There was so much I loved about this book, but I think the thing that really raised it above the first book is the add4.5 stars -- Another beta read!!
There was so much I loved about this book, but I think the thing that really raised it above the first book is the addition of Aidan's POV. And not just b/c we all love Aidan (b/c come on, we all do). But the nature of the story as it left off in Bound By Duty demanded that 2 separate stories be told, and it would have been a terrible loss to not have that other half of the story. I ended up learning so much more about the prophecy, the AniMage's, the history, just from what Aidan was going through and the people he encountered. When I first started reading this book, I wasn't sure how I was going to like the alternating chapters, b/c they really are completely separate stories. But I really loved how they gradually got closer and closer together until they intersected at the end in such a profound way.
Now don't get me wrong, Amelia's story was epic in its own right. And quite frankly, I wasn't always totally on board with her in BBD. But she just grows leaps and bounds in this book and becomes a heroine that I genuinely like, admire, and am looking forward to seeing how her future is going to play out.
Bethany was still awesome (though she was a bit more fun with Amelia in BBD). Micah, on the other hand, well that I just didn't see coming. Micah AND Baleon. I'd say more, but basically he surprised me in a huge awesome way, and I just did not (which I should have) expect his role to be quite so big. It was so refreshing to get to see what he was about, and learn about his life pre-Amelia.
Now, strangely enough, you know what my favourite part was? Queen Julia. Well, favourite might not be the right word. But basically, Queen Julia turned into this bizarre 3 dimensional evil character. Bizarre? Bizarre because she just wasn't the usual paranormal villain. She...she is....I don't know. She's like an Immortal Hitler. She is so unbelievably power hungry, but she believes with all her soul that she fights for the right. It's just...well....different from what I've come to expect, and I appreciated that.
Then there was Dillon. And more Charlie. Yup, all still epically awesome in the adorable, wise, unexpected characters.
I always love it when a sequel is even better than the first book....that's when you know a series is going to be epic....more
(Yes, I was yet again lucky enough to receive an early copy....feel free to be envious)
It's 3am. For realz. And I'm not sure how I'm going to go to sl(Yes, I was yet again lucky enough to receive an early copy....feel free to be envious)
It's 3am. For realz. And I'm not sure how I'm going to go to sleep. I spent the last 24 hours occasionally all out bawling, sometimes sniffling, maybe a few silent tear tracks, some snorts of laughter....which despite my husband's incredulity, spells an incredible book to me. I might be forgetting some epic books, but at this moment in time I feel like I can safely say that this was one of the most emotionally impactful novels I have ever read.
Now, full disclosure, I would read a phone book if Ms. Higginson wrote it. I have made no secret of my fandom. And this book just proves to me yet again why she is one of my favourite authors in the world. But if you've read her stuff before, be prepared for something very different. But in saying that, I think it is her David. Her Sistine Chapel. Now you're likely going to write me off as a fangirl...which, quite frankly I am...but I still think I have some good things to say.
Which means maybe I should actually write something review like. This book was ALL ABOUT THE FEELS. I'm not sure how it will play out with folks who haven't suffered from grief, but as someone who has...well, this book just gets it all right, and even adds to everything I've felt myself. It takes something that is so hard to convey to other people, and gives you someone to live it with. Liz was a fantastically real character. I FELT EVERYTHING SHE FELT. I believed she existed. I understood her sometimes awful decision making and (ir)rationale. She gave me something I don't think I ever considered -- a bit of perspective on what my own Father's death might have been like for my Mother, even though we were in our teens instead of young children.
On the other half of the story is the blossoming relationship with Ben Tyler. One of my friends said it, and I wholeheartedly agree, I think Ben Tyler is Ms. Higginson's best book boy yet. He was so much more than I was expecting him to be. I'm not even going to spoil it for you. But I sincerely hope you fall in love with him as hard as I did.
And that brings us to the title of this story. I wondered how it was going to work. I wondered how it was all going to play out alongside the grieving. And never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get *this* love story. It was perfect. Not "perfect" in that it didn't have it's flaws and struggles and problems. But perfect for this story. Perfect for Liz and Ben.
On a side note, there are very few stories that portray kid characters in such a way that they *impact* the story, and are actually believable without being annoying and overtaking. This was one of those stories. I did NOT expect to appreciate the relationships Liz (and Ben) had with the kids as much as I did. It would have been half a story without them.
So yeah. Unless you have a heart of stone, I would make sure you have at least a few kleenexes nearby. If you're like me, maybe bring the whole box. But don't let that deter you from this story.... My hubby watches my heart break while reading, and wonders why in the world I would love it. Because it makes me feel. And by reading this story, I feel like I've grown as a person. And that's pretty sweet if you ask me....more
4.5 stars -- now THAT's what I'm talking about! After having fallen in so heavily with the last half of Gathering Water, this book just flowed so natu4.5 stars -- now THAT's what I'm talking about! After having fallen in so heavily with the last half of Gathering Water, this book just flowed so naturally out of that and kept me enthralled. I had kind of expected more epic battles throughout this whole book, but it was almost more about Della continuing on her quest to figure out who she is, how she fits into all these new worlds, and making up her own mind about what to think. And so I wasn't actually disappointed that there were only 2 major battles (disappointed b/c Ms. Claire writes gut-wrenching battle scenes, so I sadistically love them). Instead I found myself thinking a lot more than I expected to.
And that's the other thing that Ms. Claire does so well -- she makes these books feel so real. I actually don't mind insta-love, but I also really enjoy when things unfold more naturally. And that is how ALL of the relationships unfold in this trilogy. Not just the romantic ones, but the familial ones too. Everything is not easy and automatic (minus Cash, but he's hard not to love, even for Della). It's not that Della doesn't feel *something* for the people she's interacting with, but it doesn't go from "I don't know you" to "WE'RE ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY" in 60 seconds. So when she finds out Derek is her Dad (not a spoiler unless you didn't read book 1, which then I'm going to have to stop you and make you go read it now), it's not immediate happiness and rainbows. Like everything else in life, there is potential, but it involves work. I really appreciated that.
I will say I was sad about the developments in the romance department, but in the end I understand why it all went down the way it did. I can't really say more without giving something away. I guess I'm just used to all these insta-love relationships, when in reality most people don't find their true love right off the bat.
I LOVED the burgeoning questions about the Clades and Elfennol that came up in this book. I loved that Della does take the time to explore what she thinks, and doesn't just buy into what she's told. I'm really eager to see how that unfolds, b/c shades of gray are so much more interesting than ALL black & white.
Occasionally it was hard to keep up with all the new things we were learning (along with Della) about the paranormal world. So I really loved that there was a Della cheat sheet at the beginning *AND* end of the book. But I still felt confused sometimes trying to remember what everything does (bending earth vs gathering water, etc... Tempering Fire is the easiest for me. I always remember that one), without having to flip back to the cheat sheet every time.
And while I totally expected humour in the book (I mean, Cash, need I say more), I was not entirely prepared for how *much* I would LAUGH OUT LOUD while reading it. And not just in the Cash parts. Totally unexpected bonus people. So awesome.
Finally, I totally call dibs on Cash. It's in writing, so you can all back off now. But seriously, I LOVE the role he fills in Della's life. He's one of my fave secondary characters of all time. Which is saying something, b/c I do have love for quite a few secondary characters....
It's going to be hard to wait for the next book....so many questions to be answered.......more