Discussion: Shame-Based Narratives and Mental Illness

It’s been a while since we have had a discussion. Have a seat. Let’s talk about the shame-based narrative that is prominent in discussions of mental illness.

The Assumption

Many people assume that if they “find out” about someone’s mental illness, they have the upper hand. I have encountered people shaming their significant others for coming from a family where mental illness is prominent.

I have also met people who shut down when I discuss my mental illnesses. Sharing how mental illness affects life, to me, is the most liberating form of expression, because mental illness drags you inwards. It makes it hard to communicate as fear of judgment collapses bridges.

It is this shaming that I want to discuss today. As people hear more about mental illness, the assumptions are that it’s a “snow flake” thing. Some people assume that is a weakness to be wired differently.

However, for the most part, the most damaging assumption I have noticed directed at people with mental illness is “get over it,” “you think you have it bad? Think of so and so,” or “you take pills, you have no excuse,” or straight up, “You have no excuse.”

Even worse, there is the assumption that mental illness means locking up the person in some psych ward for the rest of their lives. In saying things like this, the underlining message is that “normal lives” have no room for people with mental illness.

Doing this pushes people into seclusion, into staying mum about their mental illness, which simply allows the dialogue to be negative, and dishearteningly so.

But Maybe…

Maybe it’s time we view mental illness as a packaged deal. It’s not wholly negative, nor is it positive entirely. The thing to consider is that there’s nothing unequivocally good or bad. There’re elements of good and bad within every experience.

I was reading an article about a psychiatrist who was hopsitalized for six years due to her mental illness, and that this experience helped her become a more effective psychotherapist. But, the way patients talk about this past, it’s all about shame. “I know your secret.”

It’s as if having a mental illness delegitmatizes her status as a psychotherapist. But, the doctor shares that the hospitalization helped her with psychoanalysis. It helped her connect with patients.


The more we sweep mental illness under the rug, the more desperate people become to hide it. Suicide, self harm, secrecy, avoidance: these are just some of the coping mechanisms people will resort to.

No one wants to be dismissed as a professional person, as a romantic significant other, or as a friend, family member, because they’re mentally ill. And, yes, we can rephrase the word “mental illness” and say things like “Mood disorder,” sure. But, that does not remove the stigma and people haven’t stopped shaming others for being different.

Mental illness is not a death sentence. I remember way back in 2012, when I was told that I was very, very sick, I thought it’d be the end of my life. I was ashamed that I couldn’t have hidden my illnesses for much longer. Moreover, I was ashamed because I needed medication, and even with medication, things were really tough. I was ashamed of being admitted into a psych ward.

And, you know what? I think mental illness, and seeking out help, gives you a different perspective on life. To me, it’s made me more self aware and reflective. It’s the motivation for constant revamping and reshaping old habits into newer and healthier approaches to life.

Way back in February, I went to the library and grabbed my first Sarah J.
  Early in the year, I decided to plunge into various reading challenges. Namely, my
I was watching this video by the awesome CeCe, where she discussed books that would

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Hate to Love Relationships

Ah, it’s Wednesday! This means two things: a) we’re halfway through the week, and b) we are due for another Top 5 Wednesday. This week’s topic is our Top 5 Hate to Love Relationships. Before I begin, let me link the Goodreads group for Top 5 Wednesday so you can join us next week.

5. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Shahrzad and Khalid have a difficult start in their relationship. Look, he executed a lot of women. While there is a “reason” for his behavior, Shahrzad’s intentions for agreeing to marry him are rather dark. She wants to kill him and avenge her friend’s death.

The funny thing is that I haven’t finished this duology. I will, I promise. It’s just that they fell in love kind of quickly. I like their connection. But, I just wish there was more angst (I like angst).


4. The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkowski

At the beginning of this story, Arin dislikes Kestrel with a fiery passion. Not to take sides or anything, but he has a right to be this angry (I think so, anyway). Kestrel’s family is influential in her society. As a society, they are responsible for the demise of the Herrani society and their enslavement.

Political intrigue, miscommunication, separation are all causing a rift between these two people. For a long time, I thought they were not going to get their happy ending. Even when they do, there’s a lot of loss. Just like life. I love their story.


3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Listen, Matthias and Nina are the BEST. I cannot get over their relationship, the deception, the politics, the violence, the love! It’s just a very complex relationship. They are so different and they come from drastically different societies.

