Last year, Skylark took me by storm. In a time where dystopians have begun to feel oversaturated as a topic, Skylark was exactly what I was needing to...moreLast year, Skylark took me by storm. In a time where dystopians have begun to feel oversaturated as a topic, Skylark was exactly what I was needing to believe that there are still amazing dystopian tales to be told. Just the right amount of romance. Plenty of creativity and originality. A twist, I never, ever saw coming. Skylark was a read that I was happy to sing praises about.
The same can be almost said for Shadowlark.
Shadowlark was an easy sequel to slip back into. However, I did have a bit of an issue with the beginning since there was very minimal rehashing. So, if it has been a while since you have read Skylark, you may want to brush up on what happened and who some of the characters are, or you may be a little lost like I was.
Picking up right after Skylark, Shadowlark steps off on the right foot with the action starting almost from the get go. Lark and Tansy have left the Iron Wood and are still in search for Lark's brother, Basil. Which has lead them to another city, an underground city. A city of secrets, where danger lurks around the corner. But despite all the dangers, this time she may have found what she was looking for.
The twists and turns that made Skylark so brilliant, this time around was a huge miss from me. Maybe the clues were too obvious. Maybe it all just fell into place too easily. I don't know. But it made me a little sad seeing how everything was setting up for the reveal, when I basically already knew (or at least, highly suspected) how everything was going to turn out way before I even hit the half way mark.
Twists and turns aside. I have to say that I did enjoy Shadowlark... a lot. However, it wasn't for the reasons that I thought I would. The growth of our main character was nice. I liked seeing Lark a bit out of her element, especially in this underground city. Here instead of Lark being the one looked up to, the leader, she is more of a student. Learning to control her powers. Discovering exactly what she is capable of. And then putting it all to the test.
The romance this time around was also a bit different. I loved, loved the romance of Skylark. Oren was absolutely amazing. So different than your typical romantic interest. In Shadowlark, the romance took a bit of a back seat to everything else that was going on. Don't worry there is still plenty of Oren, but not exactly like you might expect. In this installment, like Lark, Oren overcomes some of his personal obstacles in order to grow and make peace with himself. I missed not having Oren around so much, but by the ending, I was happy. Oren really came into his own in this installment. Gaining some much needed confidence and growing to accept what he is.
As far as sequels go, Shadowlark was well done. I loved the character growth. As well, as the introduction to a new city and its workings. The world-building wasn't as strong this time around, but it made sense for it not to, mostly due to this new city.
I am not exactly sure what to expect with the next (final?) installment. But I am hoping it will be more along the lines of what we got from Skylark.(less)
The Testing was one of my more anticipated dystopian reads for 2013. And while the book has promise, most of the read felt like it was holding back.
On...moreThe Testing was one of my more anticipated dystopian reads for 2013. And while the book has promise, most of the read felt like it was holding back.
One of the big taglines for The Testing was 'for The Hunger Games fans,' or something along those lines. If you liked The Hunger Games, then I am sure that The Testing will be a pleasing read for you. But bottom line, The Testing is no The Hunger Games.
The Testing starts off innocently enough. Readers are introduced to Cia and her town. A town that has students with plenty of potential to be selected for the Testing, but never are. Or at least, have not been for the last ten or so years. Cia was a likeable enough character. Although, readers know early on that the Testing is not quite what it seems, you cannot help but want Cia to be chosen for the Testing.
Once the Testing got underway, that is when The Testing's problems really began. The Testing itself is divided into four parts. Three tests of basic knowledge to test your skill set, then one real-world type experience. While I enjoyed the first three tests, the fourth is really where the action is. Also, where most of my problems occurs.
Although Cia is a likeable character, I had a hard time relating to her and her struggles. She was just so damn perfect.
Character: Oh look, we found water.
Cia: Wait, this doesn't feel right.
Character: No, everything is fine.
Cia: I don't think so. Give me a minute to look around / inspect something.
Cia: NO!!! Get out of here. / Move... something along those lines.
Then surprise, something bad happens.
There were so many examples of events like this happening throughout The Testing that it became annoying. Whether it was a trap or how to take care of something, Cia seemed to just magically know everything. Yea, ok, that works.
