Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Reading Goals Review & Yearly Stats

Reading Challenges Review

My first goal was to read 70 books, but I later upped that to 100 books. I'm proud to say that I managed to read 135 books, my best reading year ever!! 

View my Goodreads Year in Books here to see all the books I read in 2020!

My next goal was to read five completed series and finish three series I was currently reading at the start of the year. I managed to far surpass this goal, reading 12 full series and completing 4 currently-reading series, listed below in completion order. 

1. Magisterium series by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare (finished)
2. Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver
3. The Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black
4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
5. The Girl from Everywhere duology by Heidi Heilig
6. The Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown
7. The Dragonriders of Pern trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
8. Arc of a Scythe trilogy by Neal Shusterman (finished)
9. Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
10. The Blood of Stars duology by Elizabeth Lim
11. The Carls duology by Hank Green (finished)
12. The Poppy War trilogy by R. F. Kuang
13. The Hallowed Ones duology by Laura Bickle
14. A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
15. A Conspiracy of Magic trilogy by Megan Crewe (finished)
16. Forward Collection by Various Authors

My next goal was to read as many books as possible from my TBR and have at least 70% of the books I read be from my TBR because I own sooo many unread books. Unfortunately, I did not complete this goal. Only 71 of 135 books (53%) were from my TBR. My list of owned and unread books was at 350 on January 1, 2020, and I wanted to reduce that as much as possible, but now my TBR is at 390 books! Obviously, I have a book buying problem. . . . I had 16 books that I've owned since high school that I really hoped to get to this year, but I read only 6 of them. This goal will carry over into my reading goals for 2021. 

Yearly Statistics

Number of books I read in 2020: 135
Number of those books that I listened to on audio: 61
Number of books I read from my TBR: 71
Number of books I read that were published this year: 27
Number of series I started: 26
Number of series I completed: 16
Number of books I DNFed: 9
Number of books I reread: 3
Number of books I acquired this year: 135
Number of books I unhauled this year: 31
Number of books on my TBR at the beginning of 2020: 350
Number of books on my TBR at the end of 2020: 390

Books I read that were . . .
Middle Grade: 17 (12.6%)
Young Adult: 39 (28.9%)
Adult: 79 (58.5%)
*Note that I categorize anything not specifically labeled as middle grade or young adult as an adult title, such as nonfiction, humor, graphic novels, or religious books that could be enjoyed by any age group.

Graphic Novels: 9 books
Short Stories or Novellas: 19 books
Nonfiction Titles: 21 books
ARCs I read before the publication date: 5 books

Star Ratings:
1 star: 14 books (10.4%)
2 stars: 26 books (19.3%)
3 stars: 37 books (27.4%)
4 stars: 35 books (25.9%) 
5 stars: 23 books (17.0%)

Reading Survey

Favorite book of the year: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
Least favorite book of the year: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
Most surprising book of the year: Most Likely by Sarah Watson
Most disappointing book of the year: Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Longest book of the year: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (1,001 pages)
Shortest book of the year: Randomize by Andy Weir (28 pages) 
Book that was on my TBR the longest that I read: Delirium by Lauren Oliver (9 years)
Biggest accomplishment: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson 
Most read genre: Fantasy (63 books) 

Reading Reflections

Well, this was certainly an interesting and unprecedented year. I read more than I've ever read before in one year, but I also gave out more low ratings this year than any previous year. Quantity does not equal quality. I hoped to read a lot of my TBR books, and I was doing pretty well on that goal for about six months, but then I veered away to non-owned books over the summer and never got back on track. I'm not mad about it though, because one of the main reasons I read books I didn't own was because I wanted to read some books relating to the Black Lives Matter movement and further my education as a white ally. I own an extremely small amount of nonfiction, so all of these were titles I read from the library, and there were a lot of them. 

