I picked up Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas and literally could not stop reading it all day unless I absolutely had to go do something else. Throne of Glass is an amazing, engrossing fantasy that captured me from the early pages.
I’m a huge fantasy fan. I admitted a few days ago that I liked Tamora Pierce’s books more than the Harry Potter books. So Throne of Glass was right up my alley. There’s swordfighting, knives, assassins, princes, soldiers, magic, castles, foreign lands, and more! Everything about the world Sarah J Maas created appealed to me and she built it splendidly. I’ve never seen a castle made out of glass, but it was so easy for me to picture in my mind because she’s definitely a fantastic world builder.
Celaena was ballsy and brave with a biting wit, but she also had a soft, girly side that wanted to look pretty and I can see her appealing to many readers because of how complex of a character she is. I really admired her and a lot of decisions she made throughout Throne of Glass – which is kind of rare cause usually I’m reading a book and shaking it like I can actually shake the protagonist.
Throne of Glass does have a love triangle, but it wasn’t annoying to me. We got bits and pieces of information from the point of view of Dorian and Chaol that kind of showed us how each of the guys felt about Celaena and allowed us to see their developing feelings and that was an added bonus. But the relationship with Dorian just didn’t really work for me – and I was definitely rooting for Chaol from the beginning – so I’m interested to see where the romance subplot goes in the next book.
The story in Throne of Glass was typical enough to remind me of all my favourite fantasy books, but at the same time was an original and engaging – and complex, with all its subplots – story that essentially kept me trapped until I finished the story. I loved the idea of all these assassins competing for the title and a lot of things were hinted at that I think will become very interesting in the next book.
I can definitely see Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas being a series that I reread time and time again, just like I’ve done with all of Tamora Pierce’s books. If you’re looking for a fantasy with a complex characters, not to mention a complex story – and fantastic world-building – do not miss Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas.(less)
May B. by Caroline Starr Rose is going to be one of those books that stays with me for a very long time. It was my first experience reading a verse novel all the way through, so that’ll definitely add to the memorableness, but even still.
May B. is a very moving and emotionally draining book, and incredibly beautiful. I loved Caroline Starr Rose’s writing – it was beautiful and lyrical and it was just an amazing experience for my first verse book.
I went into May B. thinking it would be sort of like Little House on the Prairie meets poetry, or something. I was right, to an extent. Because May B. tells its own heartfelt story of a girl living alone, living inside her head, abandoned. It’s just absolutely heartbreaking at times and I found myself crying several times.
And she is strong. She is so, so strong. There are parts where she’s utterly broken and yet still so determined to live, to get home and I just absolutely loved this protagonist. And the memories she shared with us, of her family and of that terrible teacher…so much love.
If you love verse novels – or find yourself wanting to try one, I absolutely recommend May B. by Caroline Starr Rose. Also for fans of historical fiction, particularly of the log cabin/mud hut type a la Laura Ingalls Wilder. Because May B. was utterly stunning.(less)
I bawled in some parts of Something Like Normal by Trish Doller. I mean, Something Like Normal is heartbreaking and inspiring and hopeful but heartbreaking and I just have trouble putting into words all the emotions I felt while reading it.
Because on one hand, I was like YAY TRAVIS AND HARPER and then on the other hand I was like, wow Travis really has some issues he really needs to focus on himself, and I was also like GO TRAVIS STAND UP TO YO DADDY and just so many different things. That’s how awesome Something Like Normal was – I felt EVERYTHING.
And how refreshing is it to have a male protagonist and also a romance that’s heavily featured? I thought Trish Doller’s male protagonist storytelling abilities were very realistic, at least as far as I can tell.
Ugh, and the ending of Something Like Normal was just PERFECT. What a brilliant, moving, emotional contemp. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller is relevant and beautiful and you just need to pick it up. Like now.(less)
Excuse me while I fangirl over how freaking awesome Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock is! I mean, Hemlock is LEGIT. I thought I was kind of over werewolves and what not, but Kathleen Peacock sucked me right back in with Hemlock!
I mean, okay, first of all – the plot in Hemlock is EPIC. It’s werewolves, but it’s not your typical always hiding from people werewolves. Because everyone knows the werewolves are there and there’s organizations to get rid of them and organizations that support werewolf rights and basically Kathleen Peacock creates a world and storyline of epic in Hemlock.
OH AND OKAY, I’m jumping ahead here, but THE ENDING. I didn’t see the end of Hemlock coming at all. I legit had NO IDEA that’s who the killer would be and I was so happy with it.
Loved the characters. Cue lots of swooning over Kyle. I do mean a lot. And I thought Mac was such a teenager, and I loved it. Her best friend died and she blamed herself and she felt guilty and sad and I LOVED it. Because it felt so real, even though she’s surrounded by werewolves. She was also determined and loyal and normal. I mean, she got scared when she had a huge werewolf coming after her. She didn’t try to pet it or anything, she was terrified. NORMAL. LOVE IT.
