Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (3/10/20)–Roar

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Hello there, bibliophiles!

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Hey, gotta fit that in a few times a year…my sacred duty as a Star Wars fan…

 

Aaaaanyway, I finished this one up not too long ago. It had been on my TBR for a while, and I mentioned it in one of my Down the TBR Hole posts a few months back. In my endless search for quality sci-fi, I often push fantasy and other genres aside, so I figured that Roar would be a good change of scenery. And overall? A well-imagined and well-written fantasy!

Enjoy this week’s review!

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Roar (Stormheart, #1)

In a ruthless land where violent storms rule all, Aurora is next in line to inherit the throne of Pavan. Forced into an arranged marriage and lacking in the storm-controlling powers that define Pavan royalty, she is unsure of her next move. But before she can resort to lying, her betrothed, Cassius Locke, sweeps her into the underbelly of Pavan, telling her of the black market business of buying and selling Stormling powers. Now, Aurora–under the alias of Roar–thinks she has all of her problems solved. But what is the cost of stealing something that is rightfully earned?

 

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Overall, Roar didn’t overtly exceed or fall below my expectations; my expectations were adequately met. The worldbuilding, as well as all of the lore surrounding the Storm magic, was fascinating to dig into. There was clearly a lot of time put into developing the mythology around the magic system, and although the use of gems as a plot device is vastly overdone, I…sort of think it works? I guess? I dunno. Could’ve been a bit more creative.

As far as the character department goes, I didn’t feel a great attachment to any of the characters, but I loved the misfitty team dynamic that they began to have about a third of the way through. Once Roar and Locke got together with the rest of *the gang*, they had wonderful chemistry, and played off of each other with ease. However, the romance was what mainly made me feel iffy. Locke was chock-full of tropes, and the fact that he and Aurora/Roar start getting all heart-eyes for each other MERE HOURS AFTER MEETING… a) Insta-love, the bane of my existence, and b) uh, Locke? Ever hear of something called CONSENT? HMM? So that was…very weird. Not ideal. I suppose it got the teensiest bit better after they got to know each other better, but still veeeery uncomfortable for the first 100-ish pages of the book.

 

In conclusion, Roar had some well-executed elements and an interesting magic system, but fell flat (almost problematically so) in some respects. 3.5 stars, but the .5 mostly comes from the team dynamic that comes later on in the book. 

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Roar is the first book of the Stormheart trilogy, which also includes Rage (book 2, released 2019) and Reign (to be published this August). Not sure if I like it enough to continue with the trilogy, but I’ll think about that.

 

Today’s song:

One of those rare covers that surpasses the original material. More on that here…

 

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Books, Geeky Stuff, Movies

Comfort Food (Musings on Books and Films)

Happy Friday, everyone!

 

Comfort food. We all have it. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and no matter how deep into the dark places we may become entrenched, it will always bring immeasurable joy to us. So this is sort of an appreciation post, but more just musings on a few books and movies that not only help me get through it, but are just fun to read/watch over and over, and they never get old.

 

BOOKS AND COMICS

Heart of Iron–Ashley Poston 

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Ever since I read Heart of Iron for the first time on a magical trip to Chicago, it’s been my go-to whenever I reach a reading slump, or just need a little bit more sci-fi fun in my life. Also, Jax. ‘Nuff said.

 

Pumpkinheads–Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks 

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This one’s a more recent addition to my list, but no matter the time of year, Pumpkinheads is especially good for curing all that ails you. I mean, it helped me recover from the initial speechless shock after seeing Joker in theaters, if that’s any proof. (And that was a seriously rough movie…so well-done, though)

 

B.P.R.D. vol. 2: The Soul of Venice and Other Stories–Mike Mignola 

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Let me make myself clear: in the grand scheme of all things B.P.R.D., The Soul of Venice is nowhere near the peak of mastery that this comic series has achieved. But that’s not at all to say that it isn’t a ball of spooky, paranormal fun from cover to cover. Part of why this is one of my most frequently re-read trades is for a few reasons, but the most important one is that, like Heart of Iron, is that it brings back some of my fondest memories, those from when I went to Sequoia National Park one spring break. We stopped in LA before the drive there, where I got this at a comic shop just about a month before it closed. I spent almost the entire trip reading and re-reading that trade, even though I had…oh, three or four books loaded up on my Kindle?

