Blaze has a crush on soccer superstar Mark and she’s finally decided to make him notice her. BOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona.
Blaze has a crush on soccer superstar Mark and she’s finally decided to make him notice her. Blaze ignores continual warnings about Mark’s dating past and welcomes his attention. But when that attention starts to fade, Blaze’s friend jokingly sends Mark a picture of Blaze in nothing but lingerie. Not surprisingly, Mark is a huge fan, but after their next date, Mark is done with Blaze. Feeling betrayed, Blaze writes and publishes a comic starring Mark the Shark as the villain. Embarrassed and angry, Mark retaliates by going public with Blaze’s sexy picture. Now, everyone is judging Blaze, calling her names behind her back and to her face. And Blaze would give anything to travel back in time. Blaze is not at all what I expected. I expected a more comic book-driven/hero vs villain style story. My favorite parts in the story are, without a doubt, the specific references to comics and the world of comic books that Blaze throws herself into. I appreciate her talent and creativity when it comes to writing her own comics. These are the strongest parts of the book, for me. My problem with Blaze, though, is that I find most of it entirely unrealistic. The first few chapters are fun, promising, and engaging. The game of “Cows” is a cute quirk that I want to play myself. I’m on-board all the way up until Blaze dates Mark. But afterward…first, I can’t see a guy like Mark getting that upset and embarrassed over Blaze’s comic. He’s an asshole and he knows it, so I think he’d be willing to cut Blaze a little slack. Plus, the comic means he gets attention. I can’t imagine that a egotist like Mark doesn’t appreciate attention, even if it’s negative. Second, there’s the whole issue of the “sext.” Racy pics like these constitute as child pornography. End of story. Our generation is well aware of this and I can’t see Mark justifying seriously breaking the law in order to exact a bit of revenge. But even if he did–consequences be damned!–Blaze (or, you know, anyone in the entire school) could immediately go to the police and have the picture taken down. Ok, fine, maybe she’s too afraid to bring it up to her mom and doesn’t want to involve the police. But the school finds out. Including the principal. At this point, this “sext” would be a major issue. And yet everyone’s fine with treating the incident as a minor case of bullying. No. Just, no. Third, the way the student body suddenly turns on Blaze rings as completely unbelievable to me. Whispers behind backs, judgments, some catty behavior. All that, I’d believe. But the random students coming up to Blaze just to insult/threaten/shame her? Students that don’t know Blaze or Mark? I’m sorry, but I find that very hard to swallow. Perhaps I just got lucky in high school and this is the way students at every other high school in the world act. But at my school, a group of people would never so openly haze and bully a person they don’t know. And if something like this were to occur, someone would definitely get involved, be it another student, a teacher, or an administrative official. Last, I had a problem with the secondary characters; they lack depth and development. Blaze’s best friends are catty, shallow, and disloyal. It’s hard to understand the intense attraction to Mark. What are his good qualities, again? Comic Book Guy is woefully, abysmally underdeveloped. As one of the only positive characters in the novel, I feel like he deserves way more attention and a solid conclusion. Blaze’s relationship with her father feels unfulfilled. The only well-developed secondary characters are Blaze’s little brother and his friends. They deliver laughs and a warm, fuzzy feeling. I’m not a huge fan of the ending. Again, I find the logistics unrealistic. It is near-impossible to get into Comic-Con at the last minute. I mean, I love the idea of Blaze going to Comic-Con. I think it’s a great, fun setting to play around with. But I don’t believe that Blaze (or her brother and co.) could get in so easily. However, I do love Josh’s heroism. He steals the show and gives the ending a bit of a boost. The very end lacks resolution for Blaze and her life from here-on-out, unfortunately. I am left feeling dissatisfied with the book. That being said, it is a light, quick read with a lot of fun elements. The first half of the book is definitely enjoyable and the comic allusions aren’t hardcore enough to go over anyone’s head. Pages: 320 Publication Date: April 2013 Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire Source: NetGalley Rating : 2.5...more
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret Until now. Because the last secret she shaOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona.
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed. Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse. But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself. Chelsea Knot is known as the school’s biggest gossip. Not only does she spread gossip like wildfire, but she does so vindictively to please her best friend, Kristen Courteau, their high school’s resident princess. During a New Year’s Eve party, Chelsea sees something she shouldn’t and quickly shares the news with Kristen and her boyfriend, Warren. But Warren and his basketball buddies react negatively to the gossip and, in sharing, Chelsea condemns another student to near-death. When Chelsea realizes the horrific effect her words have on people, she takes a vow of silence. Her old friends turn against her and finding new friends becomes nearly impossible when everyone hates or judges her. And now, Chelsea’s on the receiving end of Kristen’s bullying. This story is a lesson in learning just how hard doing the right thing can be. Oh. My. God. Breathtaking. I’d heard great things about Speechless for awhile and I enjoyed Hannah Harrington’s debut novel, Saving June, so I knew it was only a matter of time until I picked up her second book. But despite all the positive reviews, I still wasn’t prepared to fall as in love with Speechless as I did. Believe me when I say all of the hype is 100% justified. Even those of you who don’t particularly enjoy contemporaries will love Speechless for it’s message and it’s strong characters. I’m a dialogue-lover; a bad book can keep my attention until the very end if the dialogue is witty and realistic, so I was a little skeptical about picking up a book where the main character takes a vow of silence, but Harrington pulls this off flawlessly. I didn’t mind Chelsea’s speechlessness at all. In fact, I was riveted by her inner thoughts and self-reflection. Chelsea undergoes such a remarkable transformation; she learns so much about herself, the people around her, and the way our actions and words affect those around us. Every scene in Speechless is ridiculously emotionally potent. Harrington tackles tough, all-too-real topics. While in the middle of reading, I couldn’t help bringing Speechless into every day conversations. It breaks my heart that the events in this book actually take place in our world, though I know they do. But I commend Harrington for bringing attention to these topics and opening the floor for discussion. And I’m just so grateful to her for giving us Chelsea, a girl willing to stand up against what’s wrong and to make a change in her community. Chelsea is such an admirable character. I LOVE that she refuses to back down. My favorite moment of hers is when she confronts Lowell at the vending machine. I am so tired of passivity in books these days, and when Chelsea marched up to Lowell, I was rooting for her to punch him. Yeah, yeah, I know. Violence is never the answer. But some kids just really do need a good smack across the face. I definitely would’ve smacked him. But Chelsea displays remarkable control and maturity in her handling of the situation, and I was rooting for her the whole time. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of a YA heroine before, and that’s saying a lot, given my loyalty to Katniss, Caelina, Lena, and a host of others. Chelsea sticks up for herself and others with a poise I certainly didn’t possess in high school. She’s just fantastic. In addition, stick any of my favorite characters in a new job at one of the cool town locals and you’ve already ensured my undying love. This has always been one of my favorite aspects of any Sarah Dessen novel: getting to know the new coworkers that become your family at job that becomes a second-home. And Chelsea’s job as a dishwasher/busser at Rosie’s is no different. Harrington gives us a phenomenal cast of characters with Asha, Sam, Andy, Dex, and Lou. Doesn’t seeing all their names together like that just bring a smile to your face? You know that’s going to be a fun group of people. And these are good people. Loyal friends, friends with convictions and opinions instead of cookie-cutter, formulaic characters. Every character in this book simply shines. The amount of strength portrayed in this book is reason enough to pick it up. I was so thrilled that Chelsea had to strength to visit Noah and to seek closure with Kristen when everything was said and done. These are the scenes I often yearn for in YA novels, but never see. I think this book is so, so important for teens and adults alike to read. Plus, despite being unable to talk, Chelsea still manages a ton of sass and the romance Speechless is super sweet. It literally gave me butterflies. Speechless is a home-run and I can’t wait to see what Harrington comes up with next. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Kody Keplinger will be especially taken with this knock-out of a novel. Pages: 288 Publication Date: August 2012 Publisher: Harlequin Teen Source: Edelweiss Rating : 5 Teaser Quote: “Listening to Eminem makes me feel like a badass. Or at least as though I have the potential for badassery. I mean, the way he sings, it’s like he’d probably punch out a puppy if it looked at him wrong. Obviously I’m not glorifying animal cruelty here, I’m just saying, I could use some of that attitude. It’s better than the attitude I have now of just letting everyone mess with me all the time.“...more
Hunted, Killed—Survived? As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a uniqueOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona.
Hunted, Killed—Survived? As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle. Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat. War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible…again. At the end of Touch of Power, Avry and Kerrick were forced to separate. In Scent of Magic, we pick up with Avry infiltrating Estrid’s army and Kerrick returning to Alga to finally deal with his own country. The separation is brutal. The two were finally together, only to be immediately torn apart. While Kerrick readies his troops and seeks allies for battle against Tohon’s army, Avry prepares Estrid’s troops by teaching them how to move silently through the forest and how to kill Tohon’s dead soldiers. Keeping her identity a secret becomes impossible when she’s reunited with Prince Ryne, Quain, Loren, and Belen. When Tohon finally mounts his attack, he once again comes for Avry and, again, she finds herself alone. Let me start off by saying I thoroughly loved and enjoyed Scent of Magic; it’s an excellent sequel. With that in mind, I had difficulty with the first third of the book. I think the difficulty stemmed from Avry’s separation from Kerrick. I just wanted the two to be together and my frustration mirrored Avry’s on every page. This only proves how excellent Maria Snyder is at creating characters we care about and relationships that jump off the page. But the frustration was very tough to deal with and often led me to put down the book after a few chapters, just to pick it up again in an hour. After I got used to the separation, I was impressed by a lot of the elements Snyder incorporated into this book. The plot is continuously fast-paced; each chapter advances the conflict. The plot is intricate and completely unpredictable, with multiple cliff-hangers that forced me to speed through the pages. I especially appreciated the inside look at war strategies and tactics. Watching Avry become a part of Estrid’s group was one of my favorite aspects of this book; she’s so tough and willing to put herself in the line of danger over and over again. In my opinion, she’s one of the most admirable female heroines in YA right now. I also enjoyed seeing Kerrick take on more of a role as King of Alga. It’s interesting to watch his relationship grow with Danny, as we get to see more of the kind, caring Kerrick that previously only existed with Avry. Speaking of developments, we also see new sides of Quain and Loren, which just further characterizes them as realistic, believable people. All of Snyder’s characters feel like people you could potentially or already have met. They’re just so vibrant. Of course, Snyder once again delivers a fair share of heartbreak, but she doesn’t wait until the very end to do it. This book is full of a lot of hard moments and Snyder doesn’t sugarcoat the consequences of war. Tohon is as frightening and despicable as ever–a true villain. Snyder further explores the mystery of the Death and Peace Lilies with surprising results–this aspect of the plot never fails to completely capture my attention; I’m completely enthralled by the Death Lilies and, like Avry, I really want to figure them out. As with her previous novels, Snyder’s writing is poetic, concise, and utterly enrapturing. The Healer series is just as compelling as her Study series and worth every minute spent reading. Fans of Snyder will not be disappointed. Pages: 414 Publication Date: December 2012 Publisher: Harlequin MIRA Source: NetGalley Rating : 4 Teaser Quote: “We don’t take orders from you, Sergeant,” Quain said. “Your man tried to assassinate–” “He isn’t mine. My man has eyes that change color with the seasons.”...more
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona.