Another contributor to my outrageous number of non-TBR books I read was that there were tons of novellas and short stories relating to series I own that were available only as ebooks, and of course I read them all. Plus I had a handful of books I wanted to read that I only had access to via ebook, and I had another set of books I wanted to read before I purchased them because I wasn't sure if I would like them enough to purchase them in the first place. Lots of contributing factors, but overall I'm happy with my reading this year, especially because while only slightly more than half of the books I read were from my TBR list, that was still 71 books! Some years I don't read that many books in the whole year, so while the number of books I read from my TBR was low percentage-wise, it was still high quantity-wise. 

I read some books this year that I had hoped to get to for years. I read new books by some of my favorite authors, and I read some disappointing books that I had hoped to love. I don't think I can ever beat 135 books in a year, but I still can't wait to see what books lie in store for me to discover next year. 

Review: FORWARD COLLECTION (Amazon Original Stories)


This collection of stories is about looking forward in some way, usually involving futuristic technology or scientific discoveries. The stories fall into the science fiction, fantasy, or dystopian genres, and each author has a different take on the idea, producing an eclectic mix of stories. I don't tend to read or enjoy short stories very often, but I wanted to give these ones a try because I recognize all these authors and I do enjoy the general concept behind this collection. 

"ARK" by Veronica Roth3.5/5 stars  

I have come to realize that I really enjoy apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories. This one follows Samantha, one of the last humans left on Earth. Most humans have already escaped to Earth the Sequel to avoid the imminent collision of an asteroid that will wipe out all life on Earth, but Samantha and a group of scientists are the last ones to leave because they must catalogue all the flora and fauna species possible so they can take the data with them to their new planet. There is a lot of talk about plants in this story, and I really enjoyed it; plants are fascinating to me. This story also talks about the value of life and what's worth living for. This was one of the stronger stories included in this collection.

"EMERGENCY SKIN" by N. K. Jemisin4.5/5 stars

This story was so fascinating, but I also don't know how to explain what it's about. It's told in second-person POV from the voice of your commander that's inside your head. You don't say anything or have any thoughts on-page in this story, but it can be inferred what you are thinking based on what the commander's responses are to you. You are from a new Earth, coming back to this, the original Earth, now called Tellus, on a mission to acquire HeLa cell cultures to keep the population on your home planet alive. But when you arrive, the people on Tellus are not the uncultured savages you expected to find. I'm not doing a very good job of explaining this story, but it's amazing; go read it. It's the best in the collection. N. K. Jemisin knows how to write impactful and timely stories, touching on social topics that are relevant to our current society. Her stories have such a unique concept and a distinct voice, and "Emergency Skin" was no different. 

"RANDOMIZE" by Andy Weir1.5/5 stars  

This story was rather confusing, to be honest. Basically, it follows an IT guy setting up a quantum computer at a casino to stop hackers from winning megabucks in futuristic Las Vegas. Not science-fictiony enough for me because it seemed like it took place in the current world and I expected something more. While I love reading about futuristic technology, the stuff in this story went right over my head. I’m not a physicist, and it almost feels like that’s what you need to be to understand the details going on here. I got the gist of the plot, but I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more had it not been full of technical jargon that would be more suited to someone actually in IT. While I normally don’t mind new terminology if it benefits the story, it did nothing for the plot here. I think this same story could have been told using language more suited to us plebeians and it would have been just as impactful. Not to mention the characters are flat, the conversations are stilted and unrealistic, and the story was lackluster, albeit slightly unpredictable. I still want to check out The Martian by Andy Weir, but I sure hope it’s not as technical as this story or I know I won’t enjoy it. "Randomize" is by far the weakest story in the Forward Collection in my opinion. 

"THE LAST CONVERSATION" by Paul Tremblay4/5 stars

Wow, that was a trip! I definitely want to read more from Paul Tremblay after this story. He’s known for horror but this story wasn’t scary, more unsettling because of a constant feeling of not knowing something. This story starts out with you waking up, and you don’t know how long you’ve been asleep or where you are or what’s going on. Slowly throughout the story, you start to become aware of your surroundings and you start to regain your memories. And yes, I mean you. This story is told in second-person POV, which I always love! It’s so rare and unique, and it really fitted the story here. I won’t say anymore because the feeling of being in the dark, both literally and metaphorically, was so compelling for me. I flew through this story and I want more; this is a story that has me wanting it to be part of a full-length novel because I want to know more details about the world. "The Last Conversation" is definitely one of the more engaging stories in the Forward Collection.


