Review: “Reign of the Fallen” by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of Reign of the Fallen for free through Netgalley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. Possible spoilers ahead!


Title: Reign of the Fallen (Reign of the Fallen #1)reign of the fallen
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Genre: YA, Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Publication date: January 23, 2018
Average rating: 3.92/5 stars
My rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads Description:
“Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?”

My Thoughts:
Reign of the Fallen and I had a rocky beginning. I’d requested an ARC of this book in the middle of the night when looking for something new to read and then promptly forgot about it until I received the e-mail notifying me my request was accepted. I went into the book not sure if it was really going to be my kind of thing. The writing style was a little over the top for my tastes and I wasn’t all that into the main character and her [first] love interest. However, all of the reviews I’d read were positive, so I kept reading.

Vaia, am I glad I did!

The writing style I wasn’t sold on at the beginning ended up being my favourite feature of the book by the time I reached the end. And the main character, Odessa (A.K.A. Sparrow)? The character development! Oh, the character development. It felt like I was growing as a person with her; fighting Shades with her. I’ve found it difficult to make that sort of connection with characters in books these days, but by the end of Reign of the Fallen I found myself crying with every loss and every triumph, the author wrote those events so wonderfully.

At first, I couldn’t understand why the author chose to kill off Evander. I thought surely it was going to be one of those stories where the protagonist’s lover dies and the remainder of the book would be tracking down their killer in a blind rage. To be fair, that’s kind of what happened, but it was also so much more than that… I judged Reign of the Fallen too soon and I urge you not to make the same mistake because I almost put this book down for good without knowing what I would’ve been missing.

You must be wondering why I didn’t give “Reign of the Fallen” five stars instead of four if I loved it so much. Well, like I briefly mentioned earlier, I found it hard to connect with the characters at the start. The way the story began, it felt more like a sequel than the first book in the series. Like I was supposed to already have met the characters and be familiar with the world they lived in. Maybe it was too much too fast? I also found myself skimming over some parts because I simply didn’t care enough about the King’s raising and the little gathering that followed.

However, a little under halfway through Reign of the Fallen, it started getting juicy and I was all about it from then on.

Do I recommend this book? Yes.
Will I be reading the sequel? It’s highly likely!

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It Took Me Ten Years to Get This Diagnosis!

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Photo by Imani Clovis on Unsplash. [Image Description: A person shown from the shoulders down, sitting with one leg tucked in on a dark wooden floor. The person is clutching their other ankle as if they’re in pain.]

This is going to be a long one, y’all, so I’d settle in with a cozy blanket and your favourite beverage!


You may or may not already know this, but back when I first embarked on this whole chronic illness journey, joint pain was one of my biggest issues, only superseded by digestion. Even when I was in elementary school my family joked about moving into the emergency department of the hospital because my brother and I were there so often with injuries. Now we know, at least in my case, that was partly due to hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS).

There were hints at arthritis by middle school, but I was young (surely I couldn’t have arthritis at ten years old!) and the pain was easily managed at the time. We (my family and I) didn’t think much of it. Skip to the crush injury  in seventh grade. I started showing symptoms of POTS early on, so naturally we assumed it was all related to the injury. That’s how we went about searching for answers in the beginning: focusing on the leg injury. After my leg was supposed to have healed, I continued feeling pain, and it wasn’t just in that leg anymore… We sought out a foot & ankle specialist, who eventually (we’re talkin’ two more foot and ankle injuries and multiple air casts later) found early onset arthritis.

Let’s put a pin in that for a minute…

While all of the above was going on, we had already started looking into my digestion issues. I can remember having problems with digestion as early as eight or nine years old. By the time the idea of early onset arthritis got added to the mix, I’m pretty sure I was close to getting a diagnosis of gastroparesis, as well.

Okay, continuing on!

My foot & ankle doctor at the time ordered another round of physical therapy, better orthotic support for my sneakers, and that was that. We knew he couldn’t do much more for me, he even said so himself, so we moved on to a different specialist, traveling further down the rabbit hole that is chronic illness.

Let’s see… There were two pediatric rheumatologists, that lymphedema detour, and various other specialists once my body truly kicked into high gear with my – then undiagnosed – chronic illnesses. It’s been a wild ride, and there are so many stories I still need to tell y’all, but they’ll have to wait for another time.

Anyway, back to joint pain.

