mini reviews // a random assortment

Saturday, June 10, 2017

hey pals.

i realized i hadn't done a set of mini reviews in such a long time, and i've been reading a lot of random books recently, so i decided to write some good ole mini reviews for you today. 

i really haven't been sticking to a certain genre recently which is actually pretty unusual for me. normally, i pick a certain genre or subject before moving on to a new genre and et cetera et cetera. i am happy to announce that (i'm pretty sure) the 2017 Fantasy Hiatus (trademark or whatever) is over, and i am back to normal. whoop whoop.

so let's get onto the mini reviews.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

by Leslye Walton // ★★★☆

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

to be completely honest, i didn't love this book as much as i expected to. the first half of the book deals with Ava's whole family history, for gosh sake, and while i find that reasonably interesting, i would have rather read about Ava herself more with family history sprinkled throughout. i didn't love the book, but i didn't hate it either.

- the names were beautiful. the author just seems to have a way to make all the characters seem magical simply through naming them. i mean, Ava Lavender? Marigold Pie? Emilienne Roux? BEAUTIFUL.

- the language was beautiful. and the story was tragic. i have a thing for books that break your heart, ok??

- the whole story was totally weird. at one point, Ava's great aunt turns into a canary, and as it says in the blurb, Ava has wings. it's that type of magical realism book (which i tend to love)

- THE COVER. JUST LOOK AT IT. *heart eyes*

- as i said before, half the story was taken up by family history. i didn't love this, and i thought it could be shortened quite a bit.

- it was mostly prose and not much dialog. this goes along with the above comment. there were so many scenes where nobody even talked, and it was just prose prose prose. just adding in some dialog would have made the history aspect of the story so much more interesting and enjoyable. 

- i just couldn't get into the story. honestly, i couldn't connect much with the characters, and nothing about the story screamed KEEP READING!

Tiny Pretty Things

by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton // ★★

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

this was so incredibly entertaining yet slightly very nerve-wracking. i would probably credit this book with getting me through exam week when i really did need a distraction from the stress.

- to some degree, everyone was morally gray. if you haven't noticed yet from the other reviews on my blog, I LOVE MORALLY GRAY CHARACTERS. it makes a story so much more interesting because you never really know what they're going to do. even Gigi, who is supposedly the protagonist of the book (kind of?) is an unreliable narrator at the end of the book. 

- character development was on point. there was actually a huge number of characters, and the authors managed to give each one a unique development. A+ for that!

- boarding school setting. you might have heard me say this before, but i looovvveee boarding school settings in books. i think it's because it creates a certain aesthetic for the book...

- manipulation. i'm sorry, i know none of this drama is healthy for people, but it makes for such an entertaining storyline! so addicting to read.

- it dragged on a bit too long. the book was nearly 500 pages long which is crazy long for a contemporary. i enjoyed the drama of the book for the first 300 pages, but after that, it was all a bit too much. i just got tired of the characters and their fighting with each other. i think the book as a whole would have been stronger if it was shorter.

- i didn't exactly understand June's POV. it was interesting and i actually did enjoy reading it, but it didn't entwine with the other two POVs as well as i would have hoped. her narrative didn't work that well with Gigi and Bette's. 

- THE CLIFFHANGER. GAHHHAHAHHH. i need the next book.

The Archived

by Victoria Schwab // ★★

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive. Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous—it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost, Da's death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

ending on a high note today! admittedly, this is actually not my favorite Schwab book. that is reserved for the Shades of Magic trilogy, but The Archived was done pretty darn well.

- i loved the main character Mackenzie. recently, i have taken a strong disliking to many female protagonists in the books i've read, but i didn't have that problem with this book!! Mac was fierce and sassy and in general, a really enjoyable character to read about.

- i also loved Wesley. aka a smol cinnamon roll who needs to be protected at all costs. he was so loyal throughout the book to Mac (although i was suspicious of him in the beginning). 

- the aesthetic was so. good. the story was deliciously creepy with the dead lying on shelves and whatnot, and i thought that the Coronado hotel was a really creative setting to place the story in. The Archived had a sort of fantasy meets murder mystery vibe which was monstrously entertaining.

- short and sweet. it was just what i needed to get back into reading fantasy.

- just one thing: i didn't exactly understand Mac's romance with Owen. from an early point in the story, we learn that he is dead (escaped from the Archives), so there's not really a way for this ship to sail the seven seas. idk. i would have preferred a platonic friendship to have occurred between Owen and Mac.

so that's it for today! have you read any of the books in this edition of mini reviews + what are your thoughts of them if so? do you enjoy morally gray characters at all? let me know in the comments!

xoxo, madeline


  1. The Archived was AMAZING! It was my first Schwab book I read, so I was pretty happy with that. WESLEY IS AMAZING and I agree with the platonic relationship between Mac and Owen. AND ALSO THAT COVER. It makes me criiiiiiinge.

    THE COVER OF The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender IS SOOOOOOO PRETTY THOOOO. *cries* And gosh I freaking LOOOOVE morally grey characters??? They are absolutely AMAZING.

    may @ forever and everly

    1. i know... i guess that i can forgive The Archived for having a bad cover *cringes though*

      i'm glad to hear that you love morally gray characters!!

  2. Gahhh I've read Schwab's books in the Shades of magic series, but I REALLY REALLY WANT TO READ ARCHIVED. It sounds so cool because dead bodies? And a reader of dead bodies?? IT SOUNDS LIKE THE PERFECT MIX OF CREEPINESS AND DEATH.

    And I also read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and it was SO. FREAKING. WEIRD. Gah it was very mystical, and honestly? I liked reading about the family history but it should have been separate from the book. But there were so many weird components to this book that it was kind of meh for me?

    Julianna @ Blots of Ink and Words

    1. yess I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU. it really is the perfect mix of creepiness + death

      that was the one thing that i really loved about Ava Lavender (how mystical and weird it was!) i agree with you that the history should have been separate from the actual book.

  3. i loved these mini reviews! as a former dancer, i'm really looking forward to reading tiny pretty things! :)

    1. thanks for reading :) hope that you enjoy reading Tiny Pretty Things!!

  4. This is so fun! I'm really looking forward to reading Tiny Pretty Things, I have thing for dancers. Great post!

  5. The Archived is on my TBR pile so happy to hear you enjoyed it - I just finished up Schwab's darker shades of magic series so looking forward to reading more of her books.

    1. i hope that you get to read it soon!!


getting kind words and comments on my posts is like waking up early in the morning and realizing that I have a few more hours to sleep in. getting comments from you guys is the best, and it always makes my day :)