 

The Courtney Crumrin series–Ted Naifeh

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Ah, Courtney Crumrinmy first foray into spooky comics…

One of the first major comic series that I came to love (and collect in its entirety), Courtney always manages to dredge up so many happy memories for me when I go back and re-read any of the separate volumes. Of course, I end up crying (*coughcough THE COVEN OF MYSTICS coughcough THE FINAL SPELL coughcough*) every time, but it’s worth it. [sniffles] I swear…

 

MOVIES

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

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I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW FANTASTIC THIS MOVIE IS. Aside from being one of the rare sequels that surpasses its predecessor, it speaks to me as a person. I mean…a bunch of misfits and weirdos just trying to get through life. (And trying to take down an invincible, supernatural army, but, y’know, that’s just part of the job.) Over the past three or four years, it’s played such a big role in my life, and I know for a fact that I will never grow tired of it.

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X2: X-Men United

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Again. Misfits just trying to get through life, with some world-saving on the side. After all the criticism these films have gotten over the years (mostly for The Last Stand, that first Wolverine solo, Apocalypse, and Dark Phoenix), it’s so sad that they’ve been pushed aside in the grand scheme of superhero films. For if you think about it, these three two original X-Men movies (we don’t talk about The Last Stand) set the standard for the modern superhero movie. For lack of better words, the X-Men movies walked SO THE ENTIRE MCU COULD RUN. There. I said it.

Anyway, X2 was what rekindled my love of X-Men a few years ago, and in the span of about a year and a half, I’ve been able to watch it a good 5 times, and it will never. Get. Old.

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All of the Star Wars movies (minus The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, you know what you’ve done…) 

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Star Wars. Need I really say any more?

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Today’s song:

I’d already heard a few songs off of Strange Mercy before, but I downloaded the rest of the album a few days ago, and I am STUNNED by how phenomenal it is.

 

So what’s your comfort food? What books, comics, films, and more will you never be able to stop re-reading/watching? Let me know down in the comments! 

That just about wraps up this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Books, Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: January 27-February 2, 2020

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Hey there, fellow bibliophiles! Hope you all had a good week. ☺️

Aaaaand now it’s February. Wow. January was an odd month for me, filled with a whole plethora of ups and downs. But hey–I read 21 books, got to about 38,000 words (about 60 pages) in my WIP, and got past 100 followers! What a month, indeed…

I’ve had a bit of a disappointing library haul this week, but I did find a few noteworthy books among the meh, at least. Here’s hoping that this week’s haul will be better. 🤞

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: 

Gravemaidens (Gravemaidens, #1)–Kelly Coon (DNF–⭐️.5)

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From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars anthology)-Elizabeth Schaefer (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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Foundation (Foundation, #1)-Isaac Asimov (⭐️⭐️.5)

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OCD, The Dude, and Me–Lauren Roedy Vaughn (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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Nausicaä of the Valley of the wind, vol. 1-Hayao Miyazaki (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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POSTS AND SUCH: 

 

SONGS:

 

TO READ NEXT WEEK: 

Kiss Number 8–Colleen A.F. Venable, Ellen T. Crenshaw

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The Order of Odd-Fish–James Kennedy

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Lizard Radio–Pat Schmatz

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One Giant Leap (Dare Mighty Things, #2)–Heather Kaczynski

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Today’s song:

 

(0:00-0:15–your headphones aren’t conking out on you, that’s just the intro 😜)

 

That just about wraps up this week in blogging! Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Books, Goodreads Monday, Movies

Goodreads Monday (12/30/19)–Seven Devils

Happy Monday, bibliophiles, and welcome to…wow, the last Goodreads Monday of 2019…

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Sheesh, this year really sped by…

Anyway, I came across this one over the summer, I think, and I was hooked from the first sentences of the synopsis. It hasn’t come out yet, but without any reviews and only the synopsis, I am BEYOND excited to read this one!

