This book felt like coming home. It was reminiscent of the folk and fairy tales I loved as a child and was just as expertly woven. I could find no flaw in this story, nothing I wish had been done differently. It was absolute perfection for my fairy-tale-loving heart...a balm to my soul.
Agnieszka is my version of the perfect heroine: absolutely normal. She is every girl who thinks herself not good enough and is the complete opposite of her beautiful, perfect best friend. Which is why she is absolutely positive the Dragon will never choose her...but that's because she's yet to discover just how special she truly is. Despite that, I appreciated how true to herself Agnieszka remained. In the face of adversity and an ever-changing world, she never lost sight of herself and proved to be the most ardent and loyalest of friends.
There were moments in story where a lesser person might have given in to temptation or chosen the easier path, but not Agnieszka. She would sacrifice everything she was for the sake of her dearest friend Kasia. And despite whatever darker thoughts and resentments they might be harboring toward one another because of their predicaments prior to and after the choosing ceremony, they still endeavored to be there for each other, to be as close as sisters. Their love for each other was undeniable.
The pacing and world-building in this story were exceptional. Every time I was gearing up for things to settle down, to be able to catch my breath for a moment before the next crisis had to be averted, I had to remind myself that this was not that kind of story. There were chapter breaks, sure, but there weren't really any good stopping points, not with everything that was happening in the story. I found it ridiculously difficult to put this book down...it was just utterly brilliant and completely unpredictable. And usually with fantasy worlds such as this, I tend to gloss over all of the finer details in favor of the action and dialogue, but Novik's descriptions of the Wood and all of its inhabitants are not to be missed. She managed to make it sound captivating and beautiful and completely creepy all at the same time. I will never look at the forest the same again.
The Dragon is not a dragon but a wizard, and thusly, magic is central to the story. The Wood itself is a little magical, frighteningly so, and as it turns out, so is Agnieszka. But the way in which she wields magic is so different from the Dragon's by-the-book methods that he is constantly infuriated and very often frustrated with Agnieszka's lack of progress with his teachings. I loved that Agnieszka found her own path to accessing magic and that it aggravated the Dragon to no end.
Their relationship started off with them despising each other but it evolved into one of burning passion, especially after they began working magic together. But the romance was also very much secondary to the rest of the story. I think that if Agnieszka had learned magic from the Dragon in the way that he had intended, she would have been yet another student he'd send off at the end of ten years, never to be heard from again. But once Agnieszka finally embraced the magic within and found a path that worked for her, she began pushing the Dragon's limits...and also his patience. She challenged him at every opportunity and proved that she was a far-worthier pupil than he'd originally given her credit for. For comparison's sake, I envisioned the Dragon as Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock but in wizard form: that super intelligent and everyone is beneath me type of character.
Though Agnieszka is but a young woman of seventeen when she is chosen as the Dragon's new apprentice, this book was more adult in nature. The responsibilities and sacrifices that Agnieszka faces are definitely not usual for a girl of seventeen, but this is a fantasy story. So, it's kind of somewhere between young adult and adult, but not new adult either. I know that's very vague and I'm sorry for that. Honestly, the best comparison I can make in terms of story, writing, creepy factor, forest imagery, etc., is the recently released Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge. They both have a very similar vibe, with young characters who have very difficult paths ahead of them. The same might even be said for Hodge's debut, so if you enjoyed either or both of those novels, I'd heartily recommend Uprooted to you, as well.
Seriously, though, if you have any interest in folk lore, fairy tales, or fantasy, on any level, you should put this book on your TBR. But don't just let it stay there. Also, I wouldn't read it near a copse of trees, either. I did and I felt like I was being watched the entire time. There is just something so pervasive and magical about Naomi Novik's writing...I felt it all around me. And as chilling as that could be at times, I can't wait to read it again.
GIF it to me straight: Creepy forest is creepy....more
This book was not at all what I expected. I thought it was going to be this cute, frivolous little love story that would likely warm my heart and lea
This book was not at all what I expected. I thought it was going to be this cute, frivolous little love story that would likely warm my heart and leave me with a smile on my face. I couldn't have been more wrong.
This is what some might deem a "cancer book". But I didn't know that going into it. Obviously. I might not have read it had I known, but I would have missed out on such a poignant story and I would have regretted it, like I've been regretting not reading this sooner since I first began reading the book.
Love and Other Unknown Variables, with it's cute and nerdy math allusions and metaphors was much deeper and more thought-provoking than I could have imagined. Charlie, with his aspirations for MIT, was utterly adorkable. I knew from the first page that I was going to love him. And he only proved himself more worthy of my affections as the story wore on. I love a good male narrator, and Charlie is definitely on my list of favorites.
And Charlotte was a breath of fresh air. Or rather, Charlotte and Charlie together were. She's sick. He can't help falling for her. And though it's ten kinds of painful to watch it unfold, knowing how it will likely end, I can't say I'm sorry for it. Because it's real and true and inspiring. They had real conversations instead of misunderstanding after misunderstanding. They talked and dealt with their issues like normal people, even if it would have been easier to run and hide from them.
I'll be honest, I kind of wanted to hide from their problems, too, at times. The story was equal parts hopeful, terrifying, and just plain sorrowful. And as if I hadn't shed enough tears already, the author's note at the end choked me up further. It all just culminated in this really beautiful, touching story. I can't believe I almost passed on it because it looked TOO cutesy! I blame the adorable cover for that, though. ...more
An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review, however, is based upon a purchased copy ofAn advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review, however, is based upon a purchased copy of the audiobook version.
I put off reviewing this book, well, because I'm lazy. And honestly, that summary does a great job of telling you what you're going to get with Jackaby. When it says Doctor Who meets Sherlock, it means it. You've got the paranormal aspects of Doctor Who set as the backdrop for a murder mystery the likes of which Sherlock would love to get his hands on.
Just like the two BBC shows that seem to be at least partly the inspiration for Jackaby, this novel includes a healthy dose of humor to the story to lessen the effects of the grisly tale held within its pages. I love a great mystery novel, but it can't always be murder and mayhem, especially when there's little to no romance to be had to distract you from the gruesomeness.
Much like Sherlock, Jackaby is the type of character to find romance a very unnecessary diversion from the matter at hand…even a complication. So, the romance is left to young Abigail, who seems to have struck the fancy of Detective Cane. Though the thought has been planted, it's unlikely we'll see any real swoons until later in the series. And I applaud that…this isn't really the type of mystery novel to really call for a love story.
Ritter has created such a rich world in Jackaby that I found myself immediately immersed in it, as if I, too, were walking the streets of New England, trying to crack the case. Set near the turn of the century, the depiction of New Fiddleham and what lurked there was elaborate and breath-taking. The story was unique in its execution, and I found myself at the end of the story before I knew what had happened.
Jackaby does, however, remind me of another series I started listening to right around the same time: The Paper Magician trilogy, which I briefly reviewed on Goodreads. If you enjoyed those books, you'll likely enjoy this new Sherlockian series and vice versa. Also, Nicola Barber is a fantastic narrator for this series. I've listened to many audiobooks performed by her, and I've never been disappointed. Her accent also lends an air of authenticity to the story.
And what a story it was! I've always been a fan of Sherlockian-type mysteries, and William Ritter's Jackaby is no exception. I just saw that the cover for the sequel was revealed while I was on vacation last week -- that or I missed it recently -- and I might love it even more than this one. Which was why I was finally inspired to write my review for this amazing book.
Meh. Interesting spin on the original story, I suppose, but it never made all that much sense to me...or else I just didn't care? Plus, the insta-loveMeh. Interesting spin on the original story, I suppose, but it never made all that much sense to me...or else I just didn't care? Plus, the insta-love. Oh, and it's narrated by Justine Eyre, though that aspect didn't bother me as much as it normally would, maybe because I sped up the playback so much that I couldn't hear that breathiness her performances usually hold.
I didn't really enjoy this one, and yet I still find myself wishing the sequel was on audio. Oh, well. Since it's not, I won't worry about it for now....more
First and foremost: You absolutely must read Tarver's free novella. If you were a fan of Tarver in These Broken Stars, you will appreciate his heroism in This Night So Dark. And even if you weren't a fan of his -- but let's be honest, that's not really a possibility, now is it? -- you'll still need to know things and you'll be a lot closer to those discoveries if you read this short story. Also? It's bloody FREE!
Reasons to read: Well, for one, the aforementioned Tarver makes an appearance, as does the lovely Lilac, and they're kind of awww-some. But the new couple is awe-inspiring in their insta-hate and it's kind of fun to watch them chip away at each other's defenses. Also, there's the whole corporate conspiracy-turned-intergallactic planetary disaster waiting to happen. It's as much fun to see unravel as it is to sing about.
The story: So much win here, let me tell ya. Whereas These Broken Stars was pretty heavy on the survival story, This Shattered World focuses on the rebellion instigated by the blight upon Avon, not unlike the one that was developing on the planet Tarver and Lilac spent a good deal of time on. Except in this case, the planet is inhabited and the natives are not happy. As you can probably tell, though, it helps to have read the previous book. It's not necessary, as this is technically a companion story, but it helps all the same.
The characters: Everyone in this book is very opinionated, and their beliefs run deep, meaning it's going to take a lot for them to meet anywhere in the middle. But that also means that some might find them harder to connect to. I liked their take-charge, no nonsense attitudes, and I liked how they meshed -- or clashed, depending on the circumstances.
The villain: There is a somewhat localized villain/non-villain and then there is the über villain. Both are likely of the mind that they are making great strides for their people, but then again, so was Hitler.
The romance(s): Flynn and Lee have serious chemistry right from the beginning, but they fight it every step of the way. And I mean every step. But it's worth it in the end. And, of course, Lilac and Tarver are more adorable than ever. I was glad at more than just a little peek at where their lives have taken them since the events of These Broken Stars.
The swoons: I love a good "sworn enemies-turned-lovers" romance. Those. Are. The. Best. Tension runs high in these situations, but so does the passion! (There's also a blush-worthy Tarver and Lilac scene, fyi.)
Everything's coming full circle: Since this is a companion novel and not a true sequel, I didn't expect any second book syndrome from it, but I also didn't expect to get so much more of the political intrigue and corporate espionage that was only hinted at in the first book. It may have been the complete opposite of the first book, but it made for a really engrossing read and led us right back where we needed to be.
The quotability: I was too busy flying through the pages to mark many quotes and passages, but I really dig this one:
"He doesn't look much older than I am, so even if he enlisted the day he turned sixteen he won't have more than two years of service under his belt. Enough to get cocky -- not enough to know he should wipe that grin off his face. A few weeks on Avon will do that for him. He's chiseled, with a chin so perfect, it makes me want to hit it. The shadow of stubble along his jaw only emphasizes the lines of his face. These guys invariably end up being assholes, but from this distance he's just beautiful. Like he was put together by an artist. Guys like this make me want to believe in God."
In summation: Exhilarating. Steamy. A story that felt familiar to it's predecessor but remained wholly unique. I loved each book equally because they were such different pieces of the same story and felt like clues to a bigger mystery that I can't wait to unravel. This sci-fi writing duo is tops with me and I can't wait to see what their next collaborative effort reveals. (May it also include Tarver and Lilac and Lee and Flynn.)
Reasons to read: You loved the previous two books, obvs. You love a good character-driven novel -- or series -- that's going to keep you guessing till the very end. You love Maggie Stiefvater so much that you even love reading a whole post about her goats.
Or, you just really love a book that makes you work for it, that doesn't give you any easy answers...one that's all of this:
The story: I feel like this is a mythical quest of Goonies proportions, only it keeps snowballing and growing in ways I never expected...and I am so okay with that. No matter what complications arise, no matter what they discover and where it leads them, these kids never give up. Their tenacity for finding Glendower -- and the other answers they seek -- is astounding.
The characters: Blue Sargent. Richard Campbell Gansey III, otherwise known as Gansey. Adam Parrish. Ronan Lynch. Mr. Gray, aka The Gray Man. Calla. Persephone. Even Orla. They all leap off the page at you and make you care, even when they're persnickety or callous or have outright offended you. These characters take the wheel, become the driving force that keeps you reading until all the words are gone.
The villain: It's changed with every book and yet I haven't hated any of them. I don't particularly like any of them either, but I find them intriguing nonetheless.
The romance(s): Oh, yes, that's romance in the plural sense. Because one we know is impossible. (Maybe? Hopefully not?) One is intriguing because it involves a hitman. And the other one caught us by complete surprise, though it shouldn't have. (I mean, such animosity can only be sexual tension, right?) My ship remains intact and I have a new one on the horizon. Sort of. Pretty please?
The swoons: Please stopdon't ever stop doing this to my heart, Maggie. I can take it. I promise.
Everything's coming full circle: It's all coming together. Questions are being answered. There's only one book left and things are making sense but they're also not and maybe the search is almost over, but hopefully it's not?
OMG, that last page. OMFG, "where the F stands for fainting*". I feel faint still. Talk about a shocker.
*As in, Maggie's fainting goats. I borrowed this quote from the post of Maggie's I linked to earlier in this review.
The quotability: Mags is always quotable. She writes like she talks in real life -- sardonic, sarcastic, and humorous -- and it speaks to me like no other. Some favorites:
"Go to hell," Calla burst out. He nodded. "That's what I thought. You expecting her any time soon? I'd love to have a chat with her in particular." "Hell," Persephone said. "I actually agree in this case. Insofar as going there is concerned."
"Oh, no!" Persephone said with a little laugh. "I don't think that would -- no. As you said, she has the hots for Mr. Gray. Do young people really say that anymore?" "I just said it. I'm young." "Ish." "Are you asking me or not? Either you accept my authority on this point or we move on." "We move on."
"They regarded each other. Adam fair and cautious, Ronan dark and incendiary. This was Ronan at his most truthful."
"There was something unfamiliar about him when he arrived in the Pig. Something ferocious about his eyes, some sort of bite in his faint smile. Something altogether hectic and unsettled. She stood on the ledge of his smile and looked over the edge. This wasn't the Gansey she'd seen in the kitchen earlier; this was the Gansey she secretly called at night."
"Jesus Christ," Gansey said, to hide the sound of every hair on his body standing up and both of his testicles retreating."
"One of Calla's eyebrows momentarily considered punching the woman."
"Don't Richard Gansey the Third at me," Orla replied. "Because if that's what she meant, then yes, I just stared at him. I didn't realize it was a conversation because penis."
Probably too many favorites, considering I highlighted half the novel on my Kindle, but...
In summation: What did I love best about this third installment?
Yeah. It was pretty effing amazing. Maybe my favorite one yet, though I really, really liked The Dream Thieves...a whole helluva lot. *shrugs* All I know is...it's going to be a long, anxious wait for that final book. Also...
If I'm being completely honest, I wasn't as excited about this Maggie novel as I am about Blue Lily, Lily Blue which is due out later this year, but I still had pretty high expectations considering my love for The Wolves of Mercy Falls series. And I wouldn't say I was disappointed with Sinner, per se, but I think maybe my expectations were a little misplaced. As in, Cole is still a werewolf and I expected him to wreak his brand of havoc on L.A. And he did that, just not in the way I was expecting hoping for.
Initially, I was a bit unsettled by the difference in this cover as opposed to the rest of this series, but now it really makes sense. This is Cole and Isabel's story. Hardly any mention is made of Sam or Grace, as it should be. Basically, you could read this novel as a stand-alone, having never cracked open the cover of Shiver, and you'd still be able to appreciate the nuances of a rock star who's addicted to his wolfism same as he ever was to any illicit drugs. In other words, this is truly a companion novel about two side characters in the main series, and you need absolutely zero working knowledge of the other books in order to "get" this story, especially as it reads like a contemporary novel, not a werewolf story. I suppose the same could be said of the other novels, too, but it's never been more evident than in this book.
Sinner is resplendently introspective. Cole and Isabel spend a lot of time locked inside their own heads, unwilling to let the world see their true thoughts and feelings, scared to let go of that control. They each have a persona they wear for the world, which makes it difficult for each of them to express their feelings for each other, obviously, unless they become willing to shed their respective masks. Yes, the romance seems to be the focal point of this novel, but where the familiar rumblings of a contemporary novel most come into play is whether or not these two characters' have the ability to overcome their pasts and create their own destinies.
Because of the contemporary-type story, the plot is very character-driven with little to no action, but if you've read the other books in the series, you know that's pretty par for the course. Not that this is a bad thing...I love that Stiefvater opts more for character development than any other aspect in her stories, even making the side characters so important that they deserve their own companion novel three years after the final book in the series was released. But who's counting? :)
GIF it to me straight: Cole can be my Alpha anytime....more
This audiobook was torture! Not because the story was bad -- it's Katie Finn, better known as Morgan Matson...how could it be bad? -- but because I kept expecting everything to blow up in Gemma's face at any moment. She had a bazillion opportunities to come clean, and she thought about it a ton, but not once did she 'fess up...until she was forced to.
Gemma/Sophie was naive, gullible, frustrating, and made some really, really stupid decisions. But despite it all, I couldn't help but love her. I wanted her to realize that yes, what she did was all kinds of horrible, but also that she was a child when it all went down and though she can't really be held accountable for her actions then, she's trying to make amends now, which says a lot about her character.
I had suspicions and theories, but I had the feeling that Gemma and I both were being purposefully thrown off the trail. Every time I felt like something bad was about to go down, I had to stop the audio -- which the awesomely awesome author narrates herself -- and take a break so I wouldn't have a meltdown of my own. I was pretty engrossed in the story, to say the least, but that's partially because I was cringing in expectation of this all going downhill very fast for Gemma.
I kind of love that this is a contemporary series...not a series of companion novels but an actual progression of the story featuring the same characters, still hellbent on revenge. I would have been more than a little irate had the story wrapped up all photo-finish like -- see review above for Catch a Falling Star -- so I'm more than a little excited to see what these girls cook up next.
GIF it to me straight: Quirky but somewhat true....more
I'll try to refrain from spoilers as much as possible, but I may allude to circumstances in previous books, so if you've not yet read them yet, get on that right now!
Likely, if you're reading this review, you've already read this final book and just want to know my thoughts. Or you've begun the series and want to know if you should continue, if the payoff is worth it. It is, my friend. It is. But this also means that you don't really need me to touch on all the things I normally would in a review, like world-building, characterization, romance, and the story's predictability. Right? Okay, well, there are probably a few things I could still add. ;0)
So...Leigh Bardugo is pretty daring with her finale here. Maybe not as daring as others in similar situations, but I think that most of her fan-base will appreciate the bold choices she made in this final book. Characters you've grown to care about die. Innocents die. This is a war Alina is waging, after all. But I think that Bardugo wrote the story that needed to be told, not the one that everyone necessarily wanted to read. And that's not a bad thing. It's honest. It's brutal. And these characters won me over from the very first page of Shadow and Bone, and I'll not disgrace them by disparaging the author or her story because of who may or may not have survived this battle or who may have ended up with who in the end.
I think you can tell by my rating how much I enjoyed this last book in the Grisha Trilogy. It was action-packed and much faster-paced than I was expecting, though much of the beginning came to pass with little effort, all things considered. I have to wonder if that's because I recently re-listened to the previous book in preparation for Ruin and Rising. What I mean is, Alina was quite alone there at the end of Siege and Storm. She had no idea who'd survived the vicious skirmish with the Darkling and his forces and few of her compatriots remained. Even Mal was distant. And yet, it wasn't long before a plan was hatched and Alina was back to being the oft-adored and somewhat feared Sun Summoner. Basically, it seemed as though things turned around pretty quickly for our rag-tag group of rebels.
The characters have all been pretty well fleshed-out at this point, so Bardugo focused primarly on the plot and she did so aggressively. Not that I'm complaining. I love where she took this story and how completely unexpected some of it was. And I mean spit out my drink while I'm reading unpredictable. And that didn't just happen once. One might think that the author wanted me to waste perfectly good kvas while reading her story. And while her bold decisions with this final novel were plenty, shocking, and somewhat unprecedented, I believe they were entirely true to the story she was trying to tell. In other words, I LOVED the shock-factor.
***Serious spoilers in the next few paragraphs but not for THIS book.***
I also really enjoyed where Bardugo took the romance, no matter how many directions and iterations it's been through, though this is probably where I'll differ in opinion among my peers. But I won't mention why unless you ask me in private.
Alina loved Mal for ages. Mal is a bit of a playboy and thinks of Alina as just his best friend. Alina finds out she is Grisha and has a tryst with the Darkling, only to discover just how evil he is and escapes. Mal finds her and they are in love. (I say that in my taunting voice because I never really felt that connection...or liked Mal all that much, to be honest.) End of Book One.
The Darkling finds Mal and Alina together, captures them and throws them on a ship. Because of the amplifier, Alina is tied to the Darkling, feels a pull toward him. Sturmhond, privateer and captain of the ship, mutinies against the Darkling and saves Alina and Mal, gets them back on dry land after helping Alina secure the second amplifier. Sturmhond is not who he says he is, propositions Alina. (I want her to say YES!) Mal thinks himself unworthy of Alina, distances himself from her. The Darkling visits Alina daily through visions, drives her to the brink of madness. Still, she feels the pull to him; he and she are the same, after all. The Darkling attacks, Alina sacrifices herself, and Mal collects what's left of her. Everyone regroups but Sturmhond is not with the group.
And that brings us to where we begin in Ruin and Rising. Mal starts off being his pig-headed self, but circumstances change and he's all about Alina again. Everyone is all about Alina again. Even Zoya, if you can believe that. I kind of love it.
Which reminds me of one of my favorite aspects of this series: the humor. It's such a serious storyline for the most part -- war against the most evil of evils, fighting prejudices against those with magic versus those without -- that I'm always more entertained than I probably should be by the banter and rapport these characters have with each other. That's probably why Sturmhond quickly became my favorite of the potential love interests, his gift for making light of any situation, but it's also the essence of the story: that you have to be able to see the light through all the darkness.
The Grisha Trilogy is easily one of my favorite high fantasy series. Its wonderfully intricate world, reminiscent of old-world Russia and its neighbors, is simply gorgeous to imagine. The characters, with all of their faults, through all of their trials and tribulations, make me want to know them in real life. And the story itself begs for a happy ending. And even if all of the characters didn't find their happy ending, I am completely satisfied with this conclusion. There was so much growth throughout the series, but what really made this series epic was the last 30% or so of this final book. I mean, WOW. I shall now wait impatiently for Leigh Bardugo's next book, which appears to be a story set in the Grisha world but with new characters to love -- and hate, as the case may be. This author definitely knows how to make us do both with her fabulous words. I hope you've enjoyed your time with this series as much as I have.
Wow, what a mess! Not the book itself, just the way it ended. I'm still reeling from the adrenaline rush. I'm always a little wary of sequels because of the dreaded second book syndrome, where the author spends more time on world-building than plot and character interactions, but The Lovely and the Lost suffers from none of that. In fact, I'd wager that I enjoyed this second book even more than The Beautiful and the Cursed!
The Lovely and the Lost picks up a month or two after the events of the first book. I won't allude to any of what happened in book one in order to keep this review spoiler-free, but if you read it, you know it was chock-full of danger, deceit and was a bit of an emotional roller coaster on all accounts. But if you thought the first book was full of action and suspense, it's got nothing on this sequel. New characters, new villains, and twists that even I didn't see coming, and with as much reading as I do, it's usually pretty easy for me to predict where the story is going. But I guess when you throw angels, gargoyles, and demons -- not to mention special demon powers -- into the mix, things are going to get pretty unpredictable.
I'm not always a fan of multiple third person perspectives in a story, but it really works in this series. There's just so much going on in the story that it warrants having multiple narrators so that the reader isn't completely lost. Plus, it saves on time since we already know what's happening and it doesn't need to be repeated from character to character so that everyone's clued in. Most point-of-view transitions are obvious and happen at the beginning of each chapter, though there are times when the switch happens in the middle of a chapter. Even so, Morgan does so seamlessly, maintaining the fast pace of this suspenseful story.
