Crossed has a different feel when compared to Matched. The story takes place largely outside of The Society on the edges and there is the constant thrCrossed has a different feel when compared to Matched. The story takes place largely outside of The Society on the edges and there is the constant threat of danger and a struggle to survive. Another change is that Crossed is written from both Cassia and Ky's perspectives in alternating chapters. What I liked about this change is that we could learn more about Ky and gain a better understanding of his personality. Some of his past is revealed and it is very sad. I sometimes preferred his chapters to Cassia's. New characters were also introduced and one in particular appears to have secrets. Indie, one of these new characters, is a nice foil for Cassia as she is an assertive and independent girl with an "act now, think later" attitude.
Something else I liked about Crossed was that we finally get to see that there are people who did not blindly follow The Society like little sheep. In Matched it seemed like everyone went along with the rules but now we see the history and that there was a group protesting the changes. When I read the first book, I couldn't help but wonder why no one protested the ridiculous rules and way of life when it was first implemented (by now the younger generations are brainwashed into accepting it) but now I see that people did protest. The majority of those who grew up in The Society like Cassia, never knew about the dissenters because it was hushed up and the people involved were either killed or they escaped. I am eager to find out more about the uprising and who the leader is.
Just like with Matched, there are literary references throughout Crossed. The book takes its name from the poem Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Crossing The Bar is used as a code for those seeking to join the uprising as the Pilot is believed to refer to the leader. It also refers to the characters crossing to safety. The importance of poetry, art, and music is woven throughout the novel. The Society places more value on technology and productivity rather than creativity but people still long for that. There is even a black market where you can trade poems to get what you want. This theme seems to be a strong pro-arts message that resonates today with budget cuts leading to schools eliminating or reducing art and music programs.
Overall I think Crossed is a good sequel to Matched though I had some issues with it. There are parts of the story that seemed too slow and at other times I wanted more explanation, particularly about the rebellion, but it wasn't provided. I suppose that I will have to wait for the answers in book three. I was also annoyed by the love triangle though Xander is not present for most of the novel. I know that this will be resolved in the final book so it is just a slight problem. I liked that Cassia is becoming more determined and starting to think for herself though she does still have her moments. I also liked the increased action and suspense in the plot. Crossed may not have the excellent world building of Matched but it does a nice job of developing the characters and setting up the story for its conclusion which I am sure will be thrilling.
Readalikes: Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Wither by Lauren DeStefano...more
Matched is a blend of utopian fiction and romance. The world building is very detailed and well done. Ally Condie does an excellent job of giving readMatched is a blend of utopian fiction and romance. The world building is very detailed and well done. Ally Condie does an excellent job of giving readers a sense of the world in which Cassia lives. For some this level of detail might be too much. The story doesn't have the intensity of more action oriented dystopian/utopian fiction like The Hunger Games but I enjoyed being able to fully explore the society and its rules. Cassia is an intelligent young woman who has been raised to not question the Officials. She is prepared to accept whoever they pick for her future husband and to go along with their other choices for her so she will have a pleasant life. Cassia is inspired to change however by her grandfather, Ky, and in some way also by her parents. Cassia is genuinely torn between Xander and Ky but the book does not dwell overly much on this and it is quickly clear who she will choose.
While romance is a part of this story and her Match is a catalyst for change the bulk of the novel focuses on the concept of free will. In the world in which Cassia lives, the Officials have limited culture and history to the 100 best poems, works of art, history lessons, etc. Everything else is thrown away and libraries are demolished. Cassia's grandfather has an illegal poem that he shares with her: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas. The poem is used very effectively throughout the book. I love how Cassia and Ky use poetry to stay motivated in the face of troubles. Cassia decides that no matter what happens, she will not "go gentle" but instead she will fight for what she wants. Fans of utopian/dystopian fiction will likely enjoy Matched and eagerly anticipate the sequel.
Readalikes: The Giver by Lois Lowry, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, Inside Out by Maria Snyder ...more
The Fire Chronicle more than lives up to The Emerald Atlas as an adventure/fantasy. We are introduced to some intriguing new characters and get to knoThe Fire Chronicle more than lives up to The Emerald Atlas as an adventure/fantasy. We are introduced to some intriguing new characters and get to know Kate, Michael, and Emma better. I liked Michael much more in this book as he has a chance to become more of a leader and make up for his mistakes in the first book. We also find out more about the magical world, the Books, and the prophecy.
There is plenty of action and some humor as well, mostly from Michael and Emma and their sibling rivalry. There is even a slight hint of possible romance for Kate this time around though it is definitely not a focus. What I really enjoyed was the closeness of the family and the bravery they showed in some frightening and sad circumstances. The book ends with something of a cliffhanger and I can't wait to find out what happens in book 3.
At times the story reminds me of something familiar like an Indiana Jones film which is no surprise considering the author's background as a screenwriter. I would love to see this series adapted for film though I'd worry that Hollywood would screw it up and dilute the positive messages about family, loyalty, and courage that pervade the story. The series may be aimed at tweens and young teens but I think adults who like The Chronicles of Narnia, Inkheart, or other similar juvenile fantasy might like it too....more
The Hobbit is now considered a prequel to The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien later changed the story to match the events in The Lord of the Rings and hThe Hobbit is now considered a prequel to The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien later changed the story to match the events in The Lord of the Rings and how Bilbo came to find the ring in Gollum's cave. I loved The Lord of the Rings when I read it in 2001-2002 and I read it before I read The Hobbit. I think that is the reason that my expectations were not met the first time I read it in 2002. I was expecting a story more similar to The Lord of the Rings in tone, with an epic feel. Instead it is more lighthearted. I felt disappointed and decided that I didn't like the book. Well with the upcoming film adaptation by Peter Jackson, I thought it would be a good time to reread the story. This time, my reaction was quite different!
Ten years after my first reading, I was able to appreciate the story as it was. I loved the character of Bilbo Baggins and could relate to him perhaps better than I could relate to Frodo. Like Bilbo, I am a person who likes a quiet life and dreams of adventure from the safety of my home! I liked how Bilbo grew over the course of his adventure and became this unwitting hero. I also loved how Gandalf believed in him and saw what he was capable of.
It was interesting to learn more about the dwarves of Middle Earth and their history. Thorin is something of a complex character. At times I admired him and at times I was annoyed with him, particularly his decisions that nearly led to war.
I enjoyed the humor particularly from the scene with the trolls and I loved the scenes where Bilbo meets Gollum and they have the riddle contest. The story may not have the epic good vs. evil themes of The Lord of the Rings but there is still adventure to be found and some deeper meaning. The book explores the themes of greed, revenge, and holding onto the past as well as having courage and wisdom and stepping out of your comfort zone.
I look forward to rereading The Hobbit and getting more from the story with each reread and I look forward to rereading The Lord of the Rings and having a deeper appreciation for Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves....more
I found this book to be more enjoyable than The Lost Hero because Percy is back as one of the main characters. We also get to see glimpses of Grover aI found this book to be more enjoyable than The Lost Hero because Percy is back as one of the main characters. We also get to see glimpses of Grover and Annabeth as well as Tyson. I enjoyed the introduction of two other main characters, Frank and Hazel. Frank is a favorite new character in the series and I was surprised by the identity of his godly parent-not at all what I was expecting and kind of funny. I think young readers will be inspired by Frank's growing courage and relate to his insecurities. Hazel also has had a lot of hardships in her life and shows strength and bravery. It is nice to see imperfect characters who grow and find their place.
The addition of Roman mythology to the mix was fascinating. I never knew that there were differences between Greek and Roman mythology beyond the different names for the gods. I did find Percy's amnesia to be annoying after awhile though it does serve a purpose. Frank and Hazel's stories helped to make up for it as did the humor. Some of my favorite scenes involved Percy's continuing fight with Medusa's sisters (who work at a Bargain Mart). The alternating viewpoints work much better here because readers will already be familiar with Percy. It also gives insight into the new characters.
Overall I was really pleased with this sequel. It advances the overarching story line and entertains the reader at the same time. In The Son of Neptune, we see some of the brilliance of the original series. I can't wait to read The Mark of Athena. ...more
Percy Jackson may be missing but there is plenty of adventure, danger, and Rick Riordan's trademark humor in this book. I wasn't sure that I would likPercy Jackson may be missing but there is plenty of adventure, danger, and Rick Riordan's trademark humor in this book. I wasn't sure that I would like a new set of characters as much as the originals but the author's decision to write from multiple points of view really works to distinguish Jason and Leo from Percy. I also loved how conflicted the characters were. All three of them had insecurities, doubts, and flaws, as well as strengths. That made them more likable as characters that the reader could root for.
The addition of Roman mythology to the story really made things interesting. I didn't find it hard to figure out the surprise about Jason's past but that didn't bother me. I found myself thoroughly entertained as I read. One thing that I particularly liked was the friendships of the characters and seeing them grow more confident. As much fun as the story was, it was the characters that really stood out to me. I also have to mention that I am glad to see a greater racial diversity in Rick Riordan's characters both in this series and the Kane Chronicles.
If you are a fan of the original series, I think you will be pleased with this sequel. Overall I think this series will be a worthy successor to the Percy Jackson books and I look forward to reading more about Jason, Piper, and Leo (as well as Percy and Annabeth) in future books. ...more
Nora may come from a privileged class but she proves to be capable of handling difficult situations. At the same time she isn't strong to the point thNora may come from a privileged class but she proves to be capable of handling difficult situations. At the same time she isn't strong to the point that she has no fears or doesn't need help sometimes. Nora is grieving the loss of her dad which left her an orphan. Then she uncovers some major secrets that turn her world upside down. It understandably takes some time for Nora to adjust to these changes but with the help of Bram and her other new friends both human and zombie, Nora is strong enough to deal with it.
Bram is a fantastic character. His story is a sad one but he has a good sense of humor and a good heart. He is a great leader for the other members of Company Z. The romance between Bram and Nora develops slowly which is understandable but she quickly comes to trust him when she sees that he is honorable and kind. Though their romance may be doomed, Nora and Bram do not mope over it-they are too busy fighting the bad guys and rescuing friends. I also liked Pam, Nora's best friend and the one living person who seems to genuinely care about her. Pam at first is shy as someone from a lower class than Nora but she proves that she has courage and determination too.
Describing Dearly, Departed as a story of star-crossed love or a zombie romance would not do it justice. Lia Habel's debut features plenty of action, interesting characters, humor, and solid world building. I thought the author did an excellent job in depicting life in New Victoria and the politics and history behind it as well as "The Laz". She also convincingly portrays the zombies in a way that makes them "human" and readers come to care about these characters just as much as the living ones. The story is told from multiple points of view which at first seemed odd but it does give the reader a better understanding of the major players. Overall I think this is one of the best YA debuts I've read this year and it is a unique take on zombie fiction. Dearly, Departed has been described as steampunk but it isn't actually steampunk though it does have that feel to it so steampunk readers might like it. I would suggest this to fans of The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, to those who enjoy the zombie fiction of Carrie Ryan, or to fans of YA paranormal romance in general.
Readalikes: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross, The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher (modern societies living by historic values)...more
Lucy is a returning character who first made her appearance in the novel First Lady, which was about her adoptive parents, Nealy Case and Mat Jorik. ILucy is a returning character who first made her appearance in the novel First Lady, which was about her adoptive parents, Nealy Case and Mat Jorik. In that book, Lucy was a tough teen who was taking care of her baby sister after her mother's death. The Lucy we meet in this book is a steep contrast to that character. As the daughter of a former President of the United States, Lucy is now cultured and well mannered. Now that she has decided that she doesn't want to be Mrs. Ted Beaudine, Lucy has to figure out what to do next. She is unsatisfied with her work as a lobbyist for children's causes and she misses working with kids and teens in a more direct way. Unfortunately the book drags as Lucy takes forever to come to a decision that seemed obvious from the beginning.
The romance was a disappointment to me. I hated the name "Panda" and though his real name is later revealed (as well as the reasons behind his early crude behavior) I didn't ever warm up to the character. I also didn't like how Lucy just decides to hook up with him casually after finding him so repulsive. She behaves like a rebellious teen instead of a 30-something responsible woman, even refusing to call her family to let them know she is okay (though she does stay in touch through her best friend Meg). Her relationship with Panda is just about attraction at first and later as they get to know each other it is overshadowed by the other plot threads. I felt that their "romance" went from all lust to sudden declarations of love and it just didn't work for me.
