Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

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Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Release Date: September 21st 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia
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4-5

I want to make it clear that I LOVED THIS BOOK SO SO MUCH.

Moxie is about Vivian, who is sick of the sexist shit that goes down at her high school and feeling inspired by her mum’s 90’s Riot Grrrl feminist zines, decides to make her own feminist zine to fight against the patriarchy and stand up for girls.

As a character, Viv is a bit shy, quiet and is scared of speaking out and getting caught making these zines in the first place. While she is quiet and a bit scared at first, she is also passionate and super realistic! In her journey of creating these zines and accidentally starting a movement, she comes across many people, including those who are close to her, who aren’t necessarily on board with what she’s doing (or what the “creator of Moxie” is doing). Viv doesn’t want to be labelled as somebody who is different or as somebody who stands out, but she still fights for what she believes in which is something I absolutely adored.
Viv’s relationship with her mum was SO-FREAKING-CUTE-I-LOVED-IT. It was SUCH a relief to see a protagonist who has a close relationship with their mother, and seeing their relationship throughout the novel was definitely one of my favourite aspects.

There is a tiny bit of romance in this book and Viv’s boyfriend Seth is understanding, willing to learn and learning to work through things he doesn’t quite understand as he doesn’t know what it’s like to be a girl. Whenever Seth slips up, Viv is quick to talk things out with him and he ACTUALLY LISTENS. He’s such a good ally to the girls, and it was a joy to read about. My only gripe (and it’s not even really a gripe), is that I also thought their relationship was a little unnecessary. While it didn’t take away from the story or the themes, I felt like Seth was almost entirely used as a plot device to explain certain things about feminism. I think Seth as a boyfriend, could have easily been replaced with Seth as a best friend or Seth as a friend, and it would’ve had the same effect.

Naturally, my favourite part of this book was ALL THE FEMINISM. I found myself cheering Viv and the others on, I found myself getting angry (SO ANGRY) but overall I felt so empowered. Moxie honestly bought me back to when I first started learning what it means to be a feminist and I almost want to cry just thinking about how this might teach young people in school what it means to be a feminist and that it might encourage them to branch out and research more.
Moxie addresses things like dress code (which thankfully, isn’t a HUGE thing in Australian public schools as most schools have a uniform), the “not all men” attitude and rape culture which was SO INCREDIBLY EXECUTED OMG.

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While Moxie does have a few diverse characters (there is one black girl, a latina girl and we very briefly learn there are two closeted girls who like girls), I kind of wish there was a bit more intersectionationality. While the author talks about this in the Author Note and while the text does touch on intersectional feminism:

“The night we watched that documentary about Kathleen Hanna, my mom talked about how Riot Grrrl was mostly white girls, and she was sorry they weren’t as welcoming to other girls as they could’ve been. That it was one of the few regrets she had about the whole thing. But that was as far as she’d gone. East Rockport High isn’t just white girls, for sure. I glance over where Kiera and Amaya are sitting. I think about how in this one way, maybe Moxie could be even better than the Riot Grrrls. Even stronger”

I think the author did a good job of discussing it, but I think it just needed to be more present throughout the book to really push the important message across.

Despite having a few minor issues with side character development/depth and showing intersectionality in the text, I absolutely adored Moxie. The feminist issues it addressed were tackled brilliantly, Viv is an amazing and realistic protagonist, I loved the relationships and most of all I love the girl power. There was NO girl hate in this, even with different cliques in highschool, and I was living for it.

Definitely a must-read for girls, guys and non binary pals. Even if you learn nothing new about feminism after reading Moxie, at the very least, it’ll make you happy, angry and feel empowered all at once.

Thankyou Hachette Australia for sending me this book to review, this in no way affected my review or rating

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Welcome to #ShatteringStigmas! (and a personal update)

Hello all!

Welcome to the third year of Shattering Stigmas! Incase you don’t know, Shattering Stigmas is an event discussing all things mental health and mental health in literature, and aims to quite literally, help shatter the stigmas surrounding mental health.

