Whenever I look at What's Left of Me and Once We Were's covers, I can't help but to think that the cover artist truly gets this series and how clever Whenever I look at What's Left of Me and Once We Were's covers, I can't help but to think that the cover artist truly gets this series and how clever he/she is. This always gets me excited because I love seeing the cover actually mean something to the book. As much as I love pretty dresses, it's the depth and complexity that I really crave. It's the kind of cover that you don't quite understand just by looking at it, but as you start reading, pieces of the puzzle fall into place. If What's Left of Me's cover shows Eve, the recessive soul, struggling to find her voice and strength, then Once We Were depicts two souls (the outlines of the face), two distinct personalities, searching for their own identities. But how independent can you be from someone who you share a body with? Someone who has a different set of hopes, dreams and goals? And what if you were the recessive, finally in charge of some of the bigger decisions? How do you cope with the newfound responsibility? And what if you screw up?
"Maybe I really had been meant to fade away."
In Once We Were Addie and Eva are presented with something they'd never thought were possible: the ability to "go under", where one soul would purposefully fall into an unconscious slumber to allow the other privacy. This works out well for relationship purposes, allowing Eva and Ryan some much needed alone time (because, yikes!, talk about awkward when you're trying to make-out with your boyfriend), but it also allowed something Addie and Eva never really encountered before, keeping secrets. And unfortunately, those very secrets continued to push them further and further away from each other.
And unlike in What's Left of Me, I found myself growing increasingly more frustrated with Eva as she and Addie continued to go in different directions. Their chemistry, bond and fierce determination for one another was what made it easy to connect with their story. But this time around Eva, who now gets a taste of freedom, becomes very wrapped up in the plans for a revolution that she forgets to pay attention to Addie. It's interesting how the two have switched roles in that regard and how it's Addie who begins to take more of a backseat. It's also interesting how different they really are and how little I realized this in book one.
“But the thing is, sharing hands doesn't mean sharing goals. Sharing eyes doesn't mean sharing visions. And sharing a heart doesn't mean sharing the things we love.”
I'll admit, it was difficult for me to connect with Eva due to the decisions she made and risks she took. However, Once We Were was Eva's time to find out who she is, and in that search, mistakes were to be expected. My biggest issue was the fact that she continued putting not only herself and her sister in danger, but the people who rescued her and her friends as well.
As soon as an opportunity arrived for Eva to be apart of something big where she could help change the system, she stopped thinking things through, started keep secrets, lying to those who cared about her, agreeing to compromising situations that put her sister at risk. At times, I started having conversations in my mind with Eva, going all Uncle Ben on her: "With great power, comes great responsibility." Yada, yada, yada. But I had to keep reminding myself that this is a character who isn't used to making such HUGE decisions. The redeeming factor is that she does recognize how terribly she's been to her sister and to others. She does try and fix her mistake at great sacrifice to her own person. So, Eva is far from being a terrible character, but Once We Were does show her flaws more, and sometimes at a more frustrating degree.
As expected, Kat Zhang's writing is beautiful, fluid and mesmerizing. It was one of the things that caused me to fall in love with What's Left of Me and I was so happy to see that continue here. This time around we were also treated to some sections of prose that's written in verse to show the passage of time when Eva "goes under." During that time the verses had a whimsical quality, that made me think of
in a pool
hot summer day
relaxing in the sun
Still, Once We Were didn't capture my attention the same way What's Left of Me did, and I did struggle a little to get hooked. Thankfully, the last third does pick up, but I was disappointed to have waited so long for it to do so.
What I was really curious for was more world building. I wanted to know how the rest of the world views hybrids, and since Eva and Addie's knowledge is limited, so is the reader's. This time around there we have a new character named Henri from central Africa who's able to give us a small glimpse at how the other nations few the Americas. However, their conversations are few and far between and I would have loved to know more about the other countries' views on hybrids. I'm hoping that'll be discussed more in book 3.
Final thought: Once We Were mainly focuses on Eva and Addie as individuals instead of just one person. They spend more time apart, losing the connection I had with them from What's Left of Me. But I do think this experience has really brought them closer and has set the stage for the final book in the series. With so many questions remaining unanswered, I'm eager to find out what happens next!