The love story that I actually found interesting is that between secondary character Bree and the guy who had a crush on her years ago in high school. Bree has negative feelings toward Mike because of what happened back then but he is gradually revealed to be a decent guy. I liked seeing how she grew as a person and let go of past hurts. I also liked her relationship with her foster son, Toby. I wish Bree's story had been the main story line.
The other plot thread involved a mean fitness guru ala Jillian Michaels who has become overweight and is hiding out while she gets herself back in shape. I thought her character was not necessary to the story and found her annoying. I think it was just a way to keep Panda and Lucy together in the same house (he is serving as security for the fitness guru who is hiding out at his house and the fitness guru needs Lucy to stick around as a decoy).
Overall this book did not live up to my expectations but the secondary story line with Bree definitely improved it. If the romance had been more believable and if Lucy hadn't been so annoying and immature I think I would have enjoyed it more. I am certainly glad that I picked up my copy from the library instead of buying it! First Lady is a much more enjoyable romance and I'd suggest that readers new to Susan Elizabeth Phillips pick up that title instead....more
With Every Letter is inspired by the movie The Shop Around the Corner (also the basis for the more modern Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film You've Got Mail). ThWith Every Letter is inspired by the movie The Shop Around the Corner (also the basis for the more modern Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film You've Got Mail). The story takes place in the U.S. and North Africa during WWII. Mellie is training to be a flight nurse and she and her fellow nurse face a lot of prejudice and judgment from the doctors and other male military personnel. Mellie also has to deal with the difficult relationships among her coworkers as she made a big blunder when she first met them and she keeps rejecting the few overtures of friendship that she gets. Tom also has difficulties as an officer in the Engineer Aviation Battalion. He is afraid to show anger so he always jokes around and smiles and his men don't take him seriously as a leader.
What I liked about this book was the way that Tom and Mellie could be real with each other and help each other with their issues. I particularly felt bad for Tom's plight and the baggage he carried around because of his dad. Mellie however was sometimes annoying. She was pretty naive which is partly due to her isolated upbringing but not entirely excusable. Her decision to never cut her hair because her dad thought it would lead to a loss of character was kind of stupid. While I felt sorry for her I also thought she brought a lot of it on herself. She didn't live up to my expectations as a character compared to the female protagonists in Sarah Sundin's other novels.
Overall I liked this book and I liked learning more about the flight nurses and their struggle to prove themselves. I also thought it was great to see Mellie and Tom grow over the course of the story through their friendship and eventual romance. It was a nice plot device. I did wish that Mellie was a stronger character and less of a mouse (though she definitely improved by the end). It was great to see her stand up for herself finally. This is the first book in a series and I'm not sure if Mellie will be a main character in the sequel but I do think she still has some growing to do in terms of dealing with her relationship with her dad and her feelings about her mom. ...more
From cozy scenes of Darth Vader fixing Luke breakfast to Luke's tantrums when he can't go to Tosche Station, Darth Vader and Son imagines what it woulFrom cozy scenes of Darth Vader fixing Luke breakfast to Luke's tantrums when he can't go to Tosche Station, Darth Vader and Son imagines what it would be like if the Lord Vader was raising four year old Luke Skywalker (but not in an "I'm grooming you to be evil" kind of way).
I love the idea of this book and thought the illustrations were creative and cute. I enjoyed the way the author pays tribute to the films by his illustrations and quotes. One of my favorite scenes involves Luke refusing to clean up his room: "Luke, pick up your toys this instant. Luke, I am your father. Do you want a time-out?". The illustrations feature fun imagery from the movies and cameo appearances from other characters such as a young Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Lando Calrissian.
While I think kids would really like this book, it is probably adults who will most appreciate its charm. The book is more like a collection of Star Wars comics than a cohesive story but it is still a lot of fun to read and would be a great gift book especially for fathers who love Star Wars to share with their kids. ...more
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is not a fairy tale though Elissa is a princess. It is also not a quest story. It is instead a fantasy novel that took meThe Girl of Fire and Thorns is not a fairy tale though Elissa is a princess. It is also not a quest story. It is instead a fantasy novel that took me by surprise with its world building, political intrigue, magic, and character development. There is romance too but it isn't the main point of the story which I really appreciated. There are plenty of plot twists that were unexpected too.
