DUPLICITY was a fast-paced thriller, calling a person's morality and redeemable qualities into question. I loved that our narrator, Brandon, wasn't alDUPLICITY was a fast-paced thriller, calling a person's morality and redeemable qualities into question. I loved that our narrator, Brandon, wasn't all bad or all good. He seemed like a real person, who had made some mistakes along the way. I enjoyed his growth as the stakes in DUPLICITY rose. DUPLICITY was really fun, a book I couldn't put down until it was over. ...more
A seriously cute f/f YA that tugged at my heart so much at times. I loved watching Kaycee figure out her sexuality and embark in her first relationshiA seriously cute f/f YA that tugged at my heart so much at times. I loved watching Kaycee figure out her sexuality and embark in her first relationship with a girl. The Southernisms felt like coming home, and Dana Elmendorf's commentary on the push-pull of being gay in the South resonates.
A few of the characters struck me as a bit too stereotypical (i.e. overly flamboyant gay boy, lesbian with a mullet), which was disappointing. I'd like to see the author avoid that in the future, by more effort and respect, and a bit deeper insight into her queer characters.
Kaycee's best friend, Van, is gay, and it was awesome to see he was NOT painted as a stereotype. Their friendship grew through bumps and honesty, and I loved it.
I want to applaud the use of labels. They don't always work + aren't always needed, but they were here. Seeing Kaycee identify as a lesbian was amazing because it's on the page, along with discussions of consent, and being queer *and* a believer.
However, there's a lot of heart in this sweet story, and it's refreshing and amazing to see a f/f couple NOT doomed from the get-go. I think and hope teens will love this book. It brought happy tears to my eyes! ...more
AFTER THE STORM is a wonderful continuation of the O'Dell sisters's journey on Angel Island. I beta read this for Marie, and I think readers are goingAFTER THE STORM is a wonderful continuation of the O'Dell sisters's journey on Angel Island. I beta read this for Marie, and I think readers are going to enjoy Ella's story. There are great themes here about character growth, family, friendship, and love.
Plus one of Marie's signature swoon-worthy boys. And? An awesome cast of side characters (mostly SADIE, oh how I loved Sadie.) AFTER THE STORM is a really lovely story about finding yourself and learning to love not just yourself, but others. ...more
So, guys, this review is a little bit odd for me to write, but also a relief. I adored Pushing tThis review and many more appear at Books and Whimsy.
So, guys, this review is a little bit odd for me to write, but also a relief. I adored Pushing the Limits (and own it), but I refused to finish Dare You To, for a multitude of reasons. Even now I get mad thinking about it. So I went into Crash Into You hoping to love it, and to my relief and happiness, I didn't just love it - I was OBSESSED with Isaiah and Rachel's story. I read it as quickly as I could, even though I wanted to savor this lush romance.
Originally I was upset when Dare You To killed my hopes for an Isaiah/Beth romance, but I am now really glad Katie McGarry didn't take that route, because that freed Isaiah and Rachel up to meet and fall in love. And guys...they were amazing. Explosive. Some people may label them as insta-love, but the truth is, I still liked them. Their beginning happened fast, but then their connection deepened in a way that felt both fast AND organic. I've been in a relationship that happened like that, and while it didn't last, it was REAL, just like Isaiah and Rachel were. And oh, the ways they helped each other grow, and learned about love, and ultimately got it right. SO SWEET and also so hot.
Crash into You blends two worlds: Rachel's safe one with Isaiah's dangerous one. From their meeting at an illegal street race, to their passion-filled encounters, to the unorthodox way they each make friends with people from the other's world, I was sold on this book right away. I LOVED watching each of them challenge their ideas about the other, and about what relationship they could have. I loved their distinct point of view trading off chapter by chapter - no confusion in voices here. I loved watching them both get to know themselves and their own strengths. Both characters grew SO MUCH and that made me happy. They had miscommunications, but they overcame them together, and became such a healthy couple.
As always, Katie McGarry just plain knows how to tell a darn good story. We got a lot of time with favorites Noah and Echo, and cameos from Beth and Ryan. Ryan's friend Logan was in Crash into You quite a bit, which made me want to know more about him. We also saw Rachel's family fleshed out, including her over-protective brothers, all of whom I ADORED in different ways. Katie brings all these characters to life, which isn't easy, really breathing life into so many diverse characters.
Some of the plot points to Crash into You did feel somewhat unrealistic, but I enjoyed the story so much, I tried to suspend disbelief. There was definitely some teenage melodrama, which I should have hated, but didn't. And somehow, Katie McGarry made the "poor little rich girl" trope and the "bad boy" trope WORK and feel new again. Crash into You is a HIGHLY enjoyable book I encourage McGarry fans to read ASAP.
Pros and Cons
Pros: A great, SWOONY couple, Katie McGarry's signature good storytelling, tropes I actually liked.
I missed reading Eleanor and Park with everyone else when it came out, and was so bummed. EVERYONE told me how good it was. So I was extremely flatterI missed reading Eleanor and Park with everyone else when it came out, and was so bummed. EVERYONE told me how good it was. So I was extremely flattered when St Martin’s sent me a finished copy of Fangirl. I had it on my TBR and REALLY wanted to read it, then this gorgeous copy showed up. I squealed. A lot. I started it soon after, and although I didn’t ever fall head over heels for the characters or the story, I did LIKE a lot about Fangirl, for several reasons.
First, I need to add a sidebar. Many moons ago when I was 15-16, I was discovering the Internet and my first fandom was Sweet Valley High. I wrote what I thought at the time was wildly successful Sweet Valley Senior Year and University fan fics under my middle name, Marie. I had fans. I had reviewers. I was AWESOME. (I was not nearly as awesome as I thought I was.) But I made some really cool online friends, including my first British friend, and two great Aussie friends. I ended up talking on the phone to the Australian girls ON A LANDLINE PHONE, and there was a half-assed plan to meet up which didn’t happen because high school, and boys, and parties and friends happened. I stopped writing fanfic, but for that brief year, year and a half, I WAS Cath. I stalked my page for new reviews. I had a fanfic.net account. I giggled happily as I wrote new chapters, and twisted storylines, and saw my following grow. I was happiest when I was at my computer writing a new chapter (which was probably like 2 actual book pages buuuut who’s counting?) Eventually I grew beyond fic and began writing my own original characters and stories, but I still have those good memories.
Now I was never Cath entirely. I never went to a university, and my social issues were never as bad as hers. I’ve talked about how I was bullied, and how my freshman year was rough for me personally. Around that time, I was really timid and shy, and barely spoke up in class. My second year English teacher – I loved her so much, RIP – once told the class to “listen when Molli has something to say.” It makes me smile now, thinking about that shy girl because that SO isn’t me anymore. So I can sort of identify with Cath, but I was never paralyzed the way she was. My heart really went out to her, avoiding the dining hall, being so nervous and scared all the time. I just wanted to push her outside of her comfort zone far enough so that she’d see she would SURVIVE. So I was so, so happy to see that happen, eventually.
