To say I'm a fan of Amy Bartol is an understatement. Last year around this time, I spent a week devouring all four novels in her Premonition series and felt major withdrawals when I discovered I'd have to wait for the release of the fifth novel, Iniquity. My disappointment furthered when I found out the release date was being pushed further back into 2014. I was so disappointed that news of this new series did nothing to excite me (Partly because I just wanted more Reed, and partly because I was worried I'd go in with high expectations and end up being disappointed). However, once I read an excerpt that included the dazzling creature that goes by the name of Trey, I knew I had to have this book ASAP! Under Different Stars met all of my high hopes, and more!
One aspect that is unique to very few authors on my bookshelf is that feeling you get when reading their books that makes the idea of putting them down give you a physical ache in your core.....Amy Bartol is one of those authors, and she did it again with Under Different Stars! From the very first chapter, I was hooked, and when I reached the end, I wanted to cry because it was over.
Seeing the transition Kricket makes from living all of her life on earth to then one day being thrown into this dystopian world was both interesting and amusing. In this world, although they speak english, they use different words and phrases, have more modern and advanced technology and a completely different way of doing things. Kricket's personality was especially fun to read this experience through. She adapts really well to this drastic transition, is tough, heroic, determined and has a unique ability to tell when people are lying (making her not as naive as many heroines can sometimes be).
I say it all the time, but romance is a huge part of what I love so much about the novels I read. In the world of Under Different Stars, unlike a marriage with a husband and wife, couples are bound together as consorts that require approval from those above them to be together. Kricket has two males in her life (a third male comes into play later, but because he's a creeper, I'm choosing to ignore him). One male by the name of Kyon has already been intended to be Kricket's consort, and the other, Trey, tries to hide the fact he wants to be her consort. Kyon's unattractive idea of having this weird sort of possession over Kricket never really allows for me to warm up to him....I wanted to shoo him away constantly. Trey on the other hand has become what Reed is for me in the Premonition series-- there's perfection in both how he looks and the things and ways he says things....Seriously, it's characters like Trey that make it hard for even fictional boys to meet these kinds of swoony standards. The chemistry between Kricket and Trey is electric and they compliment one another so well. I'm extremely excited to see how their relationship evolves as the series continues, especially because it's only in the second half of the book that they actually start becoming a couple.
Overall, Under Different Stars has left me in ruins over the wait that is in store for me until the sequel. This book consumed not only my time, but my thoughts as well, even days after I was done reading it. If you're new to Amy Bartol, pick this baby up and start the Premonition series when your done. I can honestly Amy's novels have a very unique style that I have yet to find in any other YA reads on the market! (less)
I've been anticipating the release of Mystery Rises since first reading Mystery Falls back in December for a blog tour. The world Marilyn Phillips created completely drew me in and the characters managed to stay with me to the point where when I started Mystery Rises, I didn't find it that difficult to get back into the story-line despite the fact it had been almost a year since reading the first novel. This may seem like a poor point to some, but when I'm able to get into a sequel that easily, it means I've really enjoyed the series so far. The Mystery Falls series has definitely become one of my self-published treasures!
Both Shadow and Samantha's families are enemies, and in an attempt to keep them apart, Samantha's dad orders Shadow to stay away from Samantha for exactly three months with no communication whatsoever. Determined to listen to her father's requests in hopes of eventually freely being able to be with one another, Shadow leaves. Mystery Rises kicks off in the middle of his absence and although Samantha's relationship with her cousin has gotten better, Samantha can't help but constantly ache for Shadow's return. The whole situation with Shadow and Samantha's feuding families gives the series that Romeo and Juliette feel that, although hopefully doesn't end in the same fate, provides the story with added drama. Throw in the supernatural-angel aspect and Mystery Rises quickly became a novel that was hard to put down!
With Shadow's absence comes along a new character, more specifically, a new male character. This character who goes by the name of Logan has close ties with Shadow-- he's his brother. I'm going to be completely honest, the "love triangle" red flags were waving frantically in my head and I had my fingers crossed that the story wasn't heading in that direction. Although at first this did seem to be the case, it never managed to cross that line and I'm so thankful for that (because honestly, no one compares to the perfection that is Shadow)!
