This, a mini interview with Megan Crewe, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
What begins as a little itch here, a nagging cough tThis, a mini interview with Megan Crewe, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
What begins as a little itch here, a nagging cough there turns into the biggest outbreak a small Canadian East Coast island has ever seen. Kaelyn and her family moved back to their hometown island after a brief stint in Toronto only to find that things have changed since their absence. When the townspeople start falling ill and dying, the government impose a quarantine on the island forcing those that are ill and those that are surviving to continue existing together. It's survival of the fittest, where everyone's fight or flight instincts are put to the test in hopes they can last long enough for a cure to be found.
Wow. I picked this up the day before Megan Crewe's book launch in Toronto, and started reading it on the subway ride there. I almost wish it took longer to get there because I didn't want to stop reading it. This novel captivates you right from the get-go. I enjoy a good story about ghosts or monsters, but what makes The Way We Fall absolutely terrifying is the fact that it's about a very real and plausible enemy: a biological virus outbreak.
Written in the style of journal entries from Kaelyn to a former friend, the narrative style suits the storytelling nicely. As the reader, you feel like you've stumbled across a girl's diary of unsent letters documenting the outbreak on the island. Broken into three parts (Symptoms / Quarantine / Mortality), the chapters and pacing of the story flow seamlessly from one moment to the next.
The true nature of people faced with that dire and seemingly-helpless situation is explored in all aspects, from those that have survivor's guilt to those wanting to help to those who take advantage of the situation and wreak havoc. It's not only the disease that seems to be infectious, but the paranoia among everyone that catches just as quickly.
The Way We Fall encapsulates so many things that I enjoy in a book: mystery, thriller, great character dynamics and set in Canada (partially in Toronto, no less!) What's not to love?
Maude runs away from home to escape a future that would not be her own. She makes her way to PThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil' Lost
Maude runs away from home to escape a future that would not be her own. She makes her way to Paris and answers a job posting before realizing that the job was to be plain. An unusual agency hires out “ugly” females to their rich clientele with the idea that when the rich are next to someone bland, they would look more attractive. Maude soon realizes that her client has hired her for her daughter, who has no idea that she’s paid for. The two young girls become friends and Maude is conflicted on where her allegiances lie.
In all honesty, this story really snuck up on me. I knew the premise was interesting and I had wanted to check it out, but I had no idea just how much it would pull me in. There is so much more psychology than what might appear on the surface with how Ross writes each of the girls in the agency. Being a repoussoir, or a “repulser”, would certainly take its toll on a person’s mental state.
While I’m not sure if the girl on the cover is supposed to represent Maude, I certainly don’t consider her “plain” nor “ugly” in the least! In fact, Maude and all the other characters really came across as strong women, despite their position in life. They all had their individual shortcomings and flaws and yet all shone past that as well. Even the title itself, Belle Epoque, is French for “beautiful era” which holds so much more significance in the context of this novel.
In a way, the basis of the story is not necessarily a novel one. There are many stories where the protagonist pretends to be someone they’re not. What makes Ross stand apart from all of that is that the intentions of said protagonist in Belle Epoque are not motivated by a romantic relationship but rather a platonic friendship. And looking back on my initial comment about how it caught me off guard with how invested I became with the story, it’s actually not that surprising after all. I love stories that have strong, yet vulnerable, characters that rise above their circumstances in life and show the world what they’re really made of. This is exactly that kind of book....more
Oh Delirium. I don’t know why it took me so long to pick you up and read you.
I had heard so much about this book by Lauren Oliver, and had picked it up in NYC back when I was there over the summer and Borders was having their ridiculous closing sales. After much (loving) “peer pressure” from fellow book blogger friends, I promised to read it as soon as I was done my review book at the time. At over 400 pages, I did not think I would finish this book as quickly as I did, but I could not put it down.
Delirium is set in Portland, Maine where the community lives in a state of fear; a fear of a disease, a fear of the regulators that patrol the curfewed streets, a fear of losing oneself. Amor deliria nervosa, the disease of love where it renders the infected ones with symptoms such as perspiration, disorientation, periods of euphoria & despair. The cure is administered to everyone on their 18th birthday and is supposed to alleviate all the pain and heartache that comes with the disease. Lena’s 18th birthday is coming up and as she and her best friend Hana enjoy the last of their summer together before they are cured, they both struggle with the implications of what this cure means for their future.
I honestly don't want to say too much more of the synopsis because you need to read it for yourself. I was worried that all the hype would leave me disappointed, but for me, it lived up to my expectations. The writing is beautiful, and the world that Oliver has created has such depth to it. Aided in part by the chapter starters with quotes from books and lexicons in the world that Lena and Hana know, it allows the readers to get a fuller understanding of the mentality of these people - and the gravity of the situation that is only known as amor deliria nervosa.
Obviously, what is a story about a love disease without an epic love story in it... and boy is this ever the epic one. Their story tears at your heartstrings and completely consumes you, making you fall in love with the star-crossed lovers. Even with the expected love story, Oliver manages to still throw in enough twists and turns to keep the reader wanting more. As much as I hate it, my mind often starts thinking ahead and tries guessing what is going to happen next (and I really don't know why I do that because I hate spoilers) and in spite of that, I was left with my mouth open in shock more times than not.
In a futuristic society, everyone is divided into 5 factions which form the basis and gThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
In a futuristic society, everyone is divided into 5 factions which form the basis and guidance in which they must lead their lives; of honesty, intelligence, bravery, selflessness and peacefulness. These factions were set up to maintain order and upon turning 16, an aptitude test is administered to the young people in the society to determine where they belong in society. Beatrice Prior has never felt like she belonged in the faction that she was raised in, and after the results of her test are announced, she discovers the reason why – she might not belong to any one group alone. Once Beatrice makes her choice, she must live up to the expectations and live with the decisions she has made while realizing that the harmonious society that she’s grown to know isn’t all that it seems.
Like with another highly recommended book, I can’t believe it took me this long to get to Divergent – what a phenomenal read. Roth is well-versed in the world that she’s created and satisfyingly sets up the first in a trilogy. There were times that I felt it reminded me of a mix of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Not in the story context (and I’m by no means directly comparing these three books), but certain elements of it – such as being divided up into factions (“Houses”) that are so distinctive, the “new kids in school” feel to groups of characters, or the intense training that the new initiates go through, definitely gave a familiar nostalgic feel to the previously aforementioned books. While it did take me a little bit to grasp & remember which faction meant what virtue, Roth does a subtle but steady reminder of what is what to help the readers be completely immersed in her story.
I also loved that Beatrice is such a strong character in the book. Her personality and relationships with those around her drive the story of the book as much as the plot itself. She’s a regular teenage girl with complicated and confusing feelings to her family and friends, especially under such stressful situations.
Overall a fantastically captivating read. At just under 500 pages, I was surprised how quickly I flew through this. Thank goodness I don’t have to wait for the next book to come out! If you haven’t read Divergent yet, what are you waiting for? Don’t make the same mistake I made by waiting so long to get to it!
Under the pretense that she is leaving New York to meet up with her brother in LondoThis and my other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Under the pretense that she is leaving New York to meet up with her brother in London, Tessa Gray finds herself kidnapped by ones who call themselves the Dark Sisters, and with no sign of her brother. She soon learns of abilities that she didn't know she had and eventually manages to escape, only to discover more about London's mysterious Downworld than she had wanted to. Faced with the realization that her brother's disappearance might be related to this underground network of vampires, warlocks and demons, Tessa turns to the Shadowhunters - those who dedicate themselves to keeping the supernatural beings in line. The Shadowhunters vow to track down Tessa's missing brother, with the hopes that she will use her powers to aid them in their quest to take down the one behind all of it.
Honestly, I can't believe it's taken me this long to finally read Clockwork Angel. As its a prequel to The Mortal Instruments series (of which, I've only read the first one of), I thought I'd have to read that series first. While I thought City of Bones was okay, Clockwork Angel completely blew me away. Being close to 500 pages, it was an easy well-paced read. I loved the old London world setting and, touched with a paranormal aspect, it made this an interesting story right up my alley. The plot points with its twists and turns are well established, leaving room for further potential development in subsequent books. I did find the character of Henry reminiscent of Arthur Weasley (of Harry Potter fame).. redhead who's fascinated by gadgets and inventions.. On a purely superficial note, I absolutely adore the cover of the book (<3 Will) ;)
Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter. Ever since his father died on the job, he has taken on tThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter. Ever since his father died on the job, he has taken on the role of “killing” ghosts that won’t, or can’t, move on. After getting rid of a ghostly hitchhiker, Cas and his mother pack up and move to Thunder Bay, a city in northern Ontario, to chase a lead that Cas received. The lead was to hunt down Anna Korlov, a young girl who was killed on her way to a dance and now spends her afterlife decimating, without a trace, anyone who steps into her former home.
The whole time leading up to reading Anna Dressed in Blood I had thought the main character was a female. I’m not even exactly sure why I had that impression, but I was definitely surprised that “Cas” is a guy. The dynamic that Blake has established between Cas and his witchy mother is great. The narrative shows their unconventional lifestyle in a unique way and I loved that. It’s not often that there are many YA books that have a mother/son dynamic as loving and understanding as this. I suppose with the manner that Cas’ father had died, they would have to have an open mind about this sort of paranormal thing. Foregoing the familial factor, I also enjoyed that the main character was a male, written by a female. Of the YA books that I've read, it was often starring female leads and many male characters were written by male authors.
Blake is also exceptional at painting a fantastically horrific picture of what is going on. It’s easy to fall into clichés with ghost stories and her imaginative descriptions are not only frightening but, at times, absolutely grotesque. While some characters definitely have the potential to be further developed, the ones she did explore are quite well established. As the reader, you get a sense of who Cas is and what his motivations are.
While there is a touch of romance, it’s not necessarily the main focus of the book. It is the ghost stories that drive this tale, and Anna Dressed in Blood is a good ol' fashioned scary story - and I absolutely love that....more
A sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein spends his privileged life being home-schoolThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost...
A sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein spends his privileged life being home-schooled with his twin brother Konrad and cousin Elizabeth. Often accompanied by their family friend Henry, the foursome spend their days playing and exploring around the Frankenstein estate when not learning from their father. When Konrad suddenly falls seriously ill, the remaining three companions stumble upon an old library full of strange languages and recipes. They are convinced that if they manage to figure out how to concoct the Elixir of Life, it will save their friend. The trio must race against time and danger to gather the only 3 ingredients required, before it's too late for Konrad.
This book has so much of what I love that I'm kicking myself for how long it took me to get to it. A touch of alchemy with a dash of action and adventure, this book was reminiscent of
if Harry & the gang were a rebellious trouble-making bunch. (Well, I guess that can be debatable...) There were so many moments in This Dark Endeavour that brought back great memories of the J.K. Rowling series, from the 2-guys, 1 girl dynamic to the strange creatures and alchemy "magic" that are encountered. There is that same sense of peril & mystery-solving in a more-than-meets-the-eye kind of world.
The depiction of the brother dynamic was also really well executed. The love/hate relationship that Victor and Konrad have with each other feels so real. Whether it's competing with one another to intense jealousy to unrequited brotherly love, anyone with a sibling, let alone a twin, can attest to having at least some of those emotions about each other at some point. I felt this sibling love/rivalry that Oppel described was so well played where siblings can be angry and fight about anything but as soon as something jeopardizes that, blood always comes first. Another major topic of This Dark Endeavour was the debate between science vs faith, which I likened to the long-running theme on
. With Victor's desire to find a solution rooted in alchemy to cure his brother, Elizabeth was equally as passionate in praying for Konrad's health at mass. Oppel lays out both arguments in a fair manner, not necessarily leaning towards one way or the other which allows the reader to take from it what they will. Rather than make a potentially controversial declaration that one was more correct than the other, Oppel shows the highs and lows of both sides.
Once again, drawing from another literary source comparison, I loved that this was a backstory to a pre-existing, well-known tale. I thought of Gregory Maguire's
, where everyone thinks they know the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, but Maguire illustrates so much more depth and history to Elphaba. Oppel achieves the same effect with this book, giving new life and backstory to the man who eventually creates Frankenstein's monster. A fantastic beginning to an edge-of-your-seat series that will leave readers gasping with shock and crying out in surprise. ...more
Touted as “When Hunger Games meets X-Men”, Tahereh Mafi’s debut novel Shatter Me doesn’t disappoint. The readers are first introduced to Juliette as an emaciated prisoner in a dilapidated asylum. Her powers which had imprisoned her, have now caught the attention of several key figures. In a world that’s now a ghost of what it once was, Juliette struggles to listen to her instincts on who can or can’t be trusted while learning to accept that her Rogue-like powers will tempt people to exploit her for their own agenda.
At only 23 years old, Mafi has excelled at penning a phenomenal debut novel. Filled with romance and dystopian intrigue, I absolutely could not put this book down. The narration style allowed the readers to feel like they were in Juliette’s head, living the confusion and uncertainty as she thinks and rethinks many of her thoughts, simply (and yet so brilliantly) illustrated by the crossed out words strikethroughs. The description and imagery is so vivid & imaginative, looking at the world in a different way. One particular analogy stuck out at me, where Mafi writes that the sun is like a negligent parent, only there half the time.
I actually also found the story reminiscent of another favourite book/movie of mine, V for Vendetta, where an imprisoned girl finds herself in a world where it is governed by fear and corruption. I had finished this book over a week ago and it has taken me this long to write my review. I felt I couldn’t find the right words to do this book justice. Mafi is an extremely talented young writer, making something as simple as a touch so coveted and yearned for.
Shatter Me is available on November 15, 2011. ...more
Diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 12, Hazel miraculously lives to see 16 as tThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog, Just A Lil' Lost
Diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 12, Hazel miraculously lives to see 16 as the tumors in her lungs shrink - thanks to the help of some trial medication. One day, at a children-with-cancer support group, she meets Augustus who takes an interesting in her. Introduced to the support group via Hazel's friend Isaac, another teen who's diagnosed with cancer, the three become close friends - bonded over this common thread they have. It is through Augustus' vitality and love of life that they discover their own mark that they will leave on this planet.
To be honest, I hadn't heard of John Green or this book until a few weeks ago when Twitter was all a-twitter about this new book of his. My curiosity got the better of me, and I went out and picked it up. And am I ever glad I did. It's a fantastically profound read, mixing in humour with the conventionally-morbid subject matter. It is philosophical and thought-provoking, causing the reader to reflect on their own views on "making a difference" in the world. I am often uneasy with the topic of death, and the writing in TFiOS felt so real to me that it made me quite uncomfortable thinking about it and how I'd feel if I were in that situation.
I loved the depiction of the support group members' dynamics. One moment in particular stood out to me, where Green writes about how these children are beating cancer yet it becomes like a competition, trying to beat each other with their stories as well. You see that kind of one-upsmanship in all facets of life with all different types of people, which doesn't exclude those who are terminally ill. And although the main focus is the developing friendship of Hazel and Augustus, I found myself really loving the dynamic between Augustus and Isaac. The bromance they had throughout the book is such a simple & supportive one, free of any complications that their illnesses may cause to their physical bodies.
Although it didn't necessarily "change my world" and I didn't shed any tears (I don't often cry with books or movies), I can see where moments in TFiOS can really pull at your heartstrings. It is a witty, poignantly-written book that tackles some tough issues with grace, charisma and some joie de vivre....more
Developing the story where Shatter Me left off, but in the POV of Warner – Juliette’s captor. Now THIS is how you do a character development story. Mafi continues with her eloquent style of writing, with flowing words and phrases without it being contrived. She completely steps into the shoes of Warner and allows us all to get another look at this apparent villain. So much angst and anguish. This story did to me with Warner what the “Confidence Man” episode of Lost did to me for Sawyer: highlighted the soft side of a bad boy. <3...more
When we last left off from the first book, Cinder has found herself now in prison after being cThis, and other reviews can be found on Just a Lil Lost
When we last left off from the first book, Cinder has found herself now in prison after being captured at Prince Kai's ball. While she is plotting her escape in New Beijing, Scarlet Benoit over in France is searching for her missing grandmother. During her investigations, she encounters a streetfighter named Wolf who apparently knows something surrounding her grandmother's disappearance. With no other leads, and no other choice, Scarlet begrudgingly trusts him, finding herself falling further and further into a bigger mystery than she initially thought.
While I enjoyed the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series, I really loved this one so much more. I enjoyed the different story lines and the dynamic of two main characters rather than an entire book just about Cinder. While I understand that it was necessary to do that and establish the world that they live in, I was able to more fully immerse myself in Scarlet because of the added variety of characters and scenarios.
To me, I always pictured Hugh Jackman's Wolverine whenever I read about Wolf... if the rest of the cast was a bit older or Hugh was a more appropriate age. Especially with his introduction as a streetfighter, it reminded me of the beginning of the first X-Men movie. All the players in this series have such distinct voices & characteristics that they really successfully play off each other. Scarlet works even better as a fairytale retelling because of all that we know about these characters already. So having hints of that come out are like DVD easter eggs, waiting to be found by the fans.
