Something Beautiful

This book was a whirlwind, for me, so I apologize if this review is a bit all over the place.

Let me start off with a story.

This book, Something Beautiful, was written by one of my awesome Twitter friends, Amanda Gernentz Hanson. We’ve been friends since before this book was published and out in the world. It’s been amazing to support her and be supported by her, in our writing journeys; amazing to watch her own journey flourish and grow, from writer to published author. When her book finally came out in the world, she was kind enough to surprise me with a personalized copy (and with a shout-out in the acknowledgements section, you sweetheart <3). Of course, life got in the way and I had a couple other books I was dying to read, so I didn’t start reading it until a couple days ago.

When I read the back cover, I was terrified I wasn’t going to like it.

You see, I had no idea what this book was about, beforehand. I supported Amanda unconditionally, but it wasn’t until I read the back cover that I realized I actually did not know too much about her debut novel (so yeah, maybe not the best support system, to be honest). I saw it was a contemporary romance. If you know me at all, fantasy and science fiction are my jam. I enjoy romance, but I devour regency paperbacks or steampunk picks.

I actually really don’t like reading contemporary books. Nothing against the genre or anything of that nature, it’s just not really my thing.

But this was my friend’s book we’re talking about. I wanted to give it a shot.

So I did.

And then the whirlwind started.


Initially, I wasn’t a huge fan. Mostly because it’s really not my genre (um, where are the dragons?) and I kept getting irritated with Cordelia and Declan’s fascination with each other, to be honest. I wanted to wrap my arms around Cordelia and tell her: “You know, honey, there is more to life than him, right?” I actually felt like parts were a bit melodramatic and I was dreading the review. How do I write a negative, honest review about a good friend’s book?

But then I got to the second half.

Which I read in one sitting. I can’t tell you too much about it, because I don’t want to give away what happens, so my apologies that this is vague and tells you nothing.

It’s when I got to the end and finished it that I really began to think about what I read, especially thinking about the contrast I felt between the first half the book and the second; when Cordelia and Declan were growing up and then in high school, juxtaposed to when they were in college and beyond. I realized something.

Amanda is a very talented writer.

Granted, her strength as a writer was evident already. That was never a question for me. It’s what she did with this book that impressed me.

You see, it wasn’t until I started thinking about the first half the book, trying to figure out why I didn’t like it, that I realized how real it truly is. When I got annoyed or irritated with Cordelia and how she was acting, it wasn’t until I thought about my own actions in high school that I saw reflections of myself in her. It wasn’t until I thought about how I treated some of my old crushes or my man currently, that I began to understand what she was feeling about Declan. It wasn’t until I remembered my own melodramas that I’ve lived through–hell, isn’t that what high school is, most of the time?!–before I really comprehended hers.

Sure, a lot of the things Cordelia dealt with, I don’t have much experience with, being straight. My own experiences with anxiety and depression never reached the levels that hers did, though I’ve been close to those individuals who have. So this book was a complex blend of elements I recognized, though it took some reflection to realize the reality of them, and things I had no idea at all about, which helped me open my mind a little bit more.

And that was really neat.

It’s a book that’s not normally my cup of tea, but I’m really glad that I read it. I am really impressed with the way that Amanda wrote a story that made me feel, made me question and made me reflect–hard–to figure out what I felt by the end of it. That is, hands down, the most impressive part about this story. If you are a fan of this genre, I definitely recommend you check this out.

Amanda, I’m so excited for you and that you have your book out in the world. I may not always be the ideal reader for the stories you were born to tell, but I’m so proud of you for telling them. And you know I’ll keep reading them and supporting you, always. 🙂

Read on!


Tales of Aerothos: Knights of the Wolf

What an interesting read.

I mean interesting in a good way (you know how sometimes you use that word when you’re trying to be polite and don’t know how else to do it? Yeah, that’s not how I’m using it here, I just wasn’t sure how to start the blog post and that’s the best I could come up with. It’s almost the weekend, I apologize).

I really enjoyed this book–Tales of Aerothos: Knights of the Wolf by Robert Nugent. For me, Knights of the Wolf was a blend of both enjoyment and promise: I enjoyed what I read, but I’m also excited to continue seeing Nugent and his work grow as he does as an author, considering this is his debut.