I admire Nina a lot, and I appreciate Matthias and his strengths.

However, I do hope his ghost can beat up Kaz’s ghost at some point.

2. Harry Potter

Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are the epitome of hate-to-love relationships. I understand that some people feel that Ron is undeserving of Hermione, but, listen, on this blog The Cursed Child doesn’t exist. Ron was always at odds with Hermione. They bicker all the time.

But, I love them together.


 1. Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Darcy, the grumpiest and most anti-social man Lizzie has ever seen, is harsh to her. “Barely tolerable.” Their love story is so beautiful and sweet. Again, there’s a lot of miscommunication and dislike (very passionate dislike on Lizzie’s part). It’s a slow burn. And, it is perfect.

I am having a particularly rough time existing, so I am taking advantage of post
Ah, welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday where I break the rules. This is becoming
Getting redeemed is often reserved for villains, but today, I am going to be talking

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Have Read in 2017 (So Far)

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday, a feature created by the Broke and the Bookish peeps. This week’s topic is our top ten books we have read in 2017 thus far. Let’s begin.

10. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

This book stood out to me because of its exploration of race, ethnicity, and gender roles. It calls into question the different approaches to relationships and emotion. The confrontation of science and art marked this story as a superior one to many contemporaries I have read thus far in my reading journey.

9. The Raven King by Maggie Steifvater

While this ending is not my favorite, it still was an impacting read. It was very emotional to see where these characters end up. There were some surprises along the way, but mostly, my biggest joy was seeing Blue, Gansey, and the rest of the group take charge of their story and destiny.

8. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski

I read the whole trilogy this year, and I was in awe of the first book. Like a lot. This book was less intense than the rest of the series, so I liked it a bit more. I liked not knowing what will happen to Kestrel and Arin.

7. Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Ah, my lone experience with steampunk westerns has to make it on the list. I just can’t get over how well written this book was, even though it has cannibals/zombie creatures. But, I was so in love with the main character, and her love interest. I love the surprising turn that the book takes with certain newcomers in the town.


6. When the Moon was Ours by Anna Marie McLemore

Definitely up there on my list of favorite books of all time. It’s my favorite exploration of queerdom and culture. I found it very respectful in its approach of identity and belonging. Hopefully, this year, I will be able to read more from this author both in terms of old work and new releases.

5.  Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

I adore this woman, and her work will always be special to me. She just makes me happy. This book was a sweet, endearing, and moving story. It started somewhat slowly. However, the world building was delightful and refreshing. Yes, it was reminiscent of a Wonderland, but it was unique in its own way as well. It definitely stood on its own without being reliant on source material.

Very excited for its companion novel that will be released in October.

4. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

This book was heavily recommended. I hesitate to read things very often, because I worry about disappointments. This, though, was quickly engaging and it ended on such a heartbreaking note…I have had a hard time picking up the sequel out of sheer worry.

Sanderson killed off a very dear character to me. I do intend on picking up the rest of the series this years, God willing.


3.  Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Of course this book is on here. I’m in awe of how Clare keeps the world she created interesting and ever-growing. She certainly improved in her craft as it can be seen in this book. Some deaths in the very end of the story alter the course of all series to come.

With all that heartbreak this caused, I cannot get over this story’s installment. I am often thinking of the characters, how they’re recovering, what will come their way next, and so on.

2. Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

While the Shadow and Bone trilogy was not my favorite, I was not expecting to love this duology at all. Now, it is one of my favorites. I cannot believe I had waited so long to read it. If you follow me on Tumblr, expect a crap ton (a measuring unit) of GIFs and moodboards/aesthetics inspired by this series.

  1. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

The highlight of this year so far has been my experience with this series. I have her Savage Song duology ready to be read this year as well. Lila Bard and Kel made quite the impression on me. I always think of them, of Rhy, Alucard, and my dearest Holland. They were such a fantastic group of characters on one heck of a quest. Absolutely in love with this series. Another one that’ll be loved on my Tumblr for a long time.


