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
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
“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
Lily of the Nile is Stephanie Dray’s first novel in the trilogy following Princess Selene. Selene, daughterOriginally posted on http://www.yareads.com
Lily of the Nile is Stephanie Dray’s first novel in the trilogy following Princess Selene. Selene, daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, loses both her parents in the war between Egypt and Rome. Not only does Egypt lose its rulers, but it also loses any chance of hope when Selene and her twin brother, Helios – the rightful heirs to the throne – are taken to Rome as prisoners of war and the emperor’s hostages. While Helios schemes and plots escape, Selene plays a more political game as she attempts to curry the emperor’s favor and save Egypt. Along the way, her faith and loyalty are tested. Tumultuous inner conflict threatens her sense of self and she almost breaks from the pressure of trying to be what everyone else wants her to be. But in the end, Selene realizes who she can trust above all else: herself and her faith.
When our protagonist, twelve-year-old Selene, was first-introduced, I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear her story. I thought of her as just a child – why would I listen to the story of someone who couldn’t possibly understand everything going on around them? But I quickly learned Selene was one of the smartest, sharpest, and strongest heroines in literature. She was wise beyond her years and a shrewd observer. As a master of logic and reasoning, it was impossible for anyone not to respect her. Stephanie Dray described Selene so realistically that I felt as if I knew her inside and out. We saw her fears, doubts, and confusion. We understppd why she made certain decisions and we saw how carefully she chose her words. Never before had I seen the intricacies of the human mind and behavior so clearly fleshed out in a novel.
And Selene wasn’t the only three-dimensional characters. The emperor, Octavian, and his sister, Octavia, were two characters that never ceased to surprise me. At first, they were easy to hate; they were The Enemy. But as the reasoning behind their actions came to light, the world stopped seeming to black and white, and instead delved into so many shades of gray that, like Selene, I was left questioning my own beliefs. Lily of the Nile truly makes you consider your ideas of right and wrong and offers a glimpse at what it really means to be the ruler of a nation.
As someone who could never sit still through a history lesson, but loves historical fiction, I was enthralled by Dray’s descriptions of Egypt and Rome. Not only were Dray’s descriptions rich, but the magnitude of her knowledge of customs, traditions, and everyday life was astounding. Every facet of Roman life fascinated me and the clarity with which the politics were laid out left me feeling educated and even, at times, enlightened. Dray’s specificity so thoroughly transported me to another time and place that I almost thought the events of Lily of the Nile were happening all around me which, as a lifelong reader, is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
And while I loved the realistic aspects of Lily of the Nile, the magical elements certainly didn’t hurt. It was exciting to see some of the myths we grow up learning come to life. I loved the intertwining of religion and heka (magic) that allowed Egyptian rulers to gain respect and even fear. Following along as Selene came into her powers and renewed her faith in the goddess Isis was a thrilling journey and gave Selene a strength that was all her own, something she could claim in Rome’s patriarchal society. While the book may begin a little slow, the ending, in my opinion, is thunderous and well-deserved. My only problem is that it ends on a cliff-hanger and now I’m left anxiously anticipating the sequel....more
Originally featured on yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
This book blew me away – probably because I wasn’t expecting to fall so thoroughly in love with iOriginally featured on yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
This book blew me away – probably because I wasn’t expecting to fall so thoroughly in love with it. I went in thinking it was a ghost story, due to the summary on the back cover, but I was completely wrong. It’s a fantastic blend of paranormal and science fiction, at times reminding me of elements of Harry Potter and X-Men, both of which I love. Hourglass has so many great twists, some I saw coming and some that completely blind-sided me in the best possible way. This excellently crafted book is well-organized and completely absorbing, one of those I-really-shouldn’t-stay-up-until-2-because-I-have-class-in-the-morning-but-I-can’t-stop books.
But let me backtrack for a minute. Hourglass tells the story of Emerson Cole, a teenage girl who began seeing what she believes to be ghosts shortly before her parents died in a horrific accident. Since then, Emerson has spent her time at mental institutions and boarding school. But when her scholarship is pulled, she is forced to move back home with her brother and his wife. She has only one friend at home, Lily, who has stuck by Emerson throughout her entire ordeal. And then Emerson meets Michael – the handsome consultant her brother has hired – and he turns her world upside down.
The first thing I like about Hourglass was that Emerson confides in her brother and he actively tries to help her. There are so many books where the protagonist feels like they have to hide their “dark secret” because no one could ever possibly understand them. I just want to shake those protagonists and tell them to give their friends and family a little more credit. Of course, Emerson does spend some time in an asylum, but that’s realistic; she’s able to handle that and come out even stronger. Her brother, Thomas, is a wonderful character. He looks out for Emerson, doesn’t think she’s crazy, and continuously tries to help her. He’s also the perfect mix of cool-older-brother and authoritarian. I love his relationship with Emerson and even his rules regarding Michael. It’s easy to see how much he cares about his sister and how seriously he takes her predicament.
Emerson. One of my favorite protagonists. First of all, she has a great name (and I’m not just saying that because I go to Emerson College). She is one of the most three-dimensional characters I’ve seen in awhile. Her biting sarcasm is consistently hilarious; she can take care of herself, due to martial arts lessons; she doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do and only opens up to those she truly trusts; she gets jealous easily, is willing to put others before herself, and occasionally breaks all the rules. She has such a traumatic past and though she certainly draws strength from it, her past is also a source of pain and confusion; she hasn’t completely healed. In fact, by the end of the book she’s even further from healing than the beginning, which just allows the possibility for more growth.
I love the whole science fiction aspect of this book. The idea behind the Hourglass is so innovative and I was dying to know what it was from the beginning. Each character – especially members of the Hourglass – is fleshed out and serves a purpose. Myra McEntire is clearly a master at weaving intricate plots. She includes all the elements of great story-telling, including realistic characters with depth, witty dialogue, suspense, foreshadowing, and sizzling romance. Emerson’s emotions are so strongly conveyed that I felt them right along with her: her suspicion regarding Michael, confusion over Kaleb, anger at Ava, and love for Thomas and Dru. I like that Emerson doesn’t trust people easily. She has no reason to. So when certain characters finally gain Emerson’s trust, they also gained mine, which means I was just as shocked as Emerson by some of the final twists of Hourglass.
This book literally has everything and I really hope I won’t have to wait forever for a sequel. The ending is left open and there are so many questions I still have about this world and the characters. Hourglass is sure to be a hit in the YA scene and I look forward to seeing it receive the recognition it deserves....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
When I first picked up this book, the description led me to believe it’d be about Kori. But really, only a small part is about Kori. Undone is Serena’When I first picked up this book, the description led me to believe it’d be about Kori. But really, only a small part is about Kori. Undone is Serena’s story; it’s a story of tempting fate, testing the bonds of friendship, discovering one’s identity, overcoming grief, growing up. Undone is Serena’s journey, but it also offers the reader a journey, one that, if you allow it, can reach the deepest part of your heart and possibly change your outlook on life.
