Review: Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf #1) – Crystal Smith


Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf #1) – Crystal Smith

Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf, #1)

Title: Bloodleaf (Bloodleaf #1)

Author: Crystal Smith

Release Date: March 12, 2019

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 373

Source: Library

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

2 out of 5 stars


I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of this book; there just wasn’t much to the story.

Bloodleaf follows Aurelia who pretends to be a girl named Emilie when she runs away to a different city. She is learning to use her blood magic powers and ends up becoming besties with some people that are high up in the government in this new place. Emilie (Aurelia) is actually the princess but none of her new friends know this, and she gets brought into different issues because of her blood magic.

There just wasn’t a lot happening in this book that warrants being a great story, honestly. The magic system was NOT described hardly at all. I was just kind of confused when it came to what was actually happening. Also, Aurelia literally has no idea how to use this blood magic. She doesn’t know what she’s doing when she flees home to come to this new place, and then starts messing with it and perform the magic perfectly by the end of the book… umm? I get that you need to practice something in order for it to be a thing, but come on. She has no one teaching her. There’s literally no way that she would know what she’s doing.

The talking to spirits/ghosts/whatever they are was also not explained at all. How does she know how to communicate with these people, and why is she able to? There are just so many unexplained questions I have about this book.

The romance was SO DUMB. So Aurelia was in love with this guy from home before and when he’s bringing her to the new place he literally falls off a cliff. I actually laughed out loud because it was just so dumb, and then she’s magically just over him in 2 seconds. Like no big deal, the guy you’ve been in love with for your whole life is just dead and it’s not an issue. Then she goes and starts falling in love with this guy who turns out to be the sickly prince she was supposed to marry in the first place. *eyeroll*

The relationship with her and this undercover prince is just so… weirdly forced. It’s also unsuccessfully trying to be the hate-to-love trope. Which I actually usually enjoy, but it was just poorly executed, in my opinion.

This is one of those books that I didn’t really realize I had so many feelings about until I starting writing this review… so there’s that lol.

I think part of the reason I didn’t enjoy this book that much was because I just don’t do well with ebooks. So I started reading this on my Nook right when it came out because it is the group book for the readathon I co-host on my YouTube channel, but I just don’t connect with the books as much. Then I got the book from the library and finished it much faster. Idk, so that could be a factor but it could also just not be a great book for me.

Thanks for reading this rant-y review have a great day give the book a try if you wanna.

Aubrey Joy

Review: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy – Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman


Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy – Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Title: Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy

Author: Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman

Release Date: November 16, 2016

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 672

Source: Barnes and Noble

Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fireleft him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. He knows he was friends with Clary, and that he convinced the total goddess Isabelle Lightwood to go out with him…but he doesn’t know how. And when Clary and Isabelle look at him, expecting him to be a man he doesn’t remember…Simon can’t take it.

So when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. His new self. Whomever this new Simon might be.

But the Academy is a Shadowhunter institution, which means it has some problems. Like the fact that non-Shadowhunter students have to live in the basement. And that differences—like being a former vampire—are greatly looked down upon. At least Simon is trained in weaponry—even if it’s only from hours of playing D&D.

Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten short stories give an epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide glimpses of what’s in store in the Dark Artifices.

5 out of 5 stars


I didn’t realize how much there is about the Blackthorns in this book! It just makes me that much more excited to reread The Dark Artifices series omg. I’m actual trash for Emma and Julian so seeing them… I’m totally not prepared for Lord of Shadows or Queen of Air and Darkness.

I love Simon, so this book is always enjoyable to read for me. I love these anthologies because they’re easy to read and give a little more information on my favorite characters. I forgot so much about this book. I think I’ve only read this one once, and the Dark Artifices weren’t published when this came out, so I didn’t understand the extent of the Blackthorns, but now I know. Now I understand, and like I said, I’M TRASH FOR THEM. I love all the characters so much wow.

Also, George. So cute. So sweet. I wish the thing didn’t happen to him. Sad.

The story with Alec and Magnus and baby Max makes me extra suspicious about this new baby. I think that Max is super fricking cute and I love reading about Alec and Magnus, but guys. Something has to happen with the backstory of this child. There’s no way it won’t come up in the Malec books.