With all that said, Fangirl is a great example of upper YA and potentially even New Adult. To me, it encompasses SO much that I think of when I think of New Adult. You’ve got the uncertainty of being sort of on your own, away from home for the first time, jugging classes and life and friends. You’ve got the curiosity about guys, and Rowell perfectly captured that SENSE of sexual awakening. It made me a little sad that Cath was SO afraid of what that meant for her – afraid to take a chance, afraid of a kiss, afraid of so much. New Adult to me, isn’t about how many sexy encounters an author can cram into a 300 page book, but more about characters finding themselves. I know when I was 18-19, I was struggling to redefine myself OUTSIDE of my family. Who was I, other than my parent’s daughter? What did I think about politics, literature, gay rights, religion? What were my thoughts and opinions? Knowing I had this FREEDOM to think for myself was both heady and scary, and I want to hug Rainbow Rowell for having the guts to come at some of those issues head on in Fangirl. We need MORE books like Fangirl in the New Adult category.
I’m so glad I read Fangirl. With a varied cast of characters that really came to life on the pages, Fangirl has some awesome messages about growth, and learning to have self-confidence. Cath’s struggles always felt organic and real, and not forced or hyped up for dramatic purposes. I wanted to hug her so often, watching her relationship with Wren and with her dad change, seeing her lose her true north.
And the romance. Ohhh, the romance. I cringed early on because I thought there might be a love triangle, but thankfully there wasn’t. And that is SO SO refreshing – getting to see ONE girl and ONE guy falling for each other. Levi was so kind and patient and funny and sexy and GOOD to and FOR Cath. He made me melt so often, and it was so clear he was falling for Cath, but just as clear that she had NO idea. Oh they were adorable. I loved that they were HEALTHY. They each opened up to each other. They appreciated the other’s quirks. Levi thought Cath’s fan fiction was awesome, and got her to drop her guard while reading it. He WAITED for her, and oh, that was amazing to read about. I just wrote a post about slow burn romances and I wish I’d thought to include Cather and Levi.
“When I’m writing my own stuff, it’s like swimming upstream. Or…falling down a cliff and grabbing at branches, trying to invent the branches as I fall.”
“Yes,” the professor said, reaching out and grasping the air in front of Cath, like she was catching a fly. “That’s how it’s supposed to feel.”
I loved this quote because it PERFECTLY describes how I feel sometimes when I’m writing. And I ADORED that writing – be it original or fic – was such an important part of Fangirl, and of Cath’s growth process. Her professor was so awesome for encouraging her, even when she had a mishap with placing too much importance on her fan fiction.
That’s one thing that bugged me some. I wasn’t keen on reading all the Simon Snow excerpts. I thought it was so sweet how much Cath cared about her stories and loved Simon Snow. I’ve been there. After Sweet Valley, a few years ago I wrote Hunger Games fic. And I won’t lie. I write the hell out of Gale Hawthorne. Seriously, in some ways sometimes I think my Gale is better than book!Gale. But I knew when to draw the line – Gale was never my character, and the fic was just a fun thing for awhile. It wasn’t something I wanted to do forever, and I never got as involved in it as Cath did. To me, fan fiction became an unhealthy crutch for her, so I was so happy to see the potential for her moving beyond it, and into the real world. After awhile, her dependence on Simon, Baz, etc crossed the line into becoming somewhat annoying.
(view spoiler)[After hearing SO much about Carry On, Simon, I was SO PISSED that the lead-up was just a red herring. After Cath working on her deadline to finish Carry On before the final Snow book came out, I was sooo mad. We didn’t ever find out how Carry On ended, and that irked me. (hide spoiler)]
All in all, I really liked Fangirl. It’s a great mix of self-exploration, mixed with a really sweet, organic romance. Rainbow Rowell’s writing style is original and lovely to read, and her characters truly came alive for me. Because I could somewhat relate personally, I think I liked this one a little more than some readers will, because it did feel too long at points. And, there was that lack of an emotional connection I really NEEDED to give it a perfect rating, but I’ll definitely be reading more from Rowell. ...more
5 stars simply isn't enough. Terrific world-building, heart-stopping action, poignant romance, and two of the best written characters I've ever come across.
OR IN GIFS TO EXPRESS MY FEEEEEEEELS:
THESE BROKEN STARS = TITANIC in space. Thus, Tarver = Jack Dawson, and Lilac = Rose.
Let's meet Lilac, aboard the Icarus:
This is Lilac at the beginning of THESE BROKEN STARS. A society girl who has problems, problems that authors Kaufman and Spooner actually manage to make resonate with me. (It should be noted I am not a rich person, nor do I typically feel for rich people in books. In this one? I did.) Despite finding Lilac infuriating, I eventually came to like her.
Now, meet Tarver:
I liked Tarver immediately. I LOVED Tarver immediately. I couldn't help but think of the scene in Titanic where Jack is set up invited to dinner by Cal, and ends up schooling everyone there. Tarver doesn't really belong in society, but he's sort of a quiet bad-ass, and I adored him.
Tarver + Lilac grabbed my attention. Tarver has no idea who Lilac is at first, but he's drawn to her. And *I* was drawn to *them.*
Even though at first it was less swoon-y and more like this:
But EVENTUALLY their prejudices toward one another melted away as they were forced to work together. They started to really see each other for who they were. Things happen - dangerous, mysterious things. Tarver and Lilac begin to change, to become better versions of themselves.
And even though there are so MANY themes to this novel: a crash-landing reveals Tarver and Lilac's hearts, there's a not-so-barren planet to cross, mysteries to investigate, and their very survival to fight for...
The romance got under my skin and made me swoon. Their clashes of will were so powerful. It was SO CLEAR these two were feeling something for one another, and yet just as evident that their stations in life, and their fighting for survival threatened to keep them apart. But I LOVED seeing their attitudes change, seeing them become allies, with the potential for more.
Oh, and then this happened, basically:
Want to know more about THESE BROKEN STARS? Want to know if Tarver and Lilac ever get together? What's going on on this planet? Why I feel like the authors may be fans of Doctor Who? If they make it to the crash site, or beyond? IF THERE IS KISSING?
Read THESE BROKEN STARS.
Full review will appear at Books and Whimsy in December. A slightly different/longer GIF review is here.
"I can't swear this is exactly how it happened. But this is how it felt." - Joey Potter
I'm crying trying to start this review. It isn't going to make
"I can't swear this is exactly how it happened. But this is how it felt." - Joey Potter
I'm crying trying to start this review. It isn't going to make any sense but here it is.
Here are the things that etched this book into my heart.
I read I'LL MEET YOU THERE during an ice storm, and I'm not sure if it was simply the wonderful and genuine characters, the lovely writing, or the fact I was racing the sun to finish this book, but I *was* Skylar while I read Heather Demetrios' book. Our electricity was out at the time, and I would have read by lantern or flashlight if I had to. I sat by the patio door with the snowed-over fields by my house as my view, and I soaked in this book. This book.
Creek View may as well have been my town, if you replaced California with Tennessee. I *was* Skylar at 17--aching deep down to leave, afraid something would happen that would make me stay. And then something did. I don't regret it, because I've been places and had adventures, and I'm looking forward to many more, and to tearing up these roots and planting them somewhere new. But I know Skylar. I know the hummingbird-quick fear that you won't get out, the hand-over-fist hope you hold onto that you WILL.
I know Josh. He's the small-town hero that did his job and came home and doesn't fit in his skin anymore. He stands differently now, alert, taller. He calls you "M'am," and he isn't the boy who left, and you don't know him, because he's struggling to know himself.
