Top Ten Tuesday: Best Character Names

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

Better late than never? I really need to start doing my TTT posts the weekend before, that might be helpful. But I’m determined to get this one in under the wire! This topic (Best character names) was actually kind of tough for me. It was way easier for me to remember ones I DIDN’T like (looking at you, Theodosia). But I took on the challenge!

Here they are, in no particular order:

ONE: Rowan (TOG Series or Scythe)

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I actually like the name Rowan in ANY book. The only other book that’s coming to mind is Scythe, but I love this name. Why are there no Rowan’s IRL??

TWO: Atticus (To Kill a Mockingbird)

My next dog will be named Atticus. My favorite name, from my favorite book. If you haven’t read this yet, go check it out immediately.

THREE: Lira (To Kill a Kingdom)

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It helped that I was obsessed with both The Little Mermaid and this twisted retelling, but I’ve always loved the name Lira. Check out my review of this awesome book here.

FOUR: Aria (Game of Thrones)

Or from Pretty Little Liars (I liked this Aria much more than from GOT).

FIVE: Sarai (Strange the Dreamer)

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I also loved Lazlo’s name. Guys. If you have not read this book do so immediately. I think it’s been my favorite read of the year so far. Read my review here, and then go buy it.

SIX: Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)

This is a given, and also requires the full name, first and last.

SEVEN: Jude (The Cruel Prince)

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I’ve always loved the name Jude, probably from the song. I especially love it when it’s a girls name. And part of such a phenomenal book like The Cruel Prince.

EIGHT: Tris (Divergent)

Even though I don’t love made-up names, and Tris is kind of made-up, it’s also badass that she changes her name from Beatrice to Tris.

NINE: Abby Abernathy and Travis Maddox (Beautiful Disaster)

Actually, all of the names in this book are awesome (a lot of alliteration and siblings starting with the same name). Except America. I hate when books name girls America.

TEN: Augustus Waters (A Fault in Our Stars)

Is there anything I DON’T love about Augustus Waters? One word: swoon.

 

What’s your top character name? Did it make my list??

xoxo

Jen

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ARC Review: Furyborn

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Book: Furyborn

Author: Claire Legrand

Release Date: May 22

Pages: 512

Rating: ★★★★ .5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

My Review:

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

4.5/5 stars for Furyborn! I had no idea what to expect when I picked this up, but I ended up absolutely loving it.

WHAT I LOVED:

  • THE CLIFFHANGERS. Ms Legrand, you have definitely mastered the art of tearing out a readers’ soul each and every chapter. I’m not exaggerating. Every. Single. Chapter. Every time I got to the end I’d go, NO! But then get sucked right back into the next one. This book gave me so much anxiety and trepidation – in the best way.
  • The premise. Reading the synopsis, I had no idea how the two main protagonists were going to connect over 1000 years. This was executed flawlessly, and I’ve never read anything like it. In a sea of repetitive YA fantasy, this book was refreshing, original, and addicting. I could not get enough.
  • The main characters. Can you say girl power? Both of these women were such badasses. I loved it. And the best part of it was, they were badasses while being flawed. These women were strong AND relatable.
  • The quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I loved these, once I got the hang of them! They were like little snippets into other people’s thoughts besides the main characters.
  • Simon. Swoon. I needed more!
  • The trials. THESE WERE SO COOL, and such great, vivid writing. The end.

WHAT I DIDN’T: (just kidding I loved everything)

  • The only minor complaint I have is this: the flipping back and forth was a little challenging to get used to, and I wish we had gotten some more background knowledge – I wish some of the mystery surrounding HOW everything actually happened had been cleared up a little bit. I need to know more about Simon and his backstory! I’m guessing (hoping) this will happen in the second book.

Furyborn releases May 22 (I’ve already preordered my finished copy). Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this spectacular book!

Have you read this/are you planning on picking this one up? I cannot wait for it’s release day!

xoxo

Jen

Top Ten.. Thursday? : Books I Disliked but am Really Glad I Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

Ok, so I’m a scumbag and haven’t done TTT for the past two weeks. But Thursday still starts with T, so I’m going to jump right back in. This week’s topic was: Books I Disliked but Am Really Glad I Read. I don’t even know if I can get 10, but I’ll give it a good shot. Here are my picks, in no particular order:

ONE: All the Ever Afters

I didn’t particularly care for this book (you can read my review here) but it was the very first ARC I ever got approved for, read, and reviewed. That definitely makes it special to me, and I’m so so glad (and grateful!) to have had the opportunity.

TWO: The entire Twilight saga

I feel like this was a rite of passage, everyone had to read it. And I did. But did not like it. So many disturbing themes. So many issues with this series.

THREE: Fifty Shades of Grey series

See above.