Serena doesn’t know what made Kori decide to abandon her spot in the “popular crowd” all those years ago, but she’s grateful Kori chose her as her new best friend. Serena idolizes Kori to the point where she dyes and styles her hair so that the two are often mistaken for sisters. Kori is brash and bold and fearless, everything Serena wishes she could be. And Serena can’t imagine life without Kori, until she’s suddenly forced the face that reality.
Serena is an extremely relatable character. She’s so blinded by her envy of Kori that she fails to notice her own strong qualities. It isn’t until she has to live without Kori that Serena realizes she’s her own person and that perhaps Kori isn’t as perfect as Serena always thought.
In an effort to cope with the loss of her best friend, Serena embarks on a mission to complete Kori’s list of fate-tempting tasks. Serena thinks completing the list will bring her closer to Kori, but it actually ends up teaching her more about herself. For so long, Serena had been so wrapped up in Kori’s identity that she forgot she had one of her own. Brooke Taylor beautifully expresses the emotions of a young girl trying to find herself while managing feelings of sorrow, suspicion, and isolation. Taylor’s prose is hauntingly honest and realistic. Her story is innovative, at times romantic, and always gripping. It’s one of those books you’ll want to read again and again just to learn something new....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
Aria was raised in Reverie, a small Pod that protects her and a few thousand other Dwellers from the outside world. Living in such an enclosed space wAria was raised in Reverie, a small Pod that protects her and a few thousand other Dwellers from the outside world. Living in such an enclosed space was stifling, so the Realms were created as a means of distraction and entertainment. In the Realms, Dwellers can live out their wildest dreams and fantasies, free from fear, pain, and sickness. Reverie and the Realms are the only life Aria has ever known, until she’s left for dead in the outside world. There, Perry finds Aria just as the hovers that deposited her abduct his nephew. Though every fiber of his being rebels against the idea, Perry realizes that the only way to get Talon back is to team up with Aria, if he can manage not to kill her long enough for her to help him.
From the very beginning, I wanted to like Under the Never Sky. It’s unlike any dystopian novel I’ve read so far. It’s intriguing, the plot is unbelievably unique, the tantalizing descriptions are fresh, and the chapters shift between Aria’s and Perry’s points of views, providing insight into both their worlds. But for some reason, I didn’t fall right into it. The beginning chapters felt kind of forced and disjointed to me. I liked the world Rossi was creating, but I didn’t love the characters. And then Aria was thrown out of Reverie and it was like a flip switched into my mind. Everything fell into place; I was riveted.
While I loved the crazy-interesting and intricate world Rossi created, the characters really stole the show for me. At first, Aria didn’t stand out to me. She seemed nice enough, but I was far more interested in Perry, the complicated Savage. He had so many different sides to his personality and I loved seeing how certain characters brought out certain aspects of that personality. As Aria and Perry grew more comfortable around each other, Aria opened up. I saw how brave and selfless and funny she could be. As the two got to know each other, they truly brought out the best in each other. The development of their relationship was fascinating and gripping, especially given the fact that we could experience it through both of their eyes.
Then there was Roar, one of Perry’s closest friends. He stole my heart from the second he opened his mouth. He was just so, so amazing. I wanted to cuddle with him. I still want to cuddle with him. And he did a great job of managing the awkardness between Aria and Perry. But the amazing supporting cast didn’t stop there. Cinder and Marron also brought a smile to my face, just because they had such distinct personalities. Every character really leaped off the page for me so that I felt like I was experiencing Under the Never Sky in 3D.
Beside the phenomenal character development, the book is very plot-driven. There was a sense of urgency and suspense to it that kept me eagerly flipping pages. Not to mention the top-notch world-building. Rossi’s explanation of both societies is clear and fully detailed, providing excellent imagery and a logical back-story. Under the Never Sky is a remarkable debut, proving that Veronica Rossi is an author to look out for....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
There aren’t many “first love” stories that I think are spot-on, but Geek Girl truly captures the rollercoaster of emotions that not only constitute fThere aren’t many “first love” stories that I think are spot-on, but Geek Girl truly captures the rollercoaster of emotions that not only constitute first love, but also first heartbreak. It’s also utterly un-put-downable. It’s impossible not to immerse yourself in Jen’s life, to feel every emotion right along with her. This book will make you laugh out loud, give you butterflies, bring you to the verge of tears, and quite possibly curl your toes as often as Jen does.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Jen is what you might call a “bad girl.” She’s been bounced around from who knows how many foster homes and she’s developed a pretty tough exterior. On a whim, she decides she needs a project and that project becomes turning Trevor, King of the Geeks, into a “bad boy.” But Trevor’s not as malleable as Jen first assumed and, after awhile, she realizes she doesn’t even want to change him. Instead, she might just want to change for him.
So begins the whirlwind romance of Jen and Trevor. Oddly enough, I found Jen to be one of the most relatable and likable characters I’ve ever read about. She’s charming, endearing, and ridiculously witty, though she’d probably only take the latter as a compliment. She also knows how to get exactly what she wants from guys – at least, when they’re playing by her rules. But Trevor’s different. He’s polite to a fault, honest, and genuinely good. He’s intrigued by Jen, but not intimidated. In essence, they’re perfect for each other.
Cindy Bennett is clearly a master at character development. Every time Jen and Trevor are together I feel as if I’m there with them. In fact, I feel as if I’m one of Trevor’s lame friends, joining the game for a sci-fi movie marathon. Bennett perfectly and accurately captures the high school experience, including the awkwardness that comes along with befriending those outside your “clique” and dealing with the backlash of the typical teenage drama. Bennett forges relationships with realistic, snappy dialogue and common interests (something many authors forget is one of the most important aspects of any relationship). Each secondary character is sufficiently explored, creating an entirely three-dimensional world.
In addition, Jen embarks on a rigorous journey of self-discovery that leaves the reader fascinated, empathetic, and rooting for her the entire way; I can’t imagine anyone failing to fall in love with her. Or Trevor, for that matter. This book is not for the faint of heart. It is filled with powerful emotions, both good and bad. And yes, it appeals to the geek in all of us, whether that part of you is big or small. I’ll admit I was more than a little proud of myself for recognizing almost all of the sci-fi references. Star Trek humor, anyone?...more
When Mara Dyer wakes up from a coma in the hospital, her memories are fuzzy. Slowly, bits and pieces start coming back to Mara and she realizes that sWhen Mara Dyer wakes up from a coma in the hospital, her memories are fuzzy. Slowly, bits and pieces start coming back to Mara and she realizes that she is the only survivor in a terrible accident that killed her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister. Mara can’t return to school without seeing Rachel’s face at every turn, so she and her family move to Florida for a new start. But even in Florida she’s haunted by frighteningly lifelike hallucinations. Wherever she goes, death seems to follow.
Mara’s mom is convinced that Mara is unstable and Mara is starting to agree with her when she meets Noah. Noah doesn’t think she’s crazy. And at first, when she’s around Noah, Mara doesn’t feel crazy. But even Noah can’t stave off her hallucinations forever. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to help Mara, though, if only she’s willing to trust him.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is definitely worth the hype, though it took me until about the last fifty pages to realize it. The entire book was great, but until the end, I felt like I was still waiting and waiting to be blown away. And then I was.
The first thing I loved about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was how absolutely well-written it was. Michelle Hodkin knows her way around the English language. Her vocabulary is impressive and even introduces the reader to new words (quite a feat in the eyes of many avid readers and reviewers). Her descriptions were lyrical and powerful, avoiding cliché at every turn. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is filled with alternating chilling and searing romantic scenes. It’ll make your heart race in anticipation for a variety of reasons – and you’ll love every second of it.
I really liked Mara. She experienced so much trauma, but she never gave into defeat. Despite all the awful things happening in her life, she still persevered, refusing to give up on herself no matter how crazy she thought she was. Her strength was so, so likable. Especially when she started at a new school during her Junior year and attracted the attention of the resident mean girl and her entourage. And I liked that she didn’t automatically melt in response to Noah’s romantic advances. He had to work for her attention and friendship so that their relationship turned out extremely gratifying.
But as much as I liked Mara, her thought processes confounded me. She suffered from the typical self-doubt the comes with falling for the most desirable guy in school – the he’s-realized-I’m-not-worth-it-so-he’s-going-to-leave-me-and-there’s-nothing-I-can-do-about-it syndrome. I don’t know why it’s so hard for our favorite heroines to believe that they actually deserve love, but this rampant phenomenon is starting to grate on my nerves. Also, I didn’t understand the justification behind Mara’s actions at the end of the book. Her reasoning felt flimsy and contradicted everything we’d learned about her character throughout the entire book. I didn’t believe that she could make such a huge decision so easily, that she was willing to give up due to that one action.
Still, despite my problems with the ending, it left me even more intrigued than when I began the book. I absolutely cannot wait for the second installment of the Mara Dyer series. If you’re looking for a well-written book that’s heavy on romance and light on paranormalcy, then get your hands on a copy of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. You won’t be disappointed....more
Before I write anything else, the first thought I want to get out of my system is this: Partials is the most amaziOriginally posted on www.yareads.com
Before I write anything else, the first thought I want to get out of my system is this: Partials is the most amazing sci-fi novel I’ve read in a long time. Partials is the futuristic tale of a decimated America where the only surviving humans are gathered in what was once Long Island. In future America, a company called ParaGen created the Partials, human-like machines meant to be used as weapons. The Partials don’t age, have accelerated healing capabilities, possess super-human strength, and eventually turned on humans, waging a catastrophic war. Not only did this war kill thousands, but the disease the Partials set loose on humans — RM — has ensured the destruction of our species. As a result, the Senate created the Hope Act, mandating all girls age eighteen and up to become pregnant as often as possible in the hopes of finding a cure and repopulating the species. Viewing the Hope Act as an infringement on basic human rights, a faction of humans called the Voice split from society and is set on destroying the Senate, even at the cost of human lives.
Kira is a sixteen-year-old medic intern working in the maternity ward. The constant state of death leaves her heartbroken and desperate for answers. When Kira’s adopted sister becomes pregnant, Kira will do anything to save her future niece’s life. An idea begins to form as she finds a connection between the disease and the Partials. Along with a group of her closest friends, Kira embarks on a mission to find a cure, a mission that may just destroy what’s left of the world.
So that’s a lot to take in. And it’s definitely better to experience this world by diving into it than by reading my long-winded explanations. Part of this is because Wells provides the right amount of information at the right times. He gives away just enough that you understand what’s going on, but not enough for you to put down the book. The world is a lot to process at first, but it’s so interesting and elaborate. Wells builds an intricate world that draws you in from the very first page and holds you tightly in its grasp until the last page.
While the world-building and plots are top-notch, the characters are what first catch my attention. Kira’s main group of friends is diverse and each character is intelligent and thoughtful. We’re talking about characters that think before they speak, the debate, that consider real issues and point out flaws in each others’ ridiculous plans rather than racing off into battle. This is so rare in YA these days. Most characters operate under an “act now, think later” mindset, for some reason, and seem confused when this approach doesn’t turn out for the best. Kira, Marcus, Jayden, Xochi, Isolde, and Haru are intelligent. As a bonus, they’re all so different, their voices so strong. Not only does Marcus know how to make Kira laugh, but he consistently makes me laugh aloud. Xochi is an adopted sister I’d want on my side any day of the week and Isolde steps up in her own way when everyone needs her. Even Jayden, who seems cold at first, has numerous layers to his personality. Each character is incredibly well-developed, while one might expect their development to be left lacking in such an intricate story.
Perhaps the only flaw I can find with Partials is that it seems to drag in a couple parts, but even that’s not so bad. The beginning feels a little slow, but by the end, elements from the beginning come into play, proving that each scene is necessary. Everything Dan Wells includes, he includes for a reason. The scientific explanations behind RM are incredibly intricate, but for someone without much of a science background, I can definitely follow them. Not just follow — I find the explanations quite interesting. The twist in the ending jumped out and grabbed me from behind, leaving me thoroughly blindsided. While the end answers many of the questions that crop up from the beginning and throughout, it also introduces a ton of new questions that I’m desperate for answers to. I definitely recommend this book to almost anyone — it has a wide range of appeal — and I’m already looking forward to rereading it and discussing it with everyone I know. Well-written, fast-paced, thrillingly fresh, with a perfect blend of science, action, and humor — Partials has something for everyone. ...more
ADORABLE. Days after finishing Destined, I can’t stop thinking about it. And every time I do, I get this warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach. After a slADORABLE. Days after finishing Destined, I can’t stop thinking about it. And every time I do, I get this warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach. After a slew of contemporary and dystopian novels, Destined was exactly what I needed. This book retells the classic myth of Psyche and Eros, otherwise known as Cupid. It takes place in ancient Greece and while the story is set in the past, it’s given a current spin. The dialogue, mannerisms, and ways of thinking all reflect the present. This gives Destined a unique, incredibly fun flair. It’s also hard to put down and easy to love.