This event is the brainchild of Shannon from It Starts At Midnight and in 2015, she was joined by Inge from Of Wonderland, as well as Kayla who is no longer blogging. When I came across this event on Twitter in 2015, I was ecstatic and I literally started crying at my computer because I was so full of joy that something like this was created by fellow book bloggers. So imagine my joy this year when I’m invited to be a part of it! I’m SO INCREDIBLY ecstatic to be a co-host and if you haven’t seen it yet, my introduction video will be below as I’m doing all of my posts (excluding this one) on YouTube!

Please don’t forget to check out all of my other wonderful co-host’s posts as there will be guest posts from authors, bloggers, reviews and so much more.

Where to find more from #ShatteringStigmas:
– Shannon from It Starts at Midnight
– Inge from Of Wonderland
– Holly from The Fox’s Hideaway
– Vlora from Reviews and Cake
– Taylor from Stay on the Page

The first time I posted about this event was when it started in 2015 and I revealed a little bit about my own personal journey with mental health (you can check that out here if you like!) and today, I’ve decided to share a bit of an update! I’m writing this down in a blog post as while I like to consider myself confident in front of a camera, I find some things a little bit difficult to talk about without crying so here we are instead!

THE BEGINNING (condensed version):
If you haven’t read my previous post linked above, or are just not aware, I’ll give you a brief rundown: I was in an abusive relationship for almost 3 years in which I was emotionally and physically abused and worked through a lot of issues in the years following after I left the relationship. Over the years that followed, I dealt with a lot of grief as well as not treating myself very well. In hindsight, I was extremely self destructive and I’ve come to realise that a huge part of my struggle was trying to love myself as a person again.

AN EPIPHANY:
At the beginning of this year, I had an epiphany of sorts.
Before that relationship, I was lucky enough as a teen that for the most part, I really loved myself. I don’t mean that in a self-absorbed way. I loved myself in a way that I looked after myself, I liked that I was friendly and got on with people, I loved how outgoing I was, I was pretty confident with my appearance in general. Basically, I just knew what self-love was and for the most part, was happy with myself. That relationship changed me. For so long, I literally felt like an empty husk of who I was. I had lost my family and friends (or at least felt like I had thanks to isolation), felt like I wasn’t worthy of them and afterward, I wanted SO BADLY to be who I used to be. The fact is, the “me” now is so fundamentally different to the “me” then, and a huge part of my struggle was learning that while the “new me” may have been different, that didn’t mean I was any less deserving of love, happiness or friendship. I want to make it clear that that isn’t necessarily the “reason” I was so depressed (you don’t even need a “reason” to be depressed or mentally ill), but having that epiphany earlier this year felt like a huge step, even if I had come to accept “now-me” again a few years ago in 2014.

THIS YEAR:
In 2014, I hit my absolute lowest point ever, and then soon after, found myself climbing back up. Since late-April 2014, I hadn’t had a depressive episode until March this year. I was so proud I almost managed THREE WHOLE YEARS without a depressive episode, but in March, I unfortunately hit a low point again. Albeit, it wasn’t my lowest, but it sucked all the same. Since then, I’ve been taking steps to ensure I look after my mental health more, but with various personal circumstances throughout the year, it’s been a little difficult and I’ve had lots of ups and downs. Recently, I’ve also come to realise there are some other things troubling me. I’ve been looking at seeing a psychologist for the first time to potentially get diagnosed for said things. I have an idea of what these things might be, but I also might be way off so I’m hesitant to mention it. I hope to see a psychologist soon, but WOW they are expensive!

Thankfully, my boyfriend is so incredibly supportive of all that I do and anything that I feel. Whether I’m having recurring intrusive thoughts or anything else I currently do, he is always there to reassure me that it’s okay and that just because I am experiencing certain things, does not mean there is something inherently wrong with me.

OVERALL:
I want to get better. Earlier this year, I felt angry at myself for not staying better after almost three years of being well, but while I am for the most part happy and Not Depressed, I’m learning more and more every day about myself and am looking forward to actively getting better in other areas.