I just love these books, everyone knows that lol. I loved them from the start and will FOREVER read everything by Cassandra Clare. Hopefully I’ll be able to go to a signing for a future book :)

Aubrey Joy

Review: The Man Who Quit Money – Mark Sundeen


The Man Who Quit Money – Mark Sundeen

The Man Who Quit Money

Title: The Man Who Quit Money

Author: Mark Sundeen

Release Date: March 6, 2012

Publisher: Riverhead

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 260

Source: Local bookstore

In 2000, Daniel Suelo left his life savings—all thirty dollars of it—in a phone booth. He has lived without money—and with a newfound sense of freedom and security—ever since. The Man Who Quit Money is an account of how one man learned to live, sanely and happily, without earning, receiving, or spending a single cent. Suelo doesn’t pay taxes, or accept food stamps or welfare. He lives in caves in the Utah canyonlands, forages wild foods and gourmet discards. He no longer even carries an I.D. Yet he manages to amply fulfill not only the basic human needs—for shelter, food, and warmth—but, to an enviable degree, the universal desires for companionship, purpose, and spiritual engagement. By retracing the surprising path and guiding philosophy that led Suelo from an idealistic childhood through youthful disillusionment to his radical reinvention of “the good life,” Sundeen raises provocative and riveting questions about the decisions we all make—by default or by design—about how we live. The Man Who Quit Money inspires us to imagine how we might live better.

3 out of 5 stars


This wasn’t really what I was expecting.

I think the tagline of this book is a little deceiving because yes, he did ‘begin to live’ in a completely new and different way, but his way of living seems very unique to him. I also don’t like paying taxes on the money that I make, but that doesn’t mean I want to go dumpster diving for every single meal.

Daniel Suelo’s life was really interesting to read about because there seemed to be so many coincidences, but more like manifestation turned into reality. I enjoyed the parts about his no money lifestyle, but wasn’t super super interested in a lot of the parts about the randomness of his life. He has had a very spiritual journey throughout his life which ended up kind of making a full circle, which was cool to see.

My favorite part of this book was at the end when there was information about sustainability and more eco-friendly living. That’s what I thought this whole book would be about, so I enjoyed getting to read about that even if it was just a short section. There were quite a few book and documentary recommendations that I will hopefully try and read/watch.

Aubrey Joy

Review: The Boyfriend List (Ruby Oliver #1) – E. Lockhart


The Boyfriend List (Ruby Oliver #1) – E. Lockhart

The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver, #1)

Title: The Boyfriend List

Author: E. Lockhart

Release Date: September 26, 2006

Publisher: Ember

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 229

Source: Goodwill

Ruby Oliver is 15 and has a shrink. She knows it’s unusual, but give her a break—she’s had a rough 10 days. In the past 10 days she:
lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list), 

lost her best friend (Kim), 

lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket), 

did something suspicious with a boy (#10), 

did something advanced with a boy (#15), 

had an argument with a boy (#14), 

drank her first beer (someone handed it to her), 

got caught by her mom (ag!), 

had a panic attack (scary),

lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie), 

failed a math test (she’ll make it up), 

hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends), 

became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)

and had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the boys’!?!). 
But don’t worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.

2 out of 5 stars


This book felt messy.

There were so many points while reading this book that I realized it was so unrealistic and so dramatic. My gosh, SO DRAMATIC.

The Boyfriend List follows Ruby through the telling of stories of past boys she’s liked or dated. She starts having panic attacks and her parents decide to send her to a therapist. This therapist tells Ruby she needs to sort through her problems, and most of her problems are stemming from boys…. so she makes a boyfriend list.

This was a fast read, but so so dumb. This girl is supposed to be 15, and I don’t know if I was just an abnormal 15 year old, but I did not think about boys this much. I’ve never been boy crazy, so I totally could not relate to this book. It was just so ridiculous sometimes! She lost friends over having crushes on different boys. Come on.

I also had a problem with the fact that she was calling them panic attacks….

