Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff



TW: death (lots of it), PTSD, war, and psychosis

After DNFing this in 2016 because it literally bored me within 100 pages and I couldn’t care about anyone/anything, I decided to pick it up again. I actually have the whole series at my house because the library had all of them available. So, I thought, why not?

And, this time, I wound up enjoying it. Really enjoying it.

The hardest thing about this book is the length. It’s 600 pages. That’s long. And, it takes 200-300 pages to get the story going. Everything else before that is setting the stage. I didn’t actually care about the main characters until that 200-300 page point. The plot interested me, but I didn’t care for the characters.

Now, I did like them in the end. They reminded me of two other characters from something else, so I loved their dynamic. Her calling him an idiot, him being all lovey with her. Their arguments about stupid things. It was great fun. And, along the way, I got attached to them and what would happen to them.

The way the story was told has its pros and cons. While I loved how unique it was, I also think it kept me from getting attached to Kady and Ezra. Yet, I also think that if it was told traditionally, I would have pulled out my hair with frustration because I don’t need to get all of that teen angst thrown at me.

Kady was great. I loved how determined she was and that she was reckless while also keeping herself in check at times. She was a smart girl who took on the world. Ezra was also great. The exact opposite of Kady. He’s more emotional and with that comes emotional recklessness. But, he was great because he knew how to keep control of himself. They felt like teenagers without it killing me, which is a huge kudos to the authors right there.

The most interesting part, to me, was when the virus came in. I can’t exactly get into it because it happened so late in the book, but it was fascinating and I count that as when I got interested in the book as a whole. Before that, I could have put it down and not felt like I was missing anything. After that, I knew I had to continue to see what was going to happen.

All in all, it’s a good book. There are things I didn’t like about it, especially how long it took me to really get invested in it, but I can overlook those and happily move onto book two.


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This is going to be a really short post, everyone.

But, we reached 100 followers!

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Thank you, so, so much to all of you for following us! We appreciate it so much!

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We look forward to doing many more posts and having lots of fun with you all. Thank you again for encouraging us, motivating us, and giving us great feedback and ideas.

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The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII by Suzannah Lipscomb

The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII



Yet again, Lipscomb takes a topic that has been decided by former historians and turns it on its head. The long thought (even agreed upon) theory is that Henry VIII’s will was not created by him, but it was created by those at court who wanted more power before Edward VI reached his majority. And she argues that he was controlling up until the end, but that afterward people took advantage.

While I definitely have my ideas on Henry, I found myself agreeing with her. She pointed out that the will itself was very orthodox Catholic, just with some changes to keep him at the head of the church. And that goes with the rest of his life. If the upstarts in court had gotten a hold of it, it would have been more evangelical.

Also, the people he took out and added as protectors of the realm during Edward VI’s minority made sense. While they were certainly more evangelical (i.e. Protestant) than Henry himself, the conservatives (i.e. Catholic) at court had tried to make a coup against them. They targeted various members of the court, including the Queen, and it upset Henry.

It was the clause he put in about how he wanted all intended gifts to be given to people. Which meant that if he slightly hinted he might give something to you, they could just take and claim it. And there were a lot of missing people from court that had never been replaced, so the people closest to Henry snatched them up.

I think the only downside to this book is that it spends so much time examining the last decade of his life, then the last year, then the last month, and finally the last days before getting to a close examination of the actual will. The book is only ten chapters long (around 100 pages when you take out the appendices, bibliography, notes on the text, and index), so it spends a lot of time setting the stage rather than weaving that into an analysis.

This is a good book. It’s informative and challenges long-held beliefs that I’ve heard time and time again. And it certainly proves a point in doing that. Just that it was a bit too long.

The Soundtrack of my Life – Track 1

Caidyn's review (3)

I love music. I always have since I was little. There is just something about music that reaches deep inside my soul like nothing else can. The world easily fades away when I’ve got headphones in and am listening to my favorite song. I’m the person who walks down the street with headphones in and thinks she’s in a music video. Every song is added to The Soundtrack of my Life. If my life needed a soundtrack to go with it, the songs I talk about would be on it. These songs are some of my all-time favorite songs and span multiple genres.

Track 1: Latch by Discourse feat. Sam Smith

Written by: Jimmy Napes, Sam Smith, Guy Lawrence and Howard Lawrence 


I am a big Sam Smith fan. The songs I enjoy most are the ones where you can hear the emotion in the singer’s voice. Sam Smith is one of the best at doing that. His voice is so angelic to me and he never ceases to amaze me with how he can push the limits of his voice. Consistently he hits notes that I’ve rarely heard a man sing before and there’s absolutely something special to someone with that kind of talent. This will not be the last time he appears on the soundtrack I assure you of that. I mean, the man won an Oscar. He’s fucking talented.

Before his first album In the Lonely Hour came out which features most of his hit songs, he was featured on an electronic pop song called “Latch”. Now, I don’t listen to electronic music. It’s just not my genre. Most songs sound like the type of music you would hear in a club and I don’t go clubbing. Not even a little bit. However, every once in awhile there is a song that will stand out to me, but it’s not a type of music I know well. That being said, “Latch” is my favorite song of all time. There is something about the pulsing beat and electronic sounds combined with Sam Smith’s voice that creates magic.

Sam Smith has made a career out of writing the most heartbreaking songs about break-ups, cheating, or unrequited love. His songs aren’t usually happy or cheerful, to say the least. However, before he had this reputation he appears on “Latch” singing about falling in love (or lust) with the same power and desperation he has when singing about relationship angst. This song has a lot of power and frankly speaks to me more than his other songs do.

To me, this song is about seeing someone across the room and immediately wanting to be in their life. I connect with the lyrics so much because there’s almost something hopeful about it. One day I’ll walk into a room and across the room I’ll meet someone’s gaze and BOOM. I realize that this is naive and some might say idiotic, but that’s how I feel when I listen to this song. In The Soundtrack of my Life, this is the song playing when I meet my love interest.

Of course, I could be interpreting the song completely differently and it was intended to be creepier or more menacing. However, I don’t see it that way at all. Which is fine. There are people who find Every Breath You Take by The Police extremely romantic even though it’s been stated that it’s about a stalker. And that’s fine too. We all interpret art in our own way and there isn’t anything wrong with that. I just know it’s one of my favorite songs of all time, and I think that’s all because of Sam Smith’s voice and passion while singing it.

If you don’t believe me, just listen to this live performance of him singing the song. I hope his voice blows you away just as it blew me away.

Next Track →

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

Henry VIII’s last will and testament is one of the most intriguing and contested documents in British history. Given special legal and constitutional significance by the 1536 and 1544 Acts of Succession, which allowed Henry to nominate his successor in his last will, it is exceptional among English royal wills. For Henry VIII, the monarch so renowned — or notorious — for remarrying in pursuit of a male heir, the succession was his abiding obsession until the very end.

Maybe that was a bit boring for you, but it was fascinating to me. It feels good to be back in Tudor history. I’ve had my eye on this book for a while, too! I’ve already read another book by the same author and was very impressed by it, so, of course, I’m looking forward to this one.

It is…

The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII

Last year, I read 1536 (the link takes you to my Goodreads review because we didn’t have this blog then) by this same author where she gives a very close analysis of a single year that definitely was a turning point in Henry VIII’s reign. I already have pretty solid beliefs about certain areas in that year but I was very impressed that Lipscomb actually managed to change my mind or to broaden what I thought about it.

I can’t say if I’d recommend this book (yet) but I know I’d tell someone who wants a close analysis of a specific point in Henry VIII’s life to turn to her, whether it’s a whole year or his final days.

She’s choking me. She’s really in there, fingers on cartilage, mashing my trachea and I can’t breathe, Maria thinks. She truly can’t breathe, but she can’t bring herself to care. There was a time in her life when this was new, when she was at least as hot for being choked as Steph was for choking her, but now they’ve got an apartment together -a cat, good lighting- and Maria can’t even muster a shiver. 

These first lines stood out to me so much that I continued reading. That’s what first lines should do. They should capture your attention and as a result, you want to keep reading. From the first lines of this book, you know that there is going to be a lot of brutal honesty. While it’s not in first person perspective, I feel it’s likely that we are going to know all of Maria’s truths which I’m frankly excited about. I’m always happy to know what characters refuse to tell others around them. 

Also, this book is queer and it’s about time I read a queer book again. 