Having not ever gone to therapy before, this is all new to me, but I’m ready to take this step toward working things out for myself.

I want to end this on a more positive note, but am honestly struggling a little to put some thoughts into words. I just want whoever is reading this to know, that your experience, no matter how it might differ to other people’s, or even if it’s a “stereotypical” experience, is VALID. YOU are valid and any time you do something better for you, even if it’s getting out of bed when it’s a struggle, any time you eat food, drink water or have a shower, I am so incredibly proud of you and I believe in you.

ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY!

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(Late!) July Book Haul

Hello everybody!

Yes, I am aware it is now SEPTEMBER and that is a very long while after July to be posting my July book haul, however better late than never (arguably???).

While I would usually combine my July and August book hauls in a single video like I have done in the past, it would’ve been SO EXTREMELY LONG and who honestly wants to watch me talk about books for half an hour straight? SO I thought I would do a quick little post with Goodreads links etc included so you can check out whatever books you like to your heart’s content 🙂

I was very lucky this month as I got a teeny bit spoiled by publishers, it was my birthday month AND I got some books from friends as well!

For Review:

Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy (Thankyou Bloomsbury Australia) – Add it to Goodreads
No Filter by Orlagh Collins (Thankyou Bloomsbury Australia) – Add it to Goodreads
I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson (Thankyou Hardie Grant Egmont) – Add it to Goodreads
In The Dark Spaces by Cally Black (Thankyou Hardie Grant Egmont) – Add it to Goodreads

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As July was my birthday month, I was spoiled rotten by my stepmum and dad and got the Huda Beauty eyeshadow palette (not pictured but IT’S BEAUTIFUL) AS WELL AS the Slytherin and Ravenclaw editions of Harry Potter! LOOK AT THE PRETTIES (Thankyou to my stepmum, Kelly for enabling my obsession)

Earlier in the year, I had purchased The Summer of Chasing Mermaids from my friend, Rebekah who was unhauling which I am VERY excited to finally have, and she also gave me an ARC copy of The Eternity Cure as I am an obsessive Julie Kagawa fan and needed it for my collection! THANKYOUUUUU!

From friends and family:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Slytherin edition) by JK Rowling – Add it to Goodreads
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Ravenclaw edition) by JK Rowling – Add it to Goodreads
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler – Add it to Goodreads
The Eternity Cure (ARC!) by Julie Kagawa – Add it to Goodreads

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I PERSONALLY think I was quite well behaved in July with purchasing books and only got two! After weeks of looking in my local bookstores for When Dimple Met Rishi, I FINALLY got my hands on it in July, and I decided to also pick up The Handmaid’s Tale!

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – Add it to Goodreads
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood –  Add it to Goodreads

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Sooo there we have it! All the lovely, lovely books I got my hands on in July!
If you haven’t already, make sure you check out my August book haul here as well!

Have you read any of these books yet? Are you eager to? What did you think?!
Let me know in the comments!!

 

Take Three Girls Blog Tour

Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
Published on 29th August 2017
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Buy from the Publisher

4-5

I received this book for free from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When I first heard about this, I was so incredibly excited to get my hands on it as not only is it written by three incredible #LoveOzYA authors, but it tackles feminism, identity, bullying and friendship!

Take Three Girls follows three girls (funnily enough) named Ady, Clem and Kate as they go through Year 10 at an all girls school in Melbourne. Ady is a day student who is part of the popular crowd, but we see her questioning popularity and her relationships. She also has a shitty home life that she keeps utmost secret. Clem is one of the boarders and a member of the school swim team, until she ends up taking time off for an injury and realises that swimming is not all of who she is as a person while getting involved with the wrong boy. Another one of the boarders, Kate, is not only incredibly intelligent, but incredibly in love with music. She plays the cello and starts to discover that your dreams can change. Ady, Clem and Kate all end up bonding after each becoming victim to vicious rumours spread by a student run gossip site and we get to see their friendship with eachother develop while learning more about each of them as people.

