Skyward (Skyward, #1) – Brandon Sanderson


Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father’s–a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa’s chances of attending flight school at slim to none.

No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.


This is my first Brandon Sanderson book (I know I am super behind on the Sanderson train) and I AM NOW HOOKED! Skyward is an incredible action-packed sci-fi adventure with a twist ending that I did not see coming! And how gorgeous is that cover?!

Skyward follows Spensa (Callsign – Spin), a teenage girl on the planet Detritus, who dreams of being a pilot for the Defiant Defense Force. She wants to be like her father and defend the planet from the evil Krell aliens. The only problem . . . her father died while fleeing a battle and is branded a coward. Spensa must live with her father’s reputation while fighting for her dreams.

The world Brandon Sanderson created in Skyward is absolutely incredible. Everything was so well done – from the cavern cities to flight school to the EPIC starfighter battles. The world was immersive and full of detail, but I never felt overwhelmed. I saw myself with Spensa and the rest of Skyward Flight as they trained and battled. I felt like I was part of Skyward Flight.

All of Sanderson’s characters in Skyward were so well done. I felt like I really got to know the main cast. However, I’ll be honest. Spensa annoyed me at first. She starts off as this overly cocky girl with a huge chip on her shoulder. She needed some sense slapped into her. Cue flight school. As soon as Spensa starts flight school, she realizes that she is not even close to the best. This reality check changed her for me and made me absolutely love the character. Spensa experiences so much growth throughout flight school. She matures so much. Spensa must deal with friendship, loss, and finding herself. She has an existential crisis and must confront her knowledge of herself, her father, and her world. Spensa must decide what it means to be a good pilot or to be a coward. I really enjoyed watching how much Spensa grew and how she confronted these challenges.

My favorite thing about Spensa is how freaking weird she is. She is so imaginative with her speech . . .

  • “When you are broken and mourning your fall from grace, I will consume your shadow in my own, and laugh at your misery.”
  • “Firstborn will be Executioner Destructorius. But you can have number two.”
  • “Ha! Your children will weep tonight, you holographic Krell bastard!”

One thing that I really liked about Skyward was that there was no romance! There is definitely some beginnings for the potential of a romance for Spensa and Jorgen, but it didn’t feel forced, rushed, or insta-lovey. I liked watching Spensa and Jorgen’s relationship grow from hate to pure friendship and admiration for one another. I can totally see them slowly falling for one another in books to come.

Now, before I move on from characters, I HAVE TO talk about my absolute favorite . . . M-BOT!! M-Bot is the most hilarious and sassy AI that ever was. The one liners from him/it? were on point and made me laugh out loud. I could probably write an entire review of just quotes from M-Bot, but I’ll save you from that and just include some of my favorites (and yes . . . this was me cutting down the number of quotes I wanted to include).

  • “Good night, sweet prince,” M-Bot whispered as the junk crashed to the ground. “Or princess. Or, most likely, gender less piece of work inanimate space junk.”
  • “Ah yes. Human squishiness quotient. Is that why you’re so mad at that space junk? Jealousy is not pretty, Spensa.”
  • “You have slightly under two minutes until you die a fiery death and I’m left with only Rig and the slug. I haven’t been able to compute which of those two is the less engaging conversationalist.”
  • “It can appreciate something at a million times per second. So you could say your comment is likely the single most appreciated thing you’ve ever done.”
  • “Hello!” M-Bot said to me form the cockpit. “You have nearly died, and so I will say something to distract you from the serious, mind-numbing implications of your own mortality! I hate your shows.” I laughed, nearly hysterical. “I didn’t want to be predictable,” M-Bot added. “So I said that I hate them. But actually, I think those shoes are quite nice. Please do not think I have lied.”
  • The best is when M-Bot starts to talk like Spensa . . . “Tremble and fear, all enemies! For we shall shake the air with thunder and blood! Your doom is imminent!”

While the entire book was full of action, the last ~75 pages were on a whole other level! I couldn’t put it down! The battles were insane and so epic! My heart was beating so fast throughout the battle sequences. I had no idea what to expect! There are twists and turns and huge reveals that changes all we know about the Krell. I loved the ending and I am so excited to see what happens next!


The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1) – Roshani Chokshi



From New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi comes The Gilded Wolves, a novel set in Paris during a time of extraordinary change–one that is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous desires…

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.


