Book Review: THE GLASS SPARE by Lauren DeStefano (Owlcrate Book November 2017)

“The Glass Spare”

The Glass Spare #1

by Lauren DeStefano

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Wanting nothing more to explore the world and wander, like the life her mother once led, Wil dreams of freedom but as a spare heir, she doubts the king will ever give her a mission beyond their kingdom. Then tragedy strikes as she develops a power to turn whatever living thing she touches into gems. Forced to flee her kingdom, Wil must now navigate the world while trying to find a way to break her curse.

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7 Great Things about THE GLASS SPARE by Lauren DeStefano

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Midas Touch

Lauren DeStefano’s “The Glass Spare” appears to be inspired by the Greek myth of King Midas who turned everything he touched into gold. In “The Glass Spare,” the main character Wil is cursed, turning anything living into a gem upon touching it. Obviously this kills whatever she touches and sadly only takes a few seconds to be devastating. While a curse to her, many others see her as a viable asset for unlimited riches.

2. Curse

The main differences between King Midas in the Greek myth and Wil’s character in “The Glass Spare” is that King Midas wishes for his powers while Wil is cursed with it. Loom is another character who is also cursed in “The Glass Spare” but we learn that he committed a crime and was therefore cursed. Wil was born with her curse and the great mystery is why.

3. Siblings

Wil and her two brothers, Owen and Gerdie, are absolutely heartwarming together. All three of them confide in one another and look out for each other in a way that I wish all siblings could. Sadly though, their other brother does not share their bond and actually appears to have a deep hatred for all of them, especially Wil. Regardless, DeStefano portrays loving sibling relationships in “The Glass Spare” that are based on trust, respect, love, gratitude, and healthy boundaries. Serious sibling goals.

4. Tragedy

Sadly, Wil’s curse causes the death of a beloved brother and it was heartbreaking. Wil struggled with blame and survivor’s guilt, both being understandable for how things went down. Interesting though is that through that event, she comes to realize that her father loves her more than she believed. He does not even attempt to kill her but rather banishes her because he does not have it in him to kill his daughter. Of course, the whole situation could have been avoided if he hadn’t ordered Wil on a dangerous mission to begin with.

5. Characters

“The Glass Spare” is rich with different characters, each with unique backgrounds, goals, and personalities. You have an exiled prince who is cursed and willing to sacrifice his life for those he loves. Then there is Zay, his wife, who is a powerful warrior, fierce mother, and loyal friend. Gerdie, Wil’s brother, who doesn’t allow his physical limitations to define him and is a genius, especially with alchemy. Even the bad characters are interesting as we try to figure out their end game for Wil.

6. Ruling

Both Loom and Wil show incredible responsibility and understanding of what it actually means to rule a kingdom. They both realize that when kingdoms go to war, it is the people that suffer the most. It’s not about the money spent from the treasury or the land or goods that may be obtained from winning, it is the people who pay the price on both sides and nothing materialistic is equivalent to a life. Loom and Wil love their kingdoms and only want what is best for the greater good. They both learned empathy through suffering and would make better rulers than their parents.

7. The Cursed Sea

The story of Wil and Loom continues and concludes in The Glass Spare book 2: “The Cursed Sea.”


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Book Review: I HOPE YOU GET THIS MESSAGE by Farah Naz Rishi (Owlcrate Book October 2019)

I Hope You Get This Message

by Farah Naz Rishi

Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary: As Earth is put on trial for their crimes, humans face possible extinction in just a few days. As their days are counting down, everyone begins to question what is important to them and how they would like to spend their last days. Jesse continues on with his life of crime and conning but comes to realize that love is worth more than money. Following her mother’s wishes, Cate takes off in search of her father but finds herself instead. And Adeem tracks down his sister and truly comes to realize the importance of family.

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8 Interesting Things about I HOPE YOU GET THIS MESSAGE by Farah Naz Rishi

1. Minorities

I Hope You Get This Message focuses on 3 different characters, all from different situations, backgrounds, and areas but all 3 of them are part of a minority group. Jesse is part of the LGBTQ community. While the book does not explore whether Cate has any mental illness, she is part of that community being the caretaker of her mother who is mentally ill. And then Adeem is a Pakistani-American Muslim boy. Throughout the book there is mention of the difficulties that each of them experience due to being part of their minority such as Adeem often having people start speaking spanish to him due to his complexion.

