to try this book. I hated it.

5. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

I don’t actually remember this being recommended to me, but I have it marked in Goodreads that it was? Honestly, I don’t even recognize the name of the person I put down as the recommender, so… *shrug*

6. The Ark by Boyd Morrison

Again, my mom. But Mom did a much better time this time around because it is based in history and I could buy into that a lot more than I could the previous books she recommended. Although, as I think you’re starting to see, my mom has a much different taste in books than I do. She likes action/thrillers and I just want my YA.

7. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Ok, this one I do remember being a big hit while I was in high school. This was super popular with the girls and I do remember who recommended this one. She was just a classmate and the book sounded good, so I gave it a try. And loved it.

8. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt

One of my best friends in school, Lydia, was a huge YA reader and when we connected over that, we started recommending books all the time. This was one of hers. I really liked the fairy tale feel to it and the personification of Death.

9. Beauty by Robin McKinley

And speaking of Lydia, she also recommended this one as well. Clearly, she knew me well, right?

10. Partials by Dan Wells

Ok, so in college, I became really good friends with a girl named Heather whose dream was to be a YA book editor. She had the best recommendations for books. I could go on and on about books I read because Heather liked them (she tends to like sci-fi over realistic fiction, the one issue we usually ran into). This was one of her picks and I loved it.

Ok, so it seems I do have books that I read because someone recommended them. Granted, nearly all of these come from high school or earlier, but if you knew how much I struggled to find people who liked YA, you’d understand why I didn’t listen to people more.

Tweet Cute

Tweet Cute

First Lines: To be fair, when the alarm goes off, there’s barely even any smoke rising out of the oven.

So I picked this book up at the library because I’d heard a lot of buzz about it. I mean, it’s not that it didn’t look cute (haha), but I just wasn’t sure it was for me. Then Erin at Lavish Literature assured me it was one of the best reads of 2020. I moved it up my to-read list for that reason. I had to see if that was true.

Pepper is swim captain, overachiever extraordinaire, and a solid perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but the burger chain the family owns, Big League Burger, is booming–in large part because Pepper secretly helps run their social media account while trying to balance school and life on top of that. Then there’s Jack, the class clown and constant pain in Pepper’s neck. When Jack isn’t trying to separate himself from his doppelganger twin, he’s working at the family deli. So when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s famous grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to bring them down–one tweet at a time. All’s fair on the battlefield…until Jack and Pepper realize they’ve started a viral Twitter war. But also while they’re duking it out in the Twittersphere, they’re also maybe falling for each other? On an anonymous chat app that Jack made?

I’m glad I took a second look at this book.

Pepper is the driven and determined swim-team-captain-and-nearly-valedictorian at her prestigious New York City private school. She’s also the daughter of the owners of Big League Burger, a massive national fast food chain. It’s this that brings her to clash with Jack Campbell, her classmate and general pain. Jack can’t stand that a corporation is piggybacking on his family’s hard work. Sure, they’re a mom-and-pop shop, but that doesn’t mean you can steal from them. And thus begins the Tweet Storm between Pepper, as BLB, and Jack, as Girl Cheesing.

It’s cute. The characters are funny and sassy and cute. And the story has a lot of depth I wasn’t expecting. Like, the whole book is about all these little lessons. It’s a lot like the way a Sarah Dessen novel is about more than one lesson. But it’s way funnier than a Sarah Dessen. Maybe more like a Kasie West in that respect.

Even with those more serious aspects, the story never felt heavy. Even when characters cross lines and go too far or have to face their fears, it was all done with a touch of humor and levity. In that respect, it was a perfect read for 2020, when so much has gone badly this year and we need to stay on the laughing side to survive.

It’s really hard to write a social media story that stays relevant and maybe this story won’t pass the test of time, but it’s cute and funny and sweet.

And can I just say that I felt that this was written by someone who actually understands social media? I’ve read plenty of books where authors (or editors maybe?) think they know social media and it’s just cringe. Too many misspellings, too many emojis, etc. This actually felt authentic, like the exact kinds of tweets I would actually see on my feed. (Although I do have to wonder about the authenticity of this as well, considering my understanding is that Twitter is not terribly popular with teens. It’s quickly becoming the new Facebook of the social world.)

Also, where can I find the recipes for the desserts in this book? Because I really want them. Monster Cake sounds delicious.

Passenger (Passenger, #1)

Passenger (Passenger, #1)

First Lines: The amazing thing was, each time she looked at them, Etta still saw something new–something she hadn’t noticed before.

You know, I have like every Alexandra Bracken series on my to-read list, and yet I’ve never read any of her books. It’s actually weird, I think, that I did that? Because clearly she writes things that sound interesting and yet I’d never taken the time? I’m working on remedying that. Obviously. Since I read this.

Etta is a violin prodigy with her entire world about to open to her…until one night she loses everything. Literally pushed into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with her own agenda, Etta quickly realizes she’s traveled not just miles but years from home. Nicholas is content to be sailing the sea–and avoiding the influential Ironwood family in the colonies, a family that kept him as a slave for a time. But an unusual passenger on his ship makes him wonder if he’s actually escaped the past and the Ironwoods. Because the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, and they believe Etta is the only one who can find it. To protect her, Nicholas has to do what the Ironwoods ask and bring the object back–whether Etta wants to or not. Journeying across time and continents, Etta begins putting together clues she didn’t know she knew. But as Etta and Nicholas get closer to the truth, the more forces will try to keep them apart–forever.

Good news is that I did enjoy this. I thought the time travel was fun, the characters were interesting, and the action/danger was more than enough to keep me reading.

Let’s start with the characters. Etta starts the story as a violin virtuoso (I would say prodigy like the description, but I must have a different definition of “prodigy” because that doesn’t seem to fit for me) about to perform in a big concert at the Met. She’s nervous and unsure of herself, but that’s probably the last time I would describe her that way. Once she’s forced to time travel, she becomes a very brave, very commanding person. She knows what she needs to do and she’ll jump headfirst into danger if she needs to.

And Nicholas is the voice of reason…most of the time. As a person of mixed race in 1776, his options in life are extremely limited. However, he’s made a name for himself in the sailing world and just wants to be left alone by the Ironwood family. Once he meets Etta, he tries to become her protector, especially since he knows exactly what danger she’s diving headfirst into. The dynamic between Nicholas and Etta was just incredible. Factor in how they’re both products of their time and their disagreements take on a new angle. It’s fun.

It was definitely interesting seeing where they jumped around to in time. Some places were obvious, perhaps, as places time travel stories seem to go to, but I was happy to see that it did also go off the beaten path. (We go to some unexpected places in Asia!) And trying to blend in in each place was interesting to see as well.

My only advice if you’re planning on reading this is to not look too closely at the sci fi portions of the story. Personally, I don’t think some of them add up. If I focus on those things, then I start forgetting just how much I enjoyed this journey. And enjoy it I did. So many elements of this were just so fun or entertaining that I really can’t wait to read the next book. 

Top Ten Books With Super Long Titles

Hey guys! So this Top Ten is pretty brainless, which is actually a good thing at the moment because COVID is imploding my world (as of right now, I do not have it–just my students) and I could use something brainless. Note that I’m intentionally leaving nonfiction off this list. I’m curious to see just how long fiction titles usually are.

So let’s go!

Top Ten Books With Super Long Titles

1. Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet by Jennifer L. Armentrout

2. The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window by Kirsty Moseley

3. Siege: How General Washington Kicked the British Out of Boston and Launched a Revolution by Roxane Orgill

4. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

5. Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins

6. The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

7. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

8. The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

9. The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

10. By The Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters