I've always had a strange fascination with things that are lost. We all lose things – our keys, pens, wallets, socks, earrings, and so on. But where d...moreI've always had a strange fascination with things that are lost. We all lose things – our keys, pens, wallets, socks, earrings, and so on. But where do they go? In Durst's first adult novel, she explores a city full of lost items, places, and people. Unsurprisingly, The Lost turned out to be as intriguing a story as I hoped to find. Lauren spends her day driving to get away from problems at home, only to find herself pulling into an odd town called Lost. She quickly finds that leaving will be a challenge when the Missing Man – the only person who can help her find what she's lost – takes one glance at her and leaves.
The town of Lost is a charming, quirky, and somewhat terrifying place. It is both familiar and bizarre, and inhabited by people from all walks of life. As a narrator, Lauren is a comforting, realistic presence who proves that she has far more determination and resourcefulness than one might initially expect from her. With a light touch of romance, Durst slowly builds the base for what will likely become an interesting relationship between Lauren and Peter. Even though this is an adult novel, older young adult literature fans will also find this story appealing. Peculiar, humorous, and evocative, The Lost is an imaginative, standout story of the year.
Highlights: Characterization is wonderful, from the tough yet adorable Claire to the odd yet surprisingly well-read Peter / Finder. Instead of wallowing, Lauren utilizes her strengths, works on her weaknesses, and tries to figure out a way home. The world of the Lost is fascinating, strange, and perfectly described in order to convey it's charm, oddness, and dangers. The romance is very light, sweet, and realistic. Even better, Durst infuses plenty of emotion in with all the entertainment. As a person who knows what it's like to watch someone you love struggle medically to live, Lauren's relationship with her mother really resonated with me. The ending is very bittersweet, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Incredible, exciting, surprising, and captivating: THE CROWN OF EMBERS is everything a sequel should aspire to be. Authors should take note of Carson'...moreIncredible, exciting, surprising, and captivating: THE CROWN OF EMBERS is everything a sequel should aspire to be. Authors should take note of Carson's approach, because sequels (unfortunately) tend to be underwhelming in the YA universe. Carson, however, takes charge of her story by creating an exciting and sometimes terrifying story that makes it impossible for readers to stop turning the pages. Elisa may be queen, and a hero because of her actions in the first novel, but she's far from beloved and safe in this sequel. For Elisa, her story has only just begun. I will keep this review spoiler-free, because this is one story you will want to read for yourself. Just when you think you've figured out everything, Carson pulls a few more tricks out of her sleeve. THE CROWN OF EMBERS proves itself to be more than expected - it's a thrilling fantasy adventure with the perfect dose of romance and humor.
Highlights: I thought Elisa went through a large amount of character growth in the first book, but she really goes through so much more in this sequel. The stakes are higher, the danger more imminent, and Elisa is coming to terms with becoming the queen she wants to be and the queen her kingdom needs. Everything about this novel is entrancing and exciting - I hardly set this book down once I started reading. Plus, this book was so fabulous that I purchased it again so I could own it as a hardcover (I do not do this very often). And the romance*! Also, side characters (such as Belen) develop more in the this story.
Lowlights: The not-so-happy ending. And the wait for book three is frustrating, too.
Cover: I've never been overly fond of the covers for this trilogy, but in person, they look so much better (especially this one, it is gorgeous in real life). I love how the title pops with the gold - it looks amazing when it catches the light.
* FINALLY. I'm very fond of Elisa's romantic interest in this novel.(less)
Celaena Sardothien is the kind of character that demands attention. I quickly became a fan of Celaena's character in the first three THRONE OF GLASS n...moreCelaena Sardothien is the kind of character that demands attention. I quickly became a fan of Celaena's character in the first three THRONE OF GLASS novellas (especially in THE ASSASSIN AND THE DESERT) because despite her cocky and better-than-everyone-else attitude, she does have some great moments and character growth in each novella. As a bonus, Celaena gets the job done in each of those smaller stories, and she's not afraid to kick some butt along the way.
In THRONE OF GLASS, Celaena is forced to reacquire and moderate her abilities for the sake of survival as she tries to win the privilege of being the King's champion. I expected action-packed story featuring gripping Tests as Celaena proves her worth, but strangely, I instead found that more focus is placed on Celaena's budding romantic relationships and the not-so-surprising mystery of who or what is killing off Celaena's competitors. In the end, I found the story enjoyable but was still somewhat saddened* by how much emphasis was placed on trivial matters when there was so much potential for THRONE OF GLASS.
