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33 Books to Read After The Cruel Prince by Holly Black {While Waiting on Book 2}

Friday, June 15, 2018
After The Cruel Prince left us with that cliffhanger, I about drove myself crazy trying to think of what to read next while waiting for The Wicked King (book 2) to release next year.

So I did the only sane thing for a bookaholic to do and browsed through the past several years of YA books in search of reads to sate my bookish appetite until I can get my hands on a copy of book 2.

(I also added books that came to mind as I browsed, so there are some older reads present as well.)

To read the full list, visit the new blog site at Lost in Storyland.


Giveaway

To celebrate the blog revamp, I will be hosting several giveaways in the months of June and July. To stay updated on the new happenings, sign up for the newsletter on the new blog site and / or follow me on social media @crystalmusing and @lostinstoryland.

I'm really excited to share the new changes on the blog with y'all!

 (Kris)

Let's Talk Books: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Saturday, June 9, 2018
I've read Holly Black's White Cat and The Coldest Girl in Cold Town. It was with these books that I fell in love with the magic that is Holly Black's writing, so I knew that I would love The Cruel Prince as well.

And I did.

Today, I'm sharing my thoughts on why I love The Cruel Prince, and I'd love for you to share your thoughts on the book as well—in the comments below, email, or social media (just shout me out - links in sidebar).

Next Friday, June 15th, come back to see my compilation of 33 books to read while waiting for book two. I'm really excited to share this post with you. I know how hard it can be to wait for the next book in a series. I hope to share some new treasures for you and for you to share some of your favorite reads as well!


To read my full review, visit the new blog location at Lost in Storyland!

To receive information about the giveaways that will be taking place there in celebration of the blog revamp, sign up for the newsletter or follow me on social media @crystalmusing and @lostinstoryland.


Monthly Musings: May 2018 ⇉ What Content Would YOU Like to See More on the Blog?

Friday, June 8, 2018
In this first edition of my monthly musings, I share 5 thing I learned, May loves, what I read, and 3 things I'm looking forward to in June. At the end, learn about some changes that are coming to the blog this month!

If you're here to answer the question in the post title and would like to skip all of this, then scroll on down to the comments.

I would love to hear your thoughts on May happenings, however, and to hear what's new with you!


5 Things I Learned

1. Ask before you sign up for an online summer class
I signed up for an online class this summer thinking that I would have ALL summer to do the work at my own leisure. Turns out there are set weekly deadlines. Not to mention that the first week of class was the week immediately after finals!

While the work's not too bad (it's a 2-credit class), I could have benefited by asking friends who have taken the class what the work schedule is like.

2. I'm a hoarder
While spring cleaning in May, I cleared out stacks of books and piles makeup. (Let's not mention the closet, which I have yet to tackle.) I hadn't realized how much I had accumulated over the years!

Have you had the same experiences with spring cleaning?

3. Take a day off regularly
During the semester, I was so busy with classes, work, and other obligations that I rarely took a whole day off to rest. The week after finals, I crashed. Regular rest is important, especially when you feel like you have no name.

4. Quality time is found in small gatherings
It's so very tempting for me to open hangouts to anyone who's available. A couple weeks ago, however, I attended a small potluck. Though I didn't know everyone present, the small gathering created an intimate atmosphere, and the conversation was rich. Everyone had a chance to speak up, and we learned things about each other that wouldn't likely come up in a larger group. I would love to hold more small gatherings in the future!

5. Drink LOTS of water when running a 5k
On Memorial Day, I ran my first 5k race. At 8 a.m. in the morning, in 90-degrees. And there was only one water station. From this experience, I learned that (1) I need to prepare better for the weather and (2) I need to drink more water before and during the race (and of course after).


May Loves

Massages
A year ago, my doctor recommended that I get monthly massages, but I didn't start going to a place until this past month. I wish I listened to my doctor sooner. Massages are so relaxing. I've become a fan.

Morning Walks
Now that I'm back home with family, I've been going on morning walks on the neighborhood trail. It's been a great opportunity to get to know some of my neighbors and to enjoy some fresh air before the heat wave comes in.

