BOOK REVIEW: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

midnight sun

Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Series: Twilight Saga (EXTRA)

Serpent & Dove★★★★.5/5

SUMMARY: When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.

REVIEW: Disclaimer…I was a twihard fan back in high school, like had the posters framed and hung above my bed kind of twihard. In a lot of ways, the Twilight saga really opened my eyes to writing. I loved everything about the series (except the first few movies…but that’s a whole other beast of a review). I remember being in a huge reading slump once I finished that series.

I had read the first couple chapters of Midnight Sun when they were leaked and was hooked! I’m so glad that Meyer decided to complete it for us to enjoy. You best believe that I preordered that bad boy right when I found out that it was being released. Now, for the nitty gritty!

I attempted a Twilight reread a couple months back. I couldn’t get over the simplicity of the writing. It just wasn’t as refined as the recent books I’ve read. But it was the first book and her writing has definitely improved since. I found Midnight Sun to be extremely engaging. Almost everything Edward thinks is written down–and being a vampire, he thinks FAST, so there’s a lot to unpack. It’s no wonder that the book is a massive 650+ pages. Literally, I was shocked at the sheer size of the book. It’s not as if the font is big either, so you know there is a lot of content packed into it. Overall, I thought her writing was great and really enjoyed the in-depth look into Edward Cullen’s torn mind.

At times, I felt I was waiting for things to happen for a little too long. Since I was already familiar with the story, there were some key parts that I was itching to get to but sometimes it took forever to get there. This book wasn’t one that I would be able to sit and read it in one go. But still, for nostalgia’s sake, I loved the extra content.

The insight on the background characters was a huge plus. Learning more about the vampire world was definitely intriguing new content. There were little easter eggs in this book that gave me “ohhh, so that’s why that happened…” moments, which were really fun to experience. Example, when Edward explained deeper into Jasper’s special abilities. That part in the Twilight book never really made sense to me. Putting her hair down and her hood on really wouldn’t hide her from a vampire–so that part made a lot more sense to me. Also, I love Emmett! Edward interacts with him a lot during this book and I really enjoyed the times they “conversed.”

Bella Swan: So, in this book, Bella seems so much…deeper. I loved her character in this book more than Twilight. That being said, it might be because it’s the way Edward sees her through his eyes. One thing is for sure, I was never able to picture Kristin Stewart as Bella throughout this book either! Bella had so much depth in her character. She was likable, strong, and overall good (as Edward would put it).

Edward Cullen: So, so much is going through his head. He comes off as dramatic at times, but that’s because he cares for Bella so obsessively. The creeping into her room every night to watch her sleep should have turned me off, but I still thought it was cute (haha! please don’t judge me!). He’s a complicated individual and has subdued himself to the darkest future possible. I literally hated the fact that throughout the entire epilogue, he had basically already decided he was leaving. He kept telling Bella, “forever,” and then adding in his head…until it’s not. I hated New Moon, so the fact that he already had one foot out the door, left a sour taste in my mouth.

In conclusion, if you’re a Twilight fan, then ‘yes’ you should definitely read this. I’m not a big audio book fan, but I think this one would actually be kind of nice to listen to–only because you’re already going to unconsciously picture the movie in your head while you read it (which is what happened for me). While it is a glorified rewrite of Twilight, Midnight Sun offers new content and insight that you’ll enjoy when throwing yourself back into a world of vampires.

Buy your copy of Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer here!

BOOK REVIEW: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Author: Shelby Mahurin
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Series: Serpent & Dove (Originally a duology but now a scheduled trilogy)

Serpent & Dove: ★★★★/5

SUMMARY: Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned. As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage. Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.

REVIEW: Before I start my review, I want to point out a few things. One, shamefully, it’s been almost a year since I’ve finished reading a book, so this is the one that got me out of my slump. Two, I purchased this book purely based on the cover. Three, this is my first book with witchcraft that I’ve read since Harry Potter.

I’ll start with what I loved: This book is about 500 pages–with pretty small font–but it didn’t feel like the book was long at all. The pacing made the story go by so quickly. I’ve read some other reviews that stated the first 200 pages were hard to get through, but personally I really enjoyed the build up. The last 50-100 pages is where I started having a bit of a problem with the pacing, but more on that later. I found the dialogue extremely engaging and enjoyable—it wasn’t overdone or forced.

In terms of chapter formatting, the book transitions between the views of Lou and Reid. I loved both characters and really appreciated getting two points of view. Originally, I’ve never really been a fan of multiple character POV’s, but Mahurin did an amazing job in integrating the story together. It worked because I liked both characters and genuinely wanted to know how they were feeling and thinking.

Overall, the plot was fresh and it kept me engaged. I hope that Mahurin expands on the different witch magics: Dame Blanches and Dame Rouge. The war between the two types of witches is definitely going to be revealed in the next book, and I think it’ll expose even more layers to the magic system.

What I didn’t like: Mahurin had a lot of twists throughout the book, but I saw each of them coming before it happened. All the twists were revealed one after the other, and I found it a bit jarring. It didn’t give me enough time to register them because it literally unraveled within a matter of moments. Since this was originally supposed to be a duology, I think the author felt she had to reveal the majority of the twists this first book so that she could wrap things up in the second. However, now that it is a trilogy, I’m assuming she’s going to be adding a new villain or possibly a betrayal of some sort to extend it. In my opinion, I thought keeping it a duology would’ve been perfect.

Also, the during the climax fight scene, I was really disappointed at the “Big Tiddy Liddy” part. Honestly, it was such a pivotal moment–intense, blood pumping–that fell a bit flat when the author added that in. It really didn’t make any sense to me at all. The buildup was climbing only to be disrupted with that small input. Maybe some people found it funny and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Louise le Blanc: She’s a badass, sassy main character. Despite her insecurities, she has a strong sense of compassion for those she cares about. Her loyalty and ability to draw the people around closer to her is apparent in her fun attitude. She’s definitely a friend that I would love to have. I’m looking forward to seeing Lou embrace her magic and face Morgane head on.

Reid Diggory: As a Chasseur (witch hunter), he’s as pure as it comes. His strong beliefs blind him for the majority of the book, but eventually love wakes him up. Even though his loyalty to Lou wavers for a moment, he subconsciously knew that he couldn’t live without her. I’m hoping there’s more character development for Reid, in terms of personal growth since his entire belief system came crashing down on him.

Coco: Lou’s best friend and confidant. I loved the friendship they shared, and when they interacted it was some of my favorite parts of the books. Coco is the smart, beautiful friend who cares for Lou so much that she would give her own life for hers.

Random thoughts: The author isn’t much of a world builder, in the sense that she doesn’t go in depth in writing descriptions of the surroundings. She’s very minimal. Personally, I don’t mind that because I have a really overactive imagination and was able to picture it in my head, no problem. But for those who really like to get the nitty gritty descriptions of setting, this book does not have that.

Also, Serpent & Dove is categorized as a young adult, but I think it should be considered more of a new adult book. There is one steamy sex scene. It’s not overly graphic and is written tastefully. Personally, I enjoyed it because it helped develop their relationship to the next level.

While I did enjoy the book, I gave it a 4 out of 5 stars because I felt something missing once I finished reading it. I think spreading the twists or emphasizing them in some way would have really improved the intensity of the reading experience. I would definitely still recommend this book to anybody looking for a fantasy romance book to read. Despite the length, the read is pretty quick, and all in all, it took me about 4 days to finish–the first day I read about 150 pages. 

The second book comes out on September 1, 2020, so it’s the perfect time to get started on this one!

Buy your copy here!

BOOK REVIEW: Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce

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Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Series: Song of the Lioness (Complete)

Alanna the First Adventure: ★★★/5
In the Hand of the Goddess: ★★★/5
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man: ★★★.5/5
Lioness Rampant: ★★★/5

Summary Alanna the First Adventure: The first volume tells the story of Alanna’s page years. The book describes how she switches places with her brother and first comes to the palace—disguised as the boy “Alan”–, finds friends and makes enemies. She also learns most of the things she needs to know as a knight. Even though she is only a page, Alanna already has to fight the Sweating Sickness and the powerful Ysandir.

Summary In the Hand of the Goddess: Alanna, the squire of the Crown Prince Jonathan IV of Conté and still disguised as a boy, meets the Great Mother Goddess. From her she learns that she has to face her three greatest fears: the fear of the Chamber of the Ordeal, that of Duke Roger of Conté and the fear of love. But she also has to face another problem: Tusaine is declaring war on Tortall.

Summary The Woman Who Rides Like a Man: Finally Alanna has become a knight and removed a great threat to the Tortallan Crown from the land. But the revelation that “Squire Alan” is now indeed “Sir Alanna” isn’t accepted easily by the court. To get away from all the gossip and to find herself again, Alanna and her manservant Coram Smythesson left Corus and traveled through the Great Southern Desert, where they encounter the Bazhir tribe of the Bloody Hawk. There Alanna has to deal with the Bazhir’s customs while teaching three young people the way of a Bazhir shaman.