I appreciated the introduction of the new characters and the inclusion of characters that were only known on the periphery previously. But even more, I loved how much more developed the characterizations of Ingrid, Luc, Vander, Gabby, Nolan, Grayson, and yes, even Chelle, were in this sequel. (Though, I think the brooding Luc will always be my favorite.) The events of the first book undeniably changed each one of these characters, but what happened in this last 100 pages of this book will leave them irrevocably changed. It's to the point now that I don't know that some of them can come back from what they've been witness to over the last few months.
The author is a master at weaving all the threads of these characters together, and it's going to be hard to separate them going forward, with what's happened and what the future holds. Also, adding in the parental presence this time around? Genius! It makes things so much more difficult for everyone involved, but it also makes for endless entertainment as everyone tries to evade them.
The romances -- and there are several to consider in this series -- are really nicely drawn, as well. They were less of a focal point in the first book, but they've really picked up speed in this continuation of the story. Yes, the "triangle" that semi-existed in the first book is still present, but I think it's more than obvious where it's headed by the end of this book, especially considering -- but also despite -- certain circumstances. I think the impossibility of both are what make each so captivating. Regardless, all of the romances in this story take a hit by the end, and no one's future is very stable anymore.
This entire story is just endlessly entertaining, full of plenty of nail-biting moments. I love the gargoyle protectors and their angel overlords. I love the entire Waverly clan and all their problems. And I'm still very intrigued with what the Alliance has to do with all of it. This sequel was quite impressive considering all of the characters and plot threads the author has to keep track of. And I'm sure that the next book will be the best yet!
April and I are apparently pretty awesome at picking our buddy reads because Don't Look Back was another success. Not that we'd mind coming together to rip apart a book we didn't enjoy, but I'd much rather spend my buddy reading time with a good book.
Don't Look Back was my first time reading a book by Jennifer L. Armentrout, but it definitely won't be my last. I can now see why so many readers are drawn to her stories. I myself found her writing style to be quite addictive, making this book very hard to put down. I've had JLA's other books on my TBR for ages, but I think this book has pushed me to get to the others sooner. Don't Look Back wasn't anything I haven't seen before, but it was insanely readable which also made it unputdownable.
I've been curious about Jennifer L. Armentrout for a while. I've purchased a few of her books, but this is the first one I've picked up. I think it was a good start. Like Jen says, her writing style really is addictive. It was a busy weekend for me, so unfortunately I had to put it down a lot, but I didn't want to! I thought about it constantly when I wasn't able to read. Now that I've given her a try, I'll have to try out some of her other stuff.
Okay, so the murder mystery/missing girl scenario and subsequent amnesia plot aren't terribly unique, but the way in which they were handled in this story did impress me a bit, especially the way in which Sam's returning memories were triggered and how the memories were described. I also love an unreliable narrator, and it's definitely hard to believe a girl with no memory of the night she and her best friend disappeared.
Honestly, this book reminded me a lot of The Lying Game...the television show, not the book series it was based on. I only read the first book, but from what I could already tell, the TV series strayed wildly from the plot of the books. But Don't Look Back also features the bullying aspect of Mean Girls, though not quite to that extent, at least not at present. I'm sure if the book had begun with the time before Sam went missing, we'd have seen an entirely different side of her...and we do, but only through her returning memories and accounts from her family and friends.
I loved the story! I've read books with similar plot lines in the past but it's been a while. Reading Don't Look Back reminded me how much I enjoy these kinds of mystery's. Sam has amnesia, and her memories start to come back to her through-out the book. Her best friend is missing and she depends on these memories to help the police find her. I was very intrigued. Sometimes these amnesia story lines annoy me but I found myself looking forward to each and every memory.
Sam, as we meet her, is a completely different person from who she was four days ago when she first disappeared. Before, she was a spiteful bully who took pleasure in others' misfortune. Now, she's having a hard time reconciling her second chance with who she was before. But the people she seems to have been cruelest to in her past life are the ones who are most willing to help her to try to solve the mystery behind her disappearance, including her brother and his girlfriend...Sam's former best friend. I think this story goes far to prove the point that when tragedy strikes, you begin to find out who your real friends are. Sam's clichéd mean girl clique and her supposed Prince Charming are far from helpful or even kind, and it's clear that this group of privileged kids will always be waiting in the wings to usurp whatever someone else has that they want...Cassie included. That character remained a mystery for much of the book, as the search for her continued, but what's discovered about her character as the story unfolded made her no more likable than the other mean girls.
April: Old Sam's friends, are total bitches. There I said it! They really are and I loved to hate them. Then again, old Sam was a total bitch too. I think what I loved the most was watching Amnesia Sam react to things she learned about her old self. That shit was funny. Really, I wish some of the girls I went to school with could have had moments like that.
Like Jen says above, you definitely find out who your true friends are during tragic times. But that's a good thing, and it was nice to see her reconnect with people she alienated in the past. As the story goes on, you get a clearer view of why she was the way she was. Not that there's an excuse for some of her past behavior, but I understood where some of it was coming from.
From the moment Del's character is introduced, I didn't like him. (But I did love everyone's nickname for him, especially after having dated a "Del the Dick" myself.) He seemed skeevy, and I always felt like he was hiding something. And then when Sam couldn't remember their "fairy tale romance" or even conjure up any feelings for the guy, I knew he was a goner. Especially when she started spending a fair amount of time with Carson, who actually wanted to help her discover what happened to her and Cassie that night. And then Carson, player though he was, actually wanted to be a good guy to Sam, to not complicate matters for her while she was still sorting out her past and her feelings for Del, nonexistent as they were. I shipped Sam and Carson so hard, especially when I found out that they'd been best friends growing up. She may have been pretty horrible to him, but he was still there for her when it counted. So, it probably sounds like a love triangle, but it's not really...especially when certain things come to light.
April: The problem with doing a joint review following Jen's thoughts are, she always says everything perfectly, and I'm left thinking, hmmmm, what can I add? I'm going further on the "sounds like a love triangle" bit. Because I know many are discouraged by things like that. It's definitely not a love triangle. You see, Sam is a new person after what goes down. She has no memory of who she was, so coming into the book she doesn't know Del the Dick. And boy is he a dick. She's not confused as to how she feels about him, she doesn't know him. She knows pretty much right away that things will not work with him now that she's changed as a person.
I enjoyed the romance that bloomed between her and Carson. They're childhood friends, and that's the best kind of romance. <3 I also appreciated that while it was sweet and swoony at times, it didn't take away from the mystery going on.
Totally saw it coming. I mean, I feel like the truth was pretty much shoved in my face, but I pretty much start out any mystery like this trying to weed out possible suspects and red herrings. So, maybe it's my fault that I usually guess the ending before the halfway point in a story. But with this book...well, I don't want to point out anything that might spoil the mystery for you, but it was just so obvious. (To me, at least.)
April: I'm usually dense when it comes to twists. I rarely see them coming, but this one is right there. I'm laughing at Jen not wanting to point it out, because we discussed this obvious thing via text. Even though I figured it out pretty early on, it didn't ruin the book for me. I still didn't want to put it down, because I was dying to see if I was right!
Don't Look Back was a satisfying thriller that does use quite a few clichés and tropes to accomplish its mission, but JLA uses them so effectively that I didn't mind. Is that the magic of Armentrout's stories? That even though she uses some of the most annoying plot devices, they don't come across as annoying? I must read more of her work in order to prove or disprove that theory. But from what I've read of this book, and from what I've gathered from readers of her other books, I think the main contributing factor to her popularity is that her stories are just fun. And swoony. That always helps. I hope to enjoy the rest of her stories as much as I did this one.
April: Hmmm, overall I really liked it! I will definitely read more of her stuff. My friend Jess loves her books and she's been bugging me to try one for a while now. So glad I finally did. Also, major props to Armentrout mentioning the Poconos! My home. :) I actually get to meet her this weekend, she will be at YA Fest. Yay!! But yeah, Don't Look Back is a great story, and I'm so glad I started with this one.
GIF it to me straight: The Lying Game meets Mean Girls...more
I loved Fracture when I read it in 2012, and I went on to love Megan Miranda's next book Hysteria, as well. There were similar themes in both, but even so, each story stands apart and kept me guessing. A good thriller is hard to come by, at least for someone like me, who is perpetually anticipating the outcome.
In this sequel/companion to Fracture -- and I say companion since Decker has taken over narration duties, though the events in Vengeance do follow those in the first book -- I didn't worry so much about the ending. For once with a Megan Miranda novel, I guessed it early on. But there were many bumps along the way and a lot that I didn't see coming, so even if I did predict the outcome, I still felt unsettled for much of the book. And that's how I know this was a great story.
I think what really helps this story along is the fact that yet again, we have a slightly unreliable narrator. Ever since Delaney was pulled from Falcon Lake a second time and survived, and since the death of their friend Carson, who was one of those who helped rescue Delaney, the people of this suburban Maine town believe the lake is cursed. And it's taken six months, but Decker is finally starting to believe the rumors. He's seeing things, feeling things, and he puts a lot of distance between himself and Delaney in the process.
There were times when I just wanted to beat some sense into Decker, to tell him to stop believing in ghosts and see what was right in front of him. He was just so infuriating, what with his being a hypocrite and all. Other times, I wanted to pull him into a hug and tell him to stop bottling up all of his grief, that he was only going to end up hurting worse if he kept down this path.
It was interesting being inside Decker's head for this sequel, as opposed to the analytical, sometimes clinical-to-a-fault Delaney. There was a marked difference between the two voices, and I'm glad Miranda decided to write Vengeance from Decker's perspective because it really does make you look at things differently. With Delaney, you were a part of the curse. With Decker, you're an outsider...one that the curse is coming after.
Megan Miranda writes one heck of a psychological thriller, and she really puts her background in science to good use. I also like that, though the romantic relationships in her books are important to the stories, they don't become all-encompassing. After everything I've read from this author in the last couple of years, I am a huge fan, and I am very much looking forward to what else she has in store for us, including Afterlife and Soulprint, both of which sound as intriguing as everything that Miranda's written so far. I just love an intelligent read that leaves me hoping for the best yet always fearing the worst. If that sounds like your kind of story, then I'd definitely recommend this series to you.
After reading The Winner's Curse at the first of the year and falling head-over-heels for Marie Rutkoski's beautiful writing style and the beginning of what is sure to be a truly stunning trilogy, I knew I had to make time in my reading schedule for The Shadow Society. I have a signed copy after all. And then I saw that Kristen from My Friends Are Fiction was just starting it, and we decided to do a buddy read. (You can check out her review here.) This turned out to be a great decision because there was soooo much I wanted to discuss while reading, and Kristen was a fantastic buddy-reader. Probably doesn't hurt that we hardcore bonded over our love of this author's writing style, either.
To kick things off, I think I'd have to say that this novel has one of the best, most enticing prologues I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I couldn't not read the book after that! It packs a real punch, but it's the rest of the book that delivers. The Shadow Society is this really awesome alternate history/multiverse story, but that's not even the half of it. That aspect comes in to play over the course of the novel, but I wouldn't say it's the focal point of the story. No, that would probably be the war brewing between the Shades and humans in an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire never happened. But I'll get to that.
"You stole it," I finally choked out. I felt as if Conn had seen me in nothing but my oldest, ugliest underwear.
I was a little worried about the amnesia plot in this story because those are always so hit or miss. But Darcy's memory loss is due to some traumatic event in her childhood, and I can get on board with PTSD-related amnesia. Especially when the memories return in the fashion that they do for Darcy: little by little, triggered by familiar faces and familiar places. And then those pieces start to add up, and everything falls into place for the reader at the same time it does for Darcy. I had my theories, of course, but considering the Shades are a completely new brand of paranormal creature, I was just as shocked as Darcy to learn the truth.
Darcy was a bit of an enigma at first. She doesn't fit in anywhere, but she has this really tight-knit group of friends. She's been passed from foster home to foster home since she was first found outside a fire station at the tender age of five, but now she's got a loving foster mother by way of Marsha. It seems that Darcy has finally found her place in this world...just in time to have it all taken away from her by a past -- another world -- she can't remember. All things considered, I think she handles the fall-out rather admirably.
The Shades are, essentially, children of the shadows. In their corporeal form, they look human, but they have the ability to make themselves invisible. And they use this ability to hide among the humans in their world, following them around like shadows and spying on them. For this reason, Darcy is valuable to both the Shades and the humans of that world. But she's especially important to Conn.