The first 20% of Mystery Rises was Shadow-less, and as a Shadow fan, I was craving his entrance. His appearance really got the plot moving and seeing more of his relationship with Samantha made me all mushy inside. I can only describe their relationship as sweet, intense and of course, swoony! I loved seeing their relationship grow and evolve into something even more beautiful than it already was....plus, getting to see Shadow's attractive protectiveness over Samantha was an added bonus! The one thing that made me want to shake some sense into Shadow was his reluctance to believe a certain someone he considered to be a friend as someone who in reality didn't have his best interests at heart (Even though Samantha kept begging him to open his eyes). This created some tension between Shadow and Samantha that, although frustrating, made their loving moments even more enjoyable.
Overall, Mystery Rises kept me hooked right until the very end. The cliffhanger Marilyn Phillips chose to torture us with has me going a little nuts for book three! I really hope these characters I've grown to love get the happily-ever-after ending they deserve--- please let them get the ending they deserve! PLEASE! (less)
Sentinel definitely made my list of most anticipated 2013 releases! I was so excited to get back to these characters I've grown to adore but at the same time, I was hoping the day wouldn't arrive so I wouldn't ever have to say farewell to my Covenant family. Although I don't think I'd consider Sentinel to be my favourite book from the series (Apollyon has my vote there), I wasn't at all disappointed with it; I'm actually quite happy with the way Jennifer ended off this series!
One of the Covenant series most addicting qualities is its comedic theme. All of the characters have a unique personality and wit to them that give them each a rare ability to make me laugh-- making me love them even more! This is especially true with secondary characters like Deacon and Apollo who add something so unique to this series compared to many other YA reads. Somehow, Apollo and Deacon always seem to pop up at the "worst" times (usually, frustratingly so, at the start of some steamy Alex and Aiden scenes. ;) and I'm always unsure as to whether I want to lock them in a room or hug them to death because of their ability to make me giggle whenever they're around! They're those kinds characters you love to pretend to hate because their "annoying" (AKA, HILARIOUS), but don't really hate at all :P ....Confusing description, but oh so true !
Alex and Aiden are honestly one of those super couples that are hard to come by. They're both independently tough and able to kick anybody's ass, but together they are a force to be reckoned with. Almost all of my favourite covenant scenes are from those in which Aiden and Alex lean on and completely open up to one another. When I think back to the two of them from Half Blood and compare them to the people they are now, they're relationship has made them stronger, mature and more vulnerable in the best way possible (I always enjoy looking back and examining how far characters have come since first "meeting" them). Throughout these past 5 novels, they've made me swoon more times than I can count and thankfully, Sentinel continued this beautiful pattern-- there's plenty of new swoony material in Senintel that we'll be able to look back on when we need our Aiden and Alex fix....
Jennifer L. Armentrout almost made me have a heart attack with the way she chose to end Sentinel. I have just recently finished reading Allegiant and I almost felt it was going to be a horrific repeat (and can I just say, Allegiant has scarred me and made me skeptical of any "series concluding" novels)! Thankfully (I do mean, THANKFULLY), I can say that the way the Covenant series ended has left me completely satisfied and hopeful that someday, somehow this won't be the end of Alex and Aiden. Despite my hopes, Alex and Aiden definitely got the ending they deserved.(less)
When I read the synopsis for Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins, to say was intrigued is an understatement. In particular, I was curious to see what boundaries this novel would push seeing as it is intended for those over the age of 16, but is still considered YA. I have to say, I really loved reading a more mature, intense, and steamy novel that wasn't so explicit as New Adult novels. It was a refreshing break and is perfect for those who want the same intensity of an NA couple with less emphasis on, ahem, physical interactions. ;)
I always love "meeting" characters that have qualities about them that I'm unfamiliar with....it makes me want to discover even more about them. Both Julian and Cami have these qualities-- Julian with his amputated leg and Cami with her apprentice French chef cooking talent. The two of them start of having a more hate-filled than loving relationship that eventually evolves into interactions that are fuelled by hot chemistry and a mutual understanding that makes them so good for one another (even despite the fact that Cami already has a boyfriend). I LOVED the fact that Cami didn't take any of Julian's crappy attitude towards her just because of the accident he experienced in Afghanistan. It would be easy for her to give him some slack but instead, she doesn't let him walk all over her and I admired her for that.