 

Let’s begin, shall we?

 

GOODREADS MONDAY (12/30/19)–SEVEN DEVILS by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May

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Blurb from Goodreads: 

This first book in a feminist space opera duology follows seven resistance fighters who will free the galaxy from the ruthless Tholosian Empire — or die trying.

When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.

Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.

When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.

Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.

 

So why do I want to read this? 

Alright, not gonna lie, I was hooked even before they had a coherent synopsis on Goodreads. Why? Simple: All it had was a release date, and something along the lines of “perfect for fans of Rogue One.”

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Aaaaaaand, you’ve got my attention.

From the sparse reviews I’ve seen, it’s been oft-described as a “feminist, queer space opera”. And honestly? That’s all I ask for in a book. That’s what I want to write, in the first place. Plus, the cover. GORGEOUS. 

Seven Devils doesn’t come out until August 2020, but you can bet that I’ll be anxiously awaiting its release until then. 😉

 

That just about wraps up this week’s Goodreads Monday! Stay tuned for more content later in the week, and though I’ll be posting all throughout the week (or I’ll try, at least), have a Happy New Year!

 

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Posted in Random, Stories

On Writing, and Overcoming Unexpected and Frustrating Obstacles

Two posts? In one day? It’s more likely than you think.

 

The other day, I added a little image to the sidebar of this blog, the winner image for NaNoWriMo 2019. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers post about their progress with it, but I neglected to even think about updating my progress on here, for no apparent reasons other than my inherent laziness. But yes, I did participate in NaNoWriMo 2019 (It’s a lovely program for all you writers/aspiring writers, if you haven’t tried it out). 2019 was my third year participating, and I can speak to the amazing results that it produces. 20,000 words, people, 20,000 words!

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And on that subject…yes, I love to write. I want to be a writer when I get older, and I’ve currently got 3 WIPs in progress…none of them even close to finished, but we’ll just ignore that. Even though I wanted to go into biology until about middle school, I think that my passion for writing’s always been there, it just took me a while to realize that it was more of a passion than a hobby. (*glances at my current grade in Honors Bio* yeeeeesh, okay, goodbye, biology…) Currently, I’m not super comfortable with sharing the premises of said WIPs, but one of my goals in 2020 is to try and overcome that fear, little by little. I mean, I’ve got to do it eventually if I want to get these bad boys published…

Two of my three WIPs are kind of on hold at the moment, as I kind of hit a lag of inspiration for both of them. That, and both of them were written before it dawned on me that I should probably outline things before I write them down.

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[present self glares at past self]
The third one was the one that I started during NaNoWriMo 2019. For now, all I’ll say is that Star Wars was a major, major influence on it, and it involves a lot of patriarchy smashing, rock music, and reluctant familial bonds.

On the subject of said sci-fi WIP, I encountered a problem with it the other day. I had about a half an hour before I was going to leave to see The Rise of Skywalker with my family, and I decided to crank out some writing. I’d gotten to a scene that I’d played over innumerable times in my head, and I was absolutely ecstatic to get back to writing. But…all of my dreams were crushed when I opened up the file and got a series of messages about invalid file formats and Pages not being able to read it. With a little help from my mom (thank you so much for trying to help, by the way) and the internet (thanks for nothing, Mr. “Your file is probably toast”…I mean, you were right, but…), I tried to do technological CPR on my writing, but to no avail. I was considerably frustrated and distraught at the thought of almost 40,000 words, 60 pages, and many long hours of writing had promptly been flushed away.

But after the initial shock (and a healthy dose of Star Wars), I decided to try and turn my attitude around. Maybe this could be a growing opportunity, an opportunity to start all over, but with some different elements. I’d wanted to change my perspective from 1st to 3rd person anyway, right? And so, I polished up what’s done of my outline, (See, past self? It’s not so bad…), and I started the WIP over last night. (And I actually saved the file to my computer and backed it up on my Writing flashdrive, so that’s probably a better idea.) I’m only at about 1 1/2 pages and barely 1,000 words, but hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

Moral of the story? Anything can be an opportunity to start anew. Whether or not you’re dealing with an uncooperative Pages file, starting over, though it can be awfully tedious, is not your enemy.