I know Dylan. She's the girl who swore off guys and then met the love of her life at the county fair. I see her and her beautiful daughter every time I go to their house for movie night, every time her mini-me asks me to play with her. I know that friendship, that ride or die, that fierce "Don't fuck with my friend, she's my family" unspoken bond. Time can temper it a bit, but nothing can ever erase it.
I know Blake. He's that guy who claimed a whole row at all the pep rallies for his crew, the guy who was comfortable in every group at parties. He's that guy who was on good terms with everyone, who signed your yearbook in huge scrawling letters, and who, when you least expected it, would say the most heartfelt things.
I know Chris. He's that goofy guy who everyone underestimates, but who has a heart of gold. He's the guy you talk on the phone for hours with at night, and y'all drift after high school, but you'll never, ever forget those years of friendship, the times he saved you.
I know what Creek View feels like. It feels so suffocating, like when you're there every breath you inhale makes your chest tighter tighter tighter, and you need out, you need out, you need out. Then once you're gone, the picture changes like turning a kaleidoscope and you see all the bad as something bittersweet and beautiful. Creek View is bonfires hay rides nights riding the strip circling the car wash an old friend asking you to pull over. It's three choices of where to eat: Applebees, the italian place, or the chinese buffet.
Even though I'LL MEET YOU THERE is a fictional book, I lived it. I grew up in *my* Creek View. I spent summer days at the Warm Hole swimming instead of at Sky's creek. I watched the Dr Pepper fireworks show on the 4th with my family and friends gathered around. I had a Chris. I had a Dylan. I knew a Blake, several of them.
I've known these characters. I've held their hand, laughed with them, cried with them, grown up with them. They are so real in that way, and I felt like they were family as I read Heather's book.
The thing is...that thing that Sky talks about, how people who leave are looked at differently? It happens where I grew up, too. You get whispered about, people talk about you in hushed tones like you're either a hero or a villian for getting out.
And there's a Josh.
There's always a Josh.
That guy. You know the one. You've known him forever and then suddenly he's different. Suddenly...you know when he enters a room, he drags your gaze to him like he's the magnet you're dying to be against. You never saw him like this before, you talked to him, laughed with him, and it was fine, and now suddenly there's This Thing between you. A charge, something that makes your hands shake, why won't they stop shaking? He's just a guy. But he's more.
The point is, Heather wrote a fucking hell of a book. A book that talks about first love and fireworks and running away and staying in one place and that FEAR. That fear that holds you still and makes you breathe harder and run faster.
I'LL MEET YOU THERE is a familiar book, but a hard book. Sky has to grow up too fast. Josh fought a war. They each have their issues, real, serious issues, issues that can't be swept under the rug. Heather tackles topics like PTSD and financial issues and becoming an adult, and it's all done with such grace.
There's humor and heart and the kind of imperfectly perfect romance that sweeps you off your feet. It's just so raw. So real. So genuine.
I couldn't have stopped reading if I tried.
Five stars. All the stars for the book that broke my heart and healed me and made me remember getting on a plane and a text from a dear friend telling me to "spread those wings," and my answer: "I will." ...more
I enjoyed EASY a great deal; after hearing a lot about it, I finally splurged on it last month, and decided toSome thoughts - full review coming soon!
I enjoyed EASY a great deal; after hearing a lot about it, I finally splurged on it last month, and decided to read it. Now I'm asking myself why I waited this long. EASY has great characters who grow/change over the course of the novel, by admitting past faults, and moving past them and toward the future. I LIKE.
There were some moments where I was uncomfortable or flat out angry. EASY deals with rape/attempted rape and more than once various characters were willing to wave that way with "oh well it didn't happen," "he didn't mean it," etc. I call bullshit. One character even brought up that someone "wasn't a virgin, so..." AND?! *stabs* I DID NOT LIKE.
The romance was swoon-y! I loved seeing Jacqueline and Lucas open up to each other, and to others. It would have been easier for Jacqueline to remain the girl broken by her former relationship ending, or for her to continue being the victim who always gets saved, but she stepped up FINALLY, and started to heal and get stronger in so many ways. Lucas was just perfect for her, after a fashion, and after he started letting himself really be all in. I LIKE.
These are just my first impressions, which I will *waves hands mysteriously* craft into a review at some point soon. ...more
I read an early version of this as a beta reader for Marie, and from that alone, I can say it's her BEST work to date. Everyone prepare for an incrediI read an early version of this as a beta reader for Marie, and from that alone, I can say it's her BEST work to date. Everyone prepare for an incredibly poignant, sweet, heart-melting story! Marie knows how to write swoon-worthy boys for sure, and I can't wait to get my hands on the final version of WAITING FOR THE STORM!
I was a beta reader for Waiting for the Storm, and even in those early stages, I had a special connection to this book. I created a playlist for it while I read, and something about reading such a powerful, emotional story and choosing music for it just...endeared me to Marie's third book. Charlotte and Ezra's story is very special to me, even more so than Nicholas and Emma in Blue Sky Days, Marie's debut novel - which I adored.
Right away, I felt a kinship with Charlotte O'Dell. Reeling from her mother's death, my heart just went out to her. Charlotte is a great example of the sort of main character YA literature - and all fiction literature - needs. She's strong, but knows she needs to do some growing. She's self-aware, but still has all these idiosyncrasies that make her seem so relatable. I spent most of Waiting for the Storm so darned PROUD of Charlotte, although there were times when she broke my heart.
Charlotte isn't the only strong character. Immediately after meeting Ezra, I knew I was going to fall for him just as hard as I had Charlotte. Marie has a way of writing these swoon-worthy male characters that PERFECTLY stride that linen between being awesome, and being too good to be true. Ezra is Charlotte's antithesis in so many ways, ways that end up being really, really good for her. I loved watching their friendship blossom, and my heart melted SO many times during the course of their relationship. The slow progression from friends to more felt totally natural - no cheesy insta-love here! Ezra and Charlotte are so strong together, and I liked that they made one another better.
Waiting for the Storm is Marie's best novel so far. I said it reading an early version, and I'll say it now. She just keeps surprising me. The pacing was amazing in Waiting for the Storm - ebbing and flowing like the ocean Charlotte was staying near during the summer. The secondary characters, even those that didn't have too many appearances, were developed (MAJOR points from me for that,) and the plot tugged at my heart so hard at times. I had some words for Charlotte's sister, who's a terrific antagonist, and a really interesting foil to Charlotte. But even that was slowly, meticulously, yet organically brought to maturation. Marie takes her time with her plots and revelations, yet does so in a way that makes you feel like it's all arriving right on time.
Final Thoughts: Waiting for the Storm is a shining example of why I love YA contemporary novels. It's a story about learning to live again, and a story about having hope that you'll meet whatever life holds for you. From the characters, to the romance, I FELT so much, and that's why I'll continue to read Marie's books. ...more
There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees hThere she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him?
But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.
I haven't even done more than read the synopsis and looked at the cover and THE FEELS ARE ALREADY SETTING IN, you guys. PIVOT POINT broke me; SPLIT SECOND may finish me off. *sighs* Anyone doubt I'm going to read it? I think we all know I will.