Scarlet will make you laugh, swoon and scream in (good) frustration - an absolutely fantastic sequel to a 4-book series!...more
Pandemonium picks up shortly after where Delirium left off.This, and other reviews, can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (5/5 stars)
Pandemonium picks up shortly after where Delirium left off. The old Lena is long gone and the new Lena struggles with the loss of everything she had ever known, left behind in her past life. As the new girl among a group of so-called "invalids", Lena has to adjust to this new life in the Wilds as part of the resistance. Told in alternating chapters between then and now, glimpses of Lena's adjustment to her new life are mixed in with the current situation she is faced with as the timelines piece closer and closer together.
Can I take back the 5-star rating I gave Delirium and apply it to Pandemonium instead? Because honestly, I thought I loved Delirium... but I loved Pandemonium so much more, if that's even possible! Where Delirium sets up the story, with it's build-up of the disease known as love, Pandemonium quite literally lives up to it's name. It is a darker, action-packed story right from the get-go and keeps you stringing along with both then & now storylines.
Where the first installment is set in Portland, Maine - a "safe" suburban city, reflective of the name Delirium, Pandemonium was mostly set in New York City. I really enjoyed the imagery between the "concrete jungle" with Lena's time in the Wilds. The grittier story filled with mystery, espionage and full-on fight scenes make for an exciting read that I couldn't put down. While I had a feeling where the story was heading, it still kept me on the edge of my seat on how it would get there. Oliver is a great storyteller, pacing out the narrative in a fantastic way, planting plot points and red herrings at certain innocuous moments only to bring it up again later when you may have forgotten about it.
I feel like I have so much more to say about it, but can't find the words to express those thoughts - especially not without giving anything away! Therefore, I shall leave it at this: READ NOW. Pandemonium = Phenomenal. ...more
First off, there may be a spoiler warning. If you haven’This, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4.5/5 stars)
First off, there may be a spoiler warning. If you haven’t read the first book – obviously don’t read the review for this second book as I will be discussing what happened in the first one.
In the first book, Divergent, Tris thought the toughest choice she had was whether to leave her originating faction for another one. Little did she know that she would be facing a lot more dire circumstances in the sequel, Insurgent. Her faith in the factions are tested, her relationship is tested, who and what she knows is tested. When last we left Divergent, there was an impending war about to break loose.
Right off the bat, I likened this darker, grittier action-packed sequel to that of Pandemonium, the sequel to Delirium - which also had a similar grimmer feel, and which I absolutely love. Give me more action than over-the-top romance any day! That being said, while I liked the sequel more than the first book of Lauren Oliver’s series, the same can’t be said about this one. Don’t get me wrong, I still very thoroughly enjoyed Insurgent, but there seemed to be a bit of disconnect with the Tris from Divergent and the Tris from Insurgent. Granted, she had been through a lot but her erratic behaviour and polarizing mood swings, especially towards Tobias, seemed excessive. And speaking of Tobias, I can’t stand that name. It doesn’t suit how he’s described to be. Every time I read that name, I pictured Tobias Fünke from Arrested Development! He needs to just go by Four.
While the mysterious “information” that everyone wanted to obtain or destroy was the driving force for the book, I felt the constant back and forth mixing of factions to be a bit distracting and confusing to follow. There were good & bad, loyal & traitorous for so many factions that I found it a bit hard to keep track of who was in what group.
However, that being said, I could not put this book down. I needed to find out where this was going and what this “information” was that everybody wanted to get their hands on. The narrative rarely lagged and was so well-paced to keep the 525 page book moving that I was surprised how quickly I got through it. Thank goodness that Roth was smart and selective of what she’d leave as a cliffhanger, because if she left certain things dragging onto the next book, I might have wanted to throw the book out the window! Overall a satisfying conspiracy-filled sequel to the extremely successful first book, and very much looking forward to the next one in a year’s time. ...more
This, an interview with the author, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
The world is ending, filling with infected people becominThis, an interview with the author, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil Lost
The world is ending, filling with infected people becoming zombies and six teenagers have managed to survive and take shelter in the local high school. Tension and voices run high as the pounding on the doors from the dead outside get to everyone. Sloane, a girl who didn’t have a great family life, is ready to use this dire situation to just end her misery. Little does she know, the circumstances that they face on the inside are just as treacherous as the danger that awaits them outside.
While reading This Is Not a Test, I kept thinking of how amazing this would be as a play or movie. Although it’s set amidst a zombie apocalypse, the majority of the story is set inside the high school. It’s almost like the zombies are a subplot, and the main focus is a character-driven tale of six very-different personalities trying to survive. I’d like to equate it to a similar feel to The Breakfast Club. It’s a group of kids, personalities clashing and stuck in a school yet having a unified front against the bigger baddie.
The narrative style is really interesting, and I enjoy the hints of a back story before the full history is revealed. All throughout the novel, Summers alludes to Sloane’s home life and you can speculate and figure what it was, but she doesn’t come right out and explain till much later. I love that. Even the characters themselves, the reader is often kept guessing as to their motivations and intentions. Jumping right into the action, This Is Not a Test is a riveting and compelling read. Your heart goes out to the six teenagers in different ways, all struggling with different inner torments.
Amy always felt a bit awkward and out of place, her only friend being her neighbour JoThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost
Amy always felt a bit awkward and out of place, her only friend being her neighbour Joe. That is until she caught the attention of two popular girls who pulled her under their wing. She wasn’t like Lila the pretty one, or Cassie the tough one; at times, Amy felt like she was the drab “leftover” one. When their prom dates are a no-show, they decide to try and make the best of their night and end up landing themselves in jail. The fall-out from their actions means Amy has been banned from seeing the other two by her parents, no cell phone contact and visits to a courtroom, a therapist and a lawyer – all while juggling a job at the local gas station. Faced with the dilemma of being asked to testify against her friends, Amy struggles to find herself among the rubble that her and her friends have created for themselves.
If ever there was a “coming of age” story, this would definitely fit the bill. The cover, with the gorgeous party dress, admittedly made me think it was a light fluff, fun story but Burstein has written a very gritty and real tale of a teenager struggling with who she was, who she is and who she thinks she wants to be. The story doesn’t glorify the reality of being arrested and the consequences of all actions that you make. While Amy is the main character, she’s by no means raised up on a pedestal because of that. She could be any teenager, rebellious & sullen, wanting to be a grown-up, but trying to make sense of her life and everyone she affects. Amy doesn’t know how to communicate with her mother without it turning into a shouting match, and her father tries but is at a loss. Don’t let the title fool you, there’s nothing “pretty” of what Amy is going through because of one misstep.
A fantastic contemporary read, Pretty Amy sets a realistic look at how friendships are tested and what can prevail.
Picking up where Bloodlines left off, Sydney is holding onto her role of AlchemistThis, and other reviews can be found on my blog Just a Lil' Lost...
Picking up where Bloodlines left off, Sydney is holding onto her role of Alchemist to keep the rest of the world from finding out about the existence of vampires (known as Moroi and Strigoi). While being praised by her elders, she is struggling to maintain a neutral relationship with those who have now become her friends. In trying to stay distant, she starts dating Brayden, a guy who can match her in intelligence and interests and yet Sydney distinctly notices the lack of a spark between the otherwise perfect couple. Her resistance to the magical world is pushed to its limits when she's forced to face some inhibitions and undeniable facts to save one of them.
To be honest, it took me a bit of digging through my memory to remember what had happened in the first book. I couldn't remember who was Moroi, Strigoi or Dhampir and while I like that Mead didn't do a full-on recap of the previous book, it still took a few chapters to fully get re-immersed into this world. There were some moments early on that I'm sure were a set-up for the next book, so I didn't quite get the relevance of it but it was definitely around the midway point that really picked up speed for me.
You could often see where the interactions with characters was hinting at, and while sometimes it might have been really obvious, it didn't necessarily fully detract from it either. It was a nice nod to the readers that we were in on something that the protagonist wasn't. Which leads me to the ridiculous swoon-worthy build-up of a love interest. By far, my favourite scenes from the book revolved around the tension between these two. Oh goodness, how many times I wanted to smack Sydney upside the head for her oblivious and stubborn ways.
Similar to the first book in the series, The Golden Lily has a satisfying build to an action-packed showdown. The (frustrating!) ending will leave you hanging and desperate for the third book, The Indigo Spell (due out in Feb 2013). A great follow-up to the successful first book!