To sum it all up – Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock is not to be ignored. Hemlock is an epic debut with awesome characters and a unique plot that is sure to suck you in. Even if you’re not into werewolves – even if you’re totally over werewolves, check Hemlock out.(less)
I loved The Cabinet of Earths by for SO MANY REASONS. It’s a beautifully written, gripping and enchanting tale in a beautiful setting.
Cause, come on, Paris. I LOVE Paris and I thought Paris as the background added so much to the story – it was almost like another character, which I absolutely loved. I loved seeing Paris through Maya and James’ new and innocent eyes – reading about cafes and new schools and the moment they saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time.
I loved Maya. She’s probably one of my favourite protagonists I’ve read in a middle grade so far. Given her family’s situation, especially with her mother’s illness, I thought she was a wonderfully brave protagonist and a realistic one at that. She had this sense of responsibility to take care of her family even when it wasn’t necessarily her job, and I thought that was very realistic given the situation. I loved her little brother James and the rest of the characters – especially her cousin Louise and Valko.
The storyline was so fantastical – I loved the concept of The Cabinet of Earths. The idea of jars holding sands from people and anbar and just, gah! There were so many intricate details that went into the story that I really loved. I thought The Cabinet of Earths was paced excellently and rife with exciting twists.
The Cabinet of Earths is enchanting and exciting and so original. Anne Nesbet’s writing style is sure to appeal to middle grade and older readers alike. Trust me, if you’re a fan of fantasy, be sure to check out The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet.(less)
Guys, I have been dying for Katana by Cole Gibsen ever since I read the “Buffy meets Kill Bill” comparison. And while I have never seen Kill Bill (*ducks and runs*), Katana was all kinds of awesome. It did take me a little while to get into, but once I was hooked, I was hooked!
For one thing, something crazy is happening to the main character, Rileigh, and she doesn’t just lay down and accept it when the mysterious boy tells her what’s up. THAT IS SO RARE. She fights what he’s telling her and tries to prove him wrong and goes through all sorts of denial before finally admitting he might be right. If a guy told me I was a samurai reincarnated, I’d laugh, and all kinds of props go to Cole Gibsen for making Rileigh realistic like that.
But also, the story of Katana was awesome. There was so much going on – you’re literally dropped right into the action, no drawn-out back story necessary because you learn it as you go along, and yet it all flows very nicely. And the twists! There were a couple of twists that I was kind of mind-blown by and I was like what, did that just happen?!
And, you know, Rileigh and her new samurai pals are kind of bad ass. I’m not usually a big reincarnation fan, but I thought the whole idea why they were reincarnated, and the way Cole Gibsen explained their reincarnation, was really interesting and worked well for Katana.
And this one kissing scene that was awesome. I spent the first 250 pages thinking “Just make out already!” and then I was happy, haha.
Overall, Katana by Cole Gibsen was an exciting book with Samurais and cute Japanese boys and reincarnation and I had a lot of fun reading it. I was swept away by the action. Definitely check it out if you think you might be interested!(less)
Processing my thoughts on The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg is difficult. It was just totally not what I expected based on the description. I really enjoyed most of it, but bits of it left me going wait, what.
Because there is a twist. A HUGE MONUMENTAL TWIST that I never saw coming and that left me reeling and going wait, WHAT. And I can’t honestly tell you guys if I think that’s a good thing or not. Because I’m still reeling from the craziness of it all.
Other than the crazy twist I still can’t decide if I liked (or even really understood), I really enjoyed The Catastrophic History of You and Me. I thought it was an inventive and fun book, although, you know – heartbreaking (hahahahaha I love my puns). Because Brie was such an awesome protagonist – seriously so relatable and I just wanted to cry and put her heart back together and tell her boys aren’t worth it. ESPECIALLY given what she learns after the fact.
And Patrick. I loved Patrick. He was snarky and mysterious and full of tough love. He can totally be my afterlife guide – although not any time soon, please and thank you. AND HAMLOAF. Hamloaf broke me.
I love the way Jess Rothenberg integrated the five stages of grief into The Catastrophic History of You and Me. It helped to break the novel up into different parts, but also worked really well with the actual telling of the story.
Basically – The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg was totally different from what I was expecting. I really enjoyed the concept and the characters, and the writing was fluid, but the twist definitely through me for a loop. It’s very much about the afterlife, so I recommend it to those with an open mind.(less)
I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I watch reality TV show competitions, like Big Brother, Project Runway, and basically all the cooking reality TV shows. So The Selection by Kiera Cass immediately sounded appealing to me just based on the summary.
Initially, I was a little put off by the writing in The Selection. There were a couple of instances where I thought there was more telling that showing and I wanted the showing.
But honestly? At some point, fairly quickly into The Selection, the writing didn’t even matter to me. I loved the story in The Selection so much. It was just a ton of fun – and dystopians aren’t usually fun, per say. I liked idea of the caste system a lot and the idea of competing for the Prince’s attention. It was a combination of The Bachelor and Cinderella. And bonus heaviness with the war going on and what not.