2. Earth

Earth in I Hope You Get This Message is actually our world with a twist. It is revealed to be the location of an experiment, the experiment being us, the human race. We were created by the Almaens to test the viability of using planet Earth as a new home. I Hope You Get This Message opens with the Almaens debating whether to shut the experiment down and kill all the humans or to allow the experiment to continue and risk the humans possibly destroying planet Earth.

3. Crimes Committed

Essentially, humans are put on trial for the crimes of destruction of environmental resources, abuses of its own people, neglect of preservation and sustainability for future generations, armed attack and devastation without provocation, subjugation and slavery of free-thinking organisms, disruption of the peace, and elimination of a people’s right to self-determination. We would be found guilty without a doubt. This is a neat way for a novel to bring up our current issues of global-warming, war, waste, etc.

4. Mental Illness

Rishi touched upon so many important problems in our society and one of those is the stigma and isolation that people experience with mental illness. And it is not just those that directly experience mental illness but also their caretakers. As Rishi showed in I Hope You Get This Message, caretakers may be ashamed to share and process with others what they are dealing with and contribute to their own sense of isolation and shame, which could negatively affect their own mental health.

5. LGBTQ

Another societal problem that Rishi touched upon in I Hope You Get This Message is that of the acceptance of those within the LGBTQ community. So many who identify as LGBTQ are ostracized, bullied, threatened, harmed, and/or killed in their communities simply for being who they are. While Rishi does not go too deep into the darkness surrounding this issue, she does show how crucial it is for the family of origin to accept any family member who does identify as LGBTQ and how painful it can be if it is perceived as unacceptable.

6. Children Taking On Responsibility

Through the 3 main characters, Rishi shows the negative outcomes that may arise in children who end up having to take care of their parents while they are still children. The best example in I Hope You Get This Message is of course Cate who is seen trying to convince her mother to take her pills, explaining her mother’s bizarre behavior to neighbors, and lying to the police to cover up how ill her mother actually is. This of course causes Cate to feel guilt and shame when she isn’t at her mother’s side all the time, selfish if she wants to do something for herself separate from her mother, and overall anxiety about life and the future. Not at all healthy.

7. Connected

One of my favorite things about I Hope You Get This Message is that the 3 main characters were connected in the end. While it appeared that the only connection was going to be them crossing paths in Roswell, their connections to each other went deeper than that.

8. Hope

Thankfully each character got their own version of “happily ever after.” While it may not have been what they set out to find, it is what they needed in the end. Having the book end without showing the outcome of the Almaens decision allows the book to end positively with the reader hoping that the light remains and their world continues.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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Book Review: THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE by Kayla Olson (Owlcrate Book June 2017)

The Sandcastle Empire

by Kayla Olson

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Day Zero changed everything. As land started being swallowed by the sea, the poor rose up against the wealthy through a group known as the Wolves. Those that survived, now live in work camps and continue to be at the mercy of the Wolfpack. But Eden refuses to live another day as a prisoner and makes an escape. As she and three other girls sail to find Sanctuary, they come to realize that the Wolves’ claws are further reaching than they thought and that Sanctuary may not be the safehaven they hoped for.

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5 Superb things about THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE by Kayla Olson

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Our World

The world that Olson imagined is actually our world in the future. It mirrors a lot of what is currently going on and also where many of us are afraid we are headed. One of the main parallels between the novel and our current world is the top few controlling the world, and all its resources. So instead of doing the best for the majority of humanity, decisions are based on what is best for the few at the top.

2. Moving On

One of the themes seen in The Sandcastle Empire is that of moving on. While moving on does not entail forgetting loved ones that have passed on, it does involve giving yourself permission to live even though they cannot. Eden struggled with this as she began to develop feelings for Lonan since her past love was killed during the revolution. Both Eden and Lonan have obvious survivor’s guilt but were able to ultimately embrace their feelings for each other and step closer to healing.

3. Not a True Wolf

Just as there were Nazi’s during WWII that did not agree with the teachings, beliefs, goals, and plans of the Nazi party and simply went along to save themselves and/or their loved ones, Olson included a character who did much the same in the Wolfpack. Alexa never intended on hurting anyone and went along with the Wolves in order to be able to help her boyfriend Cass who was targeted by the Pack. Of course, the natural consequence of this is that others cannot read your mind and therefore don’t know what your true intentions are and then become distrustful of you. It can really backfire as Alexa found out in The Sandcastle Empire.