Destined reminds me of a mix between three of my favorite movies: Hercules, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. I think it’d be pretty hard to read this book and not make the Hercules connection. I mean, that’s where my basic knowledge of Greek mythology comes from. Harrell portrays all the gods and goddesses in a comedic and distinct light. At no point does it feel like she’s just relying on the reader’s preconceived notions of how these immortals should act. Harrell takes the time to characterize each god or goddess, bringing them to life in a refreshing manner. She doesn’t just accept that you already know who Aphrodite is, but instead shows you the real Aphrodite. I loved all the mythology and traditions present in Destined. I also loved the fantastical and sometimes frightening/creepy elements that reminded me of Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. It wasn’t super creepy or anything, but just imagining myself in Psyche’s shoes as she faced the creature that “even the gods feared” allowed me to sympathize completely with how freaked out she was. Honestly, in her place, I would’ve been freaking out ten times more.
The relationship between Psyche and Eros is perfectly swoon-worthy. This is one of the few instances where I don’t want the amazing love interest for myself, but only because he and Psyche are so perfect together. I was rooting for their relationship from the moment they met. Harrell provides the benefit of switching between each of their points of view, which gives Eros dimension and substance, so that he doesn’t just come across as a physically flawless, yet empty shell. The only problem with seeing his point of view is that it’ll make you fall even more in love with him — and then silently beg Psyche to do the same. Even as I think of it now, I just want to read it again.
If you’re looking for the world’s most heartwarming and heart-achingly romantic love story, do yourself a favor and read Destined. Harrell’s writing style is succinct and elegant. She engages all five senses and paints amazingly vivid scenes. I’d also recommend listening to “Crack the Shutters” by Snow Patrol — Harrell’s “signature song” for Psyche and Eros — before, during, and after you read it. The song fits their story perfectly. And it’s also just plain beautiful, kind of like Destined....more
Keenan is still missing and Aislinn is not happy. Someone has to run the Summer Court, and although she knows it must be her, she really wishes KeenanKeenan is still missing and Aislinn is not happy. Someone has to run the Summer Court, and although she knows it must be her, she really wishes Keenan would return and help her. At least he has some experience with these things. Ash isn’t stupid, though, and knows that when he does return, she’ll have to make a choice – Seth, or the Summer King…
Her court needs her, that much is clear, and things definitely would definitely run better if the King and Queen had a united front, but her heart just isn’t in it. Although he’s very tempted by Keenan, she loves Seth. There’s just no way around it.
But Seth is gone a lot too. He vanishes into Faery for days and days at a time, reminding Ash that he too belongs to someone else now. How did things get so complicated? Why can’t she have her court and have Seth too?
Bananach is up to her crazy shenenigans again, causing chaos and havoc wherever she goes, only this time it seems that she’s playing for keeps. Kill or be killed – that’s how she’s playing now. Things are getting pretty crazy and Aislinn just doesn’t know what to do.
The Dark Court is also a bit of a mess. In the wake of Irial’s death Niall has gone all badass on us. He’s not coping with the loss of his friend, and he’s lashing out at anyone he can sink his claws into. You’ll never believe the cruelty he dishes out in the name of grief.
Darkest Mercy is the highly anticipated last book in the Wicked Lovely series. I think it’s safe to say that in this chapter, readers are given what they want. This is one of those series that has a storybook ending, and everyone and everything ends just as it should. Although it carries an element of predictability to it, Darkest Mercy is the perfect finale to an outstanding series.
Although saddened by the fact that its over, this is a world I love to get lost in, and will continue to do so many times over. Melissa Marr has a real talent for placing her readers right in the middle of all the action and I can’t wait to go back and start again. As we farewell our beloved characters, we wish Seth, Ash, Keenan, Donia and all of our Wicked Lovely friends the best!...more
Savanahh used to be best friends with the Clann kids, until fourth grade, when they all turned against her. She doesn’t know what made them suddenly hSavanahh used to be best friends with the Clann kids, until fourth grade, when they all turned against her. She doesn’t know what made them suddenly hate her, but she moved on and made new friends, doing her best to ignore the bullying of the more vicious Clann kids. The only Clann member she can’t seem to ignore, though, is Tristan Coleman. But he hasn’t even acknowledged her existence since that fateful day in the fourth grade. That is, until Savannah gets mysteriously sick for the first time in her life and returns to school after five days decidedly…different.
Boys can no longer seem to control themselves around Savannah. One look from her and it’s almost as if they’re possessed, love-stricken to the extreme. Savannah can no longer trust that any boy has real feelings for her, which is infuriating as Tristan has finally deigned to talk to her for the first time in years. Is he under the same spell as every other guy or is something different about him?
Darnell puts a really unique and interesting twist on vampire and witch legends in Crave. For those looking for a new vampire series, you should definitely pick up the first book in The Clann series. It reminds me of Twilight, except infinitely better. Darnell tells the story through both Savannah’s and Tristan’s points of view, which is an excellent decision on her part as Savannah and Tristan keep so many secrets that it would impossible to understand each characters’ motivations without the viewpoint switch. It also makes you fall in love with Tristan long before Savannah even realizes how amazing he is.
Darnell puts a lot of effort into grounding Crave in reality. The beginning starts a little slow, but this is necessary as it lets us fully slip into Savannah’s life so that later on, we experience the shock and surprise of her family’s origins just as much as she does. The somewhat slow beginning also gives dimension to Tristan, as well as all of Savannah’s close friends. Unfortunately, her friends sort of fall out of the picture for the entire middle of the book, which seems odd to me. But Savannah does lead a busy life, what with juggling after-school activities, boyfriends, and new friends. Still, I wish we’d see glimpses of her old friends throughout.
There is a lot to this book. It’s long, jam-packed with intrigue and mystery. Darnell does a good job of evenly dispensing necessary information, like Savannah’s and Tristan’s back-story, the history behind Savannah’s relationship with her dad, what the Clann really is, and so much more. There are so many things that need to be explained and Darnell does so effortlessly, never bogging down the story or forcing the issues. And all the answers to the inevitable questions are innovative and fresh, making it impossible to stop reading.
While Darnell’s superior world-building and three-dimensional characters are commendable, the highlight of Crave is the romance between Savannah and Tristan. It’s just so perfectly done — almost every scene involving the two gives me butterflies. This is probably due to how real the two characters feel, like people you might bump into at your own school. And they have history, so their relationship doesn’t spring up out of thin air. It’s almost painful in how slowly it develops, but the anticipation is so, so worth it. This is a relationship that pays off until the very last page, but be prepared for a huge cliffhanger. But this is a cliff you’re going to want to hang off of, eagerly waiting for the second book in The Clann series....more
The fourth book in the Iron Fey series is easily my favorite and I’m sure I won’t be alone in thinking that. At the end of the third book, Meghan baniThe fourth book in the Iron Fey series is easily my favorite and I’m sure I won’t be alone in thinking that. At the end of the third book, Meghan banished Ash from the Iron Realm, knowing he would stay by her side despite how harmful living in the Iron Realm would be to his health. But before he left, Ash made an oath that he would find a way to be with her. The Iron Knight tells the story of Ash’s journey to find a soul — to become mortal and therefore immune to the effects on iron. Of course, he doesn’t embark on such a perilous mission alone; he has Grim and Puck, as well as a couple other surprising companions they meet along the way.
