Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker– Review/Rant/Discussion *SPOILERS*

Let’s start with a GIF of my son Ben Solo smiling, shall we?

ben solo smiling

Okay. So if you were here around May of 2018, you know I absolutely adore The Last Jedi with my whole heart (here is my post about it. I think it’s a ranty mess but if you’d like to read it go ahead). I saw The Rise of Skywalker just over a week ago and feel the need to detail my feelings about it here. Before we get started, let’s clarify a few things.

First of all, this will undoubtedly be full of all of the spoilers so if you haven’t seen The Rise of Skywalker I would probably run the other direction. You’ve been warned. 

Now:

  • Ben Solo is my favorite character in this entire franchise. He is my literal son and all I have wanted for the past year and a half from this franchise is his happiness.
  • When I am reading a book/watching a movie/watching a play/consuming any sort of storytelling art form, character development is the single most important thing to me. I will ignore a terrible plotline if the characters are good. As such, the characters in the sequel trilogy are 95% why I like it.
  • The Last Jedi set up a lot of really awesome potential plotlines and is forever and always my favorite Star Wars film.
  • My relationship with the sequel trilogy has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I didn’t like The Force Awakens the first time I saw it (but I watched it last night and thoroughly enjoyed it) because it was too similar to A New Hope. The Last Jedi is what made me fall in love with the sequel trilogy because of how completely different it was from anything I had seen or expected from Star Wars. 
  • I ship Reylo. A lot. You don’t have to, and I’m not about to try to force you to agree with me, but I have been fascinated by that relationship for the past couple of years. I believe it is a complex relationship between two broken people trying to change their lives for the better.

Now that all that groundwork has been laid, let’s talk about The Rise of Skywalker. 

I went into this movie with low expectations due to the reviews. I was still excited and hopeful about it, though, because I’d been anticipating it for a year and a half. I wanted to love it. I wanted it to be the best one of the trilogy.

I hated it.

Ok, so while I was watching it, I didn’t hate it. But I didn’t love it either. I was just…meh about the whole thing. It was entertaining to watch and like its predecessors, it is visually stunning, but I didn’t feel much by way of a strong reaction. So is it an entertaining movie? Yes. Would I recommend watching it in the theater on the big screen? Yeah; it’s a cool experience. But do I actually like the movie? Not at all.

This movie left me wondering if JJ Abrams ever watched The Last Jedi. So much of Rise felt like it was trying to “fix” Rian Johnson’s work and by doing so it felt disrespectful.

Johnson gave us a fantastic, character-driven movie. He (beautifully) made Rey a nobody and made her even more powerful of a character. He made us connect with Kylo Ren/Ben Solo in ways so few of us had in TFA. He gave us Rose Tico, an Asian, female character that while I didn’t like all that much at first, was still a wonderful addition to the series. He made every single character feel very human and real. He left JJ Abrams with the perfect villain for Episode IX– General Armitage Hux.

So to begin with, the return of Palpatine was an issue for me. I was curious about it when I saw the trailers, but…Hux literally started to draw his blaster on an unconscious Kylo Ren at the end of TLJ. Hux had the potential to be a magnificent villain. We were never told why he hated Kylo Ren so much; that could have been brought up and discussed. He could have staged a coup against Kylo Ren and taken over as Supreme Leader of the First Order, forcing Kylo/Ben to flee (preferably to Rey because they trust each other, as established in TLJ).

Instead, Hux’s character was completely thrown away. He was treated horribly in this movie, made to be a cheesy spy within the First Order simply because he wanted Kylo Ren to lose. All this after his Hitler-esque speech in TFA. After he was set up as so much more than some cartoon-ish villain sidekick. And yet that was what TROS made him.

Because we had to have Palpatine back.

One of the biggest issues with JJ Abrams’s Star Wars movies is the nostalgia of them. People, including myself, had issues with TFA because it was so similar to Episode IV. Because the nostalgia, the desire to repeat the past (à la The Great Gatsby, anyone?) was too strong. And it didn’t work well in TFA, but it was even worse in TROS. We did not need Palpatine to return. In fact, that was the last thing we needed.