I had SUCH a strong reaction to PIVOT POINT that I was expecting that again. And I ALMOST got it with SPLIT SECOND, but there was just a small something missing. I'm still not sure what I wanted. More emotions? More danger? I'm not sure. I LOVED SPLIT SECOND a great deal, of course. We got to go back to Addie's world, and see her trying to muddle through being around Norms without messing up everything. I love Addie so hard; her challenges always feel so genuine and relatable, despite her abilities. As always, I love the set-up and the world Kasie has created. It seems really plausible, especially because we get some more info in SPLIT SECOND, and see how deep some corruptions and efforts to keep that fine balance go.
What I loved the most: getting to see Addie and Trevor together again, especially getting to see them fall for each other again, and Addie's abilities growing. What I didn't love: honestly, Laila's chapters were a huge miss for me. I didn't like her like/love interest for me, because it verged on insta-love, and I think the entire book could have been Addie's POV easily. In fact, I wish it had been. I LIKE Laila, but I don't think her POV carried her parts, and I wasn't nearly as invested in what was going on with her.
All in all a great addition and a nice bit of closure to the story PIVOT POINT began, I wanted more from SPLIT SECOND. But I got to swoon a LOT and cry happy tears over Addie/Trevor, so I'm happy.
I am going to attempt to write a full review today and schedule it, but for now, EVERYONE needs to read this book. It's a convincing, realistic male PI am going to attempt to write a full review today and schedule it, but for now, EVERYONE needs to read this book. It's a convincing, realistic male POV - Ezra is flawed, and hysterical, and fucked-up, and so much more than he realizes. There's humor and romance, and there are bleak moments, grief, and so much hope wrapped up in this book.
If you read ONE YA contemporary/realistic fic book this year, let it be this one.
This review is difficult for me to write, y’all. I went into The Beginning of Everything (formerly titled Severed Heads, Broken Hearts) expecting a good read, and came out of it an emotional mess, because Robyn Schneider made me feel SO MUCH, and even now after finishing Ezra’s story, I’m still thinking about the messages – both the statements about how tragedy can shock and change you, and also the idea that it can reshape you when you aren’t even looking. I’m not sure I’ve felt as laid bare by a book since I read The Fault In Our Stars.
Ezra is one of those rare, self-aware characters, and I can’t imagine The Beginning of Everything being narrated by anyone else. I spent various parts of Schneider’s book wanting to wrap Ezra in a hug, or give him a come-to-Jesus talk. He isn’t a bad person, but he isn’t the best version of himself yet, either. Ezra is one of those characters with so MUCH delicious potential, but it takes him the whole of The Beginning of Everything to SEE that, and when he does…well, I’m not sure right now that I’ve seen a more beautiful, whole, COMPLETE moment in literature in a long time.
While I was ugly crying during The Beginning of Everything, I still had enough presence of mind to admire Robyn Schneider for being the AMAZING writer that she is. Her writing style is fantastic – clear and intelligent, sometimes a little TOO smart, fast, and yet there’s a lot of heart in it.
I liked Ezra right from the start, as I said above, but what I loved is that Schneider brings a whole slew of awesome characters into The Beginning of Everything. Ezra, Austin, Toby, Cassidy, Phoebe – they’re all very genuine. Despite seeming at times like too-wise-for-their-years they don’t feel pretentious at all. They’re a lot like some of my friends from high school. I drifted from crowd to crowd during high school, and was always friends with everyone really, but my senior year I had a group sort of like the one Ezra stumbles into, and is welcomed into, so these characters are true-to-life.
This is going to be one of those reviews when nothing I say is right. *grin*
I loved the pacing in Schneider’s story, because it just felt…perfect – quick at times, when that was needed, and languid at others, and I really felt like I was THERE, not just reading about these teenagers. What’s more, even though The Beginning of Everything uses a light framing device, nothing ever felt out of place, or moralistic. Everything happened in its own gorgeous timing.
And the character growth. My gosh, the character growth. It’s like Robyn Schneider wandered around in my head and wrote the exact things I love SO MUCH. Ezra’s tragedy breaks him down, and Cassidy, Toby, and others, as well as the tumultuous months that follow rebuild him. Seeing Ezra grow made my heart feel so full, and I adored how the various characters were either foils or complimented him, and all served small parts in helping him become who he did. And the ROMANCE. My goodness, there is NO insta-love or love triangle here. What there IS, is a genuine, slow-burning romance that about drove me INSANE waiting for a kiss or a touch.
As I realized I was getting close to the end of Robyn’s book, I had this violent hope that my Nook was wrong, and there were more pages. I just. I didn’t want this one to end. I was that wrapped up in Ezra’s story – grieving for him, growing with him, sighing over his beautiful relationship with Cassidy, and unraveling her mysteries, learning so many lessons with him.
Final Thought: The End of Everything is a brilliantly, poignantly written book that has made me think a lot about me, my life, and how tragedy has reshaped me. Ezra is a wonderful, alive character who I think will resonate with a lot of people. The romance was SO slow-burning and well-done, and unexpected. I loved this book a great deal....more
Right then, my heart breaks. It’s like it’s been waiting to break forever, and Ryan’s words crack it wide open.
After reading several lackluster books in a row, I went searching for something amazing, and found it in If You Find Me. Fellow blogger Evie told me it was going to be emotional, but I don’t think I was prepared for quite HOW much so. Emily Murdoch’s story is about so much: loss, hope, struggle, grief, triumph, family – and as I read Carey’s story, so many feelings wound through my heart, until I felt tears stream down my face before I finished. Tears, folks. Let’s just be honest – this book broke me down, and that doesn’t happen very often.
At once, I was pulled into a heart-breaking tale of survival. Carey is such a strong presence, as the main character, but then again, so are most of the other characters: innocent, scared Jenessa, welcoming Melissa, and Charlie, the long-absent father to the girls. Just why he hasn’t been in their life was a mystery tangled around a web of falsehoods their mother told them. Present mostly in flashbacks, “Mama,” has a voice soured by drug use and desperation, and if I could have reached through the pages and slapped her, I would have. I despaired when Carey and Nessa missed her, and rejoiced when they started opening up to their new lives. Their raising both hurt and helped them in various ways, forcing Carey to grow up faster than she should have, and silencing Nessa’s sweet voice. Watching both of them grow and open up over the course of If You Find Me was precious and heart-warming. My heart went out to Carey so many times for all she went through. The more I read, the more attached I grew to Carey.
If You Find Me was not an easy book to read. I teared up several times and openly cried twice toward the end. Several moments in Emily’s book give you indications of just how bad Carey’s life was, and how much she endured to keep Jenessa safe and somewhat innocent. Seeing Carey and especially little Nessa’s wide-eyed wonder at things like hamburgers, toothbrushes, and soft beds shattered my heart. It’s in Carey’s struggle to blend into high school, in her interactions with others – with her father, her stepsister, and especially Ryan, a boy whose ability to treat Carey so tenderly endeared him to me. I also really loved seeing Carey’s relationship with her father, and with her step-mother slowly evolve, until they were more than strangers. They shared such sweet, touching moments that I wanted to hug them tight.
If You Find Me made my heart ache and my eyes well. I worried, as Carey unraveled the mystery of her past. I was tense, scared, and then in the end, so very hopeful for Carey: for her and her family, for her and Ryan, and for her future. I dearly hope to read more about Carey, but really, I just want to read more from Emily Murdoch, because she’s a great storyteller! If You Find Me will stay with me for a LONG time – the more I think on it now that I’ve read it, the stronger my emotional attachment grows. My heart-strings were sore after reading If You Find me, but it was worth every sniffle, sob, and smile.