(Can I just say that the above descriptors of each of the girls are SUPER BASIC and there is so much more to each of them, but I really want to push you to read this book so I’m leaving it at that, soz)

Basically, each of the characters were incredibly different and had unique voices and I found it so hard to choose a favourite! (So I’m not going to, you can’t make me!)

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Despite romance not actually being a huge deal in the book (friendship took precedence which I LOVED SO MUCH), each of the girls face new romantic relationships and all of them are unique and done brilliantly. There is also bisexual representation in Ady which I LOVED to see and while I don’t have a say in how the rep was handled, I feel like it was done beautifully and it felt authentic! Clem’s love broke my heart, but I found myself relating the most to her. The guy she’s unfortunately fallen for is a B A D E G G, but as Clem is head over heels, she doesn’t realise that she can do SO MUCH BETTER than him. Kate on the other hand, ohhhh I won’t go into much detail, but for those who have read this book, I am SO glad where things ended up going and the growth she experiences in her relationships is so beautiful.

While the plot doesn’t actually have much going on as this is such a character driven novel, the actions that did take place were so intriguing and felt true to the characters and their development. Seeing their friendship grow and seeing each of them learn more about feminism were HUGE highlights for me, and I absolutely adore how the topics were explored!

In conclusion, Take Three Girls was a wonderful read with feminism and friendship as the heart of the novel, I highly recommend this to anybody looking for a contemporary read. I read this in only a few sittings and it has easily become one of my favourite #LoveOzYA novels of the year!

Make sure you check out the other tour stops too 🙂

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Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett

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Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett
Release Date: March 9th 2017
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
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4star

Following Ophelia intrigued me enough to want to request it for review, however I wasn’t sure how I would go considering I know next to nothing about art in general, let alone anything about the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood. Thankfully, for fellow readers like myself, Following Ophelia is not only fascinating, but very well written and I didn’t find it confusing in the slightest!

This book explores the life of Mary Adams who moves to London to become a maid and to follow her cousin Harriet’s footsteps. Mary soon realises that she isn’t a very good maid and hates her job, but thankfully, she ends up stumbling into the London art scene by reinventing herself as Persephone Lavelle and she becomes an artist’s muse after being inspired by Lizzie Siddal.

From the very beginning, you start to fall in love with Mary as a character. She’s young, a little naive, and just absolutely in love with the world. Once moving in with the family who hired her, she finds her world expanding beyond the small village she grew up in with her abusive father and siblings. While not exactly a fan of being a maid (who could really say they would be though tbh), she becomes a “new” woman, Persephone, and ends up going to parties, meeting new people and going new places around London. Despite becoming Persephone and being exposed to more of the world, Mary never loses her charm or her kindness and while she learns more about herself, she doesn’t lose other parts of herself either, which is quite frankly, one of my favourite things about her character. I also loved how much she questioned the patriarchal society and how frustrated it made her. The arrogance of the men surrounding her frustrated ME although I know and understand that’s just how it was back in the 1800’s.

While you don’t see a lot of it, the relationship between Mary and her cousin Harriet is one of my favourite things about this book and I also really love the growth of the relationship between Mary and the other maid, Annie. I won’t go into too much detail into the relationships between them as I really think it’s something you should read yourself if you end up picking up this book!
The romantic relationship between Mary and Felix on the other hand, was something I could totally get on board with, but struggled to *really* get behind. I just wish we had seen more of the two interacting beyond stolen glances and Felix painting as Mary modelled. We know they kiss lots, but we don’t often see many of the pair’s interactions as they happen, rather we hear about them from Mary’s perspective after the fact (this might really appeal to some readers though!).

The world was portrayed beautifully, and this is really a product of excellent writing. Sophia Bennett describes each location with enough imagery, but not in *too* much unnecessary detail! The art is described so vividly and beautifully, I ended up intrigued enough several times while reading, to look up each of the art pieces mentioned just so I could learn more about them and see what they actually look like!