Today I’ve picked…

Nevada by Imogen Binnie

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Maria, the main character in this book is trans and I don’t feel I read enough about trans characters. Somehow I hadn’t heard about this book until a queer booktuber was talking about it. So, naturally I jumped on it and I look forward to reading it soon. 

Obscura by Joe Hart




Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest opinion! This did not affect my review.

This is yet another book I’m surprised that I’ve heard nothing about. It has action, emotion, deep thought, a murder mystery. There’s space, a new genetic disease, a mother’s plight to save her child. Obscura is one of those books that has everything that you thought you might want.

But, I thought, it could have used a bit more oomph.

The basic plot follows Gillian, a neurologist who is studying this relatively new disease that robs people, old and young, of their memories. Her husband died from it. And now her daughter has it. Shes’ trying to find a cure or treatment to it. Right when her funding gets cut, someone she used to know in school comes with an irresistible offer: If she helps NASA, she’ll get unlimited funding and time to work on it.

Then, it all collapses into lies and deceit and murder.

The plot is very interesting since it covers so many different areas of sci-fi, all while keeping it interesting and not too bogged down with the details. So the plot was definitely a plus, even though some parts could have had better development and been expanded on better.

It was the pacing that did it for me, really. There was a lot of parts included in the book that didn’t come to a pay off and weren’t really explained until the last 3% of the book. And by then, I had sort of forgotten about things that happened. It didn’t stick in my head.

I also never got really attached to any of the characters. They were good, but there was so much time invested in the plot and what was going on that developing the characters beyond moving pieces never happened. I never felt fully invested in the characters, which then made the plot a bit of a drag since, at times, it was so focused on Gillian.

If you want a quick, action-packed book where you don’t have to care too much about the characters, this is the one for you.

Shakespeare Book Tag

This tag was created by Cara (@Wilde Book Garden) I saw this tag on Tova’s blog @Petyr Baelish Books and both of us are Shakespeare fans so we are excited to do this tag! Last year we assigned each other to read our favorite lesser-known Shakespeare plays. Caidyn read The Tempest and Chantel read Richard III but if we both assigned each other our favorite play we probably would’ve both read Macbeth.

Chantel will be in purple. 

Caidyn will be in blue.

Much Ado About Nothing:

Your favorite bickering couple whom everyone knows really care about each other (can be romantic relationship or friendship)

I was totally at a loss for the answer to this. There is the obvious answer (see Caidyn’s answer) but instead, I’d rather go with two friends who I adore and would’ve loved to see their relationship blossom. I’m talking about Liesel and Rudy from The Book ThiefOoohhh good one. Very good. They fight and bicker as younger kids do, but it’s also clear that they care for each other. It has to be one of my favorite portrayals of friendship in a book ever. 

I could be a shit and just name the Shakespeare characters they’re referencing but I won’t. I’ll behave myself.

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My choice is kind of obvious. I don’t ship them really, but they’re the only two that fit the bill.

Measure for Measure:

A book whose plot or genre is really hard to explain to other people.

I would definitely say More Than This by Patrick Ness is difficult to explain without spoiling anything and the best thing to do is read the book knowing as little as possible. Don’t even read the summary of the book, just read it. 

I’d say American Gods or The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo or The Heart’s Invisible Furies. They’re all books that I’ve never been able to nail down how to describe because my description pales in comparison to the books.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Your favorite book featuring fairies or elves

Is it sad that the only book I can think of is Harry Potter? However, I would feel bad if I didn’t honor Dobby the House Elf. 

dobby is a free elf

So, I will say Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling because it’s where our hero Dobby is introduced to the world. 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black fits for me! Has all of that and more. I could choose Harry Potter, but this was the one that came to mind.


An underutilized female character

This is difficult because most of the books I read have strong female characters but it is difficult to think of a book I’ve read recently with an underutilized female character. Instead of picking a random character from a book I recently read, I’m going to say that I would like more strong female characters in fantasy and sci-fi specifically. I’m far less likely to pick up that genre if the books are dominated by men. 

No clue. I don’t pay attention to that stuff as much. I mean, I wish that more female side characters had been used in Harry Potter, but they weren’t underutilized per say. They were used. Also, more female characters in Scott Lynch’s books, much like he had inRed Seas Under Red Skies.

