2016 · book review

Dual Review: All We Have Left by Wendy Mills & Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

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Since both of these books released on the same day I have decided to just combine both in one review. I think I may start doing this for books I review that have the same release day so it is easier to have everything compacted together.


All We Have Left by Wendy Mills


Title: All We Have Left
Author: Wendy Mills
Publication Date: August 9th, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury


Rating: ★★★★☆ 4 stars


Sixteen-year-old Jesse is used to living with the echoes of the past. Her older brother died in the September 11th attacks, and her dad has filled their home with anger and grief. When Jesse gets caught up with the wrong crowd, one momentary hate-fueled decision turns her life upside down. The only way to make amends is to face the past, starting Jesse on a journey that will reveal the truth about how her brother died.

In 2001, sixteen-year-old Alia is proud to be Muslim… it’s being a teenager that she finds difficult. After being grounded for a stupid mistake, Alia is determined to show her parents that that they must respect her choices. She’ll start by confronting her father at his office in downtown Manhattan, putting Alia in danger she never could have imagined. When the planes collide into the Twin Towers Alia is trapped inside one of the buildings. In the final hours she meets a boy who will change everything for her as the flames rage around them . . .

Interweaving stories past and present, full of heartbreak and hope, two girls come of age in an instant, learning that both hate and love have the power to reverberate into the future and beyond.

Book provided by publisher for an honest review.

“ People do terrible things. People do beautiful things. It’s against the black backdrop of evil that the shining light of good shows the brightest. We can’t just focus on the darkness of the night, or we’ll miss out on the stars.”

All We Have Left by Wendy Mills is a story about two girls, two stories, and one day that changed both of their lives. The two story lines soon begin to intersect as their lives become connected.

I’m not one to read 9/11 stories. I don’t know why but they aren’t the kind of books I reach for. But once I started this I was unable to put it down and ended up finishing it all in one night.

We have our protagonists Alia, a quirky sixteen year old Muslim girl who loves drawing comics, and just wants to find her place in this world. And Jesse our present day sixteen year old, whose family is still dealing with the loss of her brother on 9/11.

The chapters alternate between the two and Wendy Mills does a great job of making the voices distinct enough that I could tell the difference between each speaker.

Alia was my favorite to read about, I loved her energy and wit. And Jesse is a character that you probably won’t like in the beginning, I know I didn’t. She ends falling into the wrong crowd and doing things that she isn’t proud of.

The writing wasn’t my favorite at first, but as I delved further into the novel I began to really enjoy it. Mills takes you into the day of the attack in 2001, with Alia’s narrative as she and Jesse’s brother struggle to make it out of there alive. And as we switch to Jesse’s current day narrative, she is trying uncover why her brother was in the tower in the first place, as we see the hatred that Muslims experience, even today.

All in all I really enjoyed this novel. I didn’t feel like the diversity felt like it was being textbook read to me and that I really appreciate. This story is raw and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. There is a lot the characters have to go through to discover things about themselves.

This is a story all too real to many people, and teaches about not only growth, but forgiveness. Even though I still really enjoyed this novel I did feel the end sort of wrapped things up a bit too swimmingly, but it is still an emotional and poignant read. I implore you to check it out.


Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Title: Nevernight
Author: Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: August 9th, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Series: Book #1 of The Nevernight Chronicle


Rating: ★★★★☆ 4 stars

Synopsis: In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Book provided by publisher for an honest review

“Your mind will serve you better than any trinket under the suns…It is a weapon…and like any weapon, you need practice to be any good at wielding it.”

Mia Corvere. A girl who was to murder as maestros are to music. Quite unflappable but occasionally chagrined, Mia is the type of person that when she wants something, she devises a way to get it. Whether the ends justify the means is all on personal morale.

I went into Nevernight with pretty high expectations. Having this be on my most anticipated books of 2016 and seeing the countless raving reviews, I figured it would easily become on of my new favorites. Though that wasn’t the case, it was still pretty overall enjoyable.

What I love about this novel is that it has elements of my favorite aspects of fantasy, but stands all on its own. This is a world with three suns, a place where the sun almost never sets, but when it does, there is a cloak of impenetrable darkness. And Mia Corvere wishes to become a full fledged assassin to rid the world of the corruption that killed her father, and got her mother sent to prison.

This book is full of blood, sex, and violence, and definitely not for the faint of heart. I’ve read enough gore in fantasy to last a lifetime, but I will admit that this book had me wincing at some scenes.

So many aspects of it made me reminiscent of Throne of Glass and Game of Thrones, so fans of those would really enjoying reading this.

Though what made this book hard to love at times was the slow beginning. Even though I’m use to some fantasy books taking awhile to get into because of world building, I felt the footnotes to be terribly distracting at times, and I ended up having to skim the long ones because I wanted to get back to the story. Also, I did love Mia as a protagonist, but I felt she was way too trusting of people, in a school full of assassins, which is why some of the events didn’t surprise me.

But once we start getting into the actual school of assassins, The Red Church, the storyline really picks up. The school for assassins is intense, and is definitely not your typical boarding school. With classes on fighting, stealing, seduction, and poison, and trials that might end up killing you at every turn, you learn to pretty much stay on edge.

I will admit that Kristoff’s writing could be a bit wax-poetic at times, but I really enjoyed it for the most part. It added a unique style to the story, that I can always identify as his own. He does a great way of blending humor and violence seamlessly.

The plot is enticingly gripping as we see the students battle it out to become the top of their class, and an unknown murderer on the lose to add disarray to the fray. I wish I wasn’t able to predict a majority of the twists that happened because I might have enjoyed it more. Though the ending left things off in an almost confusing way, I’m definitely looking forward to getting more answers in the future books.

Never flinch. Never fear. Never forget.


If you’ve read any of these I’d love to know your thoughts.

— Rebecca ☾


One thought on “Dual Review: All We Have Left by Wendy Mills & Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

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