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war. This is not that world. Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it. In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life. While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope. But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream? Daughter of Smoke and Bone ends with Karou leaving Akiva in the hopes of saving her family. In Days of Blood and Starlight, we pick up with Karou in Eretz…working with the White Wolf. Karou now views Akiva as her sworn enemy and while she still despises the White Wolf, she’s willing to build his army for him. It’s what Brimstone would’ve wanted, she tells herself. While Karou and Thiago steadily rebuild their army and launch terror attacks on the angels, Akiva finds he may not be the only angel sick of war. As he works to keep the smallest sliver of hope alive, Karou adamantly works against with, though the two want only the same thing: a future for their people. Though I absolutely loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I was blown away by just how powerful Days of Blood and Starlight is. Emotions run high in this second installment and every chapter threatened to break my heart a little more. Well, with the exception of the chapters from Zuzana’s point of view, which offer brief respites in an otherwise dark and nearly-hopeless world. I was a big fan of Laini Taylor’s point of view switches, as she balanced the characters well and gave us a chance to really see all sides of war. Some of the most important chapters are those from minor civilian characters, like the sheep-aspect chimaera just trying to make their way to safety when attacked by angels or the Breakblades that ensure the Emperor receives his women every night. These chapters really allowed us to see this world from every perspective and fully understand that nothing happening within these pages is black and white. As far as our main characters go, my heart ached for poor Karou. She loses everything and gives herself over to what she thinks is the best course of action, though she understands she probably isn’t doing the right thing. It’s too hard to know what is right anymore. But despite being perhaps the physically weakest chimaera in the novel, she is by far the strongest character and it’s nice to see her particular strengths shine through even when she’s almost given up hope. Karou seems, if anything, more real in this novel. She acknowledges that she’s no leader or rebel, but just a girl with an idea for a better future who needs help making that future a reality. For some reason, this is one of my favorite aspects of the novel, Karou’s struggle with wanting to create change without being the leader of it. Because she’s right — she’s not the most charismatic or motivational person; she’s not the strongest; she has no taste for war or strategy. She just has hope and she wants to instill that hope in others. This really elevates the novel and the series to a whole new level for me. Speaking of which, Taylor does a great job of unifying the novel around the theme of hope. I don’t think an author has ever so thoroughly torn me apart, only to offer me a sliver of hope that I so easily grab onto. In the hands of a lesser author, this novel would be a mess and I wouldn’t trust the author enough to believe in the ending. But Taylor is a master story-teller who knows just when to pull back and when to throw everything at us. Her writing style is gripping and lyrical; I can’t get enough of her. If my heart’s breaking for Karou, it’s mangled into unidentifiable bits for Akiva. He’s no unnaturally perfect, pretty-boy love interest. He’s a complex person with a host of visceral emotions and the need to atone for everything he’s done. I sympathize with him more than any other character and I just want what’s best for him, though I’m afraid he’ll never get that. He’s the leader Karou isn’t. I’m so proud of the strides he makes in Days of Blood and Starlight and I know he’ll go on to do great things in the next installment of this series. But please, Laini Taylor, I beg of you, allow him at least one smile. Or a thousand. But at least one. He deserves it. Zuzana and Mik are great characters in this book. They bring a very human element to a world otherwise populated with monsters (not that the chimaera are necessarily monsters, but Thiago and his minions definitely are, along with the angels’ Emperor and Jael). The couple are funny, romantic, and a constant reminder of the lives Karou and Akiva want for their people. Plus, they’re straight-up interesting. Like before, I’ll warn readers that this book is even more graphic than the last, though not tastelessly so. The violence is devastating, but real. This is a book of war, of nations fall apart, but also of hope, and two nations looking to rebuild. This is easily my new favorite series and absolutely worth every second of your time. Pages: 517 Publication Date: November 2012 Publisher: Little, Brown & Company Source: Publisher Rating : 5 Teaser: “‘So,’ he called to her back, ‘Just out of curiosity, you know, purely conversation and all, at what age will you be entertaining offers of marriage?’“...more
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona.
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? Karou has always been…different. And not just because of her aquamarine hair. All her life, the only family she’s known are chimaera, creatures made up of multiple animal and human parts; by human definition: monsters. But Karou doesn’t see them as monsters; she loves these creatures, Issa with her serpent body and the huge, hulking Brimstone. Karou fills her days with art school and running errands for Brimstone, often dangerous errands wherein she procures…teeth. She doesn’t know what the teeth are for (animal and human), but she does as Brimstone wishes.That is, until angels make their way to Karou’s world and incinerate the portals Karou uses to reach her family. One particular angel, Akiva, is confused by Karou and sets out to kill her for aiding his sworn enemy, but when the two finally face off, he finds he can’t do it. There’s something familiar about Karou, a feeling he can’t quite shake. Through Akiva, Karou learns of a centuries-old war between angels and chimaera that she now finds herself in the middle of. Choosing a side should be easy, until Karou learns Brimstone’s been hiding secrets from her, secrets about who she really is. I can’t believe it took me this long to pick up Daughter of Smoke and Bone. And yet, crazily enough, I wish I’d waited even longer because now I’m obsessed and the third book in the series isn’t due until next year. I cannot handle that much suspense. But, in case you haven’t already guessed, I’m in love with this book and these characters. Going into the first chapter, I had no expectations. The synopsis isn’t very telling, but the cover was cool and I’d heard plenty of positive reviews. I just didn’t know what kind of world or plot to expect. Straight up originality it what I received. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is unlike any other book I’ve read in years. Laini Taylor’s take on angels is fresh and invigorating. I don’t think I’ve read about chimaera…ever. These new plot points and ideas immediately captured my interest so that there was no chance of putting down the book once I started. But then there are the politics behind the war between the two races. I’m a sucker for well-laid-out war books. I like having both sides presented to me equally, their flaws and strong points presented for the reader to choose. There’s no black and white here, only gray, which makes the book and Karou’s particular situation endlessly fascinating. I love the way Taylor offers up both sides sympathetically so that we fully understand why Karou’s choice is so hard. Plus, Taylor’s super specific details ensure the reality of this world and highlights the sad truths of war. Karou is an amazing protagonist. One of the first things I fell in love with was her honesty. Whenever she’s questioned about the unreal aspects of her life, she tells the truth with a quick smirk. When a waitress asks her how she managed to fly, Karou answers, “I really was flying,” with her trademark smirk. As soon as I read about this, I wondered why more characters in YA haven’t caught onto this trend. Think about it: so many shady things happen in YA fiction; vampires are secretive about their desire for blood; werewolves hide their transformation or their wolf-like characteristics; telekinetic characters blame a falling lamp on the wind. And in all these books, it’s so very obvious that these characters are hiding ENORMOUS SECRETS and yet no one ever calls them out. Our protagonists think to themselves, “Huh. That’s weird. There’s something off about him but he’s sooo dreamy,” while we’re yelling at our books, “How stupid can you be?” So, I guess, I appreciate that not only is Karou not stupid, but neither are the people in her world. When something weird happens, people point it out. And when Karou can’t easily cover up an unexplainable phenomenon, she doesn’t. Simple. Believable. Refreshing. But Karou is awesome for a host of other reasons. She can defend herself. She’s snarky and witty. She’s suspicious (a trait sorely lacking in many YA females). She acts out like any teenager, makes mistakes, but is loyal to her family and friends and never stops trying to help others. And Taylor doesn’t just give us Karou; she also gives us Karou’s best friend, Zuzana, an insanely likable and tough friend. Zuze is not sidekick and she’s definitely not afraid to call Karou on her bullshit. She’s a force to be reckoned with and a person Karou absolutely needs in her life, as well as a person we need for comedic quips and jabs. Karou couldn’t get any luckier than having Zuze for a best friend, and I came to love her just as much as Karou and, later, to appreciate Zuze’s budding relationship with Mik. It’s easy to see that the two deserve each other and that Karou deserves a positive relationship role-model. Speaking of relationships, Akiva is as smoldering a love interest as any. At first, there’s a slight fear of insta-love, but the further into the book you get, the more you come to trust Laini Taylor and realize she would never make that mistake. As I held out for the end and the answers I knew she would provide, I wasn’t disappointed. Well, I mean, I was, because the ending is absurdly heart-wrenching, but I was happy to see the relationship fully developed and in such an interesting style. Speaking of which, Taylor’s writing style is remarkable; her prose is beautiful, succinct, and poetic. She describes her fascinating settings in intricate details, yet cuts to the point of her plots, allowing her a smooth read that’ll sate any book-lover’s desires. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a must-read for fantasy and paranormal lovers. I admit, it does get a little graphic in its violence at parts, but all the devastation is realistic and necessary to the story’s development. The characters, settings, and conflicts are rich and captivating. This is a book I plan to read again and again. Pages: 417 Publication Date: September 2011 Publisher: Little, Brown & Company Source: Purchased Rating : 5 Teaser: “She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing.“...more
Violet is a British teen living a relatively normal life until the day she sees the mirror imagOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
Violet is a British teen living a relatively normal life until the day she sees the mirror image of herself in a museum. The only thing is, the image is an antiquated Italian painting. Violet’s noticed the lack of resemblance between herself and her parents before, but now she’s questioning her roots more than ever. In an effort to uncover more about this odd mystery, Violet signs up for an eight-week summer course in Italy where she’ll learn the art of being a lady, in addition to focusing on the arts and the Italian language. Of course, once Violet actually finds herself in Italy, she finds her focus commandeered by Luca, the frustratingly hot-and-cold Italian boy who sends her mission, and her world, spiraling.