I don't know if you can call it a pattern when it only exists in two instances, but at the very least, the theme of betrayal is a commonality between both of the books I've read by Rutkoski. I'm equally drawn to storylines involving betrayal, so I get it. And I don't mind...I just think it's interesting how two stories can have the same basic premise but still be completely different and also captivating in their own rights. And as Kristen stated in our discussion over this book during our buddy read, I'd much rather the tension in the story come from some type of betrayal, as opposed to a misbegotten love triangle.
He grinned the first time I said it. "Pleasure later, then," he replied. But later was always later than that for me, and he grew sullen. I knew that I could change that, could heal the insecurity that shape-shifted Orion from a sly jester into someone who pouted. He pouted sexily and looked very kissable. Really, he was very everything. But he wasn't for me. In the midst of the lies I had to tell and secrets I had to keep and secrets I had to unearth, it felt important to be true to myself.
I guess I should mention that there are two interested parties, but this is clearly an instance of the love T, which I don't mind. Conn, despite his betrayal, is where Darcy's heart lies. Orion was simply a friend who tried to force more from the relationship than Darcy was prepared to give. Conn uses Darcy, but in the process -- and over weeks, while spending time together working on a school project in the Alter (their name for our world) -- they become something more to each other. Neither is really sure what to make of the other, but it's clear (at least to the reader) that Darcy's feelings are reciprocated by Conn, before and after the betrayal.
He slouched at his desk, but there was something a little calculated in his slumped shoulders and stretched out legs. I got the impression that he had riffled through his closet, found his Typical Teenager costume, and was trying it on. And now we come down to it. My suspicion: Conn McCrea wasn't exactly normal. My reasons? Let's just say it takes one to know one.
Conn was intriguing and confusing for a majority of the story, but he wasn't the only stand-out character aside from Darcy. There were members of The Shadow Society that seemed to share Darcy's concerns for the welfare of humans, especially Savannah and Zephyr, but hardly any of the Shades could really be deemed trustworthy. But after reading Jacks and Queens at the Green Mill, I feel like I understand Zephyr a little better, anyway. Then there were Darcy's friends from the Alter. They were true friends, caring and funny and loyal to the end. And they really shocked me at times, which endeared them to me further.
I think I should just go ahead and admit that I'm kind of in love with Rutkoski's gorgeous prose. It was an entirely different experience reading this novel as compared to The Winner's Curse, especially knowing that The Shadow Society is a stand-alone, but I enjoyed this story immensely. I cannot fathom that I have to wait over a year to get my hands on another Marie Rutkoski novel. If you've already read and enjoyed The Winner's Curse, or if you fancy stories featuring themes of rebellion, love across dividing lines, or characters discovering that much of what they know is a lie, then I think you'll find something to appreciate in this novel.
GIF it to me straight: This woman can write!...more
"I wish I could talk to him about what I've done, but I don't want him to know. I am alone in this, as I am alone in so much else. It is a crushing feeling with no corners and no edges. Endless and uncontainable. The Ghost seems to understand this feeling."
If you've seen my Review in a GIFfy feature, you know that the first book I ever reviewed in this fashion was Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine. (That review can be found here.) And with good reason, since so much of the story warrants such strong reactionary GIFs. But there's also a beautiful subtlety to Fine's storytelling method, full of vivid imagery but also those small things that niggle at your subconscious until you can no longer ignore them.
This book felt like so many things in one. First and foremost, it's a love story...and a doomed one at that. The setting and characters lend themselves to an Asian culture set somewhere in the somewhat recent past, but this isn't really a historical fiction novel. There are mechanical elements that are reminiscent of a steampunk novel, but that's not the focus of this story, either. One thing I do know, though, is that Of Metal and Wishes is a retelling of a timeless masterpiece, and it is beautifully told.
I loved how this story stayed with me, how even though I didn't know it was supposed to be a Phantom of the Opera retelling until I was already knee-deep in it, the hints of that familiar story were already ruminating in my brain, pushing me to read further, figure out who the Ghost was and what he wanted with Wen. And even though I did have my theories pan out, it made the story no less captivating to know what Wen was up against. In fact, knowing only urged me to plunge deeper into the story to discover the hows and whys of it all. And it all boils down to a little thing called social injustice.
A little background: Wen's family was of a nobler class before they fell on hard times. Wen's father is now the on-staff doctor at the local slaughterhouse. They live on-site in the medical quarters, and Wen's now of the age that she must consider her own occupational options. Basically, she's a sad, lonely young woman with little hope for a happier existence, and now that she's made an impulsive request of the Ghost, she's encompassed in guilt. Melik is a Noor, a group of downtrodden people who stand out as different because of their appearance but also because they are the cheap labor shipped in to work in the factory. They are not respected and they have little to no rights. As such, neither Wen nor Melik would normally have any contact with the other, save for the altercation in the cafeteria that sets off an avalanche of events that continually put them in each other's company. Their initial interactions are rocky at best, but before long, the pair begin to gradually trust one another...though not without reservations.
I usually try not to become overly infatuated with the romance in a story, instead hoping that the story can stand on its own without the love story to back it up, but for this novel, I've made an exception. Okay, maybe that's the wrong word because this story does hold its own without the romantic interludes between Wen and Melik. However, I really liked what was developing between those two, and I can't deny that it also pressed me to read on. The romance not only relies on the characters and their feelings but also on their part in society. Social injustices and peer opinions play a big role in Wen and Melik's potential relationship, and it's because of these things -- and the Ghost, can't forget him and his meddling -- that their relationship almost doesn't come to fruition. But it's everything leading up to their eventual coming together that makes their romance all the more precious: Melik defending Wen from his fellow Noor, Wen mending Melik during illness and injury, and on and on, despite their difference in class. And amidst everything they're already facing, they also have to confront their own prejudices against each other.
Just as Melik feels protective of Wen, Wen deems it necessary to stand up for the Noor, whom she grievously misjudged. She is compassionate toward the Noor when no one else is. But the Ghost, hiding in the shadows, is exacting his own brand of vengeance by way of granting wishes left for him on an altar by those in need...or those who have been wronged. He, too, feels the need to protect Wen, and it's through his wish granting and involvement in the daily lives of the factory workers that we begin to discover who or what he really is. As the mystery unravels, the Ghost's existence becomes less creepy and more sad with the realization of his existence.
And that pretty much sets the tone for the novel, which ends on a very bittersweet note. (Which is fine, since the author announced there will be a sequel.) This novel was truly exquisite: the writing was fluid, the mystery was solid, and the story itself was haunting and beautiful. I can't wait to see where the next chapter takes these characters.
"Wen always has medicine."
GIF it to me straight: That's me to this book....more
First, an apology to all of the other books I will read this year: I am sorry that The Winner's Curse was the first book I read this year. I am sorry that nothing I read after it will compare. I am sorry that I now have unreal expectations for every subsequent book I pick up this year and forever more. It's not your fault any more than it's The Winner's Curse, but still I am sorry.
I wish I could have read this book three or four times before sitting down to write this review because I don't think anything I could say right now would do the book justice. Nothing seems adequate to describe my love for this novel. I read the book at the very beginning of the year, and it's stayed with me since. I've been mulling over different aspects of the story for weeks, and I'm starting to think that the only way to get past this amazing book is to read it again. Or am I just fooling myself so that I can read it again?
If I'd read Rutkoski's The Shadow Society prior to picking up this novel, I might have been at least a little prepared for what was to come. As it stands, The Winner's Curse caught me off guard completely. The writing is gorgeous, the story is breathtaking, and the world is different and familiar, all at once. I felt that the story started out similarly enough to Diana Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars that I was on even footing going into it, but this story is also nuanced by the more present thrummings of revolution and the fact that the reader sees the world through the perspectives of both star-crossed lovers.
Despite the early hype for this book, I'd never read a book by this author at the time that I started The Winner's Curse and I paid little attention to the summary, so I had little to no expectations going into this story. I had no idea that a war was brewing in Kestrel's homeland. That Kestrel's only lot in life was to join the military or get married. There are no other alternatives for a young Valorian lady, despite what sharp-witted Kestrel may wish. I was also unaware that Arin was a slave fated to be so much more to his people. Also unexpected was the duel. Yes, I said duel. (Actually, my notes on the matter say, "A @#%$*&! DUEL!")
"And you will stop pressuring me to enlist. Whether I become a soldier is my choice." The general rubbed his wet palms together, his hands still dirty. The water that dripped from them was brown. "Here is my counteroffer. You will study strategy with me as my schedule allows. Your sessions with Rax will continue, but only on a weekly basis. And you will make your decision by spring." "I don't have to decide until I am twenty." "It's better for both of us, Kestrel, if we know soon on what ground we stand." She was ready to agree, but he lifted one finger. "If you don't choose my life," he said, "you will marry in the spring." "That's a trap." "No, it's a bet. A bet that you like your independence too much not to fight alongside me." "I hope you see the irony in what you have just said." He smiled. Kestrel said, "You will stop trying to persuade me? No more lectures?" "None." "I will play the piano whenever I like. You won't say a word about it." His smile shrank. "Fine." "And"--her voice faltered--"if I marry, it will be to whom I choose." "Of course. Any Valorian of our society will do." This was fair, she decided. "I agree." The general patted her cheek with a damp hand. "Good girl."
Which brings me to the importance of music in this story. In this land, the playing of music is a menial task, one reserved for slaves. And yet, Kestrel is drawn to the piano, despite her father's desires that she not toil away at it. Kestrel's love of music is palpable, as is Arin's, and it's described beautifully in this story:
She wished that Arin hadn't chosen music for the flute, of all instruments. The beauty of the flute was in its simplicity, in its resemblance to the human voice. It always sounded clear. It sounded alone. The piano, on the other hand, was a network of parts -- a ship, with its strings like rigging, its case a hull, its lifted lid a sail. Kestrel had always thought that the piano didn't sound like a single instrument but a twined one, with its low and high halves merging together or pulling apart.
There is such a rich history in this tale, full of political intrigue, military strategy and the undercurrents of a revolution. As the Valorians conquered their enemies, they enslaved them and essentially took over their lives. The Valorians live in the homes of the Herrani, while the Herrani bide their time, waiting till everything is in place to strike back at their aggressors. Kestrel is a Valorian lady, well-suited to stratagem. Arin is a Herrani slave, a skilled blacksmith destined to be placed in the household of General Trajan, Kestrel's father.
Kestrel herself has a commanding presence. She is intelligent, dedicated, and above all, open-minded. And Arin hates her the second she purchases him at the slave auction. Yet, it's her willingness to keep an open mind that eventually starts to melt the ice that's formed around Arin's heart. Arin was not born into servitude, and he has lost much at the hands of the Valorians. He manages to keep a lid on his defiant thoughts and actions, but his growing feelings for the privileged girl who might actually understand his plight are at risk of destroying all his well-laid plans.
So the Herrani thought his face held the mad delight of a warrior at the sight of battle. He let them believe it. You are the god of lies, Kestrel had said. He looked at his people and smiled, and the smile was a lie -- but like writing in a mirror, whose reflection is the inverse of a truth.
Kestrel and Arin are very pragmatic individuals. They realize that what they feel for each other can never be examined closer, that what they want means little in the scheme of things. Each has their own path and never shall the two cross. But that doesn't mean that their affection for each other doesn't continue to kindle. Though any relationship for these two is out of the question, they do embark on a slow-burning romance that cannot be doubted. Their positions in life will never allow them to be anything more, but there is no question that these two yearn for each other -- mind, body, and soul.
Arin smiled. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not. "Thank you," he said.
The other characters in this story are unequivocally as unforgettable as the passion that burns between Kestrel and Arin. Enai may have had a bit part as Kestrel's nursemaid, but she is the reason Kestrel is the young woman she is today. Equally as important are Kestrel's friends: Jess, her best friend and closest confidante, and Jess's brother Ronan, whose designs on Kestrel's affections are somewhat questionable and entirely foolhardy. And then there's Kestrel's father, the gruff man who loves his daughter but also wants to see her follow in his footsteps. Their relationship was strained, but the love they felt for one another was obvious.