At first, I was a fan of the Iron Fey series. But by the third book, I read reluctantly and slowly, putting the book down for long stretches of time before returning to it. Meghan’s character began to wear on me, but at the same time, I needed an end to her and Ash’s story, so I happily reached for the fourth book. Despite the length, I flew through the conclusion to the Iron Fey series.In my opinion, writing a book from Ash’s point of view is the best idea Julie Kagawa could have for this series. Being in Meghan’s mind grew so annoying, but reading the story from Ash’s point of view is fresh, enjoyable, and exciting. Not only that, but a majority of the book is free of Meghan’s whining voice, and instead filled with my favorite character, Puck. Without Meghan around, Ash becomes a much lighter, carefree individual and we finally get to see the close friendship between Puck and Ash reemerge. And because Meghan wasn’t around too often to annoy, the scenes she did spend with Ash were sweet and heartwarming. Less tears, more determination.
The Iron Knight is also full of non-stop action, but there are more intellectual puzzles in addition to constant battles. Kagawa delivers surprise after surprise, leaving the reader in a constant state of agonizing suspense. I tried and mostly failed to predict what would happen next, which filled me with an odd sense of elation due to the depressing nature of most of my predictions. Some aspects of the journey and of Ash’s trials do seem a little cliche, but not so much so that they distract from the plot at all. For the most part, the conflicts and plot twists are incredibly unique and intricate. Just reading Iron Knight is an emotional roller coaster almost as harrowing as Ash’s — and he has to live through all these crazy events!
The only problems I had with this book are the same ones I had in the previous three. First, overuse of the word “writhing” — it must be Kagawa’s favorite verb. Also, the characters all formally address each other too often to be believable. Every sentence seems to contain some variation of a moniker: Prince/Little Prince/Ice Boy/Winter Prince, Puck/Goodfellow/Robin Goodfellow, Grim/Cat. Especially when it came to Ash, I wanted to shake every person that insisted on calling him “Prince of the Winter Court” in every sentence of speech. So unnecessary. But these are things that, after reading the first three books in the series, I’ve come to accept. And while a majority of the second half of this book left me bewildered and perplexed, internally protesting in outrage, I believe that was Kagawa’s intent and I’m glad she could inspire such a strong emotional reaction in me.
Essentially, if you’re an Ash fan, you’ll love Iron Knight. If you’re a Puck fan, you’ll love Iron Knight. If the end of Iron Queen made you throw the book against the wall in frustration, demanding some sort of resolution for Ash and Meghan, you’ll love Iron Knight. This book is a long, crazy ride, but one you’ll enjoy every minute of....more
The Golden Spiral picks up right where The Hourglass Door left off. Many of the characters return in this intricately planned sequel – but some returnThe Golden Spiral picks up right where The Hourglass Door left off. Many of the characters return in this intricately planned sequel – but some return only to be erased from Abby’s life by Zo. With Dante gone for the time-being, Abby finds herself facing off against Zo alone as he’s determined to completely unravel her life and, possibly, the world.
Lisa Magnum is a master at story-crafting. Her lyrical descriptions at times border on poetry and her plot is so unique, full of twists and turns. While Abby solves mysteries from The Hourglass Door, she finds herself unraveling new, more complicated ones. Without Dante by her side, her strength is tested over and over. Abby grows a lot in this book and reasserts her independence, proving that she doesn’t need Dante to protect her, but that the two make each other stronger. Abby also learns to take more risks and trust in herself. Despite the fact that Zo attempts to rip her life apart, she refuses to back down to him, which is admirable given his all-around creepiness and nearly god-like power.
I was also really impressed by Abby’s friends in this book. Natalie really steps up to the plate when Abby decides to confide in her, proving that yes, she is human and therefore needs support and friendship. Natalie’s hesitance is believable, as well as her eventual of acceptance. It’s important for Abby to maintain her relationships with her old friends and I’m glad she acknowledges this, rather than abandon her friends for her gorgeous boyfriend and his complicated life. Speaking of complicated, poor Valerie. Her descent into delirium is equal parts fascinating and depressing. At first I thought she had gone completely crazy, but I was happily surprised to find out she was still hanging on, if just barely. I’m still worried about her, but glad to see that perhaps all hope isn’t lost.
If you thought The Hourglass Door was unique, The Golden Spiral pushes that kind of creativity even further. Abby’s and Leo’s use of photography is downright fascinating. Also, V’s unexpected character development is adorably awesome, though it comes with a price, and Zo’s cryptic messages are creepily alluring. Mangum blurs the line between friend and fo so that you’re left guessing up until the very end, when she drops a few major bombs. The characters are repeatedly tested and while the tests usually leave them stronger, they suffer a few devastating losses by the end of the book. And again, Mangum leaves us with a cliffhanger that leaves me, at least, craving the conclusion to the trilogy....more
Let me start by saying if you’re looking for a new paranormal series to obsess over, you should probably read The Hourglass Door. Personally, I’m usuaLet me start by saying if you’re looking for a new paranormal series to obsess over, you should probably read The Hourglass Door. Personally, I’m usually a series kind of girl. I like following characters I’m invested in over a long period of time. But lately, a lot of series just seem to drag or get repetitive. The Hourglass Door is the first series I’ve begun in awhile that provides a completely new world and unique premise.
The story begins normally enough. Abby is a seemingly ordinary girl who gets good grades and has let a somewhat sheltered life. She’s looking for new ways to break free and gain independence, starting with applying to Emery College, a school all the way across the U.S. on the eastern coast. She’s keeping Emery a secret from everyone for now, including her boyfriend and neighbor, Jason. Abby and Jason have been destined to be together since they were in diapers. But while Abby lights up Jason’s world, she can’t muster more than brotherly affection for him. Still, being with him isn’t bad and there’s no one else she’d rather date. That is, until Dante Alexander arrives.
To Abby’s credit, she tries not being attracted to Dante. She doesn’t want to hurt Jason and she honestly believes she’s capable of merely befriending Dante. After all, he is the new guy in town and she just wants to make sure he feels welcome. And to Dante’s credit, he tries not to interfere in Abby and Jason’s relationship. As much as he likes Abby, he doesn’t think Jason deserves to lose his girlfriend, especially considering Dante’s life is a little chaotic and even…dangerous.
But, I mean, Dante speaks Italian. And he has those blue-gray eyes and that aura of mystery. Hotness aside, Abby does take the time to get to know Dante. A believable friendship blossoms between them, a friendship that she’s able to balance alongside her relationship with Jason. But then things start to get a little tricky. For one, Abby feels this unmistakable pull to Dante and she knows he feels the same way. Then she begins feeling…odd…and these feelings are only magnified when Zo, V, and Tony begin hanging around. These three make up a band called Zero Hour and they seem to have some sort of history with Dante and his adoptive father Leo. Oddly enough, Dante and the members of Zero Hour all sport the same tattoos.
