Book Review

Dancing with Master Cuckoo

The Midnight DanceThe Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you, Macmillan, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

She shouldn’t miss the touch of this man who had done such despicable things, a man who forced people to serve under his control.

After giving meh ratings to two Swoon Reads titles (Kissing Max Holden and Just Friends), I was a little hesitant to read this book. However, as usual, the cover was so attractive that I just had to go beyond the title and copyright pages. Thankfully, I did not regret my decision.

Before you proceed, be warned that this book isn’t a typical YA contemporary novel. It is actually a mild psychological thriller about twelve ballerinas who live in an isolated finishing school owned by a dashing man named Master. Penny, the heroine, is strangely Master’s favorite student. She feels intoxicated in his presence, but a voice in the back of her mind tells her to stay away from him. When Master’s secrets are divulged by the gradual resurfacing of Penny’s lost memories, the Grand Teatro becomes less like a finishing school and more like a creepy dollhouse.

Those of you who are familiar with my reading tastes probably know that I rarely read thrillers. I don’t necessarily dislike them; I just don’t gravitate towards them like I do to fantasy or sci-fi novels. With that in mind, reading The Midnight Dance was somehow a refreshing experience. Even though it wasn’t so scary, Master’s psychopathic behavior triggered a sour taste in my mouth. The things he did to Penny and the other ballerinas were twisted as heck. I often feared for Penny’s safety (and sanity), and I was overwhelmed by the desire to know how and why Master became so…incongruous. He was gorgeous on the outside yet malevolent on the inside. If you’ve read Shadow and Bone, you might compare Master to the ever mysterious Darkling.

Since this book was published by Swoon Reads, I was delightfully surprised that romance wasn’t the highlight of the story. There were no too cheesy scenes nor an abundance of instalove. Penny and Cricket’s relationship did add a touch of sweetness and intrigue, but I liked that the author was more focused on telling about their attempts to escape from Master’s clutches. In this regard, The Midnight Dance is a rare gem among other Swoon Reads titles.

Penny was the most significant catalyst behind my 4-star rating. She was an empowered female in light of her constant craving for the truth. In fact, her mind was so strong that Master couldn’t control it completely. If Penny were thrown into a dystopian world, she would get along with Cassia Reyes (Matched) or America Singer (The Selection), heroines who always take something with a grain of salt.

My main problem with this book was it’s rationale for Master’s mental condition. I simply couldn’t accept that he became a control freak because of his Cinderella-like childhood. Also, I didn’t fully understand Master’s supposedly scientific process of mind control. The latter ideas were very promising, but their execution was unsatisfactory. Hence, by the end of the book, my mind was still shrouded in a mist of confusion.

Nonetheless, I had fun reading The Midnight Dance. I recommend it to booknerds searching for a moderately thrilling book to read this fall. Since I still have some unanswered questions, I hope that a sequel is in the works.

P.S. I read this book with the smart and pretty Brittney (Her Bookish Things). You can check out her review here.

Book Review

Crown of Redemption

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last year, I gave Throne of Glass one star. I irrevocably loathed Celaena, and I vowed to never continue the series. However, as my anger gradually faded and peer pressure started to kick in, I decided to make a bookish compromise by listening to a free Audible version of Crown of Midnight. And lo and behold, I found myself enjoying it!

In contrast to its predecessor, Crown of Midnight had a plot that kept me on my toes and outstanding character arcs. In this novel, Celaena finally proved her worth to me and thereby became less unrelatable and annoying. Furthermore, I no longer found any problematic tropes; I actually failed to predict all of the mind-blowing plot twists.

When I come to think of it, the character that really made me enjoy this book was Chaol. I know that many people think that he and Celaena don’t have any chemistry (or significant history), but I instantly became happy whenever he entered a scene. He just had this unique way of making Celaena more realistic and likable. In fact, I only got angry with Celaena whenever she hurt Chaol’s feelings (and body). As an independent character, Chaol was also admirable because of his loyalty, compassion, and wit.

Of course, I also enjoyed Dorian’s character arc. He became much more interesting because of his awakening. I also applauded his willingness to let go of Celaena. I myself would do the same thing if ever my best and I liked the same girl. Finally, I liked Dorian because Chaol would probably be dead without him. 😉

The last thing I liked about this audiobook was the narrator. I loved Elizabeth Evan’s voice, which had a brusque and arrogant tone that was perfect for Celaena’s and Chaol’s chapters. I only felt mildly detached whenever she narrated Dorian’s POV because I always imagined him to have a very sweet and calming cadence.

Overall, I would like to thank the people who encouraged me to give the Throne of Glass series a second chance. This audiobook would have warranted five stars if Celaena did not treat Chaol so badly. I promise to read (or listen to) Heir of Fire when my TBR pile becomes more manageable.