Flirting in Italian is a complete delight. Lauren Henderson expertly weaves a contemporary story of mystery and teen romance. The suspense of the plot is introduced in the first chapter and carries through until the very end. For those looking for a contemporary love story with a little more punch, Flirting in Italian is perfect. It provides an intricate, interesting plot and a bevvy of delicious Italian boys. The central mystery surrounding the plot is thoroughly unpredictable. Many questions are left unanswered at the book’s end, but I’m actually kind of excited about this because I want to spend as much time in Violet’s world as possible and I was pleasantly surprised to find Violet’s adventures will continue in the companion, Following in Love in Italian.
The very best thing about this book is the setting. For those who loved living vicariously through Anna in Anna and the French Kiss, Flirting in Italian provides the same sort of experience, though instead of France, we find ourselves in Italy. The only difference is that Violet fully immerses herself in this culture. We get a lot of authentic Italian dialogue and stunning descriptions of landscapes, palaces, and even just people. Violet’s observations are keen and thorough, allowing us to follow right along with her. Henderson truly makes us feel as if we’re vacationing in Italy and every time I put the book down, I had the intense desire to look up plane tickets and flight schedules. And, due to the setting of the summer course, we get to see Italian life compared to both British and American life, which adds dimension to the book and gives many readers something to relate to.
The characters in this book are astoundingly realistic. I think we’ve all met a Kelly, Kendra, Paige, and/or Elisa at some point. Violet is a wonderful protagonist. She’s sympathetic and willing to stick up for others, but she’s not exceedingly brave, especially when it comes to boys. I love her comments on human nature — she makes a lot of interesting observances, ones that further characterize her while the also painting clear pictures of the other characters. My only gripe is that sometimes her inner monologues or thoughts go on a little long, but even that doesn’t happen often. But Violet really does not a lot about other people, as well as herself. She’s a very insightful character and her insights elevate this book from your garden-variety teen romance to an endearing commentary on human nature, one that explores the differences and similarities we recognize in other cultures.
Flirting in Italian is a truly fun read. The descriptions are vibrant and engaging. The dialogue is witty, accessible, and even educational. Plus, there’s Luca. He’s maddeningly frustrating and unbelievably sexy. I’m really rooting for him and Violet even though, like Violet, I can’t get a clear read on him. Of course, there is a bit of a language barrier, which I think Henderson does a great job portraying realistically. Basically, I’m so sad I already finished this book and I can’t wait to read the next. Lauren Henderson, where have you been all my life?...more
In the thrilling conclusion of the Drake Chronicles, love and loyalties will be tested … and pOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona.
In the thrilling conclusion of the Drake Chronicles, love and loyalties will be tested … and proven once and for all. Can Solange find her way back home again? And can she do it in time to save everyone she loves from the vampire civil war, hunter attack, and each other? Because not everyone can survive the prophecy… maybe not even her. The Drakes (and Lucy, Kieran, Hunter, & Co.) are back in the final installment of The Drake Chronicles. Viola has now fully possessed Solange and is attempting reign as Queen, with Constantine by her side. The real Solange is trapped in Viola’s consciousness, unable to stop Viola from wreaking havoc and causing absolute destruction in the real world. Lucy appears to be the only person aware of Solange’s possession and is desperately trying to save her, while also dealing with a distant Nicholas, who hasn’t quite recovered from being tortured. Meanwhile, a completely separate threat is brewing, one that will pit everyone against each other: vampires, Helios-Ra, Huntsmen, the Hounds, Hel-Blar, and humans. In this explosive end to the series, no one is safe. Blood Prophecy is long and, as such, it has a lot going on. I love the Drakes and Alyxandra Harvey, but Blood Prophecy is kind of a hot mess. But even so, it still manages to give me a warm, fuzzy feeling. This book focuses heavily on Solange and Lucy. We get a bit of Kieran, Nicholas, and Hunter, but nothing noteworthy, unfortunately. While I miss the guys, I guess I can’t really complain. Solange is smack-dab in the middle of everything, so we need her point of view, and Lucy is just kick-ass and, despite being human, probably the fiercest character in the entire series. Blood Prophecy is much more plot-heavy than it’s predecessors. This makes sense, as we’ve already gotten to know all the characters, and the plots are original and engaging. Except, perhaps, the ending twist. It feel a little rushed and forced, and the story probably could have done without it, though then we’d left without the epic battle/blood-bath that I suspect Harvey’s been building up to for quite some time. I know I’ve been waiting for this battle since the very beginning; we finally get to see the Drakes’ medieval training put to use. And we get to see Lucy and the rest of the Helios-Ra gang kick some major ass, proving that humans are just as strong as vamps. The final book in the Drake series has significantly less romance. Not that there isn’t any — there is — and not that I need a ton of romance in a book in order to be happy. I think the problem here is that romance plays such a big part in the first five books that I’ve come to expect it and now that there’s less of it…I’m left wanting. Especially when it comes to Hunter and Quinn. I’m really, really disappointed in how little we see of my favorite couple in Blood Prophecies, especially given that this is the conclusion. But I know this series revolves around Solange and Lucy, so I suppose I don’t really have a right to throw a hissy-fit. The action in Blood Prophecies is completely nonstop. The chapters are a little too short and jump around a little too much for me this time around, which creates a somewhat jarring effect. But there’s certainly never a dull moment. Unfortunately, Blood Prophecies is probably my least favorite book in the series, if only because I miss getting to know new characters and watching an amazing relationship develop. It’s still a great ending, though, and the last chapter makes me want to hug the book to my chest and never let go. It’s just amazing and a perfect way to wrap things up. Plus, while I think this book focuses a lot less on character development, I’m happy to see that at least Solange significantly grows up and comes into her own. She’s no longer the meek, shy girl we were introduced to in Hearts at Stake. She’s finally the girl Lucy always warned us existed underneath Solange’s quiet exterior. And that’s the sort of growth in a main character that I, as a reader, live for. Also, this book has — hands down — the best cover art of the entire series. If you haven’t already picked up this series, you are wasting your life. This is the best, funniest, and most satisfying vampire series currently in YA. Review of Out for Blood (Drake Chronicles #3) Review of Bleeding Hearts (Drake Chronicles #4) Review of Blood Moon (Drake Chronicles #5) Pages: 496 Publication Date: January 2013 Publisher: Walker & Company Source: Provided by Publisher Rating : 4 Teaser Quote: “We could blow up the car,” I suggested. Kieran didn’t even look surprised, though it was his car. “What is it with you and blowing up shit?” Quinn asked as Magda leaped off the hood, stabbing down with two daggers and catching two Hel-Blar at the same time. She was like a feral cat in a rainstorm, all claws and teeth. “Hey, I didn’t blow up that ghost town. That was all Hunter.”...more
How can you talk about something you can’t remember? Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old CassOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona.
How can you talk about something you can’t remember? Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still…), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it. Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect… or so she thinks. Cassidy “Sid” Murphy isn’t exactly popular, despite being a cheerleader, and she’s never really received positive attention from guys. So when a local college guy takes an interest in her during a school ski trip, Sid can’t resist going off to meet him alone. Unfortunately, the last thing she remembers is talking with him in his kitchen before waking up alone in his bed and dealing with the ramifications of having sneaked out. It’s clear to Sid what her mystery guy has taken from her: her virginity, along with a lock of her springy red curls. But she can’t tell anyone and so she develops a reputation: some classmates see her as a rebellious hero, while others label her a slut. Her inability to confide in anyone causes her to lose her true friends. In an effort to distance herself even further, she signs up for A/V, where she spends an entire period with only Corey “the Living Stoner” Livingston for company. Slowly, Sid finds out that there’s more to Corey than meets the eye; he’s surprisingly easy to get along with and he doesn’t seem to judge Sid. The two start spending more time together, but Sid’s not sure how far their relationship can go without Corey realizing Sid’s hiding a major secret.
I was tentative about starting What Happens Next. Rape is a big, intense subject and it’s easy for authors to deal with it badly or unrealistically. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed What Happens Next. It’s a book about rape, without being a book about rape, if that makes sense. The title probably comes closest to explaining what I mean; this is a book about what happens after a traumatic event. And by that I don’t mean the police investigations and broken family situations. Sid chooses to keep her secret and try to move on with her life, a decidedly atypical reaction that makes her a fascinating character to read about. Sid makes a lot of irrational choices, all the while understanding that her choices are irrational and that she’s probably doing the wrong thing, without being able to stop herself. But still, the point of this book is joining Sid on her journey as she tries to get back control of her life. We watch as she transforms into a different person and root for her to show her attacker that while he may have taken something precious from her, he can’t take her life away.
So what sets this book apart? As soon as Sid first makes the decision to lie instead of telling the truth, we essentially stop hearing about “the event.” Instead, we focus on Sid’s inner thoughts and psychological dissection of herself. I love Sid. I can’t stress enough how utterly stupid a lot of female characters in YA are and Sid is the exact opposite of that. She’s so, so smart. Her thoughts are so real that they mirror the thoughts of the reader as you’re reading. Throughout the book, Sid struggles with obsessive thoughts and bulimia. She questions why she’s forcing herself to purge, only to remember, “Well, I know why I’m doing it. I just don’t know how to stop.” One of my absolute favorite things about Sid is how self-aware she is. She watches herself to terrible things and she questions those things, but she is so broken that she’s unable to stop herself. This is possibly the most real depiction of coping with a traumatic event that I’ve seen in YA literature and though, hopefully, many of us can’t claim to relate to Sid’s situation directly, her feelings of self-doubt and helplessness are definitely relatable, which make the story that much more powerful.
Of course, this book is also a love-story, though there are definitely two love-stories at play; we have Sid’s relationship with Corey, and then Sid’s relationship with herself. Sid and Corey’s relationship simmers slowly and boils into something incredibly sweet. Corey is not at all what I expected and a thousand times better. He is so very real, the guy that every girl wants but forgets to give a chance. And he’s a baker! What more could you ask for? Oh, I know, a revelatory transformation on the part of our main character. Because, in essence, Sid learns to love herself, which turns out to be the most satisfying journey of the entire novel.
The only problem with What Happens Next is that the conclusion leaves the book feeling a bit unresolved. Not that I need or want some big, dramatic confrontation with Sid and her attacker — I much prefer the emotional poignancy of the confrontation between Sid and Corey, which is beautifully, believably done. I get that this story is all about characterization, which I love. The ending just doesn’t feel like a complete ending for me, though it’s clear that it is. But that’s the only reason I’m knocking off half a heart, rating-wise. Otherwise, What Happens Next is a beautiful and moving story of a traumatized girl overcoming the most awful of circumstances and finding her inner strength....more
In Ravka, the Grisha hold power. They possess magic and use this magic to protect ordinary peOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
In Ravka, the Grisha hold power. They possess magic and use this magic to protect ordinary people, like Alina and Mal, from the dangers of the Shadow Fold, a curtain of darkness that produces flesh-eating monsters. Alina has never had a problem with the way of things. Her life might not be blessed, but she has a best friend in Mal, the boy she’s grown up and slowly fallen in love with. But when Mal’s life is in danger, Alina unleashes a powerful magic that’s been hiding dormant for years. Suddenly, Alina is one of the most important people in Ravka. She’s taken to the leader of the Grisha, the Darkling, for training, but she soon learns that the Darkling has his own agenda.
Shadow and Bone is one of the most gripping fantasy novels of this year. From the outset, Bardugo’s world-building is superior. Ravka, the Shadow Fold, the Grisha: they’re all equally compelling elements of the story. But before we’re fully immersed in the politics of Ravka, we’re grounded in Alina’s and Mal’s relationship. Having grown up together as orphans, they’ve formed a resilient sibling-like bond. But as they age, Alina starts to see Mal in a more romantic light. Unfortunately, Mal thinks of her as one of the guys. The older they get, the more Mal seems to take their relationship for granted, more interested in receiving admiration and wooing the beautiful Grisha women. Their relationship is, at times, adorable, and other times, realistically frustrating. Anyone who has ever fallen for a friend will relate to Alina.
With characterization and setting firmly established, Bardgugo jumps right into her captivating plot. The Grisha’s world is beautiful, mesmerizing, and dangerous. We get to see Alina learn to navigate the intriguing politics of the palace and come into her own. I love seeing her come to terms with her powers, as well as her own confidence. She truly grows into an impressive heroine by the book’s conclusion, a heroine everyone will do well not to underestimate. Her growth as a strong, young woman is charming and satisfying.
The Darkling also provides intense suspense and mystery. It’s very difficult to decide whether or not he’s trustworthy, which makes him an fantastically fun character to read about. The reveal of his back-story is a complete surprise and probably one of the most likable twists, in my opinion. Of course, the best twist comes with the powerful ending, which feels much deserved, but leaves me anxious for more. Fantasy lovers desperate for a new, consuming series will love Shadow and Bone....more
fter serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crowfter serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. Wow. I almost can’t even put into words how much I adore Throne of Glass. To put it into perspective, it’s on par with my favorite series of all time. For most people, that’s the Harry Potter series. For me, it’s Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series. Throughout my life, I’ve loved hundreds of books, but nothing has ever surpassed my love for all things Tamora Pierce. And while I’m not saying Throne of Glass achieves that, I definitely feel the same way about this book as I do about Alanna’s adventures. Let’s start with our protagonist: Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s most feared and respected assassin. Celaena is extremely likable. She’s also witty, frightening, determined, loyal, and so, so very fierce. Celaena proves that even if you break a warrior’s body, you don’t necessarily break their spirit. She has an inner strength that is nearly unparalleled in literature. She also doesn’t make excuses for herself. It’s hard to call Celaena a role model when she’s also a murderer, so I won’t. But what I like about Throne of Glass is that everyone acknowledges that what Celaena does for a living is wrong.But they don’t immediately discredit her as a bad person. Instead, they try to understand, and while she can’t quite be forgiven for the deaths she’s caused, we at least get glimpses into her reasoning, glimpses that will turn into full-on explanations as the series progresses, I assume. Celaena is definitely a complicated character, someone with a hard past and multiple layers to her personality; someone who doesn’t deserve to be judged at face value. But Celaena isn’t the only shining star. Throne of Glass, as a whole, shines on its own. The setting of Adarlan is captivating and fresh. This world is beautifully wrought, the details fine-tuned and expertly crafted. Falling headfirst into this world is such a wonderful escape, one I’m already dying to experience again. There are castles made of glass, masked balls, all forms of combat, glittering gowns, and shudder-inducing punishments. There are thiefs, assassins, dashing princes, corrupt officials, and deadly princesses. Throne of Glass has literally everything I pray for in a book. Then there’s the plot, a plot that’s anything but predictable. The ups and downs, twists and turns kept me thoroughly on my toes. Plot twists are revealed all the way up to the very last page, promising an equally exciting sequel. The competition for the King’s Champion is thoroughly engaging without dragging. Maas doesn’t waste time introducing us to unimportant characters or detailing events that can be summed up succinctly. Instead, there’s more focus placed on characterization and world-building, when necessary. That’s not to say the action is lacking. There’s plenty of it, from Celaena’s training to her battles against the other would-be champions. Not to mention the action that comes along with dancing — literally dancing at balls and parties as well as the figurative dances that come along with court politics. Basically, there’s never a dull moment. Then there’s the romance. Romance is decidedly not the focus of this book. Instead, more of an emphasis is placed on forming relationships based in friendship and trust. Obviously, Celaena is a hard person to trust, nor does she trust others easily. It takes a long time for the characters in Throne of Glass to feel comfortable with and open up to each other. But watching their relationships grow is so fulfilling. While I expected more romance, or at least more of a love triangle, I am so glad that these expectations aren’t met. The relationships that do form are so much more gratifying and leave me with even more respect for Celaena. If I could give this book more than five stars, I absolutely would. As it stands, there’s nothing I dislike about Throne of Glass and I absolutely recommend it to everyone, no matter what your book preferences are. Throne of Glass is so worth every minute you spend reading it and rereading it and rereading it. Pages: 416 Publication Date: August 2012 Publisher: Bloomsbury Source: NetGalley Rating : 5 Teaser Quote: “After a too-long moment, the crown prince spoke. ‘I don’t quite comprehend why you’d force someone to bow when the purpose of the gesture is to display allegiance and respect.’ His words were coated with glorious boredom.“ ...more
In Blood Moon, we return to Lucy’s, Solange’s, and Nicholas’s points of view. While I love allOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona.
In Blood Moon, we return to Lucy’s, Solange’s, and Nicholas’s points of view. While I love all the Drakes and their various love interests, it’s definitely fun to return to the original characters we fell in love with. However, the events of this book are anything but fun. In a surprising but necessary turn of events, Blood Moon is dark, dark, dark; Harvey proves that her characters are more than just love-sick teenagers and Buffy-esque heroines. Lest we forget, they are vampires. And royalty. And there’s a lot of baggage that comes with that.
Though I’m a huge fan of the romance in this series, Blood Moon provides a nice reprieve from the steady stream of happily-ever-afters. Because the relationships have already been established in earlier books, we don’t focus on them as much. I mean, yes, Lucy and Nicholas still think about each other constantly, but the constant near-death experiences kind of take precedence. And if you thought the Drakes & Co. were in trouble before, that’s nothing compared to what goes down in Blood Moon.
At times, this book can be very frustrating. Well, not the book so much as Solange. She’s always been different, a vampire in a class all her own, and she’s beginning to embrace that, which doesn’t bode well for her family, friends, and possibly the world. I simultaneously sympathize with and hate her. Either way, I appreciate Harvey’s ability to keep us guessing. This book is more of a mystery than any of the others in the series (which is really saying something) and if your love for the characters doesn’t have you devouring the book, the suspense and the mystery surely will.
I would have liked to see more of Lucy at Helios-Ra. She’s only been there a little while, but she already spends more time sneaking off campus than not. A lot of my favorite scenes, though, involve her interacting with her new classmates and going on hunts. I love that she’s getting to know Kieran outside his relationship with Solange and of course I get a thrill out of any mention of Hunter and Quinn (still my favorite couple — I’d love to return to their POVs!). Speaking of Kieran, Harvey further develops a ton of interesting characters–though Kieran sticks out the most–like Jenna, Constantine, and Isabeau. At this point, all these characters really feel like they’re my family and friends.
My only problem with this book is the ending, only because I’m not really sure what’s happening. This might be due to a lack of close reading on my part, but there seems to be something more going on that I’m not quite grasping. Or perhaps it is supposed to end on one giant mystery, leaving a host of unanswered questions, in which case not cool. Of course, it does leave me hysterically begging for the next book nownownow. Every time I get a new Drake book, it sates my hunger for a day before I need the next one even more desperately. If you’re not invested in this series yet, go out and buy it immediately. And then beat yourself up for not having read it sooner....more
Romeo has made a lot of mistakes. But he’s finally trying to atone for them by joining the siOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
Romeo has made a lot of mistakes. But he’s finally trying to atone for them by joining the side of the Ambassadors of Light. His mission? He must inhabit Dylan Stroud’s body and make Ariel Dragland fall in love with him…in three days. To make matters worse, Ariel hates Dylan. He made a bet with his friends that he could convince the school “Freak” to sleep with him and she very nearly fell for it. Romeo finds himself transported to Dylan’s body just as Ariel’s trying to kill the both of them. If that isn’t enough, Ariel has some very dark secrets of her own that prevent her from letting anyone get too close and Juliet is set on revenge for Romeo’s past transgression.
This book is likable simply because of how adorable Romeo is. I’m not one of those people who gets all hung up on the idea of immortals/vampires/what-have-you being old perverts attracted to teenagers. In my mind and for the sake of the story, they’re teenagers as well; brains not fully developed, raging hormones, the whole shebang. This book is purely a love story and you know that going in, so you can’t really complain about the fact that what you see is what you get. That being said, I appreciate the love-story aspect of this book, but not much else.