I received The Gilded Wolves as part of Owl Crate’s Magical Artifacts box. I had heard about The Gilded Wolves prior to receiving this box and the premise caught my attention immediately. A heist, magic, Paris, and a kickass team! Can it be any cooler!? Unfortunately, I don’t have really any strong feelings about The Gilded Wolves. It wasn’t good or bad. It was just ok.

One major problem I had was the world building. The beginning of the book is chock full of information. It was too much too quickly. Total information dumping. I felt thrown into this confusing and complex world and magic system. It was very hard for me to picture the world. Also, It was a little weird because I was getting futuristic vibes and didn’t realize that it was actually set in Paris 1889. It didn’t feel like old-timey Paris. I actually kept forgetting that we were in Paris. I did however really like the little history sections at the intros of each part that explain a little more about Forging magic. I thought that this was a neat touch.

My favorite part of The Gilded Wolves was all the puzzles and riddles that the team had to solve. I absolutely loved the chapter when Zofia and Enrique work together to solve the Horus Eye riddle or later when they must figure out the code to save Laila! It was all so exciting and fascinating! All of the clues and puzzles actually kind of reminded me of the movie National Treasure. Even though I can’t stand Nicholas Cage I still love that movie because of the treasure hunt, clues, and puzzles. I kept thinking about this while reading The Gilded Wolves. 

Going into The Gilded Wolves I was prepared for similarities to Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. I love heist stories and books with a diverse cast of characters so I was looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, The Gilded Wolves was a very watered down Six of Crows. The magic of SOC just wasn’t there. The characters are clearly similar to the SOC gang, but without the magic that made them so compelling. I never felt very connected to Séverin, Laila, Enrique, Zofia, Tristan, or Hypnos. I wanted more history on each character and their relationships with each other. I had no attachment to any of them. I was reading other reviews on GoodReads and one by Megan said, “This reads so much like a second book. There were too many prior events and too many previously established relationships that I felt like I was missing key elements needed to read this book.” I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong with The Gilded Wolves until I read this review. Megan is totally right. I linked her review at the beginning of the quote so go check it out!

One random question . . . what was the significance of the gilded wolves? They wear gilded wolf masks, but am I missing the importance?

In writing this review I realized that I should probably lower my rating. I initially started out as 3 stars, but I am dropping it to 2. The Gilded Wolves is not a bad book. There were some really cool aspects and I loved the riddles. It was just missing something.

The Gilded Wolves ended on a slight cliffhanger, but I’m not dying to know what happens next. I actually think it works as a stand-alone.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris


Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.


Wow. What an incredible story. The Tattooist of Auschwitz was a heartbreaking and harrowing, but inspiring story. I am a huge fan of historical fiction and I especially love when these books are based on true events. The Tattooist of Auschwitz was captivating and completely unputdownable! Content warning: there were many graphic and horrific scenes at the concentration camps.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the true tale of Lale Solokov and his time in Auschwitz. Lale becomes the tattooist and is forced to permanently mark his fellow prisoners with a number. It never occurred to me that this job would be done by a prisoner and not an S.S. officer or other German official. Knowing that a Jewish prisoner was made to do this task makes it even more unimaginable. Lale agonizes over his job, but does it because he is determined to survive. One of his biggest inner struggles is that he could be seen as a Nazi sympathizer. He ultimately does his job so that he can live. I can’t imagine being in this situation. This is one of the many reasons why books about the Holocaust are so important. We need to be educated and to remember about the horrors that were done. We need to imagine/picture these situations so never let it happen again.

One wouldn’t think that a story about Auschwitz and the Holocaust would be about a blossoming love story, but The Tattooist of Auschwitz was exactly that. To be honest, Lale and Gita’s love story started off a bit strong for me. Lale saw Gita one time and was instantly obsessed with her. I know the author wrote this book after interviewing Lale so it’s all from his perspective. At first I was like come on that’s ridiculous insta-love, but then I realized it was true and actually love at first sight. Their love for one another gives them the strength to fight to survive. It was simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking reading Lale and Gita’s story. I loved their love, but I can’t imagine the daily terror of not knowing if you’d ever see each other again. Small spoiler. . . I loved that the author included pictures of Lale and Gita!