Essential Oils

The real prize this past month definitely has to be my essential oils premium starter kit from Young Living. I've been in the process of switching over to natural products, and I love the versatility of essential oils. Two of my favorites this past month have been Lavender and PanAway.

I've been using Lavender to help with my acne and also with my diffuser while I sleep. My diffuser has a setting where it diffuses every other minute, which allows it to function for ten hours. It's been really relaxing, and I wake up feeling more refreshed.

PanAway is a blend of essential oils with a soothing and stimulating aroma. I add 5-7 drops to a tablespoon of coconut oil (which acts as a carrier oil). I rub this ointment on sore muscles. It's soothing, and I like the aroma.  (Note: coconut oil has a strong smell, but a little ointment goes a long way, and the only scent left after rubbing it in is that of the PanAway essential oil.)

Do you use essential oils? What're your favorites? 

Or if you're new to essential oils and interested in learning more, I'd love to chat with you! Just send me an email or message me on Instagram!



What I Read

I read seven books in May. Three of them before summer break started for me!
  1. Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist
  2. Magician: Master by Raymond E. Feist
  3. The Bible among the Myths by John N. Oswalt
  4. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
  5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  7. Cress by Marissa Meyer


3 Things I'm Looking Forward to June 2018

My gym buddy is getting married ♡
My friend Joy is getting married this month. She's been a blessing as my gym accountability partner, and I've enjoyed getting to know her this past year. I'm happy for her and look forward to attending her wedding!

Jumping on the audiobook bandwagon
Because my copy of Cress didn't arrive in the mail by the time I finished rereading Scarlet and the only copy available at the library was an audiobook, I gave the audiobook a try and fell in love. The audiobook narration brought the characters to life in a new way. Plus, it made doing chores a lot more fun because my brain had something to digest while my hands were at work.

I've requested a few more audiobooks from the library and look forward to integrating audiobooks more into my day-to-day life.

Merging my book and lifestyle blogs (right here at Imaginary Reads!)
Lastly, I made the decision to merge this book blog with my lifestyle blog. Right now, I'm the only regular blogger here at Imaginary Reads, and for the past couple of years, I've been doing a poor job of juggling the two blogs and their associated social media accounts.

Many of my upcoming lifestyle posts will be relatable to readers. For example, I'll be sharing some posts on time management and productivity. All for the purpose of making more time for reading in our lives, of course ;)

And, of course, there will be posts directly related to reading, such as how to make intentional time for reading on a daily basis and collection posts.

I'm excited for these changes and hope that you'll enjoy them too!


Question of the Month

What kind of blog content would you like to see more on the blog?

I'd also love to hear your musings on how May has been for you! :)

 (aka. Crystal)

A Thrilling, High Stakes Conclusion ⇉ Review of Winter by Marissa Meyer

Tuesday, June 5, 2018
The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite YA Fantasy series. (The other big one being Tamora Pierce's Tortall books.)

I'd like to say it's a bit of a mystery why it took me until now to finish the series, but after looking at Winter's pub date, I realized that it fell right smack into my first year of teaching. On the bright side, I got to spend the last couple of weeks rereading the series, so I got to pick up Winter as soon as I finished Cress :)

The final verdict: I love the Lunar Chronicles world. There are some little details that I didn't like as much, but for the most part, this is a great high-stakes sci-fi/fantasy/fairytale-retelling/romance series that I recommend to fans of these genres.


WHAT I LIKED


A Wide, Endearing Cast of Characters
Each of the Lunar Chronicles books introduces the subplot of a new heroine and her prince. There are also other fun side characters like Iko (but really, Iko). I like how the presence of the diverse cast members opens doors to expanding the world and furthering the plot from different physical locations in the Lunar world.

The Stakes Keep Rising
With the characters fighting for different reasons and finding themselves in various dilemmas, not to mention the moves made by enemy forces, the stakes keep rising. While there are moments of respite in the novel, these are few. For the most part, the stakes and resulting action keep the plot moving forward. This may be a large novel (at over 800 pages), but it's hard to put down.