This was the most interesting story in this collection. The concept was very intriguing, and Amor Towles sure knows how to craft a fascinating story.

Sam and Annie go to Vitek for an IVF, but the company is unlike any other fertility business out there: they give you the option to customize the personality of your child. Using genetic data from many generations of people in similar socioeconomic backgrounds and with similar nurturing, Vitek is able to hypothesize about what your child will be like. Sam and Annie watch three videos about three options of a future child they could have, videos that show the highs and lows of each model’s entire life. What would it be like to see your child’s life before they were even conceived? The parents get to decide what kind of child they want to raise. This concept was very interesting because it seemed so realistic, like this technology could actually happen within the next five to ten years.

I didn’t really understand the ending though. I tried to find an explanation online of what the implications meant, but it seems like a lot of other people struggled with the ending as well. The story was really strong and thought-provoking up until the last couple of pages where things just went downhill.

I definitely want to check out more from Amor Towles now though because the writing in this book was impeccable and the story was imaginative.

"SUMMER FROST" by Blake Crouch3/5 stars

This story was kind of hard for me to wrap my head around at first, but it’s about Riley, a human, and Max, the AI NPC that Riley created for a video game who ends up becoming self-aware and gaining autonomy through a human body. There is a lot of great characterization in this story with both Riley and Max, especially for it not being a full-length novel. This story talks about what it means to be a human and what the limitations of humanity are. It talks about the relationships between humans and technology. I love stories about video games that go beyond the current boundaries of gameplay, so I enjoyed this story.

There is a lot of philosophical debate in here as well, which I found really interesting. Crouch talks about humanity and consciousness and what happens when artificial intelligence becomes all-knowing—are they more like God or like Satan?

This is the longest story in the collection, and it definitely feels more like a novella than a short story, but the length only benefitted the story and its outcome.

Monday, December 28, 2020


 Rating: 2/5 stars

Unfortunately, I did not finish this book because I wasn’t connecting to the characters or the story at all, and I began to dread the moments I would press play on the audiobook. I debated for two whole weeks if I should push myself through or not, but ultimately I decided to just quit because of my lack of enjoyment. Although this book was not for me, I feel that this would be the perfect book for the right audience.

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a historical fantasy, and fans of that genre will likely enjoy this book. While I love fantasy, I struggle with historical narratives, and this book was much more historical than I expected it to be; it’s very rich in both history and culture. It almost feels like it could be a nonfiction story if only magic had been real.

Set in the late 1700s, this book tackles civil rights and revolution. The story starts out following a common man who uses magic and is put on trial and jailed for using magic since commoners are not allowed to use magic, and this is the basis for the story. Magicians want different rights for the use of their magic, thus the title.

There are a few perspectives here. The main story follows a vampire and his friend in England, but we also have the POV of a slave girl from Jamaica. I didn’t read far enough to hear much about the girl, but her story goes hand in hand with the main storyline as some magicians are working to abolish slavery while they fight for the rules regarding the use of magic to be changed.

I thought the discussion about magic in this book was actually pretty cool. The commoners are forced to wear bracelets that prevent them from using magic, but of course some higher class magicians think this is wrong and want change. There are a few different types of magicians in this book too, and my favorite part was that that blood magician was actually a vampire. Because consuming blood is how he got his magic to work. 

If heavily historical novels with lots of politics and moral discussions and magic are your cup of tea, then I encourage you to give this book a go. 

