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: Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

 

Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy
Series: Book 1 of Quartet (Complete)

Wild Magic: ★★★/5

Summary: Young Daine’s knack with horses gets her a job helping the royal horsemistress drive a herd of ponies to Tortall. Soon it becomes clear that Daine’s talent, as much as she struggles to hide it, is downright magical. Horses and other animals not only obey, but listen to her words. Daine, though, will have to learn to trust humans before she can come to terms with her powers, her past, and herself.

The Immortals Series has been one of my absolute favorites since I’ve started reading fantasy novels. It was the series that actually got me hooked on fantasy as a genre. I first read it in middle school and for the first time, 12 years later, I started to reread it. I remember loving it, but 12 years is a long time and whole different life stage. Mainly, I bought the series because a new edition with the amazing cover pictured above was released and I had to have it. I remembered the gist of the story and a few of my favorite characters, but I totally forgot the plot, which is exciting because I get to relive one of my favorite books for a second time, and that doesn’t happen very often.

I love this book because it has magic, mystical creatures, and amazing characters. The plot is well-developed and even though I’m 11 years older than the main character, I still found her enjoyable to read about. There were a few times her worries were juvenile, but overall Daine is a great protagonist, constantly looking to become a stronger and better, emotional enough that she’s not a stone, but logical enough to understand what needs to be done. I never found myself once bored with the story because it was always moving. Only what is necessary is included and the descriptions are both realistic and easy to follow. I enjoy a simple read from time to time so my mind doesn’t have to work so hard; it allows me to fall into the story even more.

DAINE: Daine is a 13-year-old girl who discovers she possesses something called “wild magic,” which allows her to connect with animals and immortal creatures in a way others cannot. She suffers a huge loss that you find out later in the book and experiences more than an average teen would. However, her ability to persevere through difficult situations is admirable and you continue to see her grow into the respect of her power. Though she may be young, she is strong at heart. You get a tiny glimpse (literally) of her roots and readers will be flipping through the pages to find out who she is and where she came from.

NUMAIR: Numair is the most powerful mage in all of Tortall and he’s a giant of a man who is also good-looking. I loved Numair when I first read him into my mind in middle school, and I still love him now. His character is humorous but he is a reliable partner and teacher to Daine. You can tell that even though he’s taken Daine under his wing as a student, he still cares for her deeply. He’s my favorite character in this series (minus some of the animals!)

ONUA: Onua hires Daine as an assistant and she’s the older sister Daine never had. I love her powerful presence despite her difficult past. She supports those around her and is one of the most loyal people. No matter how much Daine may retaliate, Onua understands and supports her in the best way possible.

There are a lot of characters I can talk about, but those are the three standout ones. Another unconventional character I do like is Cloud, Daine’s pony. She’s sassy in her actions and words (which only Daine can hear of course). There isn’t a set villain in this book, except maybe the Stormwings. The conflict was only just introduced in this book and will get more in depth through the part of the series. That might be my only warning to relay to other readers. There is some tension, but not as much as typical young adult readers are used to reading. So if you are reading this book, keep in mind that you are reading a MIDDLE GRADE novel. The main conflict in this first book is a battle at the end of the book, which gets resolved, but there’s really no information about what’s to come, only foreshadows suspicions readers may develop during their read. The lack of a deeper conflict to really satiate me as a reader is why I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5 stars. (Though 12-year-old me would’ve gave it 5 stars in a heartbeat)

Whether it’s nostalgia or not, I still loved this first book that I finished it in one day, and I’m itching to start the next one after I get some actual work done. I typically only enjoy writing young adult novels because I love a good romance, and one of the defining qualities of a middle grade is that there isn’t an explicit romance, but after re-reading this book I kind of feel like I would be interested in dabbling into the middle grade market!

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BOOK REVIEW: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (#2)

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

P.S. I Still Love You: ★★★★★/5

Summary: Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter. She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever. When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

Finished this duology in less than one day because it was ridiculously addicting. I love the love story. The main thing I love about this, is that some part of this book happened to anyone who’s ever been in love. First and foremost, this duology will ring to a lot of girls who’ve dated. (It sure did for me.) The pacing was realistic and the events were all believable and I couldn’t help but be drawn in. It was the type of romance that makes your heart flutter just how a “first love” romance should make it.