Book Review

In Love with the Gorgeous Blue

Words in Deep BlueWords in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you so much, Penguin Random House, for sending me a finished copy of this beautiful book in exchange for an honest review.


I know that we should judge books by their content, but look at that gorgeous cover! I can stare at it for hours and admire how pretty it is. There were times when I just needed to stop reading for moment to take a look at the cover. I know, I was a little obsessed xD.

As for the story itself, it was wonderful! Jennifer Niven’s blurb pretty much summed up how lovely the book was. She blurbed, “One of the loveliest, most exquisitely beautiful books I’ve read in a very long time. (How beautiful? I highlighted and circled and underlined like mad.) I didn’t just read the pages, I lived in them.” That was so accurate! If you could see the state of my book right now, it’s full of colorful tabs and there are a lot of words written on the margins. There were just so many lines that I really liked.

Okay, so here is are seven reasons why I loved this book so much:

First, I loved this book because it was so bookish. By just looking at the cover, I could tell that books would be a huge part of the story. Henry and his family ran a secondhand bookshop, and I thought that it was one of the best places that I could find in a book. I just wanted to get inside the book and visit that bookshop. The concept of the Letter Library was super cool, too! Basically, it was a section of the bookshop where the books were not for sale, and customers could write on the pages, underline their favorite lines, and leave letters for other people to read. It was a brilliant idea, and it made me want to own a bookshop someday and also have a Letter Library. Haha.

Second, I loved this book because of Henry’s love for secondhand books. According to him, Secondhand books are full of mysteries. I agreed with his sentiment, and reading this book made me appreciate secondhand books more than before. I don’t often buy secondhand books because I hardly find one that I would like to read, but still, I really like visiting secondhand bookshops because the books have stories apart from the stories they contain within the pages. You can’t help but wonder, “How did this book find its way here?”, or “Who was the previous owner of this book?”, and the mystery might be forever unanswered, but you wonder anyway. I was quite sure that Henry and the others also thought of that, which is why I loved this book so much. It made me feel like I was personally involved in the story.

Third, I loved this book because of the letters in between the chapters. They were so cute! Again, it made me want to go inside the book and also leave some letters in the Letter Library for my friends and random people to find.

Fourth, I loved this book because of Cal. He was not physically present in the story, but he somehow shaped most of it. I was really sad that he died because he was really cool! I loved that he was a science nerd. Those theories about time? Super cool! I also loved that he and Rachel treasured the ocean, and it sucked so much that it was the reason for his death.

Fifth, I loved this book because of the characters. Rachel, Henry, George, and Cal were people that I would really like to befriend. I just wish that I could teleport inside the book and say “Hi” to them.

Sixth, I loved this book because of the book recommendations. They talked about lots of books, and now I have a few books to add to my ever-growing TBR pile. Haha.

Finally, I loved this book because it was quite emotional. The last parts of the book made me a little bit teary-eyed. Those what-could-have-been’s…they made me so sad T^T

Overall, I believe that there are still a LOT of reasons why I loved this book so much, and you, yes, YOU just have to read this book to know them! I highly recommend this book to all booknerds out there!

Book Review

Throne of Salt

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Warning: this is going to be a ranty/salty review. Hooray for unpopular book opinions!

I really did not like this book. In the first place, I only read it because of all the hype it had been receiving all over the YA book community. Well, to be honest, I also read it because it happened to be one of my former crush’s favorite books. Har-har. Lookin’ at you, Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia). ^^

At first, there was actually nothing problematic about the overall story line of this book. After all, it was my first encounter with a female-assassin protagonist. However, when the Hunger Games trope was integrated into the plot, I could not help but feel bored and jaded. I was utterly sick of the idea of a bunch of people killing each other in a competition rigged by the upper class. Furthermore, it was very obvious who was behind all those “mysterious” murders. I found it so hard to understand how Celaena failed to see it from the start, given all her supposed arsenal of assassin skills. Aren’t assassins supposed to be exceptionally cunning or perceptive? Seriously, I bet Cinder of The Lunar Chronicles would be a better assassin than her.

Now that I’ve mentioned Celaena, I shall now cut to the chase. Celaena was the primary source behind my frustration for TOG. When I read a book, it’s important for me to be able to connect with the characters, regardless of their sex. With that in mind, I absolutely could not connect with Celaena. Her personality and behavior never failed to rub me the wrong way. She was so arrogant and audacious that I could barely stand it. It would have been fine if her attitude was warranted, but sadly it was not. She FAILED to assassinate the king, for crying out loud. And yet she had the nerve to act so high-and-mighty? The heck. Looking at the bright side, I must admit that I appreciated Celaena’s occasional vulnerability which made her seem more…human. Nevertheless, any fond feelings I managed to have for her were eclipsed by her flaws. It’s one thing to make a character empowered, but it’s another thing to make him/her conceited.