Another plot-specific issue I had involved Leia. Believe me, I am sad that Carrie Fisher passed away. I get that JJ wanted to give Leia a part of this movie, partly as a farewell to Carrie.

But. And this is probably a super controversial thought process. But I felt like keeping Leia in TROS was a hindrance to the story that could have been. There is a time jump between TLJ and TROS. Leia could have died during this time jump, which would have created no need for difficult CGI work (and made it easier for Rose to have an actual part in this story instead of being blindsided the way she was) and it would have just worked better with the story. If Carrie was still here, this could have been Leia’s movie, like TFA was Han’s and TLJ was Luke’s. But Carrie couldn’t play Leia and that wasn’t possible.

Believe me, I wanted a conversation between Leia and Ben. I wanted Leia to be a major part of Ben’s return to the light. But she couldn’t be, and the creators should have been able to see that and let her character go.

The way she died also bothered me. Think about how Luke died in TLJ. The man straight up sent a Force projection and took a kajillion bullets and then proceeded to duel Kylo Ren. Only then did he die.

Leia, on the other hand, sent *one* Force message to her son. And died. After surviving the explosion in TLJ with the Force. 

Do you see my problem here?

Aside from Hux and Leia, there were a ton of character arcs that were thrown away. What in the world is up with Finn? In TFA, he seems in love with Rey. In TLJ, he and Rose kiss. (Rose’s character is a whole other issue in this movie that I’ll get into later.) And then, in TROS, there’s Jannah, another runaway storm trooper. Honestly, Jannah and Zorii both felt like useless characters to me. Finn didn’t seem to go anywhere in this movie; no one knew what was up with his romantic arc (which he didn’t even need) and it was just a mess.

And now onto Rose Tico. She deserved better. She played a major part in TLJ. And yet, for some reason, it was acceptable to give her less than 2 minutes of screentime in TROS ? I get that it’s blamed on the CGI work with Carrie Fisher (and yes, I know there is some thought about racism/sexism on part of the creators but I don’t want to get into that) but consider: could she not have gone with Finn and Poe and Rey? Also consider my earlier points about Leia. Rose deserved a part in this movie and she didn’t get it. She’s not even one of my favorite characters; to be honest, she kinda annoyed me a little. But I still think she deserved more than she got. She had a lot of potential for a really nice character arc and she was just…nonexistent.

Now. My biggest issues: this whole concept of Rey Palpatine and Ben Solo. We’ll start with Rey.

Rian Johnson gave us a beautiful movie with a beautiful message: you don’t have to come from a powerful family to be a powerful person. You can be a supposed “nobody” and still be extremely powerful. And JJ took that message, that beautiful, positive message we needed from modern storytelling, and raked it through the mud. By making Rey a Palpatine, we are also left with the underlying message that a woman cannot be powerful unless she is related to a powerful man. Which is far from true.

Aside from this *revelation* about her parentage, Rey’s arc in this movie is also a bit of a mess.

She goes right back to the animosity between her and Kylo Ren from TFA, almost like the events of TLJ didn’t happen (which is a trend in the entirety of TROS). Rey grew to trust Ben Solo. He is quite literally the other half of her soul. And instead of talking out their issues, Rey starts attacking Ben with her lightsaber during the Force bond scenes. TLJ left them in a place that needed conversation, not fighting, and this revert to intense animosity was a step backward.

And then there is the ending. She is alone on a desert planet– exactly where she began (so it was Tatooine instead of Jakku, but the fact remains). Rey grew so much during TLJ and I felt like TROS undid 90% of her development.

And now we shall talk about Ben Solo.

This man is my son. I care about Ben Solo in a way I had never cared about any character before TLJ. I don’t necessarily relate to him in a lot of ways, but there is something about him that just touches me to my very core. He became very important to me when I watched TLJ and his redemption was what I needed from this movie.

And I got it. He was redeemed. But he was not redeemed well.