As for the characters in The Selection – I’m usually team original boy, but I honestly really only liked Aspen in the beginning. When Prince Maxon entered the picture, I was like Aspen who? As for America herself, I was rooting for her the whole time and I liked her, but she wasn’t the most memorable protagonist. I liked her independence and determination, and I think she’ll become more memorable with the second book.
And the ending is just kind of wait, what, there needs to be more! Because it wasn’t necessarily a GASP DID THAT JUST HAPPEN cliff-hanger, but it was definitely not an end point in the story and I wanted to know what happened next.
If you like your dystopians a little bit lighter (you know, minus all the sobs and heartbreak and with bonus giggles) and a good dose of reality competitions, definitely check out The Selection by Kiera Cass.(less)
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu was a book I had very mixed feelings about. I did like the sci-fi/dystopian aspects of it, but the characters and romance, and the dialogue, were very lackluster for me.
The set of characters in Glitch all seemed to annoy the hell out of me. The protagonist, Zoe, was definitely on the mopey side and it bugged me how easily manipulated she was. Max was a raging jerkface and I wanted Zoe to stand up for herself and slap him, dump him, yell at him, SOMETHING every time he was on the page. And Adrien. Okay, he bothered me the least – I was actually interested in his backstory (but we weren’t really given it and so he kind of fell flat), but his dialogue – with all the crackings and the shunts – kind of drove me crazy.
But the romance. If you’re not a fan of instant love, Glitch is probably not the book for you because Glitch had it in spades. And also a creepy side-romance, if you will. I mean super creepy. Like “Can I look at your genitalia?” creepy. I was rooting for Zoe and Adrien, but I almost felt like I didn’t need to because there weren’t any real challenges posed against them.
Like I said, I did like the sci-fi/dystopian aspects of Glitch, but I also felt like the world was very under developed. We weren’t given a lot of information in the beginning and it was hard for me to follow along with why all this craziness was happening. And the reason for their powers wasn’t given until much later on in the book (and I’m not sure I really accept the reasoning we were given). But I did get invested in the story – I’m a sucker for dystopian – which definitely made me feel like I had to finish Glitch. Although I’m not sure I’ll be reading the sequel.
Basically, Glitch by Heather Anastasiu was not a book for me. I had no interest in the characters and while I’m a sucker for dystopian books, Glitch didn’t really stand out to me against all the other awesome dystopian books I’ve read. (less)
My brain is still processing all the crazyness that occurred in The Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen.
Where do I even begin? When the Sea is Rising Red is like a crazy combination of fantasy and paranormal. There are VAMPIRES but they’re totally different than the Twilight kind of vampire because these vampires are looked down on as basically social climbing scum. Which was kind of awesome. We weren’t supposed to like them, which is kind of rare in YA these days.
And the magic! I loved what Cat Hellisen did with magic, with different classes of power and what each class needs to perform their magic.
The writing I thought was pretty brilliant. Very, very descriptive and flow-y.
I think my favourite part was all the different legends and rumors and tales passed down among the lower classes. Each one had a different story and explanation for why things happened and it was humorous but also totally real because it was like a game of telephone but played over hundreds of years.
The love triangle was weird. I actually don’t even know what to say about the characters. Felicita was brave and determined, and I really admired that. Especially towards the end. Dash? Jannik? I just. I can’t. Those of you who’ve read it need to tell me how you feel because none of them ended up where I thought they would, hah!
The story itself in When the Sea is Rising Red hurt my brain. I mean, I was flipping the page and going what what what they did what he did what HE SAID WHAT and WAIT WHO DIED?
Is my review of When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen coherent at all? I didn’t think so. Let me try to sum it up – When the Sea is Rising Red is crazy. The magic elements were awesome, although I’m still unsure where I land on some of the characters, namely the males. But I enjoyed it for the most part and managed to read it in one day. If you’re up for a paranormal/fantasy roller coaster, do check out When the Sea is Rising Red. And let me know what you think!(less)
Through to You by Emily Hainsworth is one of those books that you just know is super creepy and wrong, but at the same time you can’t stop reading. I was fascinated and sickened by Through to You. It was beautiful and haunting and just…wrong.
I loved Cam and I felt for him in Through to You. His pain over the loss of Viv broke my heart and gah, I just loved Emily Hainsworth’s portrayal of Cam. I thought his heartache and confusion as to whether or not he was going crazy was done so well.
And the storyline. Through to You is legit. Because even though I think it’s super creepy and alternate universe Viv weirded me out, I was so happy to see Cam happy and then I realized I kind of liked Nina better and it’s just kind of a mess. Because Viv is DEAD, you know? And I just wanted Cam to move on and be happy and not stuck in the past.
AND THEN THERE’S THIS TWIST. Which I can’t go into but HOLY SHIT basically sums it up.
I loved the ending of Through to You. After reading all that craziness, I think it was exactly how I wanted it to end.
So, basically, if you’re looking for a crazy, messed up yet enthralling contemporary that’s not really a contemporary, definitely pick up Through to You by Emily Hainsworth. I was sucked in from the moment I started reading Through to You and closed the book with a feeling of satisfaction. (less)
Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini blew my freaking mind. Touching the Surface is one of those books where I was going “what the effffff” all the way through and still found myself sobbing at the end.