Spending Time on Luna
After all the talk about Luna, it was exciting to finally explore the moon and the culture that has developed there over time.

Cinder Steps into Her Own
All this time, Cinder has been struggling with her identity—from being a cyborg, to being a cyborg AND a Lunar, to being the missing Lunar princess. In Winter, she finally accepts who she is and finds her voice. She's grown so much over the course of the series.


WHAT I DISLIKED


A Case of Too Many POVs
I love how much can be done with such a large cast of characters, and Marissa Meyer does a wonderful job interweaving the different POVs to flesh out the world and keep the plot moving forward. The problem with so many POVs, however, is that the story doesn't feel as consistent as it could be. Just as I got invested in one POV, I would be thrown into a completely different POV.

Lack of Girl (Friend) Time
The amount of time that the girls spend together is a fraction of the time that they are shown spending with their princes. Part of the reason is that events keep moving so quickly, and they rarely have down time, but I would have liked to see more scenes where the girls are together and need to work together to carry out their plans. Oftentimes, when the team splits, willingly or not, a girl and a guy end up together. I would have liked to see the girls' relationships developed more.

Most of all, when I think of the girls, my first thought is their personal identity. My second is the identity of their "prince." Other than Cinder, who has Iko, I don't think about their relationships in terms of other girls.

Where's Book Five?
Just Kidding. Almost.

I love The Lunar Chronicles and would have loved to spend more time in this world. (In a way, I do through Fairest, Stars Above, and Wires & Nerves.) That said, all good things must come to an end, and I look forward to seeing what else Marissa Meyer brings to us.


FINAL THOUGHTS


Overall, Winter provides a thrilling, high stakes conclusion to the series. I love The Lunar Chronicles and look forward to reading more from Marissa Meyers.

★★★★★


Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?





CHAT WITH ME


Who is your favorite Lunar Chronicles character?



Publication Info
  • Wires & Nerve, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer, illustrated by Douglas Holgate
  • Published by Fiewel & Friends
  • On Jaan. 31, 2017
  • Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
  • Pages: 238 Pages
  • Format: Hardback
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
  1. Cinder
  2. Scarlet
  3. Cress
  4. Winter
Content 
  • Language (Swearing)
  • Violence

Boyhood Dreams + Love + Adventure + Fantasy World ⇉ Review of Magician by Ramond E. Feist

Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Long long ago, I read Magician: Master by Raymond E. Feist. Years later, I finally bought Magician: Apprentice and read the two books back to back. The Magician books are truly, as Feist explains in the foreword, a fantasy adventure that was written for the author's pleasure, and it is best enjoyed as a fantasy that fulfills boyhood dreams of love and adventure in a fantasy world.


WHAT I LIKED


A Fantasy That Fulfills Boyhood Dreams
The Magician books are best read as a story that fulfills the boyhood dreams of the protagonists Pug and Thomas and, in the process, the reader's dreams of love and adventure. While the two boys go through hardships, events seem to work out for them in incredible ways. To enjoy this book, it's best to put skepticism on hold and enjoy this book for the fantasy romance that it is.

Likable Characters
The protagonists and the primary supporting characters are likable and come from all walks of life.

A Tale of Two Worlds
I like how the story shows events that take place on both worlds. This gives insight into the culture and beliefs of both sides and, as a result, allows the reader to emphasize with both sides. War is complex; both sides have their reasons to fight. Magician shows this complexity.

Furthermore, despite the hopes of the characters, there is no simple resolution to the war in the end. Some of the aftermath is shown at the end of Magician: Master. I hope that later books show more of the consequences of the war.

Strong Female Characters
The female characters are more than a pretty face. To name a few of their traits, they can speak their minds, have attitudes, love fiercely, and survive trials. They fight alongside of the ones they love, and a few even take a turn at narrating events. I appreciate how we're given insight into their thoughts and struggles.


WHAT I DISLIKED


Under-portrayed Character Development
The characters are almost too likable and, as a result, can come off as bland and lacking in complexities. Their personalities don't entirely come off the page. While growth can be seen, in Pug and Thomas in particular, insufficient time is spent to fully portray the character development that takes place. This is in part due to the time skips and alternating POVs.