Like I said, Romeo is such a gem in Romeo Redeemed. He’s funny, repentant, charismatic, and moral (you know, unlike the Ambassadors of Light). While he says all the right things to make Ariel fall in love with him, he accidentally kind of falls for her in the process. And they’re pretty cute together, except for the whole falling in love in three days things. In my personal opinion, not possible. But then again, given the roots of the story–the love story to end all love stories–Romeo actually takes his time this time around. I’d say he gets to know Ariel far better than he ever knew Juliet.
As for Ariel, I have mixed feelings. She and Romeo are really great together sometimes. A lot of the strengths Romeo admires in her are her most likable characteristics. But Romeo tends to overlook her sociopathic tendencies. She considers and attempts to commit murder on multiple occassions. This girl is highly unstable and I don’t think she can blame that instability on the voices she occasionally hears. After all, she only hears them when she’s angry and even then, they’re so overwhelming that she passes out. The voices don’t make her angry and they don’t ask anything of her or force her to take action. All they do is overwhelm her. What begins as an interesting plot device ends in disappointing underdevelopment. According to the Ambassadors, Ariel holds the fate of the world in her hands…but how? Jay never really expands on this. Ariel hears voice…so what? She’s not really put off by the idea of killing people, but does that mean she’s a danger to the entire world?
The whole idea of the Mercenaries and the Ambassadors is hard to swallow. They’re also underdeveloped and it’s hard to believe that these protective beings of Light don’t mind manipulating people and killing innocent young girls. And Juliet really drew the short straw. Nurse claims to care about Juliet more than anyone else, but I don’t see any evidence of that. The ending of Romeo Redeemed feels very forced and unnatural. Even thinking about it now makes me cringe a little, but I suppose it suffices as a happy ending. Basically, I’d read Romeo Redeemed with a grain of salt. I appreciated the love-story aspects of it and enjoyed reading about Romeo’s attempts to seduce Ariel. The supernatural twists are just a little too much for me....more
In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replacedIn the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network. When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers. As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse. In this action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy. The Community is perfect; everyone is safe; everyone is obedient. Or so Zoel — Zoe — always believed, until she began glitching. Now she finds herself experiencing emotions for the first time, emotions that are beautiful and confusing and painful and exciting. At first, Zoe feels alone, but then she discovers Adrien, who not only knows about the glitching, but also knows about her secret power, the power she can’t yet control. Adrien opens up a whole new world for Zoe, one that includes other glitchers, like Max, a classmate she’s known forever. Together, the glitchers plan to escape, but Zoe soon finds out that she has to be careful who she places her trust in. Glitch is a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read. The story opens with a fair amount of world-building, and while I don’t always like having so much overwhelming information thrown at me, I can also appreciate having our world established early on. While the world-building is thorough and the world somewhat unique, the characters really steal the show here. Unfortunately, the character development is a little slow at first, but as soon as Zoe meets Adrien, things quickly pick up and there’s no putting the book down. The problem with Glitch is that it feels too familiar, which isn’t Heather Anasatasiu’s fault. The world and the characters she’s created are intriguing and exciting. But after finishing the book, I can’t help but feel like I read some sort of mash-up of The Hunger Games, Insurgent, and Delirium. And I like all of those books, so it stands to reason that I like Glitch. It just didn’t wow me. However, the science fiction aspects are definitely refreshing and I really enjoy reading Anastasiu’s scientific explanations — especially when it comes to the glitchers’ abilities. The abilities coupled with the strong characterization and unpredictable plot are real highlights; they’re the elements that set Glitch apart from the aforementioned books and make Glitch a worthwhile read. Fans of Katniss and Lena will love Zoe. She’s a revolutionary with strong convictions. She’s also a character whose actions speak louder than her words. Too many female “heroines” are physically weak, easily manipulated, or charged with lofty aspirations that they can’t quite put into action. But Zoe is strong. She knows what she wants and she goes after it, even at risk to herself. And nothing comes easily to her — she has to work for all the good she accomplishes; she doesn’t have control of her power; she doesn’t know who to trust; she’s compassionate enough to rescue people who don’t even appreciate her help. Basically, Zoe’s a real heroine, one whose journey I’m immensely invested in. The love triangle is an interesting addition. At times, I loved it and at times, I hated it. However, I do appreciate Anastasiu’s ability to play with our emotions when it comes to these boys. We quickly learn that things aren’t black and white. The characters you might think are trustworthy aren’t and vice versa. Anastasiu kept me on my toes until the very end, which was incredibly frustrating…in a great way. Glitch and Zoe definitely get my recommendations. Pages: 320 Publication Date: August 2012 Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Source: NetGalley Rating : 3.5 Teaser Quote: “‘…Evolution might be the wrong word–it’s not like glitchers are a new species. Just highly adapted. We’ve started developing abilities that get around their programming, making neural connections to subvert the hardware. Even with all our tech, the brain is something.’“
P.S. Will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent!...more
“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so longOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona.
“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “You didn’t do that-did you? It was done to you?” No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked. So wrong for each other…and yet so right. No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible. Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again. One night is enough to spin Echo Emerson’s world entirely out of control. It’s perhaps the most important night of her life…and she can’t remember it. Therapists and psychologists tell her the memories will surface once her mind deems it safe enough for her to remember, but Echo wants answers now. Noah Hutchins agrees to help her find those answers, as long as she’ll help him in return. The two unlikely allies realize they can help each other, but what they don’t immediately realize is that they need each other. As they spend more time together, though, they can’t deny the immense attraction they both feel for each other. But while being together be feel right, the two might not fit into each others’ futures. Wow. Just wow. It’s going to be hard for me to write this review and say anything besides I absolutely and completely adored it. Nothing but love, love, love for Pushing the Limits. My favorite YA sub-genre is contemporary and of that genre, Pushing the Limits has skyrocketed to the top of my list of favorites. Very, very few books and movies ever make me cry and this book is one of those few. And emotionally connecting to a book so powerfully is so rare for me that I can’t help but appreciate those tears, as well as the numerous happy-go-lucky grins Pushing the Limits inspires. Having sufficiently hyped up my new favorite book, maybe I should explain why it’s so good. It’s told from alternating chapters of both Echo’s and Noah’s points of view, which is completely necessary for this story and allows us to form a deep connection with both characters. Both are extremely broken individuals, but from the onset, I thought I’d sympathize more with Noah’s situation. As the story progresses, though, we learn that Echo is a lot more complicated than she seems and if there’s anyone in the world that needs someone to lean on, it’s Echo. Surprisingly, though they are polar opposites, Noah turns out to be the strength Echo needs. The relationship that forms between Noah and Echo is beautiful. They both need each other; they support and motivate each other; they grow together. They’re just so right. I have never rooted for a relationship more strongly than I do for theirs. They also aren’t afraid to call each other out and question things that seem wrong or off, which is incredibly realistic given their difficult pasts and tendency to distrust. Of course, everything about this story is realistic: the way the characters talk and think, the way Noah’s and Echo’s peers act, the importance placed on appearances in high school, our desire to please others before ourselves. Though I can’t relate to the characters’ specific circumstances, I found a lot of my own life, insecurities, and questions reflected in this book, especially when it came to navigating the social strata of high school and coming to term with my own parents’ flaws (essentially, learning that we’re all human and we all make mistakes — some more forgivable than others). While the relationship is the highlight of the novel, the plot is equally as compelling. The mystery of the night Echo can’t remember is heartbreaking. Watching as she learns how to navigate her new life is devastating. The way her peers, friends, and even adults treat her literally makes me heart ache. But at least watching Noah grow, mature, and fall in love is uplifting and these two characters are destined for each other. Of course, when the stakes are this high, being together isn’t easy, and the couple is tested over and over again, which thoroughly pulls my heart in a hundred different directions. They’re both so rational — but love isn’t supposed to be rational, is it? Pushing the Limits is an emotionally poignant roller-coaster. It’ll definitely appeal to fans of Simone Elkeles and Sarah Dessen. The emotions in this book are palpable. The love-story: irresistible. If you pick this book up, don’t plan on putting it down until you finish it. Pages: 416 Publication Date: July 2012 Publisher: Harlequin TEEN Source: NetGalley Rating : 5 Teaser Quote: “‘You know a lot about math,’ I said. You know a lot about math? What type of statement was that? Right along the lines of ‘Hey, you have hair and it’s red and curly.’ Real smooth.“...more
Vengeance is a short story told from Chelsea’s point of view that bridges the gap between RemOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
Vengeance is a short story told from Chelsea’s point of view that bridges the gap between Remembrance and the final novel in the Transcend Time Saga. The story picks up the day after Vengeance ends and follows Chelsea still attempting to deal with the betrayal of her best friend and loss of her boyfriend. Luckily, she finds solace in her burgeoning friendship with Shannon, who might just have a way of lifting Chelsea’s spirits.
Vengeance is a short, quick read that provides answers to the questions I assume will arise in the third Transcend Time novel. I don’t really enjoy reading from Chelsea’s point of view — yes, she’s hurt and lonely and she feels betrayed, but she’s also spiteful and inconsiderate. She is not at all likable, nor am I even really am to sympathize with her due to somewhat melodramatic tendencies. This approach is fine, of course, if Madow intends Chelsea to be the villain, but I think the final book in saga could go a couple different ways. But unless Chelsea changes dramatically, she won’t be winning me over anytime soon.
For fans of Remembrance, this short story will be a welcome addition to the saga. The writing style is just as clean and light. The tone is a little too similar to Remembrance for my taste — I feel like Chelsea’s point of view should be a little more distinct. But it’s still an easy read that sets up the plot for the next book. It’s too soon to tell if reading Vengeance will be imperative to understanding the sequel, but my guess is that, while maybe not essential, having Chelsea’s back-story will definitely help. Plus, with such a gorgeous cover, why wouldn’t you want to pick it up?...more
Intangible is the story of Sarah and Luke, twins with some very unusual powers. They’ve managOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
Intangible is the story of Sarah and Luke, twins with some very unusual powers. They’ve managed to fly under the radar up until now, when an accidental healing by Sarah garners some unwanted attention. Now the twins find themselves fighting for their lives as their enemies seek to stop the prophecy surrounding the two teens from coming true.
