November Minireviews // Part 2

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough.  Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it!  Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up.  For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.

The Cats of the Louvre by Taiyo Matsumoto – 2*

//published 2017// Also originally published in Japan so it reads “backwards” for me… which the library apparently didn’t realize as they stuck the barcode directly over the title!! //

Lately, if I see a review of a graphic novel that I think looks interesting, I just check it out of the library right then. This was one of those cases, but here it was a complete fail as Cats ended up being way more bizarre than I had bargained for, although maybe I should have been forewarned since it was a book originally written in Japanese about a French museum and translated into English…

The story is supposedly about these cats that secretly live in the Louvre, which is what drew me in – doesn’t that sound fun?? But it turns out that these are like cat/human hybrid things?? Or maybe not and the artist just drew them that way to give them more personability?? Either way they completely weirded me out and made the whole story feel strange and creepy. Part of the story is also about a little girl who got sucked into a painting decades ago, and then one of the kitten children also gets sucked in… I can’t even describe it, the whole thing was just so weird. I did finish it because it’s a graphic novel so it goes really fast, but was left feeling like I’d had a incredibly bizarre dream. This one just wasn’t for me.

A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Perry – 3.5*

//published 2019//

This was another case of cover love for me. Based on the true story of a wolf who (we know through tracking devices) left his home range in northeast Oregon to end up in southwest Oregon in an area that had not previously had wolves (at least not in recent history). This was a decent middle grade read, although not one that I fell in love with, mainly because Perry somewhat romanticizes wolves. For example, at one point Wander is very judgy about another pair of wolves who have killed a cow – or maybe it was a sheep, can’t remember – because obviously their pack leader hadn’t taught them any sense of “honor”… I’m just not convinced that “honor” really comes into it, although wolves do tend to prefer to hunt whatever their parents taught them to hunt.

My only other bit of confusion is that the title of the story is A Wolf Called Wander, but she actually names the wolf Swift, which is his name for most of the story until he chooses to change it, and in real life the wolf’s nickname was actually Journey. It just felt like a lot of names for one wolf. And yes, it makes sense that a wolf wouldn’t have chosen the same name for himself as the humans did, but why wouldn’t you just name the wolf Journey anyway???

But overall minor complaints. On the whole I did enjoy this book and if you have a younger reader who is intrigued by wolves/wildlife, they would probably like this one as well.

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches by Maggie Stiefvater – 2.5*

//published 2020//

Another graphic novel to add to the “didn’t work for me” pile – while I haven’t read all of Stiefvater’s books, I’ve read enough to know that she’s an author I generally enjoy, so I checked out her graphic novel (illustrated by Morgan Beem) and it just ended up being another story that didn’t jive with me.

Twin brothers – one introverted and obsessed with plants/biology, the other extroverted and easygoing – head out to the swamplands to stay with their honestly bizarre cousins in a “we’re in redneck country” way that made me a little uncomfortable and felt out of character for Stiefvater’s writing. Sciencey brother’s experiments start getting weird when they turn things into plants that are still able to think and move like the people/animals they were before they were changed, and it’s a little vague as to whether they’re just going to be plants forever or… The story was just odd and choppy and hard to follow. I’ll also admit that the artwork style wasn’t for me, either, and if you don’t like the artwork of a graphic novel, it makes the whole experience somewhat negative as well.

Definitely my least-favorite Stiefvater book I’ve read to date. I’m not sure if there is supposed to be a sequel at some point, but this one ended quite abruptly. I think it was also supposed to be somewhat based on the comic book creature Swamp Thing, but I know literally nothing about comic book stories/heroes/villains/etc so I can’t say whether or not it even vaguely resembled the original or not. This one wasn’t for me, but people who enjoy the horror vibe and also think everyone who lives in the south is a stupid redneck may enjoy this one more.

Peril at End House by Agatha Christie – 4*

//published 1932//

It had been quite a long time since I read this one, so I couldn’t remember exactly how it came out. The plotting was brilliant as always, and I have a soft spot for Hastings so I was glad to see him here in this one. Christie is pretty much always a win for me, and I’ve been enjoying revisiting some of her earlier books.

Two of a Kind by Nora Roberts – 3.5*

This book contained two stories, Impulse (published 1989) and The Best Mistake (published 1994) and were pretty typical Roberts fare for that era.