Oh, also, save important documents in more than one place. That’s always helpful.

Posted in Geeky Stuff, Movies

The Rise of Skywalker, or “GUESS WHO’S FINALLY BACK FROM THE DEAD…”

[wipes a coat of dust off of computer screen] Oh, hey everybody! I’m officially on winter break now, and I’ve got my finals over with, so I’m back on my normal(ish) schedule for now. I still might be a tad sluggish through next week, what with holiday festivities coming up, but I suppose this post marks the end of my hiatus.

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Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.

Last night, I saw The Rise of Skywalker. Despite some of the reviews, I still came in with my expectations absolutely through the roof (curse you, TFA/TLJ-nostalgic brain…), but I expected nothing that came my way. And quite frankly? I’ll have to watch it again, but The Rise of Skywalker might just be my favorite of the sequels.

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Now, fair warning: DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, AS THIS REVIEW WILL PROBABLY BE CRAWLING WITH SPOILERS. I’m really sorry, I just haven’t quite found a way to write something that adequately expresses my emotions without revealing half the plot. Oops.

 

Let’s start off with the central plot, concerning Rey, Kylo Ren, and…Palpatine. Yep, that’s right, folks, the cryptic trailer laughter wasn’t all for naught.

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The revelation of Rey’s true heritage definitely served to complete her/Kylo’s arc deftly; Now that she knows who she’s truly descended from, she has a complex battle with her own emotions, but eventually realizes that blood does not determine one’s destiny. A beautiful theme, I think, and one that mirrors the original trilogy without being too on-the-nose about it. I also THOROUGHLY enjoyed seeing all of the backstory with Palpatine in hiding on Exogul (Am I spelling that right? It’s the Sith planet, however it’s spelled). I was a bit suspicious when the rumors about his resurrection starting circling, but as I started watching the movie, I realized that it’s exactly the kind of thing that you’d expect Palpatine to do, and, in a way, ties a tiny bit into one of the themes of The Last Jedi: failure.

Palpatine lost everything at the end of Return of the Jedi. Betrayed by his own apprentice (hey, that’s just karma, buddy), his empire destroyed, and all of his efforts in were in vain. And of course, because he couldn’t bear to see his disturbed dreams flushed down the drain, he…stole away to a fabled planet in the unknown regions, brings himself back to life, and tries to get his granddaughter back to his side to resurrect the Sith and the Empire for good. As one does. But the root of that is that he cannot accept his own failure. His refusal to accept failure is, in part, what makes him a crucial antagonist, however over the top, in this film. For learning from failure, as Rey, Luke, and all the rest soon learn, is what truly makes a person a true hero, perhaps.

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And Rey. Oh, Rey…

Ever since I saw The Force Awakens in sixth grade, I’ve looked up to her in so many ways. And to see her complete her beautiful arc, and go against the wretched evil that runs in her blood to become what she knows is right, made me so happy. There’s so much controversy and scorn directed at her from the fandom (I stand by the fact that she is not a Mary Sue, thank you very much…notice how naïve she is in the first two films? That’s a character flaw, if I’ve ever seen one…), but she is, at heart, a role model, and an archetypal, unforgettable hero. So I owe a big thanks to her.

Her, and Finn, Poe, and all the rest. After a few years of bonding, the complex relationships of these characters have finally come into their own, having been through so much. Astounding chemistry, several tear-jerking scenes, and brimming with heart…these characters truly are a big part of what makes these films so unforgettable.

But…but…okay, I’m still pretty bitter that we didn’t get FinnPoe. I mean, COME. ON. Their feelings for each other couldn’t have been more obvious…and yeah, some props to Disney for having a brief lesbian kiss at the end, but they’re probably just doing that to check off a representation box. To be sure, it’s wonderful to see, and I felt kind of warm and fuzzy, but having two characters that are so undeniably in love lacking any sort of romantic resolution is just disappointing. Finn and Poe are a couple. Don’t you dare tell me otherwise. Thank you, goodnight.

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Overall, The Rise of Skywalker was a phenomenal end to the Skywalker saga, beautiful both thematically and visually. But, it certainly wasn’t without its flaws.