My favorite aspect of the novel was how realistic it felt and the way it was told, through a combination of diary entries, snapshots of every day life and the grueling struggles of war. At first, when Dmitry and his Hrukso companions would fight a battle and then return home, I was bit like, “Wait a second, you’re in a middle of a war! You don’t have time to just go home and dilly-daddle about!” Yet as I kept reading, I realized that some wars aren’t fought from beginning to end all in one go, especially when you bring in political complications and hazardous weather/changing of the seasons, like Nugent did. The further I read, the better the book became and I came to appreciate the blend of normality and war that Nugent did. It reminds me, as an afterthought, writing this review, to the same balance Jeff Salyards does with his Bloodsounder’s Arc.


I did find myself wanting a little bit more from the book, though. Occasionally there were large jumps in time where I wished we could have stayed in-scene and been with Dmitry and his compatriots to see what they were up to, instead of catching up through his journal entries. Or I wanted the pace to slow just a tad so we could get a bit more description and scene setting. Or a few times when I though the dialogue could be stronger. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing by any means. The fact that I was wanting more of the story reflects its current strength, already investing me with its characters and the world–and the world itself is very well fleshed out and obviously has a lot of history behind it. It was easy to believe the world we were reading was real, because of that deep history we felt–and because of the very well-detailed description of armor and of war.

My favorite aspect, though?

The ending.

I won’t lie, in the last fight, I was able to call a thing or two. But without spoiling anything, once you reach after that point, you expect a certain ending, if you follow me without following me completely, as to not spoil a book you should go try out for yourself. Instead, the harshness of the Hruskaya’s lives continued and when I read that last line before the epilogue, my immediate reaction was, “Oh, shit.”

It definitely made me eager for a sequel. Oh, most definitely. I’m not sure if there is meant to be one or not, but if there is, I’ll be reading it.

Overall, Knights of the Wolf was a joy to read, even if I had a couple of things I wouldn’t mind being heightened along the way. I really loved how the plot, while focused on the war, also did a good job balancing out and showing the lives that the warriors were fighting to protect. I got a hearty taste of Aerothos that left me curious and wanting for more and, as a reader, I think that’s a pretty good place to be.

Read on!

Red Seas Under Red Skies



Holy fucking shit.




I’m sorry for the spoiler-filled review, but no one else I personally know has read this book and ranting to people who don’t understand and haven’t gone through this emotional ripping-out-my-heart-and-forcing-me-to-watch-it-bleed that is the ending of Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch makes it difficult to talk about, so I’m forced to vent here to at least process these emotions and I can’t do that without expressing the obvious.

You killed her.

Yes, Mr. Lynch, I have to address you directly here, though I know the chances of you actually reading this review are about the same as Jean and Locke ripping off both Stragos and Requin successfully, yet I just feel like this has sort of become personal, almost, so I must address you?* Because you killed her.

Ezri Delmastro.

I mean, of course I knew this was coming, but I dared to hope, you know? As the first flirtations between Jean and Ezri were introduced, I was already cheering for them. After that back-and-forth banter of them arguing fighting tactics and the quoting of different poets, I knew. When the romance finally blossomed, I was all abroad. I was completely and totally invested. I dared to hope. I dared to trust that, as the schemes became more complicated, as the betrayals began to rain in, as the plot continued to thicken and thicken and thicken, I dared to believe that there was an ending where both Jean and Ezri made it out alive.

And you ripped that hope away through fire.

“Gods damn you, Jean Tannen. You make this…you make it so hard.” 

How freakin’ could you.


Of course, I wanted Locke and Jean to pull off their scheme. I wanted them to take down Stragos and completely blow Requin’s mind. Especially after Locke and his crew blew my mind in The Lies of Locke Lamora–and my heart was completely stilled at the deaths of Calo, Galdo and Bug. But then the stakes here, in Tal Verrar, made their schemes in Camorr seem like child’s play. I wanted them to succeed and I was shaking my head in complete awe at how they managed it.

Yet I would have traded all that success for Ezri’s life back.

I’m not sure what it was about her relationship with Jean that invested me to the point where I definitely almost started crying at her death and then I was covered in chills when Jean made his death-offering. I can’t explain why their relationship was so important to me, but it was. And damn if I’m not pissed that it’s over, that she was taken away from him and because of what? Fucking Utgar? Utgar?

As a reader, I am completely and utterly heartbroken right now.**

But as a writer?

All I can do is applaud.