One aspect of Julian and Cami's relationship and story that I really admired was the emphasis on doing things because YOU want to do them, not because that's what others expect of you. As a teenager who is quickly approaching that stage in my life where I have to decide what path I'll be taking for the rest of my life, there are some great lessons Cami learns that are great to keep in mind. Although I absolutely love Julian and Cami together, it was nice to see a particular focus payed attention to self discovery as an individual so you can really understand and learn who you are without the influence of anyone else.
Overall, Stir Me Up is a YA Contemporary novel that mixes the sweetness of YA with the steaminess of NA into a novel that bridges that gap with a love story centred in a time of reflection, direction and decisions. I flew through it and enjoyed the drama and focus on discovering who you really are. The ending wraps things up nicely and leaves you feeling happy, heart warming thoughts and predictions as to where Julian and Cami's future will take them(less)
*ARC was provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review*
For a good year now I've been hearing people talk about the Wither series (especially during all the promotion that went on for it's third and final book) and although I have yet to read that series, Perfect Ruin makes me want to start very soon! This book reminds me of all the reasons I love dystopian so much! It has this energy fueled with secrecy and manipulation that made this world Lauren DeStefano creates excruciatingly tempting to unravel.
The first 100 pages or so of Perfect Ruin were a little on the slow side for me, but once I got past that point, there was no stopping me! The story goes like this: in a floating piece of land called Internment, people are told approaching the edge will result in madness and consequences. Seeing as Morgan's now blind older brother Lex was one of the people who went too close to the edge, Morgan tries desperately to disregard her curiosity of what lies below them--- the unreachable ground that has always been a mystery to her and everyone else in Internment. Suddenly, a murder occurs that causes Morgan to start realizing that the perfect facade the government puts on isn't so perfect after all, and the only escape is finding a way to the ground. Little does Morgan know that she isn't the only one with rebellion on her mind, in fact, those closest to her have secrets of their own.
Looking back, what I like most about Perfect Ruin would definitely be the many characters involved in the story. There are multiple characters and relationships (both romantic and not) that add a certain amount of intricacy to the novel. In the middle of all these character is Morgan, the female lead of Perfect Ruin, who I thought had a little bit of recklessness to her while still remaining rational enough to make smart decisions. Her closeness with her family and friends, especially her best friend Pen, all had history to them that made you attach yourself to all of the people in her life. The same is true for all of the other many characters of Perfect Ruin, whether they be primary or secondary ones. The depth in all of them makes you want to discover all of their history and hidden secrets that have molded some of them into tortured souls with dark pasts.
Of course, how can a romantic like me not write a review without mentioning the romantic elements?! The romantic story line between Morgan and her betrothed, Basil, is in no way what fuels the storyline in Perfect Ruin, but it does provide those sweet, tender moments in times of darkness and victory. Dystopian novels are naturally just great settings for love stories to take place because they provide a sense of hope in otherwise hopeless situations (which in Perfect Ruin, is the fact the government is trying kill them). In this particular relationship between Morgan and Basil, they not only give each other that love and hope, but they also support each other and allow for one another to find an emotional release. I loved the two of them together-- and loved it even more to see that although they are betrothed (matched by the government) it's clear they'd be with one another even if they weren't. In addition to Morgan and Basil, there are also some other couples within Perfect Ruin that through small glimpses, allow us to see the full effects this floating, government dominated world has had on other's lives.
Overall, Perfect Ruin has made it's way onto my list of dystopian recommendations! The setting of the world is unique and the intricate characters and secrecy give Perfect Ruin it's own distinguishable flare. The story ends at a place that although I predicted, still provides those bookworm chills that will have you anticipating the unknowns that come along with book two. (less)
With all the hype of zombies going around, I'm actually surprised to say that Alice in Zombieland is my first zombie read (although, Alice in Zombieland is more of a zombie meets spirits/ghosts kind of book). I don't know why these dead, moving corpses are so popular but I'll be the first to say I loved them in this book! I honestly haven't taken much interest in Alice in Zombieland before because for one, I thought it was a reinterpretation of Alice in Wonderland (don't hate me but I can't say I'm a huge Alice in Wonderland fan) and two, based on the cover, I thought it was a younger-geared YA novel. It saddens me to say I didn't even give it a chance by reading the synopsis (I know, shame on me) but all of a sudden this past week I've been hearing all about how amazing both this book, and "this Cole guy," is! All of this combined with a ton of suggestions to read Alice in Zombieland from all of you made me buckle down and finally get to it!