Here’s the thing. Redemption is not a one-and-done process. It is a slow path that takes a lot of time. And a redemption arc, done well, should be satisfying. Ben Solo’s redemption arc in TROS is absolutely horrific and it is what I am the angriest about.

It took one scene for him to change his mind. It should have taken more than that. The scenes that led him to redemption should have been the Force bond scenes with Rey, where they should have talked through things. It was sweet to have a vision of Han change him and all, but Rey should have nurtured him back to the light the rest of the way, like she started in TLJ. We should have had more time with Ben Solo. Instead, we had maybe 20 minutes out of a two and a half hour movie.

And then, before his arc is finished, he is killed. Killed. I should have cried watching the movie, but I didn’t because of how mad I was. For one thing, he is my favorite character. For another, it was poor writing. There was so much more that needed to be done with his character. By killing him, any further opportunity for growth was crushed. We could have also had a lesson in forgiveness as he went with the Resistance and gained the trust/friendship of Finn, Poe, and the rest of the Resistance.

Also, he is literally half of Rey’s soul and you’re just going to kill him off like that? After finally giving Rey a sense of belonging. After giving Ben a sense of belonging. Killing him was wrong not only to the audience, but it was wrong to both of the characters. We are left unsatisfied and, for those of us who loved Ben Solo, somewhat of a gaping hole in our hearts. People get attached to fictional characters and it hurts to lose them. Especially when it feels wrong to kill them.

I would have been okay with it, from a storytelling standpoint, had Ben’s arc been complete. But it wasn’t, and therein lies my problem.

Also, there is a message sent in killing him. The message is this: even if you turn your life around after doing terrible things, it’s still better for you to die. And I don’t think that’s a message we want anyone to hear. I especially don’t want any abuse survivors to hear that, because those people could relate to Ben in ways the rest of us don’t. Ben Solo was an abuse survivor who wanted to change and killing him sent an extremely wrong, negative message.

Okay. Now I’m going to be somewhat positive and tell you what I liked (in bullet points because this is too long already).

  • Adam Driver’s phenomenal acting, as usual
  • Daisy Ridley’s phenomenal acting, as usual
  • Adam and Daisy’s chemistry
  • Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley. That’s all I liked.

In conclusion, I think I might try my hand at fanfiction so I can write what could have been.

All I can think is, imagine how amazing Episode IX would have been if Rian Johnson had done it.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this movie, but please be sure to be kind and courteous in any comments. I know this movie has become very controversial since its release. No matter your opinions, be respectful of others.

Thank you so much for reading all of this; I know it’s a lot. I needed to type out my feelings about this movie and I really appreciate you for listening.

Love,

Clara

 

I’m Back (at least that’s the plan) + Best Books of 2019

Happy 2020!

It’s been what, six months since I last posted here? Life got crazy and I was still extremely unmotivated to post/didn’t feel like I had anything to write about here.

Lots of amazing things happened while I was away though, so it certainly wasn’t an unproductive few months. I got my first speaking part in a show and it was also my dream role, so that was definitely a highlight. Queen Gwendolyn, the third book in the Captain Guinevere trilogy, finally started coming to me. I made it through another semester of college and performed Mamma Mia! the musical. I got a job. And I also read quite a few good books.

For 2020, I want to blog at least once a month. It’s not a lot, I know, but it’s manageable for me and my crazy lifestyle. But I’m also not going to force myself to talk strictly about books, either, because I haven’t been reading as much as I used to and I have other things I’d like to talk about (you can expect a detailed post about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by the end of the week, for one).

All that said, I’m excited to be back!

I’m going to start my return with a bit of a late “best books of 2019” post. I’ve done this every year for the past few years and I really loved a ton of books in 2019.

According to Goodreads, I read a total of 46 books in 2019, just 4 shy of my 50-book goal. But I think it counted some twice even though I only read them once. It also counted short stories, and I won’t include those on my list. So it’s not completely accurate.

Out of those supposed 46 books, I enjoyed most of them. My average rating was over 4 stars, so while I didn’t feel like I read a ton, what I did read was apparently really good.