These were definitely anxiety attacks because there was a definitive stressor causing the situation. They weren’t just randomly striking. This is just lack of education on the author’s part. I’ve had anxiety attacks and it’s similar to how she was describing these panic attacks she was having. I think when you’re talking about mental health you should actually be factual with your information.

There were way too many characters with not enough description for any of them. If you’re going to have that many characters, at least give some sense of background information. Some of the characters just had names that made no sense to the context of the story. Another thing. If the character adds NOTHING, then the character does not need to be there. Some of the friends listed in this book made no sense because they added nothing to the plot of the story at all.

I’m just confused at the boys she chose over others. She had a cute boy from another school that was super nice and liked her, but she just ignored him. She was friends with a nice boy from art class who always complimented her, but she was mean to him. Umm. I’m just confused why she chose the guy who didn’t even really like her and then ended up ditching her for her best friend.

I think that books like this give such unrealistic expectations to young readers. I picked this up because I enjoyed We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I liked the writing style of that book because it was poetic and there was something deeper to the story, but this just showed very unhealthy relationships.

The relationship with the only “real” boyfriend of this book was so so so unhealthy. It reminded me so much of my own ex-relationship because the boy dictated everything and just assumed it would be fine no matter what. It isn’t healthy to show teenage girls that that’s a “normal” relationship! That isn’t how you should be treated. Your boyfriend should want to hang out with you and not make fun of you in front of his friends.

The family dynamic in this book was so whack. At one point the therapist brought up that Ruby is just following the actions her mother takes in her marriage.

  1. don’t tell a 15 year old girl that her parents are fighting and have an unhealthy relationship.
  2. if you show the mother in the unhealthy relationship, make it change by the end of the book to prove… something. That women can make their own choices and not be controlled in relationships. Don’t just let it continue on. Don’t bring it up otherwise!

I think a lot of situations in this book should have been handled much differently. I don’t think that I’ll pick up the next books in the series, but we shall see. They’re short and this first one was easy to read.

Aubrey Joy

Review: The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Jean


The Bane Chronicles – Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Cassandra Jean

The Bane Chronicles

Title: The Bane Chronicles

Author: Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Mauren Johnson, Cassandra Jean

Release Date: November 11, 2014

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 507

Source: Barnes and Noble

Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this collection of New York Times bestselling tales, in print for the first time with an exclusive new story and illustrated material.

This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.

Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, this compilation presents all ten together in print for the first time and includes a never-before-seen eleventh tale, as well as new illustrated material.

5 out of 5 stars


I love Magnus Bane.

I’ve already read all these stories, but it was nice to reread them and get back into following one of my favorite characters from this series. My favorite stories were the ones with Alec, of course. Alec and Magnus are one of my favorite couples from this series and I love getting to see them together again.

It’s crazy how many of these stories I had forgotten. I’ve always been up to date with the Cassandra Clare books and read them right when they come out *except for QoAaD, but we don’t talk about her yet….* so I read this originally back in 2014, which is 5 YEARS AGO. Crazy stuff.

I don’t have a ton of thoughts behind these stories because I’ve already read them so I knew all the little connections, but it was fun to read about old characters again. I really like Raphael’s stories and it was cool to see Tessa in today’s time instead of Victorian London.

I’m excited to continue my reread of this series; I’m almost to The Dark Artifices again!!

 

Aubrey Joy

Review: The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5) – Brandon Sanderson


The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5) – Brandon Sanderson

The Hope of Elantris (Elantris, #1.5)

Title: The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: 2006

Publisher: Brandon Sanderson

Format: ebook

Page Number: 25

Source: Brandon Sanderson’s Website

The following is a short story I wrote in the Elantris world back in January of 2006. At that point, Elantris had only been out in stores for about seven or eight months, but I actually hadn’t written anything new on the story or world since 2000, when I’d finished the first draft of the original book. This story was originally posted for sale on Amazon.com; once the contract with them ran out, I posted it on my website.