"Kestrel." The general touched her shoulder. When he spoke, his voice was uncharacteristically hesitant. "It's every child's duty to survive her parents. My profession isn't a safe one. I would like -- Kestrel, when I die, do not mourn me." She smiled. "You do not command me," she said, and kissed his cheek.
Do you ever read the acknowledgements of a book, discover how the idea for the book you've just read originated, and find yourself loving the book that much more because of it? That happened here. I absolutely devoured The Winner's Curse, and it's definitely one of my favorites for 2014, even though the year just got under way. But even crazier is that it's earned a spot on my favorite books of all-time list. This story is amazing, with its themes of love, loyalty, loss, and betrayal, and I honestly don't think I've read anything that quite compares to it. This novel is so promising and it offers up so much; it's just so poignant and clever and passionate. I'm sure I'll have read it several times before the second book is released. I just can't get enough of this gorgeous story, and I want to force it up on the masses!
I'm a sucker for a book whose events transpire over the course of one day or night. I also like books where the two main characters start out as enemies...or at least on unfriendly terms and have to work to get into each other's good graces. Also, if I'm being completely honest here, I like books told from dual perspectives...but only when the voices sound different and unique enough to actually warrant two point-of-views.
Bright Before Sunrise has all of those things. It's also a really honest and relatable story, much like Schmidt's debut. As I said, the book is told from both Jonah and Brighton's perspectives, and each voice definitely lends something to the story, whether its Jonah's brutal honesty and cynicism or Brighton's ability to see the best and be the best in any situation. Each character just felt so genuine and conjured up images of people I knew in high school myself. They are realistic and so are their emotions and reactions. And they find themselves in situations that real teenagers would.
Aside from just being real, I also loved how opposite these two characters were, and how utterly different their lives are, though neither exactly has it easy. In the beginning, Jonah finds it difficult to tolerate Brighton and what she stands for, or what he thinks Brighton is all about anyway. And Brighton's only interest in Jonah is to get him to complete a service project so that she can win an award that her deceased father once received. Thus begins a whirlwind of a night that ends full of possibilities.
I know that falling hard for someone after only one night together would normally be considered insta-love by my own standards, but in this book, it feels more like a slow burn. Remember, these kids don't even really like each other when the story begins, but throughout a night full of normal teenage circumstances, they slowly become friends, confidantes, and something a little more. The growth these characters face, what they discover about themselves and each other...that's what those formative teenage years are for. I love how the author uses the course of one night to express how perceptions can be altered and shaped in a second, if one truly gives themselves over to it.
Everything about this novel just felt so authentic to the teenage experience, right down to the worry about getting home late at the end of the night. (Or actually, probably early morning, but you get what I'm saying.) The connection that was forged between these two characters was just beautiful and sweet, and I loved where the story ended, leaving the reader full of hope and a little wonder at what the future holds. After two solid, clever stories about real teens with real problems and real lives, I'm pretty sure I'll be reading everything Tiffany Schmidt writes for the foreseeable future. I can't wait to get my hands on Hold Me Like a Breath!
GIF it to me straight: *sigh* cute, simple, hopeful and...wait for it...purr-fect =)...more
At first, I thought my feelings toward this final installment were based solely on my disconnect with the audiobook, but I've discussed with others whAt first, I thought my feelings toward this final installment were based solely on my disconnect with the audiobook, but I've discussed with others who've echoed my sentiments about this book feeling really slow. Like I was slogging through all of these details and all of this information, and I couldn't really even bring myself to care. The thing is, it wasn't even a lack of action because STUFF happens, but as with Insurgent, I just never felt the same connection to the characters that I did in the first book, and I really missed that.
I will admit, a lot of my problem with this book did revolve around my lack of love for the narration. Aaron Stanford as the voice of Four was great, and he should have been, considering the fans got to pick that voice to represent their beloved Tobias. But I was in the middle of listening to Endless Knight which also features Emma Galvin as the narrator, and switching to this one with her as the voice of Tris left me disappointed. First, I kind of loathe her as the voice of Evie in Kresley Cole's YA series. I didn't mind her as the voice of Tris when I listened to Divergent as a refresher to Insurgent last year, but this time around, I found it difficult to listen to her portray this character. It's probably my fault for listening to her narrate a series that I'm not loving and then attempting to shrug that off and listen to her as Tris again, but I just didn't connect with her as Tris at all this time. I actually found myself wishing Aaron Stanford could have narrated the entire book.
But, since this was a dual narrative, I understand why that wasn't possible. Even so, this felt more like Four's book...like more emphasis was put on his story arc than ever before, which makes sense since he got his own point-of-view in this book, but I think his story ended up overshadowing Tris's. Maybe that's why it was so easy for Veronica Roth to commit to the ending she wrote for these characters. And, gawd, did she commit. This was not the ending I was expecting, nor was it the ending I was hoping for, but it was real, and I can't fault the author for that. This was a story about war and human nature and it's impossible to tell a story like that without the loss of lives, without the loss of favorite characters.
I know this book isn't being received as well as expected, and I know I'm rating it lower than I expected to, but it's not a bad book. It forces the characters to look at some hard truths and face even harsher realities, but it's a dystopian novel, and I don't think readers could have realistically expected sunshine and rainbows for these characters at the end of the day. I'm not usually a fan of epilogues because it feels like they're always used to soften the blow of the true ending of the story, and that's definitely the case with Allegiant, but I think it was warranted in this situation. I, for one, really needed to see what became of the factions, the GDs and the GPs, if and how they worked things out. I'm not sure I really ever understood which side we were supposed to be campaigning for, but I feel like they're all on the same path now...or at least headed in the same direction.
This final book was more than a little depressing, but it was a fitting end, I think, for our Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Erudite, and Dauntless friends. I'm glad to be done with this world and all its political maneuvering, but I'm excited to see what Veronica Roth has in store for us next.
When I started These Broken Stars, I think I was expecting something along the lines of Beth Revis' Across the Universe series. I liked the first twoWhen I started These Broken Stars, I think I was expecting something along the lines of Beth Revis' Across the Universe series. I liked the first two books in that series, but I haven't been compelled to complete the trilogy, though that may have something to do with the cover re-design mid-series and my ownership of the first two books with the old cover. But I digress. These Broken Starsfar surpassed any previous held notions about the book, and if I had the next two companion novels in my possession, I wouldn't be talking to you right now because I'd be glued to those pages, just as I was with These Broken Stars.
These Broken Stars does include mystery and intrigue reminiscent of that in Across the Universe, and the setting does begin on a spaceship far from Earth, but that's honestly where the similarities ended for me. This space opera is unlike any science fiction piece I've ever read. The prose is rife with beautiful imagery and sentiments, and the story itself possesses an otherworldliness that I find it challenging to express in words, though the authors had no such difficulties.
I've been a fan of sci-fi since I was a wee thing, thanks to my Star Trek-loving father, and yet I don't think I've ever experienced a sci-fi story that touched me as much as this one, that had me thinking about it weeks later. Because though this story begins on a spaceship with a girl who's nearly royalty and a boy who's anything but, it quickly morphs into a story of survival, of love and loss and everything in between.
There's so much I want to say about this story, but I fear revealing too much, so I'll just focus on the things I can talk about, like the characters. Lilac is that girl who is just so much more than she appears to be. She puts on a front for everyone, but inside, she's dying a little bit every day, having to pretend to be the perfect daughter of the universe's most powerful man. Lilac has suffered losses in her life, and though outwardly she appears fine, it's obvious from the chapters told from her point-of-view that those losses still weigh heavily on her.
Tarver is handsome and stoic and immediately captivated by the beautiful Lilac. He's a military hero who wouldn't have even been on the Icarus, had he been given a choice in the matter, but it's lucky for Lilac that he was. Tarver, too, knows loss, and in their efforts to survive after the crash, the two bond and forge a connection that neither one is sure will survive their rescue. I enjoyed watching these two characters, who normally keep so much inside, come out of their shells with each other, and their subsequent reactions to each other were even more interesting. As Lilac proved there was more to her than pretty dresses and galas, Tarver showed that he had a softer side. They each brought out the best in each other. (You can read my interview with Tarver tomorrow as part of the blog tour!)
That cover is just so stunning and full of elements I find so romantic, so I did have some lofty expectations for the romance in this story. I was not disappointed. I was, however, surprised again and again at the direction the story took and where it left the characters, but I was never once disappointed. It's actually quite refreshing that the authors were so daring and dramatic with this story, and the proof is in the fact that I spilled tears for these characters and what they were going through. Not only is the story full of the swoons, but I felt ALL THE FEELS.
And even knowing how it ends, I'm already itching to experience all of it again. These Broken Stars is such an impressive debut, the story so compelling and breathtaking. The novel is a collaborative effort and is told from dual perspectives, and each voice is unique to the character, proving that this co-author team is a force to be reckoned with. Even the brief bits of Tarver's interrogation preceding each chapter were masterfully done, bringing the reader into the story and cluing us into the end game piece by piece.
These Broken Stars is gorgeous and cinematic while remaining suspenseful and inimitable, and I highly recommend it, not just to sci-fi fans but to everyone. This book was just so readable and I breezed through it, wishing I'd paced myself when the story was over. I can't wait to see what the authors have in store for us next, and I hope that though the next story is a companion to this one, maybe we'll get another glimpse of Tarver and Lilac and what became of them. A girl can hope, right?
Be sure to stop by tomorrow for my interview with Tarver as part of the blog tour hosted by The Midnight Garden!
Thanks to Disney Hyperion for providing an ARC for review!
"If she was going to die, she might as well die sarcastic. She'd seen a lot of old movies, and that was definitely the way to go out."
Every time I
"If she was going to die, she might as well die sarcastic. She'd seen a lot of old movies, and that was definitely the way to go out."
Every time I think I'm done with vampire books, my favorite authors pull me back in with their own twist on this paranormal creature. Unlike The Immortal Rules, which I've seen this book compared to on occasion, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown occurs in a more present-day setting, not years from now when the vampire epidemic has already reduced the human population to nothing. There are five major Coldtowns set up across the US, where vampires and those who have gone cold -- who've been infected by a vampire's bite -- are sent to spend the rest of their days in order to keep the rest of human civilization safe. Humans must also take extra precaution after nightfall because all of the usual vampire stigmas are present in this novel: sunlight is a no-no, holy water and stakes will kill them, and, of course, they vant to suck your blooooood.
Anyway, I received a review copy from the publisher, but after enjoying the Curse Workers series on audio so much, I decided to download the audiobook for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. A search on Audible showed me that I've never listened to Christine Lakin narrate a novel because this is the only one listed under her name, but I would definitely give future audiobooks narrated by her a chance. She presented Tana in such a matter-of-fact way, much the way I envisioned her: direct and to the point.
Tana's situation is very different. She's been bitten before and survived. So when an attack at a sundown party -- which sounds like a terrible idea to me, when vampires are running rampant -- results in a small bite on her leg, she has faith that she can fight the infection again. I rather love the self-deprecating character, the one who's humble and never gives up no matter how the odds are stacked against them. Much like Cassel Sharpe in the Curse Workers series taking on ruthless mobsters, Tana ends up taking on some of the most powerful vampires she could ever cross paths with.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is Tana's journey to the Coldtown in Springfield. She hopes to wait out the infection there, along with her ex-boyfriend Aidan who has gone cold after the attack at the same party where Tana was infected. Along the way, they meet a vampire and an amateur blogger/filmmaker brother and sister duo, all headed in the same direction. It was the vampire Gavriel that captivated me the most. Give this girl a hottie with a Russian accent, especially one who seems to be channeling Dimka, and you have a fan for life. (Not that I wasn't already a super fan of Black's other work.)
I loved the background we get on each of the characters as the story progresses, though I did wish this information would have been provided as dialogue between characters rather than flashbacks. Whenever one of these flashbacks would occur, the transition between character perspectives was hard to decipher on the audio without some sort of heading preceding them. Though, that's not to say that these flashbacks didn't provide valuable insight into the characters and their motivations. I could have done without Pearl as a character on the whole, but her presence was necessary in order for that ending to play out the way it did. And so I can also see why it was necessary to include her present-day perspective at times, despite how boring it might have been. I just didn't much care for what was going on outside of Coldtown at the time.