This list does not include short stories or rereads.

10. Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

I don’t remember this all that much, but I remember loving the first one and finding this to be a good sequel. I definitely need to remind myself what happened though so I will understand the next one!

9. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Beauty and the Beast (also known as one of my favorite fairy tales) along with disability representation, fabulous writing, worldbuilding, and characters? Yes please. This was a really, really solid novel and I’m so glad I decided to pick it up!

The only reason it isn’t higher on the list is because I did forget about it at some point. However once I remembered it I also recalled loving it. A lot.

8. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

I just really found this hilarious? It was so light and fun and almost nostalgic in how it reminded me of my old Canterwood Crest days. It was just a blast.

7. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I really got into the Grishaverse this year and of the two series I read, Six of Crows was better. It was cool to see Leigh’s growth as a writer and while this plot was not my favorite, the characters made it worth every second.

6. Transformations by Anne Sexton

My American lit class introduced me to so much amazing literature, and Anne Sexton’s poetry was one of my favorite things we read. I picked up Transformations on my own and absolutely loved it. If you haven’t read Anne Sexton’s work, I definitely recommend trying it. It’s beautiful.

5. The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

I finished this about a week ago and my word it was fantastic. King Arthur was essentially my entire childhood and this? This is stunning. It focuses on Guinevere instead of Arthur, adding nuances to her character and making her THE strong female lead of 2019’s YA fantasy. Also the dark past for our leading lady AND an amazing gender-swap of another character were kind of everything.

4. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Why did I wait so long to read this. Why.

Roshani is literally my favorite YA author because her books and characters are GORGEOUS and this is no exception. Severin and Laila have an undeniable chemistry that I may love way too much. The sequel cannot get here soon enough.

3. Lovely War by Julie Berry

The Passion of Dolssa ripped my heart out, so when I heard Julie was writing another book– a WW1 love story narrated by APHRODITE– of course I decided the pain would be worth it.

And it was. This book is a stunning work of art that everyone should read.

2. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

I’ve been raving about this for six months now and all my friends got it from me for Christmas. The characters, the world, the plot…everything is amazing. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and just pick it up. You won’t regret it.

1. The Wicked King and The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Because these are a) part of the same series and b) equally amazing, I grouped them together for number one. This has become my all-time favorite series and I have fallen head-over-heels for Cardan Greenbriar. I love the way this series is unafraid to show the darkness in everyone and how beautifully plotted it is.

 

That’s it! Thank you so much for reading and for your support as I come back to my blog.

-Clara

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag! (2019)

This is sort of an annual tradition for most book bloggers, I think– taking time in the middle of the year to reflect on the books we’ve read in the past six months.

I have had a fabulous year of reading as of right now and that is making me really excited for the rest of the year. Last year was just okay, but I have read some truly splendid books in 2019.

Let’s get into the tag!

Best Book of 2019 So Far

sky in the deep

I read Sky in the Deep (review here) a couple weeks ago and I am still reeling from it. It was magnificent. Everything about it was wonderful and I don’t think I’ll be forgetting about it for a very, very long time (if ever).

Best Sequel of 2019 So Far

wicked king

I *almost* used this for Best Book So Far but realized it fits this question too so this is where it’s going.

It had been a long time since a book made me feel the feels when I read this and it truly delivered in every department.

Also the last book in the trilogy is out in November and I AM NOT READY. If Holly hurts my son I will come for her.

Most Anticipated Release of the Second Half of 2019

queen of nothing

Yes I just need to read about Cardan resolving all the problems he started.

And he has a lot of work to do.

Biggest Disappointment of 2019 So Far

bad arranged marriage book 1

Yeah this was…terrible, actually. Sure, parts were good, but I had expected something entirely different and I didn’t get it. What I did get was not something I liked. Alejandro deserved better; that’s all I’m saying.

Books to Read by the End of 2019

I’m a mood reader, really, so I don’t have a set list to read. There’s a few upcoming releases I want to read ASAP but other than that, I don’t have anything I’m forcing myself to read this year.