Y’all know by now that I’m a character driven, in-it-for-the-feelings reader. So as I sit here, trying to write my review for Parallel, although I couY’all know by now that I’m a character driven, in-it-for-the-feelings reader. So as I sit here, trying to write my review for Parallel, although I could talk about the science of it, or how I fought the urge to hum the Doctor Who theme song when alternate universes were debated WITHOUT someone laughing at the characters for doing so… Instead, I want to remember what it was about Lauren Miller’s debut novel that made the biggest impression on me, and what it is about Parallel that I’ll cherish: the emotions it brought up within me.
I wasn’t sold on Parallel until about 75 pages in; that’s my marker, by then I usually know if I’m going to continue a book or not, and it was around that point that things began to smooth out, the pacing to settle down, and the bigger picture to emerge. I started connecting emotionally with Abby, and becoming invested in the choices she and her parallel Abby were making. Reading Parallel on my back porch in the sunshine, I thought back to Pivot Point, another 2013 debut that revolves around how the choices we make affect us – another book I LOVED. I sympathized with Abby’s struggles, with her self-discoveries, and with her growth. Abby is a wonderful main character, who makes some good and some bad choices, and becomes a completely different person over the course of Parallel.
Parallel is a mesh-mash of contemporary and science-fiction elements that blended together seamlessly. Do you have to suspend disbelief at a few points? Yes. Did that make me love this book any less? NO. As I said, once I hit that point where I was taken with the story I fell HARD for Abby, Caitlin, Tyler, Josh, Marissa, and other characters. One of my BIG requirements for a book I’ll love is if the author fleshes out their side characters, and *fist bump* to Lauren Miller for doing that. Tyler and Caitlin were AWESOME friends to Abby, and I loved how they each helped her realize different things about herself.
Now, y’all know me – you know I’m a HUGE sucker for romance. Parallel is like Pivot Point in another way – there are two different love interests for each version of Abby, but I WOULDN’T call it a love triangle. Two different versions of Abby fall for two different guys, and at first I was leaning one way but quickly I realized who the better guy was – both as an individual and for Abby. And then I was ALL IN, and totally invested in this relationship. The waiting, the “will-they’s”, the swoons, and the tears…it was all AMAZING. It was heart-breaking and fascinating, watching things change personally and professionally for Abby with each choice, but the FEELS came in when Abby’s parallel’s choices started changing her love life. Lauren Miller, you can’t do that! You can’t give me such an amazing, perfect guy (*coughs*Josh*coughs) and then change things up! I mean you guys, at one point I started crying, and that’s when I knew, Parallel was going to be a favorite of mine.
Final Thought: With a bitter-sweet, open, hopeful ending, and some intense moments, Parallel had me in tears, but also delivers some humorous moments, and ended up being a deeply emotional read for me. I swooned over the subtle, beautiful romance, and applauded the main character as she grew as a person. I recommend Parallel with all my heart. ...more
The mark of a good book, to me, is when after you've finished, you're still wondering about the characters,See more reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
The mark of a good book, to me, is when after you've finished, you're still wondering about the characters, and dying to know how everything plays out. That happened to me when I read Amber House. Although at times I felt that the writing could have used some polishing, authors Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed have crafted a spine-tingling story about family history, loss, scandal, secrets, and the hope that history does not have to repeat itself. Combining the paranormal with a dash of sci-fi, Amber House is many things: romantic, genteel, and above all, scary. I LOVE to be scared, yet it very rarely happens...but Amber House actually left me afraid the night I finished it.
The Parsons family has a troubled past that Sarah, the main character, sees and experiences in glimpses, called "echoes." I enjoyed this aspect of Moore's story, because the house, recently vacated by Sarah's deceased grandmother, is full of family heirlooms, each one with a different, sad and sometimes, horrifying story to tell. I couldn't help but feel for Sarah and for her adorable younger brother, Sammy. They were both amazing characters, and Jackson and Richard were wonderful additions to the plot; each boy served a purpose other than being a love interest - they actually each furthered the story being told.
Amber House has a great deal to offer fans of mysteries. There's a decidedly Gothic, spooky feel to Moore's book, including two twists I didn't see coming, but really enjoyed. Considering I've heard this is part of a trilogy, I'm excited to see what the next book holds; although, Amber House could very well function on its own as a stand-alone. There is though, a LOT of potential in the characters and in the storyline, which really took off for me about halfway through Amber House. If authors Moore and the Reeds want to write more about these characters and the imposing, mysterious Amber House, I will definitely continue reading! I enjoyed the writing style, the elegance, and the period feel to this book, and will be anxiously awaiting new of a sequel. ...more
Falling into the world of Carnival of Souls was an entirely unexpected experience; despite the synopsis, I had no idea Melissa Marr had created such aFalling into the world of Carnival of Souls was an entirely unexpected experience; despite the synopsis, I had no idea Melissa Marr had created such a lushly rich and dark world like The City. While I did have a few issues with the overall story, the world building here is superbly done. I at once was reminded of Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy - one of my favorite fantasy series EVER - as I read about The City, and those that inhabited it. Between the brutality of the competition in which daimons fight for their lives and for a better future, and the sensuality of the Night Carnival, I was in love with the world of Carnival of Souls within a few pages. This was my first book by Melissa Marr, but it won't be my last!
I was captivated by a few of the characters in this novel, and rather than being off-putting as it is in some novels, in Carnival of Souls, I really enjoyed the multiple points of view. That was a great way for the story to be told! I love that we got the inner thoughts of Belias, Aya, and Kaleb. I found the three of them to be amazing characters, each willing to do whatever it took to accomplish an ends to a means, each with their own flaws and loyalties. I really admired Aya's strength, Belias's protective instincts, and Kaleb's sense of family. I was far less enchanted with Mallory, one of the other main characters, though. Even though we spent as much or more time in her point of view, I never really felt like we got to know her beyond the surface. To me, she was a flat character, and yet another example in YA literature of the girl guys are falling all over, yet I can never understand WHY.
Plot-wise, I though the pacing was really well done. I was never bored, and everything that happened felt tight and relevant to the story. Marr moved everything along at a nice clip that was never overwhelming. Thanks to the luscious world-building and the revelations Carnival of Souls had to offer, I was deeply involved in the various plot angles, between the competition and both Aya and Kaleb's motivations for winning, and also the plot with Mallory and the secret of her parentage. I loved her father, Adam, and definitely would love to know more about him. There were several great antagonists like Evelyn and Marchaois who served deliciously evil roles!
I'm torn on the romance in this book. I loved the hints of the past between Aya and Belias, and NEED to see more with them, especially considering how they ended up at the end of Carnival of Souls. Kaleb and Mallory...hmm. They're an interesting pairing. At first I expected to really like them, then they took on an insta-love feel, but Melissa Marr pulled out my kryptonite... Kaleb is definitely an alpha male and the way he took to Mallory, wanted to protect her, he definitely had that "MINE" thing going on that I SO tend to fall for in literature. So I'm conflicted on them - I think it's mostly what I mentioned above, that even though Mallory is tough, there's just nothing remarkable about her for me to QUITE by that Kaleb is oh-so-into-her.