Supernatural powers. Prophecies. Adventure with a dash of romance. All elements I look for and love in YA fantasy, and Intangible doesn’t disappoint. The mystery surrounding Sarah and Luke’s supernatural gifts is immediately engaging. Why are these two so special? Are there others like them? And how can two such kind and likable characters be expected to bring about mass destruction?
The sibling dynamic is expertly wrought in Intangible. The love between brother and sister leaps off the pages. Luke’s protectiveness is so endearing that I want him for a brother and Sarah’s almost unbelievable altruism is made believable by the way she interacts with Luke. The way the two act around all others versus the way they act with each other fascinates me, as this is one of the few times I’ve ever seen an author so accurately capture a close sibling relationship on a page. For those with siblings, you’ll recognize the ease with which Luke and Sarah interact. For those unfamiliar with this type of relationship, you’ll envy this closeness. But no matter your perspective, I guarantee the unabashed love shared between brother and sister will draw you in, warm your heart, and leave you rooting for the pair. Plus, individually, each of these characters are both strong, their personalities distinct. Luke’s good humor will make you laugh, while Sarah’s fear of letting people in intrigues.
I was surprised to find that, despite the strong protagonists, we switch viewpoints. I can’t decide if I think the switches are necessary to the story. We do get a lot of interesting information from Jonas, Fey, and Marcus, and seeing from their eyes definitely adds to the story, at times. But, in my opinion, it also detracts from the suspense – we know too much about what’s happening outside the twins’ world. On the flip side, though, it is nice to see so much more of this exciting, mystery-laden world. Supernatural twins are just the beginning; we also have vampires and elves, which is a surprise I wasn’t at all prepared for, but quickly came to appreciate. Elves are seldom explored in contemporary YA nowadays and traditional vampires have taken a backseat to the somewhat more glamorous, sparkling vampires currently gracing YA shelves. Those tired of reading about the harder-to-swallow vampire myths prevalent in the genre will appreciate the more traditional feel of Intangible.
Intangible is a suspense-filled, mysterious, supernatural novel with a plethora of likable and interesting characters. The dialogue and relationships are all extremely realistic, the writing style clean and sophisticated. The ending is, unfortunately, jarringly abrupt and so sad, but I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series....more
The thrilling sequel to The Girl in the Steel Corset picks up right where the last book leftOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
The thrilling sequel to The Girl in the Steel Corset picks up right where the last book left off. After Jasper is apprehended by bounty hunters, his friends journey to America in an effort to rescue him and clear his name. But his friends soon realize it’s not the authorities who have Jasper, been an even more threatening enemy, one who knows Jasper’s weaknesses and exploits them in exchange for a powerful device that might endanger all of them.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl in the Steel Corset, the second book in The Steampunk Chronicles blows the first away. I enjoyed every minute of it and found it physically impossible to put the book down. The action is fast-paced and utterly relentless. It’s been awhile since I’ve read such a cinematic action-packed novel and I’d forgotten how much I missed this style of writing. Each character is fierce in their own way, so they each get their own shining moments in Clockwork Collar. Plus, we get a handful of new, equally fierce characters that give our beloved characters a run for their money.
The action is easily my favorite part of this series. I’m addicted to well-rendered fight scenes and Kady Cross’s descriptions are top-notch. I love that she points out all the differences and nuances that separate the characters; Sam’s brute strength, Finley’s penchant for literal fist-fighting, Jasper’s love of pistols, and Mei’s thorough background in martial arts. These small details not only act as characterization, but also set Cross’s books apart from all others. But of course, Cross also accomplishes this with her inclusion of steampunk elements. When I first picked up this series, I was wary because it was steampunk. Some steampunk authors bite off more than they can chew and the result is remarkably dissatisfying. But Kady Cross proves that when steampunk is done well, it’s absolutely amazing. And enthralling. And andrenaline-spiking.
Of course, the character development is so, so impressive. Now that both halves of Finley’s personality have been united, you’d think she’d feel less conflicted. But she still suffers from an understandable internal turmoil. She has to accept that this darker part of her is her and she’s not sure just how much she should give into it — and what she’d have to sacrifice if she does. But she cannot deny that a part of her is drawn to darkness and danger (which is why part of her is attracted to Jack Dandy), and Griffin can’t deny that that part of Finley leaves him unbelievably worried and distrustful.
Speaking of Jack and Griffin, I’m a sucker for love triangles and it was one of my favorite aspects of the first book in The Steampunk Chronicles. Oddly enough, the lack of development of the love triangle is one of my favorite aspects of this book. Finley, Griffin, Sam, and Emily travel to New York to rescue Jasper, which means that Finley leaves Jack Dandy at home in London. Therefore, her friendship with Griffin is what’s truly developed in this book and Cross certainly takes her time drawing out this relationship. I can’t even express how much I truly appreciate this. Finley and Griffin are such good friends and they both have valid reasons for being afraid of taking their relationship to a romantic level (Griffin more so than Finley). But the romantic tension is always there, especially when they argue, and their desire for each other practically sizzles off the page. Plus, Emily and Sam are completely adorable together and satisfy the “relationship quota” for the book.
There’s no one I wouldn’t recommend this series to. The inventions are extraordinary, the romantic tension is palpable, the plot is thrilling and unpredictable. The Girl in the Clockwork Collar is, quite simply, utterly engrossing. I love these characters and, once again, I can’t wait to fall back into their world. And for any science nerds, Nikola Tesla plays a pretty strong role throughout the book — a fact I was ecstatically surprised to discover. I am a huge Tesla fan and his inclusion as a character made me love the book that much more, if possible....more
Emma Townsend loves reading and the latest book to capture her attention is Jane Eyre. Emma fOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
Emma Townsend loves reading and the latest book to capture her attention is Jane Eyre. Emma feels a strong connection to Jane — so strong that one fateful night, when she’s struck by lightening, she’s transported right into Jane’s body. Navigating between two realities, Emma has to decide between her quiet life as Jane (where she has the decidedly sexy Mr. Rochester) or her own life, where things aren’t so quiet or picture-perfect; where girls are mean and vindictive; where her mom is dead and her dad doesn’t trust her; where boys like Gray Newman overlook girls like Emma.
Like any book-lover, Emma loves books so much that she literally wishes she could fall into their fictional worlds. I like how relatable this aspect of Emma’s personality this is. Then she gets to do what all of us wish we could, at some point, do — she gets to live the life of a book character. And you think that’d be awesome, right? But it actually raises a lot of interesting questions and thoughts. While I always thought about how fun it would be to be a book character for a day, I never considered why it might not be fun. And Emma isn’t Jane for just a day, but for three months. I think Mont did a great job balancing these two realities. We spend enough time in both that we really understand Emma’s frustrations with both realities and we empathize with her struggles. But making a definitive choice makes her stronger; she learns so much about herself and she’s a great character to root for.
Mont’s prose is beautiful. She seamlessly transitions between both realities, authentically capturing the tone of Jane Eyre while also creating a real world with likable, believable characters. Some aspects of boarding school life are cliche, but it’s hard not to be. But the romantic tension is anything but cliche. The relationship between Emma and her English teacher, aka her real-life Mr. Rochester, is as believable as any high school crush and the outcome of this crush is not easily predictable. The same is true for Emma’s relationship with Gray, the boy she’s known her entire life yet who still manages to have a plethora of secrets. Mont takes her time with these relationships, allowing us and Emma to fully get to know these characters. Absolutely nothing is rushed and no one does anything without a reason. These characters are very, very human and thus incredibly easy to care about.
A Breath of Eyre explores some powerful themes, the most engaging of which, for me, is the difference between right and wrong. Throughout the book, Emma really learns to trust herself and follows her own moral compass, despite the fact that even the authority figures in her life won’t do the same. Emma comes into her own in A Breath of Eyre, discovers her own identity, and joining her for this journey is a true pleasure. I look forward to reading about Emma’s next adventure....more
Lena Mattacascar has always been different. She tells people she has a birth defect and hidesOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
Lena Mattacascar has always been different. She tells people she has a birth defect and hides the truth: she’s half-goblin. At least, that’s what her doctor, mother, and grandmother believe. They claim the source of the goblinism is her father, but he disappeared a long time ago. When Lena turns eighteen, she decides to seek her father out and demand answers. On her way to Scree — supposedly a haven for “Peculiars,” people who are different, like Lena — Lena meets Jimson Quiggley, a librarian traveling to Knob Knoster, the town right outside Scree. The two strike up a quick friendship and Lena eventually finds herself working alongside Jimson for the mysterious Mr. Beasley, a man claimed to conduct experiments on Peculiars. When Lena meets Thomas Saltre, a marshal who asks her to spy on Mr. Beasley for the sake of her country, Lena is unsure who to trust.
For some reason, I just couldn’t connect to The Peculiars. In the beginning, I was excited by the idea of ‘Peculiars’ and Lena’s adventure to Knob Knoster quickly grabbed my attention. She’s a strong, independent girl with a lot of questions about herself that promise to lead to exciting answers. The alternate 1800s setting of The Peculiars is equally as interesting as Lena and her unique features. But while all the elements of the story are interesting, the action isn’t. It develops so slowly that I had to force myself to finish each chapter. On the plus side, the chapters are short and easy to read through. The downside: there are a lot of them.
I think my main problem with The Peculiars is that I was expecting it to be someone else. The cover, though intriguing, is misleading. Lena does not have wings and winged individuals play a very small role in the book. In fact, the Peculiars themselves play an oddly insignificant role. The book centers more around Lena’s journey to a new place and her struggle to accept herself. But I wanted to know so much more about the Peculiars! I wanted to know why these people existed, how many of them existed, the different types of Peculiars, and what it was like to have these sorts of unique qualities. Lena’s own “deformities” — an extra joint on each finger and toe — are the least fascinating compared to the other Peculiars. Since the book doesn’t really seem to be about the Peculiars, I’d expect it to at least solve the mystery of Lena’s father’s disappearance. But even though Lena’s questions about her father seem to be the driving force of the book, we never actually receive the answers to these questions, leaving the ending absurdly anticlimactic.