In Impulse, the heroine spontaneously sells everything she owns, quits her job, and goes to Europe to travel until her money runs out. It will come to no surprise that she finds an insanely rich Greek to marry. Predictable and a bit ridiculous, but all in good fun.

I really enjoy stories about women who “should” have gotten an abortion, but instead decided to keep their child, a reminder that women are strong enough to be successful and accomplish whatever they want to without having to sacrifice their offspring to get there. The heroine in The Best Mistake was a model on the fast-track to big money when she got pregnant. Now, several years later, she’s living a quieter but still successful life raising her child with no regrets for the career she left behind. She decides to take in a renter in her over-the-garage apartment, and readers will be shocked to discover that he’s both good-looking AND single!!! No one knows what will happen next!!

These weren’t stories I want to read again and again but they were fun as one-off reads.

June Minireviews – Part 1

Okay, so far in June I’ve read 33 books and I’m almost finished with a few more, so I probably won’t get caught up on June reviews before the end of June – but maybe I can be all caught up by the end of July??  June has mostly been a LOT of rereads of childhood favorites, so I’m afraid most of the reviews are going to be “oh this one was so fun!” without a lot of depth!  I’ve made a concerted effort to spend more of my spare time reading instead of just mindlessly messing about on my computer or phone, and it’s definitely been reflected in how many books I’ve checked off.  Last year was the first year I began really tracking my stats (i.e. pages read) but June is going to be by far the highest page count I’ve had since January 2019.  All that to say – be ready for lots of reviews, mostly rather fluffy in nature!!

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – 4.5*

//published 2011//

First up on the reread wagon – I had only read this book once, but that inspired me to buy my own copy because I really enjoyed it.  Stiefvater has a way of writing in a rather melancholy way that I normally wouldn’t like, but somehow DO like when I’m reading her writing.  This book has an amazing sense of place – you can feel the weather throughout.  The smells and tastes of this story are almost as important as the views, and overall the story just has such rich writing.  The entire concept is just so creative and engaging.  I couldn’t remember how it ended, either, so I was on the edge of my seat.  I still haven’t read Stiefvater’s most famous books (The Raven Boys series), but everything of hers that I have read I’ve loved, even ridiculous werewolf stories that are full of YA angst.  I definitely recommend this one, but not if you’re scared of horses, because if you already find horses intimidating, you’ll be terrified of them by the time you’re done with this one.

If you want more details about this story, here’s my original review from when I first read it back in 2016.

Caroline & Her Kettle Named Maud by Miriam Mason – 3.5*

//published 1951//

In a complete change of pace, Caroline is a historical fiction set in the wilds of Michigan and written for younger readers.  Mason wrote several of these types of stories, set in different historical places.  While a perfectly pleasant story, it’s obviously for readers who are just ready for chapter books, as there wasn’t a great deal of depth.  Still, Caroline is a very likable heroine.  She’s the only young girl in a large clan, and she really wishes she could have her own gun like all of her male relatives.  Instead, when her family leaves Virginia to head to Michigan, her grandparents gift her with her very own shiny copper kettle.  Many men named their guns at the time, and Caroline was so certain that she would be getting a gun that she had already picked out the name of Maud – so she gives the kettle the name instead.  I actually really like the way the story explores how Caroline isn’t super happy with all the girl chores she’s expected to do, but in the end realizes that she doesn’t have to be a boy or even act like a boy in order to accomplish things that are brave and exciting.

Magic Elizabeth by Norma Kassirer – 4*

//published 1966//

I can remember reading this book so many times when I was young (as you can probably tell from its condition – although I did NOT color in the letters!), and the reread didn’t really disappoint.  Through a series of events Sally has to stay with her gloomy and hitherto unknown elderly Aunt Sarah in a forbidding old house.  At first, Sally is rather terrified, but she soon learns that there used to be another Sally who lived in this house – current Sally reads the diary of past Sally, and yearns to find past Sally’s doll, Elizabeth, who was mysteriously lost one Christmas.  This is a fun little book, and plays with that “is it magic or not” line quite well.  Once again a fun book for younger readers – I can remember being completely enamored with the mystery of this one.