4. Descriptive

The Sandcastle Empire is full of vivid descriptions of the beautiful scenery that Eden comes across during her journey. No matter the horrors that Eden lives through, she is still able to recognize the awe of nature around her and enjoy it. She doesn’t take anything for granted. Olson also does an amazing job of describing Eden’s feelings to the reader in a way that is powerful and at times emotional.

5. Technology

Olson really ran with her imagination when creating the technology that is seen in The Sandcastle Empire. Better still, they seem entirely possible in the future as we come to understand physics, DNA, and the brain more. There were so many cool and terrifying things such as beetles that targeted blood, a procedure that allowed a person to be controlled remotely, and vines that trapped you and then created life-like nightmares that were personally tailored to the victim’s worst fears. Hopefully we don’t make any of these but focus rather on creating things that could save us and the planet as Eden’s father did.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

Book Review: THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert (Owlcrate Book February 2018)

“The Hazel Wood”

The Hazel Wood #1

by Melissa Albert

Nikki’s Rating: 4 out of 10

Summary: Bad luck seems to follow them wherever they go so Alice and her mom, Ella, are constantly on the move. When her grandmother, the famous author Althea Proserpine, dies, Alice thinks their curse may be broken. But then Alice begins to notice characters from Althea’s fairy tales all over New York and they are definitely up to no good. And when the kidnap Ella, Alice has no choice but to make her way to the Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s hidden estate and the one place Ella told Alice never to go to.

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4 Honorable Things about THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Fairy Tales

The fairy tales within “The Hazel Wood” are not our known fairy tales. Instead, they are unique stories, with some of them actually being featured in “The Hazel Wood” novel. They also tend to be rather dark and twisted like many of our original fairy tales, not the Disney versions. For example, one fairy tale features a cold, spoiled princess who turns to ice and kills people or Twice-Killed Katherine who sucks the vitality and life out of others to remain young.

2. Mother & Daughter

While I am a HUGE fan of romance, it was a bit refreshing that “The Hazel Wood” was not focused on a couple. Rather it was a story about a mother and daughter. What made it even more special is that Alice finds out Ella is not her biological mother and yet realizes that blood doesn’t matter. Ella was a mother to Alice in every sense of the word and will remain in her life as her mother. Although, their dynamic was a bit strange in the sense that Alice would sometimes take on the role of parent to Ella and take care of her, which is not healthy for a child.

3. Fairy Tale Characters

One of my favorite things about “The Hazel Wood” is the concept of the fairy tale characters being “alive.” Obviously this means that bad characters such as Twice-Killed Katherine are alive and sucking the life out of people, which is bad. But overall it is a fun concept and I would have liked to see how different characters adjusted to being ex-Story and what they ended up choosing for their lives, fuck the Spinner.

4. The Night Country

The Hazel Wood series continues in Book 2, “The Night Country.”


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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Book Review: 5 Charming Things about COVET by Melissa Darnell

“Covet”

The Clann #2

by Melissa Darnell

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Being watched by both the Clann and vampire council, Savannah knows that she cannot be with Tristan. To do so would start a war again between the two powerful forces. But as they fight against their love for each other, bodies start turning up and the Clann is screaming for blood. As Tristan tries to maintain order amongst the Clann and save Savannah, he pays the ultimate price for his love.

5 Charming Things about COVET by Melissa Darnell

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Supernatural

The Clann series is filled with the supernatural. Vampires, witches, and “Covet” introduces shapeshifters. The best is that Savannah, being born from a witch and a vampire, has all the perks of being a vampire while also being able to use magic.

2. Best Friends

Anne is Savannah’s best friend and she takes this role very seriously. Not only does she accept Savannah’s tales of the supernaturals as truth, Anne doesn’t think any different of Savannah when she reveals that she is a vampire-witch hybrid. And although she is just human, Anne rushes into the battle between the supernaturals to protect her friends.

3. Tristan

In “Covet,” Tristan Coleman continues to show what an amazing fictional boyfriend he is, he is willing to give up everything for Savannah. Regardless of Clann and vampire council rules, he wants to follow his heart and be with Savannah. He goes so far as begging Savannah’s father to turn him into a vampire, knowing that it would be the end of his current life. He even takes over the Clann, something he never, ever wanted to do, in order to protect Savannah.