The only reason I could not give The Tattooist of Auschwitz five stars was because of the writing style. The story is five stars, but the writing is one or two. This is because the writing was very simplistic. There was very little prose. I think a different author would have been able to create a more emotional and all encompassing atmosphere. Also, I so wish that the book was written from Lale and Gita’s points of view. It was Lale’s story and his words and I think the author did a disservice by not having first person story telling. I did love that Morris included an afterword by Gary Solokov and an author’s note with more info about how she met Lale and their interview process.

I am so glad that I discovered The Tattooist of Auschwitz and got to learn about Lale and Gita’s story. I will carry this book with me forever.

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) – Leigh Bardugo


Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️


Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war―and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried―and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.


Welcome back to the Grishaverse! I consider the original Shadow and Bone trilogy to be one of my gateway to YA fantasy series. I really liked the trilogy and it led to me to so many more YA fantasy authors. Then Leigh published Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom and the Grishaverse got even better!! I absolutely adored this duology. So I was thrilled to learn that Leigh Bardugo was publishing another duology in the Grishaverse, but this time it would focus on Nikolai. I was ecstatic because Nikolai was one of my favorite parts of the original trilogy.

It was a long wait, but I finally got my hands on King of Scars and I dove right in. I’m sorry to say that I have mixed feelings about King of Scars.

I’ll start with what I liked . . .

First, and foremost, being back in the Grishaverse!! Bardugo’s world and its magic are so much fun. I love all the different orders of Grisha. I still don’t know which order I’d choose. I think it would be between Squallors and Healers. King of Scars expands on Grisha magic and lore in a very cool and interesting way. I am keeping this review spoiler free so I won’t tell you how.

NIKOLAI!!! Man I missed him and his ridiculous charm. I still love all of his one liners. There is a ton of growth and character development in Nikolai that occurred after the end of the war and in King of Scars. Nikolai is struggling with the demon inside of him and learning to live with the parts of himself that he does not like. Nikolai was so much more real in this story that in the past. I liked seeing that he isn’t always the charismatic, light-hearted man he portrays. It was great to see him in this new light. Although I still love charming Nikolai.

Zoya was the biggest surprise for me in King of Scars. I did not expect to like her point of view chapters so much, but I actually loved them. I especially loved getting to learn about her history. She is the perfect opposite to Nikolai’s easy-going nature. She also experiences huge amounts of growth throughout the story. I did not expect her story arc and I am looking forward to see where Bardugo takes it next.

The callbacks to other Grishaverse books, mostly Six of Crows. . . 

  •  “She wished she had Inej’s gift for spywork or Kaz’s gift for scheming, but she only seemed to have Jesper’s gift for bad decisions.”
  • “No mourners.”

Now, for what I didn’t like or thought was just meh . . .

The pacing. The first chapter of King of Scars pulled me in immediately and I was so excited about the story! But then the story dragged. It took until about half to three quarters of the way through to get exciting. It took 150 pages to get to the actual quest.

The three point of views: Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina (there is a fourth minor POV). Don’t get me wrong, I loved all three POVs. It just didn’t work as one book. To me, King of Scars was two different books. One was Nikolai and Zoya’s story and the other was Nina’s. Nina’s story felt completely separated from Nikolai and Zoya. I liked her story and thought it was a great arc for her, but it took me out of Nikolai and Zoya’s. I feel like Nina’s chapters should have been a separate novella that was released between the two Nikolai duology books. 

I wanted more. I felt like King of Scars was missing something. I saw the twist coming very early on. There were some elements that to the twist that I didn’t expect, but it didn’t make me gasp. I wanted to be shocked, but instead I was mildly surprised. Also there were scenes with Nikolai and Zoya training that felt lacking. I wanted more! We only get to see a quick look at each of their training. It would have been cool to explore this more.

Overall, I’m a bit disappointed by King of Scars. There were parts I liked and parts I didn’t. I’m a mixed bag for this one. I’ll read the next book because I’d love to know what happens and how Bardugo wraps it up. Part of me hopes that after the next book she closes the door on these characters. I’d love to learn more about the Grishaverse but with new characters and stories. . . like with Six of Crows.

One last point . . . I loved the subtle Beauty and the Beast reference! Did you notice it? Comment and let me know!