The Sonnets:

Choose your favorite poem

I’m not the biggest fan of poetry. The only time I really read poetry was in class and that was required. However, nothing has really stuck with me through the years, so I don’t think I have a good answer to this. 

I like The Flea by John Donne. It’s a funny poem if you can track what’s going on. But, actually, I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare’s sonnets. They’re very good.

Richard III:

A protagonist willing to do anything to get what they want

This is so fitting for Dear Dicky. I definitely can’t think of a protagonist who is willing to do anything. I mean, Macbeth is definitely in that category even though Lady Macbeth was fueling the fire. There’s also Jorg, but other than that I don’t read a lot of books where the protagonist is so ruthless. 

Jorg Ancrath from Prince of Thorns. Jesus, he literally would do anything. He’d kill you and your furbaby if it fit what his ambitions were.

Antony and Cleopatra:

Your favorite trope/bookish buzzword/historical figure/etc. for which you still haven’t found that perfect book

I actually think that the recent anthology All Out is probably the closest thing to this for me. It’s untold stories about queer characters throughout history and I LOVE that. Different queer stories told in different time periods. I’d like more of this please. 

Anne Boleyn. I love her and I haven’t found the perfect fiction book for it. The closest I got was with Perseverance by Charlie Fenton, an author I love and someone I trust to give me good book recs within Tudor history.

Titus Andronicus:

A lesser-known work by a popular author, one which you want more people to read

I don’t know how popular this book is, but I would say Damned by Chuck Palahniuk. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but it’s one of the few books of his I could actually get through. It’s a black comedy about a thirteen-year-old girl who gets sent to hell after she dies. I found it pretty entertaining. 

One, Titus Andronicus sucks. The play sucks. It’s ridiculous and violent and likely not written by Shakespeare.

Two, I don’t know? I don’t really read popular authors. And if I do, I read the popular stuff that everyone’s talking about. Which then I usually dislike and don’t want to read more by the author.

King Lear:

A complex female villain or antihero

Female antihero? Where? Seriously, I want some recommendations! I’ve yet to come across a decent female villain now that I think about it. Outside Harry Potter of course. This is something I need in my life though. SAME. I need the recs.

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So, Bellatrix or…

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Umbridge. They’re villains and complex ones at that.

The Taming of the Shrew:

Choose two polarizing books, one you loved and one you hated

I will say that I’m pretty in the know when it comes to polarizing books, but I usually don’t read them. If I read a book that’s recently come out it’s not because it’s polarizing. It’s because I wanted to read it. I usually avoid hyped books or popular books until the hype has died down and even then I’m not spared from disappointment. 

I don’t pay attention to books that are polarizing? I more pay attention to whether they sound like something I’d like. It’s usually that everyone loves a book and I hate it.

“Give me your hands, if we be friends”

Tag some people!


We are actually going to tag people because we haven’t seen this tag very much and we thought it was very fun!

Melanie the great!

Emma the Sass Queen

Emma the sweetheart


Ash the brave

Please check all of these lovely ladies out and if we didn’t tag you and you want to do the tag please do! The more the merrier actually.

Jade City by Fonda Lee

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)



A while ago, I chose this book as a book for First Lines Friday. I read a glowing review of it (which you can find if you click the link to the FLF) and I knew that I had to read it. Dynamic characters, an Asian inspired world, and an interesting world? I was sold right away.

Yet, it was a slow book. It’s around 500 pages and a lot of it is filler for setting the stage. Establishing the characters, the plot, the world. But the world isn’t exactly explained to you. I wish some of it was, but it wasn’t too hard to pick up on in the end. The plot was a slow burn one, too. You had to pay attention and pick the pieces up.

What really stood out to me were the characters. Lan, the leader of the clan. Hilo, his brother and right-hand man. Shae, the sister who left to live her own life and then comes back. Aden, the orphaned mixed-blood boy who wants to be one of them. The grandfather, the once great leader of the clan and now is diminishing. Then, there are the side characters that crop up.

All of them were fantastic. I grew to love and understand all of them over the 500 pages. I came to really care for them. I nearly cried towards the end when I thought something was going to happen to one of them. Lee got me very engaged in the story. While I thought the plot could have been a bit quicker with more ground covered, the length of the book gave enough time to flesh out the characters really well.

What I can say is that I’m excited to read the next book when it comes out!