Bambi by Felix Salten – 4*

//published 1928//

This classic was originally published in Austria and is – no surprise – quite different from the Disney version.  Regular visitors here know that I like books that are animal-centric, especially ones that, although they give the animals a voice, still have those animals act naturally (think: Watership Down, The Jungle Book, etc.).  In Bambi, we see life in the forest through the view of a fawn as he learns and grows.  Because the deer are one of the larger animals in the forest, they don’t have much to fear from natural predators, but they are hunted by man, always referred to in the story as capital-H Him.  Bambi makes friends and learns many a life lesson throughout the story.  The deer struggle to survive during the winter, and live off the fat of the land in the summer.  It’s honestly a rather strange, stark tale, but life in the wild is also strange and stark, with tragedy and joy often intertwined.  I will say that I’ve never heard of people hunting here in the States the way they do in this book – with the men gathering with drums and sticks to herd everything in the forest on a path towards more men with guns – that chapter felt odd even as a child.

Overall, Bambi is an engaging and interesting story.  It’s a rather odd writing style, but honestly fits the type of story that Salten was writing.  If you like animal stories, I definitely recommend this classic.

Bambi’s Children by Felix Salten – 3*

//published 1939//

Although I read Bambi several times growing up, I had only read the sequel once since acquiring it, and my reread reminded me of why that was.  Where the scenes about nature felt natural in Bambi, they feel forced in Bambi’s Children.  There are several odd scenes where one of the deer can “hear” the trees talking when the deer is dozing – these scenes are honestly rather bizarre and don’t fit with the rest of the story at all.  The timeline for Bambi to Bambi’s Children is also rather strange – in the original story it’s implied that Bambi becomes a loner who never really visits Faline any more, because in order to survive, one must be willing to be alone.  But in the sequel, Bambi hangs out with his family regularly.  If these are Bambi’s first children, how can he also be super old and wise?  The whole thing felt rather stilted.  The story isn’t bad, but it weirdly would work better as a standalone than as a sequel, because the two books don’t jive together very well.

All the Crooked Saints // by Maggie Stiefvater

//published 2017//

Sometimes you happen upon perfect books by accident.  You pick it up at random and read it and when you finish it, you’ve changed somehow, deep inside – and you had no idea it was going to happen.  The Scent of Water was a book like that for me, a surprise bit of magic that has become one of my all-time favorite books.

Other times, you pick up a book and hope that it’s magic.  You’ve heard good things about it, you yearn for it to be a perfect book that makes you sigh in contentment as you close the back cover.  Those are the dangerous books, the books with expectations attached to them.  Those are the ones that can leave you feel disproportionately disappointed.  I felt that way about The Dire King.  It wasn’t a bad book on it’s own, but I had expectations going into it, and they weren’t met, and I ended up feeling somewhat dissatisfied, when if I had come to it cold, I think I would have found it to be a perfectly good read.

All the Crooked Saints was a book I came to with expectations.  Nothing specific – just a general yearning for this book to be magical.  And friends, I am here to tell you that this book did not leave me disappointed.

However, I’m not sure if that magic will translate well into a book review.  I’ll do my best, but at the end of the day, you’ll just have to read it yourself.  And I’ve read a lot of reviews by people who didn’t find this book remotely magical, which only emphasizes the fact that everyone reads a different book (even when it’s the same book).  Anyway.

This book centers on a place almost more than on a person.  That place is Bicho Raro in southwest Colorado.  Stiefvater’s writing took me to that high desert perfectly.  She always does an excellent job setting up a feeling of place, a feeling that this particularly story could happen no where else.  The family that lives at Bicho Raro are the Sorias.  It’s bit of a tangle of family, with three cousins close in age at the center of what is happening.  But the events that coalesce around Beatriz, Daniel, and Joaquin impact their entire family, and so this book is, in some ways, about them all.

The line between reality and magic is quite blurred in this book.  Frequently, it’s impossible to tell whether Stiefvater is being literal or is using hyperbole (“he had been alive longer than both his parents”) because the presence of magic means that what is impossible in our world is possible in the world of Bicho Raro.  There, miracles happen.

It’s rare that I am not bothered when religion and magic are mixed.  It’s a special kind of magic that grows from religion rather than denies it.  This magic, however, is captured perfectly here.  Miracles and magic intermingle freely in a way that seems completely natural.