Slumps, of all kinds, are the worst. It doesn't matter if you can do your
Image courtesy of Couleur on Pixabay. Not a genre I normally reach for, middle-grade books
For this week's Top 10 Tuesday, I am twisting the prompt a bit. Rather than

Your Older Sister: On Finding Happiness during Depressive Episodes

I have had depression all my life–this ever-growing hollow feeling in my core. It’s like being punched in the boob, which, if you don’t know, is the worst. The key is to experience a full range of emotions, and accept them. Here are some tips to find things to be happy about. (Worst sentence structure ever. Yo, I studied and taught English composition and reading. Woo!)

1. Reasons to Be Alive

On a very basic primal level, it is important to have reasons to be alive. Maybe it’s the pleasure of going to the beach, lay in the sun, read books that stimulate you mentally. You can look forward to seeing small kittens learn to eat Big Cat food™. Watching sunsets and taking goofy pictures of yourself are another reason for me, personally, to stick around.

Still stuck? Check out this video for some ideas.

2. Mission Statement

If you are feeling up to it, think of a bigger picture, beyond the basic sensations you want to experience, the things you want to see, the people you want to meet, and so on. It helps to be working towards something.

If you don’t have goals, set them up! It’s never too late. The goals can be lofty and epic. On the flip side, they can also be simple.

The idea is to break down your life into areas you can control, like: relationship to yourself and to the world around you. How do you want to carry yourself? What kind of impact do you want to make on community, your country, your continent, the planet?

3. Things that Serve You

So, you should try to be of service to the Universe, but also, consider releasing things that do not bring you peace in the long run. This comes with a warning, though, because some things are uncomfortable since they tap into lessons you could work on. Sometimes, discomfort is not “bad.” It’s often necessary for growth.

However, sometimes, the pain is doing damage with little value. In that case, it helps to release these ideas, memories, people, relationships, habits, whatever they may be. You can read up more on that here.

4. Capture the Happy

Sometimes, it helps to have a little reserve of happiness. For me, that means saved pictures, and music that brings me peace. Create playlists, go all Pinterest-y and make mood-boards, vision boards, whatever can bring you a smile.

The key is to remember that things were once okay, and that they can be okay once more. Remember Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” I interpret this as not “instant happiness.” It’s more of a remembering that happiness is possible. When depression hits, it is very hard to recall happy moments.

Having them pre-prepared (try saying that 10 times fast. Go!) releases the pressure of forcing them out when you’re unwell.

5. Framing

Remember, framing matters. Think deeply of how you perceive the world and others. It is important to remember that the people you’re comparing yourself to are edited and framed portrayals of themselves.

Check out this video on framing, by my favorite author, John Green.

I want to add that perception regarding  your life is not the only truth out there. It feels like it is, and the challenge is to question the narrative. Are there abundant joyful blessings in your world that you are not seeing? I am not saying you guilt yourself into feeling happy. No, but try to frame the depression as a factor in your life. It’s not all that is in your world. Again, it may feel that way in the moment.

6. Start Small

Take the day off. Let yourself feel the sadness. In the meantime, try to do gentle things for yourself. A nice cup of tea, watching fun movies, cuddle with teddy bears and/or fur babies. Here are some ideas of how to do that.


      I started blogging late in 2012, following my beginning a journey in
  Today, I am sharing some tips on how to find your authentic self. In
One of the most prominent voices you'll ever hear is your own. Self talk plays

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Unlikable Protagonists that I Actually Love


Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday! For information regarding topics and such, I am including a link to the Goodreads Group right here. This week’s topic is our top 5 unlikable protagonists we like. Let’s go!

5. Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfield is a jerk. I didn’t realize it when I read the book in high school, but my goodness, he is such a pretentious, entitled, guy. He is not empathetic toward people around him (at all). Yet, I will always cherish this guy because he taps into this angry and misunderstood part of a person’s life.

4. Wuthering Heights

Cathy and Heathcliff have a lot of issues. When I read this book in college, I was one of the very few people who loved it. The push and pull of an intense relationship felt so familiar to the mood swings I had. What is strange is that I didn’t have the words to describe these events in my life, but I saw Heathcliff with his inability to process loss of his love–I just felt less alone.

But, in a way, the story still reminds me that obsessing over lost relationships can turn a person into a cruel individual. I live by that awareness.


3. Othello

I mean, Othello is the first person of color I have encountered in a classic (aside from Heathcliff). But, I did not really like Othello as much as I loved Iago. Some people dislike him because he is sneaky. Incidentally, this is exactly why I like him. Clever dude.

The ultimate Slytherin. OG status.

