Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull


Everything with a beginning has an ending. Any magic that can be done, can be undone. Anything you make, can be unmade.

The Rise of the Evening Star is the second book in the Fablehaven series. It follows Kendra and Seth, siblings that are set to inherit a secret magical preserve that their grandparents run. The problem is another secret society is set on demolishing them to get ancient artifacts. 

I gave the first book an average of three stars, and left it with the doubt that I would ever come back to the rest of the books. Over the passed year I’ve gotten more into middle grade books. When I’m in a book slump or life slump, there’s something about them that brings me a certain comfort. As I figured this out, I found my mind drifting back to Fablehaven and its characters. I wondered how they were doing, if the books got better as many others claim. So I picked it up, and I’m glad I did.

At the end of the first book, everything seemed pretty tied up. I thought the reader and Seth and Kendra finally knew everything the grandparents did. I was wrong. Things that appeared tied up were not, or they were more than it was appeared in the first book. This really brought the book into an interesting place. Also last book a lot of it had them not knowing anything about magic. This time they knew about the magic, but also the grandparents told them more secrets in the beginning. Which also helped the book a lot. I hate plot hooked on secrets. It’s mostly frustrating, and simply makes me uninterested in reading it.

Kendra and Seth continued to grow in this book. I like how they are growing while still being kept their age. Seth acts just like my boyfriend’s nephew which yeah can be annoying, but also lovable. There are also new characters introduced in this book which only serves to flesh everyone out better.

The stakes are getting higher and more intense, and so did my enjoyment of the story. The ending caught me completely by surprise, and I find myself eagerly waiting for my next trip to the library so I can pick up the third book.

4 stars

Book Reviews

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi – Book Review

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“Why did I think I’d be capable of running an entire continent? How did I allow myself to imagine that a supernatural ability to kill things with my skin would suddenly grant me a comprehensive understanding of political science?”

My love for Warner is still strong. That much has stayed consistent throughout the series. But, of course, Restore Me is about many, many other things besides Warner — unfortunately.

I devoured the first three Shatter Me books when they were only a trilogy. I read them all over a weekend, and then re-read them recently with Nicole. She reviewed all three of them before, but now it’s my turn.

Restore Me picks up about sixteen days after the end of Ignite Me, which continues to be my favorite book in the series. We follow Juliette and Warner in the aftermath of taking over The Reestablishment. There were a lot of loose ends to begin with, and some of them were covered, but many were not. I’ll break this down.

The characters: Anyone who’s read this series is well aware that it’s very character driven. The characters make the series worth reading. We still have Juliette, though her character development is doubtful. I still don’t know what to make of her, especially after the ending. I definitely do not trust her to run a nation. My personal favorite, Warner, is still a sweet boy (who’d hate me for calling him that). He claims he never changed, but there’s an obvious change to him, both outside and inside. Aside from the haircut, Warner is learning to be less selfless, and trusting of other people outside of Juliette. We have Kenji, possibly the greatest character ever written. Kenji is everything that’s good with the world, and more. He’s comic relief at its finest, and we finally learn more about his past.

I loved some of the new characters, but I feel like there wasn’t a lot of them outside of Nazeera, who was fantastic. I was grateful for such a wonderful female character, who Juliette actually got along with. I liked seeing more of Adam and James, but other than them, the other characters faded to the background. I found myself missing them, and overall just wanting more.

The plot: I was very intrigued by the sudden world-building drawn out. There was a lot of explanation about the world, and the leaders of the different continents. However, there wasn’t much expansion of some pressing issues because the romantic drama kept getting in the way. Then I realized what series I was reading, and I wasn’t angry about it. Basically, there were a lot of plot holes, but Warner’s hot, so all is forgiven.

The romance: The love I have for Warner runs deep. Juliette is okay. I fear that the roles have switched between him and Juliette. I thought it was natural the way he closed off from her. There was a big reason for that. I didn’t think Juliette fought enough to get inside Warner’s head, though. My problem with Juliette is her selfishness. She doesn’t realize how awful she tends to be, and Warner sees her as a perfect woman. There are so many issues with their relationship, but I gotta say, I’m still rooting for Warner’s happiness.

