The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-0.5)The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

#BecRereads2018

These are well-written, captivating novellas, and I’m a big fan of reading them prior to starting THRONE OF GLASS, though I know I’m in the minority here. The majority of readers recommend you read book one and/or two before you visit these novellas, but I like reading this series best in chronological order, which starts with 0.1.

Now, that being said, if you are wanting to try out this series and aren’t quite sure, or aren’t a huge fantasy reader, please follow everyone else’s suggestion and start with book one (THRONE OF GLASS), as I don’t want to turn you off to the world before you even get to the first full book. I don’t think that will happen, but since some people prefer full length novels, this is definitely a non-traditional approach to entering the world.

These 5 novellas are all captivating in their own ways. They introduce characters and locations that you don’t have the opportunity to see right away if you start with book one. Also, each novella has a purpose, with a clear beginning, middle, and end, so it’s not like some novellas you read where nothing really happens other than following around a favorite character. Each has its own purpose and story, but they combine nicely into one novel, which sets you up for what you’re going to read when you crack open THRONE OF GLASS. In fact, some of Celaena’s backstory is so key to who she is at the start of book one, that it really helps me to understand her and her choices. She’s all wrath and hard edges, and while I enjoy that, I especially appreciate understanding why.

If you are a fan of this series and haven’t yet tried the novellas (gasp!), then you are really missing out.

Book 364 read in 2018

Pages: 448

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Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

Puddin' (Dumplin', #2)Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an okay read, with a lot of diverse characters and interesting relationship dynamics, especially in regards to the friendships between the girls and women in this story. It did take me a bit of time to find a groove at the start, especially with the multiple POVs. I had trouble settling in with the characters and placing them for some reason. In fact, I mixed some of the girls up in the beginning, which led to some general confusion.

Also, I don’t know what went wrong for me in the last 1/2 of the book, but I really started to lose interest. It just didn’t capture me, and I kept zoning out and rewinding. It wasn’t that the story was completely boring. It’s just that there wasn’t enough action and tension to keep my attention. I think maybe the storyline started to drag, and the characters just weren’t showing as much growth and development as I’d hoped for.

I remember not wanting to put the first book down, and that just wasn’t the case with this story. I even found myself wishing it would hurry up and end, so I could start something else. I guess I just didn’t take to the really slow pace and meandering plot. It’s also pretty predictable, which may have been part of the problem, so don’t expect any twists or surprises with this one.

And sometimes it’s just a bit too preachy for me. The more I think about this and identify things that didn’t work for me with this story, the more I decide to drop my rating. I’m going to let it stand at 3 stars, since I round up anyway, but it may even be more of a 2.5 for me, which I’m pretty sad about.

Book 351 read in 2018

Pages: 448
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Pride by Ibi Zoboi

PridePride by Ibi Zoboi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a slam poetry remix of Pride and Prejudice, set in Bushwish, a low-income neighborhood in Brooklynn, which is a recipe for success. It’s full of fascinating characters, and it sticks closer to the original story than most of the other YA P&P retellings I’ve read. You’ll definitely see the overlaps, and Zuri is a strong MC.

My only complaints are that I would have liked to feel even more invested in the story than I did, especially in the second half, and the relationships fell a bit flat as the story progressed. It was trying so hard to stick to the P&P storyline, that it lost a bit of believability, in terms of the emotion and angst that should have existed. This may have been because of the writing style, which felt it lapsed into too much telling after a time and not enough showing.

Still, it was an interesting read, and a solid attempt at a P&P retelling.

Book 346 read in 2018

Pages: 304

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The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Serpent KingThe Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

#BecRereads2018

I thought it wouldn’t gut me as bad the second time through. But it did.

11 stars and a moon. Such a beautiful and well-written story.

Book 347 read in 2018

Pages: 384

PREVIOUS REVIEW:
This book arrived in my March 2016 OwlCrate Box, and I’m pleased it did. Otherwise, I might not have been aware of it or gotten around to reading it for months, or even years. This story is just too good to ignore for that long.

Dill lives in a small town, in the bible belt, and everything sucks. He’s the only child of a Pentecostal minister who has been imprisoned–no, not for handling dangerous snakes or making his congregation drink poison to show their faith, but for possessing pornographic materials depicting minors–and a religious fanatic mother who blames Dill for the family’s hardships, severe debt, and poverty. Dill’s Dad is notorious, and both the ex-church community and the local community are equal parts angry, ignorant, scared, and judgmental.

The beautiful part of this story is that Dill has two very unexpected friends, and the three of them together make this one of the most interesting, lovable, and heartbreaking contemporary novels I’ve read all year (and in case that doesn’t sound convincing, I’ve read 118 books so far this year, almost all YA).

It’s told in 3 POVs, including Dill, and his two friends, Travis and Lydia. Each has a unique voice and different perspectives on life, their small town, and what the future holds.

I love these characters, and I wish I could have known them when I was 17. I love this story, and it left all my edges raw and frayed. I love the writing, because the way Jeff Zenter builds a story, sculpts the setting, and makes you understand and fall in love with the characters in just a page, a sentence, or even a word, is incredible. It’s also different from almost everything else I’ve read so far this year.

This book gets 5 stars on Goodreads and Amazon, but it’s 10 stars in my heart.

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