I do want to read Midnight Beauties by Megan Shepherd, The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black, and Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, specifically. There are more that I’m currently working on but those are just a few!

I’m tagging anyone who hasn’t yet done this this year and wants to!

What’s the best book you’ve read this year? The biggest disappointment? Let me know in the comments!

-Clara

Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

sky in the deep

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating. (via Goodreads)

To Adrienne Young, the author, and Khristine Hvam, the narrator:

download_20170405_130129

I was completely, utterly blown away by this book. 

I did not expect to love this as much as I did. Vikings wasn’t the most appealing concept to me, but it’s been a long time since a book consumed my thoughts as much as this one. So much so that when the audiobook came to a close, I was tempted to go back to the beginning and listen again.

I loved absolutely everything about this story: the plot, the characters (especially the characters), the setting, everything. It was brutal but it was beautiful.

Sky in the Deep has one of the most unique plots I’ve ever seen in the YA genre. It seems so simple– a few Viking clans fighting each other– but it is compelling.

I will say that it is rather violent at times and I did squirm more than once during battle and medical scenes. But that comes with the territory.

Layered into this epic plot is an immense amount of character development. Eelyn goes through a beautifully written inner battle as she is forced to abandon everything she’s ever been taught about the Riki, her supposed enemy. It’s exquisite.

As a character, Eelyn is a strong, independent, brutal woman. I loved her. She’s going to be living in my heart for a long time. I loved seeing her strength, physically and emotionally. She was just a wonderful character throughout the entire book.

And now I would like to introduce you all to my new boyfriend. His name is Fiske and he’s Riki. He’s also dark and brooding and exceptionally attractive. We’re madly in love.

Ahem. Yes, I fell in love with a fictional character again. Fiske is such a good character on his own, but together, he and Eelyn were something else. They had so much chemistry from the very beginning and I think they may be my second favorite enemies-to-lovers romance now (Jurdan is first and that’ll be hard to beat).

Eelyn’s Aska family- her father and her best friend- weren’t my favorite characters ever, but in the end, I still found them fascinating. Myra had her own outstanding arc that drove me crazy but also made me love her.

I loved Iri (I think I spelled that right?) and his Riki family, too. They were all wonderful characters and I kinda wish I could live with them for a few days.

As a whole, Adrienne wrote a magnificent novel and Khristine Vham was a magnificent narrator. I was never bored, not even for a second.

If it’s not obvious, I gave Sky in the Deep a 5-star rating and I recommend it to anyone after a unique story with wonderful characters.

Have you read Sky in the Deep? What did you think?

-Clara

Summer Reading and Writing!

Hey everyone!

I have done my best to do somewhat monthly posts for a long time but I have no school for about 5 weeks now and will hopefully be able to write some more posts for you guys. I have quite a few books I’m hoping to read so you can expect some reviews!

Today I wanted to let you all know what books I’m hoping to read and give you a writing update.

Here we go!

Books to Read:

Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

I saw Laura on a panel at YALLFest last year and read Ash Princess over Christmas break. I’ve been looking forward to reading this sequel since it was released and plan to kick off my summer reading with it.

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Another book I’ve been anticipating for a while and just haven’t gotten to yet. It sounds absolutely magnificent and I adore Julie’s book The Passion of Dolssa. 

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Apparently I’ll be spending my summer catching up on all of my anticipated 2019 releases that have already come out. I’ve also been predicting Sevérin to be a new crush so we’ll have to see if I was right or not.

I’m just focusing on these three for now, but I would like to add in at least one classic as well. Chances are I’ll end up reading The Great Gatsby again because I hope to expand and publish an essay I wrote on it.

Writing:

Captain Guinevere Book #3 is a top priority. I am having a lot of trouble finding a direction for this book but an idea came to me last night and I’m going to try it and see how it goes. I have a nice looking Pinterest board for it though and that’s definitely helpful. I made an aesthetic today that I may share here as a draft gets closer to being finished.