Representation: The anxiety rep was amazing. Suffering from anxiety myself, I can’t explain how incredible it felt to see myself in this book. My anxiety tends to make me feel like a burden sometimes, but seeing it represented so well here made me hopeful. I want the stigmas to be removed, and I think it’s important to incorporate this into stories. There was a trans character, but she was outed without consent by a transphobic character, so heads up for that. Aside from that, there were characters from different countries who spoke different languages, but again, they were far from the focus of the story. I feel like I hardly learned anything about them.

There are trigger warnings for panic attacks, depression, mention of suicidal thoughts, and transphobia.

I still haven’t gathered my thoughts completely. That ending left me breathless. I don’t know what to make of it, but I know that I cannot wait for book five. Or maybe a novella in between? We’ll see.

This weekend we’ll have a spoiler review of Restore Me on our podcast, so look out for that.

4,5 stars

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Princess Kindness Khumalo by Catherine Amandla Clark, Ed. D. – Book Review and Giveaway

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Princess Kindness Khumalo is a children’s book surrounding African history. Kindness is a young girl who is very curious, and throughout the book asks her Mother Khumalo many questions. All the while, Mother Khumalo teaches Kindness about her African culture. There are four stories, and each one has a different message.

The book is full of images of dolls to represent all of the characters, as well as the dolls that belong to the characters. There’s an explanation of the words in different languages. I really liked how much African culture was interwoven into a story of a smart little girl who wants to learn about the world. Kindness wants to be kind, and she wants to be well educated in her culture and the moon and the universe. I thought it was a very sweet book that deserves to be read. It has a strong message of love and acceptance that I think is very important.

Buy it on Amazon.

4 stars


If you’re interested in reading this, we’re having a giveaway starting today. If you want to be entered, all you have to do is comment on this post saying you’d like to be entered into the giveaway. We will pick one winner on 3/20/2018 at 10pm CT. So you have until then to enter. Good luck, everyone!

Personal, Uncategorized

Getting Through the Rough Times

I’ve heard people say, “This book/movie/show got me through a rough time.” I’ve never understood that saying. I am currently going through a lot of depression myself. A lot. I mean, I sleep all afternoon, I refuse to see my friends or leave my house. I don’t have any energy. I don’t even know how I’m writing this down because writing is the last thing I want to do. I’ve tried reading books, but I can’t get into them. Not even Restore Me, and The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza, which were two of my most anticipated releases of this year. I can’t read anything. I just can’t.

Same for TV shows. I’ve stopped watching all of my shows. All I do is play The Office (which I’ve seen at least twenty times) in the background as I fall asleep. I don’t want to see any movies. I’m in that state where nothing, absolutely nothing, makes me happy. And thinking back on it, I don’t think I’ve ever had something I can look back to and say “This thing got me through a rough time.” Nothing at all. When I’m down like this, nothing helps. It’s something I have to deal with until it eventually diminishes, or I die.

I just find it interesting to see so many people getting through rough times when they find something they love. I don’t think I’ve loved anything in a long time. So long, in fact, I can’t remember the feeling. I can’t remember what it felt when I was obsessed with Supernatural and all I wanted to do was live within the fandom. I can’t remember the love I felt for Misha Collins, all those times I met him. I can’t remember how it felt to have a crush — on anyone. I feel completely numb.

Recently, I finished Queer Eye on Netflix. The show was beautiful, and it was something I was clinging to for dear life. I spread out the episodes over a week, so I would have something to come back to. I felt myself getting worse, so I needed that lifeline. But as soon as I finished the season, I was gone. There was no bringing me back to the world of the living. I was a zombie, basically. That’s where I am right now. I don’t count Queer Eye as one of the things that got me through a rough time, because it felt more like it threw me into the rough time. I made myself dependent on some show, and when it ended, I felt lost.

I keep wondering, where are these incredible, magical things that can get me through the rough times? Do they even exist? Or are they just another lie?

Book Tag, Uncategorized

Oscar Book Tag

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Best picture: Favorite book series

Isis: The Penryn & The End of Days series was amazing. I loved the first book, Angelfall, and I loved the conclusion to the trilogy. Angels and badass characters. What’s not to love?

Nicole: The Assassin’s Curse duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke is a new favorite. It has pirates and magic, and is simply perfect.

Best foreign film: Favorite diverse book

Isis: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Gay Mexican boys. Read it.

Nicole: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria. A bunch of diversity set in a magic world.

Best documentary: Favorite nonfiction book

Isis: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Nicole: The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee.

Best actress: Favorite female protagonist 

Isis: Penryn from Angelfall. Again, she kicked butt.