For me, the only rays of light were Dorian and Chaol. I kinda wished either of them to replace Celaena as the main protagonist. Without these two men, my dislike for Celaena would probably evolve into full-blown loathing or hatred. They were the ones who evoked the remnants of warmth and “femininity” in Celaena, so I was very thankful every time the story was told in their POVs. Ha, if only the entire novel were narrated by them alternately.

My ranting has come to its end. Finally. I am sorry to have not liked TOG. I sincerely am. I read ACOTAR first, and I loved it, so I guess I held expectations that were unfortunately too high. In its totality, this book is simply overhyped. If I were to be persuaded to read the rest of the series, I would only do so to know more about Dorian and Chaol, whom I inevitably found more relatable. Whew. I feel so relieved now that I’ve expressed my negative feelings.

*The featured image was contributed by Dessa Mae Jacobe (@dessatopia)

Book Review

The Perks of Being a Fake Royal

The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1)The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t want power or wealth, Conner. I want to stay alive. —Sage

Surprise, surprise! It’s been a while since I’ve read a middle grade book. Heck, it is a truth universally acknowledged that YA books have dominated my TBR for the past decade. With that in mind, I am very pleased to critique this unique, wonderful, and gripping novel.

The False Prince is the story of a 14-year-old orphan named Sage, who lives in Carthya, a kingdom on the brink of civil war. Unlike most of the kids his age, Sage has a very independent and strong-willed personality. He does whatever he can to survive, and he really doesn’t care if he has to break the law to get what he needs. Sage’s life becomes more dangerous when he is recruited by Conner, a nobleman of the court. Sage and three other orphans are trained to impersonate Jaron, the king’s long-lost son. Only one of them will be installed as the false prince, and Sage is determined to win and stay alive.

I genuinely enjoyed this book because it was reminiscent of The Kiss of Deception, one of my favorite books. Like the latter, The False Prince could be described as very misleading, in that Sage hid a lot of information from the reader. Consequently, the plot twists became more surprising and delightful. Sage did leave some clues every now and then, but I was rendered too excited/restless by the plot to stop and take note of them. Seriously, don’t be shocked if you find your mouth ajar while reading this book.

I also loved the narrator, Charlie McWade. Although his “female” voice logically sounded weird sometimes, he was generally an excellent narrator. His smooth, boyish cadence was the perfect accompaniment to Sage’s narrative. I highly recommend checking out The False Prince on Audible.

Sage was undoubtedly my favorite character. He was always the star of the show, and I loved how he managed to outwit even the smartest of his foes. In light of his supreme intellect and knack for strategy, Sage was practically the male version of Kestrel from The Winner’s Curse. As a bonus, Sage’s skill with the sword was also a force to be reckoned with. I honestly found it hard to be believe he was merely 14.

Conner and the other villains were likable in their own way. Like Sage, they were naturally secretive, forever plotting to do something unexpected. In this epic battle of minds, Conner was definitely a worthy opponent. If the author published a novella about him, I would read it in a heartbeat.

For me, romance was the only weakness of this book. I wasn’t a fan or shipper of Sage and this particular girl. Nothing physical happened between them since both of them were still young, but I couldn’t bear to imagine them as a couple in the future. The heavily political plot of this series is already great, so I would still be happy if the next books didn’t have any OTP or love triangle.

In totality, this middle grade book was way better than a number of YA fantasy novels I’ve read. Sage was so cunning, mature, and admirable, and I couldn’t get enough of his fast-paced story. The False Prince is a welcome addition to my shelf of favorite books. Please don’t hesitate to pick it up! ❤

P.S. Movie rights were already sold back in 2012, so what happened? Huhu

*The featured image was contributed by Dessa Mae Jacobe (@dessatopia)

Book Review

A Moment of Blue Reflection

Words in Deep BlueWords in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you, Penguin Random House, for sending me a finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Henry, if the love of your life is kissing a moron, it’s probably time to reassess whether or not she’s the love of your life.


As someone who devours literature on a daily basis, I always enjoy reading books that feature similarly bookish people. My reading experience becomes more meaningful and memorable whenever I am able to fully connect with characters, as fictional as they are.

Following this train of thought, Words in Deep Blue is a perfect summer read for us lovers of the written word. It follows two booknerds, Rachel and Henry, who live in this rabbit-and-kangaroo-infested place called Australia (not America, for a change). Rachel and Henry have been best friends since they were children, and Rachel eventually decides to confess her feelings by leaving a love letter in his favorite book. Unfortunately, certain circumstances prevent Henry from reading it and cause Rachel to move to another city. Years later, Rachel and Henry work together in his family’s bookshop, but everything between them has changed for the worse. You can probably guess what happens next.