Edit The Nikolai Project. I’ve started this already (draft #2 is in progress!) and there is so much work that has to be done. But I love every second of it and I intend to work my butt off on this thing so I can a) start querying agents and b) start writing a potential sequel (no promises but I have an idea that I really love for two of the side characters to have their own full-length novel).

Expand my essay on The Great Gatsby. My English teacher suggested I do this and I honestly loved writing the essay. I’m hoping to expand it and submit it for publication.

There’s a lot to do this summer but I am really, truly excited about all of it.

What are your summer plans?
-Clara

Dear Clara- a poem

Dear Clara,

 We know what your talents are

We know you love the arts

We know there are two published novels to your name

We know you taught yourself a foreign language

We know you run a blog

We know you can leave your heart on the stage

We know your dream is to be a full-time author

 

We know you hate math

We know you hate science

We know you won’t ever need to know the Quadratic Formula

We know you don’t need to know about Saturn’s rings

Or the mitochondria, or logarithms, or matrices

We know you’ll have to do taxes and manage your finances

We know math isn’t your gift

We know science will never be your career

 

But your talents aren’t enough

Your art isn’t enough

You have to be good at math,

You have to be good at science

You have to know the Quadratic Formula to get into college

Sure, you’ll have to pay taxes

But you can figure that out on your own

While instead of teaching life skills,

We teach you about the cell

Instead of furthering your talents

We’re going to suppress them

Make you learn algebra instead of how to improve your novel

Make you know the mass of Jupiter instead of how to write for the theater

 

And here’s a test that we make everyone take

Same questions, same judgment

We know no two brains are the same

But we’ll judge them all on one test

One test that doesn’t really tell us who you are

It tells us how well you’ll submit to our oppression

How well you’ll study the things we want you to know

Instead of the things that will make you a better artist, a better person

 

So what we’re demanding

Is that you put away your writing, your blogging, your language learning

Take a break from the stage, although it keeps you sane

Put your life away, put us above your mental health

Stress yourself out studying for the things you hate

Because if you can’t solve equations

Or explain science you don’t even believe in

Clara, dear, you will never be good enough.

 

Love,

The School System

*************************************************************************************

Ordinarily I would never ask you to share my posts. But if you feel like I do– if you feel as though this poem of mine is a reflection of your own thoughts– please share this.

I want to do something about the oppressive American school system, and writing is my method. I don’t even write poetry, but I thought this was the best way to get these words on paper.

So if you understand exactly what I feel, if you too want to do something to change the school system in America, please don’t hesitate to share this poem to whatever social media you choose.

Thank you.

-Clara

The Grisha Trilogy, or the fandom I have now plunged into head-first

I did it. I read The Grisha Trilogy.

I’ve been wanting to read Leigh Bardugo’s books for a long time but just got around to it last week. I started Shadow and Bone last Saturday or so and I finished Ruin and Rising today. As I write this, Six of Crows is beside me, waiting to be read.

In short, I am officially a fan of Leigh Bardugo.

Non-Spoiler, Very Brief Series Review:

For starters, I absolutely adore her characters. If you’ve been here long, you probably know by now that characters are the single most important thing in a book for me personally. Bardugo did not disappoint. Alina is awesome; her development felt natural and was handled very well. Nikolai is honestly my favorite character I’ve read in a long time and you bet I’ll be reading King of Scars just because I’m mildly in love with him. And I’ll admit it, I might be just slightly in love with the Darkling, despite everything he did. I liked Mal, too, but not as much as I did the others.

Bardugo’s plot was fascinating and she beautifully executed the politics that came with it, especially in books 2 and 3, and her world building is magnificent. Ravka is the most excellently crafted world I’ve read since the InkHeart Trilogy.

As wonderful as the trilogy is (if you haven’t read it you really should), I really didn’t like the ending. I can’t say too much about it without spoilers, but it did frustrate me in more ways than one.

However, as a whole, The Grisha Trilogy is worth a read. It’s fast-paced and none of them get crazy long if that’s a concern for you.