Despite the problems I had with The Peculiars, it’s not a bad book. It’s well-written and very different from anything I’ve ever read. I was excited for the steampunk elements, but I expected them to be played up much more. The inventions are there, but their role is even more miniscule than those of the Peculiars. Still, McQuerry’s descriptions of some of Mr. Beasley’s inventions are gripping and thorough, which further establishes the uniqueness of the setting. Lena is an average character — I didn’t feel much for her, but I didn’t dislike her. The romantic tension is too underplayed for the ending to feel deserved, but it’s still kind of cute.
Overall, I had higher expectations for The Peculiars, but it’s still an interesting read. For those sick of the same-old, The Peculiars might interest you. As far as I know, there’s nothing like it in the YA genre. The steampunk elements add an interesting flair and for those sick of books revolving around a lovesick girl and her undeserving love interest, The Peculiars is sure to end the monotony. Though the book is marketed as a romance, it really isn’t. The ending feels rushed and kind of tacked on, but that may just be because I didn’t really connect with the characters....more
Kate is immortal and ready to step up to her new role as Queen of the Underworld. But her coronation is interrupteOriginally posted on www.yareads.com
Kate is immortal and ready to step up to her new role as Queen of the Underworld. But her coronation is interrupted by a powerful foe, one of the only beings strong enough to actually harm the immortals. While Henry and his siblings fight back and try to re-imprison their greatest enemy, Kate is busy fighting for her husband’s love. And when Persephone reenters Henry’s life, Kate feels like her marriage is doomed to fail. Not that that matters, of course, when the end of the world is imminent.
I could not stop reading Goddess Interrupted. As you guys know, I love retold myths. I’m not enough of an expert on myths to know when authors are butchering them. I know the basics and I’m really not bothered by authors adding their own elements or spins. So with that being said, I really like the direction Aimee Carter has taken with the Goddess Test series. I love the modernized views of the Greek gods and I like that, since Kate is also an outsider, we’re following along right in her shoes.
Kate is a gem of a protagonist. I can see how people might think she’s too mopey or whiny throughout the book, but while she’s definitely upset, I think her strength shines through every page. She’s moved into the Underworld, a place filled with gods who have existed for thousands of years, and she’s still not afraid to be herself. She speaks her mind, advocates for her own rights, and risks her life to save those she cares about. Is risking her life always the smartest option? Maybe not, but Ingrid can be pretty persuasive.
Henry’s behavior in Goddess Interrupted is ridiculously frustrating, but I can kind of see where he’s coming from. And really, his distance only made me flip pages faster as I yearned for him to open himself up to Kate. I’ve been noticing a lot of outrage in recent reviews over Kate’s blame of Persephone for Henry’s behavior. And while it’s true that it’s not Persephone’s fault that Henry is still pining for her, it’s just a realistic fact that as girls, we often blame the other girl, instead of the guy we’re hopelessly in love with. Is this fair? No. But is it realistic? Unfortunately, yes.
The action is fast-paced and exciting. The gods’ predicament seems to be lose-lose, and I’m curious to see how this plays out into the next book. Carter’s writing is a delight to read — succinct, clean, descriptive. Goddess Interrupted is definitely a page-turner, one full of suspense, heartbreak, confusion, frustration, and yes, romance. The ending will leave you completely shell-shocked. I’m not looking forward to the wait for the third in the series, but the first two are worth re-reading, so I suppose I’ll suck it up. ...more
Charlotte is just one of the guys. She always thought being friends with boys would be much morOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, review by Kiona
Charlotte is just one of the guys. She always thought being friends with boys would be much more drama-free than being friends with girls. And she was right, for awhile. She and her best guy pals spent their time practicing, playing video games, and just hanging out. But then her best friend, Trip, leaves their band, which, coincidentally enough, changes Charlotte’s entire world.
For anyone who’s ever wanted to know what it’s like to be one of the guys, this book will enthrall you. Charlotte’s relationships with every one of her guy friends are different and interesting. The only problem is, she has so many guy friends. It’s almost hard to keep track of them all. And it’s also hard to know where this story is going for the first half of the book, which can become frustrating. The problem is knowing which characters to trust. Each character has a surprising and completely unpredictable motive. The characters you end up caring for the most might be the ones to let you down, as happens in real life. But each character is so completely different from another that you’re guaranteed to find someone to root for or fall in love with — especially since these characters are so realistic (most of all, Char).
Basically, I think Being Friends with Boys has a little too much going on. I would like it so much more if some parts were condensed or cut, particularly any of the scenes involving Charlotte’s former best friend or her burgeoning relationship with an all-girl rock band. These scenes — while interesting — don’t really add much by the end of the book and detract from the main plot. Char’s life is just so jam-packed that it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening and really get attached to any one character. Char has so many friends, enemies, and frenemies that you forget who’s who and who you’re supposed to like or hate.
That being said, Char’s life is still just so interesting. I think she lets all the cool things happening at once kind of take over her life and she forgets to prioritize her friendships and relationships, but it’s easy to understand why she might feel overwhelmed. Char’s a relatable character — she makes some stupid decisions and is painfully blind to some of the obvious drama unfolding before her, but again, she’s also very overwhelmed and we all get blind-sided sometimes (especially when hormones and hot band members are involved).
I like that McVoy writes convincingly about a high school band that takes themselves seriously: they put in the practice time, play at actual small-town venues, and experience their fair share of drama. Their world pulls you in so thoroughly that when you finish the book, you’ll want to round up your friends and form a band of your own. Whether or not you decide to mix-and-match the genders of your band members is up to you, but just remember: being friends with boys isn’t as easy as you might think....more
Ismae has always been a victim, until one fateful day when the convent of St. Mortain seeks hOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
Ismae has always been a victim, until one fateful day when the convent of St. Mortain seeks her out. At the convent, Ismae finds herself surrounded by women — a comfort for someone more accustomed to male brutality — strong women who train her as a handmaiden of Death. Ismae grows to trust and love her convent and her God; she’ll do anything for Mortain. But when she finally receives an assignment, she finds serving the convent and serving St. Mortain may not be the same things.
Grave Mercy is easily my favorite book of 2012 so far. Ismae is one of my all-time favorite heroines — she’s ridiculously tough, continually challenges herself, and never gives up. But perhaps my favorite qualities of hers are the most underrated, often overlooked by authors today: she’s intelligent and observant. These are the qualities that benefit er most in her corrupt world, and coincidentally the qaulities we can relate to most. Unless, of course, you’re also a nun trained as an assassin.
Yes, Ismae’s an assassin nun, which is just about as innovative as story ideas get. The sheer originality of this novel drew me in within the first few pages. Grave Mercy is dark and gritty, a tone that’s established early on so that we understand Ismae’s motivation, though throughout the book we come to question what’s right and what’s wrong, just as Ismae does. I love books like this, books that inspire such contradictory thoughts and keep you thinking even when you’re not reading. Of course, I also love that Ismae isn’t afraid to question her own world, even if it means defying those she trusts most. She’s a true heroine in that she’s independent, willing to break free from the herd if need be, which makes her a character I truly admire.
Grave Mercy has all the elements of an up-put-downable novel; it’s realistic historical fiction with rich descriptions of settings and political intrigue. There’s a bit of a supernatural aspect, but not so much that it detracts from the plot or overshadows the characters. LaFevers’s prose is beautiful; authentic and descriptive, emotionally evocative and suspenseful. The courtly discussions and interactions are as thrilling as the action scenes. There’s murder, betrayal, balls, and romance. This book has literally everything I could ask for, including a smoldering suitor.
Duval. I maintain that because I fell in love with him at first sight, he’s technically mine. In any case, the scenes between Duval and Ismae are pure magic (and sexual tension). It takes a lot for Ismae to trust, especially when it comes to men, as they’re always wronged her in the past. And Duval isn’t all that trusting, himself. The two build a slow, sweet friendship, both afraid of opening up to the other. But watching their friendship — and interest in each other — blossom is a true delight. Plus, Duval is just downright sexy.
The first book of the His Fair Assassin series is a sensational must-read. I only wish I could have lived in these characters’ worlds a little longer. Hopefully, we’ll see them pop up in the next book in the series, which will center around Sybella and, most likely, an entirely new cast of characters. Not that I mind too much, as LaFevers is a new favorite author of mine, so I’ll be sure to covet anything she produces. Basically, yes, you should read Grave Mercy....more
Meghan’s journey continues with the second installment of The Iron Fey series. At the end of the last book,Originally posted on http://www.yareads.com
Meghan’s journey continues with the second installment of The Iron Fey series. At the end of the last book, Ash returned for Meghan to bring her back to the Winter queen, as they’d agreed. Iron Daughter picks up right where Iron King left off, with Meghan living as a prisoner in the Unseelie Court. Living in Unseelie probably wouldn’t be so bad if Ash hadn’t become mysteriously cold and distant, treating Meghan as if he hated her.
The Faery world turns to chaos when the Scepter of Seasons is stolen from the Winter queen. Queen Mab, of course, blames Oberon and declares war against Summer. The only ones who know the truth – that the scepter was stolen by the Iron fey – and the only ones who can stop the war are Meghan and Ash. The only problem is that Ash isn’t willing to work with Meghan.
This book is just as action-packed as the last. Each page provides a new twist to the story and the fast pace keeps the reader interested until the very end. Though I wouldn’t have believed it possible, even more new creatures are introduced in this book, along with new characters that are easy to love. We also see the return of wonderful characters like Grim, Puck, and even Ironhorse. It is fun to see such familiar characters in such a believable world and to watch them grow with each passing chapter.
Iron Daughter has a much stronger focus on Meghan’s romantic life. She admits her love for Ash a little too early on for my taste and even he admits she doesn’t truly know him, while her relationship with Puck seems more natural. But Ash is just as intriguing, mystifying, and aggravating as ever. I love seeing Meghan hack away at his icy exterior. Throughout the story, the two really do develop an understanding of each other’s personality. Of course, the tension between Puck and Ash only escalates. Puck is his charming, snarky self, but in this book we see him occasionally drop his over-confident mask and show Meghan his true feelings. It is impossible not to love Puck and to share in Meghan’s torn feelings over the two guys in her life.
I noticed the same sorts of inconsistencies with Meghan’s character as in the last book. First of all, any time Meghan swears seems unnatural and forced to me. Beside that, she unnecessarily bemoans her situation too often, making her come across as weak. But at other times, a fierce determination takes over and she fights just as ruthlessly as her defenders. I was sometimes agitated by the way she hated the fact that she had to make tough decisions. It takes awhile for her to come to terms with the fact that her life isn’t easy, something I feel she should have learned in the first book. I love her strong moments though and the way she refuses to give up on Ash. She has a power all her own and though others may have overlooked that fact in the first book, her strength cannot be ignored in this one.