The Testing wasn't a bad read. In fact, I actually liked it. But there were a lot of elements that never fully lived up to what I thought it could be. The Testing comes close to falling into the 'it was trying to be like another book, but failed to be original in its own right' category. There is plenty of original content in The Testing. But overall, I felt like I had been there done that almost from start to finish.
Growing up, I have always loved Alice in Wonderland. From the kid-friendly Disney version to the horror story style movies to my personal favorite, Th...moreGrowing up, I have always loved Alice in Wonderland. From the kid-friendly Disney version to the horror story style movies to my personal favorite, The Looking Glass Wars, there are so many different variations to get lost in. With one of the latest variations, Splintered, I will admit that I put this one on the back shelf for a reason. I was afraid of it. Well, maybe not in the way that you are thinking. Of course, I was not scared of the book, but rather the unknown. Would Splintered be a literal retelling or seem like a completely different story? I didn't know. With Splintered, I had no clue to what to expect, and it scared me a little.
Throwing caution to the wind, I dived in.
From the early pages, Splintered was nothing, and I mean nothing, like I thought it would be. Having not read the blurb in many months, all I really remembered was something about mental illness and Alice in Wonderland. Great way to start a book, huh?
The basic concept centers around Alyssa and her mother Alison. Both have what could easily be classified as mental illness due to being able to hear the voices of the flowers and bugs. Although, Alyssa's mother has been committed and despite Alyssa's fears that she may be next, Alyssa feels as if there is something more to the tale of Alice in Wonderland and their family's connection than meets the eye. But only one way to find out, find the rabbit hole.
Splintered was 100% awesome. So much so that I am kicking myself for not reading this one sooner. Alyssa and the back story of her family interwoven with the Alice in Wonderland was pulled off flawlessly. By this point, I thought I had discovered all the ways that Alice in Wonderland could be retold, but I was so very wrong. I don't want to go into too many details for fear of spoiling the surprise, but wow, A.G. Howard, what a way to make this tale your own. I am so impressed.
Looking for a dark, twisted version of Alice in Wonderland? Look no further. Splintered is destined for your favorites shelf.
Will I read the next installment?
Yes! A million times, yes. The romance of Splintered was completely left open. Sure, we know who Alyssa has picked for now, but Morpheus is still waiting in the wing. (No pun intended.)(less)
The Possession series has been an interesting one from the beginning. Special powers. Mind wiping. Rebellion. Since I first read Possession, I feel...more
The Possession series has been an interesting one from the beginning. Special powers. Mind wiping. Rebellion. Since I first read Possession, I feel in love with this world, and all of its unique qualities and quirks. Abandon is no different.
One element that I have loved / hated about this series is the constant change of POVs. This time around, we are taken into the minds of Jag and Zenn. While both characters have enough personality to carry Abandon easily, I found myself wanting to get back to Vi's POV again. Maybe it is the lack of the female POV that I miss, or maybe just her wit and spunk. Honestly, I don't know. Whatever it is, I miss it.
As you may know, the Possession series also carries a pretty heavy love triangle. Personally, I like both boys, but have always favored Zenn for one reason or another. With Abandon, I found myself rooting again for Zenn. It isn't that I don't like Jag. I do! But there is something about Zenn. Maybe it is the underdog effect? Who knows. Abandon wraps up the love triangle in a completely different way than what I was expecting. Do I like it? Yes and no. Is it kinda heartbreaking? Absolutely.
What about our other characters… Gunner and Raine? Have no fear. Abandon has not forgotten them. Gunner and Raine play a decent part in Abandon. However, in a similar fashion to Surrender, they are more in the background. After three books, if I had to voice one major complaint about the series, it is the POV / main character swaps. In Possession, Vi, Jag, and Zenn were the focus. In Surrender, it was Gunner and Raine. With Abandon, it is back to Vi, Jag, and Zenn. While I love having all these characters, it does feel a little overhelming sometimes having to keep up with so many.