I’m kind of bummed though that Josh didn’t really come out in this book so much. He just kind of fell off the face of the earth. There were a few appearances, but nothing of substance, which was lame because he played such a huge role in the first one. I wanted to read more about him. But then again, maybe that’s what Han was going for with Margot and Josh’s relationship, another example of how a love can end or continue. I just didn’t feel as though it was properly resolved.

I appreciate the fact that Han didn’t make love all physical. There are many references to sex in regards to a relationship, and God only knows the high schoolers these days are way more scandalous than a decade ago. So it’s a nice change of pace having of novel about high school love about more than just physical attraction, because there is so much more, more than most people ever really know. Love is an innocent thing, something that deserves to be cherished and protected but doesn’t always turn out the way you expected it to, and that’s what I feel like Han was trying to convey.

LARA JEAN: I was proud of Lara Jean. She stepped out of her comfort zone and really put herself out there. As the main character, she really came out of her shell as her own and took hold of the story through her growth. In the beginning of the series, she started out as a shy, withdrawn young girl who didn’t want to experience real life into a somewhat adventurous girl willing to dive into the crazy parts of it, or at least swim through it as best she could. Throughout her development, Lara Jean stayed true to her own beliefs and desires. The heart wants what the heart wants, even though I don’t think I would have minded so much if it ended the other way. (I’m sure there’s a lot of debate on this).

PETER K.: Peter K. really started to piss me off. Yes, he’s just a nice guy that was misunderstood, but what he did would piss off any girl and if the roles had been switched, he would have acted the exact same way. It could have been resolved had he just been upfront with Lara Jean. In my opinion, he brought it upon himself. But, the little things he did do were sweet and you couldn’t really stay mad at him for long (kind of…)

JOHN AMBROSE MCLAREN: I love John Ambrose McLaren. He’s one of the boys Lara Jean wrote a letter to, and he’s adorable. I feel like it was so meant to be, like FATE! Just hearing the history between the John and Lara Jean from middle school it as if the stars aligned but didn’t quite match up, which really killed me. John is sweet, a gentleman, and was always second place to Peter when they were younger. He’s the guy that would never hurt the girl he loves, and would treat her like her happiness is the one that makes the world turnaround. Even though there were only reference about his timid personality when he was younger, I’m glad he was introduced as a confident and strong guy. But really, I love this kid, maybe even more than Peter K., and I don’t even really know why.

MARGOT/KITTY: Margot doesn’t make much of an appearance in this installment as much. Lara Jean goes to her for support more than for advice compared to the first novel. Kitty is growing up and you can see her character really maturing through her dialogue and thought process. I can definitely see a continuation of this story through Kitty’s POV coming sometime soon. Especially with the letter that Lara Jean writes to her at the end of the book. She’d make a very interesting main character with her all her sass.

Overall, I loved these two contemporary romance novels by Jenny Han. I was in quite a reading slump before I started it and I wasn’t really thinking it was going to bring me out of it. I may be a believer in contemporary romance novels now, it has definitely opened my eyes to an even larger genre than young adult fantasy (still my favorite though). I would definitely recommend this duology to all readers of all ages. It is a story about first love of a high schooler, but whether you’re in high school or you’ve graduated long since, it’ll bring a sense of sweet nostalgia to your first love, and if you haven’t experienced one yet, it’ll give you a taste of what may be soon to come.

Jenny Han, you have changed my view of young adult contemporary romance novels!

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BOOK REVIEW: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (#1)

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

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: ★★★★★/5

SUMMARY: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

First off, let me tell you something about me as a reader before you read my review. I typically dislike fiction contemporary romance books. I’m a complete addict when it comes to a good fantasy book though, but I usually don’t read contemporary romance books. It’s hard for me to get into a fiction book because I love everything fantastical. That being said, I absolutely LOVED this book! (I may be subjective, and you’ll see why in a moment).

I’m not only a Korean-American, but I’m also the middle child of three sisters! HAH Hi, my name is Lara Jean. Jk. Lara Jean’s and my personality are actually really different, but I still enjoyed reading her POV. However, writing letters to past loves is SO something I would do. Of course, if someone sent said letters out, I would beat the culprit up, unlike Lara Jean. Moving on to my actual review now!