If I’m remembering correctly, I got my hEDS diagnosis somewhere in between gastroparesis and POTS, so I was about thirteen, maybe even fourteen, years old. My mom and I pretty much knew I had hEDS by the time the endocrin. appointment came around. We just needed confirmation from an actual doctor so we wouldn’t have trouble down the road. Way too many people had accused me of faking it by that point. At least if it happened again (and it did) we could be like, “Oh, yeah, asshole?!” and shove the after-visit summary from that appointment into their ignorant face.

Somewhere in the mix of all of these different specialists (I swear I’ve seen just about every kind there is), my leg pain wasn’t really as big of an issue as it was in the beginning, though arthritis continued to pop up, mostly in the winter time, to remind me it still existed. As a result, joint pain got put on the back burner while we focused on gastroenterology and then eventually POTS. By the time I turned eighteen, four years post-POTS diagnosis, the gastro stuff was manageable on my own and POTS graduated to the main event.

After turning eighteen and aging out of pediatrics, we basically had to start from scratch again, except this time I at least had some answers. I took a year off from doctors, which I wouldn’t recommend, but my mom and I needed that break. Another year passed before we would come to an agreement on a new POTS doctor. Though it was my choice in the end, as I am the patient, she is also my ride to these appointments, so…

You know the rest. However, in case you’re new here, last year I started seeing a new POTS specialist, a rheumatologist, two hematologists, an OBGYN, and probably more, idk.

Now, keeping everything I just told you about my previous joint pain in mind, I have another diagnosis to add to my repertoire.

Psoriatic arthritis.

That’s right! It took ten years, but we finally have a name for it. Up until now, I’ve been using “early onset arthritis”, but it’s always felt like a placeholder diagnosis. For ten+ years, psoriatic arthritis has been right there in plain sight, but none of my other doctors caught it because I was/am so young. Nobody wanted to see it.

After ten+ years without proper treatment, you can imagine how bad it’s gotten. I mean, my arthritis is everywhere, man. There’s an area around my left shoulder that gets particularly gruesome in a flare, but basically my entire body is staging a coup. Screw the weather channel, I’ve got your blizzard warning right here, folks!

So, what happens now?

We wait for the insurance company to approve Remicade, which will be administered through IV in my rheumatologist’s infusion room. I kind of wish I could do it where I get my iron infusions because it’s closer to my house and I’m on a first name basis with all of the nurses, but being near my doctor just in case something goes wrong can’t hurt, either… Just not looking forward to the hour-and-forty-minute drive every 6-8 weeks. First, insurance has to approve it. One step at a time, right?


If you are or have been on Remicade and Methotrexate (I’ll also be given folic acid), what’s your take on them? I’ll take any information or advice I can get at this stage.

How Long Has It Been? | Dear Diary #5

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Photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash. [Image Description: A white marble notebook with the word “JOURNAL” printed on it in copper. A matching pen rests diagonally on top. There’s a half-closed laptop at the top right corner of the photo.]

I’m in one of my “I want to write, but I don’t know what to write about” moods, so how about a Dear Diary? It’s been a while! Here’s a link to my last one, which was right before the DI Conference, if I’m not mistaken.


Welcome to Dear Diary, a series where I talk about the little things going on in my life that don’t necessarily warrant their own individual posts. Please, feel free to do the same in the comments! So… What’s new?

First of all, happy 2018! I bet you’re wondering where I’ve been. Or maybe you don’t give a crap. Either way, I’m going to tell you.

Last week, my parents were in Florida for a business trip and for my mom’s birthday. This meant it was just me, my brother, our dog, and our parakeet. To everyone’s surprise, we managed to keep the house standing for a full seven days without parental supervision. I feel I should also mention that my brother and I are both in our twenties and apparently fully capable of keeping ourselves alive, thank you very much!

A week without my parents meant a week off from doctor appointments. I had no earthly idea what to do with all of that free time. Once I caught up on returning TV shows, I finally watched The Crown (loved it), and, after I finished that, I rewatched my favourite Gilmore Girls episodes, including the four-part series released two [American] Thanksgivings ago. It was a real party over here in the ChronicallyDannie household.

The week before my parents were in Florida, I had an appointment with my rheumatologist for my final knee injections. However, this also happened to be the day a blizzard took over New Jersey, so we had to cancel. It’s not something we could’ve rescheduled, so me and my knees were shit outta luck. Between having to cancel that appointment and that second refusal letter from the insurance company about the MRIs my rheumatologist ordered last summer, I don’t know what will happen at our next visit. I haven’t even scheduled a physical therapy appointment yet, so I’m overcompensating by trying to gradually build my muscle strength back up myself. Though, aside from my core being sore, I’m not sure if I’m actually doing anything other than exhausting myself.