I was pleasantly surprised by that ending. It wasn't perfect, but it was fitting for these particular characters. I really hope this remains a stand-alone. I'm left with a sense of satisfaction that I read another vampire book that might just revitalize this overdone creature and make me love vampires again. Maybe. For now, I like that this book showed both sides of vampires: sexy and glamorous but also dangerous and sadistic. In other words, fun to read about, but I hope I never truly cross paths with one.
Thanks to Little, Brown BFYR & Netgalley for providing a review copy.
I am steadfastly unapologetic of my Maggie love. No matter if she's writing about homicidal faeries, boys trapped in wolves bodies, killer water horseI am steadfastly unapologetic of my Maggie love. No matter if she's writing about homicidal faeries, boys trapped in wolves bodies, killer water horses, or a group of kids searching for a Welsh king, her writing never fails to be evocative, lyrical, and whimsical. I've read every novel she's written to-date, and I'll be honest, I'm having a difficult time deciding my favorite now that I've read The Dream Thieves. Before this book, I would still have been able to say that The Scorpio Races would forever remain my favorite Maggie book, even despite how much I enjoyed The Raven Boys last year. I mean, even the author herself has proclaimed this her new favorite. Is it any wonder I'm waffling?
Prior to picking up this book myself, I'd seen others call this "Ronan's book". And it kind of is. Didn't he deserve his own side of the story after that rather shocking revelation at the end of The Raven Boys? And that's only the beginning. You have no idea what this guy is capable of...and neither does he! Ronan is a complicated guy. You empathize for his loss and his lack of familial support, but you also wonder how Gansey can stand to be friends with a guy who is so clearly his polar opposite. But that's the beauty of the relationship between the Raven Boys...and Blue; can't forget her. They all come from such different backgrounds and have such contrasting aspirations in life and yet they all come together in search of Glendower. I digress, but I just can't get over that group dynamic...it's almost as interesting as the one between the women of Blue's family.
Anyway, back to Ronan. He is special. All the characters in this series are special, but Ronan has a gift, an unbelievable, awesome, dangerous gift. And for much of The Dream Thieves, he's practicing mastering said gift. I found his talent interesting, but it wasn't until Kavinsky abruptly arrived on the scene that it truly caught my attention. Kavinsky, with his white framed sunglasses and his souped-up Mitsubishi, is the character you loathe to like; he's equal turns cocky and disgusting and dangerous, manipulative and calculating, and he wants to team up with Ronan. What a terrible and terrifying alliance that would be! (The following video is totally relevant...watch it.)
So much happens in this book as the quest for Glendower continues, though the group is really no closer to finding their Welsh king than they were before. That said, I felt like some of the magic had gone out of the story...literally. The lines that separated reality from the surreal in the first book are no longer blurred, except when Ronan dreams, and I love how the magic disappearing in one area correlates with the magic appearing so brazenly in another. This right here is some fascinating story-telling.
Despite the fact that this is a Ronan-centric book, there's still a little of everyone's story built into it. Adam is angry and a bit self-destructive. Blue is sad and lonely. Gansey is still driven, determined, and dapper. Noah is still dead, and because of circumstances created by the ending in the previous book, he's noticeably absent from a good chunk of this one. But, oh, when he's there, he is even more adorable than I remember...and sweet and charming and just.... *sigh* Oh, and Maura gets herself a hitman love interest. And I really liked his character's inclusion in the story. There has always been heavy emphasis on morality (and mortality!) in this story, and Mr. Gray/the Gray Man toes the line superbly.
"Like, if you kiss your true love, he'll die," he said, "or is it when you kiss your true love, he'll die?" "I don't get what the difference is." He rubbed the side of his face on the pillow. "Mmmmsoft," he remarked, then added, "One's your fault. The other one, you just happen to be there when it happens. Like, when you kiss him, POW, he gets hit by a bear. Totally not your fault. You shouldn't feel bad about that. It's not your bear." "I think it's if. They all say if." "Bummer. So you're never going to kiss anyone?" "Looks that way."
There may be a kissing curse on Blue, but there is plenty of kissing to be had in this book. Maybe not in the way you might expect...I did tell you Maura landed herself a hitman, right? ;0) But that near kiss....it almost undid me. It took my breath away more than an actual kiss might have...the potential for disaster there is astounding, and yet I want it to happen so badly.
Oh, that ending! Why does Maggie insist on tormenting us so?!? Things were going so well, er, well, as good as they're going to get for these characters any time in the near future. But man, does Maggie like leaving us on the edge of a precipice! It's going to be torture waiting another year for the next book, but it will definitely be worth the wait.
**I did miss Will Patton's narration, though. He provided all the voices in The Raven Boys audiobook and is doing the same for the audio for The Dream Thieves. Even so, I still heard his raspy voice for Ronan and the slight Southern drawl for Adam, etc., in my head while I was reading this one. That's the sign of a truly good narrator, if you ask me: when you can't imagine the voices any other way. If you haven't checked out the audio, I highly recommend it.
"So what you're saying is you can't explain it." "I did explain it." "No, you used nouns and verbs together in a pleasing but illogical format."
He didn't say, Or maybe something terrible happened to Adam that day he sacrificed himself in Cabeswater. Maybe he's messed up all of Henrietta by waking up the ley line. Because they couldn't talk about that. Just like they couldn't talk about Adam stealing the Camaro that night. Or about him basically doing everything Gansey had asked him not to. If Adam was stupid about his pride, Gansey was stupid about Adam.
If he were a god, he thought, this would be precisely how he'd create his new world. Unrolling it like a carpet.
Adam's response was buried in the sound of the second-story door falling open. Noah slouched in. In a wounded tone, he said, "He threw me out the window!" Ronan's voice sang out from behind his closed door. "You're already dead!"
"I'm very nearly drunk enough to be transcendent," Calla said after a space. She was not the only psychic drinking, but she was the closest one to transcendence.
Gansey ran over the memory until he no longer felt the thrill of hearing Glendower's name whispered in his ear, and then instead gave himself over to feeling sorry for himself, that he should have so many friends and yet feel so very alone. He felt it fell to him to comfort them, but never the other way around.
As it should be, he thought,abruptly angry with himself. You've had it the easiest. What good is all your privilege, you soft, spoiled thing, if you can't stand on your own legs?
"Are you ready?" Ronan asked. "What is it I'm preparing myself for?" Behind the door, something scratched on the floorboard. Tck-tck-tck. Like a mallet dragged across a washboard. Something in Gansey's heart thrilled with fear. Ronan said, "What's in my head." Gansey didn't think there was a way to steel oneself for that. But he helped Ronan push the bookshelf out of the way.<
Gansey threw open his door. Gripping the roof of the car, he slid himself out. Even that gesture, Ronan noted, was wild Gansey, Gansey-on-fire. Like he pulled himself from the car because ordinary climbing out was too slow. This was going to be a night.
"You're being creepy," Blue said. "Maybe you mean to be, but in case you're being accidentally creepy, I thought I'd let you know."
Thanks to Scholastic for providing a copy for review!
This. THIS is how you write a sequel! I couldn't even tell this was a second book, there was so much action and intrigue going on. And now my heart isThis. THIS is how you write a sequel! I couldn't even tell this was a second book, there was so much action and intrigue going on. And now my heart is broken and I want to forget what I've read until I have the rest of the series in hand. Of course, that's not going to happen, so I'll just get on with it.
First, how much do you love the new covers? I think they're so representative of Celaena, especially what we learn of her in this book. She just has this "otherness" about her that really comes through on these new covers, but you'll probably understand that more after reading Crown of Midnight. We knew from the previous book that under her cold, hard exterior, a normal girl lived. And even though we continue to see her callous behavior in this book, her brutal quickness as an assassin, we also get to see even more of the girl she truly is, the girl who wishes for a simple life away from court stratagem and a merciless king, especially in the ways that she endeavors to maneuver around such palace intrigue.
If you enjoyed Throne of Glass even a little bit, you're going to love this sequel. The writing is tighter, the details more prevalent, and the action more exhilarating. And that's saying a lot, what with the battle for the King's Champion in the first book. But this is a well-rounded sequel, full of romantic interludes (YES!) and higher stakes. And let's not forget the enigmatic new characters that are introduced, for they are just as essential to the plot.
Archer was difficult for me to get a read on at first. It took ages before I realized he was not one of Celaena's fellow assassins, despite the fact that he trained with her at the Assassin's Keep. I'll leave it to you to discern the true nature of his "occupation". ;0) Baba Yellowlegs, on the other hand, was creepy from the get-go and I had no trouble determining that this witch was trouble. And I mean witch literally, not as a euphemism for something else. She has metal teeth for crying out loud! I see the altercation with this character coming back to bite our favorite assassin in the arse.
As for the romantic interludes I mentioned, it does seem that Celaena has made her choice, though certain developments in the second half of the book do leave one wondering. Not where her heart lies, but what will become of it. Both Captain Chaol Westfall -- am I the only one who didn't realize that name was pronounced Kale? I was pronouncing it with the CH, d'oh! -- and Crown Prince Dorian Havilliard have proven to be great friends and allies of Celaena's...and also great admirers. But there is no room for trust in this threesome, apparently, at least not until it's nearly too late for them all. This lack of understanding between them all did lead to rather a lot of complications, without which I don't think we would have learned half the truth from Celaena. They all have their secrets, but Celaena's carries the most of all of them. And though we discover quite a few truths before the end of this book, I do believe she carries still more. But would you expect anything less from Adarlan's Assassin and the King's Champion?
Death. Betrayal. Love. Misery. Sarah J. Maas left no stone unturned, no feeling unearthed in this fantastic sequel to the equally amazing Throne of Glass. Celaena undergoes quite the transformation in this book, and she (and the book) are all the better for it. Crown of Midnight is shocking and painful and lovely, and I can't wait to see what's in store for Celaena et al. If you're looking for an amazing new fantasy series with a killer attitude, look no further.
Thanks to Bloomsbury Children's (and Jen) for the ARC for review!
Time travel novels are usually the bane of my existence. I love the idea of time travel itself, but most novels tend to drop the ball when it comes toTime travel novels are usually the bane of my existence. I love the idea of time travel itself, but most novels tend to drop the ball when it comes to executing the concept. The explanation for how it works, why it works, etc., becomes too convoluted and confusing, and little to no actual time travel actually happens. At least, that's usually my experience. There have been a few exceptions, but All Our Yesterdays surpassed them all.
I haven't stopped thinking about this book since I finished it on Saturday. And I read the entirety of the novel in one sitting. I had the house to myself and I took the opportunity to devour this book, and it was definitely time well-spent. Also, it's a duology. Yeah, those are kind of becoming a thing, and I'm not complaining. It removes the whole issue of "middle book syndrome" and means you get the whole story in just two books. Now, if only they could release the books a little closer together. *sigh*
This story was very character-driven, and if you know my preferences at all, you know that's a biggie. Characters can make or break a story, but this is especially true where time travel books are concerned because they tend to focus a lot of time and energy on the time travel aspect itself, and the characters are never portrayed to their fullest, which results in me never getting attached to them. And if I never develop a connection to the characters, if I don't care one iota what happens to them, you've lost me. Luckily for this story, I cared an awful lot what happened to the characters, maybe too much...I went to sleep thinking about them and I woke up thinking about them, and days later, I'm still thinking about them.
I love how the relationship between the cellmates Em and Finn is portrayed and how it evolved, the fact that they didn't like each other all that much in the beginning, but they later became friends and close confidantes because of their situation. On the other hand, we have Marina and James, who've been best friends and neighbors for years. These characters are all tied together, for better or worse, and somehow, the responsibility of saving the world from destruction, from chaos and war, has ended up in their hands. I really can't say too much about it for fear of giving everything away -- even though it's not like you won't figure it all out on your own pretty early on -- but suffice it to say, these characters felt so real, their relationships so plausible, and my empathy for them only increased as more and more of their story was divulged.
The book may have essentially been character-driven for me, but the plot was also very fast-paced and intense, with the present-day action spanning only three or four days. There were lots of flashbacks to provide a background for Em and Finn, whose timeline is four years in the future from when we meet Marina and James, but that same technique wasn't really necessary to explain the circumstances for the latter pair. The story alternates between Em and Marina's perspectives, with one set of characters knowing full well the ramifications of time travel and the other set woefully ignorant. The author really understood where she was taking this story from the beginning, the way she manipulates the events and characters...and even the reader a little bit.