I’m at a loss to describe my feelings for Touching the Surface. It was just unbelievably beautiful and freaking confusing and just one of those books that is going to stick with me.
I loved that Touching the Surface was a book involving the afterlife, but wasn’t pushing any beliefs down my throat. Kimberly Sabatini creates an amazing world out of the afterlife and what a concept it is. I loved all the different aspects, like delving into memories of their past life. And being able to alter their afterlife with just a thought, whether it’s adding in a lake or just simply changing a phrase on a t-shirt.
Touching the Surface has a lot of heart. The characters all felt so real and their issues were just heartbreaking. Because even though it was such a strange and unfamiliar setting, the issues were so real – loss, fighting with family, with best friends, heartbreak, etc. It was a really relatable story, even though the setting was just so mind-blowingly weird/awesome.
My review of Touching the Surface is a bit strange, but Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini is a strange book – but in amazing way. The writing is beautiful, the story is heartbreaking, and despite my feelings of what in the world, I was just sobbing at the end of it all. It was hard for me to let go of the characters in Touching the Surface. Definitely be sure to pick it up!(less)
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone is such an awesome debut. I was led through all sorts of emotions while reading Time Between Us down and I set it down feeling very satisfied.
I’m not usually a time travel person. It confuses me a little and there’s usually a very sci-fi side to it all and it’s just hard for me to grasp. I like my protagonist and love interest in the same decade. But Time Between Us was a beautiful combination of contemporary romance with a side of time travel and yet still got pretty intense with the time travel stuff towards the end.
And oh boy, I cried while reading Time Between Us. Something about protagonists feeling empty just gets me every time.
I really enjoyed the relationship aspect of Time Between Us. I’m also not usually a romance person – I like my romance on the side of plot, but I thought Time Between Us focused on the romance but had plenty of plot elements to keep me from going ick at the mushy. Not to mention, it was really easy to root for Anna and Bennett. They’re like ultimate star-struck couple torn apart by circumstances beyond their control.
I loved the voice in Time Between Us. I thought Tamara Ireland Stone really nailed the teenage girl and she was sulky at the right moments and loyal and angry and sad and everything just really worked for me. I felt the range of emotions that Anna felt while reading it – Anna could have easily been the girl sitting next to me in English class.
Also, bonus, I love a protagonist with a large dose of wanderlust. I really identified with Anna’s lack of travel and her immense desire to see everything. I even had the same kind of map with pins when I was younger, but I was too depressed by the lack of pins so I just took it down.
Basically, Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone rocks. It’s the perfect combination of romance, mystery, time travel, angst and it has such a great ending. Even if you lean solidy towards contemporary only, or even paranormal only, Time Between Us falls in the middle and I can easily see it appealing to readers of both sides.(less)
If you’re a love of legit fantasy, go pick up Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. Stormdancer starts off with not one, but TWO maps, and oh yeah, it has a glossary. Some people might be overwhelmed with a book that merits its own glossary, but this just got me really excited for Stormdancer.
And Stormdancer totally lived up to my expectations! I was a little confused for a bit of the beginning because Jay Kristoff doesn’t really baby the reader into anything. The story begins and you’ve got characters left and right with similar names and all kinds of crazy customs, and this is where the glossary really came in handy for me at the beginning. So yes, Stormdancer was a bit overwhelming for me at first and it took me a bit of time to get through the beginning of Stormdancer, but I was hooked anyway.
I loved Yukiko. She is exactly the kind of protagonist a legit fantasy like Stormdancer needs. She’s strong and even though she’s set in feudal Japan, I could easily find myself relating to her.
I freaking loved the storyline of Stormdancer. It was action-y and adventure-y and totally kept me on my toes. The world Jay Kristoff builds up in Stormdancer is astounding. There’s so much culture and customs and all these details and while it takes a bit of time to get used to it, it doesn’t bog down the story at all. Yukiko leads us through an exciting world that I can’t wait to revisit.
Stormdancer is the kind of book I can’t wait to reread to find all the bits I missed the first time around.
Basically, if you are a die-hard fantasy fan, Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff is a book you cannot miss. Absolutely do not miss it. And if you haven’t read much fantasy before, I still recommend trying Stormdancer, and pushing through any issues you might have at the beginning, because Stormdancer will seriously wow you.(less)
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons kind of snuck up on me with how freaking good it is. I wasn’t sure I was going to get around to Article 5 for a while, but then I offered to trade it to someone, so I kind of had to pick it up.
And oh my god I am SO GLAD that I did. I originally picked Article 5 up planning to read 10 pages or so before getting started on my homework…and I literally ended up reading 200 pages before I had to pick someone up, and then I immediately picked Article 5 back up again and finished it.
Yeah, talk about an engrossing story. I mean, Article 5 is INTENSE. It’s way more violent than I expected it to be and I was so nervous for the characters half the time – I felt like I was watching an action movie!
