the NerdHerd Reads

Just a self-proclaimed nerd who likes to read and review (mostly YA) books. You can find me on my blog The NerdHerd Reads or on Twitter @nerdherdreads. Might drink too much coffee ;) 

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home {by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman}

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space - Elsie Larson
Step inside the world of Elsie and Emma, the sisters behind the décor blog A Beautiful Mess.  With tiny budgets and a crafty, can-do attitude, they overhauled each room in their first homes with DIY projects using family photos, vibrant fabrics, flea-market finds, and affordable furniture. Now, you can learn how to paint, craft, and decorate your way to a happy, bright space with distinct personality. In the same upbeat spirit and modern style found on their blog, you’ll find fresh, all-new projects including:


• An inspired geometric-pattern coffee table made of balsa wood


• A hand-lettered statement wall featuring your favorite quote


• A quick and easy electrical tape update for your refrigerator


• A set of beautifully designed serving dishes


And more! 


Packed with bonus styling tips from hanging the perfect gallery wall to making mismatched furniture work, Happy Handmade Home is design inspiration for personalizing your own space.



I've been following the blog A Beautiful Mess for awhile now. From back when it was small, just Elsie and Emma, to the huge thing it has become, with an entire team. I've enjoyed watching them grow and expand. And now, the girls have expanded into... books. While I wasn't super interested in their photography book, since my favorite part of their blog is the DIY's, I was really interested in this one. 

I loved the inside look this gave us into their homes and personalities. While we do see a lot of that on the blog as well, I loved seeing all that pictures and inspiration. I've already gone through and thought about which projects I want to attempt myself.

This is the perfect inspiration book. It's more than just a book of how-to's. The girls have infused it with their personalities, and it's also just a lot of fun. I also love that all of the projects are in one place, for easy reference.

Whether you are decorating a new space, getting bored of an old one, or whatever reason you may just need some inspiration, this is the perfect book that will help and guide you, while still being fun to read. I would highly recommend it.

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)


Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.


Angels Walking {by Karen Kingsbury}

Angels Walking - Karen Kingsbury, January LaVoy, Kirby Heyborne

From New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes the first in a brand-new series about second chances: a dramatic story about a washed up baseball player, the love he left behind, and the miracles that might save them both. When former national baseball star Tyler Ames suffers a career-ending injury, all he can think about is putting his life back together the way it was before. He has lost everyone he loves on his way to the big leagues. Then just when things seem to be turning around, Tyler hits rock bottom.Across the country, Tyler's one true love Sami Dawson has moved on. A series of small miracles leads Tyler to a maintenance job at a retirement home and a friendship with Virginia Hutcheson, an old woman with Alzheimer's who strangely might have the answers he so desperately seeks. A team of Angels Walking take on the mission to restore hope for Tyler, Sami, and Virginia. Can such small and seemingly insignificant actions of the unseen bring healing and redemption? And can the words of a stranger rekindle lost love? Every journey begins with a step. It is time for the mission to begin.

Karen Kingsbury has done it again. Angels Walking was a unique story that captivated. I know I said previously that I had felt her stories were becoming formulaic, even becoming boring. But this one was unique and piqued my interest.

Two angels, Beck and Ember, have been sent to Earth. The whole group of angels have a mission, and these two have been chosen to complete the first part of it: Tyler Ames. A former baseball star, who ruined his career and is trying to make his comeback. Until he cant. His first love, Sami, lives across the country, supposedly moved on. 

My favorite part would have to be the angels. I actually wish there were more scenes from Beck and Ember's point of view. It was interesting to see the way they worked, the way they walked among the humans, watching, listening, and helping.

I also like how this was not really romance based. I mean, yes, Tyler was focused on his first love, Sami. And Sami was focused on first her boyfriend, and then Tyler. But the story focused more on Tyler, and his growth as a person. 

I also loved Virginia and her part of the story. She was so sweet, and just lent a wonderful side to the story and to Tyler's growth and discovery.

Does this still have the everything-works-out perfectly in an almost unrealistic way? Yes. But it is a book about miracles. And this was a great, invested read. It definitely kept me interested the entire time. I already need the next one!  
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days {by Holley Gerth}

What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days: 52 Encouraging Truths to Hold on to - Holley Gerth

In this uplifting book, Holley Gerth invites readers to sit down with her to be filled with the strength, peace, and joy that come from God's promises to us. Each of the 52 devotions based on the Psalms will help weary women remember that God is good and we're all in this together. Whether it's a bad hair day or a broken heart, Holley offers hope and encouragement to get us through whatever life brings.
Women need that kind of encouragement because we all have hard days--days that make us want to give up, retreat inside ourselves, and drown our sorrows in a pint of ice cream. And while we may crave all sorts of things to ease the pain we feel in our hearts, what we really need is truth. We need to be confident in God's character and his promises. We need to remember--and celebrate--who he made us to be. And we need exactly the kind of encouragement Holley Gerth loves to offer.


I didn't want to review this, necessarily, because it's more like a devotional, and how do you review that? Therefore, I decided to spotlight it instead. This devotional has 52 entries, so you can read it once a week for a year, or daily for 52 days. Either way, this book will encourage and enlighten you.

Now, I did not read the whole thing cover to cover. I read one every day for a week, and then flipped through the rest, although I will continue to read one every day until I do get through all of them. But already, I have been so touched and encouraged by this devotional. Each short chapter is based on a Psalm, and although they may be short, they hold a lot of truth. Holley Gerth has a very unique writing that actually holds your interest. I'm not one for devotionals, but this one is very easy to read, as if you were chatting with an old friend.

We all need encouragement and to hear God's voice in our daily lives. This book really is what your heart needs for the hard days.


I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


First World Problems {by Leigh Ann Kopans}

First World Problems - LeighAnn Kopans

Sofia's had a really rough year - busted for cheating at prep school, dumped - dumped! - for the first time ever, and her new non-profit working stepmother is turning out to be an uppity bitch.
She deserves to treat herself. But when she throws herself a birthday party with 20 of her closest friends in Paris and (accidentally!) maxes out her dad's credit card in the process, he’s had enough of her attitude. As punishment, he switches her planned gap year touring Europe to one doing community service work with the evil stepmother’s relief organization in Guyana.
The rural village of Dabu needs help in every area from education to getting safe drinking water. But Sofia’s more concerned about her roommate Callum, the gardening expert, who calls Sofia "Princess" and scoffs at her distaste for sweaty, muddy, iguana-eating, outhouse-using life in Guyana.
Eventually, life on the equator, her work in the village, and especially Callum - with his brooding eyes and bewitching New Zealand accent - start to grow on Sofia. Life is rough in Guyana, but it’s roughest on the girls, whose families are too poor to send only the most promising boys in school. They’re trapped in a cycle that will keep them from ever making a better life for themselves, or for the village. Worse, Callum doesn’t seem to think any of the changes Sofia envisions are actually necessary.
Determined to change the girls’ futures, she comes up with a strategy to help them and, ultimately, the village. But what starts out as a plan to convince Callum and her father that she’s fallen in love with Guyana, turns into the realization that maybe she’s falling for Callum, too. And that by changing these girls’ lives, she might also be changing her own.


You guys know how much I loved Solving for Exso of course when I heard she was writing a companion about Sofia getting what was coming to her, I had to have it. And it did not disappoint.

This was interesting to begin with, because if you've read Solving for Ex, you already have an opinion of Sofia. And let's face it, it's not a pretty one. Which means its going to take a lot more for her to win you over, to prove that she's changed. I will say, I admire that Sofia knows what she is and doesn't try to hide it. She knows that she's manipulative, and she has perfected it down to an art form. She knows her father just throws money at her and her twin, Vincent, to "make up" for her mother dying, but she isn't above taking the money and making him pay for mentally checking out of their life. But when Sofia makes him pay a little too much, her dad takes notice and decide he's had enough. So, he cancels her year abroad in Paris and makes her go volunteer for her stepmother's company in third-world Guyana.

Sofia is very hard to like in the beginning, but she's supposed to be that way. She's used to being the queen everywhere she goes. She's used to her money and looks being able to get her everything she wants. But, now she no longer has her daddy's money, and for some reason, her usual flirtations aren't working on the only boy in this awful place, Callum. But Sofia knows how to play her cards right: play along enough for Callum to send good reports to her stepmother, and she can get out of this place early. But she never thought that she would fall for Callum and Guyana.

Seeing Sofia struggle in the beginning was, I admit, humorous. But I have to hand it to her, she did survive. Here she is, thrown into a place with no running water, no toilets, much less any of the luxuries she was used to. Heck, I don't know if could do that well. But Sofia proved that she wasn't just a dumb cheerleader type persona (cue Taylor Swift...I got nothing in my least that's what people say....mmhmm). She decided that she was going to stick it out and prove to everyone that she wasn't just a "princess". And she did it.

And Callum.......I loved watching their relationship progress from not being able to stand each other to falling in love. It was definitely fun and entertaining to watch them banter back and forth, but also had its sweet moments. I loved that the relationship didn't progress too fast, but worked perfectly for the book, even adding to the plot instead of taking away from it like I so often see romances do sometimes in books.