I have loved this series since the beginning due to its unique qualities. Abandon fell in line pretty much how I expected it to, with plenty of twists added in that I did not expect. Especially in regards to the romance. All in all, a solid read that was fast-paced and a great addition to the series.
Will there be more?
Abandon wraps up nicely, but honestly, I am a little confused. For the longest time, I have been under the impression that the Possession series is a trilogy. However, the ending was a little bit more open than I had expected. Does that mean there will be more? Maybe. I guess I will have to wait and see. (less)
To be honest, I have a lot of thoughts about Wasteland. While I wish they could all be positive, they are not. In fact, looking back at Wasteland, I s...moreTo be honest, I have a lot of thoughts about Wasteland. While I wish they could all be positive, they are not. In fact, looking back at Wasteland, I sometimes think it was a miracle that I finished this one at all. Which is really disappointing due to its interesting concept and potential.
In Wasteland, no one lives to see age 20. Life is bleak. Water and food are scarce. It is survival of the fittest. In small town called Prin, they make due... surprisingly so.
From the beginning, Wasteland drew me in with the promises of rebellion and post- apocalyptic setting. While some promises were met, Wasteland as a whole bordered on pretty disappointing. From its lack of world-building to superficial everything, Wasteland is a whole lot of details with very little depth. Now, I don't need to have everything explained to me, and not every question will have an answer. However, in a world like Wasteland, there has to be at least a little something for me to work with. Yet, Wasteland didn't give me that. No explanation to how this world became the way that it did. No explanation for why it is expected for everyone to only live to age nineteen. Honestly, no explanations really of any sort. While that may work for some reads, sadly in Wasteland, it does not.
As for our characters, here I am conflicted. Told in the third person, Wasteland, at times, felt all over the place. Giving glimpses into each character whether major or minor. While I appreciated to seeing a little bit of each person, it also takes away from really getting to know any one character. Making it hard to relate or even care from their situation or what they were trying to achieve. This lack of depth for our characters is most apparent when it comes to the romance. Esther and Celeb had potential to be a great romantic force. Instead it came across as...
Caleb: Wow, you looking like a person I would want to get to know.
Esther: Yea, you too. We are fighting for the same thing. Let's team up!
Caleb: I love you. Want to be my partner / mate?
Esther: I love you too! Yes! Let's always be together.
The romance didn't exactly go down like that, but I think you get the idea.
After finishing the last pages, I was glad that I finished Wasteland. Are there faults to the read? Um... yes! However, I did finished the book feeling satisfied and with a smile on my face. So, that has to count for something.
Will I read the next installment?
The blurb states that Wasteland is the start of a trilogy. For me, I have no idea why. The ending of Wasteland was solid with no real hint of what could / should happen next. Personally, if this is truly a start to a trilogy, I would be open to reading more, but only if I can get a back story or something.(less)
The Ward was one of my most anticipated reads for 2013. Boy, did I want to read this one.
From the very first page, I knew that there was something dif...moreThe Ward was one of my most anticipated reads for 2013. Boy, did I want to read this one.
From the very first page, I knew that there was something different about The Ward. Starting with its lush world, I though that The Ward would be a book that I wanted to curl up with and never let go. And at first, I did. But in the back of my mind, there was something off. Something that I was having a hard time putting my finger on. What it was exactly, I could not say. However, as the book continued, that nagging feeling that something wasn't right started to become more and more apparent.
Despite how much I really had wanted to read and love The Ward, in a lot of ways, The Ward was divided read for me. The world. Some of the characters. The Blight. I loved all of that. But the descriptions and even some plot elements were off.
To start off, Ren was a great character. I loved her drive and commitment to her sister (not biological) throughout the story. The Blight has effected Ren in a number of ways, she she keeps on fighting, keeping on surviving. Plus, she is a woman trying to make it in the man's world of drag racing. What was not to love. But her love life was another story. Personally, part of me wishes that there was not a romance at all. Or at least wish it could have been another character. I am not going to go into full details since it would ruin some key plot details, but let's just say, I wasn't a big fan.