Lisa Mangum is clearly a master of building suspense. The further I got into The Hourglass Door, the more questions I had and the more I had to power through just to get the slightest of answers. Like Abby, I couldn’t tell if the paranormal aspects were actually paranormal or just figments of her imagination. Everyone was so secretive that I was practically dying to know what was going on. I’d form my own theories only to realize how implausible they were and then I’d hungrily read more, glad that the plot wasn’t so predictable. By the middle of the book, Mangum began providing twists that completely blindsided me and the answers I received toward the end were, at times, shocking. I was just entirely pleased by the unique intricacies of the plot and the tie-ins with historical figures that added a believability to the fantastical elements that’s presently hard to come by.
I’d recommend this book for the plot alone, but the writing is also amazing. The snippets of Italian dialogue lend an air of authenticity to Dante’s origins and each character really stands out. Oddly enough, despite Dante’s charm and all-around sexiness, I wasn’t head-over-heels in love with him, but I loved his and Abby’s relationship; their relationship grew effortlessly from a solid friendship, initial attraction, and complementary personalities. The villains of the story aren’t frightening just because they have some sort of super-human strength, but because they threaten to destroy Abby’s life personally by settling in her town, getting to know her and her friends, and attacking that which she cares about most. But little do they know, Abby has some surprises of her own—surprises even she didn’t know about.
Essentially, if you’re looking for romance, action, and paranormal intrigue, The Hourglass Door is right up your alley. You might have overlooked it in the past, but with the conclusion to the series on the way this summer, now’s the perfect time to dive in. A little warning though: have the second book readily available, as The Hourglass Door ends on a big cliffhanger....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
The Girl in the Steel Corset was my first steampunk novel and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, it blew me away. Unfortunately, I didn’t have tThe Girl in the Steel Corset was my first steampunk novel and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, it blew me away. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to read it all in one sitting, but by the time I got to the middle of the book, I absolutely could not put it down.
I was captivated immediately by the character of Finley, Kady Cross’s new version of Jekyll and Hyde. Finley’s dual personalities are riveting and I like that everyone immediately understands that Finley is two different people in one body. The characters of Steel Corset aren’t blind and oblivious. They are incredibly smart, talented, stubborn, and unique. It’s impossible to really dislike any character due to the fact that they all have so many layers to their personalities – layers that Cross peels back and explores in full.
The ensemble cast is one of the biggest highlights of the first novel in The Steampunk Chronicles. Cross seamlessly weaves from one character’s viewpoint to another. Though the majority of the novel is told from Finley’s and Griff’s points of view, we also spend time in the minds of Sam, Emily, and even The Machinist. Telling a story from multiple points of view increases the suspense and allows us to connect to each character more fully, which is very important when dealing with such a large cast.
In addition to phenomenal character development, this book is packed with action. There are multiple plot lines and conflicts existing at once, thus there’s never a dull moment. But at no point does it seem like there’s too much going on or like Cross has bitten off more than she can chew. The entire plot seems well-thought out and leaves the reader feeling as if Steel Corset is only the beginning of what’s sure to be a thrilling ride.
If forced, I could only cite a few faults. The first would be that I really can’t decide who I like better: Griff or Jack Dandy? Sam or Jasper? Finley and Emily certainly have their hands full with those boys. I would also say that the mystery of The Machinist’s identity is a little predictable, but not in a bad way. Sometimes it feels good, as a reader, to solve mysteries on your own. Plus, all the events surrounding The Machinist, including the end of the book, are anything but predictable.
As an added bonus, the story’s set in 1897 England, which means awesome outfits as well as a fun mixture of futuristic inventions and long-forgotten customs (and, oh yeah, masquerade balls, anyone?). Basically, there’s nothing not to love about Steel Corset. Luckily, this is just the beginning....more
First, let me draw your attention to the incredibly beautiful cover. It was impossible for this cover not to catch my eye. As a self-published author,First, let me draw your attention to the incredibly beautiful cover. It was impossible for this cover not to catch my eye. As a self-published author, the cover design was left up to Keary Taylor and she truly did an amazing job with an image that leaps off the shelves. And now, onto the review. Eve doesn’t remember anything before the Fall. As far as she knows, her life began when she was thirteen, found by Avian, Sarah, and Tye. The three of them are the only family Eve knows and together they live in a safe haven for perhaps the only humans left alive, Eden. That is, until West, Victoria, and Brady show up.
Now eighteen, Eve recognizes that she’s different from the other inhabitants of Eden. She’s fast, strong, rarely tires, and feels kind of disconnected — emotionally. She doesn’t think she knows what love is, even when it comes to simply loving her best friends and “family.” Yet as she spends more time with West, she finds he awakens certain emotions in her. But for someone who has only ever known life in Eden, how can she learn to trust an outsider? Especially since Avian is suddenly vying for her affection; Avian, whose very presence calms Eve and who understands her better than anyone else. Neither West nor Avian want to push Eve, but it’s clear she has a decision to make.
At first, Eden reminded me of Stephanie Meyer’s The Host, but with non-stop action and a more likable protagonist. Eve is a strong, independent, and utterly selfless heroine. She is so busy taking care of everyone else that she neglects her own feelings. When her inner conflict regarding West and Avian begins, she thinks avoiding the situation will make it go away. She piles on more and more work, leaving barely enough time to even sleep. But it’s impossible for her to ignore the two men. She’s drawn to each one for completely different reasons. This is why the love triangle in Eden appealed to me so much. Eve’s conflicting emotions are completely warranted as she shares common interests with both of her suitors. There is no obviously apparent or “right” choice. It truly seems like she could be happy with either guy and I was right there with her, confused as to who she should pick. Keary Taylor does a great job of opening up Eve’s mind to the reader, allowing us to slip effortlessly into her thoughts. She’s not only a protagonist you can respect, but also one you can identify with.
While the love triangle dominates a majority of the book, the plot is in no way slighted or overlooked. Eden is four hundred pages of glorious characterization, world-building, suspense, breathtaking twists, and heart-pounding action. The post-apocalyptic United States is described in visceral, frighteningly believable detail. The science and mechanical details behind the Fall and the Fallen are innovative and so intriguing. It’s impossible to put the book down because you just want to know more and more — how, why, when? Taylor doles out the answers to these questions, but sparingly, building up the suspense until the very last page.
Personally, I loved the ending to Eden. First of all, I was satisfied with Eve’s choice. Second, even though Eden is meant as a standalone novel, I appreciated the open-ended conclusion. It does leave some questions unanswered and Taylor could easily write a sequel with this incredible world she’s created, but since she’s not planning on it, the openness of the ending leaves room for your imagination, for you to continue the story for yourself. Some books don’t do this well, but I think Eden pulls it off.