Summary Lioness Rampant: On trying to save an old friend of Halef Seif’s, Alanna retrieved a map promising the Dominion Jewel which could help Tortall to prosper. Thus, she sets out to find this jewel. On her way she meets the Shang Dragon Liam Ironarm as well as the Sarain Princess Thayet jian Wilima, who both return back to Tortall with her after her quest is complete. But even after she brings the Dominion Jewel home there is still danger for Tortall. Duke Roger of Conté is back from the dead and trying to destroy Tortall.

Review: I decided to do a comprehensive book review of Tamora Pierce’s quartet, The Song of the Lioness, because as she mentions, this quartet started out as a standalone book before she separated it into four separate ones. However, the series itself still reads as one continuous adventure. There is an underlying conflict that hovers over Alanna’s head as the series continues, with each book allowing a smaller conflict to be resolved. Since it felt as though the series was one long book, some books were less interesting than others. Reviewed as a whole, the series is definitely a 4 out of 5 stars for me, but individually some books stood out more than others. My least favorite being The Woman Who Rides Like a Man. The high point of book three was how Alanna truly maintained her independence from the confines of the traditional role of woman. She was shattering the gender norms with grace and confidence. However, the story arch of this book fell a bit flat for me as I continued to anticipate more action, but was greeted with a slow build up.

Comparatively, while I love the world and story that Pierce has the ability to weave through her words, I much prefer her quartet, The Immortals. Set in the same world and years later, it really delves into a much more magical world that I always look for in fantasy books. However, one thing that always remains, is the fantastic growth and character development of the strong female leads as they truly discover their purpose and potential in an unlikely setting. Not only Alanna, but her supporting characters grow alongside her which really pulls you into the world as though it truly exists.

Alanna of Trebond: A strong and determined female lead who is a great role model to any little girl. While she understands her weaknesses, her humbleness keeps her grounded in her successes. She continually shatters expectations and follows the path that is true to her own beliefs. Alanna maintains her honor throughout the entire series and the growth her character makes is one to be awed.

George Cooper: The King of Thieves, despite his title possesses an honor equaling Alanna. I loved their relationship and how George truly accepted Alanna with an unconditional love. He embraced her strong personality and never tried to limit her while providing the support she needed when she felt struggled. This was a respected relationship of equals.

Myles of Olau: I truly loved the father figure Myles became to Alanna. He recognized how special Alanna was and his patience and support was constant. Without a truly compassionate relationship with her birth father, Alanna was able to experience it with Myles.

Jonathan of Conte: I loved Jonathan’s character through the first two books. He was an unlikely humble crown prince. He got down and dirty and never really expected special treatment. However, during book three, the heaviness of the crown began to change him. I struggled alongside him because he backtracked from the person he began as and I hoped for so much more for him. Though he lost his way, he always truly cared for Alanna, though it was apparent that they were in different places and would never truly be able to provide what the other needed.

I think the main thing to take away from The Song of Lioness is the relationships and growth between the characters. There is a little bit of something for everyone–love, passion, greed, friendships, heartbreak, sadness. This fantasy book truly touches upon the different relationships currently and in the future.

BOOK REVIEW: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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Author: Kendare Blake
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Series: Trilogy (Ongoing)

Three Dark Crowns: ★★★/5

SUMMARY: When kingdom come, there will be one. In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

There are a lot of mixed reviews for this book. First off, it took me FOREVER to finish it. I ended up taking a LONGGGG break halfway through before buckling down and forcing myself to finish. I only gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars because of three reasons:

  1. The premise was interesting and fresh
  2. The writing was easy to follow and visually descriptive
  3. It was unpredictable and surprising

Overall, I only enjoyed around 20% of the book, which were the last 100 pages or so. The beginning dragged on and I’m guessing the author was taking her time to really get readers to buy into each of the queens’ characters/personalities, but at times I found it really long and uninteresting. There were parts in each queen’s story that I thought were repetitive and unnecessary. Also, for most of the book, I didn’t really enjoy any one character and couldn’t find myself attached to any. However, that could have been the author’s intentions to keep readers from cheering on any one of the queens throughout the book.

Character Development: There really wasn’t any present throughout the book, but from the few reviews I read about the second installment, it seems most of the growth will happen in the next book. I’ll talk about a few of my favorite to least favorite characters.

Arsinoe: The Naturalist queen. Her personality was the most dynamic and interesting. I found her refreshing and honest. She accepted the fact that she was “giftless” yet she was doing everything she could to make some sort of gift arise from inside her. Her efforts were admirable despite the fact her methods may not have been. I enjoyed reading her chapters as I found myself curious as to what she would do next. Her relationship with Jules and Camden were heartwarming. I love them both.

Jules & Camden: Jules is one of my most favorite characters. She’s true to herself and Arsinoe. Her loyalty and honest to goodness towards her friends is to die for her. She never waivers and her strong personality always shines in whatever she does. I’m sure the next book has a lot in store for her.