Elissa really grows as a character from the girl with zero self confidence into a true leader. She does have an issue with her weight for much of the book but to me those negative thoughts made her character more real. She also grows out of that self-hate which was really nice to see. All along she displays her intelligence though she doesn't seem to value herself at first. It takes her awhile but she is able to put her knowledge of military strategy to good use and she learns how to work within the politics at court. As a heroine, Elissa can be brave but she also has weaknesses and she isn't perfect. She relies on others as well as on her own strength.
Overall I thought this was one of the best books I read in 2011. I liked the character development but I also enjoyed the world that Rae Carson created and the discussion of faith and belief in yourself. While Elissa is a pretty religious person, this is not Christian fiction by any means. I look forward to finding out more about Elissa and the Godstone in the next book, The Crown of Embers, which was just released.
Readalikes: Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (because of the political intrigue), Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder ...more
Cinders and Sapphires capitalizes on the Downton Abbey craze but unlike other similar books, it tackles some serious issues along side the "scandal".Cinders and Sapphires capitalizes on the Downton Abbey craze but unlike other similar books, it tackles some serious issues along side the "scandal". Racism, Imperialism, women's rights, homosexuality, and social class are just a few of the themes that are explored. While these are serious topics, the book also manages to hold onto a lighter tone so it is never preachy or overbearing.
The main characters are Lady Ada and her maid Rose though we also get to read from the perspective of the valet Oliver and Lady Ada's new stepbrother Sebastian. There are many other side characters, perhaps too many. It might have worked better to save some of the story lines for the next book such as Sebastian's troubles. I think it would have allowed us to get to know the characters better without so many different stories to juggle.
Something that I really appreciated was the inclusion of an Indian as a main character. While we don't really get to read from Ravi's perspective (hopefully that will happen in the sequel) it was good to see an Indian character and to hear his thoughts on the politics of the day and how his perspective differed from Ada who thought she knew the real India. It would have been nice if this was covered in more detail but this type of book usually just touches the surface of historical topics, focusing on the scandals and romance instead.
The romance between Ada and Ravi didn't completely work for me. She fell in love with him pretty much instantly when she met him on the ship. Of course part of the appeal was that he was going to Oxford and she had dreams to go there too. He also didn't talk to her in the same way that young men of her acquaintance normally did. I just wish that the relationship was given more time to develop at a natural pace. I still liked both characters and look forward to seeing what the future holds for them as the series progresses.
Overall even with the flaws, I found this novel entertaining and even learned a little from reading it. It is somewhat similar to the Luxe series though it lacks the emotional pull. I think Cinders and Sapphires would appeal to readers who prefer their historical fiction on the lighter side and to those who just can't get enough of Downton Abbey. ...more
Bryn is a strong protagonist but not without flaws and weaknesses. Bryn is definitely the product of the environment she was raised in. While Ali didBryn is a strong protagonist but not without flaws and weaknesses. Bryn is definitely the product of the environment she was raised in. While Ali did her best to raise Bryn in a human way, she still thinks like a wolf though she isn't one. It is a harsh world she is part of but she doesn't flinch away from it. Bryn has learned a lot and she shows a new level of leadership and determination here. We are also given some insight into Ali's past. The existence of psychics with special "knacks" also adds to the mystery. The new character Caroline reminded me a little of Jane from the Twilight Saga though her abilities are different and she isn't a pure villain. I hope we see more of Caroline and the others in the future, especially Jed who has a special connection with Bryn.
While this book has a lot of action it also examines tough questions about what it means to be in a position of leadership and put others' welfare before your own. The romance also necessarily takes a backseat to the suspense. Bryn and Chase have a steady relationship free of emotional drama/love triangles which is a pleasant change from other YA paranormal fiction.
Overall while I like the first book more, I thought this was still a solid sequel to Raised By Wolves. Trial By Fire raises the stakes in a suspenseful story with some surprising twists. ...more