The plot itself was much better than I anticipated (admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to expect given the synopsis), it’s very much character driven, however with the well developed characters and relationship growth between so many of the characters, Bennett delivers a compelling plot which had me feeling an array of emotions.

Overall, Following Ophelia was an excellent and surprising novel with an unexpected plot twist! The characters were easy to love (even the ones you disliked!) and the way Sophia Bennett writes both her world and her characters is wonderful, fun and incredibly vivid. If you like historical fiction and don’t mind character driven novels, I definitely recommend Following Ophelia!

(I also just discovered the sequel comes out really soon and I’m SO HAPPY I don’t have to wait too long!)

Thankyou Hardie Grant Egmont for sending me this book to review, this in no way affected my review or rating

Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu

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Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu
Release Date: May 2nd 2017
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
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4star

Apologies in advance for the nonsensical, badly written review! It’s 1am and I can’t really express my love for this book AND write about it in well-written sentences.

Put simply, Four Weeks, Five People follows five teenagers attending a summer wilderness therapy camp. Stella has severe depression, Andrew has anorexia, Clarissa has OCD and anxiety, Mason has Narcisstic Personality Disorder, and Ben has Depersonalisation disorder (and I think he also has Bipolar disorder, although I can’t be sure!). Having only suffered from Depression myself and having not dealt with any of the other disorders represented in the book, I can’t speak for the representation, however I felt all of it was handled sensitively, realistically and mental illness in this book was NOT romanticised (yay!)

Four Weeks, Five People was SO EASY to read! While I *technically* started this book at the end of April, I really didn’t have time to read at the time, so when I picked it up again, I read the entire book in almost one day. No joke, I read about 150 pages in one sitting and it felt like no time had gone by at all, it was completely unputdownable and each of the characters had me entirely captivated.

As there are five viewpoints, I was admittedly a little worried at first, however Jennifer Yu did a wonderful job of making each character’s voice unique and I found it easy to switch between characters as frequently as the book did. Each chapter was incredibly quick/easy to read and I enjoyed almost everyone’s point of view (except for Mason, who I just did not like in general).
I absolutely adored the rest of the characters and I found Stella to be particularly refreshing as she was so outspoken, snarky and generally pissed off at the world. Admittedly, Stella did say some pretty shitty/offensive things, they were quickly challenged by other characters in text which I REALLY appreciated, and despite being incredibly stubborn, Stella was incredibly understanding of others and apologised when she messes up.

Andrew was probably my other favourite character and I wanted to hug him/be his friend so badly.  We see the very beginning of his eating disorder recovery and while I’ve never had an eating disorder, it felt authentic and was incredibly emotional to read (I admit, most of my tears were caused by Andrew).

As this is a book about recovery, I wasn’t too sure what to expect because let’s be real, recovery doesn’t just happen in four weeks or less. It’s a long road, full of ups and downs and you might have lots of good days, but also just as many bad days. It’s not straightforward, and as someone who considers themselves recovered from depression, my mental health is still something I work at EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. This book didn’t try and pretend the characters would be 100% better by the end, it’s repeatedly drilled into you that four weeks is NOT a very long period of time and I was completely okay with this! If you’re expecting a shit tonne of character development or recovery from them in Four Weeks, Five People, you’ll be disappointed. The characters certainly experience growth and learn things, but at the end of the day, they are still all in recovery and this therapy camp just happens to be a part of their recovery, not the end of it.

There was also a little bit of romance, which while I was okay with, I’m glad it didn’t overshadow everything else. As a result of said romance, there’s also a big part where Stella basically says romance is not a cure for mental illness and you shouldn’t rely on romance to help you. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS PART??? I was half cheering her on when she was saying this (although a lot of what Stella says comes across as an attack, I STILL LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS – also Stella is still pretty awesome in general tbh)

While I loved this book overall, I do wish we got to see some things from other people’s perspectives, instead of seeing certain events unfold from another’s eyes (I won’t go into detail, because spoilers!). However, I think this just made me want more from the story as a whole and I’d love to read the backstories (or futures) of a lot of the characters because I felt so attached to them!