Too Many Trails to Follow

The war is fought on multiple fronts. For containing it in two books (long as they are), Feist does a good job giving the reader an idea of what is going on. That said, it also means the reader doesn't get the full picture, only glimpses into each front. It also means that the character development isn't shown to its full potential.

In the End, Who Wins the War?
Though the protagonists do their best to protect the ones they love, greater powers are at play. In the end, the outcome of the war is debatable. Despite the happy ending, things feel unresolved, and I expect to see some of these trails continued in later books of the Riftwar Cycle.


FINAL THOUGHTS


Overall, Magician is best enjoyed as a (for the most part) straightforward fantasy romance. It provided light, easy reading for me during a time of sickness, when my brain couldn't process complex thoughts. I recommend it to readers who enjoy fantasy novels that spend more time developing the characters, their relationships, and the socio-political climate of the world.

★★★★☆


To the forest on the shore of the Kingdom of the Isles, the orphan Pug came to study with the master magician Kulgan. His courage won him a place at court and the heart of a lovely Princess, but he was ill at ease with normal wizardry. Yet his strange magic may save two worlds from dark beings who opened spacetime to renew the age-old battle between Order and Chaos.





CHAT WITH ME


If you were to become an apprentice in a fantasy world, what occupation would you pursue?



Publication Info
  • Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist
  • Published by Bantam Spectra
  • On January 1, 1993
  • Original pub date: October 1, 1982
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Pages: 485 Pages
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
Series: The Riftwar Saga
  1. Magician: Apprentice
  2. Magician: Master
  3. Silverthorn
  4. A Darkness at Sethanon
  5. [Note: there are other books in the Riftwar Cycle, but these four books complete the first saga set in the Riftwar Cycle.]
Content 
  • Alcohol
  • Kissing
  • Some sexual scenes / thoughts (not explicit)
  • Violence (not explicit)

Character Theme Songs for The Boy, The Bird, and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Happy book birthday to The Boy, The Bird, and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods!

Today, I'm delighted to share a playlist of character theme songs for this middle-grade novel. Alice, a former regular on the blog, helped me out with the content since I got sick over finals week and am still recovering. Alice is going through some health issues herself having had a bad fall recently, so I'm really grateful for her help.

As soon as I've had a chance to finish reading Matilda's novel, I'll be sharing my thoughts on the blog. If you enjoy lighthearted fantasies or magical realism for younger readers, you'll want to check this one out!

~ Kris


CHARACTER THEME SONGS


The Boy (Tito)

1. "O-O-H CHILD" by The Five Stairsteps
This song speaks to Tito's situation before he ran away. It provides the assurance that things are hard now but there are better times ahead.



2. "Pocketful of Sunshine" by Natasha Bedingfield
This song represents Tito's hope for a better life and his desire for a safe place to escape.



The Coffin Maker (Alberto)

1. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day
This song shares Alberto's loneliness after losing his family.




2. "Skyscraper" by Demi Levato
This song speaks to strength in forging a new life for himself after having everything taken away from him.




BOOK DETAILS



Alberto lives alone in the town of Allora, where fish fly out of the sea and the houses shine like jewels. He is a coffin maker and widower, spending his quiet days creating the final resting places of Allora's people.

Then one afternoon a magical bird flutters into his garden, and Alberto, lonely inside, welcomes it into his home. And when a kindhearted boy named Tito follows the bird into Alberto's kitchen, a door in the old man's heart cracks open. Tito is lonely too--but he's also scared and searching for a place to hide. Fleeing from danger, he just wants to feel safe for once in his life. Can the boy and the old man learn the power of friendship and escape the shadows of their pasts?





CHAT WITH ME


Do you make playlists for characters? How do they add to your reading experience?



Publication Info
  • The Boy, The Bird, and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods
  • Published by Philomel Books
  • On May 15, 2018
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Pages: 544 Pages
  • Format: Hardback
Series
  • N/A
Content 
  • Age appropriate

This post was made as a part of the book tour of the novel by Matilda Woods.