He had performed the common mistake that many do when confronted with the idea of the miraculous:  He had assumed it meant magical.  Miracles often look like magic, but a proper miracle is also awesome, sometimes fearful, and always vaguely difficult to truly wrap your mortal head around.

But what is the story about?! you ask.  It’s hard to say, but I will try.  Bicho Raro is a place where you can go for a miracle, but the miracle may not look as you hoped.  The Sorias have the ability to take the darkness inside of you and turn it into something tangible, physical.  In turn, this allows you, the pilgrim, to fight your darkness in a very real way.

The problem is that our darkness is not always the shape that we anticipate, and sometimes when we are confronted with it, we realize that we would rather not be rid of it at all.

Almost no one would think it’s correct to answer this question [whether your would like to be rid of your darkness] with a no, but the truth is that we men and women often hate to be rid of the familiar, and sometimes our darkness is the thing we know the best.

This isn’t a heart-pounding adventure of a story.  Instead, it unwinds like a folktale, with that rhythm and repetition of phrases. Incidentally, I read more than one review that found that repetition quite aggravating, but to me it made this story almost musical in its pattern.

I’m struggling with how much to reveal about the story of this one, and I’m concluding that the answer is “not much.”  Suffice to say, I loved it.

One thing I noticed when I was flipping through reviews of this book is that there were complaints about Stiefvater “appropriating” Hispanic culture.  I’m a bit confused, because it appears that she is both in trouble for not writing enough not-white characters (Raven Cycle) and for writing about not-white characters in Saints.  I think the answer is that unreasonable people will be determined to be unreasonable.  Regular people, who read for the joy of a story, are able to empathize with relateable characters, no matter the skin tone or cultural background of said characters.  And the gift of a true storyteller is the ability to see, understand, and give back stories, even if those stories don’t match the storyteller’s personal background.  If people only wrote about their own exact life experiences, stories would be rather boring.

Anyway, at the of the day All the Crooked Saints was a 5* read for me, and one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year, despite my inability to really express why.  While I recognize that it isn’t for everyone, I found the magic in this book to be almost tangible.  It’s a story of hope, courage, and family, and I’m already excited to reread it.

The Scorpio Races // by Maggie Stiefvater

the-scorpio-races

//published 2011//

So a while back I read Stiefvater’s werewolf books.  They were totally outside my usual reading parameters, but I am super glad that I gave them a whirl because despite the fact that they were angsty YA paranormal stories, I still weirdly enjoyed them (and not just because the cover art was A+ gorgeous!).  So I definitely knew I wanted to find some more of Stiefvater’s books, but she hasn’t actually written all that many.  The Raven Cycle books are still on my series TBR, but The Scorpio Races is a standalone, so I thought I would give it a try.

While we are never given a clear time period for the tale, it has a very 1920’s-feel, with a few cars and electricity, but not a lot else going on technology-wise.  Of course, that could be because our setting is a remote island somewhere that sounds very northern-British-Isles.  The opening line is brilliantly enthralling and smidge terrifying:

It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.

The story is told in alternating viewpoints between Sean, a young man who works as the head groom for the richest man on the island; and Puck, an orphan girl who is trying to hold her family together.  Both Sean and Puck were very likable, and their narration felt personable without devolving into constant introspection about feelings.

The island of Thisby is very much like another small islands: most of the people make a living by fishing, they are poor but close-knit, and there isn’t a whole lot in the way of entertainment or job opportunities.  But Thisby has one major thing that makes it different: the capall uisce.  These creatures look like horses, but live most of their life in the ocean.  They come ashore every autumn, which is when the people of Thisby try to catch them so that they can race in the Scorpio Races.  But the water horses are cruel and vicious.  They eat meat and kill livestock and humans.  While you may be able to control them for a time, they are never really tamed.  And so, when the races are run on the first of November – someone always dies.

Even though this book is leading up to and is centered around the races, it is really about so much more.  It’s about family and growing and hanging on and letting go. And it’s all woven through a story that was fast-paced and completely engaging.

While there were things about The Scorpio Races that I would have changed – mainly because I like my endings 100% happy and this one was a bit on the bittersweet side – it kept me racing through the pages and made me yearn for a sequel.  4/5 and recommended.