FOUR: A Clockwork Orange

I appreciated this book for the work of fiction that it was, and the genius that comes with creating an entire language of street slang and getting your reader to understand it by the end of the book. I also appreciated the importance of the themes it contained, so I was glad I read it. I won’t be repeating the experience.

FIVE: No Country for Old Men

I actually HATED this book and saw no point to it. The only reason I’m glad I read it is because I read it in a college class – Crime Fiction – and met my husband in the discussion group. So I guess SOMETHING good came out of it.

SIX: A Walk to Remember

Ok. Don’t hate me. I’m glad I read this, because again, rite of passage. But CHILDHOOD CANCER IS NOT ROMANTIC and to me this book did it in such a tactless way. I thought books like The Fault in Our Stars did a much better job.

 SEVEN: Wicked

I’m glad I read this before I went to see the Broadway play – because I appreciated the play so much more. This book was dark, dark, dark. I did not like it. But I LOVED the play.

EIGHT: Anna Karenina

Bragging rights.

NINE: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I didn’t care for this book – it dragged a little bit for me, plus rape scenes are pretty hard for me to read. But I’m glad I read it, so at the very least I can say I did.

TEN: Lord of the Flies

Just kidding, I’m actually not glad I read this one and could have done without it. I hated this book.

Thoughts? Do you disagree with any? What book did you not like but are glad you read?

xoxo

Jen

Review: Ash Princess

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Title: Ash Princess

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pages: 432

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

My Review:

I read this as a buddy read with such a fun group of ladies! Check them out here:

I had really been looking forward to this book, although I was a little nervous about the hype. I continued to be nervous… until about the last 1/3 of the book, which completely made up for it. If you have not done buddy reads before, I highly recommend them! The group chats and discussions totally add to the experience. Overall, I gave Ash Princess 4/5 stars. Here’s why:

WHAT I LOVED:

  • The Kaiser. This guy was pure evil. He did not step out of character once. He may be the best villain I’ve read in a while, and I wanted more of him. When Theo wanted to vomit when he touched her, I kind of did too. He is despicable. Great job, Sebastian.
  • Soren’s follow-through. Even when Theo stomps all over him again and again, he doesn’t blink and keeps following through on the promises he made her, even going against his father and his country to do so. I’ll admit, Soren kind of annoyed me for most of the book (plus I felt like he was hardly in it?), but this totally made up for it. I will also note here that it’s rare that I don’t HATE a love triangle, but Sebastian made it happen, and in a pretty believable way.
  • The TWISTS and pacing of the last 100 pages. Like I said, I continued to be nervous about the hype until about the last 1/3 of the book, but once I hit that final part I could not put it down. I finished this buddy read a day early because I just couldn’t stop. So many things happened that I did NOT see coming. The climax of this book was extremely well done, and managed to push this book out of the “just another YA fantasy book” category for me.
  • SO MUCH MANIPULATION. Every single character was manipulating someone else (except maybe Soren…like I said, annoying). I was so impressed with how every major character was truly a big player in what was unfolding. This gave Ash Princess a slight Game of Thrones vibe.
  • Cress – at the end. For most of the book, Cress irritated me. She was so sugary sweet and had no backbone, which was just so unbelievable. I mean, come on – look at who your father is. You’re telling me you just turn a blind eye to that because he brings you pretty jewels? BUT THEN. I’m telling you guys, I lived for the last 100 pages of this book. I cannot see where Cress goes with book 2.
  • Theo is a passable and fairly likable protagonist. I’ll admit, she flip-flops quite a bit, and she could have been written better. But I never wanted to punch her in the face so I’ll take it. Her character arc was also pretty well done and believable.

WHAT I DIDNT:

  • WHY SO MANY MADE-UP NAMES??? See: Kaiser (is this a person or a roll…?). Prinz. Crescentia. Theodosia. Kalovaxians. I literally replaced half of these words with other made-up ones in my head. I wish YA Fantasy authors would stop trying to out-do each other with all these made up names (and don’t even get me started on made-up swear words). Did you REALLY need a new word for King and Prince? No. The answer is no.
  • A bit been there, done that. The sympathetic son of the evil king trope is starting to get a LITTLE over-done. See: TOG. Red Queen. Etc. And in this case I didn’t even care for Soren that much for most of the book.
  • The pacing of the first 200 pages. Like I mentioned above, I struggled with the first 2/3 of the book. I was mainly irritated that I’d let the hype draw me in and felt like I was reading every other YA fantasy book ever. Nothing felt original to me, and it felt slow. This portion of the book needed some work.
  • I needed so much more of the Shadows! Blaise was definitely my choice for the previously mentioned love triangle, but he really needed to be fleshed out – there wasn’t much there. I loved all of the Shadows but I needed MORE: more backstory, more character development, more personality, more dialogue, more page time. Just more. I’m hoping for this in book 2.