4. Vampire

Faced with losing him forever or turning him into a vampire, Savannah thankfully chooses the latter. While not the life she would have wanted for him, this does fix a lot of their problems. Now Tristan is no longer part of the Clann, there is no way for the Clann or vampire council to oppose Tristan and Savannah from being together as they are both vampires. The other success is that now Tristan is immortal and Savannah will not have to face watching Tristan grow old and die, facing eternity alone without him.

5. Consume

With Tristan now a full fledged young vampire with strong magic capabilities, The Clann series continues in Book 3, “Consume.”


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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Book Review: 5 Creative Things about CRAVE by Melissa Darnell

“Crave”

The Clann #1

by Melissa Darnell

Nikki’s Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary: Ostracized by the Clann, Savannah Colbert is just trying to survive high school without drawing the ire of her old friends. But her biggest secret is that she is still in love with her childhood sweetheart Tristan, the future leader of the Clann. As Tristan and Savanna spend more and more time together, they have a harder time denying their feelings. But if they give in to their forbidden love, they risk an all out deadly war between the Clann and vampires.

5 Creative Things about CRAVE by Melissa Darnell

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Supernatural

As a lover of the supernatural, “Crave” was a fun read simply because it featured vampires and witches. It is always interesting to see what myths and legends the author will draw upon for their supernatural world. In The Clann series, vampires are immortal, have increased senses and physical capabilities, can’t eat food, must drink blood, but due to evolution can go out in daylight. They are also descendants of Lilith. I also appreciated that there was a little role reversal as the male protagonist Tristan was the witch and the female protagonist Savannah was the vampire.

2. Tristan

Tristan Coleman is an absolutely wonderful fictional boyfriend! Not only is he charming, thoughtful, and kind to Savannah when they are dating but he was also protective of her before that too. Doesn’t hurt that he is also a hot football player who knows how to do magic.

3. Romeo & Juliet

The Clann is ultimately a retelling of the timeless classic Romeo and Juliet with supernatural beings and taking place in the modern world. Being a hopeless romantic, I loved the premise and I’m really hoping for a happily ever after for Tristan and Savannah.

4. Playlist

Melissa Darnell includes a music playlist in the back of the book featuring songs that go along with each chapter. It’s a fun little bonus to help set the tone and capture the emotions of the characters. Darnell also shows that she has good taste in music, many of the songs were already in my Itunes library.

5. Covet

As things really aren’t going their way, Savannah and Tristan’s story continues on in “Covet,” book 2 of The Clann.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

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Book Review: 7 Becoming Things about BROKEN THRONE by Victoria Aveyard

“Broken Throne”

Red Queen #4.5

by Victoria Aveyard

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: A collection of short stories from the exciting Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. With some of the stories taking place before and some taking place during the events of the Red Queen series, it is a must read for all fans to better understand the world’s history and characters. But most importantly, “Broken Throne” ties up loose ends and concludes the Red Queen series.

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7 Becoming Things about BROKEN THRONE by Victoria Aveyard

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. The Red Queen Series

The Red Queen series as a whole is an enchanting and fun read and it was a pleasure to dive back into the world. “Broken Throne” explores more of the Red Queen series featuring stories from side characters, maps, information, and history from different areas of the continent, and details of the Calore line. All these extra details add more vividness and richness to the world and characters.

2. Our World

The world in the Red Queen series is actually supposed to be our world in an alternate future. A dystopian setting where the continent and people are much changed due to time, global warming, and war. While things ultimately ended up working out in the Red Queen series in the sense that humans actually survived, the series remains as a warning for the damage we are currently doing to our world.

3. LGBTQ

The difficulty and acceptance of being part of the LGBTQ community was a common theme throughout the Red Queen series and “Broken Throne” was no exception. Evangeline Samos is seen struggling with the decision to publicly come out after hiding her preference for females for years. Readers get to witness her internal turmoil knowing the disapproval and rejection she may receive from others, especially her mother. This situation really mirrors the reality that millions of individuals experience in real life as they struggle with their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

4. Iron Heart

“Iron Heart” was one of my favorite short stories within “Broken Throne.” While Evangeline Samos was pretty villainous throughout the Red Queen series, her character changes as the story progresses and readers, as well as other characters in the novels, begin to understand why she was the way she was. Her story in “Broken Throne” continues showing the more human aspect of her as well as the ways in which she is trying to become a better person.

5. Writing

As with all the books in the Red Queen series, “Broken Throne” was well written, fast-paced, and enthralling. As a reader who generally does not like short stories, I was pleasantly surprised that each story was satisfying and enjoyable.