Highlights: Vain, deadly, and quick with fabulously witty comebacks, Celaena also contains a softer side underneath all those prickly edges. I enjoyed how Maas focused on only one of Celaena's romantic relationships, and how Maas showed Celaena's struggle to reach her peak after spending so long in Endovier. Each Test kept me eagerly turning the pages for more. Nox and Nehemia were both surprising and wonderfully written supporting characters that I hope to see in future books.
Lowlights: The switching 3rd person POV. The lack of time spent on the Tests, and the amount instead spent hanging out with Celaena in her rooms or flirting with her love interests, who don't compare to the ones present in the novellas. A bit too much time spent on things that got old quickly (Celaena flirting, whining, eating / adoring candy). The main love interest seemed a bit cliché. The mysteries unraveled too obviously.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (I liked it, but there are some flaws I cannot ignore)
* I liked this book, but felt a bit underwhelmed, especially after loving the first three novellas. Other readers seem to be loving it, so I'd recommend THRONE OF GLASS to anyone craving a fantasy novel. I also highly recommend the ToG novellas, which are fantastic.
It's the party everyone would kill to be at...and one that may kill you if you attend. Thrilling, horrifying, and strangely entertaining, TEN is a hig...moreIt's the party everyone would kill to be at...and one that may kill you if you attend. Thrilling, horrifying, and strangely entertaining, TEN is a highly suspenseful murder mystery that is nearly impossible to set aside for even a second. The third person narration follows Meg, a sarcastic teenage writer who was dragged along to an exclusive party by her codependent BFF, Minnie. While I never felt a deep connection with Meg, I was rooting for her to survive from the beginning and was eagerly trying to unravel the clues right alongside her. Simply put, TEN is the type of story that will keep you up late at night reading, anxiously turning the pages and warily eyeing every shadowy corner in your home*.
HIGHLIGHTS: I was both correct and incorrect about the killer's identity, so I found that to be a pleasant surprise. There is plenty of diversity among the characters, and I like that McNeil didn't follow the typical horror movie pattern entirely. All in all, TEN is one thrilling mystery.
LOWLIGHTS: Neither the characters nor the romance are deep or complex, but that didn't bother me (I feel like this story is meant to be a quick, exciting read rather than deep or emotional). It takes a few chapters for things to get going. A few of the murders seemed a bit convenient (the killer had to get really lucky a few times in order for the right person to fall into the correct trap).
RATING: 4.5 out of 5
* Probably not a good idea to read this one at night, like I did. I don't scary easily, but even I had a hard time falling asleep after reading this one (especially since my house makes creepy creaking noises at night - which so didn't help the situation). *cuddles with flashlight*(less)
"The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak." (240)
Alina Starkov is hardly an exceptional being – she's a thin, sickly orphan girl who cannot e...more"The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak." (240)
Alina Starkov is hardly an exceptional being – she's a thin, sickly orphan girl who cannot even sketch very well when it comes to her job as a junior cartographer's assistant in the Ravkan army. But, after she unleashes her hidden Grisha (talented people who use the Small Science of the elements) side in order to save her childhood best friend Mal, Alina is whisked away to live like a Grisha. And as she learns to unleash the Grisha part of herself, she slowly evolves into something more than a sickly orphan. But, it's not being Grisha that makes Alina a fascinating protagonist – it's her growing determination and budding confidence, along with her weaker moments, that cause her to become a character a reader can root for.
SHADOW AND BONE is richly descriptive and engrossing. I'm an avid fan of YA fantasy novels, so Bardugo had a lot to live up to in my mind – and she nailed it. From the first page, Bardugo thrusts the reader into another world with an intriguing 3rd person introduction, before switching to Alina's POV for the rest of the novel. Bardugo writes her settings vividly and expertly evokes the wanting, the adoration, the hatred, the desperation, and every other emotions swirling around inside her characters. This novel is a slow burn, taking its time as it builds the plot, setting, and develops the characters. In all, SHADOW AND BONE is a pleasant surprise that has me eagerly looking forward to more works written by Bardugo.
Highlights: The world building is excellently done, richly described. As far as villains go, the Darkling is one the best that I've read in a long time, simply because he is layered as a character. I still do not know how I feel about him, and I think that's a mark of a well-written and complex villain. Plus, there is a stunningly incredible map inside this book (I love maps in books! Maps + books = awesome). Alina's growth from taking the easy way out to taking the hard path made her very endearing to me.
Lowlights: For the most part, not much happens during the middle of the story. Most of the exciting parts happen right at the beginning and then at the end, with the middle being more about Alina struggling and coming to terms with her Grisha side. It wasn't enough to bother me that much, I was just surprised at the pacing of the story.
Cover: Excuse me while I fangirl over that cover art. I'm a fan of illustrated covers, and this one is exceptional. Simple, with a nice mixture of light and dark swirls (and I love how the lighter ones also resemble antlers). It perfectly portrays significant aspects of the novel visually.