I feel like I could potentially enjoy A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians at a different time in my life, and I hope eventually I will be willing to pick it up again and finish it. I do know, however, that I would get a lot more out of it and feel more connected to it reading it with my eyes, so I can say with certainty that if I were to come back to this story, I would not be continuing the audiobook. The narrator had a nice voice and I feel that he adequately portrayed the characters and the story, but something about either him or this book just wasn’t letting me grasp what was going on while listening to it. So maybe if you want to give it a shot try reading it instead? Even though this book wasn’t exactly my thing, I still want to read The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry, and I would definitely consider reading other novels from her in the future too. 

I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Review: WE MET IN DECEMBER by Rosie Curtis


Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I’ve been trying to read one Christmas romance every December, and We Met in December was my pick for this year. 

I really wanted this book to be similar to One Day in December by Josie Silver, which is one of my favorite books, but this wasn’t as deep or exciting as I expected it to be. There’s nothing wrong with We Met in December—it’s a fun holiday romance—but I was also hoping it would be more than that.

Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to connect to the characters in this book or care about their relationship as much as I should have. Plus I kept getting the other flatmates and various side characters confused with each other. No one was very dynamic, in my opinion. I blame my feelings partially on my mental state this time of the year; working in retail has completely fried my brain right now. But also I blame it partially on my expectations being too high going into this story.

Jess and Alex (and some other people) share a flat and their friend/flatmate/flat owner put forth one rule: no dating. But Jess finds herself falling for nice guy Alex, who gave up his job as a lawyer to retrain as a nurse. The story follows them in dual POVs during the following year as we learn about their feelings and escapades while they avoid dating but still have “feelings” for each other.

This book was alright, one I’d recommend if all you’re looking for is a cute holiday romance story to bring some light to the bleak days of winter, but it’s not overly original. It plays on some cliches and stereotypes I frequently see in romance stories, including the “let’s not communicate and let the other person get the completely wrong idea about what’s going on” trope, which frustrated me a bit. And this book’s definitely not memorable like the poignant, surprising, and emotional One Day in December either, which I suspect no Christmas romance will ever live up to. I shouldn’t compare one book to the other, but with the books’ similar titles and themes, I guess I just wanted them to be more alike than they were. That’s my own fault, not the book’s fault.

I was debating during the whole time reading this book if I should give it 2 or 3 stars. I like it but it’s just okay. Not as bad as some other 2-star books I’ve read, but not as enjoyable as some other 3-star books I’ve read; my feelings are right in the middle. There’s nothing wrong with We Met in December, but nothing really standout either. A predictable, cute, fun, and mostly clean holiday romance that I’ll probably forget about in a month. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Review: THE FROZEN CROWN by Greta Kelly


Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Askia is the rightful heir to the Frozen Crown, but her cousin Goran currently rules the kingdom of Searvesh and wears her crown. Askia wants to save her people from his deadly leadership and claim her throne, but she needs an army to do that. She ventures to nearby kingdoms in the Empire of Vishir to ask for aid, and of course, she gets swept up in more than she bargained for.

“I’m here for an army, not to play court politics.”

I loved Askia. A badass orphan princess and witch who wields death magic—what more could you want? She knows what she wants and cleverly plays her way through the court with a quick tongue. Early on, she runs into her childhood friend Iskander who’s the current prince of Eshkaroth, and she realizes it might easier than she thinks to persuade him to help her. But naturally, events don’t go according to plan, especially when she realizes there are enemies on every side and one of them expects her to marry him so he can claim the crown instead! 

I also loved Nariko, Askia’s lady-in-waiting and newfound friend in the court of Eshkaroth. Her soft but firm personality made her my favorite character. In general, the characterization in this book was well done. Each character had their own identity and felt distinct from one another. 

I’m giving the book five stars because I rate books based on my personal enjoyment of them and I loved this book; I really enjoyed my time reading it and I actually looked forward to reading it whenever I put it down, which is kind of rare for me, but there still is a lot that could have been done better here.