In my review of The Lies of Locke Lamora, I made it pretty clear that that novel is one of my favorite books of all time. Might be the favorite book, after Tolkien. (I’ll also have you note that, in that review, I was also begging the, “How could you,” question at Lynch, so there seems to be a trend starting…) So my expectations were the highest for the sequel. And every single one of them was matched, if not exceeded.

Red Seas Under Red Skies was an excellent sequel.

I will forever adore the way Lynch writes, his interweaving of history and backstory and worldbuilding and plot, twisting through time and events to deliver each piece of information and each bit of action so expertly, to pack the highest punch (I mean, look at how the book started? My heart dropped before I was even five pages in). I love Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen. The humor was amazing and the banter was fantastic and their friendship is incredible. I laughed aloud prolly an equal amount to the number of times I almost threw the book across the room in complete and utter frustration at either what was happening, what was about to happen, or, in a very weird and backwards sense, in a sign of utmost respect and awe at what just happened. The time the pair spent aboard the Poison Orchid was my favorite bit of the entire book. I was so entranced by Drakasha and her crew that, if Jean and Locke became permanent members of their crew and the rest of the books followed their adventures as pirates, I would be completely and utterly content.

You know, after a certain character’s death was erased and she was back aboard as first mate, her entire body whole and intact and most certainly not burnt to a crisp to the point of unrecognition.


Needless to say, I’ll be in a bit of a book hangover for a while. I already own the third book–and after reading that synopsis, I have a feeling my third review of Lynch’s work is going to follow very closely in the vein of the first two–but I think I need to read some other books that (hopefully) won’t cause me to be so…wrecked, afterwards.

Because fucking hell.

Read on!

* Hey, I know it happened, but the chances of their scheme actually working was really slim, you gotta admit that.

** Some of you may be thinking, This is a bit dramatic of a response, Nicole, don’t you think? If you do, then you obviously haven’t read a book before. And you definitely haven’t reach Scott Lynch.

Waiting on Wednesday: Artemis

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday. 

This week’s victim: Artemis by Andy Weir
Publication Date: November 14th, 2017 by Crown Publishing Group

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

34928122Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

I haven’t actually read anything by Andy Weir, but instead are one of those people who’s only seen the cinematic version of The Martian (I know, I know, it’s annoying). Yet I really loved that film. Hearing about Weir’s latest novel, Artemis, I’m really intrigued by the premise and the apparent sci-fi and crime blend it has going on. Considering I want to get into reading more science fiction, I can’t imagine a list of books to read that wouldn’t have this one on it.

Read on!

Waiting on Wednesday: Barbary Station


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday. 

This week’s victim: Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns
Publication Date: October 31st, 2017 by Saga Press

Adda and Iridian are newly-minted engineers, but in a solar system wracked by economic collapse after an interplanetary war, an engineering degree isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Desperate for gainful employment, they hijack a colony ship, planning to join a pirate crew at Barbary Station, an abandoned shipbreaking station in deep space.

But when they arrive at Barbary Station, nothing is as they expected. The pirates aren’t living in luxury — they’re hiding in a makeshift base welded onto the station’s exterior hull. The artificial intelligence controlling the station’s security system has gone mad, trying to kill all station residents. And it shoots down any ship that tries to leave, so there’s no way out.

Adda and Iridian have one chance to earn a place on the pirate crew: destroy the artificial intelligence. The last engineer who went up against the security system suffered explosive decapitation, and the pirates are taking bets on how the newcomers will die. But Adda and Iridian plan to beat the odds.

There’s a glorious future in piracy…if they can survive long enough


So, this book seems really interesting.

I’m not sure if it will have the humor of Zieja’s Epic Failure trilogy or Curtis C. Chen’s Waypoint Kangaroo, but the premise certainly made me think about those two series, which have been my favorite science fiction reads of late (so much so that I continually search for other books that combine hilarious adventures with memorable characters in really deadly situations in space). So perhaps it’s in the same vein. If nothing else, it certainly seems interesting as all hell and it’s written by a female author, which I’m always down for.

So yeah, you could say I’m excited for Barbary Station to come out this Halloween. I’ll be adding it to my To-Read list.

Read on!

Top Ten Tuesday: Crushing on Couples

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, where a different theme is posted each week and book bloggers respond. This week’s theme is: Top Ten Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends. I think I’m going to cheat a little bit on this week’s theme because I’m going to focus on couples that I adore rather than specific characters I have crushes on (because really, if I’ve fallen in love with a couple, you can also bet that it’s prolly because I have a crush on the guy and wished I was the girl).