Four Weeks, Five People at it’s core is a story about recovery and all that can encompass it. Beautifully written with memorable characters, I absolutely loved this book so incredibly much and flew through it in a day.

Thankyou Harlequin Australia for sending me this book to review, this in no way affected my review or rating

A Court of Mist and Fury

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury
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4-5

I want to quickly mention that I’ve procrastinated writing this review for A WHOLE YEAR. I am really shit when it comes to writing reviews about books I enjoy and I just put it off completely. I also want to mention this review contains LOTS OF SPOILERS!! I normally write spoiler free reviews, however this one is most certainly not one of those.

Okay, onto the actual review…

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Sarah J Maas’ books. I for one enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses a lot more than Throne of Glass, and while I loved certain aspects of the ToG series, I also despise some of the sequels for various reasons. I originally went into A Court of Mist and Fury very hesitantly due to this love-hate relationship and due to my scattered thoughts in regards to her other sequels. Thankfully, I was not disappointed and ended up enjoying this installment even more than the first one!

In ACOTAR, I didn’t particularly care for Tamlin or Rhysand, I only cared about Feyre and what was happening to her. In ACOMAF, I completely fell in love with Rhysand as a character despite the shitty things he did in ACOTAR and I loved getting to know him as a character and I found him incredibly caring and selfless in addition to being arrogant and charming. Despite being utter trash for Feysand, I do have one huge glaring issue with Maas’ books that I need to point out. Sometimes, I really despise how she treats her characters. In order to get us to fall head over heels for a new love interest, she completely demonises the other without allowing any sort of in between feelings. Like, I get that we should get used to the new love interest, and it can be of the MC’s development etc etc, I really do understand that. However making one character be a complete piece of shit just to place another on the pedestal, kinda pisses me off. I just feel like Maas gives us no choice in who to ship and sometimes things feel unnaturally shoehorned in for the sake of this.
THANKFULLY, I didn’t give a shit about Tamlin in the first place (Chaol in ToG is A WHOLE OTHER STORY – my poor baby), however to this day, I still don’t 110% hate him. What Tamlin did was undeniably shitty, however I also won’t blindly hate his guts just because that’s what the narrative told me to do.

*ahem* MOVING ON.

The worldbuilding in ACOMAF was undeniably beautiful and was easily one of my favourite aspects of the novel (apart from the smut because I do like the occasional smutty scene). Delving into other areas of Prythian, imagining the wonder of the Night Court and learning about other more, despicable beings was an absolute joy and added so much depth to the story that I didn’t know I craved from the first one. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the worldbuilding in ACOTAR, however I found ACOMAF added so many more layers I didn’t realise I wanted to read about, until they were there.

I also loved the new characters introduced. The Inner Circle was an absolute joy to read about and each of them are also so distinctive to one another. Cassian alone is one of my favourite characters, I loved his arrogance, his banter with the others, how much he cares for EVERYBODY else, and I love his snarky attitude. Cassian is honestly a breath of fresh air despite seeming like another typical, arrogant fae. I also adore Amren, and Tarquin. Tarquin in particular because he is so different to the other characters we’ve come across, AND I MAY HAVE CRIED WHEN HE SENT THE BLOOD RUBIES. I just want the Summer Court and the Night Court to be friends so badly and Tarquin is totally underrated as a character.

The plot in ACOMAF is honestly, a little non-existent although that’s not to say that nothing happens. Plenty of things happen, and I still found it to be an incredibly entertaining and enthralling installment. There is essentially a bunch of filler type events that occur rather than a solid plotline, although as I said, I’m totally okay with this as I still found it SO MUCH FUN to read!

Overall, while it seems like I have a lot to complain about, I really did love this installment. I didn’t expect to enjoy it more than ACOTAR considering I found ACOTAR to be leagues above TOG in the first place, I am so incredibly glad this exceeded my expectations because I loved every second. (Also THAT ENDING UGH)