Okay, I'm really excited for this book, but another sword on the cover? I mean, McKenzie didn't wield a sword in book one. Is she actually going to us Okay, I'm really excited for this book, but another sword on the cover? I mean, McKenzie didn't wield a sword in book one. Is she actually going to use one this time around?! ...more
Sometime after this review was written Kat Kennedy and I traveled down the River Styx to interview Brodi Ashton. Check out the interview here!
Right af Sometime after this review was written Kat Kennedy and I traveled down the River Styx to interview Brodi Ashton. Check out the interview here!
Right after I finished Everneath I gave it 4 stars right off the bat. It was an easy read with a great story and fantastical characters. Why didn't I give it five stars? I had to to think on that. So, I spent an entire week trying to figure out what it was about Everneath that I disliked. Conclusion:
It's true, folks. I don't have any negative things to say about Everneath. I LOVED it.
Everneath tells the story of Nikki Beckett, who having since vanished 6 months ago to the Everneath, returns to her family and friends seeking a way to permanently say goodbye before she returns to the Underworld for good. However, “bad boy”, Cole, the immortal who first took her to the Everneath, wants to make her his immortal queen and forget about those she left behind. With a period of only six months, Nikki struggles to fight her addiction to Cole, right her wrongs, and somehow find a loop hole that will keep her with her loved ones.
There are a few aspects in Everneath that make it stand out above the usual follies in the paranormal romance genre. For all of those novels that have done it wrong over and over, Everneath does it right.
What I LOVED and can't get enough of (baby):
Are you tired of the usual teen angst? The main character and the love interest seeming to have some whack, ass-grabbed excuse for why they can't be together? Well, so am I. Each character in this book felt like they were extremely well-developed with real issues. Nikki is looking for redemption for something she knows is her fault. She's not looking for anyone to save her. She's not pouting in the corner having a FML moment. She's doing something about it. It was her decision to go with Cole to the Everneath and allow him to feed off of her. She could have blamed it on Jack's actions, but she took full responsibility.
Cole is a very complex character. He tries very hard to convince Nikki to leave her home and become an immortal, Everliving, like him and rule as queen. But, Nikki doesn't want that. While reading, the reader is left to wonder if he is genuine when he says he cares about her or is her just playing her. Somehow Ashton manages to make us somewhat sympathetic to Cole, but she still reminds the reader that he is the bad boy. How many times do we see the heroine being instantly swept away by the bad boy's good looks? Or how about getting lost in his glorious deep eyes, that also happen to be the exact shade of the darkest pits in hell? Or my personal favorite: stalk me! I love it when you creep! *barf* Kill me now. Nikki doesn't back down from her guns. Cole follows her and she tells his ass to take a hike. Cole stakes out at her window and she tells that fool to get lost. However, there always still remains intrigue surrounding Cole. I expect to see a lot more from him in the next book.
Jack is the sweetest love interest I've read about in a while. He never gives up on Nikki when she disappears for 6 months. He was supportive and kind throughout the entire novel. Ladies, and I'm not saying this mildly, if you love Tucker Avery (view spoiler)[if you don't know who that is, you are DEAD to me! (view spoiler)[just kidding...sorta (hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)], then I'm sure you will love Jack too. Jack suspects something is amiss with Nikki and despite her not being as forthcoming about it, he steadily is always there patiently waiting until she is ready to talk.
I mean, how can you say no to a book with characters that awesome?!
The Triangle of Love:
Ashton plays this pretty slick. As I've already mentioned, Nikki avoids Cole's advances, but I know where this is headed. I'm just way too smart to be fooled!