At times, I feel like Eve’s inner dialogue unnecessarily rehashes the same thoughts over and over. But since these new feelings are so overwhelming and all-consuming, I can see where she’s coming from. The characters’ dialogue also seems oddly formal and forced, sometimes. It can be hard to get through those occasional formal bouts, as they’re distracting in how noticeable they are, but once they pass, it’s easy to fall back into the story. Still, I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves insane world-building, intricate love stories, and the idea of technology growing too powerful. Eden does an excellent job of dealing with themes of what it means to human, where we draw the lines of morality and ethics, selflessness vs selfishness, and acceptance. If you’re looking for a completely new world to jump into, try Eden....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
In a society where hepers — humans — are all but extinct and vampires flourish, Gene is tryinOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
In a society where hepers — humans — are all but extinct and vampires flourish, Gene is trying to fly under the radar to avoid detection. His father has given him all the tools he needs to survive and blend in, as long as he never captures anyone’s attention for too long. But when he is one of the select few chosen for the prestigious honor of participating in the Heper Hunt, he’s suddenly in the spotlight, along with classmate Ashley June, the girl he’s had a crush on forever and someone who might just suspect his secret. While Gene learns more about his species and prepares for the Hunt, there’s a clock ticking down to his discovery, and once that happens, he knows he has no hope for survival.
Wow. I’m thoroughly in love with The Hunt. From the very beginning, we’re introduced to a society the likes of which we’ve never seen or imagined before. Everything about Gene’s world is new, fresh, and absorbing. The way the vampires behave is fascinating and the fact that Gene is able to interact with them, undetected, is incredible. He’s immediately a likable, sympathetic hero. He’s not the smartest (well, he’s book-smart, but not as street-smart as Ashley June), the strongest, or the bravest. Really, the only thing he’s good at is blending in. But he has heart and drive and he’s inquisitive enough to search for answers that we so desperately need.
What I find a bit surprising is that the majority of this book isn’t actually about the Hunt, but actually the preparation leading up to it. In fact, there are a lot of parallels to The Hunger Games, which isn’t a comparison I make lightly. The Hunt is similar enough to The Hunger Games that it’ll appeal to the same fan base, but distinct enough to draw in a new crowd and stand on its own as an original, unique series. While I thought the long preamble before the hunt might become drawn out or dissatisfying, it never did. The preparation for the hunt provides a lot of necessary insight and also lets us really ground ourselves in this world.
My only problem with this book is that the ending feels a little rushed, though I can forgive that a little because I know we’ll pick right back up in the action in the next book. Which reminds me, the ending is very much action-packed, the kind of heart-pounding, page-flipping action that I live for. I also like that The Hunt sets us up for a love triangle, but doesn’t go there. It’s definitely a smart idea not to complicate the plot with an unnecessary love triangle just yet, though I can see it coming into play later in a more satisfying manner. For now, The Hunt is a riveting, thrilling read — definitely one of my favorite books of 2012 so far. I can’t wait to get my hands on a sequel, even if I have to wait a year for it....more
Duchess Katerina Alexandrovna has a dark secret — she’s a necromancer, which means she’s capaOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona
Duchess Katerina Alexandrovna has a dark secret — she’s a necromancer, which means she’s capable of raising the dead. Her only wish is that no one learn of her curse, yet it seems everyone can see the darkness in her soul. Katerina finds herself thrown amid a dangerous power play, one where she’s suddenly a key player, unsure of who to trust.
I was first drawn to this novel because I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and the paranormal twist enticed me. However, as soon as I started reading, I found myself frustrated and overwhelmed. Trying to keep track of the Russian customs, names, and society was hard enough. The addition of the paranormal backstory completely flummoxed me. I was prepared for a necromancer, but not faeries, vampires, werewolves (I assume they’re werewolves, as they’re referred to as the “wolf people”), witches, ghouls, and probably more. After the first forty pages, I was ready to stop reading, but I hung on, giving debut author Robin Bridges the benefit of the doubt. And I’m glad I did.
As the story develops, I come to admire Katerina. She’s headstrong, intelligent, and deeply caring. She prioritizes family above all else, but second in her heart is studying to become a doctor, a desire that never wavers even in the face of marriage. Whereas most girls in this time period value obtaining a prospering husband, Katerina would prefer to make the world a better place and I love that she never gives up on this dream, even though it seems like everyone expects her to.
While the existence of vampires and witches feels awkward and out-of-place in the beginning of the book, the presence of these creatures slowly becomes more believable, especially when Katerina actually meets the charming Prince Danilo of Montenegro. Before meeting him, I, like Katerina, had a tough time believing in vampires as anything more than just myths in Russia, but his instant allure screams “otherworldly.” From there, all the other paranormal factors are much easier to wrap my mind around.
I think one of the main reasons it took so long for me to get into this book is the huge cast of characters. The foreign names, while authentic, make it even harder for me to keep track of everyone. And not only do you have to keep track of who everyone is, but you also have to remember how each person is related, and they’re almost all related in some way. But by around the middle of the book, I found I didn’t have to mentally run through each characters’ ancestry anymore. Plus, the large cast of characters makes all the plot twists intriguing and utterly unpredictable. And don’t worry, there are no shortage of plot twists in this story. Every time I’d finish a chapter, I’d tell myself, “All right, just one more,” and continue reading for another two hours.
And yes, as the book synopsis suggests, there is a love triangle, involving the handsome Prince Danilo and the tsar’s oddly cold and distant son, George Alexandrovich. But this isn’t your typical love triangle because Katerina’s choice is clear. The only thing is, you don’t realize which boy has stolen your heart until your already in love with him, which is kind of exactly how it happens with Katerina. And it’s magnificent! One of my new favorite love interests! Bonus point: the love triangle in this story doesn’t eclipse the plot at all, which leaves the reader feeling satisfied.
The ending battle scene feels oddly rushed, especially given the somewhat slow start of the book. But there are still a lot of loose ends and I’ll definitely be reading the second book in The Katerina Trilogy. While this book is a historical fiction piece, I think it will appeal more to paranormal lovers. But for those who enjoy historical fiction with a twist, I definitely recommend trying out The Gathering Storm. If you stick with it, it won’t disappoint. I mean, it’s probably worth it for the descriptions of the beautiful gowns and romantic balls alone....more
What’s interesting about this book’s description is that it sets you up for a completely different story. For me, I thought the story would focus on LWhat’s interesting about this book’s description is that it sets you up for a completely different story. For me, I thought the story would focus on Laurel and her transition from city life to the country. At first I was confused and then pleasantly surprised when I realized this was Aspen’s story. A & L Do Summer focuses on the summer before Aspen and Laurel’s senior year of high school. Laurel wants to gain more notoriety before senior year, while Aspen just really wants a boy to be interested in her. She goes along with Laurel’s schemes until she finally realizes that instead of trying to fit her life into this perfect, stereotypical mould, she should just accept it for what it is in order to be truly happy.