I also really loved all the characters in this book, from the bus driver to the other housemates, to the little girls that Sofia falls in love with in the town. It's obvious that a lot of research went into writing this book, to write the town and the people and the problems they face so accurately.

But I think most of all, I loved seeing how much Sofia changed. From being the spoiled princess that she was, to actually seeing the townspeople and their troubles, to wanting to help them. It wasn't an unrealistic change that happened over night, but one that happened gradually, so that we could really see that she was genuine.

So yes. I looooved this book. I loved everything about it. And while I may never love it more than Solving for Ex, it was pretty darn close. Plus, I hear the finished version has pictures. I mean, you can't beat that.


I received an advanced copy from the author in exchange for my honest review


All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes {by Betsy St. Amant}

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes - Betty St Amant

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.
Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.
At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.
But when Lucas Brannen, Kat s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.
As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself her is suddenly in danger of slipping away.
The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana."


Anything with cupcakes, I'm in. I was originally drawn in by the super-cute cover, but the premise and promise of cupcakes sealed the deal. This was the cutest, fluffy little chick-lit, perfect for making you smile and laugh.

Kat is working in her aunt's bakery, where only three flavors are ever allowed--chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Kat has a gift for baking cupcakes and coming up with new gourmet recipes, but with no one in her family who actually believes in her abilities, it looks like she'll be stuck in her small-town forever. That is, until her life-long best friend, Lucas, signs her up to appear on a popular cupcake bake-off TV show…and she gets chosen. Lucas and Kat head off to LA, but at the same time, both are fighting feelings for each other. 
There was a lot of romantic angst in this one. While I normally am not a fan, it definitely made for an interesting read. There were so many times when I just wanted to yell at Kat and Lucas to just TALK to each other. My goodness. But except for a few frustrating parts, I liked how their relationship least until the end. At first, it wasn't too rushed or insta-lovey, but then, out of nowhere at the end, there's a ring and what? I realize that when you've known each other as long as they have, it might be different, but still. That part seemed forced and rushed and I wasn't too sure about it.
I also enjoyed the cooking show aspect of this. I feel like it was portrayed realistically and allowed us to see a glimpse inside what goes on during one of these. I would have liked a bit more for the other contestants, as only Piper had a real big part. Tonya and Tameka (??) were great in the few lines they had, and it made me want to see more from them. 
As for the plot line, I really enjoyed the way this played out. I think there was enough conflict and resolution, and I was happy with the way everything was resolved. 
All in all, this was a really cute, fun story. I loved it and the characters and, of course, the cupcakes. It's definitely a light, fluffy story, but something that will make you laugh and smile.
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review

Faith Departed {by Elizabeth Maddrey}

Faith Departed - Elizabeth Maddrey

This isn't really what I normally read, being women's fiction instead of YA. However, I liked the different perspective and the story. Reading about married adult women was very different than reading about teenagers, in that I couldn't really relate to them yet. This story did take me a while to get into it at first, but once I did, I breezed through it.

I will say, June kind of annoyed me. Although we get perspectives from all four characters--June, her twin July, and both of their husbands, Toby and Gareth--we see the most from June. I think there was a part where Toby said June was acting like a petulant teenager. Yeah, that's how she felt throughout most of the book.

I realize that I cannot even begin to imagine what June is going through. Trying to get pregnant and failing, dealing with crap at work, and now her twin is hiding things from her. But at the same time, I felt like June made so many bad decisions from selfishness. She blamed everyone else for not seeing things her way, especially Toby, who bore the brunt of things.

Surprisingly, I think I understood/related to Toby the most. But then, I've always joked that I'm going to be the "guy" in my relationships (sorry future hubs). I did like that we got to see perspectives from both his and Gareth's point of view, as it added more interest and dimension to the story.

This was a very deep and spiritual book, yet realistic. Although maybe I personally can't relate because I'm not there yet, this is definitely a book that I think lots of women can relate to. I don't feel like everything was completely resolved in the end, but it was still an enjoyable read, one that I would recommend if you are looking for some good, realistic spiritual fiction.

I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.


Ten Tiny Breaths {by K.A. Tucker}

Ten Tiny Breaths  - K.A. Tucker

All in all, I'm not exactly sure how I felt about this one. I have not really forayed into the New Adult genre, so I wasn't completely sure what to expect. And I did like it, truly, but I still have conflicting feelings about it.

Kacey has spent the last four years after her accident trying to forget it. Although she has put aside her self-destructive lifestyle for her sister, she still is cold and hard, and doesn't let anyone in, except Livie. (Until Trent, that is.) Then finally, the string snaps, and they run away to Miami, where they decide to start anew.

I did like the characters, both major and minor. In fact, one of the major reasons I think I will continue with this series is because of the characters. I especially want to read book 3 (Cain's story) and 4 (Ben's story). I feel each one was well-written and brought something to the story, no matter how small a part it was. Some of them were predictable, some of them were your stereotypical characters, nothing special about them, but I still enjoyed them.

For the most part, I enjoyed the story line as well. It wasn't anything terrible unique or different. In fact, it was quite cookie-cutter and predicable, the same plot we've seen before. The author did twist and change it, and although didn't make it completely new or unique, made it fun and exciting. It kept you interested enough to keep reading, but I felt like it wasn't supposed to be as much about the plot as it was about the characters and emotion.

Emotions. This book was full of them. Laughter, sadness, grief, despair, happiness, joy. They are there, and you will feel them. This book was about growing, changing, life, love, and hope. And it did that very well. Sure, the plot is predictable, the story line stereotypical, but the author was able to get the feeling of raw emotion through quite well, and for that I would definitely recommend it.

And as for what happens in the end? (The "plot twist" that, well, could be guessed quite early on.) That's kind of where the conflicted feelings come in. I liked it up until that point and then....I don't know. I applaud Kacey for having the strength to do what she had to, for herself and for Livie. But as for Trent...then the whole getting back together thing...I don't know how I feel about it. I just don't know.


Promise of Amazing {by Robin Constantine}

The Promise of Amazing - Robin Constantine

I've talked about how I've been getting more and more into contemporary. This sounded like a cute, fun little story, and so I was actually interested in reading it. I read this after coming off some really heavy reading, and just needed something light and fluffy, so I may be more forgiving towards some aspects that I usually would not be. And although I did enjoy it, I was left with some mixed feelings.

First, if you've read anything at all about this book, then you've probably heard about the insta-love. I am not for insta-love. Anywhere, anytime, in any case. I just don't like it, but I usually deal with it. However, there just seemed to be no basis for the insta-love in this book. Sure, she saves him from choking to death, but that wasn't nearly enough reason for the literal stalking that ensued. I mean, maybe I'm weird, but that would turn me off, not on.

Wren is your average plain Jane. She has recently decided that she's sick and tired of the "quiet girl" stigma she has been assigned, and wants to do something about it. But aside from being completely obsessed with Grayson, she doesn't actually seem to do anything about it, except complain that she hates it. She wasn't a bad character, and I would definitely take her over the whiny, annoying main girl characters we usually get, but she wasn't really a standout character either.

Grayson was a bit more of an interesting character, what with being a reformed term paper pimp and all. He was mostly a jerk in the beginning, and although he was sincerely "trying to change", he was still mostly a jerk the whole way through. And although he did seem at first to be your average moody, rebellious teenager, as the story progresses, we see that he is legitimately sorry about ruining his future. (Whether he's actually sorry, or just sorry he got caught, I don't know, but he does seem to finally understand the consequences of his actions and what it cost him.)

If it weren't for Gray and Wren's complete and utter obsession with each other, the plot would have been much better. It was a good idea, but much of it was lost and overshadowed by how much Wren and Grayloooooove each other.

I did love the family dynamic, in how the parents of both teens were there and involved, unlike most YA novels. The characters/story was fairly realistic in how teenagers are, and act, and what generally goes on in a high school.

All in all, this was still a good story. If you are in the mood for something light and fun, I would definitely recommend it. If you go in expecting too much, you'll probably be disappointed, but if you're reading it just for fun, you will enjoy it.


I received an ARC from the author in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way, except to think that Robin Constantine is just a seriously sweet person.


Poison Dance {Livia Blackburne}

Poison Dance: A Novella - Livia Blackburne

So, if you've been here long enough, you know about my complete obsession with love for the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. And because of that, I've been very scared hesitant to read other stories about assassins, for fear that I would only ever compare them to the ToG series, and they would of course never measure up.

Well, I managed to get past that to read Poison Dance, and I am so glad I did. It may only be a short story, but don't be fooled. It is a complex, intricate, complete story all on its own.

James is an assassin, just wanting to do his job without getting into the politics of the Guild. Then, he is approached by Thalia, a dancing girl with a huge and dangerous request.

This is what everyone looks for in a fantasy novel. Although it is short, it was very beautifully written. The building of the world, the Assassin's Guild, and everything that is going on is explained very well, without taking up so much of the already short story. The story is engaging from the start, and will keep you glued to the pages, wanting to know how it ends up and how it plays into Midnight Thief.

James is only a supporting character in Midnight Thief, which makes me sad because I want more of him, his story. BUT this also has made me even more excited for Midnight Thief when it comes out. You're telling me I have to wait until July??

So, basically, I loved this, and you need to read it. Now.


I received an ebook copy from the author in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way, except for that I need Midnight Thief even more now.


Cruel Beauty {by Rosamund Hodge}

Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge

I loved this book. It was a beautiful, imaginative, different, gorgeous retelling. Of course, having my two favorite things (Greek mythology and fairy tale retelling), I was probably destined to love it. Add in that gorgeous cover, and I was sold.

First off, I will say that this book may not be for everyone. I know many people who love it as much as I do, some who were torn, and some who don't like it. (Guess which category I fall into.) If you are going to read this book, you must go into it with an open mind. I think the problem is, people see that this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and they go into it thinking Belle. You can't do that. Belle is kind, caring, compassionate, loving, and sweet. Nyx is not. I mean, just think about the fact that her name is Nyx (and what it means), and realize that she is the exact opposite of Belle. If you can get past that, you'll be fine.

I am a huge sucker for Greek mythology in anything. This story was full of it, and that's what made me love it from the start. (Actually, the beginning of this reminded me less of Beauty and the Beast and more of Cupid and Psyche. Or am the only one here nerdy enough to get that?) I will say that the beginning might be a little slow, because of all the world-building. But every name, reference, or anecdote that was mythology-inspired just made me happy. (I have a problem. And I'm perfectly okay with it.)

Nyx is...different. She isn't your normal heroine (and definitely nothing like Belle). She resents her family, but she hates herself for it. She wonders if maybe she has a little bit of evil inside her too. She knows she is imperfect, flawed. In fact, she doesn't even think she's that good of a person. And that's completely different. I realize that this is where some people had problems with her, but I didn't.

All the characters were written beautifully. Each had their developments, their own personality. I loved Ignifex, and the relationship he and Nyx have. It's rocky in the beginning, and I realize the build-up didn't make complete sense (as in, there wasn't really much of it), but I did like it. The love triangle, if that's what it can be called, was well-done. It didn't make me want to hurl the book or hit the characters over the head. It was resolved in a way that worked beautifully for the story and the characters. 

The writing was just beautiful. It was flowed perfectly with the story. I loved how she made the house come to life, the magical elements, and the mythology seamlessly ingrained into the story. It was just really amazing, especially for a debut author and I can't wait to read more from her.


I will say, the ending had me...well, like this.




I was kind of confused at the last part. Nyx suddenly finds out everything out and understands all the things, except we don't really go with her. It climaxes and ends pretty quickly, and I was confused as to what was happening. But that would be the only criticism I have for this book.


So would I recommend this story? Absolutely. It is such a beautifully written, different retelling. In fact, I know that's what it claims, but it was so unique that it almost doesn't seem like it was a retelling. I loved it. Hopefully you do as well.


Sold {by Patricia McCormick}

Sold - Patricia McCormick

This review can also be found on the NerdHerd Reads


I usually do not prefer audiobooks. I just don't really have the patience or the attention span to listen to them. But I have had barely any time to read lately. I have a 40+ minute drive to and from school every day, and decided to try it out. With nothing else to distract me in the car, and nothing else to do, I figured might as well get some "reading" done. It was much easier to pay attention in the car, and so I managed to make it through this audiobook.


Lakshmi is a young, Nepali girl. Her family is poor, living in a small village in the mountains. Her stepfather gambles away all their money, but for the most part, Lakshmi is happy with her mother and baby brother. But then, her father sells her to a city woman. Lakshmi thinks she will be used as a servant in a wealthy home, but soon finds out the worst thing imaginable: she has been sold into prostitution. Forced into a debt that will be nearly impossible to pay back, Lakshmi sees no way out.


This book was a deeply emotional book. It is very sad, heart-wrenching, and eye-opening. McCormick did a wonderful job of making us feel what Lakshmi was going through. This is such an ugly story to write, but it was written quite beautifully. It isn't super graphic, although I probably wouldn't recommend it for younger audiences. There were some more...uncomfortable situations, which is why it may only be appropriate for older audiences, but it was needed for the story it tells.It was very clear that McCormick did her research for this book.


The details were well thought out and written. She did a good job of location, setting the feeling for Lakshmi's Nepalese village, but also the transition from the villages into India and the big cities. But McCormick also did a good job of writing the girls, how each one of them feels about their plight. What brought them there, what keeps them there, what happens there.


I did not like the narrator for this one. Her fake accent was annoying, and not at all close. (And the accent she gave to the Americans...what? It was painful to listen to.) It didn't turn me off the book completely, but I felt I couldn't enjoy it fully because her voice grated on my ears. The book is also written in free verse poetry, although I didn't even realize that at first because it's hard to tell with the audio.


Sold was meant to be a powerful, haunting story of what really goes on behind the sex slave industry. It was meant to open eyes about poor girls who go off to be maids, and instead what ends up happening to them. It was built on the stories and interviews of many girls who actually went through this. Although a fictional story, it isn't fiction. This truly does go on in real life. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. (Although it is labeled for younger audiences, I would go a little bit older because of the content.)



The Assassin and the Desert {by Sarah J. Maas}

The Assassin and the Desert - Sarah J. Maas

This review can also be found on the NerdHerd Reads


Part II of my Throne of Glass Novella Readathon (title not official). I do enjoy these novellas, as I like how they give insight to Celaena and her personality, but also the different experiences that made her who she was in Throne of Glass, as well as how she's changed.


After her unforgivable actions in The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, Arobynn beats her senseless and then sends her off to train with the Silent Assassins. He gives her one month to receive a letter of approval from the Master Assassin. The problem? Well...they don't talk. Celaena, full of arrogance and pride at being who she is, realizes that the Silent Assassins don't care, and her titles will get her nowhere.


Although Celaena expected to train with the Master, she soon learns that he will not see her until she proves herself. She becomes friends with her roommate, Ansel, and begins to understand how things are done here. Ansel is the first real friend, at least female one, that Celaena has ever had. Soon, Celaena begins to even enjoy her stay in the desert, and starts thinking about what would happen if she stayed instead of going back to Arobynn.


Celaena's humility becomes genuine instead of for show so that the Master will train her, and he begins to. She falls into the rhythm of things, enjoys her friendship with Ansel, and doesn't want to leave. But then, the fortress is attacked, and everyone is not who they seem.


I do think the description is misleading and wrong. The whole "Celaena must find a way to stop them, or she'll be lucky to leave the desert alive". That's not how it went down at all. Of course, I can't say how it did go down, because that would give everything away.


Not going to lie, Celaena's arrogance definitely grates on my nerves. I was happy, however, when she finally realized that the Assassins didn't care who she was, and in their fortress, she wasn't all that. She becomes more humble, and realizes just how selfish and spoiled she was.


This novella also showcases the vulnerability Celaena has, that she never shows. She has never had a real female friend before, and so that was something strange and new to her. The book also shows that although she may be an assassin, she also has a soft spot for people. But don't let her hear you say that ;)


Although, I really just want to know what happened to Sam. Poor Sam.



The Assassin and the Pirate Lord {by Sarah J. Maas}

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord (Throne of Glass, #0.1) - Sarah J. Maas

This review can also be found on the NerdHerdReads to figure out how I didn't know there were Throne of Glass novellas....whaaattt??? I loved Throne of Glass when I read it. I'm about to reread it so I can read Crown of Midnight and so I might as well just read the entire series, start to finish. (Not saying that I'm going to read every single novella, because there are quite a few. But as many as I can, so that's what you'll be seeing on SSS for the next few weeks. Hashtag sorrynotsorry)


Calaena and Sam have been sent to the Pirate Lord to collect on a debt. Unbeknownst to them, they are actually there to collect a shipment of slaves. Upon finding this out, Celaena is enraged. Deciding to risk her master Arobynn's wrath, she concocts a way to free the slaves, dragging Sam into it with her.


Although short, this novella was still nice, allowing us into Celaena's personality and thoughts. She may be an assassin, hardened and jaded, but she still has a heart. She may be a killer for a living, but she has boundaries, lines she will not cross. And enslaving hundreds of people that had no choice, were possibly in the wrong place at the wrong time, definitely crosses that line.


Besides Celaena's hidden self, we also have get a peek into how the assassins work. We learn how she had no choice to work for Arobynn. We learn how although they seem to have a good life (well, except for the assassin part, I guess), everything is not as it seems. We see how she interacts with others, especially the other assassins. And her arrogance is something that is still the same Throne of Glass ;)


Also, Sam's pretty cute ;) I'd call him sweet, but I'm not sure you can use that word with an assassin :P


All in all, this was a quick, fun read that showed us more of Celaena and the assassings. I would definitely recommend it for lovers of the Throne of Glass series, as it shows us a little more about Celaena, the assassins, but also some of the happenings of the country that later become important in Throne of Glass.



Tiger Lily {by Jody Lynn Anderson}

Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson

This review can also be found on the NerdHerd Reads


Wow. Guys, this story. I was not expecting this. It was captivating, and sucked me in from the very beginning. It was such an emotional ride, and I loved every minute of it. I love how Jodi Lynn Anderson took our view of Neverland, of Peter Pan and Tiger Lily and Wendy and Tinkerbell, and completely changed it. Made us doubt everything we ever knew.


(Little side note here...I have never seen Peter Pan. Not the Disney version, not a movie version even though we own the one with Jeremy Sumpter, not a play version, nor the real story version. Now, I do feel that I have at least seen the beginning of the Disney version, perhaps multiple times, but I never get very far in my recollections. Definitely never get to Tiger Lily. In fact, I had no idea she existed until maybe about a year ago, when I discovered DisneyBound and had no idea who she was. So I went into this story completely ignorant and unbiased.)


First off, I love that the story was narrated by Tinkerbell. Obviously, since she doesn't talk in the movies, we don't get much from her point of view. So I think that it's awesome that she gets to get a word in, but also since she's a fairy and can flit away and eavesdrop on things, we get a wider scope of view on what is happening. She is often portrayed as the petty little fairy, and here we see that she is so much more than that.


I also loved the characters and their portrayals. They were so different from how they are usually portrayed (unless I'm missing something because I've never actually watched it).

  • Tiger Lily: She was strong, independent, and didn't need anyone or anything. But she also had a soft heart, with the way she cared for her father. And as much as she didn't admit it, she also had a certain vulnerability. One that we see when everything starts to go wrong.
  • Peter Pan: I think Peter was actually still like the Peter we know, albeit maybe a little older. He falls for Tiger Lily because she is just as strong, independent, and invincible as he is. But soon he begins to realize that isn't enough. Peter has taken care of the boys for as long as he can remember, and we see a vulnerability also in him in the way that he's scared. He just wants to be the macho manly caretaker, and wants someone who can simply affirm that.
  • The Lost Boys: The Lost Boys were so cute. They added a fun and cute dimension to a book that would have otherwise been too serious.
  • Pine Sap: Can I just say, I loved Pine Sap. Seriously, he was so sweet. Even when it was obvious to everyone but her that he loved Tiger Lily, and she went off to be with Peter, he just stuck by her. Even after her lying to him, and hurting him, he was still there for her even when Peter wasn't. Even if it wasn't ideal, I love the way this book ended for him.
  • Wendy: Anyone who loves Wendy will not like this representation of her. I can't really say that it's her fault, but still. Since the book is about Tiger Lily and Peter Pan, she wasn't in it until the end. Obviously, she plays her part in the story line, but other than that there isn't much to say about her. Except that Tiger Lily/Peter Pan shippers will hate her ;)
  • Reginald Smee: This character representation surprised me most, so I had to include him separately. Smee isn't your cowardly, wavering first mate in this book. Slightly creepy. Although Hook has instructed him only to kill Peter Pan and to not touch Tiger Lily, his strange fascination with her makes him obsessed with wanting to kill her too."Reginald didn't kill because he had no heart. He killed to make himself cry, and he only killed people he admired." -page 58
  • Hook: Hook is your typical Hook. Cowardly, drunk, miffed at Peter and bent on killing him and his lost boys. The origin is actually that Hook and Smee used to kidnap young boys to kill them, and Peter actually rescued quite a number of them. Hook would go around asking Neverlanders if they had seen his "lost boys" and the name stuck. Also, the story of how he got a hook for a hand is quite mundane and embarrassing :)


Tiger Lily was found abandoned as an infant by the Shaman of the Sky Eaters, and adopted by him. Much to the chagrin of the other villagers, he lets her run pretty free and wild. She saves an Englander that washed up on shore after the villagers elected to just let him die, and that is the last straw. They arrange her marriage to an oaf, and she starts slipping away to spend more and more time in the woods. It is here that she meets the fabled Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, and starts spending time with them. Drawn to Peter, who is very much like her, the two begin to fall in love. Things getting worse in the village, with her marriage looming and an Englander who has turned the villagers to his ways and against the Shaman, and Tiger Lily is left trying to find a way to be with Peter.


But also on the island, as Tinkerbell can tell us, are the pirates. Hook and Smee and the rest. Hook is plotting Peter's death, and Smee has an agenda of his own with Tiger Lily. But with the two lovebirds only focused on each other, will they not notice before it's too late? And then, Wendy Darling arrives in Neverland.


This story was very captivating and emotional. When everything was taken away from Tiger Lily, she lost herself. But she also finds herself again, and I'm glad. The majority of this book isn't too emotional. You don't even realize you have become invested with the characters until--wham, everything comes at the end.


Yes, this book is sad. The ending is probably not "ideal" (especially for Tiger Lily/Peter Pan shippers) but it actually is perfect for the story. But it's not a depressing book. It's filled with hope, love, sadness, a bit of grief, laughs, and a new view on life. I loved it, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone.



Life Before Legend {by Marie Lu}

Life Before Legend: Stories of the Criminal and the Prodigy - Marie Lu

This review can also be found at the NerdHerd Reads.


I really enjoyed these stories. I thought they were a fun, interesting little perspective on how Day and June lived before the events in Legend


There are two short anecdotes here, one about Day and one about June, from when they were 12 years old.