There is a lot I really would love to go into detail about with this read, but for spoilers sake, I will just be vague. The overall concept for The Ward was great. The idea of the world being overrun by the Blight and all that it entails was really interesting. The romance and some details, especially concerning the drag racing, was a bit over my head. I didn't hate the romance per say, however, I didn't really care for it either. All in all, The Ward was a middle ground read for me. Parts I really liked. Parts that I wish either could have been done better, or changed a bit.
Wow. Oh, wow. With so many post-apocalyptic books floating around, Stung looked on the surface to be just another book in the crowd. An interesting co...moreWow. Oh, wow. With so many post-apocalyptic books floating around, Stung looked on the surface to be just another book in the crowd. An interesting concept to be sure, but would it deliver? The answer: hell, yes!
There is so much about Stung that I loved. So much so that I am have the worst time putting my thoughts into words.
Let's start with the premise. In the future, the bee population has disappeared. No bees equals no food. No food equals chaos. To advert chaos, the world's best minds came up with a solution, genetically engineered bees. Only one problem, the virus.
In our current society, bees populations declining makes the news every now and again. For the most part, I sit there and may be interested for a minute or two, then move on to something else. I know the importance of bees, so to have a dystopian read tackle the subject was really interesting. Do I think we could get as extreme as it does in Stung? Who knows, but whatever the future holds, Stung presents us with one very realistic possibility.
Fiona was a really unique character, very Sleeping Beauty like. After awaking from a coma, Fiona is lost and alone. Thinking that she is thirteen, Fiona is scared to find all that she can initially remember changed. No parents or brother. The house is a wreak. Dust and debris everywhere. To make matters worse, there are tattooed creatures on the loose. These creatures add a lot of tension to Stung. A tension that I didn't think would be there. I loved that Stung kept me on the edge of my seat discovering more about these creatures and how everything was connected.
From the very beginning, I was captivated with Stung. Is the book pure perfection? No. I did have some issues with a plot twist or two, but overall, Stung blew me away with its creativity. I loved the almost fairy tale like quality of Stung, and being able to follow Fiona in her journey of self-discovery. All in all, Stung does what few reads can... instantly grab me.
Will there be more?
Throughout Stung, I thought it was a standalone. But with the twist ending, now I am not so sure. I have seen talks about a sequel / companion novel, so it looks like Stung may not be a standalone after all. Personally, that makes me really excited. I would love to jump back into this world and discover more.(less)
Ever since the ending of the Hex Hall series, I have been dying for something else by Rachel Hawkins. Seriously, I am not sure Rachel Hawkins can do a...moreEver since the ending of the Hex Hall series, I have been dying for something else by Rachel Hawkins. Seriously, I am not sure Rachel Hawkins can do any wrong in my eyes.
School Spirits opens around the time of the ending of Spell Bound. Although it really isn't spelled out that there is a connection between the two series, there are little breadcrumbs that link Sophie and Izzy together. Well, besides the fact that they are cousins.
Truth be told, if you are looking for basically a redo of the Hex Hall series, you will not find it here. School Spirits, while having some writing similarities, is completely different in a number of ways from the Hex Hell series. As I started School Spirits, I found myself letting out a breath that I didn't realize I had been holding. I love the Hex Hall series to pieces, but I wanted something new and different. With School Spirits, I got that and more.
As a Brannick, Izzy knows all about the Prodigium. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And she knows how to fight them, too. Throughout School Spirits, I constantly found myself liking Izzy more than I thought I would. The same goes with her new friends. Unlike the Hex Hall series, the friends are human, or at least, much more human than in the Hex Hall series. To avoid spoilers, that is all that I am saying about that.
As for the romance, Dex is not Archer. Although, I didn't want School Spirits be Hex Hall, part two, I honestly wouldn't have minded finding Archer, part two. I do love me some Archer. Moving on. While different, I must admit there is a part of me that found myself drawn to Dex. His humor. Loyalty. I loved it all. And unlike Archer, Dex came across as almost silly at times. Which was a nice counter balance to Izzy's sometimes serious personality.
I loved School Spirits to pieces. The atmosphere that I loved from the Hex Hall series is in full effect, but it felt different enough to make me feel like I wasn't just reading a rehashing. School Spirits is the promising start to a new series.