There were always a few holes in the manuscript where I decided not to include viewpoints or sections of explanation in the name of streamlining, particularly at the end. In the back of my mind, I knew what happened. This story talks about one of those holes; it is meant to be read after you’ve finished the novel and takes place during the events of the climax. In the annotation, I’ve written a further explanation of why I wrote this piece. Some of you may find it interesting to read this ahead of time; I put it in the annotation, however, as I know others would rather enjoy the story without bias beforehand, then read my thoughts afterward. 

Either way, if you haven’t read the novel Elantris, this contains major spoilers. Might I suggest reading the book first? This story won’t work at all for you if you haven’t.

As always, thanks for reading!

4 out of 5 stars


Now I know it may seem backwards that I rated this short story 4 stars when I only rated the first book, Elantris, 3 stars, but it was just so cute!

This is a short story set in the world of Elantris, and Brandon Sanderson published this on his website as he just wanted to have the story out in the world living its literary life.

I loved that we got a little more backstory on some of the events at the climax of Elantris. I loved getting to see Sarene and Raoden again *even though I literally just finished Elantris yesterday morning….* They’re just so cute together and love each other so much. So sweet.

I think getting this story from the perspective of another character was really cool and added a unique twist, because in the book you get three main perspectives. There was also an annotation section from Brandon Sanderson and he named the girl Matisse because he wanted to impress one of his wife’s favorite students. CUTE.

This story made me really excited to read more by Brandon Sanderson!

Series:

Elantris (Elantris #1)

Aubrey Joy

Review: Elantris (Elantris #1) – Brandon Sanderson


Elantris (Elantris #1) – Brandon Sanderson

Elantris (Elantris, #1)

Title: Elantris (Elantris #1)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: May 30, 2006

Publisher: Tor Fantasy

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Page Number: 622

Source: Barnes and Noble

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn’t recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It’s also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy.

3 out of 5 stars


You guys. I finally finished this book after reading it for a month!

Elantris follows three main storylines of Raoden, Sarene, and Hrathen. Raoden is the Prince of Arelon, Sarene is from Teod and is to get married to Raoden, and Hrathen is a Derethi priest sent to convert everyone in Arelon to the Derethi religion.

This book is really hard to explain because there’s so much going on at all times, it’s actually crazy. In short, there is a ton of politics, super cool magic, interesting characters, and a slowly developing plot that wraps up nicely at the end.

This is a typical high fantasy in the sense that it is mostly surrounding intricate politics. I really enjoyed this book and was debating between 3 and 4 stars. I would give the first 3/4 of the book a solid 3 stars, but the last 100ish pages would definitely be 4 stars. So I’m going with my gut and saying 3 stars is a solid way to describe the book.

It was such a slow read for me. This could be because I started reading it when I started backpacking around England, so I was a little preoccupied with… literally everything. I didn’t have a lot of time to read during the trip, so that could have also contributed to it feeling a little disjointed. I also just feel like this is a slow-paced book. It was a really good book, but you have to love reading in order to get through it.

I personally really enjoy “slow burn” books where it takes awhile to get everything sorted out and figure out what’s happening, but it’s also kind of exhausting. This book was 622 pages long, so when I was reading it, it felt like it took me forever to make any notable progress. That being said, I think it was a beautifully crafted book.

I really enjoyed the characters of this book, and the story was definitely character driven. There was a lot happening with the plot, but it mostly focused on the characters. I loved Raoden and how he developed this second life when he got sent to Elantris. I think it said a lot about his character and morals because he didn’t just give up or give into the pain he was feeling.

At the time of reading it I REALLY wanted him to tell Sarene who he was once she started going into Elantris, but after finishing the book, he told her at the perfect time. Any earlier and it would have disrupted the story, and any later it would have been too late. I love them together and seeing how much they love each other just makes my heart so happy.

The magic system was pretty cool, but it took so long to actually get to anything dealing with the magic. I honestly think this book could have been at least 150-200 pages shorter. There was a lot of this book that wasn’t necessary to the story to be able to understand and appreciate what was happening.

I’m looking forward to reading more Brandon Sanderson books because I’ve heard that the Mistborn trilogy is AMAZING. I enjoyed his writing style, so can’t wait to pick those up!!

 

Series:

The Hope of Elantris (Elantris #1.5)