Okay, and the characters! Ember! I loved her. She is LOYAL. She loves her mother. She wants to save her mother. I admire her dedication and her strength and even though she does some dumb things, she pushes onwards. And Chase. I have such a thing for the name Chase and I had such a thing for this Chase because even though he was self-sacrificing to the point it made me want to shove him out of a car, I still wanted him to protect me (or Ember, whatever) from all the bad guys in the world.
Okay, back to the story – the moral statues were SO MESSED UP. I can’t even begin to imagine living in the world Ember and Chase lived in, and after reading Article 5, I don’t even want to try!
There are a lot of really excellent dystopian novels with literary goodness and emotional what not. But I thought Article 5 was original in its badass-ness. The characters were real, they were loyal and interesting, the story was engrossing and intense and if I had been watching Article 5 as a movie, I would have had to cover my eyes a few times. It doesn’t have the overly descriptive writing of some dystopians, but the writing inspires imagery just as well.
Seriously, if you guys like awesome protagonists and stories that suck you in (and don’t mind a couple of gun fights), you really ought to go pick up Article 5 by Kristen Simmons. It’s a fabulous debut and I can’t wait for the next book.(less)
I have been waiting and waiting for Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood for what feels like AGES now. If you know me, you know I love all things witches, so I went into Born Wicked expecting pure awesome.
And I was totally not let down. Isn’t that such a relief? I freaking loved Born Wicked and I just want to read it over and over again. First off, because the writing was gorgeous and so talented, and I love reading a debut author and thinking – I want to read everything this author ever writes.
Also? The characters. I loved the three sisters – Cate and Tessa and Maura – and how varied their personalities were and their individual story lines were all so different, yet they all worked well with each other, to balance each other out. But at the same time, Cate was clearly my favourite – I was rooting for her all along. And Finn. While Born Wicked initially presented itself as having a love triangle, it quickly became clear to me – there’s no contest there. And the kissing scenes. You know.
OKAY AND THE STORY. I don’t usually capslock over the entire story of a book, but I swear, I want to capslock all over Born Wicked. Because the storyline is so engaging and upsetting at points and even if you know and you say “yeah, that’s going to happen later on” – it goes way beyond the expected.
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood is, legit, one of my favourite books of 2012 so far. I love witches, I love historicalish books, I love swoonworthy boys and family drama. Born Wicked had it all and did it badass-ly. Check it out.(less)
Guys, Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen is SO FREAKING GOOD. I’m on a book high right now, I swear. I can’t stop smiling!
Scarlet has it all, seriously. It’s a story about Robin Hood & his bandits (clearly), it has slow burn romance, it’s got kings and sheriffs and taverns, it has some serious action scenes and majorly high stakes, and the protagonist, Scarlet, is such a freaking badass. Oh, and Robin.
Seriously. Robin is kind of the most amazing guy I’ve read in book in a while. And yeah, okay, he’s Robin Hood, but we’ve always sort of seen Robin Hood from Robin Hood’s eyes, right? But from Scarlet’s eyes? He’s like doubly and triply amazing.
And the slow burn romance (I have no idea who I stole that term from, sorry!). Sure, Scarlet thinks Robin is attractive from the beginning, but there is so much slow burn in this book it’s almost torturous. But so amazing.
A.C. Gaughen’s writing in general throughout Scarlet was basically amazing. She sure knows how to tell a story. I mean, writing action scenes with all the chaos and confusion and swords and daggers can’t be an easy task. But she did it and she did it well in Scarlet.
There have been a lot of series in the past few years. And sometimes it’s tiresome. But Scarlet is one of those books where I am seriously hoping so hard that it’s a series because I need to read more about Scarlet and Rob and their story. Or just more books from A.C. Gaughen in general.
Basically – go read Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen. It’s fabulously written with developed and awesome and brave and interesting characters, and has a story that’s familiar, but also very engrossing and action-packed and just all around awesome. Scarlet is one of those books that grips onto you and won’t let you go until you’ve finished – and then it leaves you wanting more.(less)
I’m not usually one for stories that focus only on romance, so I was a little worried when I picked up Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry.
But luckily there’s a lot of stories on Pushing the Limits that really take precedence over the romance for the most part of the book. Both of the characters had very important, life-changing events going on in their lives and I loved the way they banded together to mutually help each other out.
Individually, I loved both Noah and Echo. Echo was weak-willed and lacked self-confidence at the beginning of Pushing the Limits, and I just wanted to yank off her sleeves and tell her to freaking embrace herself or life would suck forever. But she’s in high school, and she’s fictional, so I couldn’t really do that. But even though she was weak-willed and lacking in self confidence, I felt for her and was rooting for her to find out what really happened that night with her mother and I was rooting for her to grow balls and tell off the shittiest “friend” I’ve ever seen in a book. You’ll know who I mean when you read Pushing the Limits – so much hate for that character.
And Noah – the situation with his brothers was heartbreaking to me. I’m a big supporter of family in books, so I was really rooting for him all the way. I also loved the relationship between him and the other foster teens he lived with, Isaiah and Beth. It was clear that they really knew and trusted each other, and supported each other.