Overall, Carnival of Souls is a well-developed, darker fantasy. There is a decadent feel to this book, an unhurried, languorous seductive undertow that will pull you in if you aren't careful, and leave you wanting more. Despite a few issues I had with it, it's a GREAT read, and I look forward to seeing what else Melissa Marr writes in this world. ...more
Night of the Purple Moon gripped me tightly immediately, with a fast-paced introduction that catapulted me into the premise Scott Cramer created. As Night of the Purple Moon gripped me tightly immediately, with a fast-paced introduction that catapulted me into the premise Scott Cramer created. As the world prepares for a comet sighting unlike no other, teenager Abby Leigh hopes it also means her world will return to normal - that her mother's visit will put her family back on the right track. Instead, Abby wakes the following morning after the world turns purple to a nightmare: everyone past the age of puberty is either dead or dying.
Trapped on the small island her father relocated them too, Abby has to dig deep inside of herself and find the strength to keep going, and to lead the surviving children. I can't imagine that kind of character, pushing on despite her constant fear: that everyone is gone, including her mother, that no one is left to develop a cure, that if they do, it will be too late for her. Cramer propels Night of the Purple Moon forward through occasional dual POV - Abby, her younger brother, Jordan, and a few other minor characters. Each chapter covers a new month, and while in some cases, that might have been a fractured pacing, instead, it worked very well in this instance, as we see the surviving children and pre-teens starting to form a community.
I have to say, reading Scott Cramer's novel was sobering and terrifying. I can't even fathom knowing that your own body changing could lead to your death! Even though the premise is a somewhat far-fetched, it is also still believable, because of the genuine fear and mystery Cramer interjects into this story. This is still realistic science fiction.
Night of the Purple Moon is a story full of equal measures of fear and hope. There's a great deal of character growth for both Abby and Jordan, although not as much for the secondary characters. This is a short novel, so Cramer didn't have as much of an opportunity to develop the supporting characters, although I definitely felt for several of them, like KK and Colby. There's a definite sense toward the end that our main characters are literally racing against the clock, and I was hanging on every word, NEEDING to know how everything played out.
Overall despite a few points that I would have loved to seen explored or explained more, and some characters that fell a bit flat for me, Night of the Purple Moon is a genuinely good story with a believable premise. It's almost more of a middle grade story, since there isn't really any strong language or anything sexual - just mentions of kissing - so it's also incredibly sweet and tender in two or three moments. I look forward to seeing what else Scott Cramer writes! ...more
It's no secret that I love YA contemporary reads, but until I started Catching Jordan, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it, even with it being a cont It's no secret that I love YA contemporary reads, but until I started Catching Jordan, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it, even with it being a contemporary read. After reading so many positive, glowing reviews, I wondered if Miranda Kenneally's debut novel could be such a winner with me, too, but I didn't need to fear; Catching Jordan has all the elements I love: a smart, strong heroine, moments that tug at your heart-strings, a swoon-worthy boy who makes the heroine question her choices...and best yet, a definite "boy next door" type that I absolutely fell head over heels for, just like I did for Kenneally's story of a girl football quarterback and captain of her team.
Within mere pages, I found myself identifying with Jordan Woods, which might seem strange, considering I'm probably the least athletic person in my family. But Miranda Kenneally wrote Jordan so splendidly - strong, fierce, comfortable in her own skin, yet able to be turned around and twisted inside out just like any teenage girl. I thought that Kenneally did a fantastic job at nailing a genuine teenage voice - I read Jordan's story and felt like I was there with her - rough-housing with the guys, falling for Ty, questioning her friendship with Henry. I was frustrated when Jordan was, happy when she was, devastated when she was. I absolutely loved that over the course of Catching Jordan, this spirited teenager learns so much about herself and about life, and does it in a way that you never question if she's being true to herself. Miranda Kenneally is such a great story-teller that you trust her, you trust that in the end, the entire journey is for a purpose, and for Jordan, it definitely was.
The characters in Catching Jordan are all memorable to me. I found something to love about most of them, which made me happy. Kenneally treated her minor characters with the same care and thoroughness that she gave to her main characters. There's such a fantastic cast of characters, too - from Jordan to her best friend, Sam Henry, to Ty, to their friends like Carter, and JJ. I loved how everyone had something under the surface. Despite being such boisterous boys, Carter, Henry, and JJ showed multiple times how much they cared about Jordan. Ty proved himself to be more than just a gorgeous boy capable of making Jordan's heart melt.
And speaking of Ty and Jordan...oh wow. The romance in Catching Jordan was just really well done, and felt real and true to life. For Jordan, falling for Ty happened fast, but I was really impressed with how Miranda Kenneally developed their relationship. I loved getting to know Ty, through Jordan, and watching Jordan get to know herself. At times, I was less than thrilled with Ty as a character, although I definitely understood him. I also really adored the relationship between Jordan and Henry. Oh, Henry. I am STILL all giddy over him. I adored what a perfect foil his and Jordan's relationship and friendship was to hers with Ty, and how her interactions with the boys showed her so much about herself, and what she wanted. Henry was another one of those characters who definitely had more going on than met the eye on first glimpse, and I spent the entirety of Catching Jordan wanting to wrap my arms around him and squeeze tightly.
If you're looking for a quick but satisfying contemporary read, then be sure to check out Catching Jordan! It's a book full of heart and a few twists along the way, plus just enough character growth to satisfy my itch for characters who change over the course of a book. I really loved Miranda Kenneally's personal writing style, because it made Jordan's story feel more intimate than it might have otherwise, and I was really blown away by how carefully all the various relationships between the characters were explored. I'm starting Stealing Parker (the companion novel) tomorrow, and I can't wait! ...more
The entire time I was reading Eden's Root, one thought kept resonating: this wasn't just sci-fi - this was realistic science fiction. And for me, thatThe entire time I was reading Eden's Root, one thought kept resonating: this wasn't just sci-fi - this was realistic science fiction. And for me, that is usually the most terrifying kind...the sort that isn't out of the real of possibility. This suspenseful novel forced me to think about possibilities that, although they scared me, also made me appreciate the Fi and her family live in, and the choices she makes to keep them safe. Ultimately, Eden's Root had a few issues that detracted from my enjoyment of it, but I still found it to be a wild ride I won't soon forget!
While reading Rachel Fisher's novel, I struggled a bit with some of the characters. I've waited awhile after finishing to write my review, and I think there was something off in the character's voices for me. I liked the actual characters themselves well enough - Fi was brave and loyal, Sean was protective and strong, Asher was devoted and swoon-worthy, and the other members of the Family all had important roles to play. But in retrospect, even though I understand she was forced to grow up fast, Fi never felt like a teenager, nor did Sean or Asher, really. The only way I can describe it is that maybe Rachel struggled to really find their identities as teens - even teens who had grown up before they should have had to, due to their circumstances. Also there was a bit of a distance between the writing and their voices, almost as if she was afraid to get to close to the characters.
However, I did find a lot to like about Eden's Root. I really loved the scenes with Fi and her father - to me, that's where part of the heart of the story lies, in Fi's devotion to her father, and in his wish to prepare her for the harsh realities she'd face after he was gone, another victim of the Sickness, a cancer-like disease transmitted through the very food they're eating.
I also liked the unexpected romance between Fi and Asher! At first I thought Rachel Fisher was going in a different direction with the romance, but I'm happy with the way it all played out - it felt natural. Despite the fact that the pacing when it came to large passages of time felt choppy, Asher and Fi ARE given time to grow as friends and as a couple, so that their pairing felt more natural than rushed.