Back to Othello, though. I love his passion, his gullible nature, his insecurities. It all feels so close and dear to me.

2. The Great Gatsby

Look, I’ll be honest. When I read this book in high school, I just disliked everyone. But, in college and even now…I sympathize. All of it clicks for me. Even Daisy is someone I understand and can relate to. American Dream and trying to prove oneself is

1. Romeo and Juliet

Hold on while I sigh wearily. People give these character such a hard time. And, like, dude, weren’t you ever fourteen? Fourteen and emotional, with cultural expectations to marry pressing down on you. It’s just an honest portrayal of love and hate, and tragedy.

UGH. I feel so many things.

I am having a particularly rough time existing, so I am taking advantage of post
Ah, welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday where I break the rules. This is becoming
Getting redeemed is often reserved for villains, but today, I am going to be talking

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Series I Need to Start, But Haven’t (Yet)

Today is a lovely Tuesday, which means that it is time for another Top Ten Tuesday. Top Ten Tuesday is a feature on The Broke and the Bookish site, where bloggers share their top tens in relation to prompts. This week, the prompt is to discuss our top ten series that we need to start (but haven’t…yet). Let’s begin.

10. The Study Series (Poison Study onward) by Marie V. Snyder

Chiara loves this series, and it has such good reviews on Goodreads. It’s on my to buy list for the next few months. I don’t know a whole lot about it. Yet, I am interested in it. Girl is on death row, and then she is offered a position as a poison tester.

9. The Falconer Series by Elizabeth May

I already have the first book, and I just need to start reading it. Hoping to collect the next two books over the next few months. The reviews are awesome for this, too. It’s definitely something up my alley, and I’m interested in it.

8. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Whenever I go on Tumblr, I see so many GIFs and mood boards of the characters in this series. I have the series on my shelves, so it’s not like I have to wait till my copies get here or anything like that.

7. The Sin Eater’s Daughter series by

I saw the first book in a book store, and I was just so fascinated by the cover. I don’t know a whole lot about it, but I did get the first two books. The last one comes out in the Fall. So…I need to get to it. Shannon and Aly talk about it on Goodreads.

6. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

A lot of people hate these books. I, for one, felt the pressure to give them away a couple of years back. Then, I decided to get them used without focusing on what people say about them. For sure, it’s a series that is nothing like many books I have read. I want to get to it, because I think it could help me as a writer, too.

5. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Criminals and dream walking-type-deal sounds fascinating, especially now that I have finished the Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater. I’d like to see how Samantha Shannon interprets this concept of dream walking.

4. The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

This is another series that I gave away, and then bought used later. Some booktubers commented on something terrible happening in the first book. I can handle heartbreak. The reason I picked up these books is because the premise sounds epic. A world where people can hear each other’s thoughts. And, there’re no girls? Then one day, boy meets girl? SIGN ME UP!

(Also: there’s a dog in this. I hope nothing bad happens to the dog. That better not be the horrible thing that happens in the first book).


3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

I have had these books for YEARS. Still have not read them. I want to read them just to experience Laini Taylor’s lyrical writing (because GOALS!). And, I want to see how the story progresses. I only read like a chapter or so? Many years ago, I checked out the first few chapters of the first book. I have to read these books.

2. Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

It’s a fourteen book series and it has a lot of interesting characters. Brandon Sanderson said he loved these books long before he was asked to write the last couple of books in the series. I’m just really curious about it, and I want to see which characters I like in this series.

 1. Cinda Williams Chima Books

I keep putting off reading her books, even though I have them all. But, I’m intimidated, I guess? I follow her Facebook page, and she has such a sweet following. I admire her already. And, I just want to get to her work, and learn from and observe her style.

Slumps, of all kinds, are the worst. It doesn't matter if you can do your
Image courtesy of Couleur on Pixabay. Not a genre I normally reach for, middle-grade books
For this week's Top 10 Tuesday, I am twisting the prompt a bit. Rather than

End of June TBR

I have not been reading that well, as my time management was difficult to maintain. So, I am creating an End of June TBR for this last week of the month. It’s going to be ambitious, because I want different options to pick from.

Let’s go!

1. The Selection by Kiera Cass

I have passively read the first 20 or so pages of this book. I haven’t given it a fair chance. It seems like a quick read, though, so I am hoping to finish it up quickly and move on to the next books.

2. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Frightening series for me, because I am still heartbroken because of the first book. It’ll take me a couple of deep breaths and a lot of courage to plunge back into this world.

3. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

It’s time, isn’t it?


Other Options

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead
I loved Vampire Academy and Bloodlines; I’m quite interested in how Mead is going to manage telling the same story three different times in this series. Also, the cover makes me happy.

Legend by Marie Lu

So I had tried this book before and then got scared of anything bad happening (which is a common occurrence for me. My anxiety shoots through the roof when the stakes are high in a book).

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This is supposedly another quick read. Very curious to meet the characters in this series. SPACE!

An Honest Update before the Fall into Fantasy To Be Read Pile: You may have
October of 2018 was a total dumpster fire. Nevertheless, I am determined to bounce back
I haven't been able to post on my blog for most of September. The world

T5W: Top 5 Side Ships


It’s another Wednesday around here. So, it’s time for a Top 5 Wednesday (T5W). Here’s a link to the Goodreads group for information and such. Thi week’s topic is our top 5 side ships.

5. Lord of Shadows/Dark Artifices

Diana and Gwyn are adorable and I love their story arc thus far. Gwyn, this huge leader of the Hunt, is in fact a teddy bear. And that’s awesome, because he is so infatuated with Diana; it’s terribly cute and fills me with joy.


4.Paper Towns

Radar and Angela are precious babies. I wish there was more information about them in canon. Angela is sweet and kind while Radar is hilariously anxious about his family’s great secret.


3. The Grisha Trilogy

Tamar Kir Bataar and freaking Nadia are the cutest! I love Tamar and her brother. They are fierce sweethearts. I cannot get over their protective nature toward Alina. Obviously, I wish there was more of these characters, especially since I did not like Mal. We could’ve had cute interactions instead of this dude.


Moving on.


2. Harry Potter

Dean and Seamus were up there in terms of OTPs. I was certain that JK Rowling would announce their status as a couple. But, she didn’t, which is sad. Still, I believe they were meant to be together.


  1. The Hunger Games

Finnick and Annie are a couple I wished had more “screen time.” I will forever be fascinated by what happened to Annie, and its connections to how mental illness/trauma work in real life. I wish they had a happier ending. Alas. It’s a rough world in Panem.




Your Turn:

What are your favorite side couples? Share them in the comments!

I am having a particularly rough time existing, so I am taking advantage of post
Ah, welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday where I break the rules. This is becoming
Getting redeemed is often reserved for villains, but today, I am going to be talking

Top Ten Literary Dads Who Made an Impression on Me

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday. This is a meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish. I am leaving a link so you can check out topics and information.

10. Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Bennett left quite the impression on me. I still think about him often. His relationship with Elizabeth was sweet. Yet, his lack of interest in his daughters’ lives was upsetting for me. To an extent, I understand that there was a disconnect between men and women back then. Even now, unfortunately, there is too much emphasis on gender as a whole rather than focusing on people individually.


9. To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch pretty much blew my mind away in high school. I was in awe of his decency, his kindness, and his understanding of people. The way he carried himself throughout the novel was inspiring. Purposefully, I avoided the “sequel” to this novel, because I knew that upon a revisit, perhaps the author would alter the image I had of this man. So, let’s not talk about that book.


8. Fangirl

Arthur Avery. I remember that his life mental illness hit home for me. He had the highs and lows which are so familiar to me. Besides, he was a supportive father, a single dad, and a loving figure in his daughters’ lives. I just love that he was the constant in his kids’ lives, which is something rare in YA.


7. Harry Potter

Sirius Black is very problematic and I love him so dearly. But, even more, I think of Albus Dumbledore so frequently. I think of how much he protected Harry, how he guided him, and how he was a frustrating dude. He was a real person, and there’s so little of him truly in the books. And, I kind of like that we don’t know Sirius and Dumbledore very well, because they have the potential of being incredible human beings, but there’s also a hidden mystery to who they were.

I could talk about these guys all day.


6. Castor Chronicles

Macon Ravenwood is one of the most tragic figures I have ever encountered. He reminds me of Boo Radley, in that he is a shut in and there are plenty of rumors about him. His strange nature makes me love him so much. Yet, he has so much pain in his past and present, and I cannot even explain how much hope this man gives to Lena and to me, as a reader.