I hemmed and hawed and was between a 3 and a 4 for this entire book, but those last 100 pages really did it for me. I’m really glad I read it, and I’m definitely looking forward to book 2! Have you read Ash Princess? What did you think?

xoxo

Jen

ARC Review: Brave Enough

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Book: Brave Enough

Author: Kati Gardner

Release Date: August 21, 2018

Pages: 280

My Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Teenager Cason Martin is the youngest ballerina in the Atlanta Ballet Conservatory. She never really had a choice of whether she learned to dance or not. Her mother, the conservatory’s artistic director, has made all the decisions in Cason’s life. But that’s about to change. Cason has been hiding an injury, and it’s much worse than anyone imagines.

Davis Channing understands all too well what it’s like to give up control of your life. He’s survived cancer, but his drug addiction nearly killed him. Now he’s been sober for seven months and enjoying his community service at the hospital. But just when he thinks he’s got it together, Davis’s ex-girlfriend, who is still battling her addiction, barrels back into his life.

Cason and Davis are not friends. But, as their worlds collide, they will start to depend on one another. Can they both be brave enough to beat the odds?

Review:

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3/5 stars for Brave Enough. Thank you so much to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. Maybe a book about young people with cancer probably wasn’t the best option for me right now just because of what is going on in my personal life, but this book hit me hard. Emotionally, it packs a powerful punch, and I had to set it down a few times to give myself a break (in a good way). I did have some minor issues with the book, so let’s get right down to it. Mild spoilers may be below:

WHAT I LOVED:

  • The blatant honesty, and how it was used to portray childhood cancer. Kati Gardner gives such a powerful, wrenching portrayal of how it probably feels to have all of your dreams ripped away in one single moment, and have your life change so drastically. The way Cason narrates and her feelings throughout the story are right on point. There is no hiding from any of her emotions – they are brutal, honest, powerful, and right in your face. Of course, when I reached the Author’s Note and the Acknowledgements, I realized why this was so accurate and realistic. More on that later.
  • The way the medical field is portrayed. As a physical therapist, I LOVED this. Cason’s Dr. and her PT are both so involved and invested in her recovery, and even though patient’s may not love PT at the time, when we get to help a patient to return to doing something they love, it is so rewarding. Seeing this shine through in Gardner’s writing was wonderful. I also completely understood the mixed feelings Mari and Cason both seemed to have about their medical team – so realistic and something I see each and every day.
  • The Author’s Note and Acknowledgements at the end. These were my very favorite parts of the book. Kati Gardner’s honesty continues right on through to these sections, but this time about her own life – Gardner herself is a childhood cancer survivor, and an amputee. This explains how she was able to describe Cason’s feelings so accurately and so openly. I loved these notes. PLEASE READ THEM.

WHAT I DIDN’T:

  • TOO. MANY. TROPES. Let me just list some of them for you: Cancer. Overcoming addiction. Bad relationship with Mom turned good. Insta-love. I could go on. But honestly I’m going to stop. This book had too much going on. The plot was a little bit all over the place, and I know sometimes bad things happen in 3s but this book was over the top. Using cancer, opioid addiction, young death, evil mom, and insta-love all as plot devices in one book? Too much.
  • One of my biggest pet peeves in books is stilted dialogue, and oh lord did this book have it. PEOPLE DO NOT TALK LIKE THAT. If you read a sentence out loud and it doesn’t sound like something you’d actually say, FIX IT. It actually took me a little while to get past this, and it did get better as the book went on.
  • The character development and entire plot felt rushed and a little forced to me. I never really developed a huge attachment to Cason or Davis, and never really bought into their insta-love. Obviously I was rooting for them, but I felt like I needed more. They were both a little bland (Cason more than Davis. Davis at least had some character). This was also lacking where Natalie was concerned – she went from bitchy dance mom to stay at home super supportive mom in what felt like less than two pages. Side note: while this may be slightly unfair, I HATED THE NAME CASON. I wanted to read it as Carson the entire book.

All in all, I did enjoy this book. It obviously had a few issues but if you’re looking for a book that packs an emotional punch and gives a brutally honest depiction of what it’s like to have childhood cancer, this is your pick.

Brave Enough will be released on August 21.

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight

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Book: A Court of Frost and Starlight

Author: Sarah J Maas

Pages: 229

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

Review:

FINALLY! So long awaited, and personally I didn’t feel let down one bit. I’m not even sure if I can beak it down into what I loved and what I didn’t like I normally do, because really is there anything I don’t love about Sarah J. Maas books? I’ll try my darnedest.