Overall, I liked Eden's Root, and read it in one sitting, so that says something about the story being told and about the writing! I think Rachel Fisher has a lot of promise, because while there are a few aspects to this book that felt under-developed, there was also a great deal of potential for a brilliant sci-fi trilogy! ...more
I was thrilled to return to the small, eccentric town of Croak to revisit my favorite characters: Lex, DriggSee more reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
I was thrilled to return to the small, eccentric town of Croak to revisit my favorite characters: Lex, Driggs, Uncle Mort, and the various other townspeople. Author Gina Damico's zany cast of characters kept me laughing as the plot moved along, through both triumphs and tragedy's. Scorch is a deeper book than I originally thought it would be, because for Lex, the stakes are higher. She's an outcast in Croak now that Zara, a fellow Reaper, is on the loose. I thought in so many ways, Damico's second book was brilliant, because even though there were touches of her trademark humor and sarcasm, it's clear the characters have more to lose.
Once again, the characters in Scorch are absolutely a joy to read about. Each of them - down to the most minor of characters - comes alive under Damico's pen. Despite the many dangers - Zara's string of murders, Lex's new, odd powers, and so much more - all the characters stayed true to themselves. I loved the progression of Lex and Drigg's relationship, and how real it felt - perfectly awkward at times, serious or tender at others. I laughed out loud as often as I gasped with fear for my favorites. Gina Damico has a true talent at creating memorable characters.
With bodies piling up and the mystery of Lex's powers growing stranger every day, no place is safe for Lex and her friends. I read Scorch quickly because I HAD to know what happened next. Damico kept me guessing and kept me interested! I have a few mixed feelings on some of the plot twists, but overall, I enjoyed this one and will definitely be on the edge of my seat for the final book in the trilogy!
I wasn't looking for anything when I went into The Testing, and to be honest, I was in a bad mood, and didn't think I'd like what I was reading, but bI wasn't looking for anything when I went into The Testing, and to be honest, I was in a bad mood, and didn't think I'd like what I was reading, but by around page 100 stopping for dinner was almost impossible. I was hooked - on the world-building, on the notion of a Testing, on the characters and the way they went about their lives, on the larger mysteries of Charbonneau's book. I needed more - I even considered pulling an all-nighter to finish The Testing! I split it up into a two day read and I'm glad I did, because I savored the rising tension, and every word.
First, we need to talk about Cia. Cia is an AMAZING chica. Seriously, Cia is THAT GIRL who you want on your side. She's smart, and self-aware although she's also wonderfully unaware at times, which just makes her seem very real. Without Cia, no matter how great the world-building (I'm getting there), The Testing wouldn't have held me captive. Cia has that SPARK (and as I'm typing this I'm making hand gestures that y'all wouldn't understand because *I* don't, but THIS BOOK) that you look for in a main character - that SOMETHING that all the awesome ones have. Through Cia's eyes, we see the world, and Joelle Charbonneau does a fantastic job of balancing skepticism and hope with Cia in a way that just made me ache. And? The rest of the characters aren't half bad either. Cia's family felt like a REAL family, not just stereotypes splashed on a page. I could feel her mom's concern for her, her dad's hope, her brother's teasing and love. Cia's a girl who learns and studies and keeps her head down, but really comes alive around her family and friends, and I liked that a lot. Charbonneau has created some fascinating secondary characters, too, like Tomas, Malachi, Will, Zandri, etc. They really flesh out The Testing and help make it memorable.
Okay, and I promised to tell y'all about the world-building. There are fantastic elements of a great dystopian novel here. Is it a bit formulaic? Maybe, but instead of falling into mediocrity, Joelle takes what we know and twists it all up. I loved that the big calamity wasn't something that didn't make sense. The history we're given of what's left of the world makes sense, in a "scary because it could happen," way. There's some info-dumping, but not so much that I got tired of it. The ideas may not be brand new, but they're well executed - you still have the "have's" and the "have-not's", and parents and families who just want their kids to succeed. I loved learning about the different locations and seeing teens from all walks of life. The Testing and getting to attend the University is their hope for the kids to ever do more than just get by, and the notion of using academia to get ahead made me nerd out. Then realizing there's something sinister beneath it all, well - whoa! Anyway, to wrap it all up, I BELIEVED in this world, and at times I really felt like I was RIGHT THERE with Cia - in her home, in Tosu City, traveling across a wasteland.
Now, this review isn't without some criticism. I felt like in some ways the first half of The Testing was stronger, and more dangerous. The second half DID veer a bit too close to The Hunger Games territory (and other books/movies like it) for my taste - there's something specific that makes me say that. Despite that, I tried really hard NOT to compare the two (see my opening paragraph) and I did still enjoy the rest of Charbonneau's novel, but I can't say I had NO issues with it, because the latter half wasn't what I expected, especially some events near the end. And yes, I'm being as vague as I can. Also, there was some romance, that I was sort of "meh," on, but that was because I just didn't think The Testing NEEDED romance.
Final Thoughts: The Testing is a heart-pounding debut from Joelle Charbonneau, filled with tension and high stakes. I loved the world-building, and the main character, Cia. I didn't care overmuch for the blush of romance within The Testing, but that's because it felt a bit superfluous, and I was more about the running and the action. Although it does rely too heavily at times on familiar elements, I really enjoyed The Testing. ...more
When I began The Lost Girl, I was prepared for a story of technology gone wrong, but what I found instSee more of my reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
When I began The Lost Girl, I was prepared for a story of technology gone wrong, but what I found instead was a heart-wrenching tale of love, loyalty, and the importance of having your own identity. It's something we all take for granted - the freedom of making our own choices about what to eat, what to wear, what to read or study, or what to like and dislike. What would YOU do if everything about your life was decided based on you having to copy the life of someone else? Imagine a world like that...imagine trying to keep even a spark of yourself alive...and then you will have an idea of what Eva's life is like in Sangu Mandanna's debut novel.
Eva has lived her entire life mimicking her "other's" likes, dislikes, and studying her mannerisms and thoughts, all in order to replace Amarra if Amarra ever dies. Mandanna created a stunningly poignant character in Eva, whose strongest wish is also the simplest possible: to be seen as her own person. When Amarra suddenly dies, Eva is ripped from the only life she has ever known - including the life-like secondary characters who have been her caretakers: Mina Ma, Ophelia, and Erik - and has to face the fact that she is now, for all purposes, Amarra.
Eva tore at my heart as she fought against the inevitable; her only choices are to become Amarra or to be unmade - literally unstitched by the Weavers....and let me tell you, they are frightening! I wanted to reach out and hug Eva, and tell her that she wasn't alone. Her quest to find herself, while trying to be someone else, was terrifyingly real. As Eva bleeds through into Amarra and she runs the risk of her secret coming to life, I was hopelessly involved in The Lost Girl, following Mandanna's every word, hanging on the end of every chapter.
Emotionally, I definitely connected with Eva, and with a few of the other characters. Mandanna has crafted everyone with care here, weaving them as carefully as the echoes are created. While all of the minor characters felt as if Mandanna spent time with them, developing them, the stand-outs were Sean - Eva's would-be love interest -, Nikhil, Amarra's younger brother, and Matthew. Oh, Matthew. From his first scene, I adored him. He's the type of sly, intelligent character you know you shouldn't trust, shouldn't even LIKE, but you still find yourself falling hard for him. And while I definitely did NOT like Amarra, it was fascinating, how MUCH of a presence she was in this story, considering she and Eva are never face to face, of course.