I really wish we got to see more magic and that the author went more in-depth with how it works and about the seven different kinds of witches. I also wish I had a better idea of what the characters looked like because I don’t think any physical descriptors were mentioned other than Askia’s red hair. I also would have liked the world to be slightly more fleshed out. We get some descriptions but there’s still so much about the empires that we don’t know. As this entire story takes place in Eshkaroth, we don’t learn much about the surrounding lands. Askia mentions them in passing, which is better than completely ignoring their existence like I sometimes see in epic fantasy novels, but I still wanted a little more. I also wanted to know more about the Frozen Crown, like why is that its name? Is it because it’s cold up in Seravesh? We sadly don’t learn much about Askia’s homeland. I wish a little more detail and description would have been included, and that’s my biggest criticism of this book. 

The Frozen Crown is not perfect, but it was still an impressive debut that I immensely enjoyed way more than I expected to. I’m now eagerly waiting for the sequel and final book in this duology, which I believe is set to come out later next year (2021). 

“There was nothing I wouldn’t do—nothing I wouldn’t give, to convince the emperor to save my people.”

I don’t know why I loved this book so much but I did. The Frozen Crown is an adult fantasy but feels like the perfect mix between young adult and adult, so a good book for someone looking to transition into adult fantasy or for someone who likes fantasy on the lighter side. There is no gore, mild language, and mild romance. The prospect of a future romance has me curious to see how this will play out in the sequel because the ending definitely goes in a direction I didn’t expect! 

If you like epic fantasy with uniquely imagined worlds, gritty heroines, midnight magic lessons, and lots of political scheming and drama, you should check out The Frozen Crown. As a bookseller, I can’t wait to recommend this as much as possible when it comes out; in fact, I’ve already got a few coworkers excited to read it too! 

SPOILERS HERE: There were some things didn’t make sense to me that I wish we’d gotten answers for, such as why Iskander insisted Askia win the duel against Armaan, and why Askia suddenly had feelings for Armaan out of NOWHERE when she’d previously expressed feelings for Illya. She was adamant about not marrying Armaan, about getting an army without getting married first, and then one night she seduced him and was suddenly attracted to him and contemplating marrying him, like what??? That whole scene was uncomfortable and left me completely shocked at how out of place it felt in the story, and I did not understand the thought or reason behind it at all. That was definitely my least favorite part of the book, and I wish we got to see more of Askia’s thought process during that scene because I just couldn’t believe that she was displaying genuine feelings for Armaan. 

I received a copy of this ebook from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Review: THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone


Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This Is How You Lose the Time War has jumped up to the top of my list recently as I’m trying to read more sci-fi stories and this novella is only 198 pages with super short chapters. I could have finished it in a single sitting if I wanted to had I not been busy with life responsibilities.

I honestly had no idea what was going on during the entire story, but I was compelled enough to keep turning the pages one after the other until the end. The writing was gorgeous and poetic. And oh my heart, that ending.

This story follows two individuals, Blue and Red, who are on opposite sides of a war across time. They leave letters for each other in different locations on different strands of time, not knowing if the other will ever find them or not. At first, they are enemies, and their letters tease and taunt. But eventually, you can see them becoming friends and looking forward to the consistency and comfort of each other’s letters in an ever-changing world. And eventually still, you can see them finding solace in the other and falling in love, despite them still technically being enemies. They become star-crossed lovers, so to speak, yearning for what they can never have.

The idea of enemies falling in love through letters exchanged across space and time really appealed to me. This book was confusing and weird but I also liked it. I still don’t even know if both Red and Blue are human though? I think yes but also maybe no? There is virtually no world-building or plot or details about the futuristic technology or the shadows that keep following them or really about anything. We don’t even know why they are fighting the war or what it’s about. And there’s only minimal character development to the point that I kept getting Red and Blue confused with each other. The book isn’t quite what I expected it to be, but I also still liked it.

Red and Blue communicate via steganography, or the practice of concealing secret messages within other messages or objects. That part was really cool, but I didn’t even realize what they were doing until over halfway into the book. A whole message would be concealed in a berry or in a bee sting; it was pretty wild and it took me a minute to wrap my head around it because I think it’s slightly beyond the bounds of current technology so my dumb brain just wasn’t getting it.