Faramir and Eowyn
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Why: Faramir is the epitome of an all around good guy. And his relationship with Eowyn, where they found love through healing, is just so wholesome and I never cease to get butterflies thinking about it.

Favorite Quote: And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls, in sight of many. 

Aragorn and Arwen
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. tolkien

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Why: Is there anything more romantic than a woman being willing to sacrifice her own immortality to make her own choices and follow her heart to be with the man she loves? Plus, the attraction of Aragorn isn’t half bad, either.

Favorite quote: I’d rather spend one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.

Elend and Vin
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

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Why: I loved the way they complemented one another and they had to find themselves before they could truly love one another. Their romance felt so real.

Favorite quote: He didn’t know if he’d ever get the answers he wanted. Yet, he was coming to realize that he could love her even if he didn’t completely understand her.

Tavi and Kitai
The Codex Alera by Jim Butcher

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Why: Tavi is just really hard not to root for in every sense, so when he finds someone as amazing, adorable and badass as Kitai, of course they are going to become one of your favorite couples.

Favorite quote: Living was a dangerous past-time, and often quite painful—but there was also such joy in living, such beauty, things that one would otherwise never see, never experience, never know. The risk of pain and loss was a part of living. It made everything else mean more; beauty was more pure, more bright, pleasure more full and complete, laughter deeper, more satisfying—and contentment more perfect, more peaceful.

Cait and Griffin
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet


Why: Cait reminds me of myself, but only when she is being entirely awkward (which is pretty often, to be honest). Now, Griffin…let’s just say out of every man on this list, if I had to make one of them real, Griffin would certainly be it. Because wow.

Favorite quote: His tongue swirls against my skin, and I gasp. His voice rough with passion, he rasps, “You’re living fire. I burn.” 

Bridget and Benedict
The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher


Why: Actually, practically all the men in this book–Benedict and Captain Grimm especially–are high on my list of characters I have a crush on, for one sole reason: their manners. Impeccable. Rare. Utterly attractive.

Favorite quote: You can describe it to them as much as you want. You can write books about what you felt, what you experienced. You can compose poems and songs about what it was like. But until they’ve seen it for themselves, they can’t really know what it is you’re talking about. A few people will clearly see the effect it had on you, will understand that much, at least. But they won’t know.

Pauline and Griffin
Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare


Why: This book–and this couple–was what really got me into regency romance in the first place. Again, I empathize with Pauline and her awkward, bookish nature, and I constantly wished I was in her shoes in almost every scenario where Griffin was also involved (and apparently, the name Griffin is a popular one for swoon-worthy gentlemen who don’t always act like gentlemen (if you catch what I mean; and no, I’m not blushing, you’re blushing)).

Favorite quote: No, no. Not in a mirror. I know how mirrors work. They’re all in league with the cosmetics trade. They tell a woman lies. Drawing her gaze from one imagined flaw to another, until all she sees is a constellation of imperfections. If you could get outside yourself, borrow my eyes for just an instant . . . There’s only beauty.

Sonmi 451 and Hae Joo Chang
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Image result for sonmi 451 and hae joo chang

Why: So, I’m totally cheating on this one, because while I read the book and loved it, I am totally basing my opinions off the characters from of the cinematic version, which are quite different from their original book representation. But I loved Sonmi’s bravery and how Hae Joo was the catalyst.

Favorite quote: I believe death is only a door. When it closes, another opens. If I cared to imagine a heaven, I would imagine a door opening and behind it, I would find him there. 

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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Why: Oh come on, you knew he’d be on this list.

Favorite quote: In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

Yeah, there are definitely some swoon-worthy couples out there and writing this post makes me want to just curl up and get lost in a good romance again. Any of your favorites that I missed? Tell me about why they’re swoon-worthy in the comments below!

Read on!

Waiting On Wednesday: Tempests and Slaughter

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine where we readers salivate over the books we wish were on our bookshelves yesterday.

This week’s victim: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
Publication Date: February 6th, 2018

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.


So, Tamora Pierce is one of my favorite authors of all time. Period. I’ve read every book she’s ever written. Period. In fact, I’m really excited to go out and buy all of her books, just so I can reread them all again (and with this release, I may need to reread them sooner than I originally planned). So when this beauty was announced, combined with that title, that blurb and that gorgeous cover? Yeah, you could say I’m a little bit stoked to enter back into the world of Tortall and be wowed by Pierce once again.


Read on!