Also, Sophie also reviewed this book, so be sure to check out her thoughts!

Sinner // by Maggie Stiefvater

After racing through the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, I found myself reluctant to read Sinner, mostly because it meant I would be finished with these surprisingly engaging books!

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//published 2014//

 

In Sinner we only have two viewpoints – those of Cole and Isabel.  Isabel has moved to California, and Cole follows her there.  Since Cole somehow became my favorite character in the trilogy, I was happy to be back with him.  He’s just a really enjoyable character, and I loved the way he interacted with people around him.

Sinner was definitely more of an angsty YA romance than it was paranormal, and there were times that I got really aggravated with Isabel especially, but overall I have no idea why I enjoyed this book, but I did.  It was one of those books that even the parts I didn’t like I still liked, I think maybe because I really liked both Cole and Isabel’s voices.

My only beef with this book was that I felt like we spent way more time on why a relationship was not going to work than we did being convinced that it was.  So in the end, while I was definitely behind them as a pair, I still had a lot of misgivings about all the issues they had had throughout the book, because I felt like their solutions were just basically that they decided those weren’t issues any more so they would just go away.  And while that sounds like it (kinda) works, things like substance abuse and an inherent distrust of relationships because of your emotionally abusive family don’t just fade away into the sunset.

Still, this was still a fun read, although one I wouldn’t recommend outside of the context of the trilogy.  It left me hoping that Stiefvater would revisit these characters again someday, and kinda sorta wishing that my husband was a werewolf.  ;-)

Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy

//by Maggie Stiefvater//

Okay, wow, confession time: I really debated about posting a review on these books.  Why?  Because they are totally out of my usual comfort zone and I really enjoyed them.  BOOKS ABOUT WEREWOLVES, PEOPLE, AND I LIKED THEM A LOT.  But in the end, I decided no shame!  Time to embrace the fact that I thought these books were hugely enjoyable.

Sophie first turned me onto these books with her review of Sinner.    Technically, Sinner isn’t even in this trilogy – it’s a fourth book with some of the same characters.  (I haven’t read it yet, although I just got it from the library!)  Anyway, for some reason her review made me think, Wow, maybe there are actually some good paranormal romance books out there that don’t have glitter and love triangles in them!  And guess what: it’s true!

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published 2009

Okay, the trilogy begins with Shiver. And let’s be honest: who could resist this cover??  I love the cover artwork for this entire series.  In the first book, we meet Grace, a high school senior who lives in the small town of  Mercy Falls, Minnesota.  Mercy Falls is like most other small towns in most respects, but has one big difference – wolves.

The wolf pack that lives in Boundary Wood is bolder, stronger, and stranger than most.  Grace should know.  She was attacked by them when she was a little girl – and then rescued by one of the wolves.  That wolf, her wolf, still visits her.  She sees him sometimes by the edge of the trees; she knows him by his eyes.

When a bleeding, dying, naked boy shows up on her back steps one day, his appearance isn’t the biggest shock – instead, it’s the fact that this boy has Grace’s wolf’s eyes.

So this book is a bit angsty for me.  I often tend to get aggravated/roll my eyes when there is too much angst/drama/feelings/passion.  But Stiefvater pulls it off really, really well.  Even though Grace and Sam are kind of insta-love, they aren’t exactly insta-love.  And even though I feel like Grace and Sam’s relationship should be an embodiment of everything I hate about YA romance, I completely was on their team and wanted them to be together so much.  Their story is well-told and engaging, and Stiefvater writes both characters in a way that makes me like them as individuals and as a couple.

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published 2010

 

 Throughout the books, the story is told in first person from alternating viewpoints.  Sam and Grace are the main narrators (especially in Shiver), but other characters also tell their parts – sometimes only one chapter in the entire book.  I think that part of the reason that these books really worked for me was that Stiefvater did a pretty good job of creating voices/characters that sounded different.  I tend to read books on the fly, snatching them up and reading a few pages here and there throughout the day (especially lately – life has been CRAZY), so sometimes these multiple-viewpoint books don’t work for me because I forget who is doing the talking.  But Stiefvater’s characters were distinctive enough that I was able to keep them straight in my head and could usually recognize who was doing the talking when I jumped back into the story.