Nicole: Skybright from Serpentine by Cindy Pon. Smart and kickass and loyal.

Best actor: Favorite male protagonist 

Isis: Warner from the Shatter Me series. I cannot wait for Restore Me.

Nicole: Memphis from the Diviners series. I’ve only read the first book so that could change, but I love how he is in that.

Best supporting actress: Favorite female supporting character 

Isis: Lua from At the Edge of the Universe. Although Lua sometimes uses female pronouns, Lua is gender-fluid, but that’s not an option in this tag unfortunately.

Nicole: Samirah Al-Abbas from the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan. She’s always smart and kickass and loyal. I might have a type.

Best supporting actor: Favorite male supporting character

Isis: Prince Robot IV from Saga. Is he a supporting character? I guess he is since he’s a “villain.”

Nicole: Wendell from the Dragonbreath series. He’s so cute and I have a soft spot for anyone with anxiety.

Best screenplay: Favorite standalone book

Isis: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Nicole: I have to say Iron Cast by Destiny Soria.

Best director: Favorite author

Isis: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Nicole: I feel like I don’t have one to be honest, but I’ll go with Victoria Schwab.

Best cinematography: Best worldbuilding

Isis: I don’t read a lot of fantasy. I guess I’ll have to go with the Harry Potter world.

Nicole: The world in Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is amazing. 

Best costuming: Best cast of characters

Isis: The Shatter Me characters give me so many feelings. I adore them.

Nicole: The Magnus Chase series. I love all of them

Tag people 


Book Tag, Uncategorized

A-Z Book Tag

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A: Author you’ve read the most books from

Isis: Benjamin Alire Saenz. Anyone who knows me knows he’s my favorite. 

Nicole: Ursula Vernon. I’ve read nine of her books.

B: Best sequel ever

Isis: Prince’s Gambit by C. S. Pacat for sure. 

Nicole: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

C: Currently reading

Isis: A Boy Worth Knowing Jennifer Cosgrove

Nicole: The Belgrave Legacy by Zara Hoffman and Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull

D: Drink of choice while reading

Isis: Tea. Usually chai or milk tea are my favorites.

Nicole: I love Dr. Pepper. 

E: E-reader or physical book

Isis: I love physical books but I prefer ebooks for night reading. So, both. 

Nicole: Physical book. I tend to get too distracted with ebooks.

F: Favourite fictional character

Isis: Dante Quintana. No one will ever steal his spot. 

Nicole: Harry Potter. I loved him for so long it’s hard not to say his name.

G: Glad you gave it a chance

Isis: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I don’t usually read romance so I’m glad I read that one. 

Nicole: Serpentine by Cindy Pon. I was unsure of going so fantasy with the main character being a half monster, but I’m glad I did.

H: Hidden gem book

Isis: In Perfect Light by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Everyone should read it. 
Nicole: The Assassin’s Curse duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke. That’s two books, but very worth it.

I: Important moment in reading life

Isis: When I read A Separate Peace and fell in love with reading. Also, first time I shipped two book characters.
Nicole: On the Equality of the Sexes by Judith Murray was the first review I did on this blog.

J: Just finished

Isis: Collecting Secrets by PE Kavanagh.
Nicole: Saga volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan.

K: Kinds of books you won’t read

Isis: High fantasy. Although at times I’ll make exceptions. 

Nicole: Erotic, Romance. There are others but there is always exceptions.

L: Longest book you’ve read

Isis: Maybe Order of the Phoenix, but I’m not sure. 

Nicole: Order of the Phoenix.

M: Major book hangover

Isis: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel gave me a big book hangover. I love that book. 

Nicole: The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight. All I wanted was the sequel. 

N: Number of bookshelves

Isis: Just one that was custom made. 

Nicole: Three. Two medium ones, and one short one.

O: One book read multiple times

Isis: Point Pleasant by Jen Archer Woods.

Nicole: Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling.

P: Perfect place to read

Isis: My bed.

Nicole: My bed.

Q: Quote that inspires you

Isis: “So it goes.” -Kurt Vonnegut

Nicole: “To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.” 
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz

R: Reading regret

Isis: Edge of Darkness by Travis McBee. It was the worst. 

Nicole: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I don’t know why I finished it.

S: Series I started and need to finish

Isis: I want to finish the duology of This Savage Song, which is Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab. 

Nicole: The original Percy Jackson series. I think I have the last two to go through.