WHAT I LOVED:

  • The cast of characters. This is nothing new. Rhys is swoon-worthy as ever, and I honestly wish Mor was my best friend. This book was so wonderful because you got to see the Inner Circle doing FUN, NORMAL THINGS. And not just fighting a war. They got to be happy(ish). And their dialogue was ON POINT. I think I actually laughed out loud at least once a chapter. The banter between the inner circle was easily my favorite part about this book, and I loved scenes where they were all together.
  • The changing POV. I LOVED THIS. I LOVED that each chapter was a different POV. It actually got to the point where I was like, WE GET IT FEYRE NOW GIVE ME SOME MOR/CASSIAN/NESTA/etc. If you’ve finished this book (again, I’m trying so hard not to give any spoilers) YOU KNOW WHY I AM SO THRILLED AND EXCITED!!!
  • AZ AND ELAIN. I DONT CARE IF PEOPLE FEEL BAD FOR LUCIEN I TOTALLY SHIP THESE TWO.

WHAT I DIDN’T: (again: I didn’t really DISLIKE anything. These are minor complaints)

  • Slight predictablity. I don’t want to give anything away because spoilers are RUDE so I’m not going to say what was predictable. But as I was contemplating this book before it came out, to myself I was thinking “I bet this happens” and lo and behold, it did.
  • Tamlin. GET YOUR SKULKING ASS OUT OF HERE. That’s all.
  • GIVE ME MORE NESTA. Also wouldn’t say no to more Az and Mor either.

This book delivered exactly what it promised – a short novella to bridge ACOTAR and the branch-off series. It didn’t advance plot much, and to be honest Feyre and Rhys got a little eye-roll worthy at times, but I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT. It definitely piqued my interest for the spin-off (as if I needed anything more to do that) and it was so nice to see the gang doing something other than fighting or sacrificing. I cannot wait for the spin-off series!

Have you read ACOFAS yet? Did you love it or hate it?

xoxo

Jen

Beacon Book Box: Starlight Celebration Unboxing

Finally! I have been anticipating this ACOFAS special edition box since they day I ordered it, and IT’S FINALLY HERE! So far I’ve been so impressed with Beacon Book Box and the quality of the items they include in their boxes, especially for a company that just started (you can see my April unboxing here). This box was no exception – in fact, it was even BETTER. This box had so many things in it that when I tried to close it back up, I literally could not fit everything in. Here’s what was included:

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Winter Solstice Coffee provided by Book Lovers Coffee and ACOFAS Coffee Mug designed by @littlebearries. I LOVE coffee and definitely cannot get by without it, so I am so excited to try this out. Plus, bonus: it made the entire box smell like coffee. What’s not to love about that?!

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ACOFAS Coasters provided by Impressed Favors. These included a lovely quote from ACOFAS and are a pretty sturdy material! All four coasters had the same quote. The quote says:

“Stars flickered around us, sweet darkness sweeping in. As if we were the only souls in a galaxy.”

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Tarquin’s Court Bath Salts provided by the lovely team at Beacon Book Box. The scent is  described as Sea Breeze, and they definitely smell wonderful! I especially loved this item because I am summer court all the way. 🙂

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Feyre’s Village Candle by Spidey Scents. Candles are one of my favorite items to receive in boxes, and this one was no exception. Have you ever smelled a candle, read the description of what you’re supposed to smell, and went…huh?? Me too. But not this time. This candle smells exactly as advertised, and it’s sparkly to boot. I cannot wait to burn it!

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Two Bookmarks: one provided by Beacon Book Box (they always throw in a little something from the team) and one from MolderoCraftCo. I’m so glad they included this quote, as it’s one of my favorites! If you can’t read it, it says:

“When you spend so long trapped in darkness, Lucien, you find that the darkness begins to stare back.”

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Night Court Socks by Camryn Prints. To be honest, I was actually a little disappointed with these. I was super excited to pull them out of the box, and I love the print. However, when I went to put them on, they are pretty cheap material and did not look great on my feet – they’re really boxy? They also are a super weird length. This is the ONLY time so far I have ever been disappointed by a selection. I’ll let it slide.

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ACOMAF Zipper Pouch by Novel Grounds. This may be one of my favorite things in this box. I actually can’t say that – I have like 4 favorites. But this is ONE of them. I love it! It is so adorable! And actually something that I really needed and will continue to be useful.

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Prythian Map by Janes Tiny Things. THIS. IS. GORGEOUS. I am so in love with this print. Honestly, a lot of times when I get prints I’m like, what am I supposed to do with this? But this one is getting hung up for sure. It is beautiful.

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And finally, the BOOK ITSELF:

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This box was so over the top and wonderful. They even created a special edition BOX to ship everything in – isn’t it beautiful? I definitely will not be throwing this one out. Thank you so much to the team at Beacon Book Box for yet again putting together a wonderful box.

If you like what you see, head on over to their website and check it out! May’s theme is Whispers of Wanderlust and June’s theme is Corruption in the Court. PLUS: June will have TWO BOOKS! You can use JEN10 for 10% off your order.

xoxo

Jen