But, you know what? I think this will be one of those cases where I'll like it. In fact, I'm going to make a rather bold statement here and say this love triangle resembles Cynthia Hand's Unearthly. Yes, I said it. You see Hand and Ashton are doing something very interesting with their romances. They both have strong female leads that clearly have a preference in the department of who they want to end up with. They struggle to ward off advances from the other male love interest, but because of factors out of their control (this is called a plot people!) they must tolerate him. He isn't around just to make the "good guy" look extra nice with his boy next door, award winning smile. He has a purpose besides trying to steal away the girl. Not only that, but the heroine knows this and tries everything in her power to not get involved with the "bad boy" because, duh!, he is BAD. And that is why it works for me. It makes me so happy someone has stopped trying to sell me the arrogant "bad boy" as a viable love interest when he has zero redeeming features! Thank you, Ashton. Gold star!
One of the best messages this novel has is the consequences of co-dependent relationships. They reason why Nikki left to go to the Everneath was a direct result of an event involving her boy friend, Jack (coupled with a few other things). Similarly, Jack loses it completely when Nikki disappears. The reason why it works in this story is because both characters acknowledged those actions were not healthy and both regretted it. Their knee-jerk reaction and violent depression is not romanticized in any way. I really wish more authors portrayed this message more often in their novels because it's important to show that losing your boy friend/girl friend can suck, but it is not the end of the world.
That's right, this book has one! Nikki is on a mission: redemption. That is what she attempts to gain in this novel. When she disappeared into the Everneath 6 months ago, she left a lot of relationships strained and now she is looking to fix them. She doesn't stray from that path and suddenly start fantasizing about the "bad boy" randomly. This is what makes this book such a winner because too often I see the plot being left in the bloody dust because an author thought it would be "totally romantic" to have the heroine frolic through the gardens with one of her boy toys. I'm happy to say that did not happen here. You ever heard of the saying "no romance without finance"? Well, I'm introducing a new saying: No romance without plot progress. While this is a paranormal romance through and through, the plot is always in the front.
So sad, but so perfect. I love how things are tied up nicely, yet you know there is more to come. I'm really excited to read the next book, but I don't feel like Ashton left me to walk the plank with Everneath's ending. Thank you for that. There are only so many cliffhangers I can take before my poor little heart gives out. It will be very interesting to see where she takes this story.
So, if you are tired of the usual run of the mill paranormal romances, you should head right on over to your book store and pick up Everneath. You're in for a treat!
ARC received through NetGalley. As always, these are my honest opinions and I was not paid for my review!
More reviews like this at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A Monster Calls has to be the most inventive book I've read this year. And I find myself struggling to put in words how much this book has touched me. A Monster Calls has to be the most inventive book I've read this year. And I find myself struggling to put in words how much this book has touched me. But it did. If you haven't read A Monster Calls, I suggest you immediately purchase it. Don't read the e-book because you would miss out on the amazing artwork. This book is stunning. Masterfully written and beautifully drawn.
I remember the first time a book made me cry like this. I was in eighth grade in my English class, sitting under my desk in the back of the room reading A Walk to Remember. If you've read that book you will probably understand why I cried. I'm naturally an emotional person, you see. I cry easily if I see another's suffering. At the time I was fortunate enough to not have yet experience the feeling of losing someone close to you. Unfortunately, I know that feeling all too well now and that is the reason I was initially afraid to read A Monster Calls. I saw my GoodReads friends reading and reviewing the book, but I couldn't bring myself to add it to my shelf. I had an idea of where it could take me emotionally, and it's not a place I choose to visit. I keep those memories locked up and tucked away. But this book made me remember. It made me remember the phone call. It made me remember the shock, the pain, the regret, the denial, the limo ride, the funeral, the casket, the anger, the depression, the trials. It made me remember my brother, who on some days I choose to forget because it's easier that way. Maybe that sounds horrible, but it's true. It's an awful truth.
So, how do you write a review for a book that makes you remember? How can I describe in words how unbelievably vulnerable this book can make you feel? How do I explain the beauty of the frailty? I simply can't. My advice would be to go into this book blind. You have to or you risk doing a disservice to yourself, this book and the wonderful story within its pages. I suppose you are just going to have to trust me when I say A Monster Calls is beyond amazing. It's about loss, acceptance, grief, facing your fears, and letting go. This book made me laugh, made me think, tore out my heart, made me cry, and healed me. I hope, no, I know it will do the same for others...