I love romance stories, so typically I look for a good romance in every book I read. The thing that made this book enjoyable was that I felt the romance was very believable. I watch a lot of Korean dramas and this book is somewhere along those lines. (I’m sure Jenny Han binge watches a lot of K-Dramas on her spare time~) I’m glad the “letter sending” scandal started pretty early on. For some reason, I thought it was going to happen at the end, but now that I think about that assumption now, it doesn’t make sense. Han wove each letter into the story perfectly; every time I felt I needed something more, I got it. I couldn’t stop reading and that’s why I ended up having to force myself to sleep at 4AM, only after I finished this book and moved on to the finish a quarter of the next, P.S. I Still Love You.

I’m going to spend most of my review on character analysis. So here goes it!

LARA JEAN: She’s a somewhat timid girl trying to fill the big shoes (literally, HAH) left by her older sister, Margot, who left for college in Scotland. At first, she’s a train wreck, but as the story progresses she begins to step up and become the older sister to Kitty she wants to be. I was glad that Lara Jean wasn’t annoying. I hate when a female protagonist is hopeless and weak, but Lara Jean owned it well. You see glimpses of her “quirky” personality and it’s something you grow to love. She reacts like any normal teenager would in the situations she’s thrown in, and handles it pretty well. She looks up to Margot as her example and has complete loyalty to her family, which is quite endearing.

KATHERINE aka KITTY: Kitty is the sassy youngest sibling. She watches HBO shows and has some lip to her. Nothing gets past Kitty’s eyes; she’s a bit snoopy but also very observant in her respect. Even if she does something bad, you can’t really dislike her because her character is so cute. I love how friendly she is with the boys and seems older than she actually is. I think Han did a great job of making her the little sister who grows up just a bit quicker because she has two older sisters, but still possesses a youthful heart and mind.

MARGOT: Margot is the reliable eldest sibling. She is on top of everything, the responsible big sister you know you can go to when you’re in trouble. She’s strict and at times judgmental, but it’s all from love and not from spite, which is portrayed through the way she says things and comforts her sisters. I do like how you find something out that makes her “not-so-perfect.” She’s the idol to her younger sisters and it was healthy to see how the sisters react once they find out something they never imagined Margot would be capable of. It shows the true essence of sisterhood, and the bond that can never be broken.

PETER K.: KAVINSKY! He’s the hot, everyone-wants-to-date, athlete, high school boy, and one of Lara Jean’s past crushes, her first to be exact. I think I fell in love with Peter the same time Lara Jean did. His character is one that just grows on you the more you read about him. He comes out as an ass in the beginning, but then you realize that’s his charm. I loved the fact he noticed more than Lara Jean gave him credit for. It’s always nice to know when boys see the small things, it shows they actually care about a person. I’m excited to see what the next book has in store for him. I hope he steps up because I have big hopes for him.

JOSH: The boy next door, literally. He’s one of Lara Jean’s past crushes as well as Margot’s first boyfriend and ex-boyfriend. I loved Josh’s character. He’s got that older brother vibe because he cares for the Song sisters and wants what is best for them. He’s not the macho boy at school, and not your typical crush. He’s the nothing-physically-special nerd at school. But then you see his true qualities that draw you in to ride the Josh Train. His character pokes in here and there, and every time it did, I loved what I discovered about him. I’m rooting for him and hope things look up in the latter part of the series.

The plot was great. There wasn’t quite a plot twist, but I feel that’s a bit more difficult to do in a contemporary romance because it has to be believable. I already had my suspicions of who sent Lara Jean’s love letters, so it wasn’t a surprise. I’m not sure if other readers were surprised by it. (If you were, let me know!) Each character had a unique personality that brought them to life on the pages and the writing was simple, yet engaging. Not sure what the expect from P.S. I Still Love You, but I’m glad I gave this book a shot, because even though it’s out of my comfort zone, I loved it.

If I had been left with just this first book and waiting for the second, I think I might have lost my mind a little. The way the first book ends, you literally HAVE to reach for the second one. So make sure you have both books before starting!!

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