One of the big things that Stiefvater does is changes one of the basic werewolf tenets – instead of the full moon instigating the change from human to wolf, it’s temperature.  This adds a lot of drama to the stories, as each person/wolf has his/her own level of sensitivity to temperature.  Also, eventually, werewolves can no longer shift back to their human form.  Thus, much of Shiver is spent with Grace and Sam convinced that Sam will soon be a wolf permanently.

Of course, this also led to me being very frustrated through most of the first book.  Why don’t these people just move to Florida!??!!?  This issue is eventually addressed, but it seemed like that should have been something we got out of the way early in the story, not two-thirds of the way through.

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published 2011

The whole werewolf thing isn’t really magic, which also made the story more intriguing, especially with the entrance of ex-rock star/science genius Cole.  Even though Cole would probably drive me crazy in real life, I really just thoroughly enjoyed his character.  His sense of humor, the way that he faces the dark places inside of himself, his realization that life is more important to him than he originally thought – out of everyone, I felt like Cole’s character grew the most.  The point actually is that Cole believes that being a werewolf is a disease and, like any disease, can be understood, treated, and perhaps even cured.

The fact that Stiefvater didn’t go more with that direction was a bit disappointing to me.  I wanted to get to the end of Forever and know that, even if they couldn’t be cured, that the pack could at least understand what was wrong.  And even though I felt like things ended with some security and tying-up of loose ends, there still wasn’t any real resolution.

But I have to say that my biggest gripe with this series is the same that I have with almost every YA book I read: WHY ARE THESE CHARACTERS IN HIGH SCHOOL?!?!?!  Because yes, of course they are all 17, and they all have terrible parents – starting with actually attempting to murder their toddler because they don’t understand the werewolf thing, to complete neglect, alcoholic, liars, cheaters, overbearing, spoiled, and immature – the series covers a wide gambit of awful parenting.  Not a single character has a parent I would care to meet up with for cake, much less have as a close relative.

And I guess what made that frustrating was the fact that the only reason all those terrible parents were in the story was to up the angst level.  None of them (except for Isabel’s dad) really did anything to actually further the plot.  Grace’s parents, in particular, were literally  just in the story to add complications and drama – complications and drama that were completely not needed, and just left me feeling exasperated.  This entire story would have made about a thousand times more sense if these characters were even two years older.  In my mind, I kept putting all these people in college instead of high school and it made me so much happier.

I will say that I appreciated the fact that Stiefvater’s characters were not rampantly promiscuous.  Sex is treated well in these books, and the fact that we have some high schoolers sleeping together is at least not thrown out as Oh yeah everyone should be doing this as a thing!  So that was a nice change of pace from some other YA I’ve read.

There were a few deaths that I felt like were over-the-top, but let’s be real, I hate book characters dying.  Like, if a character’s death doesn’t change the entire course of the tale, don’t kill them!  Please! Why?!  One person in particular – like I really liked this person, and she just arbitrarily dies in the first chapter of Forever and I was like ?!?!???!  I was super sad about her dying.

One of my favorite parts of this story??  NO LOVE TRIANGLE!!!  Say what?!  I didn’t even think that was possible!  I was beginning to think that as soon as you fell in love with someone (if you’re a girl), you immediately meet someone else you like just as well except he’s a little edgier!  Which should I keep??  They’re both so cute!  ::heart eyes::

No, but seriously, it was absolutely fantastic to have Grace like Sam and Sam like Grace and that was the end.  Like it’s obvious that Isabel kind of has a crush on Sam, but I think it’s more of being in love with the idea of Sam.  Isabel loves the way that Sam loves Grace, and I think that Isabel yearns for that kind of love for herself.  Isabel, incidentally, really develops as a character throughout the series as well, and I really liked her snark.

Overall, I was completely hooked by these books.  I really enjoyed the story and the characters, and I wanted the series to just keep going on and on.  There is one more book, separate from the trilogy but involving some of the same characters (including my favorite Cole!).  I just got Sinner from the library, so that review will probably be appearing soon (or in a few months if I’m honest lol).  Even though the Wolves of Mercy Falls are outside of my usual reading parameters, they were totally worth picking up, and made some great relaxing reading throughout a crazy month.