The time travel concept in this novel isn't totally unprecedented. There is a machine, aptly named Cassandra after the mythological soothsayer, and there are alternate timelines and paradoxical events. But some aspects of it are unusual, at least to me. For example, the idea that time is not linear, that it might be sentient and decide which events remain fixed and which events can be altered...those are not concepts I've seen in time travel before, at least not in YA versions. And because of this, it actually made a lot more sense to me than how I've seen it explained before, maybe because it wasn't made out to be this ultra complex idea but rather a vague one.
The concept and explanation, the character development, even the romantic elements...this is what I was looking for in all of those other time travel novels. Sacrifice is a major underlying theme in this book, and it made for an intensely emotional read, not to mention an absolutely engaging one. All Our Yesterdays is an impressive debut, and I wholeheartedly pronounce that Cristin Terrill is an author to watch and this novel is a definite must-read!
I think my biggest problem with this novel was that it read at a much younger level than I was expecting. I loved Rachel-- Mini Review of Audiobook --
I think my biggest problem with this novel was that it read at a much younger level than I was expecting. I loved Rachel Vincent's take on mara or Nightmares in her Soul Screamers series, and I guess I was hoping this would be similar, but on a much grander scale since the Nightmare was the main character in this story. But, alas, it was not to be.
Unfortunate that the story didn't quite live up to the awesome cover. Because I do LOVE that cover. Very reminiscent of the cover of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. Unlike with SRB's book, though, it was relatively easy to figure out where this story was headed, who the culprit was, and how it all came to be.
The narration was also performed by the same (young) narrator as Tiger Lily. I think that probably also gave the story more of a MG feel than intended. Even so, I'm still intrigued enough by the Nightmares and the school for magickind that I'll pick up subsequent installments. But I'm much more excited for Mindee Arnett's Avalon. How awesome does that book sound?
***Check out my stop on the SpiritBlog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden! I'm interviewing Gabriel!!! This should be interesting! =) And there's an A***Check out my stop on the Spirit Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden! I'm interviewing Gabriel!!! This should be interesting! =) And there's an AWESOME giveaway!!!***
We're on the last leg of the Elementals Read Along! Wooooohooo!!! It's been a fun ride, hasn't it? The Spirit Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden just kicked off this week, so be sure to check out all the stops for awesome content and amazing giveaways! I've got Gabriel stopping by on Friday!!! :)
Steph and I will be reading and discussing Spirit over the next couple of weeks, so if you're just dying for more of the Merrick boys, be sure to request a copy from Netgalley! It includes the Breathless novella from Nick's POV!!!
And don't forget, Steph and I are both giving away a SIGNED set of the first three Elementals books at the end of the read along! I'm even giving out bonus entries for reviewing each book! =)
Holy geez! That was intense. And unexpected. And why do I have to wait until January for Nick's book?!?
Yep, that about sums it up. After reading the rest of this series the last couple of months, I was not expecting the turn Spirit took. And I liked it! It's rare that a book can truly surprise me these days, and I am impressed.
But, oh, my poor, misunderstood Hunter. He's had a rough go of it lately. Losing the only two people who really know you is difficult enough. But then he trekked to Annapolis to avenge their deaths, and it was like Daniel walking into the lions' den. Except that it didn't have to be.
Hunter's trust issues plagued him (and me!) for the majority of this book, and I'll freely admit that I was more than a little exasperated with his inability to trust anyone. His Guide training has taught him never to trust anyone and to use everyone. That first bit isn't hard for him at all, but he does have some trouble with the latter. And then he meets Kate, his perfect counterpart. This girl is even less likely to trust people, though she's not above doing what she has to in order to get what she needs or wants.
I like that despite everything that's happened, Hunter remains in the forefront. I knew he was getting his own book when I started the series, but I thought that after this, he'd fade into the background. But none of these Elementals are bit players, and I should have realized that Hunter's role as a Fifth would always be important. What's even more interesting, though, is that the Merricks won't let Hunter fade away either, even if he's hell-bent on not trusting them.
Sure, the bromance between Gabriel and Hunter has fizzled after the realizations we were left with at the end of Spark. But the awesome, sometimes over-bearing Michael really steps into his role as guardian in this book, and when everyone else is ready to write Hunter off, he takes the poor guy under his wing. I know this is Hunter's book, but man, Michael really shined in it. I sometimes forget how young he really is, that he's only five or six years older than the twins. But in Spirit, he reminded me of why I liked his character so much in Elemental and why I was willing to give this series a chance in the first place.
I feel like this is the PNR series I've been waiting my whole life for. It's not perfect, but it's so much freakin' fun that I don't care about those slight issues. I just know that I can't get enough of these boys, er, books...I only wish that I didn't have to wait so long for Nicky and Michael's books!
Big thanks to The Midnight Garden, Brigid Kemmerer, and Kensington Teen for putting this tour together and allowing The Starry-Eyed Revue to be a part of it! Also, thanks to Kensington Teen for providing an ARC of this title for review!
You had me at gargoyles. ___________________________________________________
Actual Rating: 1/2
Gargoyles! That's the only word I needed to see in the sYou had me at gargoyles. ___________________________________________________
Actual Rating: 1/2
Gargoyles! That's the only word I needed to see in the summary to know that I had to read this book. And then, I immediately started picturing this:
What? You didn't? :P In all seriousness, I'm usually a little squeamish about inter, um, species (?) relationships in books...I mean, how would that even work? Especially since the gargoyle in his true form lacks any reproductive organs. ;0)
Now that that's out there...I kind of loved this novel. It takes place right at the turn of the century, in beautiful Par-ee (that's Paris for those of you who don't speak French), and though I've never been to The City of Light myself, it wasn't hard to imagine myself there among les grotesques, basking in the beauty and the culture, while hoping that this missing brother turned up unharmed.
This book was everything I was hoping for and more. From the sometimes complicated relationship between siblings to the history of the gargoyles in Paris, I was utterly captivated. Throw in shape-shifting gargoyles, a secret alliance that keeps their existence hidden, and crazy underworld magic, and I am a very happy girl. I'm usually iffy when it comes to multiple third person perspectives because they tend to give away too many secrets while providing glimpses at each characters circumstances, but I rather enjoyed reading from Ingrid, Gabby, Luc, and yes, even Grayson's point-of-view. Though, Luc was probably my favorite because he was such a tortured soul...I have a soft spot for characters that cling to their guilt and the remorse that comes with it. Also, I loved his fierce protectiveness.
There is some swooning to be had from this book, as well...no chaste pecks on the cheek or hand, despite the time period. It nicely counteracts the ugliness of the situation but doesn't detract from the overall plot. But I feel I must warn you that a love triangle is afoot, if all indications prove to be true. I hope that doesn't come to fruition, though. It's the standard safe choice versus dangerous and brooding guy, and you can probably guess which one Ingrid is leaning toward. Her sister Gabby, on the other hand, has no such decision to make. If only she didn't love to hate her own swoon-worthy rogue. *sigh*
Above all else, I loved the lush use of descriptive imagery, from the way the author describes the physical attributes of the gargoyles to the way she depicts their shifts. The book cover immediately grabbed my attention. The mention of gargoyles held it. But the writing ensured that I will be back for more of this beautiful story and its tragic characters. And that I'm going to be pestering the husband for a trip to Paris for months to come.
Thanks to Random House for providing an ARC for review!
We're no longer Elemental virgins, but that doesn't mean the fun has to stop! As part of the Spirit Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden, Steph andWe're no longer Elemental virgins, but that doesn't mean the fun has to stop! As part of the Spirit Blog Tour hosted by The Midnight Garden, Steph and I will be reading Spark for the next two weeks, so if you're still swooning over the Merrick boys with us, be sure to stop back here on May 12th to discuss! And if you had no restraint and tore through all the books already, we'd still love to hear from you. ;0) And if you're just joining us, check out the Elementals Read Along sign up post for more details!
And don't forget, I'm giving away a SIGNED set of the first three Elementals books at the end of the read along! Bonus entries for reviewing each book!
*This review contains mild spoilers for Storm, the previous book in the Elementals series.*
**You do not have to read Storm to read this book. But I'd recommend it. ;0)**
How very fitting that the brother with the shortest fuse is the one who controls fire? I've jokingly been called a pyromaniac in the past, but I've got nothing on Gabriel. And from what I've read so far, neither do any of his brothers! ;0)
Chris's story in Storm was pretty great, but I found the moments featuring Gabriel to be the funniest...and some of my favorites, when he wasn't acting like a complete douche. I knew there had to be some underlying reason for said douchiness because no one can harbor that much resentment without some basis for those feelings. And there is. Gabriel's temper stems from his own anger toward himself. But instead of doing something about it, he turns it outward and takes all of his frustration out on his family. It's a defense mechanism, and a pretty effective one at that.
I realize that some readers felt his character was chauvinistic and that he objectifies women based on comments made to or about Becca in the first book. And, sure, he jumped to conclusions or made undue assumptions about her character without knowing her or any of the facts. But he owns up to it. He makes no excuses for his behavior and jumps to Becca's defense when he realizes he was wrong. I knew he had it in him.
And, apparently, so did Layne. She's the shy, studious girl that Gabriel's never even given a second look to...until one day when he needs to borrow a pencil. This innocent gesture is a catalyst, a vehicle that brings about significant change in both of their lives. But it takes them awhile to figure that part out. I loved reading as they pulled back the layers, discovering each other's complexities and flaws. Brigid Kemmerer writes about some seriously hot guys, but she also writes multifaceted characters that tug at your heartstrings with their sincerity and rub you the wrong way with their brazenness.
And then there are the powers she's given these kids. And they actually use them! Gabriel even talks to his element, convinces it to burn more intensely or pushes it back when it becomes too destructive. It's all very entertaining. But never more so than when Hunter decides they should be their own fire-fighting duo and save innocents from the arsonist who is plaguing their town at the moment.
That bromance between Gabriel and Hunter was so unexpected but sooo appreciated. Gabriel feels like his family is against him at every turn, and Hunter's kind of the outcast of the group, having been spurned by Becca in favor of Chris. (Okay, okay...maybe spurned is unfair...he was lying about who he was and that's hard to come back from.) Anyway, it makes sense for them to become friends, and even though I didn't see it coming, I'm so glad for it.
I had so much fun while reading this book. I swear there was a slap-happy grin plastered on my face the entire time I was reading. I know the series isn't finished yet, and I don't want to take attention away from the other guys, but I think Spark just may go down as my favorite, with Gabriel being my favorite Elemental. That said, I do have a soft spot for Hunter, and I don't really feel like I know Nick well enough to really judge him yet. But look at all the pages I marked with favorite scenes or quotes! I think it's pretty obvious I enjoyed this story quite a bit.
“I can get my things,” said Gabriel. “I'm not letting you out of my sight.” Layne was caught between them, flustered. She was nearly wringing her hands. “Dad, it's not--” His eyes cut to Layne. “Now, Layne.” She swallowed and slinked past him into the living room. “Don't forget my box of condoms,” called Gabriel.
Hunter sighed and gave him a look. “Come on, baby, don't be like that. Did you pack your midol?” “All right, all right.” Gabriel climbed out of the car, slamming the door behind him. “I don't even know why I like you.”
She scowled out at the parking lot. “So is this like your place?” “My place?” “Where you bring girls.” “Yes. I bring girls to this run-down parking lot all the time.” He gestured with his cup. “I have a sign-up sheet nailed to that tree. Now that you mention it”--he glanced at his watch--“we should probably wrap this up.”
But then Chris reappeared. He threw a glance at the wall that separated the lockers from the shower room. “Who's his sister?” Gabriel looked back in his bag and kept his voice nonchalant. “Just a girl in my math class.” “Just a girl, huh?” Gabriel glared at him. “Just a girl.” Chris smiled. “So was Becca.”
Thanks to Kensington for providing a copy for review! And thanks to The Midnight Garden for having me on the tour!
Steph and I are finally losing our Elemental V-cards to those Merrick boys. Join us for a read along, starting with Storm! We've alotted two weeks forSteph and I are finally losing our Elemental V-cards to those Merrick boys. Join us for a read along, starting with Storm! We've alotted two weeks for each book, so read at your own pace and stop by Steph's review on April 28th to discuss with us!