Mirabella: The Elemental queen. Known to be the strongest with the backing of the High Priestess, she’s destined to be the reigning queen. However, her powerful exterior conflicts with her delicate heart. Though she was the strongest of her sisters, she was the most empathetic and hesitant. She was misunderstood because of the image the priestesses painted of her. She was frustrating to read about at times, because if she took a little bit more of an initiative a lot of the problems would have been solved. I hate when miscommunication is a factor of a problem remaining unsolved.

Katherine: The Poison queen. She’s my least favorite. Her character is just unlikable in my opinion. If I were to guess, I would say she is only going to get worse in the next book. I didn’t like her in the first and I’m pretty sure I’ll dislike her even more in the next book if she stays on the same path.

Joseph: I hate this guy. I’m not going to spoil the book, but in the beginning I really enjoyed reading about him with Jules. But by the end of the book I wanted to strangle him. He’s so worthless and his words never support his actions. Weak-minded guys are the worst.

Overall, I would recommend this book if you’ve got nothing on your list to read. It’s not an immediate go out and buy type of book, but maybe more of a library check out kind. The cover is beautiful though. It was well written and though some people might find the shifting perspectives jarring, I thought it was organized enough to follow without getting confused. Just be prepared to have to trudge through at least 75-80% of the book before you can really get into it. The ending was very interesting and I didn’t see the twist at the end–the cliffhanger at the end itself makes me want to read the second just to see what happens. Though I have no strong attachments to any of the characters to see how things turn out for them.

Buy it on AMAZON.

BOOK REVIEW: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (#3)

Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Romance
Series: Trilogy (Complete)

P.S. I Still Love You: ★★★★★/5

Summary: Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You. Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding. But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind. When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

What had ended to be duology, was the most perfect goodbye letter to readers. I had always thought the ending to Jenny Han’s, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Series was too short, so I’m glad she decided to write one last love letter to her readers.

What I’m about to say is blasphemous, but this was the first book I’ve finished since I read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which was in June…2016! That’s more than a year ago…So it’s amazing that it finally got me out of my book slump. Han’s writing is lighthearted and rhythmic in a way, so you breeze through the pages without really knowing it. I thought the characters and storyline were all very relatable. The problems Lara Jean faced are common struggles that high schoolers experience (Well at least back in my day they were).

The thing that was really fun for me is that I’m also the middle child in a family of three daughters. Though my personality doesn’t very much match with Lara Jean’s, I thought the family dynamic was exactly right. The interactions Lara Jean has with her family and friends were so real. I could think back on my life and remember similar moments. It takes a special book to help you remember bits and pieces of your life while still capturing you in its special world.

Lara Jean Song Covey: Lara Jean has definitely grown to be a young woman. She’s graduated from high school and has really come into her own. Though she’s not your average high school girl, I was glad that she stayed true to herself. Despite her subdued personality, she still remained strong to her beliefs and passions. It’s easy to get swept up trying to fit in, but Lara Jean is the perfect example that you’ll only truly be happy when living a life where you don’t need to feel like hiding your true self.

Peter Kavinsky: This guy. When I had finished P.S. I Still Love You, I was really on the fence about him. I actually preferred John Ambrose instead. But I loved how Peter, despite being the most popular boy in school, star athlete, good-looking guy that he was, loved the strange quirks that were Lara Jean. I appreciated how real his reactions and feelings felt in this last installment, it made him much more likeable as a character. He was extremely sweet, not only to Lara Jean, but to everyone important in her life. Peter went the extra mile to show he cared for Lara Jean through the way he treated her family.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s a minor spoiler but still, forewarning. I’m glad that Jenny Han made the decision to not have Lara Jean and Peter have sex. I honestly would have been really disappointed if they had consummated their relationship. In this day and age, high school students think it’s a necessity, that it’s a part of dating. But really, having sex isn’t the way to show love. It’s the things you don’t notice as much that show how much  you really care for a person. It’s a small detail, but one I did very much appreciate. Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship and journey together show what a truly meaningful relationship looks like.

Overall, I loved this book and frankly the entire series. I’m not one to read many contemporary romance novels even though I own a few. But Jenny Han’s books were so easy to get lost in. I would definitely recommend anyone who is looking for some light summer reading to pick up this series. I can only hope that I’ll get a love letter romance like Lara Jean Song Covey and Peter Kavinsky one day.

BUY IT ON AMAZON

OH. AND THEY’RE MAKING THIS SERIES INTO A MOVIE. Being a Korean-American, I love the fact that Lara Jean is half-Korean, even if her movie counterpart is half-Vietnamese. Click here for the cast list!