Aspen and Laurel are the perfect duo. I particularly love Aspen’s sense of humor and her sarcastic wit. She is the perfect example of the semi-rebellious high school junior – someone extremely curious and willing to try new things, despite the consequences. Laurel could have easily fallen into the annoyingly beautiful, yet oddly unpopular stereotype always written into young adult novels – you know, the flawless best friend of the narrator meant to make the narrator more relatable – but she doesn’t. Instead, Laurel is hysterical and makes so many mistakes it’s hard not to feel bad for her most of the time. I like that she has the desire to be popular – honestly, it’s high school, and who doesn’t? – but she realizes the girls she considers “popular” are really just annoying and fake and that her friendship with Aspen is much more meaningful. Their friendship is so wonderfully captured in the pages of A & L Do Summer that I think everyone will find them relatable in some way.
The best thing about A & L Do Summer, though, is how realistic it is. The book is more focused on character development than plot, which I find refreshing. It reminds me of Phyllis Reynold Naylor’s Alice series, in that way. Essentially, these characters aren’t squeaky clean. They sneak out, drink, and even end up getting arrested (although in their small town, it’s more just to make an example of them than because they’re actually in trouble). Just when you think Aspen can’t possibly get into any more trouble, she does. And then she does again. And again. Her parents react just as any parents would and she faces a lot of consequences. But she also learns a lot about herself and about friendship in the process. It was a treat to read about someone making some of the same mistakes I have and I was able to laugh along with Aspen through most of them.
While I mentioned the story isn’t plot-heavy, there definitely is a plot. Aspen and Laurel face off against the villains of the story numerous times – three boys who gave me goose bumps. So creepy. I was probably more afraid of them than Aspen was. And of course there’s the love interest, Clay, who also happens to be Aspen’s brother’s best friend. Clay is a perfect gentleman – and his rugged good looks don’t hurt – but Aspen’s brother is the one who stole my heart. His relationship with Aspen is the perfect mix of verbal sparring, practical joking, and older-brother-heroics; he bails Aspen out of more than one sticky situation, making me wish he was my older brother. And despite their small fights and age difference, he makes it clear how much he cares about Aspen, especially at the end. It’s easy to see why Laurel has such a huge crush on him.
Basically, A & L Do Summer is the perfect summer read. Every girl will find something relatable about Aspen or Laurel and it’s impossible not to laugh at all the trouble they get into. I mean, walking a skunk around in a baby stroller? What’s not funny about that?...more
Originally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona Froi is happy with his new life in Lumatere. He serves his queen, honors his bond, and spendsOriginally featured on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Kiona Froi is happy with his new life in Lumatere. He serves his queen, honors his bond, and spends time learning from men he respects. When he’s asked to go under cover and assassinate the king of Charyn, Froi is reluctant, but he refuses to deny his queen anything. When he gets to Charyn, he has a week to figure out how to kill the king. He has been warned of the king’s savage daughter, Quintana, a princess failing to meet the expectations of her people to break a curse. Froi just might be the answer to breaking that curse, but he smart enough to know he can’t afford to get close to the princess — not that that should be a problem, what with her seemingly split personality, complete lack of manners, and overall savage characteristics. Still, the longer Froi stays in Charyn, the more he realizes the city — and Quintana — might also provide the key to unlocking the secrets of his past.
Froi of the Exiles is an epic fantasy, high-stakes adventure with a plethora of dynamic and engaging characters. Fans of Finnikin of Rock will not be disappointed with Marchetta’s second novel in the Lametere Chronicles. As a lover of high fantasy novels (a la Tamora Pierce and the world of Tortall), I was surprised to find I wasn’t as enamored with the world so much as the supremely original characters. It is such a rare treat for an author to provide such deeply flawed and complicated characters as Froi, Quintana, Lirah, Gargarin, and Arjuro; characters that you can hate one instant and love the next.
However, it took me awhile to reach this conclusion. Weighing in at around six-hundred pages, Froi of the Exiles took about the first two-hundred pages to grab my attention. The beginning felt slow to me, as reading felt laborious and dissatisfying. Fans of Finnikin may prefer reading so much about his current life with Isaboe and the state of affairs in Lumatere, but for me, the story really begins when Froi reaches Charyn and he’s introduced to Quintana. And while Froi’s story is the main focus, chapters still oscillate between telling the story of what’s happening in Charyn and what’s happening back in Lumatere. While I can see the bigger picture Marchetta’s painting of this world, the viewpoints of those back in Lumatere often left me bored and desperate for a return to Froi. Though the other characters are interesting, some of their chapters don’t seem to add much. The only viewpoint shifts I really appreciate are those of Lucian, Phaedra, and Rafuel, most likely because their goings-on influence or relate somehow to Charyn, which seems to be the focus of this novel. However, these shifts didn’t ruin anything about the book for me — they just didn’t add anything, either.
Charyn is one of the most interesting worlds I’ve read of in awhile. The intrigue of the provinces, the battles for power, the manipulation and politics all enthrall me. But Marchetta’s thorough descriptions and world-building go even farther as she creates one of the most complete worlds to grace YA shelves. She depicts architecture, art, ethnicity, nature, clothing, and every other little detail so that you feel as if you’re standing in the middle of a street of Charyn, watching as events unfold. She doesn’t coddle the reader with inauthentic descriptions of facial expressions and characters’ feelings, but instead lets the characters speak for themselves so that you can truly come to know each characters’ personality and range of emotions.
Though I said before, though this book has a lot going on plot-wise, the characters really steal the show for me. Each character is so intricately layered and portrayed so beautifully that you really get a sense of how real he/she is. There are a lot of powerful moments, words left unsaid, emotions and thoughts expressed and hidden. There are also such perfect comedic moments — I was surprised to find that both Froi and Quintana have startlingly hilarious senses of humor. Many of the characters are fiercely passionate. That passions lies at the heart of the story and drives every event forward.Unfortunately, I feel like Froi ends on an undeserved cliffhanger. I don’t necessarily hate cliffhangers, but Marchetta really doesn’t provide much — if any — closure, which is frustrating after six-hundred pages. Regardless, I can’t wait to see what happens. I just wish we weren’t left with so many questions.
Froi of the Exiles is not a light read. This is a story you need to plan to invest in. That being said, I’d recommend it to anyone who loves reading action-packed, character driven, high-fantasy novels. Reading Finnikin of the Rock first isn’t necessary to understand what’s going on, but highly advisable as it provides a lot of helpful background information for Froi. Also, it’s just plain good. Melina Marchetta is a literary genius and well worth your adoration....more