Ratings:
Shadow and Bone– 5 stars

Siege and Storm– 5 stars

Ruin and Rising– 4 stars

Spoilery Stuff:

As much as I hate the Darkling at moments I am not going to deny that he is extremely interesting and, to an unfortunate degree, attractive.

But Nikolai is the man. He is actually Jack Sparrow but 10000x better. I love him.

But the ending? The romance part of the ending? No. Just no. To be honest, that’s what bothered me the most. Mal and Alina had far less chemistry than Nikolina or even Alarkling, so the fact that they ended up together doesn’t sit real well with me. It was too obvious and just a bit boring to me.

I also think Mal was very conveniently resurrected without a decent explanation- to my knowledge, Corporalnik can’t raise people from the dead yet it somehow happened with Mal? It just really didn’t work for me– if he was going to die he needed to stay dead. And I say that as someone who didn’t want him to die at all.

I was hoping Nikolina would happen in King of Scars before I finished Ruin and Rising but alas, I have no hope of that.

But despite the ending, this series was amazing and I am so excited to read Leigh’s other books!

 

Have you read The Grisha Trilogy? What do you think? 

-Clara

Books I’ve Been Reading… Since it’s been a while since I talked about actual reading on my book blog.

Hi, my name is Clara and I run a book blog that has completely forgotten to talk about reading books.

have been reading lately, I promise– I just haven’t fallen in love with a lot of books and have taken a long time to read quite a few of them. If they even managed to catch my attention in the first place.

But. There have been 2 books this year that I have downright adored, so that’s something.

So far, in 2019, I have completed 6 books and 1 novella. Not bad, actually. Here they are, with a little bit about what I thought:

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Ah, Christian fiction. I do not usually care all that much for it. I say that as a Christian girl myself…sometimes I feel bad about not liking it but I just feel like it’s of a poorer quality in terms of writing.

Redeeming Love was good; I rated it 4 stars. It’s decent; it’s proof that you can still write Christian fiction and talk about sex (I’m looking at you, Melanie Dickerson), and I did definitely appreciate that Francine did not sugar coat the fact that the main character was a prostitute. I just have a great appreciation for bluntness, okay?

However, the writing was slightly awkward at times. It was just a style thing, I think– again, I just don’t care much for the writing in Christian fiction so it may just be me as a reader.

Kinda-sorta-not-really spoiler:

I also feel like Michael very suddenly went from “this woman is a headache and I have no clue how I’m ever going to deal with her” to “Angel I love you” and that is still driving me crazy. Where was the actual development? I didn’t find it.

End spoiler.

The Wicked King by Holly Black

*endless screaming*

5 stars. I felt betrayed and didn’t touch the stupid thing for an hour after finishing. That is all you need to know.

The Lost Sisters by Holly Black (novella)

I actually forgot I read this, but apparently I rated it 4 stars. It was a nice, quick afternoon read, but nothing really special.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

So. We have established in posts past that I have a deep love for arranged marriage stories. My friend suggested this because the main character has an arranged marriage, and I got super excited because character development potential was everywhere. 

Aaaaaannnnndddd it went in a completely different, extremely disappointing direction. However, Elisa delivered in the character development department so I gave it 3 stars.

Ranty spoilers below:
So the romance, right? Elisa gets married at the beginning. Great. Alejandro seems like a super attractive man with tons of potential as a character and a love interest.

Nope. We get Humberto, who was great, but then of course he died. So I got excited because there are two more books in this series to make Alejandro a strong character (he is established as a weak king, etc. and you can’t tell me he couldn’t have changed throughout the series) and he and Elisa could fall in love.

Nope. Alejandro dies and I was angry for the next three days and I still get mad thinking about it.

I won’t be finishing the series.

End ranty spoilers.

Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers

4 stars, because it got really good, but it took a long time to get really good.

I was also a bit confused because it was my first LaFevers book ever. The lore/gods/magic/etc. was a bit confusing.

However, it was good in the end and I plan on finishing the duology. And I really love Maraud.