It's official. I am in love with the Merrick brothers. Which one? *shrugs* Can't I love them all? Also. I have officially lost my Elementals V-card to them. And you know what? The morning after wasn't awkward or embarrassing. Those Merrick boys know how to treat a lady. And they aren't bad to look at either.
I expected to like this book. All of my friends who are more experienced with the Merrick brothers agree...these books are addictive, much like the brothers themselves. And I agree completely. I just didn't know how much I was going to love these boys with their supernatural abilities and all of the angst and drama that unfolds because of them. As soon as I finished Storm, I wanted to pick up Spark, especially when I realized it was Gabriel's book. But we have a schedule for this here read along, so I contented myself with the next novella...though I make no promises that I won't peek at Gabriel's story. (I'll be reviewing Fearless, a novella from Hunter's point-of-view, on Short Story Sunday this week.)
So, about the actual book...that's probably important, too, right? ;0) Storm is baby brother Chris's book. He was probably 11 or 12 when we met him in the Elemental novella, but he has grown into quite the young man...and he's also grown into his Element. Chris controls water, in all its various forms, while his brothers each control one of the other elements: earth, air, or fire. I really like the framework laid in this novel, how the Elementals were explained and how these boys are at risk because of how powerful and potentially dangerous they are. Thing is, if they weren't provoked, the only danger they'd pose would probably be to themselves as they come into their elements and learn how to control them.
But you know how it is. People fear what they can't understand or control. And so it is with the Merrick brothers. The other Elementals living in town are afraid of what the boys might do. (There's a history there, but that's the Merricks' story to divulge, and they tell it better than I would, anyway.) The younger Elementals in town, the less powerful ones, continue to goad the Merrick brothers, specifically targeting the youngest one in this book, and tension ignites until one night, a completely average girl steps in, ultimately immersing herself in a battle she never knew existed, a war that will likely be waged for the duration of this series. Though I have no doubt some of the players will change.
You want to know about the brothers, don't you? Fine. Michael, the oldest, comes off as an ass if you haven't read his novella yet, but I want to weep for what he's endured and sacrificed for his family. Nick and Gabriel -- the twins!!! -- are identically hot, though one is scholarly while the other is athletic. They both come off rather douchey at times -- Gabriel more so than Nick -- but the potential for nice guys is there, too. And Chris, the youngest, is a sweetie but that doesn't mean he's not as tough or volatile as his siblings. They are brothers through thick and thin, and they fight like them, too. The banter between these guys -- and pretty much anyone they come into contact with -- is music to my ears.
Becca may be new to the Merrick family dynamic thanks to Chris -- and she may not be entirely welcome -- but she's not the type of girl to back down from a challenge. She wants answers, especially when her family history is dragged into the mess. This girl's not going anywhere, especially now that Chris is falling for her. But things are complicated with Hunter in the picture. This guy's an enigma, but with each little hint we get about him, I am dying to know more. So, I'm pretty ecstatic that Spirit (book #3) is his story.
This book has it all: hot boys, a spunky heroine, supernatural powers, hot boys, tons of conflict and action, awesome characters, hot boys, a love triangle, a storyline that I will follow to the very end, and did I mention hot boys? And after all these brothers have been through and suffered, I just want to gather them all up in a [shirtless] hug.
What? Nick approves. :P
“Nah.” He took a swig of Gatorade, then wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “Finding a girl in the kitchen isn't exactly an oddity around here.” “Charming.” He glanced up at that, a glint of wicked humor in his eye. “I'm sure you're special, though.” “Not special at all.” She changed her mind and leaned in to take a cookie. “I just heard my number called and thought I’d better show up.” He grinned. “No way you're here for Nicky.”
“So she doesn’t like the rain,” said Gabriel. Nick smiled. “I kind of like the irony.” “Jesus, you are such a nerd.” Gabriel flung the lighter at him. “Stop using big words.” “Five letters is a big word?” Chris sighed. “No one likes the rain.” “You do,” said Nick. He flung the lighter back to his brother. Gabriel caught it. “Maybe we should put some money on it, see how long it takes Chris to get her wet.”
“Nick,” he said. “I think I’m going to need you to bite my arm.” “I think I’m going to need you to run that by me again.”
“If you want me to fix your homework, you need to leave me alone.” Then he spotted her. “You’re back.” “Yeah.” She glanced between him and Gabriel. “You do his homework?” “Just the math. It’s a miracle he can count to ten.” “I can count to one.” Gabriel gave him the finger.”
Thanks to Kensington/KTeen for providing a review copy.
If I had my way, this is what my review would look like:
Or just lines and lines of this: Jen + Sturmhond =
I had heard all about this Sturmhond charaIf I had my way, this is what my review would look like:
Or just lines and lines of this: Jen + Sturmhond = ♥
I had heard all about this Sturmhond character prior to picking up Siege and Storm, and what I heard left me skeptical. People were switching teams left and right to ship Alina and this guy. But...but...but what about The Darkling? After reading S&S, I'm almost like, "The Darkling, who?" Oh, he's around...he's always around. But it's definitely in a much different capacity than it was before. And then in steps Sturmhond to set Alina on the right path, or at least, his preferred path for her. ;0)
It's no secret that I wasn't a fan of Mal in Shadow and Bone. I was all about the Darkling and his enticing, evil ways. But in Siege and Storm, I found Mal even more obnoxious than before. He never seemed concerned with what Alina was feeling or what she wanted, only ever thinking of himself and how things affected him. Listen up, pal...this isn't The Mal Show. Even still, if these two were better at communicating, I might see a future for them, but with all of the other attractive male counterparts involved, I'm doubtful. Especially because Mal would like nothing more than for Alina to stop using her powers and live a simple life with him, even though it makes her weak and sick to do so. Her gift makes her stronger, and I think he's intimidated by that, and ultimately, by her.
The Darkling on the other hand, wants Alina to use her powers. However malevolent the Darkling may be, he believes he's doing what's right. He wants Alina for himself, but he also wants her to help him with his heretofore nefarious plans. There is a bond between Alina and the Darkling, one that is not easily severed or overlooked, and he's probably the only person who truly understands what Alina's enduring. He was, afterall, the most powerful Grisha prior to the realization that Alina was the Sun Summoner. The Darkling knows a little something about wielding an obscene amount of power.
Sturmhond was -- and still is, if I'm being entirely honest -- a bit of an enigma. As a privateer (read: pirate, since it's very doubtful his actions were sanctioned by the king, *wink*), where do his loyalties really lie? Will Alina ever be able to fully trust him? Do we really care when he provides such swoon-worthy banter? This character -- and he IS a character -- oozes personality and sophistication, and I still would have enjoyed the book without his inclusion, but oh, I enjoyed it so much more because of him.
Alina, for the most part, is just as tortured and confused as we left her in Shadow and Bone. Maybe more so. Especially after certain truths were discovered in the Istorii Sankt'ya, and she's left with some difficult decisions. Her problem, though, is that she shoulders the burden all on her own. Alina doesn't confide in Mal because she fears she might be losing her mind, which is even more reason to ask for help, but there it is. And so Alina continues trying to prepare for a war that none of them are ready for, most especially her.
I love fantasy best because it's so unpredictable and magical and full of possibility. I love the Grisha series so much because the writing encompasses everything I adore in a fantasy novel: a realm unlike anything I've ever read, dialogue (especially the banter!) that keeps me entertained and makes me forget I'm even reading, and a quest that is at once impossible but also manageable...with the right comrades. I simply can't get enough of this world and its characters...the wait for Ruin and Rising is going to be absolute torture!
High fantasy. High stakes. Highly entertaining. And I highly recommend both Shadow and Bone (which just released in paperback) and Siege and Storm, which releases on June 4th. And not just for lovers of fantasy...but for anyone who loves to be transported to a world where magic exists and the struggle between good and evil starts from within.
***Big, huge, monster-sized thanks to Jen at YA Romantics for letting me be the first to read her ARC. I know what that must have meant to her, especially once I received my own ARC. =) But also, I wanted to say that it was fated that I should meet and fall for Sturmhond. I mean, at one point, I had two times the Sturmy in my possession and I was so giddy with the power of it all. Wonder if this is what Alina feels like with that amplifier on her neck...***
Some of that amusing banter I was telling you about:
"The Darkling will hunt you for the rest of your days." "Well, then we'll have something in common, won't we? Besides, I like to have powerful enemies. Makes me feel important."
"Next time you try something like that, I won't kick you," I said furiously. "I'll cut you in half." He brushed a speck of lint from his trousers. "Not sure that would be wise. I'm afraid the people rather frown on regicide." "You're not king yet, Sobachka," I said sharply. "So don't tempt me." "I don't see why you're so upset. The crowd loved it." "I didn't love it." He raised a brow. "You didn't hate it."
"Excellent," said [Sturmhond]. "I've come to issue an invitation." "Is it to a ball?" asked Mal, snagging the remaining bit of roll from my plate. "I do so hope it's to a ball." "While I'm sure you dance a magnificent waltz, no. Boar have been spotted in the woods near Balakirev. There's a hunt leaving tomorrow, and I'd like you to go."
[Sturmhond] froze. "I..." For once, words seemed to have deserted him. Then a crooked, embarrassed smile crept across his face. It was a far cry from his usual self-assured grin. "Thank you," he said. I sighed and we resumed our pace. "You're going to be insufferable now, aren't you?" [Sturmhond] laughed. "I'm already insufferable."
Thanks to Macmillan for providing an ARC for review!
This book (and others like it) is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. Maybe it's the challenge of reforming a bad boy. Maybe it's just that cocky, "I am God's (or the Devil's, in this case!) gift to women" attitude. Whatever it is, I find the allure of it unavoidable.
“I glance in the mirror. Surprise, surprise—I look finger-lickin’ delicious.”
Dante Walker is the epitome of arrogant. He can be charming one moment and crass the next, but he only does something because he wants to do it. Well, unless Boss Man tells him to. Dante's job is collecting souls and he is damn good at his job. Until he's assigned to collect Charlie's soul, that is.
“As Charlie is leaving the house, she somehow trips on the threshold and nearly face-plants onto the ground. I roll my eyes. How is it possible out of all the people in this world, this is the soul I’ve come to collect?”
Charlie is a bit of an enigma to Dante. He can't figure her out. She seems happy, despite being unpopular and not pretty in the least, and he finds her to be a bit of a conundrum. The more time he spends with her, the more puzzled he becomes...or maybe infatuated is a better word for his feelings toward Charlie. Because it becomes pretty clear that he's developing an attraction to her. And that he actually finds himself wanting her company, as opposed to being forced into it.
“I'll never understand the friendships Charlie has. Friendships where it doesn't take cash or hookups, or saying the right things to stay in the circle. No, Charlie's friendships are different. She tries to protect her people, and they in turn protect her. They accept each other's imperfections and support one another. My friends weren't like her friends, which makes me wonder if I ever had any at all.”
Charlie is a bright light in a dark world, and she's bringing about a change in Dante that he can't explain or control. And the more he changes, the closer he gets to losing his heart to this girl whose soul he's come to collect. Which leaves Dante with quite the dilemma. I loved watching Dante squirm and struggle with this decision. Redemption is never easy, but it's worth the cost. And it makes my heart happy to see a bad boy go good, especially when his sole purpose was quite the opposite. The character growth here is off the charts.
I must admit that the slang Dante used was grating at first and took some time to get accustomed to, but after awhile, it either wasn't that noticeable, or he actually started speaking like a normal person because I found that it no longer bothered me. It didn't seem to bother anyone else in the book either, like it was normal to speak in such a manner. I'm sure the use of this language was just to play up his overconfidence, and to that extent, it worked. But I don't know anyone who speaks this way...not anymore, anyway.
Yes, this book was kind of cheesy. (But who doesn't like cheese?!?) Yes, this book is terribly predictable. (Did I mention I love a bad boy who redeems himself?) But even so, this book was a ton of fun. It's a great in-between book, a little something to make you smile. And laugh. You'll definitely laugh. Pretty much anyone with a sense of humor can enjoy this book on some level.
Thanks to YA Bound Tours & Entangled Publishing for the review copy!...more