I didn't expect there to be a love story at all in The Lost Girl, but there are several. I thought the tentative, largely unsaid feelings between Eva and Sean were just gut-wrenchingly honest and all the more beautiful because of it. Likewise, the conflict and torment between Ray and Eva - who he mostly sees as Amarra - was almost painful to read about, yet drew me in all the same.
There are many questions asked in The Lost Girl - questions about mortality, about life, and death, and about the weight of the human soul, and if anything of it ever lingers after death. The pages are soaked in both love and grief, seen in the eyes of Amarra's family, Eva's "familiars." Sangu Mandanna has created a clever plot that never left me bored - if anything as the story progressed, I read faster, driven to find out what happened next. Between Eva's struggles to maintain her identity, and the ominous Weavers, nothing about The Lost Girl is safe, but it is definitely a book that you will think about long after you read the final pages!
Lucid captured both my interest and my heart from the beginning; as soon as I met Maggie and Sloane, two verSee more reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
Lucid captured both my interest and my heart from the beginning; as soon as I met Maggie and Sloane, two very diverse girls who dream of one another's lives at night, I knew I wouldn't be putting this book down until I was finished. Authors Adrienne Stoltz and Ron Bass created a stunningly poignant cast of characters, from actress Maggie to typical student Sloane, who nevertheless keeps secrets, to Maggie's flighty mother and loving little sister, to Sloane's achingly real family. Against this backdrop, a mystery like nothing I'd ever read played out.
While at times, I wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't, much less what I - wanted - to be real, I know one thing: I loved Lucid. Both girl's hopes and losses felt solid enough that I didn't question the fact that, whatever was happening, I adored both Maggie and Sloane. I found reasons to hope that it was Sloane's life that was real, and reasons to hope it was Maggie's. Authors Bass and Stoltz did an amazing job of making this twist-y story believable, and making me cheer for the characters.
Sloane and Maggie's struggles to find or even believe in love were especially heart-wrenching. As I sped through the pages of Lucid, I found myself hopelessly drawn to both girls, but especially Sloane, in her possible relationship with the beautiful, impossible James. I also wanted to wrap my arms around Maggie, caught between two guys, and terrified of letting either in. Wondering if either girl would find real love started to mean more than knowing what was and wasn't real to me, and the explosive ending wasn't something I saw coming. Having finished Lucid, I'm still trying to piece together what really happened - the fact that the ending was so disjointed both loaned a creepy feel to the book, but also left me confused, which dampened my enjoyment of this book. But Lucid is still an incredibly emotionally powerful debut, and I'd love to read more from either author!...more
True story: I almost didn't want to read this book. I'll go ahead and admit it: I didn't think I'd liFind more of my reviews at Once Upon a Prologue!
True story: I almost didn't want to read this book. I'll go ahead and admit it: I didn't think I'd like a book that so clearly parodies all things vampires, even, at many points, directly spoofing Twilight. But co-authors Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier absolutely changed my mind with the first few chapters of this hilarious inside look at the life of one level headed girl - Mel - caught between her swoon-y best friend and the vampire she loves.
Mel is an amazingly practical, out-spoken, and fierce heroine, one that I loved. There was never a moment in Team Human where I felt ambivalent about her. Larbalestier and Brennan developed her SO well, and she was the perfect choice to narrate this tongue-in-cheek vampire spoof. Mel is the character that was missing from Twilight! Living in a vampire-heavy town is a challenge for Mel, who has a strictly "live and let live" policy when it comes to vampires, but when the refined Francis shows up to attend her high school, all bets are off. I laughed out loud SO often at Mel and Francis's exchanges. I'm not sure which author brought that brand of humor to the table, or if it was both of them combined, but it was genius, watching Francis struggle to remain a gentleman toward Mel (whom he obviously didn't know what to do with) and watching Mel get in her little digs.
The characters were all stand-outs in Team Human, from Mel's scatter-brained mother to her caring dad and her younger brother, Lancelot (yes, that's his real name, and no, Mel's is NOT Melanie.) I really liked Ty, Mel and Cathy's friend, and actually found myself cheering for him throughout the book - there was just something irresistible about him. I fell hard for Kit, a secondary character and possible love interest for Mel, and in fact, was far more interested in the friendship developing between him and Mel than I was the gooey, over-done "relationship" between Cathy and Francis. They were insta-love to the nth degree, which of course was very deliberate, and I knew that...and yes, I STILL wanted to shake them both, especially poor, dopey Cathy.
Watching her fall for Francis was almost painful. I hate to bring up the T-word again, but it was VERY a la Edward and Bella, which is one of my most hated pairings ever (and a long, rant-y story I will not go into today!) But I still enjoyed the parody aspects of Team Human, and in fact, I actually liked these vampires a lot. They were weird and totally marching to the beat of their own drum, and several, like Francis and some of his other "family members" were really kind of fascinating. Ironically, I would have loved to have gotten to know a few of them better!
Team Human is a side-splitting story, for sure. I read it in a matter of hours, because I just couldn't put it down. I found the plot at times to be a bit weak, but this is not a deep or new story, and I don't mean that in a negative way. Larbalestier and Brennan have crafted a very funny, witty, sardonic tale of love between a vampire and a human, and the voice of reason stuck in the middle. If you read Team Human for what it is, you will find that that is a very enjoyable read. It didn't resonate emotionally with me, but it DID make me laugh, and cheer for Team Human. ...more
Truth: I love villains; the ones I really love aren't the "let-me-show-you-how-evil-I-am" Big Bads though, but rather the quietly hate-able ones who,Truth: I love villains; the ones I really love aren't the "let-me-show-you-how-evil-I-am" Big Bads though, but rather the quietly hate-able ones who, even as they're plotting your demise, still show a sliver of humanity, making you want to redeem them. And that is exactly what happened when I read Shatter Me - I met Warner, and lost my heart to him. So when I heard about Unravel Me, I was all fluttery and excited, but worried: would a novella from Warner's point of view change my mind about him? And it did, but in the best way: I now firmly adore this broken man.
With Destroy Me, we see inside Warner's thoughts and motivations, and I have to say, so much about him became clear: why he makes the choices he makes, and why he is the way he is. A lot of fans of this series seemed to worry that Tahereh would try to make him too sympathetic, but I feel that she straddled the line between hinting that he can be redeemed, and still making me rage-y over his actions at times. To say that Warner is a complex guy is an understatement; Warner is layered, and definitely a swoon-worthy alpha male, but also very damaged, and misunderstood.
I am even more excited now for Unravel Me, to see what happens next to these amazing characters. Destroy Me gives us just enough of a peek into Warner's plans to make me nervous, yet also hopeful. I lost my heart to Warner, while aching to see more of Juliette and Adam. And while Adam is probably better for Juliette, I have to say, for the first time, I see the possibilities of Warner/Juliette, which breaks my heart in so many ways.
In short: pick up this book if you're, like me, anxiously awaiting Unravel Me. It's short, and it's NOT expensive, so you don't have to feel guilty about splurging. It's still told in Tahereh's magical writing style, and I promise you're going to want Destroy Me in your collection! ...more