But the romance between Noah and Echo is where Pushing the Limits lost me. I just didn’t really get into that part of Pushing the Limits. I can see Echo and Noah working and they were cute together, but I kind of felt like it happened too quickly, their feelings for each other and their dependance on each other progressed too quickly (please note Pushing the Limits is almost a 400 page book). It also felt to me like Noah cleaned up his act too quickly. It didn’t feel natural – or maybe it just didn’t feel healthy, I guess? I mean, Echo is going through this pretty traumatic event in her life.
ANYWAY. So yeah. I loved the individual stories in Pushing the Limits, but the romance aspect just didn’t work for me. But if you’re a fan of contemporary romances, I do suggest checking out Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. Just because the romance didn’t work for me, it might work for you, and the individual stories are certainly very engrossing. It also appears I’m in the minority about the romance, so don’t let my opinion deter you – I’d love to know what you guys think!(less)
Insignia by S.J. Kincaid is the kind of book that left me feeling strange and thinky for a long time afterwards.
The concept of Insignia is fascinating to me – I love the whole set up of World War III and how it takes place only on other planets and how they use teens and program viruses to play pranks on each other. It’s definitely a future that felt possible and I liked that.
There were a few points in Insignia where I was worried that nothing would happen – a majority of the beginning just felt like building blocks for the rest of the series, and I was worried that the whole book would feel that way. Luckily Insignia got action-packed pretty quickly and wiped my fears away.
I also really enjoyed S.J. Kincaid’s writing of the protagonist in Insignia, and all of the secondary characters were so well done as well. But Tom in particular – he is just such a teenage guy. And I literally laughed out loud several times throughout Insignia at his guyness and the ridiculousness of him and Val and Yuki and Wyatt.
One of my favourite parts of Insignia was the ending. I loved the way S.J. Kincaid left Insignia - it was at a perfect ending point so I feel satisfied with what I’ve read, but at the same time, I’m excited she’ll be writing more books in this world. And that’s not an easy ending to pull off!
If you enjoy dystopian/futuristic books filled with technology and sci-fi, don’t miss Insignia by S.J. Kincaid. I thought it was a great debut and I’m excited to read the next book in the series.(less)
I connected with Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham on a scary level. Well, not all that scary, but basically me and my friends were obsessed with a boy band when we were younger (Dream Street, and I won’t say I’m not still obsessed) and I never got to see them perform – which is a whole other story in itself.
Anyway, so I loved the whole concept of Reunited and I was able to connect with all of the characters off the bat because our mutual boy band love.
And some crazy, hilarious, disastery stuff happens in Reunited. I was cringing and laughing and totally feeling for all of the characters.
Oh, and the characters in Reunited. I loved Alice – she was definitely my favourite – and Summer was pretty cool too. I have to say, Tiernan definitely got on my nerves, but she was probably supposed to, huh? But they all grew leaps and bounds throughout the course of Reunited, which I was really glad for.
If you’re a fan of contemps and road trips and laughing, definitely don’t miss out on Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham. You may cringe once or twice or fifteen times, but Reunited is definitely a lot of fun and worth the trip!(less)
Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard had an interesting concept and I can definitely see many people enjoying it. But Something Strange and Deadly just wasn’t the book for me – or not the book for me at the moment I was reading it, possibly.
I just couldn’t get into Something Strange and Deadly. It had its share of intrigue and action, and moments of creepiness occurred, but I just wasn’t grabbed by it and I would have been fine not finishing it. I’m glad I did, because Something Strange and Deadly started to pick up towards the end for me – even though I mostly saw it coming – but perhaps not enough to read the second book in the series.
BUT. The concept of Something Strange and Deadly is awesome. I like the way Susan Dennard wrote her zombies (although maybe there wasn’t enough zombies), and there’s all sorts of steampunk machinery that do cool things to the Dead, and there’s a sweet romance that I enjoyed. Oh, and freaking necromancers!
And the writing was very cool. Something Strange and Deadly was a mixture of typical historical kind of writing and dialogue, but combined with fantasy steampunk kind of stuff – I liked it a lot.
So, there are a lot of enjoyable elements in Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, but it just wasn’t a ME book. But I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to enjoy Something Strange and Deadly, so definitely pick it up if it sounds like your thing.(less)
I really enjoyed Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole. I’ve read a bit of Kerouac, and while I certainly won’t be running off to emulate his adventures, I do love books featuring road trips and oodles of self discovery, which basically describes Kiss the Morning Star to a T.
I loved learning about Anna and Kat as they learned about themselves and each other. The issues of sexuality and friendship and death and grief and religion are explored in Kiss the Morning Star, and each issue has a very meaningful part of the Anna and Kat’s lives. Elissa Janine Hoole doesn’t back down.
While there are a few slow moments in Kiss the Morning Star, overall I thought it was fairly fast paced and easy to get engrossed in Anna’s adventure. It’s so easy to relate to her and Kat – feeling lost and unsure, especially in that point between high school and the rest of your life.
Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole is a moving adventure filled with self-discovery and issues many teens grapple with on a daily basis. If you like road trips, contemps, and moving stories, definitely check out this wonderful debut.(less)
I am a huge historical fiction fan and recently I’ve been more and more interested in Russia, so The Gathering Storm sounded like a perfect book for me.
And despite a few mixed reviews I’ve read, I’m not going to lie – I really enjoyed it. There were a lot of confusing details in The Gathering Storm, but there was nothing Robin Bridges could have done about it – it’s just a Russian thing.
The names, for one thing – even with the little foreword at the beginning, I still had a lot of trouble with the Russian names. And the royal hierarchy really messed me up – I ended up getting a lot of the characters confused at first, but I sorted it all out as it went along.
But the story itself! Total craziness. When I first started reading The Gathering Storm, I had totally neglected to actually read the summary. I know. So all the wacky stuff that happened in The Gathering Storm was a total surprise to me and so much wackiness happened – there was magic and necromancy and vampires and faeries and SO MUCH.
I loved Katerina as a protagonist. She was so determined to be herself and become a doctor and not let society bring her down (except for when she was under magic spells which was quite a bit) and I really admired that aspect of her. And George! I loved George Alexandrovich (and I love saying that name).
Overall, I really loved The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges. I can certainly see how some people felt mixed about it, but I really enjoyed the setting and the mystery and the drama and the assassination attempts and the paranormal aspects.(less)
Gilt by Katherine Longshore completely and utterly overwhelmed me. In a great way, but a heavy way. If you know the history of Henry VIII, Catherine Howard, and his many other wives, you can probably guess that Gilt is anything but a light book.
But my goodness, Gilt is a beautiful book. Katherine Longshore’s writing style is perfect for historical fiction. Even though Gilt is set in the 1800s, Katherine Longshore’s writing didn’t feel stilted at all. I thought it all flowed very beautifully, and I can easily see people who typically don’t read historical fiction enjoying Gilt.
Kitty made my heart hurt. I was so worried through her all throughout Gilt. I mean, I know what happens to Catherine Howard – it obviously does not end well for Henry VIII’s fifth queen. And every little bump in the road was so nerve-wracking because I loved Kitty and admired her fierce loyalty – despite the dangerous road it led her down – and William! Guys, I was rooting for them all the way, even though he had his moments of not-so-goodness.
Thankfully, Gilt is a series. I’m not sure what I would have done if it wasn’t. Gilt is just so heavy and downright depressing at some points and I just wanted to cry – I was so overwhelmed by it all. I wanted a happy ending for everyone! But I’m very, very curious to see where Kitty’s story takes her in the future.
Basically – Gilt by Katherine Longshore rocked. It was heavy and depressing, but beautifully written with an intense story. Gilt is definitely for fans of historical fiction, but I also recommend giving it a try even if it’s not your usual read. Gilt is captivating in its courtly glory, but full of dangers and secrets around every corner.(less)
If I Lie by Corrine Jackson is a brilliant and stunning debut. I love those contemps that really bring out the emotion and the tears and If I Lie definitely accomplished that.
There was a lot of depth to If I Lie, a lot of complex, real, and relevant issues facing us today. The bullying in If I Lie was absolutely shocking and heartbreaking and really made me think about the issues at hand.
And man, the mean girls are MEAN in If I Lie.
I loved Quinn, the protagonist of If I Lie. I loved the way she stuck to her decisions no matter what. Quinn was ballsy and brave and she got dealt a shitty card, but she didn’t back down. And all the family drama on top of all the stuff Quinn was dealing with – I loved it! There is nothing I love more than reading about screwed up families and If I Lie was another brilliant, screwed up family to add to my favourites list.
The twist, so to speak, in If I Lie was fairly predictable, but at the same time, I didn’t even think the twist was the focus of If I Lie. I loved reading about how Quinn handled her bullying and how she dealt with her feelings and all the things going on with her family.
Basically, you need to pick up If I Lie by Corrine Jackson. If I Lie is a fantastic debut that highlights very relevant issues today. The characters are all very well done – even the antagonists felt very dimensional to me, no oen fell flat. If you’re looking for a great contemp, I definitely recommend If I Lie by Corrine Jackson.(less)
I won’t lie – I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving Dystopian books. At least not anytime soon. And Breathe by Sarah Crossan was no exception. Sure, Breathe followed the same type of formula but I loved the idea of a pod community where air wasn’t free and it just really worked for me.
I liked a lot of things about the characters in Breathe, but they also felt a little flat. Because Breathe is told in alternating point of views from three characters, we didn’t get to know anyone as fully as we would have if it was solely from their point of view, so I didn’t get to know Quin, Alina, and Bea as well as I would have liked.
But what I really liked about the characters was how varied they were. None of their personalities really matched, which helped when I was getting bored or whatever with one point of view, Breathe switched to another point of view and it was like a breath of fresh air (no pun intended). The love triangle was frustrating because I knew what I wanted to happen and I wanted them to know it too, but it was also kind of an original love triangle. Usually we have a female protagonist with two guys pining after her and she likes both, blah blah, but in Breathe, it was Quinn at the center of it.