Though seeing the arcs of major characters (Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, Poe, etc.) were satisfying, there were some areas where I’d like to have seen a little more backstory. Of course, the movie was nearly 3 hours long already, so we would’ve had Avengers: Endgame 2: Electric Boogaloo if everything was expounded upon. And there’s one character in particular that I would’ve like to have explored more in depth:

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Bill Weasley  General Hux.

After the death of Snoke in The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren rose to power as the Supreme Leader of the First Order. In the beginning of Skywalker, there’s a mention that there’s a mole in the First Order, and we later find out that Hux himself, the cold, ruthless general, is the one who alerted the Resistance to Palpatine’s reawakening. Disappointingly, though, after helping Rey, Finn, Poe, and the others escape, he’s shot, brushed off of the First Order’s shoulder without another word.

The mere fact that the death of Snoke has pushed him this far is absolutely intriguing. We’re now sure of where his loyalties truly lay this whole time: only with Snoke. With him gone and his rival, Kylo Ren,  in power, he seems to have had an extreme internal conflict, questioning who he truly trusts. Such a dramatic change of character was absolutely astounding to see, but I feel that it was an afterthought. As with a few other elements of the film (parts of the path to find the Sith Wayfinder, Finn never telling Rey whatever it is that he so desperately wanted to tell her, etc.), I felt that parts were a bit rushed, and a bit of focus on something other than the grand Palpatine plot could have done the film some necessary service. But, all things considered, The Rise of Skywalker was as unforgettable as its predecessors, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am so grateful to have witnessed. Solid…ooh, 9/10 for me? Maybe more like 8.7, but either way, I WANNA SEE IT AGAIN. 

 

I’ll be back next week with some more content, so stay tuned for more! Have a lovely rest of your day, and I hope you enjoy The Rise of Skywalker as immensely as I did!

 

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (6/11/19)-Defy the Fates

Hey, fellow bibliophiles, and welcome to this week’s Book Review Tuesday!

 

And yes, that’s right…

IT’S HERE.

The conclusion to the Constellation trilogy is HERE! (*ahem* okay technically it came out in April but I just got around to reading it a few weeks ago)

And man, it’s STUNNING. A beautiful conclusion to an unforgettable series.

 

Before reading this review, though, I suggest you read my other reviews for the previous books in the trilogy, Defy the Stars (see 5/15/18) and Defy the Worlds (see 5/22/18), if you haven’t a) caught up with some of the books or b) haven’t read the series yet. (If the answer if ‘b’ for you, then WHAT ARE YOU DOING? READ. THIS. TRILOGY.)

Enjoy this week’s review!

 

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Defy the Fates (Constellation, #3)

After the disaster that left Noemi Vidal close to death, Abel’s final goal is to save the life of the one he loves. But it won’t be easy–the only way that she could be saved is to replace some of her body parts and organs with robotic material. And the one person in the galaxy that could pull off this procedure is the person who Abel has desperately been trying to run from: none other than Gillian Shearer, daughter of Burton Mansfield, his notorious creator. Shearer is his only chance, but her intentions are more than Abel can see–she wants Abel for herself, as a vessel for Mansfield’s now detached consciousness. Can Abel save Noemi–and himself–from a fate worse than death?

 

 

Defy the Fates was a satisfying, beautiful ending to a phenomal series. Though it wasn’t  quite on par with Defy the Worlds (basically The Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy), Defy the Fates still retained the intricate writing, intriguing plot, and raw emotion that was so characteristic of the trilogy. The ending perfectly wrapped things up, and didn’t leave me wanting anything more, for what we had was just right. Thank you, Mrs. Gray, for this unforgettable gem of a trilogy. ❤️ Abel and Noemi forever!

Also…something about Abel on this cover–not the other ones, mind you, weird–looks a teensy bit like Dan Stevens. Dunno why, dunno how, it’s just this one cover. Gettin’ some David Haller vibes, guys…

 

Thank you so much for reading this week’s review! Have a great rest of your day, take care of yourselves, keep on reading, and most of all…enjoy your summer!