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

So. Much. Fun.

I’m telling you, I laughed so much reading this book and I can’t wait to get around to the rest of the series. 4 stars.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

I actually hadn’t planned on reading this as I wasn’t particularly intrigued by the summary, but I am so glad I gave it a chance! 5 stars.

I loved the romance, the adventure, everything.

So that’s it! All 6.5 books I’ve read so far this year and what I thought about all of them.

What books have you been enjoying this year? Any you completely hated?
-Clara

 

 

 

So…I Finished My Rough Draft

So in the month that it’s been since I last posted (I have lacked blogging inspiration on an extreme level lately), I finished my rough draft of The Nikolai Project. No, it doesn’t have a title yet. Still.

Anyway, it came in at just slightly under 57,500 words. It’s going to be longer in editing- there were multiple times I just kind of skipped sections of the story because I didn’t want to write them at that moment, so I’ll have to expand on all of that.

It’s an odd feeling, being done with my draft. I started thinking about this project in at least July 2017. It’s been a year and half I’ve spent with these people inhabiting my brain. So to be done with the draft, to take a long break from it, is kind of terrifying to think about. Because I really don’t want to be done with this draft. Nikolai and Amira have become second nature to me– I don’t think I’ve ever known any of my characters as intimately as I know them and no story has developed so naturally. But if I were to keep drafting, there wouldn’t be any more of their particular storyline.

That said, there is going to be a sequel. I was trying to avoid that, but I believe I’m going to have a duology. The sequel will not be about Nikolai and Amira, although they will certainly have a role to play.

But. I am not writing the sequel yet, although it’s (extremely) tempting.

I have started the sequel (and conclusion to the trilogy) to Lady Gwen. I hope this draft won’t take long and I don’t intend for it to. I’ll be working hard on it as I have a lot to figure out.

After I’ve drafted that, I’ll do a round of edits for TNP and then finish/publish the conclusion to my trilogy (yay!).

So that’s an update on my writing life for you.

If you’ve finished a rough draft of a beloved story, how did you deal with it?

-Clara

50 Things That Make Me Happy Tag!

Ann tagged me to do the 50 Things That Make Me Happy Tag, in which I list 50 things that make me happy.

  1. Jesus
  2. My family
  3. My friends
  4. The Nikolai Project
  5. The characters in The Nikolai Project
  6. Amirkolai, the main ship in The Nikolai Project
  7. The Gwendolyn Trilogy, even though it makes me frustrated a lot. 😉
  8. My French fairytales class
  9. French as a whole
  10. Zaho
  11. Charlie Boisseau
  12. Florent Mothe
  13. French musicals
  14. Makeup
  15. Red lipstick
  16. Notebooks
  17. Kathleenlights
  18. Tati
  19. Tiramisu
  20. Macarons
  21. Café au lait
  22. Black coffee
  23. Cappuccinos
  24. Lattes
  25. Film scores
  26. Playing the piano
  27. Fur Elise
  28. This mug my friend got me that has pictures of me and my friends on it
  29. Earl Grey
  30. Skincare. All of it.
  31. Beauty and the Beast
  32. Disney
  33. Thor
  34. Marvel
  35. Watching chick flicks at 2am
  36. Tangled (I watched this on my birthday and I cried. I actually cried.)
  37. Being a Hufflepuff
  38. Pinterest
  39. Carswell Thorne
  40. Roshani Chokshi
  41. Brendan Reichs
  42. Prince Cardan Greenbriar of Elfhame (although we are having a rough patch in our relationship right now because he made a really stupid decision but we’re not gonna talk about that)
  43. BEN. SOLO. (my child)
  44. Dorian Havilliard (he is my child and you can’t make me change my mind)
  45. Hot showers
  46. New sheet music
  47. Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina
  48. I Love Lucy
  49. Red roses
  50. SANDALWOOD EVERYTHING

I am tagging everyone who reads this: pause, pull out a piece of paper, and write down 50 things that make you happy/that you’re thankful for. It will make your day 10x better.

Love,

Clara