This Is How You Lose the Time War was a weird but clever novella that I couldn’t stop reading. I suspect it will take me a few rereadings to fully grasp the story and the world, but luckily this is a book I plan to return to in the future because it seems like the kind of book that will evoke new meaning with each reading. I’ve never heard of either of these authors before reading this novella, but now I’m interested in checking out some of their solo works. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020



Rating: 1.5/5 stars

All my friends are going to hate me for this review since I’ve had at least five different people asking me since the day this book came out when I was going to read it, but . . . umm . . . this book was pointless and utterly unnecessary.

I truly believe that Holly Black only wrote this short story collection because fans wanted more content than what she gave us in The Queen of Nothing since it was published way sooner than intended, but The King of Elfhame didn’t fill any of the plot holes she left us with or give us any relevant content, and it’s obvious this was published 100% for the money.

The book contains eleven chronological stories all told from Cardan’s perspective, but they were all stories about nothing. Literally nothing. Like this entire book is filler content about Cardan merely existing in the mortal world and talking to Aslog the troll and it’s all super unmemorable, and that’s the truth. The stories are all quite short and interspersed with pictures—I would say that over 60% of this book is actually pictures just to fill space so the publishers actually had something halfway substantial to sell. At least 44 (I counted) of the 173 pages are full-page illustrations, many of them repeats from page-to-page, and I’d estimate that at least 80% of the other pages have partial-page illustrations on them, with all the pages that contain text having larger-than-normal margins and spacing and font size. It is crystal clear that the book designer tried to fill as many pages as possible, when all eleven stories could have likely filled less than thirty pages if you removed the illustrations and abnormal layout choices.

The pictures are honestly the only part I enjoyed about this book though, so I’m glad they were included. The drawings are beautiful sketches of scenes from the stories, and Rovina Cai does a really good job even if the actual content of the stories was less than satisfying. I’d love to read a graphic novel of the Folk of the Air trilogy illustrated entirely by her, or even a no-text picture book by her because that would have been more enjoyable than this book.

Back to the book though. Not a single one of these stories served a purpose or added any new details or depth to the original trilogy. I don’t feel like I know Cardan any better now than I did before. I have learned nothing from reading this book. I would guess that only diehard fans are going to enjoy this collection, of which I am not one. I didn’t like it, and I’m super disappointed, and that’s that. Come at me.

Review: FEARLESS MAGIC by Megan Crewe

 Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Tensions are at an all-time high between mages and Dulls, or non-magical people, and between mages themselves. One faction is campaigning for the use of magic only when it doesn’t hurt anyone or anything, while the other side thinks magic should be used for war and destruction, and meanwhile, the Dulls want all mages out of their city, beneficial or not. Everyone is at odds in this concluding installment in the Conspiracy of Magic series.

I loved the first two books, Ruthless Magic and Wounded Magic, with the second book having some incredible character arcs and trope inversions that I rarely see in young adult literature to the point that it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. Fearless Magic was a fantastic conclusion to this trilogy, continuing the story of our amazing protagonists, Finn and Rocío. I loved the further character development that Crewe gives us in this book. Her writing is so captivating and draws you right into the story.

This book takes a look at political activism and what it looks like and means to stand up for what’s right and fight for the truth and good in the world. There were some scenes that drew strong parallels to the events prevalent during the summer of 2020 with the riots around the world and the Black Lives Matter movement. In this book, it’s not white versus black but instead mage versus non-mage. There were protests and disagreements galore, and both parties were seeing each other as the enemy. I couldn’t help but look at parts of this book’s plot as representative of the real world, and it’s eye-opening to see social conflicts like this from a third-party view because you see that both sides have valid points and also that both sides feel hurt by the conflicts. I thought Crewe did a really good job at writing this aspect of the story. 