For Day, we get the story of his first kiss. He's been out on the streets by himself for about two years now, just trying to survive. He was trying to steal food from a crate, when he gets caught by the 16-year-old daughter of the owner of the crates. She offers to let him come work in exchange for some food--and a kiss. The story was short and sweet, and and gave us some insight into Day's life on the streets. It shows us how much Day would do for his friends (although we already knew that from Legend). It also shows us Day's vulnerability, and how much he longs for friends, a family, stability. It was just an all-around cute story. (Although, am I the only one weirded about by the fact that a 16-year-old kissed a 12-year-old??)



For June, we get the story of her first day at Drake University. June is the first person ever to be admitted to Drake at the age of twelve. Being a prodigy, the Republic has their eye on her. June has skipped many grades before, and has never really made any friends. All she wants is some friends, but she really doesn't know how to go about making any, since she and her fellow classmates are so different. This results in a sort of showing off that June does, but if anything, it does the opposite of what she wants. On her first day of school, she is provoked by a sophomore, which results in her first discipline. This story gives us insight into her character, and foreshadows what is to come in the Legend series. Maybe not exactly the way Metias meant it, but we do know that she does in the Legend series.


I also like the way that the author weaves their stories together before they even know it. Day sees announcements of June's induction into Drake as the Republic's prodigy. June is late for her first day because of the accident Day causes. Even in Legend, there were some of these instances that their paths crossed without them realizing it. All in all, this was a nice little introduction to the two characters before their story in Legend. It was short, sweet, and very enjoyable to read.



45 Pounds (More or Less) {by K.A. Barson}

45 Pounds (More or Less) - K.A. Barson

This review can also be found on the NerdHerd Reads.


I loved this book. It was so fun and cute. It's a quick, light read. If you're not sure what to read next, or in a bit of a slump, I would definitely recommend this book.


Ann is, well, fat. And she knows it. Thanks to her mother, who is obsessed with weight. Ann feels hopeless, alone, and insecure, which causes her to never lose the weight, no matter how many diets she goes on. But when her Aunt Jackie announces she's getting married, and wants her to be her bridesmaid, Ann decides it's now or never. And this begins her hilarious journey.


The book begins with a scene where Ann gets stuck in a dress in the changing room, which sets the stage for the rest of the book. Barson does such a good job of actually getting inside Ann's head. Her emotions are so real, and so accurate. She did a perfect job of relating the struggles of a fat girl who thinks she can't lose weight.


This book also spans a myriad of emotions. It's hilarious, sad, funny, and serious. We laugh when Ann gets stuck in the dressing room, we cheer her on when she finally goes for a run, we sympathize when she feels worthless and insecure, and we're sad when she emotional binge eats.


I also loved the different relationships shown throughout the book. Ann lives with her mother, stepfather, and twin half-siblings, who are four. Often, she feels like an outsider. Her father, who is remarried with two stepchildren, has mostly abandoned her. And her brother, the only one who understands, went of to college and abandoned her as well. This book could have easily been about her childhood problems that led to her being fat, blaming her parents and her circumstances. But it didn't. Sure, those are the issues in her life. But the book was about Ann overcoming. I also loved the dynamic of extended family, and how important family is, no matter how messed up they may be.


Ann isn't a perfect character. She may not even be the most likable character. She's whiny, she procrastinates to the point of frustration, she self-loathes, and makes excuses. But she isn't a hateable character either. She is perfectly flawed for her age, and what she is going through. She is hilarious, fun, and sweet.


Ann and her mother have such a rocky relationship. Her mother is skinny, hardly eats, and nags Ann for eating too much or not exercising. This makes Ann feel like her mother is against her, when in reality, it's the only way Ann's mother knows how to act. Ann's mother may be too much in Ann's face when she doesn't want her to be, but she also is there when Ann needs her to be. I think all girls go through a stage like this with their moms at around this age, and so young girls will be able to relate.


Her budding relationship with Jon is, in one word, adorable. It isn't love-at-first-sight. He isn't so amazingly hot. He's Jon. He's awkward, shy, and kind of dorky. She's awkward, shy, and kind of insecure. ("I like cheese", anyone?) But they are definitely so cute together. They had be smiling to myself on more than one occasion.


But one of the things I loved best about this book, is that in the end, Ann realizes it's not about weight, it's about health. And that is such an important message that I think all teen/pre-teen girls need to know. It takes Ann and her mother realizing how they are already harming Libby (who's four!) to start working on overcoming their issues with weight.


This was such a sweet, fun book. Although light, it also deals with serious issues. I would recommend this book to anyone, and since it's pretty small, comparatively, it won't take much to read it :)