Highlights: The world building regarding sylphs is top notch, detailed, and very fascinating. The dual points-of-view are similarly well done, as Mess...moreHighlights: The world building regarding sylphs is top notch, detailed, and very fascinating. The dual points-of-view are similarly well done, as Messenger gives both Vane and Audra their own distinct personalities / voices. Audra was especially an incredible, badass, easy-to-love character, but I did equally enjoy Vane's sarcastic nature (and his concern for his family). Messenger's writing has a nice flow to it, making her novel an easy story to breeze through in a matter of hours. The romance, despite being a bit quick, is surprisingly believable and sweet. All in all, LET THE SKY FALL is a highly enjoyable and gripping story.
Lowlights: Despite Messenger's creativity with the slyph lore, she lets the actual story fall into the structure of your typical, clichéd young adult novel. The plot is familiar to those who read a lot of YA, so it's easy to see where everything is going (but there are a few twists that I'm sure many readers will find very surprising). I wish the secondary characters had been included in the story a bit more.
I would give this novel a 4 out of 5 rating. Packed with plenty of action, humor, and imagination, LET THE SKY FALL is a lively start to what could be a terrific trilogy. I have high hopes for the sequel, LET THE STORMS BREAK!(less)
Gods and goddesses, deserts and droughts, fate and freedom....Sarah Beth Durst's newest novel has it all, and then some. I've read Durst's novels ENCH...moreGods and goddesses, deserts and droughts, fate and freedom....Sarah Beth Durst's newest novel has it all, and then some. I've read Durst's novels ENCHANTED IVY and DRINK, SLAY, LOVE and enjoyed them both very much, but there was always something missing from them that kept me at a solid 4 rating. This book, however, is quite a different story. Easily one of the best stories I've read all year, VESSEL is a highly creative, richly cultured, and wonderfully executed fantasy novel that sweeps across the harsh desert lands as one extraordinary young woman tries to save her people. Liyana, destined to give up her body to her goddess Bayla, is determined to find her missing goddess and unwilling to yield or give up without a fight.
Despite how very journey-orientated this story is - since Liyana and Korbyn* are wandering the desert as they look for the other vessels and the missing gods and goddesses - Durst throws in quite a few surprises along the way to keep a reader hooked and guessing about the final outcome. The pacing picks up and slows down repeatedly, and kept me completely entranced by this story from start to finish. If you're a fan of fantasy stories rich in culture, amusing characters, and brimming with unpredictability, then VESSEL should be the next novel on your To-Read list.
Highlights: The worldbuilding, characters, story...everything is exceptional in VESSEL. Durst takes her characters in different directions than expected. Liyana's family rocked. Liyana is an excellent and humorous protagonist that's easy to like. I loved seeing the other clans and their vessels. The sporadic second narration kept me curious in the beginning and it was interesting to see how it all tied together with Liyana.
Lowlights: I was a bit sad about the way the story ended (especially romantically, it didn't work out the way I hoped it would), but it was the best possible ending for the story. It's too bad this book is a standalone, because I really wish there were more books!
Goodbye high school, hello road trip. Colby's excited about putting college on hold and going abroad for the year w...more"We all want to feel something..."*
Goodbye high school, hello road trip. Colby's excited about putting college on hold and going abroad for the year with his best friend, Bev. So, when Bev changes their plans with a surprising and blunt truth, Colby's stuck with three girls (one of which he is furious at), a VW bus named Melinda, and absolutely no clue where to go after the tour wraps up. Things are even more complicated, since Colby's torn between his anger and his deeper feelings for Bev. As the tensions rise and secrets spill, The Disenchantments takes the characters through the struggles that reside in friendship, individuality, and adulthood.
Nina LaCour's sophomore effort is excellent. Colby's voice strikes a note of authenticity and relatability from the beginning, and you can't help but to feel as angry as he is when Bev changes their plans with minimal notice. As for the Disenchantments, they may be a terrible band, but they're great characters - you've got Bev and her secrets, Meg and her positive attitude, and Alexa's utter sweetness. Colby's relaxed and giving personality melds perfectly with this trio, but it's his journey and his character growth that resonates the most in The Disenchantments.
Highlights: Not only is this story music-orientated, but it's deeper than the light, carefree cover suggests. There's a nice mix to the fun and the serious moments, and I loved every second it took reading this story. The art aspect to the story was great, and I love how the back jacket cover of the novel ties into some of that. Colby, a male main character, was a wonderful narrator#. Even side characters were pretty great, and each seem fully developed.
Lowlights: Maybe a bit more page-time with some side characters.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
* pg. 271 # We definitely need more male MC's in YA lit (less)