The characters and relationships between them in this book were so good. There is lots of tension between characters that propels the book forward. I also enjoyed seeing Finn and Rocío’s relationship progress even more in this book. Their relationship is prominent throughout the series, but the romance always remains secondary to the overall plot, which was really nice to see.

Fearless Magic was a wonderful conclusion to the Conspiracy of Magic trilogy. It’s full of political scheming, compelling storytelling, quality writing, and memorable characters who actually think through decisions before acting on them. I absolutely loved the ending, too. This book is filled with so much hope, and the ending nicely wraps up the trilogy but is still open enough for the reader to infer what happens next. 

I loved this whole trilogy, and I truly think it’s one of the best young adult fantasy series I’ve read. So many of the traditionally published stories all feel the same and it gets tiring and boring to read the same story over and over, but this series was not like that. Megan Crewe brings us a fresh perspective on magic, and she constantly was surprising me with the plot. Often I would think, “I know how this is going to go because this is how it always happens,” but then I would be wrong, and there’s nothing more satisfying than being pleasantly surprised during a book. The Conspiracy of Magic series is severely underrated, and I encourage anyone who enjoys fantasy to give it a shot. 

I received a copy of the ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Review: A DEADLY EDUCATION by Naomi Novik


Rating: 2/5 stars

I have an interesting relationship with Naomi Novik’s books. This is the third novel I’ve read by her, and all three during this year no less. I did not like Uprooted and I thought Spinning Silver was okay but nothing special. While those two books were more like fairy tales, A Deadly Education seemed to have a totally different feel, so I expected to like it better. I didn’t, though. 

Even though this is an adult book, it feels very much like it’s for young adults because of the high school setting and the sixteen-year-old protagonist who acts as young as she is and because of all of the petty school drama that’s going on between Galadriel and the popular girls. The bulk of this novel is about the relationships between all the characters and the drama that ensues between them, which is not what I expected this story to be about. I really actually can’t tell you what the plot of the story is here because I kind of felt like it had no point?? 

I enjoyed the dark academia setting, and I want to read more books in the future with a similar atmosphere like this one, although I did expect this book to be way darker than it was, and I wish we got to see more of the worldbuilding. I guess with how short the book was, the worldbuilding was what got skimped on, but that was truly the best part. I liked learning about the school setting and the magic spells and the monsters and how the students trained and protected themselves. I did expect these aspects to be more prevalent in the story though, which I think was the biggest problem I had with this book: it severely did not meet my expectations. 

Almost the entire story is Galadriel telling us in narrative format about what’s going on and what the school is like and how it looks, and it all felt like very passive storytelling. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it didn’t draw me into the story as much as I hoped to be; I felt very distanced from the characters and the story. I still enjoyed watching the relationship transpire between Galadriel and Orion, but even that wasn’t enough to make me love this story. 

I wish we got more information about Galadriel’s past and about life outside of the Scholomance. I also wanted more of the story to be about the classes and what they were learning and how they were using the magic. There was a lot of information that I feel like we needed but didn’t get. Like who controls the school? Who cleans it and maintains it? Who catalogues and shelves books? Galadriel talks about rules but who enforces the rules when there are no teachers? There was so much information left out that only would have benefitted the novel. 

I liked parts of A Deadly Education but I also didn’t like parts of it. There’s something about Naomi’s writing that just doesn’t click with me though, but I can’t exactly say what. I have gone into all three of her books so far excited because they all have sounded amazing, yet each one was a disappointing letdown that did not deliver what it promised to deliver. 

My overall opinion is that I feel very underwhelmed with A Deadly Education. I thought it would finally be the book to win me over to Naomi Novik’s stories, but alas, it was not. I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue on with this series or not, but the last sentence single-handedly changed my mind: now I need the next book to know why that thing was said. I probably won’t like The Last Graduate very much either, but I’ll still give it a chance if I’m still interested when it comes out. However, I likely won’t be reading any future series of Novik’s because all of her books leave me wanting so much more—not in a good way—and A Deadly Education was no exception.