While we’re on the subject of doctor appointments (when are we not?), I see my cardio/POTS specialist this Thursday. Last time, he recommended tighter compression socks and changed up my Midodrine dosage because I wasn’t able to even take two a day, let alone three. I’m now on 10mg at breakfast and 5mg at lunch. I still can’t make the 5mg dose, but whatever… Is Midodrine helping? I think so. My dizziness is pretty much gone until the dose wears off, but my blood pressure seems to be lower. Considering Midodrine is supposed to regulate low blood pressure, I’m not sure what’s happening there.

Thanks to dizziness being a thing of the past while taking Midodrine, motion sickness has been so much easier to manage. Before, I’d get dizzy and lightheaded in a car, eventually leading up to severe nausea and presyncope episodes. The nausea was so bad, Zofran couldn’t even save me. Now, since I no longer have to worry about presyncope in a moving vehicle (as long as my meds haven’t worn off yet), I can just eat a little something, take Zofran before I leave the house, and I’m good to go. Motion sickness has always been a problem for me, though it’s gotten far worse since POTS came into my life nine years ago. It’s the biggest relief, not having carsickness anxiety before every drive.

That’s about it on the chronic illness front. Elsewhere, the lightbox I ordered to better my Etsy shop’s photography arrived. I’ve already set it up and I love it, but somehow I have to figure out how to get my camera to stop “correcting” the lighting. What’s the point of a lightbox if your camera’s just going to make the picture dark anyway?

Review: “Girl in Snow” by Danya Kukafka

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of “Girl in Snow” through Netgalley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.


Title: Girl in SnowGirl in Snow
Author: Danya Kukafka
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Average Rating: 3.38/5 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Publication Date: August 1, 2017

Goodreads Description:
Who Are You When No One Is Watching?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. 

In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory. Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.”

My Thoughts:
Danya Kukafka is an incredibly gifted writer. That being said, Girl in Snow was advertised as a thriller and I didn’t get that feeling from this book at all. I mean, I certainly wasn’t bored, it just wasn’t the fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat read I was expecting going into it. Though the book really embraced the “slow and steady wins the race” mentality by the time I reached the middle, every little detail and side story came together in the end in such a way that it made it all worth it. No minor character was forgotten, every loose end was tied, and all of your questions WILL be answered. Though only one truly matters: Who killed Lucinda Hayes?

Should you decide to give Girl in Snow a try (and you absolutely should), I urge you to stick with it. In fact, the only reason I didn’t given Girl in Snow five stars instead of four was because of the way the book was advertised. I was expecting a thrilling read about the murder of Lucinda Hayes. By the end of the book, I knew all three main characters intimately, but I didn’t feel like I or any of the characters truly knew Lucinda at all. Maybe that was the Danya Kukafka’s goal… Still, I found myself disappointed.

Do I recommend this book? Yes!

My 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge: How Did It Go?

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Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash. [Image Description: A stack of books with colourful covers to the left of the picture against a blurred, grey background.]

January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September/October


In January of 2017, I embarked on my first ever Goodreads Reading Challenge and posted monthly reviews on this blog to help track my progress. My goal was to read ten books by the end of the year. This may seem like a small number, but I’d only read a grand total of five books in 2016! I vowed to do better this year. So, how did it go?

Goal: 10 books
Total Books Read: 13
Books Abandoned: 4

When I officially hit ten books, I stopped doing the monthly book wrap-ups and decided to switch to individual reviews at my leisure. I wasn’t reading more than one or two books a month, anyway. Here’s a link to my review of “Fourth Dimension” by Eric Walters. There are also links above to each of my Goodreads Reading Wrap-Ups! You can see I missed a couple of months there…

Overall, it was a fun little experiment! I’m proud of myself for nearly tripling last year’s count, especially with chronic illnesses making reading a full novel so difficult lately. Next year, my goal will be fifteen books, though I probably won’t be using the monthly wrap-up system again. It did motivate me to read more, but I don’t think I finish books often enough to warrant it.

Thank you so much, Netgalley, and all of the publishers who very kindly gave me ARCs of more than half of the novels I’ve read and reviewed this year!


January

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

March

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

April

Recruits by Thomas Locke

May

Wish Me Home by Kay Bratt

June

The Ninth Circle by C. A. Harland

August

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

September/October

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen