And then when I realized I have to wait FOREVER for the next book:
"Everyone thinks I'm dead."
And so begins the sequel to one of the best angel books I've ever read. I knew World After would be good. I mean, how could the follow-up to Angelfall be anything but good? This sequel has been a long time coming, though some have been waiting longer than others. (I only discovered Angelfall last year, but it quickly became a favorite.) To put all of your dear minds at rest, I'll just say that this book was well worth the wait.
"My dad once told me life would get complicated when I grew up. I'm guessing this isn't what he meant. My mom, on the other hand, agreed with him, and I'm guessing this kind of thing is exactly what she meant."
I am ridiculously happy that after everything Penryn Young has suffered, she came through it all with her snark intact. I probably flagged a hundred passages in my ARC, including those highlighting her quick wit, her sharp-tounged quips, and her banter with Raffe. But I also loved her inner monologues, where she pondered how best to escape an inescapable situation, how to protect her family, and what to make of her feelings for Raffe.
I voted Penryn to the top of my "favorite heroines ever" list the very first time I read Angelfall, but I've come to appreciate her character even more with this sequel. Not only is she a skilled fighter who would do anything and risk anything to keep her family safe, but she's also very smart and calculating, and she has a remarkable talent for keeping cool in situations that would find anyone else running for the hills with their tail between their legs. Penryn is the epitome of what I want in a protagonist because even though she is all these things, she is still just a girl, emotional and vulnerable and just trying to make it to the next day.
"I've mentioned that names have power, right? Do you realize that when she fights battles, she's going to have to announce herself to the opposing sword? She'll be forced to say something ridiculous like, 'I am Pooky Bear, from an ancient line of archangel swords.' Or, 'Bow down to me, Pooky Bear, who has only two other equals in all the worlds.'" He shakes his head. "How is she going to get any respect?"
Yes, the Sword of Light gets its own section in my review because it is that badass. This thing is sentient, can tell who's got a hold of it and what their intentions are, and it. Is. Badass. Okay, I said that already, but I just need to convey how awesome this sword is. And Penryn has to hide her.
The disguise Penryn comes up with is, well, degrading and demoralizing to the sword and anyone who knows exactly what it is. As is the name Penryn accidentally gives it. Those were some of my favorite parts in the story because not only did they show how connected to the sword Penryn already was, they also added some much-needed levity to an otherwise disheartening story.
"Something catches his eye and he walks to the window. A formation of angels flies past the moon. He leans toward the glass, almost pressing his face to it as he looks up at the angels. Every line of him tells me he longs to fly with them."
Raffe is, for better or worse, absent from a good chunk of the book. BUT, through the sentient power of that awesome, badass sword, we get glimpses of him in the past, sort of like his perspective through the sword's eyes. So, even though he's not there, he's still with us. I think it's because of this -- and her fear for her family -- that Penryn is able to continue, to keep going when it all seems pointless.
"Raffe looks over at the bloody knife in my hand. "If I still had any doubts that it was you, that would do it." He gestures toward my opponent rolling on the ground with his hands cradling his package."
When Raffe does resurface, he is every bit the Raffe we met before. He still wants his wings back, and now he's fighting with a rage that only comes from grief. He believed Penryn to be dead, and so he undertook his previous mission with single-minded intensity. Raffe can be hard and cruel and unforgiving, but he is not wholly unfeeling. In fact, I believe there's more emotion locked up in his angel heart than we're ready to see yet, which is why we've only been given glimpses so far.
"The candlelight flickers a soft glow along his jawline, along his lips. "I hated losing her." His voice is a low growl. "I hadn't realized just how attached I'd gotten." He reaches and moves a strand of wet hair out of my face. "How dangerously addictive she could be."
Le sigh. I'll tell you what's addictive: everything about Raffe. Between his quips about Penryn being a lowly human to the condescending way he berates her every action, you'd think he can't stand her. But quite to the contrary, this is a defense mechanism. Push her away so that he's not tempted to make the same mistakes his Watchers did. I get it. And it's kind of hot to watch the tension between these two, even knowing it won't amount to anything...yet. That's the thing...all those long looks and all of that banter, they're leading up to something big. I can feel it. Raffe can feel it. Even Penryn, who thinks Raffe has no feelings for her, feels it...she just doesn't quite grasp what it means yet. The sword helps her along that path, though. ;0)
"He sighs. "I miss the days when females could be ordered around and they'd have no choice." "Sure that wasn't just a myth? I'm pretty sure nobody ever ordered my mom around -- ever." "You're probably right. The unruliness of the women in your family must go back for generations. You're like a plague upon the land."
For those of you wondering, yes, Penryn's mother is just as crazy, dare I say EVEN crazier than she was in the first book. That woman gives new meaning to the word crazy. And yet, this series just would not be the same without her. Far from being a detriment to all of Penryn's well-laid plans, she actually makes things easier for Penryn...more often than not, anyway. Her antics tend to keep everyone occupied while Penryn does all the heavy lifting.
Paige is more feared than even their mother now, though, and so Penryn spends a good chunk of time battling her feelings toward her sister and also clashing with others, all in an effort to keep little Paige safe. But the changes inflicted on Paige in the first book have left her stronger and more capable, and it's time Penryn gave her the benefit of the doubt.
Everything else in this novel is just icing on the cake. Beliel, Obi, and Dee Dum are all present and accounted for, and causing the kind of trouble you'd expect from all of them. Penryn gets herself into a jam a time or two...or ten. Plans are being cemented for the evil angels to fully possess our world and everything it has to offer. And all the while I'm screaming at Raffe to give us some hope.
If you enjoyed Angelfall, I have no doubt you'll love this sequel equally as much. The writing, the characters, the world...everything you fell in love with in the first book is present and accounted for, only it plucks an even more emotional response from the reader this time around because you already know and love these characters. You've seen what they've survived, what they're willing to do for each other, and you just want them to be okay in the end. And you also know that it's going to be a long, long wait for the next book.
Bring on the Angelfall movie already!!!
*All quotes were taken from an ARC and are subject to change.
Super huge thanks to Skyscape/Amazon Children's Publishing for providing an ARC for review!.
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You had me at gargoyles. ___________________________________________________
Actual Rating: 1/2
Gargoyles! That's the only word I needed to see in the s...moreYou 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!
Wowsers! I mean, seriously, I didn't think it could get more awesome than The Archived, but holy wow, it SO DID! Lovedlovedloved it! A...moreALL! THE! STARS!
Wowsers! I mean, seriously, I didn't think it could get more awesome than The Archived, but holy wow, it SO DID! Lovedlovedloved it! And now I must devour every known work by Victoria Schwab. Every. Known. Work.
I re-read The Archived prior to picking up my prized galley of The Unbound because, well...because of the Wesley Ayers. Among other things. But, gawd, if I wasn't stoked for the sequel before (and I was, I really was), then to say that giving that bad boy another read did unspeakable things to my determination to read The Unbound stat and without interruption would be an understatement.
I don't know about you, but I love an unreliable narrator. And in this sequel, Mac becomes just such a narrator. After the horrific things she survived in The Archived, girl is allowed a little mental breakdown, but when she starts to see Owen Chris Clarke, to feel his presence not only in her dreams but in her waking hours, too, something's gotta give, and for a good while, it looked like it was going to be Mac's sanity. But it goes without saying that because of her questionable mental state, she might not be the most trustworthy source for information. It might help if she'd actually talk to someone (ahem, Wesley) about what's troubling her, but you know she's not going to make it easy on herself. Mac is tough as nails thanks to Da, and she will see this thing through, even if it kills her...but hopefully not.
And to add to the chaos of the situation is the fact that Victoria Schwab is boss as misdirection. I had suspicions. I had theories. I felt at times that I was being pushed in one direction so that I'd get all turned around, like I were in those awful tunnels myself. This sequel is all kinds of twisty, and I never knew who to trust, if anyone...well, except Wes. I just can't not trust that guy.
Speaking of, if you were disappointed by the lack of swoons in the first book when it came to Wes and Mac, your patience will pay off in this book. Though you should be warned, Mac's become a bit of a babe magnet as of late. But fret not fellow Wesley fans, this is nothing compared to that awkward triangle-type thingy that happened in The Archived. Which, if I'm being perfectly honest, wasn't really there either since that was a case of Mac and OCC using each other for different purposes and really involved no feelings. Anyway, back to my point: lots of Wesley Ayers page time and you will see a side of him you've never seen before. And he's all kinds of adorbs, but that's to be expected.
New friends, new foes, old friends, old foes...this sequel isn't lacking for entertaining characters. Roland is still a great counter to Mac's brash, impulsive personality. I enjoyed the almost fatherly role he played in the first book, but he's an even more prominent ally now, which is perfect because Mac needs him now more than ever. Even Mac's parents get more action in this sequel, though I can't say that it made me like them any better. I empathize with their situation, but losing one child does not net you permission to be absent for your remaining offspring. They seem to wake up a bit from their stupor and take notice, but it's all the wrong things they're seeing, and Mac can't say a word otherwise to dissuade them.
The interactions between Da and Mac still preface the chapters, but rather than being a present-tense memory where Mac is "speaking" to Da, this time around they actually feel like flashbacks, usually ones that precede some training aspect Mac is putting into action. They still contain those nuggets of wisdom, but Mac is seeing the Archive and its actions in a different light, and she's starting to question what Da really knew and understood about the people he was working for.
Which is partly what makes this sequel so unbelievably good: everything is in question and nothing can be taken for granted. Also: the resolution that should mollify all involved parties but likely will only result in inciting further rebellion...because it leaves room for more story, which I desperately need. I could wax poetic about all the things I love about The Unbound, but there's only one thing that I'm disappointed in. And that's the fact that I can't find any info on a third book! Grrr.
Check back for my stop on The Unbound Blog Tour later in January!
GIF it to me straight: No words could adequately describe how amazing this sequel was. Truly.
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 two...moreWhen 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!
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 and...moreWe'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!
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!
The way I feel after having finished Championis the way I had hoped to feel after Allegiant. Shoot, it's the way I hope to feel after reading anyseri...more
The way I feel after having finished Champion is the way I had hoped to feel after Allegiant. Shoot, it's the way I hope to feel after reading any series finale but most especially those that have become favorites. This is how you write the ending to a trilogy. This is how you say goodbye to characters that feel more like friends than simple descriptions in the pages of a book.
It's with a heavy heart that I do say goodbye to June and Day but not because their ending wrecked me. On the contrary, the ending to the Legend series was quite hopeful. It wasn't picture perfect, wrapped up like a Christmas present with a beautiful bow. But it was spectacular in the way that it pulled you in, made you feel cozy like when you're sitting in front of a warm fire with a mug of hot cocoa. I should know...I listened to the last ten minutes at least three times last night. ;0)
I promise to try not to make any more comparisons to that other finale from a couple of weeks ago. It's just that it's still so fresh on my mind that it's hard not to. But this book deserves to stand on its own merits, especially because it was such a strong finish. There were moments of extreme tenderness and love, but not minutes later, I was overcome with this insurmountable sense of grief over what one character specifically was facing. It was difficult not to give into both of those emotions and wish to remain in that portion of the novel, but there's a war brewing, and I didn't have time for brooding over what might have been or what's been lost. Not yet, anyway. Though the characters themselves are often faced with their pasts and previous mistakes, they endeavor to overcome all of that and move forward. In the face of all of their vulnerabilities, all of their perceived shortcomings, they were strong and self-sacrificing and proved to everyone just how resilient they could be.
Did you think there was a love triangle emerging in Prodigy? 'Cause I didn't. And for those of you who think triangles are the foulest trope to grace the pages of our YA novels, rejoice. It's practically nonexistent. No. It IS nonexistent. Shame on all ye who doubt June and Day's feelings. Their romance has really blossomed over the course of this trilogy, and though it's not always sunshine and rainbows for them, they're the real deal. Just don't expect them to realize it overnight.
The war, the plague, the biochemical warfare...it's all pushed to the forefront in this final book, and as much as we want our beloved Legend and Prodigy to get their happy ending, the country comes first. The way this world has been set up has always frightened me...it's just so unbelievably plausible. And it feels even more so in this installment. It's militaristic but also chaotic, pitting government against government, citizen against citizen. Even Antarctica gets in on the action.
This is the first time I listened to a book in this series on audio. I remember the details of the other two books pretty vividly, this being a favorite and all, so I didn't feel compelled to listen to the first two books prior to picking up Champion. However, after listening to Champion on audio, I have to say, I kind of wish I had. I loved the narrators chosen to portray June and Day. They embodied these characters so perfectly, and they sounded like the teenagers that these characters are. Right down to Day's "yeah". *sigh* I definitely see myself purchasing the other two audiobooks for a future re-read/listen.
Champion is a stunning conclusion: fast-paced, action-packed, and riddled with emotion. Marie Lu knows how to bring the feels, and she knows how to use them against you. But as with most good villains, I'm sure she'd say that the end justifies the means. :) If you're already invested in this series, you have to see it through, and I'm pretty sure you'll be happy with the ending. Seriously, it was a truly satisfying and fitting end. And if you haven't started the series yet, well, get to it, especially if you're coming off one of those (ahem) other unsatisfying series endings, yeah? :D
That was beyond beautiful. I am unbelievably enamored with Elizabeth Fama's gorgeous prose and stunning articulation.
________________________________...moreThat was beyond beautiful. I am unbelievably enamored with Elizabeth Fama's gorgeous prose and stunning articulation.
He went on. "You admitted you were throwing your life away so that Poppu could hold Fleur just once, and it was like the floor of your apartment opened under me. You had the balls to condense the whole screwed-up world into this one pure thing, this crazy act of love. Everything I was working for collapsed through that hole with me, and I went into a free fall. And then you kissed me on the prairie and I wanted it all -- I selfishly wanted what Poppu had."
I've been writing this review in my head for days, since I first finished Plus One, and yet I still don't think I can sufficiently portray just how much this book means to me, but that quote comes close to expressing everything I felt for Sol and her situation. I loved Monstrous Beauty when I read it last year, and I've been not-so-patiently awaiting Elizabeth Fama's next novel, so I was elated to see it pop up on ATW ARC tours. I purposely skimmed the summary for this book because I wanted to be as surprised with it as I was with Monstrous Beauty, but Plus One exceeded any and all expectations I might have had.
"The sun was as high as a Midwestern sun can get in late September, which D'Arcy informed me was not very high, so that as we approached the Natural Bridge the light was hitting it somewhat from the side, highlighting the red ferns and lichens and moss that grew on it and throwing extravagant shadows on the rough surface of the stone."
Despite the ugliness of Sol's plan and the world she lives in, I found so much unbridled beauty in this book, from the comparisons and contrasts of day and night life, to the desk drawings, to the gorgeous prose used to depict the Maquoketa Caves State Park...I felt like I was living and breathing Sol and D'Arcy's experiences through this book. This world is not far off from our own, just shy of what life could be like for us now, had things gone differently in the past. And not even vastly different...I mean, things in the past that were supposed to be temporary because of war, etc., have long since been made permanent: taxes, daylight savings time, among other things. Having one sector of the population temporarily switch to night in order to circumvent the effects of a devastating epidemic seems somewhat reasonable. But whenever the government intervenes like this, there are sure to be those who object.
So, yeah, this sounds like a dystopian novel, in that the government has made this society undesirable for some. But I don't want that to scare you away because this story definitely doesn't read like the typical dystopian novel. Far from it. Sol isn't trying to change the world...she's just trying to grant a dying man's wish. And I'm not positive, but from what I can tell this is actually sort of a retelling of The Day Boy and the Night Girl by George MacDonald. I haven't read the whole story, but it was referenced a ton in the Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre, which I have also read and loved.
I also love the irony of Sol's parents naming her Soleil, which is French for "sun". Although when we meet Sol, her disposition is anything but sunny, we soon discover that this is an exterior shell she projects. Inside, she's still the young girl she was when her brother Ciel -- French for "sky" -- all but abandoned her and Poppu to live as a Ray, those who live in the daylight hours. Because of that betrayal, Sol doesn't get close to anyone and doesn't let anyone close. Poppu is all she has left, and now she's losing him, so it's understandable that Sol would want to give him the last thing on this earth that he wishes for, even if it means her own incarceration and the end of everything she knows.
"In the end I had actually worked up some wetness in my eyes. A drop spilled onto my cheek, and just like in the movies I left it there. I hate the way actresses do that, because when you really cry you want your tears gone -- it's all about wiping them away as fast as you can."
What I loved best about Sol, aside from her devotion to her family, was how genuine she was. From her bluntness and non sequiturs to her never-ending diatribes, I really felt like I'd come to know this girl. Usually, I find that I need to relate to a character in some fashion or another in order to fully enjoy a story, but that wasn't the case with Plus One. I could never be as strong or as capable or as self-sacrificing as Sol. Not once did I question her decisions, think that she was making the wrong choice, but neither could I have ever done the same as she did in her circumstances. Sol knows her lot in life, and she's relenquished herself to always living in the dark, but once her heart is set upon its task, she will stop at nothing to see it through. Normally, I'd question the foolhardiness of such a plan, but with Sol, it was unbelievably easy to get on board with such a harebrained scheme.
And that's where D'Arcy comes in. He may not have been named after a character in a famous nineteenth-century novel, but he might as well have been. *sigh* I don't know how to adequately express how much I love the coincidences that brought Sol and D'Arcy together. There is nothing remotely similar about these two characters, but from the onset of their time together, it was clear to me that they were "meant to be". Maybe neither of the pair has actively rebelled against the system until now, but it's obvious that neither accepts it without question. And the fact that D'Arcy just went with his gut when it came to Sol...I think that just speaks volumes about his character and it speaks to Sol's unflappable willingness to see her promise through to the end.
"Eventually he turned his back to me, with his arms crossed on his chest, and sometime later his body jerked with a hypnagogic twitch, and then utter stillness told me he was asleep. I sat up, holding my breath, the Mylar making the sound of a hundred candy wrappers as I lifted the blanket away."
I also love that this book made me feel smarter while I was reading it. I just knew there had to be a real word for that moment when you jerk yourself awake right before you fall into a deep sleep, and now I know there is. =) I love young adult novels; I think that much is obvious. But I love them even more when they're intellectually stimulating and really force me to question morally ambiguous issues, like the ones the characters face in Plus One. Other things that instantly captured my attention: Gigi and the Noma, the murmuration and how it's described, the use of French and how prevalent it is in this novel despite the fact that the setting is in Chicago, and the use of flashbacks to illustrate life for Sol prior to Ciel's absence. I'd love to go into more detail about these things, but I don't want to divulge too much about the story. Also, for brevity's sake, I need to end this review soon, or else it will end up as long as the novel....I really could go on and on about it ad nauseum, that's how much I enjoyed this book.
"We're going to steal food," I said. "Is that what you're telling me?" He grinned. "I know, right? I am a miscreant now. And it's your fault." My stomach grumbled, like the muffled creak of an old hinge. "They probably only just got settled in," I whispered. "They may not be asleep yet." "Then we'll have to be as sneaky as..." he stopped. "As sneaky as Smudges," I finished the pejorative saying for him. "Sorry." "Not at all. I'm actually worried you can't pull this off, with your galumphing about and booming voice. Maybe I should do it alone." His eyebrows knit together, and I allowed myself a tiny smile, no bigger than the Mona Lisa's. "Touché." He laughed under his breath.
Sol and D'Arcy, as different as night and day and yet so perfectly matched. Plus One is a love story when all is said and done, but it's also a story of sacrifice and loss and hope. There are moments of unbelievable gut-wrenching pain that brought me to tears, there are chase scenes that could have come straight from your favorite action movie, and there are brief moments of levity that left this reader unexpectedly hopeful, despite the dire circumstances the characters were facing. Suffice it to say, this book is the real deal, the full package...everything I'd hoped it would be and more. I wasn't ready to say goodbye yet, but oh my goodness, did I looooove that ending! I think Gilda says it best:
*It may have taken me two hours to write this review, but I promise no babies (or Premie Gorts) were hurt in the process.
**All quotes were taken from an advanced copy and may not appear in the final book.
Thank you to Farrar, Straus, & Giroux/Macmillan and ATW ARC Tours for providing a copy for review!
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 wh...moreAt 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.
This book. THIS BOOK! It may just be my favorite YA contemporary EVER! If you know me at all, you know I was once – okay, am still – very skeptical of...moreThis book. THIS BOOK! It may just be my favorite YA contemporary EVER! If you know me at all, you know I was once – okay, am still – very skeptical of contemporary novels. I’m afraid of finding them vapid and shallow and then having to review the insipid things. So, even before I started Meant to Be, I prayed to the book gods that it would be as good as My Life Next Door for me because prior to reading this novel, that was the best YA contemporary I’d ever read. But Meant to Be was even better…it surpassed my wildest expectations and then some!
I identified with this book on a level I never thought possible. So maybe I’ve never been in this exact situation before, but the way the author portrayed the characters and their interactions just made it so legitimately real that it was as if I had…like I was reliving a past memory and not simply reading a novel. I was transported to London, walking the streets with my classmates, taking in the culture and the people. I was sneaking out with my trip buddy to take in a party, even though that’s totally not my style. And even though this book isn’t about me….I really want it to be now. It was just so cute and quirky and full of awkward that I need to make it real and commit those moments to memory.
So, remember that antagonistic relationship Cole and Isabel had in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series? Yeah, that’s exactly how Julia and Jason behave towards each other throughout the entirety of the book. You see the chemistry from the get-go, but Julia’s narrating and it’s pretty obvious she’s kinda clueless about the male gender in general. She’s got the hots for this stuffy guy named Mark who was her playmate when they were younger. He moved away and only recently moved back to town and is attending her high school. And man, is Julia crushing hard. She seriously believes this guy is her “meant to be”, hence the premise of the story.
She may be book-smart, but poor Julia has got a lot to learn. And that’s where Jason comes in. He’s going to help the girl out, if she helps him out by writing all of his papers for the class trip. So they have tons of little adventures in London because this guy is not going to let Julia off the hook. She is super up-tight and needs to let loose, and Jason is just the guy to show her how. Julia is a very reluctant pupil, though, and hijinks ensue. Jason isn’t your usual swoony rogue, and so it’s going to take more than a little convincing for Julia to see the light. But he’s got some things working for him…namely, a great sense of humor, but best of all? He’s a GINGER!!!! I have so much love for this romance…you don’t even know!!
I don’t think it’s too spoilery to tell you to forget about that Mark guy…just forget he exists entirely. Don’t be mad…you can read the synopsis and figure that much out on your own. Trust me….I knew where it was going from the onset but the ride was sooo much fun! And in the end, that's all that matters, right? It was just too freaking adorable to be upset that I’d predicted it all. So, just sit back, relax, and enjoy this crazy, wild, TOTALLY AWKWARD ride for what it is. I’ve already pre-ordered my own copy so that I can go again. :) Plus, that cover is gorgeous and somehow, just knowing I’ll be able to look at it whenever I’m feeling down puts a smile on my face. The story is seriously that much fun.
“Julia, you are my ‘buddy,’” he says, using the requisite air quotes. “I would never put you in harm’s way.” “Oh, right. You’d only take me to a party full of strangers in a foreign country and abandon me. Then get me caught in a street brawl, where I lose all my stuff including my pocket Shakespeare.” “Your pocket what?” He raises an eyebrow. He probably thinks I’m talking about a mini-Shakespeare action figure. (Actually, I do have one of those. But I left it back in Newton, thankyouverymuch.) – p. 62 of galley
Thanks to Random House & Netgalley for providing a copy for review!
I was excited to read this debut novel from Jeff Hirsch, especially after word got out that Suzanne Collins had blurbed it, saying, "The Eleventh Plag...moreI was excited to read this debut novel from Jeff Hirsch, especially after word got out that Suzanne Collins had blurbed it, saying, "The Eleventh Plague hits disturbingly close to home...An excellent, taut debut novel." Dystopians are all the rage right now, but I wanted to read something different, and this book provides just that.
First off, I enjoy a good male protagonist. After reading so many dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels, one begins to wonder, are young women the only ones who will stay strong in the face of adversity? That's obviously not going to be the case when things do take a turn for the worse, so it was nice to have a strong male lead in young Stephen Quinn.
The world the author has created is surreal but entirely plausible. The aftermath of a war between North America and China was a flu-like pandemic that eradicated a good percentage of North America's population and left the survivors with nothing. The country is a wasteland, there are those who would push the survivors into slavery, and no one is safe. But when Stephen is left on his own, he discovers a community that has some semblance of what the world was like before the war.
I think the thing that made this novel so realistic to me was that the kids were still kids, at least in Settler's Landing. The children in the village still attend school, still play baseball, still pull pranks on each other. I think when faced with such hardships, human beings will always fall back on what they're accustomed to. And since the adults in this novel were all young adults themselves when the plague hit, they want their children to have that same sense of normalcy, no matter how short-lived it may be.
Kudos to Mr. Hirsch. I don't like to envision that our great nation could end up torn asunder in the manner of his book, but I'm glad to think that if it does, we'll still all be red-blooded Americans at heart if it comes to that.
I think Lauren said everything I wanted to say in her letter to the author, but I'm going to reiterate why I think this book was so awesomely adorable...moreI think Lauren said everything I wanted to say in her letter to the author, but I'm going to reiterate why I think this book was so awesomely adorable and why you should totally read it.
Fangirl is a novel with heart. It's so clever and humorous and brilliantly written. This book is easy to relate to, even if you weren't the shy, nerdy fangirl that Cath was. Going off to college is a daunting experience, and I think Rainbow Rowell captured the nuances of that experience marvelously: the separation anxiety, the homesickness, the trials of living with a complete stranger.
“It’s just … everything. There are too many people. And I don’t fit in. I don’t know how to be. Nothing that I’m good at is the sort of thing that matters there. Being smart doesn’t matter—and being good with words. And when those things do matter, it’s only because people want something from me. Not because they want me.”
And the portrait she painted of Cath! That girl had some serious issues to work through, but being a fellow introvert, I could really relate and empathize with this character. Her mother abandoned her family when she was just a young girl, and now her twin sister is essentially doing the same, just when Cath needs her most. It's almost too much for Cath to bear, but she soldiers on, makes friends with her roommate, develops a crush or two, AND she manages to come out of her shell a bit...after some hiccups and bumps along the road.
“No,' Cath said, 'seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.”
I loved the importance of family in this novel. Just because you move away from home to start your own life, doesn't mean your family is less important or that they're not still there when you need them. So many young and new adult novels completely gloss over this aspect, but for someone whose family has always meant the world to them, I really appreciated the inclusion of family drama in this story. And I appreciated the fact that the issues didn't simply resolve themselves, that the author took the time to delve into these matters and portray them realistically.
The romance in this book is sooooo freaking cute and sweet and adorable. It almost makes your teeth hurt! I loved the guy when he was initially just a friend, but I loved him even more as their relationship became something more. I loved their adorable flirting and how patient he is with her, knowing this is all so new to Cath. I just love him! And that he loves her fan fiction....gawd, there's nothing sexier to me than a guy who takes an interest in your interests.
“You look so blindingly cute right now, I feel like I need to make a pinhole in a piece of paper just to look at you.”
What I liked best about this novel, though, was that even though Cath grew as a person, grew into herself, she didn't become someone else entirely. At the end of the book, she is still just Cath, nerdy fangirl extraordinaire. I loved these characters, I loved their relationships...I just loved this story! I've never read or ever considered writing my own fan faction, but after some of the questions left lingering at the end of this book -- Do they make it work? Does she kill off Baz? -- I might just have to. =)
Thanks to Macmillan/St. Martin's Press & Netgalley for providing a copy for review!
After reading several reviews of this book, I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who was taken by surprise. That cover screams standard PNR fare...moreAfter reading several reviews of this book, I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who was taken by surprise. That cover screams standard PNR fare. The summary had me believing we were dealing with a sci-fi filled with body-snatching aliens. What I got was a quirky fantasy that doesn't feature a love triangle, despite what the first line of that synopsis might imply.
The Dark Light is quirky in that nothing about this novel is typical. It's not your typical fantasy realm with a bunch of crazy-sounding names and places, though those are there and they are hilarious. (One guy's name is Bromasta. BROMASTA. Bromasta? Seriously?) This book is set in our world and a fantasy realm with a ridiculous name. And though this book packs as much as it possibly can into 500 pages, I still felt like both worlds/settings were described more than adequately for me to envision them clearly.
The characters are anything but stereotypical. Upon first inspection, they might seem it, but as Sol helps Mia to unlock the secrets to her past -- her heritage -- pieces fall into place and nothing is as it seems anymore. I connected with Mia immediately. Her voice was realistic and though she's had a less-than-ideal upbringing, she's making the most of it for herself and for her younger brother. Mia's friends are all a bit quirky, as well, and though they give her a hard time, they endeared themselves to me, much the same as Mia did.
When Mia's brother goes missing, she enlists the help of the new guy. Sol is mysterious and keeps to himself and because of a strange tattoo, she thinks he might have something to do with -- or at least knows something about -- her brother's disappearance and the disappearances of the other local boys. Sol isn't very forthcoming at first, but Mia kind of forces his hand. I loved that they got off to a bit of a rocky start, but eventually Sol comes clean with Mia and a whole new world has opened up to Mia. Literally.
As with a standard fantasy novel, you have to pay attention. So much information is thrown at you, and it can be hard to keep track of. I love fantasy novels, and I had no problem with this aspect. I don't think you have to love fantasy novels to enjoy The Dark Light, though, because for all of its otherworldy idiosyncrasies, there were lots of real world facets thrown in there, as well. I found this novel extremely fun and engaging, and if you give it a chance, I hope it surprises you, too.
This would be a very difficult book to review without the use of spoilers, so I've separated my spoilery thoughts below for those who haven't read this book yet. Also, I have a feeling that this book will be very polarizing, that there are going to be a lot of unhappy fans but a lot of ecstatic ones, as well. I, for one, am very pleased with this final book in the Shatter Me series. Finally...a series finale that I can say that about!
First off, I still can't disassociate Kate Simses as the voice of Cassia in the Matched audiobook series. So, hearing her here as Juliette -- and in the previous books -- makes it hard to separate the two stories at times. Maybe that voice fit Juliette in the beginning, but she got to be quite fierce throughout the series, and with the innocent, child-like qualities of Simses voice, it was hard to vocalize the change in the character. I do love how she brought Kenji to life, though. I didn't get his appeal the first time I read Shatter Me, but after hearing his witty repartee, I found myself wishing for more of this character.
Second, I didn't read Adam's novella. I'd heard that it hinted at what's to come in Ignite Me, and I wanted to be surprised, I wanted to love this book as much as Unravel Me, so I refrained from picking up Fracture Me. Also, I'm just not an Adam fan. Haven't been from day one. Even in the first book, I found myself shipping Warner and Juliette...and that's when we knew little to nothing about Warner. Knowing what I know now, I would have pushed even harder for these two to end up together.
Despite that/in spite of that/because of that -- take your pick -- I found this ending really satisfying, which is kind of weird considering that it's pretty close to one of those endings that's all tied up in a pretty package with a bow and everything. I'm usually not a fan of those, but this ending wasn't entirely picture-perfect, so maybe that's why I find it so tolerable in this case. There were places in the story where the plot crawled at a snail's pace. The book was loaded with relationship melodrama. And the ending did feel a bit rushed. But I don't even care. This book was equal parts emotionally trying and rewarding, and I felt so relieved --triumphant? complacent? weightless? -- when it was over. And that's all I'm really asking for...when a series has to end, can't you just make me feel better about that fact?
Okay, now for all of the things I can't say without risk of totally spoiling things...
(view spoiler)[Oh, you poor Team Adam fans...you are not going to like who your boy becomes in this book, and I'm not just saying that because of what these changes result in. In Ignite Me, Adam becomes brooding -- though Kenji's always said he was moody as hell. He is selfish and hurtful and just plain not worthy of Juliette. Not anymore, if he ever was. I found the revelations Juliette has about their relationship to be refreshing. Aren't we all always saying that you rarely end up with your first love, that you both grow as people and fall out of love, making it hard to remain together in the end? That's exactly what happened with Adam and Juliette.
Some may say that Adam's transition to complete douche-nozzle is a complete 180 for this character, that they don't know him in this book, but considering I was never a fan of Adam's to begin with, I think I saw glimpses of this boy before. He's impulsive and somewhat irrational, and he's the son of Anderson. And just as there are shades of their father in Warner, there are in Adam, as well.
Warner and Juliette are were both kind of crazy-pants. They've both lived in isolation for most of their lives, never having a true friend or even anyone to really talk to. They may have had their differences in the beginning, but when the truth about Warner's real plans comes out, they realize they have a lot more in common than it seemed. And yet, they don't immediately fall into each other, despite what Adam may believe.
I kind of loathe that the romantic elements became the main focus of this trilogy, but at the same time, this is one of the few times that I've enjoyed a love triangle and applauded the way it worked itself out. This is how Boundless should have gone, even if it did piss off a lot of fans. People change, relationships mature, and sometimes they end. That's the way life goes.
I was a bit unhappy with the way Juliette projected her feelings onto Adam, though. It's one thing for her to admit that she is no longer in love with him, but it's another to assume that he feels the same way, especially when he's claimed no such thing. However, I did appreciate that she and Warner didn't try to parade whatever was happening between them around in front of Adam. He didn't deserve that, but also, nothing was happening for the longest, so there wasn't anything to parade around.
But when things did finally heat up, when Juliette was finally ready to admit her feelings...wowsers! Chapter 55. SO HOTT! That is all. (hide spoiler)]
That isn't even half of what I want to say about this book, but it's enough for now.
GIF it to me straight: ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
So, I’ve had The Scorpio Races sitting on my shelf since it was released in October. Being that it’s a Maggie Stiefvater novel, I imagined I’d need to...moreSo, I’ve had The Scorpio Races sitting on my shelf since it was released in October. Being that it’s a Maggie Stiefvater novel, I imagined I’d need to read it immediately, but since it wasn’t the continuation of a series, I guess that pressing need to read it wasn’t, well, pressing. That’s not to say I wasn’t excited to read it…far from it. I even kept it at the top of the stack “to be read in the very near future”. Alas, life and other obligations happened, and so it still has not been read.
I did, however, purchase the audio in a BOGO sale on Audible.com, along with Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, another novel I’ve been meaning to read since its release but just haven’t found the time. I am so very glad I listened to the audio for The Scorpio Races, not simply because I can now pronounce capall uisce – the name for the deadly Irish water horses – but also because the accented rendering by both narrators made the whole experience feel more authentic. (Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the yummy voice of Sean has a yummy face to go with it.) (By the way, the pronunciation of capall uisce is something like this: kah-pull ish-kah. Yeah.)
Now, having heard this tale of a race where the contestants ride killer water horses, I wish I’d found the time earlier to read the novel. I wish when it was first released, and there were naysayers and those complaining about the lack of action, etc., I could have said to all of them, “You have entirely missed the point of this story.” Yes, every reader is different and every person wants to take something different away from a story. What I took away from The Scorpio Races was not a new concept: every action has consequences. Every choice we make in life can take us down any number of paths and lead to many more possibilities. I loved the open-endedness of this novel. I never tried to guess where the story was headed; I was just happy to be along for the ride.
The love story in The Scorpio Races isn’t really a love story, at least not in the traditional sense. There is plenty of love amidst the pages of this novel; it’s just not always romantic. When love does finally find its place between Puck and Sean, it’s not all-consuming or immediate. It develops slowly over the course of their training for the races. It’s a quiet, somber thing that happens between these two characters, but it’s real and very much befitting the circumstances with which they came together in the first place.
Kate “Puck” Connolly is an honest and forthright young woman, still dealing with the loss of her parents and facing the loss of her older brother, though each to different circumstances. Puck was such a breath of fresh air in a genre ripe with stereotypes and unimaginative characters. Her decision to ride in the race isn’t heaped in feminism or her need to prove herself. Instead, it stems from her earlier loss and the need to keep her family’s house, even if Gabe is set against the whole idea. Her older brother has already given up and made other plans, but Puck will not give in so easily.
Sean Kendrick is an enigma. He, too, has lost a parent to the dangerous capall uisce, though his loss is no result of a mere accident. His father rode in the Scorpio races and died doing so. And now, Sean competes in the race each fall. In fact, he’s won for the last four years. He is a loner but also lonely. Sean’s only real friend is his red water horse, Corr. But Corr is not his, not really. Just as Puck is trying to save her home from the clutches of Benjamin Malvern, Sean wants to make Corr his own horse, much to the dismay of his owner, Mr. Malvern.
And, so, Puck and Sean are united against a common foe. But only one of them can win the race. Regardless, they stand by each other, even when warned against it…and despite an awkward first encounter. It’s hard to believe that on an island of 4,000, they never made each other’s acquaintance, though maybe they never needed each other before this.
Even if I couldn’t stand the two main characters, the remaining cast would have been enough to make me love this story. From Finn, the tinkering, laughable younger brother to Dory Maud and the flirty American George Holly, who tends to make everything his business…well, I’m not sure I could pick a favorite character. There was certainly a lot of love to go around, even if it wasn’t the kissing sort. And the story was so much better for it.
I love when a story, no matter how dangerous or sad, makes me want to live it myself. I can’t immediately identify with what the characters have gone through or what they’re going through at the time of the story, but I still felt so connected to them. Maggie’s lyrical, haunting prose strikes again, I suppose. No matter what critics or even fans of her previous works have to say about it, I adored this story immensely and would recommend it to readers who can keep an open mind and those who find all facets of a story engaging, not just the action or the romance.
When I read Starters for the first time, nearly two years ago, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it, considering I hadn't even planned on reading it. It feels like I've been waiting forever to find out how Callie's story ends, to see who the Old Man is and what his plans are. And although this sequel was just as gripping, just as intense and fast-paced as the first book, it just seemed like something was missing, at least for the first half of the book. I did re-listen to Starters a couple of weeks prior to picking up this sequel, and switching formats sometimes throws me off, so there's that.
At any rate, Enders picks up a few weeks after the events in Starters, with Callie, Tyler, and Michael all living at the house Helena left to Callie. As with Starters, don't get too used to seeing Tyler and Michael around. This is Callie's story, and she owns it, but she has to do this without her brother in tow, and well, someone has to look after him. But there are plenty of new(ish) players and a new love interest to fill the void, so don't worry.
Callie is still hearing the Old Man in her head, and she's seen Blake but can't reconcile him with the boy she fell for months ago. She's kind of lost after everything that's happened, so she busies herself with trying to find and take down the Old Man so that she doesn't have to think about things. She turns to the people who helped her before, but they're not willing to fight the way Callie is. Luckily for her, the right people for the job soon find Callie and her mission seems clear once again. Only, how do you trust anyone when even your enemy tells you to, 'Trust no one but yourself, and then question that.'
If Hyden is who he says he is, Callie has every reason to trust him and yet, every reason not to. But he's willing to do what no one else is, and that's help all the Metals -- all the Starters who rented their bodies out to Prime Destinations and had the chips implanted in their heads -- and offer them sanctuary until those who would do them harm are stopped. Of all of the possible love interests in this series -- and I think we're technically up to three now, counting Michael and Blake -- I liked Hyden best, even if there are REASONS he and Callie find it difficult to be together.
It was because of REASONS that I figured out the major plot twist in this book, but knowing didn't impede my enjoyment one iota. I rather liked sitting back and watching as things unraveled, watching Callie do the things that I knew she'd be able to do, even though she doubted it herself. Even more interesting was watching friends become foes and vice versa. As they say, the plot thickens substantially as the story unfolds, and I know it's cliché, but I really was on the edge of my seat there at the end.
It was nerve-wracking at times, and I think I enjoyed the second half of this book much more than the first, which is on par with the slight disappointment I felt with this book as compared to the first. But it was clever and well thought out and if this is the end of Callie's story, I'm completely satisfied with that. In fact, I hope this is a duet and another book isn't in the works because I think this ending was rather perfect, all things considered.
“If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.” -- Stephen Hawking
This is how The 5th Wave opens, with a quote from Stephen Hawking foreshadowing things to come, and immediately, you know that this is not going to be a light story with cute little green aliens as the antagonists. The main character tells us as much in her opening chapter.
-------------THE 1ST WAVE: Lights Out -------------------THE 2ND WAVE: Surf's Up -------------------------THE 3RD WAVE: Pestilence -------------------------------THE 4TH WAVE: Silencer
This begs the question: what will the 5th wave bring? At the end of the 4th wave, the only thing Cassie knows is trust no one. And that one rule has helped her survive the aftermath of the alien invasion up until this point. She may have lost everyone she's ever cared about, but she's surviving.
“But if I'm it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I'm going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity's last war, then I am the battlefield.”
I connected most with Cassie's character. She isn't super strong, she doesn't have amazing accuracy with a bow and arrow...she's not special in any way. Cassie is just an average girl, trying to keep going when all seems lost. She made a promise, and she's not about to break it. That will to live, that strength of character, that's what I loved best about her. The other characters didn't endear themselves to me as much, obviously, but I appreciated their points-of-view and what they brought to the story. At times, the transitions in perspective did get a tad confusing, and it wasn't immediately apparent why it was necessary to include the perspective of Cassie's five-year-old brother Sammy -- especially when his inner thoughts didn't always measure up to what one might expect from someone so young -- but much more time was spent with Cassie than any other character, making it easier for me to wrap my head around the bigger picture here.
Also, the fact that there were two narrators for this audiobook helped a great deal in lessening the confusion during POV switches. The narrative voice of Cassie was, well, phenomenal, and Phoebe Strole nailed it. She voiced Cassie's hopes and concerns with the intensity that one would expect from this situation, as if she herself were living this nightmare. And Brandon Espinoza didn't do such a bad job either. He had several characters to lend his voice to, and he managed to make each one stand out. Even the Silencer. (Yes, you get to read from an alien's perspective for all of about ten pages...but it's worth it. Trust me.) I truly hope both of these narrators return for the sequel's audiobook.
“There's an old saying about truth setting you free. Don't buy it. Sometimes the truth slams the cell door shut and throws a thousand bolts.”
Cassie faces many challenges on her quest to keep her promise. But the other characters in this story face no less hardship. Possibly the most difficult challenge any of them faces is who to trust. The dynamic that develops between the different characters as their paths are set to converge is believable, if nothing else. Both Ben and Evan are great male leads -- though, neither holds a candle to that Cassie -- but the romance that develops was a little...unsettling. At first. It goes back to that whole trust no one mantra Cassie repeats to herself for most of the book. I like where it's going, though. But this is not a love story...it's an alien invasion story, and Mr. Yancey won't let you forget it.
“It's an either/or world now.”
The 5th Wave is very action-driven, and it keeps you guessing. Sure, some of the twists are easy to predict, but because of how they're written and how they're alluded to, it didn't bother me. In fact, it just made me want to sit in the car and continue listening, to see if I was right and see how those twists affected the story and the characters. This book is intense and riveting -- a real page-turner -- and I expect to see an even more explosive continuation of this story line, come August 2014. This was my first Rick Yancey novel, but it will absolutely, positively not be my last.
“Some things you can never leave behind. They don't belong to the past. They belong to you.”
I don't think I'll stop thinking about this book for a very long time. ________________________________________
I don't normally review books the same day I finish them, but I'm making an exception for this phenomenal book. For one, I usually like to mull over a book for a little bit to make sure my initial feelings remain true and that it's not just a book high causing me to rate a book a million stars when it was really only so-so. But with The Sea of Tranquility, I know that no matter how much I think about this book -- and trust me, I won't stop thinking about it for a very long time -- my initial reaction won't change. And if you don't believe me, you should take into consideration that this book is rated an average of 4.57 stars here on Goodreads across 14k+ ratings.
Second, I want to start a new audiobook, and if I don't get my feelings out this instant, I won't be able to concentrate on any other story. I tried to read another book on my lunch break, and nothing doing. I cannot stop thinking about this book! I sort of don't want to, though. I just want to succumb to the book hangover and live inside this book forever. But that might be unhealthy.
I think the summary does a good job of preparing you for what's in store...except that it doesn't, not at all. Everyone said, "I was a blubbering mess," and the like prior to me picking this up, so I expected it to be an emotionally draining read. Which meant I need to wait till I was in the right frame of mind to pick it up. But I don't think you can ever be prepared for this story. I didn't even tear up during the book. Sure, I smacked my hand against my forehead a few times and cringed and found things tragic and sad and all manner of terrible. And, yeah, I even gagged a bit. But the full weight of the story didn't hit me until she uttered those final two words. And I was slayed. I was a pile of goo. My lip started trembling and I couldn't hold it in any longer.
It had been a great story up to that point; there's not doubt about that. But to have the story come full-circle like that...it gave me goosebumps. Right before I started bawling my eyes out. And to have just read the story of how this book came to be? I mean, MY GOD. I had a copy for review from Netgalley, but like I said, I was waiting for the right time to read it. I'd actually been supposed to buddy read it with my friend Em, but other books kept pushing it down the pile, so we kind of gave up on that. It's just as well. I don't think this is a book -- no, an experience -- that I could have shared with anyone else. Don't get me wrong...I'll be forcing this book on anyone and everyone who'll listen to me fangirl over it. But knowing Em and me, we'd have been cracking jokes throughout the book as we chatted on Goodreads or Twitter, and I think I would have felt guilty about that in the end. What I'm saying is, this is a book not to be taken lightly. It has power. It will climb into your heart and your subconscious and take up residency there. And you can send it eviction notices all you want, but it's not going anywhere.
What was I saying before I went off on that tangent? Oh, yeah. I had this for review, but it kept sliding down the pile. And I wanted to experience the story that had so many people talking. But the release date had come and gone, so I did what I always do, knowing that once the release date has passed, the book falls in the TBR dead zone: I purchased the audio. And I did so with some trepidation because I saw that one of the narrators was Kirby Heyborne, and for some reason, I remember disliking his narration on a previous audiobook, though I can't for the life of me remember which one that was. But after listening to The Sea of Tranquility, I'm going to assume I was mistaken, confusing this narrator with someone else. Because, guys, he was EVERY BIT of Josh Fucking Bennett. The emotion and turmoil rolling off of this character was palpable in his narration. It irritates me that I was actually avoiding some other audiobooks that I really wanted to try because he was involved with them. The narrator for Nastya's character was excellent, as well. Candace Thaxton brought a mostly dead girl to life in a way that I probably couldn't have simply by reading the story. But I'm not going to lie...Kirby Heyborne's narration made this audiobook for me. I'll never doubt him again.
The intensity of the story really shone through in the audio, but it's just another testament to the extraordinary writing. I don't think I could ever forget this book, even if I tried. The details were just so vivid, and they'll remain embedded in my memory forever: the chair, the pennies, the pearl button, the boots. THE BLACK SHIT. Gawd, I'm going to end up listening to this on the way home again...I just know it.
I could ramble on and on about this book. I mean, I haven't even touched on the characters yet! They're all just so...destroyed. But they aren't trying to fix each other. They can't. And that's the point. No one knows who Nastya really is...not Josh, not Drew, not even Nastya. And Josh...he doesn't want to care about her because he's already lost all the people he can handle losing. Drew was kind of the glue. Douchey to a fault, he was just as damaged, but his pain was his own doing; he just needed to be saved from himself. They made for an interesting trio, and the secondary characters were all just as fascinating. I don't think there's any part of this book that wasn't.
And I'd love to share some of my favorite quotes with you, as I usually do at the end of reviews for my favorite books, but I'm afraid I'd end up quoting the whole damn book. So, in lieu of typing up the entire book for you, I suggest you just check out the quotes page on Goodreads. And then you'll fall in love and have to read the story, too. And then I won't be alone in my misery. Misery loves company. Just ask Josh and Nastya.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for providing a copy for review, though this review is actually based on a purchased copy of the audiobook.
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 to...moreTime 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!
It's over, and I'm sad about that, but I'm...moreMy initial thoughts after finishing:
There were moments like this:
but ultimately, I feel like this:
It's over, and I'm sad about that, but I'm satisfied.
Fair warning: I'm probably going to ramble -- without spoilers -- in this review and it might get painfully awkward at times. My apologies in advance. But when one of your favorite series comes to an end, a fair amount of gushing and tears is expected...deserved, even. Yes, I'm sad to say goodbye to these characters, but I'm also happy to have met them.
The first thing that always strikes me when I pick up a Cynthia Hand novel is how genuine, how authentic they feel. Clara's voice is sincere and realistic...she sounds like a real teenager -- not the facade that television or society might think of as one, but an actual teenager. Clara is tenacious and snarky and completely relatable...aside from that whole angel-blood thing. The dialogue in these books is superbly done, as if I'm having a conversation with old friends, not just reading about it. And Clara's interactions with other characters are as unpretentious as always, even when she's dealing with a Black Wing. If there's one character I wish were real, it's Clara...I'd make her my best friend in a heartbeat. I've always assumed that Clara was a reflection of the author, so in that case, Can we be best friends, Cynthia? :0)
Something else to take note of in Hand's novels is the importance of family. Sure, Clara and Jeffrey's father wasn't around much during the formidable teenage years, but not by choice, and they had the most awesome, caring mother to make up for it. Maggie is the mother of all YA mothers, and she proves that there doesn't have to be a lack of parental figures in a young adult's life for them to find their share of trouble. Even Clara's wayward brother Jeffrey plays an important role in this series...he's not just a barely there side character. In fact, none of the secondary cast of characters is a bit player. They all have a significant role in how the bigger picture unfolds.
And what a big, beautiful picture this series has turned out to be! So many things I never saw coming! More visions. More danger. More everything. The pacing starts off nice and slow, with Clara embarking on her first year of college at Stanford, but for an angel-blood having visions of doom and gloom, life is never easy. Clara soon begins to wonder if she's been deluding herself into believing that she might be able to lead a normal life. But just as Clara has discovered with her purpose, things happen for a reason, whether you believe in fate or not. There were some truly pivotal moments in this final book, some that I can't yet comment upon, but this story is such a thing of beauty.
So much transpires in this novel, so many secrets and hidden truths uncovered, and yet, just as I was figuring things out for myself, so were the characters. I didn't have to wait 100 pages for them to catch on, which is really refreshing. Just goes to show how truly genuine the characters and story are...we're always on the same page.
Even with Clara's decision to distance herself from Tucker in order to protect him. I usually hate when a fictional guy does this to a girl. But in Clara's case, we already know the danger; we know it's not a gimmick. The Black Wings are a real threat. Doesn't make it hurt less, though. At the end of Hallowed, I couldn't have told you if Clara would end up with Tucker or Christian...and I couldn't have made that decision myself, if I'd been in her shoes. Both were equally good to her and for her, in their own ways. In Boundless, that isn't any less true. Both think that they are each meant to be with Clara. She's definitely got a difficult road and some tough choices ahead of her.
Lots of changes in Boundless. Lots of appearances from old friends. It's a lot to take in. But it's a satisfying ending to a breath-taking series that I won't soon forget. I can't imagine having never met these characters or sharing in their experiences as they came to terms with who and what they were. Full of humor, love, and possibility, this brilliant series is not to be missed. I can't wait to see what else Cynthia Hand has up her sleeve!
Also, don't forget to stop by The Starry-Eyed Revue on the 24th for a Q & A with the author -- in which she divulges what type of reader she is -- as part of the Boundless Blog Tour hosted by Mundie Moms!
Thanks to HarperTeen for providing an ARC for review!
Starcrossed is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story steeped in Greek mythology. It's loosely...moreThis review also appears on my blog: The Starry-Eyed Revue.
Starcrossed is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story steeped in Greek mythology. It's loosely based on The Iliad by Homer, the story of the fall of Troy, a story I loved the moment I read it in high school. Reading Starcrossed actually made me want to go back and re-read The Iliad and brush up on the rest of my Greek mythology.
The story was addictive and hooked me from the onset. It was fast-paced and there were never any lulls in the action. I was simply unable to put the book down. (My husband noticed my vacant stare at dinner last night and said, "You want to get back home to your book, don't you?") Yeah, it's that good. The writing was beautiful, not overly descriptive but enough to make me want to visit Nantucket, the backdrop for the story.
I'm a sucker for well-thought out characters. They need to have depth, and I don't want all of their secrets and motivations laid out in the text of the book for me. I want to learn about their strengths and their imperfections as the character's relationships develop in the story. The author accomplished this beautifully and made me fall in love with all of the characters, not just Lucas. She even made me doubt that the 'bad guy' was entirely evil. I love that, that her characters weren't inherently virtuous or malevolent, that even a murderer could wrestle with himself before committing another heinous act.
I thoroughly enjoyed the relationships and friendships that developed in Starcrossed, especially the love story between Helen and Lucas, despite the whole hate-at-first-sight thing. I think their relationship progressed perfectly, though I understand that many will fervently disagree with that statement since they did go from hating each other to loving each other in the span of a book. But from my own experience with love-at-almost-first-sight, I never really feel that love can be too rushed in a story, no matter the age of the characters. Those kinds of feelings mature at their own rate, and considering the circumstances facing the characters in Starcrossed, I don't think those feelings were hurried. It's not like Helen and Lucas went from hate to instantly loving each other. It was really more like this: I hate you, I don't hate you, let's be friends, I'm holding your hand, I really like you but we can't be together, and then I love you but we can't be together. They truly are star-crossed lovers with the Fates determining the outcome. Their relationship matures while Helen learns the truth of who she really is and has to come to terms with that while trying to maintain some semblance of a normal life.
I also enjoyed the importance family played in the story and found myself chuckling more than a few times at the normalcy of the family dynamic, despite how not normal it all was. It's definitely a novel that I wouldn't mind letting my daughter read when she was old enough to do so.
Overall, Starcrossed was an engaging, sometimes intense, read. This is a fantastic debut novel, and I can't wait to read the next installment, called Dreamless, due out next year.(less)
And Kasie West does it again. It's now guaranteed that I will purchase a copy of every book she writes, even if I've already read a review copy. It's my desire and my duty to support and promote such awesome authors. West just jam-packs her novels with imaginative storylines and humor and swoons and just everything that makes a book fun.
I loved diving into the world of the Compound, into the seedy underbelly of it, as it were. We get to experience more of their tech, their hierarchy, and what crossing them leads to. We also get to see more of life outside of the Compound and just how hard it is to keep it a secret from your average human. So, in essence, this sequel built upon everything I already loved in Pivot Point.
This time around, we don't get to experience two different paths Addie's life could take by way of the Search. Oh, she still uses her power -- when she remembers it! -- but it's in small doses as compared to what we saw in the first book. And her power has changed...it's evolved into something more, which was quite interesting to witness as Addie practiced it.
In this book, Addie is spending her winter break with her father in the Norm world, so to fill in the gaps with what's happening back at the Compound, we've got Laila's point-of-view. I wasn't sure how this would sit with me, considering her betrayal in the last book. Yes, I know she was coerced into it, but it still felt like betrayal, and I'm not the only one having a hard time coming back from that. Addie hasn't voiced her lack of trust in her best friend, but it's easy to see in what she doesn't say.
The Addie-Trevor thing is still there, even if neither understands why they feel such a connection since they can't remember how it was forged in the first place. Even if Trevor is starting to become suspicious of Addie, after witnessing a couple superhuman feats of speed. It's still just as sweet and adorable as it was in the first book, though. But now that we have Laila's perspective, we have another ship to cling to. Where Addie and Trevor are almost saccharine sweet, Laila and Connor are like Sour Patch Kids: first they're sour, then they're sweet. I loved how their relationship progressed, what they were willing to do for each other, what they learned about and from each other, how they made it work. I don't know if I'd call it a slow-burning kind of romance because I felt the intensity of their feelings almost immediately, and it wasn't entirely a hate-to-love type of romance either because of that. It was just perfect for the characters that they were. So, if you were afraid after the ending in Pivot Point that the sequel would be lacking in swoons, fret not. Kasie West wouldn't do us that way. =)
Also, lots of stuff happens. Like, stuff that even *I* didn't see coming, which is quite unusual indeed. And it all wraps up nicely. I'm a super-huge fan of duologies these days. Like, over-the-moon happy with this trend. Less waiting. More story but with less filler. Yep. Let's keep this duet-thing going, okay? That said, I'd still be okay with a third book in this series because I still have a ton of unanswered questions about Addie and this world.
If you liked Pivot Point, you're going to like Split Second, no doubt about it. If you haven't started this series yet, I highly recommend it. It's just fun. Good, good fun. It's got superpowers, football, swoons, and -- maybe not best of all, but I still highly treasure this fact -- it's set in Dallas where yours truly is from!
GIF it to me straight: Yeah, I'm like crazy-person happy! Such a fun series!(less)
I adored this book. I wanted to slap Bonnie™'s mother more than once, and I just loved how Chloe and Benny got each other through it all. That family was pure chaos! And Patrick...suh-woon. Yep. I loved this book, and I'm kinda surprised it didn't get more hype before it's release because it's full of win. I don't even like reality TV all that much, but it's probably my dislike for it that made this book even better because I have a feeling it's pretty close to how all the behind-the-scenes stuff goes down. Also, I've often thought that putting kids on camera for entertainment without their consent could be likened to child abuse, and I was glad to see that aspect wasn't taken lightly here.
What has happened to me that all -- well, most of -- the books that I adore lately have been contemporaries?!? I used to despise this genre, but now I can't even remember why. Because now, these are my go-to books. When I'm in a funk or a reading slump or whatever, I pick up a contemp and I'm happily entertained for hours.
With Something Real, I think I'll be entertained for eons. This is the kind of book I can read over and over again. This story garnered ALL THE FEELS from me. And so rather than splitting up my review based on characters and plotting, etc., like I usually would, I'm going to do this one a little differently. I'm going to separate my feelings and what triggered them.
“Even Mom doesn't understand how being in front of a camera all the time twists and warps you. How one second it makes you feel unbelievably alive and the next publicly strips you down until all that's left is one big question mark.”
First and foremost, my anger comes from being a mother. As a parent, I cannot fathom subjecting a child to being in the spotlight like this, let alone a family consisting of thirteen children. Times are going to be tough as it is, but how does any self-respecting mother do this to her children? Especially considering what one of the eldest has already suffered because of being on a show that is broadcast nationally. Beth Baker-Miller™ is one of the worst kinds of human beings...those who live for attention and don't care about the cost, even when it's their own family. There was not a single redeemable quality in this woman, and what she did or didn't do at the end of this novel made me question whether she even deserved to have the other children in her care.
Also, I have mad hate for the show's producer Chuck, who is the slimiest of all in this story. He manipulates, cajoles, coerces, and threatens, and he is beneath scum. I imagine a lot of reality TV show producers to be of his ilk, and for the sake of everyone who has to deal with swine like this, I am sorry. I'm not a big fan of reality shows, but I imagine it's not as fun to be the subject of them as it might appear or as others make it out to be. I'm rather intrigued by the leaps and bounds this book took to show the behind-the-scenes stuff. On one hand, I hope this is all entirely fictional, but on the other, I'm pretty sure it's not, and I feel awful for ever having watched a single minute of this kind of drivel, entertaining as it might be at times.
The main character Bonnie™/Chloe hasn't had the easiest transition from reality TV stardom to normal girl. But she's relatively happy with her normal girl status now that she's starting her second year of public school as a high school senior. Until her mom and stepdad decide to start doing the show again, without consulting any of the rest of the family, that is. Chloe has suffered the most at the hands of the Baker's Dozen show, and you'd think her family would at least have the decency to forewarn her that the show was being picked back up, but aside from her brother Benton™, no one seems to care what this might do to Chloe's fragile state of mind.
What I hate most is that Bonnie™/Chloe's mother doesn't even notice the repercussions. She thinks her daughter is acting like a typical spoiled teenager who's not getting her way. I don't think Beth Baker-Miller™ realizes that it's taken Chloe four -- FOUR -- years to finally find some amount of normalcy in her life after what happened in the last season of Baker's Dozen. Which makes my heart hurt even more for Chloe. But worse than that, I wished physical violence on this mother and the stepfather she brought into these kids' life after the sh!t hit the fan in that last season. How could any mother be so oblivious, let her own desires outweigh those of her children, whether they come from her loins or not?
Which brings me to my next point. The way that everyone allows Chloe to be portrayed on national television is an abomination. Seeing it from Chloe's eyes and then seeing how everything is edited to make it more dramatic, or to make it look as if Bonnie/Chloe™ really is the poster-child for Teenagers Gone Wild, I wanted to do more than cut cords or palm cameras out of Chloe's face. No one deserves to have their whole life on display for strangers like this. It more than borders on child abuse in my opinion. And I'm really glad to see that this aspect wasn't taken lightly in this story. There's even talk of getting the ACLU involved, so kudos.
I am unbelievably grateful that Chloe had a sibling like Benny to help get her through all the drama. Beginning, middle, and end...he was there through it all. He pushed Chloe when she needed it, but he also gave her space to do what she needed to do when she wasn't being rational. Benny was her back-up and Chloe was his. I love how out of all the siblings, these two are the closest, have the best connection, and stand by each other, no matter what. I think the only times I laughed in this story with true frivolity -- because of all my fury at the other characters in the story --were when it was just Chloe and Benny hanging out, shootin' the sh!t. Also, Benny drunk is kinda priceless. I'm not condoning underage drinking, per se, but when the situation warrants...
Okay, so I said that I didn't laugh all that much, but I did snicker a lot. Ugh, I hate that word, but it's the best description. Here's why:
"I'm surprised she doesn't get a sunburn from the rays of her own awesomeness," Benny says as she heads to the first floor. _____
There should be a class on what to do with your hands during awkward moments. Like, no other animal has to stand with these ridiculous appendages that make everything worse. Hands are awkward as hell. I watch Tessa disappear down the hall, belonging, being absorbed into the crowd. _____
"Did you apparate here or something? The bell rang two seconds ago." _____
"How was the salon?" Tessa asks, after we're through psychoanalyzing my date. "Did you get claw-the-rapist nails?"
"When his lips finally leave mine, his fingertips stay on my cheeks, and he looks at me--really looks at me--for a long time. Five seconds? Minutes? Centuries? Maybe it's the feeling behind his eyes or the way the warmth of that kiss slowly slips back on the tide of our breath, but I suddenly feel like I need to leave. Now."
Benny may have been a great counterpart to Chloe's persistent pessimism, but Patrick brought the swoons and more. We talk about book boyfriends all the time, but usually as in "I would want this guy to be my boyfriend in real life". In this case, I don't think I've met a more perfect guy to be this character's boyfriend. He's patient, forgiving, caring, but he still manages to be a separate entity and not too clingy. A girl should be so lucky as to have a guy like Patrick in her life. He takes all of this reality TV stardom stuff in stride. Patrick does everything he can to make a relationship outside of that world a possibility for Chloe, and I think that without his soothing presence, Chloe might not have managed nearly as well as she did. Also, he gave her the strength to stand up for herself. I know the saying always goes "Behind every great man, there's a great woman", but I think the opposite holds true, as well, especially for this couple. It takes a solid partnership to make any relationship work, and that's what we have here.
Also, there's that scene in the janitorial closet. My god. =)
"Chlo, that boy has forever written all over his face when he looks at you. A cat lady you shall never be."
Another thing I really enjoyed about this novel was all of the extras included: press releases, twitter feeds, blog posts, interviews, etc. And, of course, those cute text messages between Patrick and Chloe on her secret phone. It really lent to the air that this was reality, that this is how life goes for someone in Chloe's position. It also made for an even more entertaining reading, especially how each piece was spun one way or another. This book really makes me sad for all of those kids who were on Jon & Kate Plus 8.
"I'm not Bonnie™ or Chloe. I'm the essence of her, the nontrademarked person the camera can never capture and my parents have no right to sign over. There is a sovereign nation encased in this skin that MetaReel can never trademark."
I am honestly surprised that this novel didn't receive any hype prior to its publication. It is so unbelievably genuine and completely from the heart, and it ranks up there with my favorite YA contemporary novels ever. I don't think I've ever read a novel that compelled me to be one with the narrator and simultaneously feel so much, and I'm really hoping this isn't a one-time deal. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what else Heather Demetrios brings to this genre, and I hope she continues writing with this outstanding voice of hers.
Wow, this review turned out to be way longer than I anticipated, and the sad thing is I haven't said all that I have to say about this lovely book. But you should read it. You should absolutely read it. :D
GIF it to me straight: Why is no one talking about this book?!?(less)
**There will probably be minor spoilers for the first book...I can't help myself. I have to talk about it. :)**
So, I liked Altered when I read it earlier this year...A LOT. Like, even more than I thought I was going to. So I pretty much already knew that the sequel was a must-read and that it was probably going to be just as intense. And, boy, was it!
But before I get to that, a little side-note. I read Altered before I'd ever even heard of the Elementals series by Brigid Kemmerer, and though the premises are very different, the group dynamic is very similar and just as entertaining:
Elementals - has twin brothers named Nick and Gabriel - oldest brother Michael is the no-nonsense head of the family - Becca discovers she's also an Elemental
Altered - has altered boy named Nick who has previously used Gabriel as an alias - Sam, the boy who's been in the Altered program the longest, is also a no-nonsense kind of leader - Anna was also in the Altered program with the boys
- both series include an outsider who gains acceptance, only to betray the group
So many similarities from two totally different stories! So, if you've been debating one series or the other, well...just read them both! They are both awesome and I can't recommend them enough. Both are completely addictive and insanely readable.
Okay, now that that's out of the way...
As I said before, Erased is intense. I couldn't put the book down. And when I absolutely had to stop reading, I rushed back to it with super-human quickness. Simply put, I was utterly compelled to continue reading, as Anna, Sam, Nick, and Cas searched for the answers to their past and discovered more than they ever bargained for when it came to their futures.
Erased finds the characters two months after the events of Altered, on the run and hiding out. They're all kind of on auto-pilot, doing what they need to do to survive and not much else. The flashbacks are getting worse, and it's difficult for any of them to discern what's real and what's not anymore. But they're sticking it out, staying together to evade the Branch as long as they possibly can.
Except, it soon becomes clear that their "safety in numbers" theory isn't going to cut it anymore, and Anna is forced to head out with only the ill-tempered Nick by her side. These two have never been the best of friends, the animosity between them crackling like lightning. I liked this little interlude, and not just because we get to see Nick and Anna as badasses, working together in tandem to take down some Branch agents that are on their trail. No, I enjoyed this turn of events much more because it shows a softer side of Nick and through a series of flashbacks, we learn more of each of these characters' history. At one time, they might not have hated each other.
Stop looking at me like that. There's no love triangle...not really, anyway. It's only my ardent wish that Nick was a viable suitor for Anna. Sam's great and all, but he just seems like a shell of a person at times. But these kids have been through an awful lot, so I'll chalk his behavior up to that. Especially since he is unfailingly faithful to dear Anna.
I love the team dynamic, with Sam as the leader. Except, because of some weird bonding experiment done as part of the Altered program, Anna's actually the head of the group. They are her boys, and she is theirs to protect. It makes for some interesting situations and some rather funny tests on their part as they try to determine just how far that bond goes.
Exhilarating and fast-paced doesn't begin to describe this novel, but that's a good jumping off point. As with the first book, I found bits of the plot to be on the predictable side, but again, it didn't keep me from enjoying the story as quickly as I could, especially with some of the awesome twists thrown into the mix. And though there's more story to tell, and their pasts are anything but clear, this second installment leaves the reader with at least some semblance of closure. And yet, this reader can't wait to get her hands on the next book. =)
Thanks to Little, Brown BFYR and Around the World ARC Tours for providing a copy for review!
Maybe my expectations for this book were too high, or maybe it was just too hyped to begin with, but I just couldn’t connect to the characters or the...moreMaybe my expectations for this book were too high, or maybe it was just too hyped to begin with, but I just couldn’t connect to the characters or the story the way I would have liked. I love the whole aspect of time travel, but rather than be mysterious and science-fictiony (yup, another review where I make up my own words) like I had anticipated, it felt more like a rip-off of that movie Jumper. And not in a good way.
The premise is intriguing, though not all that original. However, the time travel itself is rather different, though that doesn’t mean it’s easy to understand…at all. Some things are explained well enough, like how Jackson got stuck in 2007 in the first place, but I found the logic questionable when it came to traveling along the same timeline or departing from one’s own timeline altogether. The general rules for time travel definitely needed some clarification, but maybe the reader is supposed to learn about them as Jackson does. Though he clearly had no idea what he was getting into when he started his little time travel experiments with his friend Adam and landed himself in all of this hot water in the first place.
I found the characters lacking and generally cliché. As formulaic as the plot was, the characters should have been exceptional and well-rounded, but they just fell flat. Jackson is supposed to be your typical hot, rich guy with commitment issues. And he totally fits the bill. But through this ordeal, he should show some growth, and though there are times when his character shows promise, he never truly lives up to his potential. His sacrifice is just as much selfish as it is noble.
Holly is your average girl-next-door who somehow manages to land the super-hot, rich guy, though he’s clearly not her type. Adam, who was friends with Holly before he ever met Jackson, is suddenly best buds with him, but that’s predictably because he’s the nerdy, science type, and he’s helping Jackson figure out this whole time-travel thing. And, of course, neither of them thinks to tell Holly what’s going on until it’s too late and the evil “Enemies of Time” are hot on Jackson’s trail.
I think that too much focus on time travel itself detracted from the actual storyline, and the fact that so much time travel occurs in a relatively short span of time left me reeling. I understand that the role of the first book in a trilogy is to grab the reader’s attention and guarantee that they’ll want to read the rest of the series, but I found much of this novel to be an information dump rather than an actual story. Considerably less time could have been spent on Jackson being chased through time and instead spent on aspects that are clearly going to be important in Jackson’s future (or past or present or wherever he ends up), such as his dead sister and the little girl who travels from the future (or a future timeline?) who just happens to look very much like his dead sister. Also, the romance was sweet, but most of it was just fluff, only serving as a detour from Jackson’s true purpose or calling or whatever you want to call it.
Despite my feelings toward this novel, it’s received quite a bit of buzz. The film rights have already been snapped up by Summit Entertainment, even before the novel has been officially published and released into the wild. And as I mentioned before, this is only the first novel in a planned trilogy, and a massive marketing campaign is in the works. I wish I could say I think it deserves all of the attention it’s garnering, but regardless of my thoughts on this first installment and how it’s being handled, I’m definitely intrigued enough by what I suspect is to come that I’ll pick up future installments.
Much appreciation goes out to Wendy Darling for offering up her ARC for this tour. The link to the ARC tour can be found here.(less)
WARNING: Side Effects May Vary may cause severe emotional distress. While reading this novel, you may experience the temptation to throw the book in a fit of frustration. You may also suffer from extreme mood swings, sighing contentedly one moment while screaming your outrage the next. Please consult a physician if these symptoms persist after you turn the last page of the novel.
Julie Murphy isn't pulling any punches with her debut novel. If her intention was to make her readers feel all the things, then I say she has more than succeeded with Side Effects May Vary. Alice is diagnosed with leukemia and spends the next year wreaking havoc on the lives of those who've wronged her over the last few years as she waits for her time to run out. But miracle of miracles, she goes into remission...and then she has to answer for everything she's done over the last year: to those she's wounded but also to Harvey, the best friend who stood by her and helped her complete her bucket list of revenge.
Harvey's always been there for Alice, harboring a crush of epic proportions. She uses and abuses the poor guy, and for years, he's allowed it with little complaint, hoping that one day she might return his feelings. But when Al's diagnosed with cancer, everything changes between them. Told in alternating perspectives -- through her eyes and his -- during the year of her diagnosis and then after her remission, this story recounts the progression of Alice and Harvey's relationship and how it got to the point that it's at now. And if you're anything like me, it is going to drive you nuts, the back-and-forth between these two, but it is so worth the pain to see it through to the end.
It's not just about relationship drama, though that is a driving force in this novel. It's about having your life handed back to you -- after being told that you had an expiration date that was drawing nearer -- and the psychological toll that can have on a person. It's about revenge and making amends and taking risks. This story was as crushing as it was complicated, but it was also heartfelt and genuine. I tried to keep in mind what all Alice had been through and how that might change a person, and that helped me avoid writing her character off completely, even when she probably deserved it.
Harvey, though...Harvey was the saving grace of this novel. He started out as this lovelorn puppy dog when we first meet him, but everything that has happened to Alice has taken a toll on him, as well, and I'm glad that although he finally grew a pair and made some demands of his own, he still remained that sweet, hopeful boy. I loved the emotional impact of this novel as much as I did the romantic aspects.
I am so ecstatic to report that this book turned out even better than I'd hoped. It is rife with the feels, but don't expect a TFiOS meltdown. Many readers will find Alice completely unlikable, eliciting feelings of rage as opposed to the deep sadness that Hazel Graze evoked. But I think the unflappable Harvey will more than make up for it. And if you give Al a chance, you just might find yourself empathizing with her, too.
*** This is a completely spoiler free review. I promise. I wouldn't do you like that. =) ***
*Sigh* This is how you write a series finale. This is how...more*** This is a completely spoiler free review. I promise. I wouldn't do you like that. =) ***
*Sigh* This is how you write a series finale. This is how you put an end to the dreaded love triangle without truly taking the choice away from everyone involved, without tastelessly casting someone aside. This was the most inherently beautiful yet exquisitely painful ending I've ever read, and I was nearly inconsolable when I finished. Not because of what happened, though there was cause for uncontrollable blubbering at times, but because it's over. It's over and I already want to go back and read all three books again...and again...and again.
I almost wish that this were the series Cassie had decided to turn into six books instead of the original three. Okay, that's not true. Not really. These characters deserved to have their story told in a reasonable amount of time and without dragging it out just because I couldn't let them go. But I already miss them so and it's so hard to say goodbye. The same is true of any series finale, I suppose, but I'm finding it more difficult than usual with this one. I didn't even expect to like this series when I started Clockwork Angel. Yet here I am, sobbing over fictional characters that stole my heart and made me feel like no others before them.
I laughed with these characters, cried with them, and fell in love with them as they loved each other. They each grow into who they were meant to be in this story, even those who seemed insignificant in the beginning. Everyone made sacrifices and they all had a role to play. And they played them so well, all the way up to that bittersweet ending. And then there's everything we learn about Tessa and what she is and where she came from...
I'm not going to discuss the love triangle. You know what you want to happen or what you expect to happen. But as I said, it was handled admirably, and I couldn't imagine a more fitting end. Admittedly, I could have done without the epilogue, though. Oh, the feels. I didn't tear up once during the book, not until that epilogue. I'm going to be honest, though. I'm not a huge fan of epilogues in general. They sort of seem like a cop-out, almost like an alternate ending on fast-forward. Still, this one should make at least a few fans happy. ;)
And I am happy, despite the intense feeling of loss I'm currently coping with. I just have to keep reminding myself that I can visit these characters again whenever I want. Tessa is still the darling of the Institute. Jem is still the soft-spoken violin-player. And Will is still incorrigible. This is how I'd like to remember them always. But this is how I want to remember Magnus:
“A very magnanimous statement, Gideon,” said Magnus. “I’m Gabriel.” Magnus waved a hand. “All Lightwoods look the same to me.”
Bahaha...someday, Magnus, you will be eating your words.
As far as the audiobook goes, I thought I'd miss Ed Westwick reading to me. But Daniel Sharman far surpassed my expectations for the audio. As in, why didn't he read the other two books? You'd assume a guy reading all of the book, including Tessa's parts, would make it hard to distinguish between speakers and perspectives, but you'd be wrong. And, oh, my, the accent he lent to Welsh-born Will. Ed Westwick, who? :P
I am unbelievably happy, both with the narration and with the story. When it comes time for a re-read of the series, I'm not even sure which way to go about it. The audiobooks and story alike were superbly done. I highly, highly recommend this series. I'm serious...I wasn't even that interested in the story when I picked up the first book, and now it's one of my favorite series ever.
This book had serious potential, and although saying that at the beginning of my review makes it sound like the book didn't meet expectations, I want...moreThis book had serious potential, and although saying that at the beginning of my review makes it sound like the book didn't meet expectations, I want to be clear that this book was good. The story, albeit the first in a series, has a lot of promise, and it's well-written. For whatever reason, though, I thought Defy was a stand-alone, which is my fault not the book's, but I have to admit that this fact did hinder my enjoyment somewhat. Like I said, though, that's my fault, so I'm not deducting points or whatever for it.
I'm a sucker for a story about a tough girl masquerading as a boy, and I always like to discover the why behind the deception. Alexa/Alex was no different, but her story may have garnered more sympathy than most. And it made me like her brother immediately, even if he didn't get all that much page time. In fact, I rather found all of the characters in this fantasy story pretty likable, despite all of their secrets and duplicity.
The love interests both proved likable, too, but honestly, I never felt that the love triangle hinted at in the synopsis was really a true triangle. Alex started off with "feelings" for one boy, who didn't know she was a boy and then developed feelings for another who may or may not know she's not a boy. I usually pull for the boy who's been friends with the protagonist forever over the newcomer, but in this case, I just never felt the draw to the first guy on the scene. And I usually don't like the guy who's keeping secrets from the girl, but in this case, both had their secrets and their reasons, so I was able to reason away the deceptions on both sides. I don't know if that's a good thing or not, though.
I enjoyed the addition of magic and sorcerers to the story, but even so, the story still felt fantasy-lite to me. It held my attention well enough, but I never felt immersed in this world. It's proving very difficult for me to pinpoint exactly why I couldn't connect with this story because I liked the plot, the pacing, the characters...I just needed more of something, I guess.
If it weren't for having read some seriously epic YA fantasies like the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas or the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo or the Fire and Thorns books by Rae Carson, I might have been inclined to rate this higher. As it stands, I think it's more of a 3 1/2 star read, but I don't have a graphic for that and I'm too lazy to make one, so I'm rounding down. Nothing against the book, but it doesn't really warrant rounding up. I really hope the sequel proves me wrong, though.
GIF it to me straight:
Meh in a good way...those seeking a jaunty little adventure will find lots to enjoy.
Thanks to Scholastic & Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
Oh, wow. I didn't think it was possible to love Laini Taylor or this series any more than I already did, but this short story was absolutely adorable....moreOh, wow. I didn't think it was possible to love Laini Taylor or this series any more than I already did, but this short story was absolutely adorable. It was beyond cute and sweet and completely romantic. If you've never been swept up in a love affair like this, then this is exactly what you're hoping for one day. Or, at least, you should be.
Zuzana and Mik are some of my favorite secondary characters, and this novella just served to emphasize why they're so beloved. It's been awhile since I first read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, but honestly, I can't remember a time when it wasn't Zuzana & Mik. It feels like they've always been together, that they've always been part of an ampersand. Which makes their little adventure in Prague even more delightful.
"I mean, who would I be if I'd been raised on milquetoast bedtime stories and not forced to dust the glass prison of a psychotic undead fox Cossack? I shudder to think."
I adored reading from Zuzana's point-of-view. As I said, she's a favorite side character of mine, but actually getting in the Rabid Fairy's head was something else. It was almost as if we were kindred spirits, the way her mind works. And oh, all the trouble she went to in order to actually "meet" Mik! I love her even more now.
"I've seen Zuzana out of her outermost layers at least, at the theater, but I've only known her in winter, so: sweaters, scarves, jeans, boots. Nary a glimpse of ankle or clavicle, those miracles of girl geometry. It's very Victorian, but in the depths of a girlfriendless winter, a glimpse of ankle would probably excite me."
And I felt like I really got to know Mik with this story. He's sweet and perfect for Zuze, but he's also a guy, and he isn't pretending like he doesn't have those "guy nature" type impulses. A fact for which I am very grateful because even worse than a bad boy who only thinks about one thing is a too saccharine-sweet guy who acts like he never thinks about it. Mik is the perfect amount of guy for me...er, Zuzana.
And, oh, the writing! The writing is as brilliant as I've come to expect from Taylor, but maybe it's just been so long since the last book that I've forgotten just how brilliant it is. I mean, she's got these two kids on a collision course of love, and they're feeling the same things and doing the same things, but both sound completely different as they describe the experience, and there's no lack in originality in how they do so:
Mik: "A little war commences in my brain, "rational self" versus "hopeful self," cage match. I'm not religious; I don't believe in things -- not out of any determination not to. It's more like a default setting: My brain is an inhospitable environment for belief, but I've always said -- and really meant -- that life would be more interesting if those unseen things were real (and dragons, too, please), and of course death would be less of a bummer if there were a heave (hell not so much). I've just never been able to believe any of it. Right now, though, to some small detectable degree, it feels like the pH balance in my mind is shifting. Like my skepticism is being neutralized. Hopeful self is sitting on rational shelf's chest."
Zuzana: "I know it's all brain chemicals -- everything is brain chemicals -- but my excitement and dread feel like tiny wrestlers in my heart right now. I picture Excitement choking out Dread and gently, almost lovingly, lowering his intert body to the ground."
I mean, they're not even describing the same thing here, but they both use the same basic metaphor, and it is delightful. Wait, I think I've used that adjective already, but it's true. Also, they use poetry and Latin and a treasure map, and it's all just so damn romantic. They even made me google lines of a poem: 'anyone who's woken up to find the wet footprints of a peacock across their kitchen floor.' I mean, what?
And what it all boils down to is this: these two are just so unbelievably in love, and they have been from the very beginning. There's just no stopping this kind of love, and I hope the elation I feel after reading this short story bodes well for the final book in the trilogy. Pleasepleaseplease let Karou and Akiva get an ending reminiscent of Zuzana and Mik's beginning!
Are you wary of most new adult novels and the usual emphasis they place on "damaged" characters or virginal characters who are simply trying to get th...moreAre you wary of most new adult novels and the usual emphasis they place on "damaged" characters or virginal characters who are simply trying to get that first time out of the way? Yeah...me, too. And so, it's with some trepidation that I admit I would have completely passed over this novel had it not been for my awesome reading buddy Emily. She clued me into the fact that this new adult story was actually written by the awesome Diana Peterfreund, under her psuedonym.
The fact that One & Only was written by one of my favorite authors was definitely a point in the book's favor, but the selling point was when I actually took the time to read the premise of this novel. Falling in love as teenagers is one thing -- often a fleeting one -- but finding each other years later means there really was a connection, often one that's hard to deny.
And, boy, does Tess do a lot of that. She denies knowing who her father is. She denies herself dreams of attending Canton College. She denies her initial attraction to Dylan and later her very real feelings for him. Tess is used to not getting what she wants, but when an opportunity arises that she just cannot say no to, she gives in, feeling reckless and daring, knowing what her father will say when he finds out. I have to be honest, I was fearful of his reaction, too, but this was something that Tess had to do, no matter the consequences. To always live in hiding, in the shadows, and putting aside what matters to you is no kind of existence, and I was glad to see Tess finally take a stand, even if it could have cost her everything.
Dylan was the epitome of the "good guy". In the beginning, he was just a cute, nerdy boy who fell for a girl who couldn't give him what he was looking for. When we meet him again, he's still that guy, but he's slightly more worldly and a lot more wary of Tess. For like, ten minutes. It's obvious that there are some seriously unresolved feelings between these two, and becoming lab partners once again while at Canton proves to be difficult. But what I loved about these two was that they had frank discussions about everything. Granted, there are just some things that Tess can't break the silence about, but for the most part, Tess and Dylan participate in open and honest conversations about their feelings and their future and everything in between. I despise the use of miscommunication to further drama and cause conflict in a storyline, so it was invigorating to see this story head in the opposite direction.
You know to expect a love triangle in this story based on that summary, but it's not as bad as all that. Actually, I thought the way that the characters handled their mutual feelings and avoided hurting the third party at all costs was rather admirable. In fact, and despite the circumstances, I found that the characters were rather likable all the way around, which I honestly was not expecting coming into this story. Tess and Dylan are brilliant and kind of amazing; Hannah -- Tess' half-sister -- isn't nearly the snobby, stereotypical sorority-type girl I was expecting; and Tess' mother is just a woman who fell for the wrong man. The only person in this story without a redeeming quality is actually the man who caused this whole mess in the first place.
It was so refreshing to see such an original plot in a new adult novel. But that shouldn't be all that surprising, considering Peterfreund is the queen of originality...and that she was writing "new adult" before it was even coined with that somewhat obnoxious term. This story portrays a realistic college experience, with all of the ups and downs that come along with it, and I was equally as enamored with the romance as I was with the family aspect, which I was worried would be a little heavy-handed and contrived. But it all meshed well and culminated in a very cute story. I can't wait to pick up Hannah's story in the companion novel!
Thanks to the author for providing a review copy and allowing me to be a part of the tour!