Unsurprisingly, Words in Deep Blue was character-driven. Since I’ve already read tons of contemporary books, I could see the ending from a mile away. Plus, some of the chapters were uneventful although they shed much light on Rachel and Henry’s personalities. Although the plot was indeed predictable, I really enjoyed how this book tackled relevant themes such as grief, forgiveness, and true love. This wonderful aspect of the book more than compensated for its lack of spontaneity.

Among all of the characters, Rachel was the one who touched my heart. I was so sad for her loss, and I understood the numbness or emptiness she felt because of her brother’s death (this is not a spoiler). If I lost either of my brothers, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself besides moping and looking up. Honestly, familial loss in books never fails to tug at my heartstrings.

Reading Cal’s letters to his crush was both enjoyable and saddening. He was a devoted bookworm like the other characters, and he could have lived such a fruitful life if he hadn’t drowned in the stupid ocean (this only deepened my hatred for swimming). In other words, it was painful to think about the happy ending that he could’ve had. Wishful thinking can be so pleasurable, but it sucks when you realize that it’s futile. Cal’s death was already established from the very beginning. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but stubbornly wish for a shocking plot twist.

Henry was actually my least favorite character. I liked his fondness for poetry and other philosophical literature, but I wasn’t a fan of how he pined for a girl who obviously “loved” him only when it was convenient. I cringed every time he tried to convince Amy to come back to him because it made him look so pathetic, if not hopelessly blinded by puppy love. His redeeming qualities were his sensitivity and optimism. If it weren’t for him, Rachel would have spent a longer time in the cage of depression. Basically, Henry was the type of person who always had a shoulder to cry on.

The side characters in this book were surprisingly well-developed. I didn’t feel that they were just created to function as plot devices. For example, George and Martin had their own unique personalities, and the letters they sent to each other increased the depth and humor of the story. This made me appreciate the book more because it showed how the author was very intentional in her writing.

After all the paragraphs I’ve written in this review, the bottom line is that Words in Deep Blue is a worthy addition to your TBR shelf, especially if you love contemporary novels that are character-driven and emotionally heavy. It doesn’t have the most unique plot, but the book as a whole is something to reflect on.

Book Review

Beyond the Gorgeous Cover

The Book JumperThe Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s the same everywhere in the book world: Readers are not allowed to intervene. Under no circumstances. You must always stay in the margins, between the lines. —Shere Khan

Raise your hand if you also bought this book because of its absolutely gorgeous cover! I love everything about it: the old-fashioned font, the smooth texture of the jacket, and the whimsical illustration. If I were to judge this book by its cover alone, I would happily give it five stars! ❤

In regards to its content, The Book Jumper is practically fan service for bookworms. How so?
Amy Lennox, the main protagonist, has the wonderful gift of literally jumping into books. I’m sure all of us here wish that we could visit or live in the books we enjoy and love. What we wouldn’t give to be able to interact with our favorite characters, who are as real to us as people outside the book world. Raise your hand again if you are also jealous of Amy. Hahaha.

Unfortunately for Amy, the book world is gradually entering a state of chaos. Someone is stealing the ideas of the stories she visits, causing major plot holes and even killing a number of characters. With the help of a Scottish lad named Will and her new fictional friends, Amy hunts for the villain before literature becomes messed up for good. The plot does seem juvenile or middle-grade, but the content as a whole is more appropriate for us young adults. 🙂

Since The Book Jumper was originally written in German, I cannot evaluate the author’s writing style. However, I can say that the translator did a fantastic job. Romy Fursland’s written voice was very descriptive but easy to comprehend. In fact, it was one of the reasons why I finished the book relatively quickly. I can’t speak German, but I want to believe that Romy Fursland was able to retain the essence of Mechthild Gläser’s work.

Even though I was inevitably jealous of Amy, I genuinely enjoyed this book because it was so relatable. I loved that Amy and the rest of the characters lived and breathed literature. I loved that they wanted to protect literature at all costs (as silly as it sounds). If I had their gift, I would jump into this book and make them my best friends. I’m sure that I’m not the only bookworm who has no bookish friends outside the Internet. Ugh. I hate the geographical distance that separates us. xD

I also enjoyed this book because it was predominantly unpredictable. It definitely kept me on my toes. Actually, I lost patience when I couldn’t find out the identity of the villain; I became restless enough to read the last chapter and spoil myself. And lo and behold, all of my guesses were wrong! Harharhar.

I would have given this book five stars if the ending weren’t unsatisfying and quite convenient. Something unfortunate happened, but I immediately had a hunch that it was only a false alarm. Hence, it didn’t affect me that much. Furthermore, some of my questions about Amy and her mother’s history remained unanswered. I was a little sad that I didn’t get to know more about their supposedly problematic life in Germany.

Nevertheless, I recommend The Book Jumper to every bookworm out there because it’s the perfect expression of our deepest, bookish wishes. This book really made me happy and wistful, and I hope that it will do the same thing to you.