6. Cal & Mare

As a hopeless romantic, my absolute favorite thing about “Broken Throne” was that Mare and Cal found their way back to each other. Seriously, I thought they were going to continue being stupid and not talk about how they felt about each other. Thankfully this did not happen. Cal respected Mare’s wishes of wanting time to heal and sort her feelings out, Cal did not hold it against her or try to make her change her mind. And then when they were both ready, they were able to get their happily ever after with each other

7. The End

This reader was really disappointed with the ending in “War Storm” and feels that “Broken Throne” rectified this. Totally unsure if Aveyard always intended for the ending in “Broken Throne” or if she put it together due to outcry from fans being disappointed with the ending in “War Storm.” Regardless, “Broken Throne” gave the Red Queen series a conclusion that was gratifying, hopeful, and realistic.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

Book Review: 7 Quixotic Things about THE QUEEN OF NOTHING by Holly Black

“The Queen of Nothing”

The Folk of the Air #3

by Holly Black

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Jude Duarte, kingmaker, has been secretly ruling Faerie for five months. Five months of politics, meetings, parties, correspondences, petitions, training, and banquets all while keeping the reluctant High King Cardan, in line and trying to find a way to extend their bargain so she can keep her power. But then Jude finds herself in the Undersea and captive to Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea. With no means to escape, Jude must hope that Cardan tires of ruling without her help and comes to rescue her before he loses the kingdom to his murderous brother Balekin.

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7 Quixotic Things about THE QUEEN OF NOTHING by Holly Black

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. LGBTQ+

The Folk of the Air series features a positive LGBTQ relationship between Vivi and Heather. Thankfully in Faerie there seems to be an overall acceptance for many kinds of love relationships. What this reader appreciated as well is that Black made Vivi and Heather’s relationship believable with problems included. No relationship is perfect, there will be conflict, and the possibility for the relationship to end.

2. Prophecy

Books with prophecies are enjoyable as then the reader gets to guess on how said prophecy will develop or play detective trying to figure out if some of the prophecy has already come to pass. Cardan’s prophecy in The Folk of the Air series was originally interpreted as negative and actually led to Cardan being mistreated all his life. However, the fulfillment of the prophecy was not a bad thing at all but actually very positive for kingdom of Faerie.

3. Mercy

Holly Black keeps a fast pace in “The Wicked King” with political intrigue, deceptions, and manipulations. Readers are left not sure on who to trust While taught by her adopted father, Madoc, to be unforgiving and merciless, Jude showed Madoc mercy nonetheless once he was defeated. This shows immense growth in Jude as a character, she easily could have called for his execution for the crimes of killing her biological parents, practically killing her, and then the crimes against the king. Her mercy also makes sense since she does love him like a father regardless of the spilled blood between them, one can love and hate someone simultaneously.

4. Redemption

The cause of the Ghost’s betrayal was finally revealed and it was a great relief to discover that he was being controlled. Although this reader would really like to know what Locke’s deal was and why he was fucking with Jude. Perhaps he really was just a mischievous asshole who liked to make good stories but what was the end game, what was in it for him? Regardless, the Ghost’s betrayal was forgiven, he redeems himself by rejoining with Jude and there appears to be a blossoming love between him and Taryn.

5. Love

Probably this readers favorite aspect of The Folk of the Air series as she is a sucker for romance, the relationship between Jude and Cardan is exhilarating and frustrating. Both of them have feelings for each other but are both so afraid of rejection and getting hurt that they are constantly As stated above, no relationship is perfect. Cardan and Jude experience major misunderstandings and miscommunications, they are constantly hurting each other because they are afraid and yet they love each other deeply. And in the end, they are able to accept each other regardless of faults, weaknesses, and past hurts. They choose each other and choose love.

6. Writing

Holly Black created a stunning, imaginative world filled with adventure, romance, magic, collusion, humor, and heartache. Black is able to paint a picture with her words without pulling away from the action of the story and keep the reader engaged. “The Queen of Nothing” was a fast-paced novel that was fun and hard to put down.

7. The End

Overall The Folk of the Air series has a happy ending. Cardan and Jude are married and rule Faerie jointly, Madoc is exiled to the mortal lands and Oak gets to see his parents as he likes, Vivi and Heather have repaired their relationship, and Taryn is forgiven her crime and is free of Locke. Faerie is no longer on the brink of civil war, traitors were dealt with fairly, and things are relatively calm and pleasant in Elfhame and the Undersea.


As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. If you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.