Overall, I find the plot of Iron Daughter even more riveting than Iron King, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters really grow in fascinating ways and the unpredictable plot twists keeps you on your toes. The Faery world comes alive and offers a unique escape, one different from typical fantasy novels. The ending is extremely surprising and leaves me wondering just where the third and final book in the series will take us. ...more
Donna Underwood wears long, velvet gloves everyday to hide what her classmates think are skin graphs. But rOriginally posted on http://www.yareads.com
Donna Underwood wears long, velvet gloves everyday to hide what her classmates think are skin graphs. But really, Donna is hiding the swirling silver tattoos that reach from her fingertips almost to her elbows. These tattoos saved her life when she was attacked as a child, but her mother and father weren’t so lucky. No seventeen, Donna has trust issues and she feels like she can’t even confide in her best and only friend, Navin. That is, until she meets Xan.
The Iron Witch, Karen Mahoney’s debut novel, is a blend of the faerie and alchemical worlds. The beginning of the book is a bit slow, but provides back story and introduces the fascinating world of alchemy. Donna belongs to an ancient alchemical order, the Order of the Dragon, and hearing about her world is intriguing, but also realistic. Sometimes I feel like the faerie world is overdone, but The Iron Witch offers a new slant on the fey and doesn’t go overboard. Mahoney does a great job of balancing the real world with a magical one.
I found Donna to be a very likable protagonist. She’s never mopey. Anytime she starts feeling bad for herself, she catches herself and realizes that instead of sitting around sulking, she can actually do something. She is a girl of action. Even though she knows she’s not invincible, she’s also not afraid to take chances. I also enjoyed reading about her budding relationship with Xan. She’s taken care of herself for so long that it’s hard for her to open up to others. When she finds herself reaching for Xan’s hand when she’s scared, she realizes that although she might not need him to protect her, it’s okay to let herself be comforted by others. This realization struck me as very honest and mature.
Navin and Xan are very interesting characters. Navin sounds like the best friend anyone could ask for. The popular crowd at school accepts him, yet he always sticks up and looks out for Donna. Mahoney might be setting the groundwork for a love triangle, but in The Iron Witch Navin doesn’t come across as anything more than a friend. Xan is also pretty incredible, but also much more secretive than Navin. He’s gorgeous, of course, and his chance meeting with Donna at his own party is almost too much of a coincidence to buy, but I’ll let it slide because I like him so much. Donna’s feelings for him seem believable and I like that she repeatedly acknowledges that she’s only known him for a few days, so we know she’s not one of those idiotic girls who fall in love with the first green-eyed, golden-skinned boy they meet. Donna feels the way I’m sure any girl in her situation would feel and she has a lot in common with Xan, enough to build a solid relationship on. I believe Mahoney does an excellent job with character development in her debut novel.
The only things I don’t like about this book is that the entire story takes place in the span of about three or four days and the dialogue sometimes comes across as unrealistic. The characters sometimes speak in an elegant or forced manner that doesn’t fit with their personalities or the time period. Also, all of the action happens in the last sixty pages and is resolved fairly quickly. But one huge question remains unanswered, a question proposed by the Wood Queen, and I’m interested to see where the author takes this story. Now that Mahoney has established Donna’s world, I think her next book will be exciting and even better than the first. I’ll be looking out for it. ...more
There’s nothing better than starting off your summer with a new Sarah Dessen novel. I had been eagerly antiOriginally posted on http://www.yareads.com
There’s nothing better than starting off your summer with a new Sarah Dessen novel. I had been eagerly anticipating Dessen’s perfect blend of relatable girl plus troubled boy equals hesitant summer romance. I was surprised to find What Happened to Goodbye veered from Dessen’s norm, but in a good way.
When a heart-wrenching divorce tore her family apart, Mclean sided with her dad and decided to follow him wherever his consulting job took him. This meant a total of four moves in two years. At each new school, Mclean took the opportunity to reinvent herself, which included going be different nicknames: Eliza, Beth, and Lizbet. In the second semester of her senior year of high school, Mclean and her dad find themselves in Lakeview. Mclean is all ready to become “Liz Sweet” until she accidentally finds herself becoming, well, Mclean. And nothing is more terrifying to Mclean than being herself—whoever that is—and letting people get to know the real her, especially when there’s always the risk that she’ll have to uproot again at a moment’s notice. Letting people in and getting attached seems like a surefire way of getting hurt.
The thing about Mclean is she’s been so caught up in being someone else that she really doesn’t know who she is anymore. While I understand where she’s coming from, by the end of the book I still felt like I didn’t really know Mclean either. It’s clear she’s finally forming her true identity and re-learning a lot about herself, but I can’t help feeling like I didn’t get a really strong sense of her personality. This seemed odd to me in light of the fact that she’d cultivated such strong personalities in the past. She had joined the cheerleading team, student council, drama club. At one school, she was that girl everyone either knew or knew about. But from the way she acted in Lakeview, it was hard to believe she’d once made friends that easily or been that outgoing. Sure, she had no trouble approaching people or talking to strangers and she instantly connected with a small group of friends, but it seemed to me like they adopted Mclean out of pity because she was the new girl; she didn’t really have to try at all. And it’s not like people didn’t like Mclean. It’s just more like there was no reason not to like her. She’s perfectly nice, but that’s about it because that’s how she’s survived all the moves – only let people see the surface.
That’s not to say Mclean isn’t likeable. She is and she’s certainly relatable, especially to anyone who’s experienced divorce. Dessen perfectly captures the agony of divorce and its affects on teenagers and families. Though the situation differs for everyone, certain aspects are universal and Mclean’s attitude throughout is completely understandable. I like that Mclean isn’t your typical moody, angsty teenager. She’s rational, opinionated, and thinks before she speaks, which means that all her words hold a certain weight, especially when it comes to talking with her mom. Listening to Mclean articulate her feelings so well was enlightening. And no one was more interested in hearing what she had to say than Dave.
Dave is adorable. He is the cutest, geekiest boy-genius ever, and he just so happens to be Mclean’s neighbor. Interestingly enough, Dave doesn’t play as huge of a role in the book as expected. What Happened to Goodbye focuses less on Mclean’s romantic relationship and more on her personal transformation and self-discovery. But her relationship with Dave and his friends does play a part in this transformation. At first, I didn’t really understand Dave’s attraction to Mclean. Beside the fact that she was the new, interesting girl, they didn’t really know each other well enough for either to develop a crush. Mclean says as much when Dave’s friend, Riley, says Dave likes Mclean. But as they begin to spend more time together, it becomes evident that the two just get each other. They just have compatible personalities and are capable of making the other happy. For a relationship that plays more of a minor role, this is more than enough. Just knowing Mclean and Dave are happy when they’re together already makes their relationship ten times more successful than many of the relationships Mclean’s seen before.
As she has in the past, Dessen interweaves elements from her past books, such as referencing characters and places she’s written about before. I love these references and knowing that somehow, on a larger scale, all of the characters are connected. What Happened to Goodbye is a really interesting commentary on the idea of identity and how important our identities are. And, as always, Dessen writes skillfully and knowledgably about subjects that open our eyes to new worlds; in this case, she covers restaurant life and basketball. It was exciting to learn so much about those who immerse themselves in the restaurant business and I’d always been curious about families who appeared to live and breathe for basketball games. Now, I can kind of understand the appeal. Sarah Dessen fans definitely won’t be disappointed by her newest summer read. ...more
If you liked Unearthly, you’ll love Hallowed. At the end of Unearthly, Clara made he decision to save TuckeOriginally posted on http://www.yareads.com
If you liked Unearthly, you’ll love Hallowed. At the end of Unearthly, Clara made he decision to save Tucker instead of Christian, leaving her purpose unfulfilled. Now, despite the fact that Tucker and Christian are both alive and well, Clara can’t help feeling guilty, confused, and lost. On top of all that, a Black Wing is still stalking her and she’s having more visions, this time of someone’s funeral.
I didn’t know what to expect from Hallowed. After finishing Unearthly, I thought of so many different directions Cynthia Hand could take the series, but I had no idea which she would choose. And still, she manages to surprise. Like Clara, I believed the issue of her purpose was now a moot point. She didn’t fulfill it, but everything turned out okay in the end, so no harm, no foul, right? Except maybe her purpose isn’t finished after all. Poor Clara — her mom continues to keep everything from her, despite how desperate Clara is for answers. But as frustrating as that is, at least Hallowed proves just how important it is for some of these secrets to remain secret. And Clara’s mom does finally give into Clara’s request for information, revealing a lot of shocking truths and interesting angel lore. Hallowed deftly explores the legend of the Nephilim and Hand puts her own spin on it so that the second book in the series is just as eye-opening and engaging as the first.
In addition, each character is much further developed in Hallowed. Jeffrey is insufferable and annoying and awful, but there’s a surprising motivation behind his actions. Christian is willing to just be Clara’s friends, though he is undeniably drawn to her. And while Clara loves Tucker with her entire being, she can’t deny that she and Christian seem to be destined for each other. Personally, it’s hard for me to pick favorites. I love each boy for entirely different reasons. In the first book, there wasn’t really any reason for Clara to like Christian other than the facts that he’s hot and she kept dreaming about him. Her slow-blooming relationship with Tucker was much more natural, the product of an adorable friendship formed over a long summer. But in Hallowed, it’s easy to see just how much Clara and Christian get along. They get each other and they have this one huge thing in common: they’re both angels. So how can she possibly decide between these two great guys? I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes.
Hallowed is one of those rare sequels that is just as good as, if not better than, the first book in the series. These characters are smart and lovable, more than willing to seek out the answers to all the questions the reader is just as eager for answers to. They’re easy to respect, the kind of characters you want to be best friends with. Cynthia Hand’s beautiful world is captivating, from the beautiful descriptions of rural Wyoming to the fascinating explanations behind angels and their purposes. If you were at all wary or suspicious of another angel series, like I was, cast your fears aside. You won’t want to miss Hand’s masterpiece....more