Oh, and obviously he reminds me of Atticus Finch.

5. Dark Artifices

Arthur Blackthorn has mental illness caused by fairies. And, he is unable to stay in the present. I can relate to him so much, and his actions in Lord of Shadows make my heart just swell with love. What a dude!


4. Mistborn

Kelsier is the best dad ever. I mean, he is not Vin’s biological dad or anything, but he takes her away from her awful life, and helps her come into her powers as a Mistborn. How can I not love this guy?


3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

The dads in this book are wildly different, and yet they both support their sons in beautiful ways. I wasn’t a fan of this book, and yet I fully admit that these two dads were anchors for their children.



2. The Fault in Our Stars

The parents in this book are fantastic. They support Hazel through a really difficult situation that no parent is ever fully prepared for. Cancer and terminal illnesses like it are just so hard to process for everyone involved. And, Hazel’s parents handle it with grace, kindness, and understanding.

 1. Lord of the Rings

You thought I’d forget about the awesome dads in this trilogy? Come on! Never! The two figures who stand out in this series to me are Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf. Bilbo took in young Frodo and raised him to be just as strange and adventurous.

Gandalf took care of the Hobbits, and maintained political relations between so many races in this series. He’s the best!


Your Turn

Any favorite father figures in fiction? Share them in the comments!


Slumps, of all kinds, are the worst. It doesn't matter if you can do your
Image courtesy of Couleur on Pixabay. Not a genre I normally reach for, middle-grade books
For this week's Top 10 Tuesday, I am twisting the prompt a bit. Rather than

BR: Crooked Kingdom

I admit it. I hesitated to read Crooked Kingdom for a long time out of fear. The character are so precious to me, and I was scared they’d die. But, I finished the book today (two days reading in total). Here are some of my thoughts.

Trauma and Coping

The world Bardugo creates is mean, to put it gently. These characters have endured trauma and loss so much, and it affects their behaviors. They have coping mechanisms that may make them seem “bad.”

When I had read the first book, I distanced myself from Kaz quite a bit. As someone who had gone through abuse, I see a lot of my struggle in him and Inej.

This book just brought him to life for me. I understand him better. Jordie, his shock after what happened to him and Jordie, feels so painful and real, valid, and honestly I don’t know how Pekka Rollins lived for long. Revenge is such a driving force for Kaz, but a lot of it is based on the fear he inflicts on people. It’s not so much that he is a monster.

In fact, he often emphasizes this to Inej and the rest of the group. It’s almost a defense mechanism. The world is cruel, so Kaz has to be equally terrifying to survive it.

I think of him, gloved hands because touch is too overwhelming, his cane, his shock of losing Jordie, and I think that he is a good example of how one copes to survive in a given environment.


I could write a whole blog just about how Inej and Kaz’s relationship is complex, given they are both abuse survivors. It is such a beautifully intricate romance to watch unfold.

There is a death in this book, and I am trying not to cry. Wylan and Jesper’s relationship, gorgeously wobbly as they admit their insecurities, their wounds, and their fears, it is truly astounding.

Nina and Matthias have also come along way. I mean, there is MAKE OUT SCENES IN THIS! And, that was great, especially when Matthias notices his old beliefs in contrast with how he sees Nina.

I wish there were more books about these characters. But also, not? It leaves space for us fans to explore and imagine.



Oh, how there are so many shadows in this book. Dunyasha, for one, being Inej’s shadow is just amazing. What happens when one ponders their disposable nature? Truly, the idea a person is replaceable is a haunting one, but it’s not really that much of a stretch.

So, Inej has someone to fight in this book. Kaz is against Rollins. Wylan and his father are locked in a fight, and then, it is mirrored with Jesper’s relationship with his father. Matthias and his fellow Fjordians face one another. And, Nina is again put in the place of a pupil when she meets up with Genya and Zoya.

This mirroring allows Bardugo to delve into the cruxes of these characters’ insecurities and fears.


It’s definitely a five star read for me. So good, and kind of a shock in some ways, because, I did not expect a death in this. In fact, I keep checking my book to see if it’s real. It hurts.

But, I would recommend this duology, way more than the Grisha trilogy.

Hope you give it a read! If you have read it, please, let’s talk in the comments!

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
In the most recent months of 2018, I have been aiming to read beyond my
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.