I don’t know much about the science behind air and how all of it worked in Breathe, so none of that held me back from really enjoying Breathe. I liked the idea of a rebel group with plants in their homes with a mission to make air free for everyone to use, not just the select group of rich people. Breathe was a Dystopian with a very clear cause, if that makes sense. I knew exactly what the protagonists were fighting for and I was instantly rooting for them.
If you’re a fan of Dystopian books, I definitely recommend picking up a copy of Breathe by Sarah Crossan. It’s a fairly hefty book, but I felt like I got through it in no time. Breathe is a Dystopian with a rebel cause I could easily get behind and I really enjoyed the concept, even if the characters fell a bit flat. Regardless, I will certainly be reading the sequel!(less)
False Memory by Dan Krokos is an extremely well done, intense, and entertaining sci-fi that I seriously could not put down.
I was hooked by False Memory from the get-go. The opening scene is intense and kind of brutal and I was immediately curious as to who the heck Miranda is and what she can do. Dan Krokos definitely knows how to hook readers, that’s for sure!
I loved the way Dan Krokos portrayed all the sci-fi stuff in False Memory. Usually it can really go over my head, but I felt like False Memory had some legit sci-fi (like altering DNA and brainwaves and shots and improved athletic ability) but it was done at a level that still felt really out there and cool, but also at a level that was easy to understand.
I also loved Miranda and the way Dan Krokos portrayed her. Sometimes I get stuck on the character when a male is writing a female’s point of view, just because I automatically overanalyze everything – but I hate that and I try to block it out as much as possible while I’m reading. But with False Memory, Miranda felt legit and I didn’t overanalyze anything, honestly. Miranda felt like a typical teenage girl, albeit one who is like a science experiment with no memory.
The romance was superbly done. I’m a big fan of romance not being a main focus but still being quite prominent and I thought Dan Krokos did an excellent job with that in False Memory.
Basically, I’m absolutely hooked on this series. I thought False Memory by Dan Krokos was a fantastic debut and an awesome start to a new series. False Memory is an intense sci-fi thriller that kept me fixated with every single sentence. Do not miss this debut!(less)
Storm by Brigid Kemmerer is one of those books that I thought looked interesting, that I thought I would like, but totally took me by surprise not only in story but also without how much I genuinely loved it.
Storm starts off with a bang. There’s enough so I can get a sense of Becca and what her character is like, but then there’s action almost immediately and I was immediately sucked into the story because I had to know what was going on in Storm.
I was initially concerned by the fact that there might be some sort of love square or love pentagon or something, because all of the brothers in Storm are smoking. I would have been happy to see Becca with any of them. Luckily, I guess, that of course was just my imagination and it sorted itself out. But man, these brothers. Love them all.
And the story that goes down in Storm? Loved it. Storm is the only real elemental focused book that I can think of off the top of my head, so it was all original and interesting to me. I loved the lore Brigid Kemmerer built up around the brothers – the backstory and lore was definitely well crafted.
I loved the way certain bits of information were revealed. There’s some pretty important pieces to the whole Storm puzzle that are only revealed a little at a time and I loved it. Sure, I was a little confused in certain parts, but I loved the guessing and I was shocked when I finally figured it all out.
Storm by Brigid Kemmerer hooked me, you guys. I picked it up yesterday and read half and literally could not stop thinking about it until I was able to pick it up again and finish. The story is exciting, the characters are smoking, and I cannot wait for the second book, Spark! Definitely do not miss Storm – it’s an absolutely amazing debut!(less)
I had a feeling I would like Skylark by Meagan Spooner from the get go, mainly because of how much Anna Reads liked it. When she gets really excited over a book, I usually enjoy it too!
And my gut feeling was right! Skylark grabbed me from the very first chapter, for several reasons. For starters, Lark starts off by doing something pretty illegal and dangerous and I was immediately admiring of her ballsyness and dedication. But we were also sort of thrust into her world and I had no idea what things like “the Harvest” meant and WHY Lark would want to get chosen (doesn’t sound good, does it?) – so all of that left me very intrigued.
I loved the world Meagan Spooner built for us. It’s a fantastic mix of dystopian and fantasy, two of my very favourite things. Sure, the world is a bit confusing at first, because we are kind of dropped in the middle of it all, but I kind of liked it! Meagan Spooner didn’t baby us with Skylark and I enjoyed the process of figuring things out as the story went along, rather than give us a ton of boring info in the first chapter.
I loved the characters in Skylark. Lark is ballsy, brave, and oh-so-relatable. I really felt for her and just sort of instantly connected with her personality.
Be sure to get your hands on a copy of Skylark by Meagan Spooner. She delivers a fantastic debut, with great world-building, relatable characters, and an exciting and intriguing story. I will definitely be reading more from Meagan Spooner and I can’t wait to read her next book, These Broken Stars, co-authored with Amie Kaufman. And of course I can’t wait the sequel to Skylark!(less)