T: Three all-time favorites


  • At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz


  • Roll of Thunder, Hear of Cry by Mildred. D. Taylor
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

U: Unapologetic fangirl moment

Isis: Meeting Benjamin Alire Saenz, David Levithan, and Adam Silvera all on the same day. It was the best. 

Nicole: When I meet authors I usually can’t talk. Does that count?

V: Very excited for release

Isis: Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi. Give me all the Warner!

Nicole: A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney

W: Worst bookish habit

Isis: Wanting to read too many books at once, getting overwhelmed, and not reading anything. 

Nicole: Starting and stopping a million books because I get distracted. It results in nothing being done.

X: X Marks the Spot – start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book

Isis: Fat Angie by E. E. Charlton-Trujillo
Nicole: White Cat by Holly Black

Y: Your latest book purchase

Isis: A beautiful B&N edition of Jane Eyre

Nicole: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Z: ZZZ snatcher book – last book that kept you up way late

Isis: Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. So worth the lack of sleep. 

Nicole: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

Author Interview, Uncategorized

Author Interview: Michelle Balge

A Way Out: A Memoir of Conquering Depression and Social Anxiety by Michelle Balge was published yesterday. A Way Out, as the title suggests, is a memoir detailing Balge’s experience with depression and social anxiety. Since her teenage years Balge has dealt with these issues while growing up to become a sociology graduate, web design student, mental health advocate, and animal welfare activist. We were lucky enough to ask her a couple of questions.

What made you decide to write this memoir?

I wrote this memoir in the hopes that it can help those experiencing or who have experienced mental illness, as well as those who have loved ones with their own challenges. I truly want to be able to make a difference and have others understand that they’re not alone.

Who do you hope to reach with this book?

I hope to reach not only those that I mentioned in the previous question, but also those who are just interested in learning more about mental health and illness. There is such a stigma to this topic, that reading from the point of view of someone who experienced it firsthand can perhaps give better insight into what it’s like. I’ve made it as honest as I possibly can, to the point of sharing my most embarrassing stories and darkest thoughts. Although there is dark content, I’ve mixed humour into the book to provide some relief for those who worry it may be too intense.

Do you think this book will be helpful to those in middle of their own depression? Or would it be very triggering?

I think that everyone will be different, which is why at the beginning of the book there’s a content warning stating that there are parts that could be triggering for some people. I think it’s up to the individual person to tell if it’s something they’re in the right place for, or if it may be a bit too much to handle. It could very well be triggering for a person one day, but be the hope they were looking for the next.

What was your writing process like? 

I wrote whenever I had the urge to, which meant my writing ranged from thousands of words a day, to only a couple hundred a week. When trying to force myself to write, the words didn’t come out the way I wanted them to. While writing the darkest parts of my memoir, I had to listen to certain songs on repeat that I would listen to while I was depressed. It would bring my mind back as close as I could to how it used to feel while depressed, but once the music stopped, I could return to the present time. For the hopeful parts of the book, I listened to upbeat music to put the inspiration I felt into the book.

Can you tell us more about being a Mental Health Advocate? What does that entail?

As a mental health advocate, I was the president of a mental health club at my previous university and co-organized many mental health events. For the last few years I’ve been giving talks to students, the community, and professionals, sharing my personal story. In the last few months I’ve had 3 talks, each one a different experience because of the audience. Also, just with everyday conversations, I do my best to talk openly about mental health and illness. I share what I know with friends, family, people online, and now with my book I can reach people around the world.

What do you have to say about the stigma surrounding therapy and medications?

I believe that therapy and medication can be so important for your mental health. If you have a mild or moderate illness it may be better to try therapy and other methods of help before medication, but everyone’s different. Therapy can range from one-on-one talks about your life, to group therapy learning about CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I personally found that group therapy with a focus on CBT for social anxiety was a huge help. Medication has also been a huge help for me. There’s nothing wrong with needing medication, therapy, or both. People need to know that it’s often a combination of things that will help their health improve.

Do you think you will write more books in the future?

I’m not sure if I’ll ever write another memoir, but I would love to write children’s books with a focus on mental health. One of my other big passions is animals, so all the characters would be animals to show people that they have feelings and can actually experience mental illnesses too.

So there you have it! If you want to learn more about what people dealing with these issues are dealing with, or if you want a little hope for yourself, I think this book will be very helpful for you. You can find it here on Goodreads or on Barnes and Noble. Michelle’s website is here.