Ripperology: A Study Of The World’s First Serial Killer And A Literary Phenomenon by Robin Odell

Ripperology: A Study Of The World's First Serial Killer And A Literary Phenomenon



I’m going to start with this caveat first. If you have no prior knowledge on the Ripper murders, do not start here


This book is more of a historical literary analysis of books that have been written about Jack the Ripper and who he is. Literally, there is about pages of information about the murders. This doesn’t include the suspects. Odell is an established Ripperologist and this is written for those with a serious interest in the crimes. (But, if this whets your appetite, I’d be happy to direct you to some books I personally liked and gave me a grounding!)

Luckily, I have a huge interest and knowledge base about dear old Jack.

I’ve read quite a few books, read shows, watched movies, did some tours, etc. Basically, I’ve been interested in Jack since I was nine. Yeah. I was a weird kid. But, that’s for another time.

As I said, this book is more of a historical literary analysis, following the trends through the years and Ripperologists. Odell had more to say about people from the 1960s and on, but this book cuts off in the early 2000s so new evidence that has come to light wasn’t included.

I loved how thorough Odell was. He covered serious theories that I’ve heard many times, ones that are serious but I haven’t heard of too much because books I’ve read dismissed them, and the crack pot theories that I love. Such as, the Duke of Clarence (Queen Victoria’s grandson) was the cause of it — and the basis of From Hell, both graphic novel and movie — and that it wasn’t Jack the Ripper but Jill the Ripper.

Odell went through it all, combing the evidence that was available to him and all the books that made a mark on history. For good and for bad, too. He treats it all evenly, which I really like. While Odell is dismissive of the more ridiculous theories, he still examines all the evidence and then shows how it doesn’t quite work.

The only downside is that this doesn’t account for some recent advancements. Mainly, I’m referring to the book Naming Jack the Ripper. I read this back in 2016 and was impressed by it because it brought in DNA evidence that linked one of the prime suspects to the history. I would have loved to see Odell’s thoughts on it since it sounds like Cornwell’s book, Portrait of a Killer, which he examines in lots of detail. Aka, he tears it down.

While this book is for a very specialized group of people, it was very interesting. You just have to know your stuff already and have read some of the literature. Unless you want to do a bunch of Googling while reading.

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

The Seance

Admittedly, this sounds super interesting. I love Victorian based novels. The atmosphere is great. And it plays off spiritualism. That movement is absolutely fascinating to me and I’d like to see a mystery kind of based on it.

Verdict: Keep

Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey

Tbh, I’d rather read a nonfiction book about Jane Grey than a fiction one that might twist the facts even worse.

Verdict: Go!

The London Underworld in the Victorian Period: Authentic First-Person Accounts by Beggars, Thieves and Prostitutes

A primary source document that probably takes place around Whitechapel where Jack the Ripper operated?

Verdict: Keep

Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street: A Life of the World's First Consulting Detective

This is a biography of a fictional character by someone who really knew his shit about Sherlock Holmes. But, eh. I don’t think I need to read it. I tried reading something else by Baring-Gould and it was dreadfully boring.

Verdict: Go!

The Fort

I’m pretty sure I got this and tried reading a bit of it at one point, then put it down for whatever reason. The summary on GR still sounds interesting to me, though.

Verdict: Keep

The Automat

Okay the GR description sounds right up my alley. A lot like You by Caroline Kepnes or Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall.

Verdict: Keep

The Charioteer

This was the time of my life where I added all the gay novels to my TBR. Which is very different than now. Renault is a well-known author who basically got famous writing bestselling gay books. But I’d rather start with something a bit more well-known, like her Alexander the Great series.

Verdict: Go!

At Swim, Two Boys

This sounds nearly like Maurice by E.M. Forester. I’d rather reread that book first to see if I still really like it. Then I’d try this one if I came across it.

Verdict: Go!

The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

Again, I’d rather start with something a bit better known by Wharton. Not that I think she’d be bad, just thatI’d rather start with something else.

Verdict: Go!

The True Memoirs of Little K


Eh, I don’t know. It sounds like historical fiction at its finest. In other words, a manipulation of the truth to the extreme. But then I did some Googling and, guess what, it’s true! At least some of it.

Verdict: Keep

Previous TBR #: 2089

Books Removed: 5

Books Kept: 5

TBR Total: 2085