I frequently find myself becoming a tad annoyed by heroines in YA because there is a whiney/irrational pattern that seems to pop up in a lot of novels. However I know that most of the time these characters are teenage girls, and as a fellow teenage female I know that at times we can be a little pathetic so I try to not let that effect my thoughts on the book as whole. That being said, Alice handles everything so well! She's feisty, brave, and is able to handle herself among a group of well trained zombie killers. In addition to that, she's hilarious! In general, Alice in Zombieland as a whole has a lot of comedy that comes from both Alice, Alice and Cole, and secondary characters like Kat and Alice's grandparents (honestly, seeing her grandparents try and speak "teenager" made me laugh out loud while in the library the other day--I tried so hard to hold it in)!
I've been waiting for a guy like Cole to show up and never did I think I'd find him in Alice in Zombieland....but, oh my goodness, am I so glad I did! Cole deserves a spot among the sexiest YA boys because he's got this intensity, strength and absolute swooniness to him that I found hard to resist. I absolutely loved seeing Alice and Cole's comedic, and frequently steamy, interactions because they're two opposites you probably wouldn't initially put together. As much as Cole is protective of Alice, he doesn't hold her back from training and fighting off the zombies responsible for her family's death. They work well together and their chemistry is, as they say, sizzling. I can't wait to see their relationship grow in the sequel!(less)
Although I only just read Angelfall by Susan Ee this past summer, I was still desperately counting down the days until the release of World After. The ending of Angelfall was a tortuous one! However, after now finishing World After, I can't say I consider it to be as good as Angelfall. I went into it with fairly high expectations and found myself disappointed that I didn't feel that same sense of satisfaction from World After as I did with Angelfall.
In some ways, World After had this feeling of being a repeat of the first novel: Penryn, Paige and her mother are now together again. Paige disappears. Penryn and crazy mommy journey to find her. Penryn finds Raffe. Raffe helps Penryn find Paige. ...Sound familiar? Obviously World After has some new discoveries that keep the story moving forward, but I can't ignore the fact that I felt senses of deja vu here and there while reading.
I have a deep love for Penryn's character! I was so glad to see that despite the fact Raffe wasn't in the picture, she didn't just start ignoring her sister and mother's needs. She's a hero in so many ways, one of which being how she puts others above herself. In addition to her selflessness, Penryn's also got an addictive sense of humour and isn't afraid to fight with the big boys....or in World After's case....scorpions and powerful angels.
Sticking to the pattern, World After does not fail in delivering that dosage of absolute creepiness to the story-line through Penryn's sister, Paige, and her mother. As you may remember from the first novel, Paige had been experimented on, and when rescued, was found with stitches all over her body (including her mouth) and had a certain brokenness to her. Even though Paige is completely loyal to her sister and mother, she is unable to face what she imagines is the disgust her family feels towards her when they look at her appearance and come to the discovery of her new appetite. I'm not going to lie, creepy children always tend to freak me out a bit, but Paige still manages to make me love her--flesh eating diet and all. Penryn's mother is also another character that provides that creepy entertainment that has made this series so unique. It's definitely clear Penryn's mother is a little psychotic...however what makes her more scary is her theatrics and disguised intelligence. She's one of those characters where one minute your wondering (AKA having nightmares) over what Penryn's mother could possibly be up to, and the next you feel like she's the most kick-ass, protective mama ever! She's definitely an unpredictable personality that I always seem to enjoy and get a few laughs from.
At the end of Angelfall, we had to go through the agonizing, heartbreaking experience of Raffe thinking Penryn was dead. I don't know about you guys, but those last few pages were hard to read. Although we as the reader knew Penyrn wasn't dead (just paralyzed), Raffe didn't, and having to see him face the fact that Penyrn was"dead" was heartbreaking. One of the things I was most looking forward to seeing was Raffe opening himself up with Penryn once he discovered she was alive but, alas, that was a negative on that hope. I'm going to be completely honest, experiencing more than half of World After without Raffe in the picture sucked....but what sucked even more was the fact that even when Penryn and Raffe were reunited, there was so much hesitation! I think I'm mostly disappointed because I wanted to see some growth in their relationship and it just didn't happen. This was unfortunate to me because their chemistry is just so natural and their fun banter provides that comedic edge I loved so much about Angelfall. Hopefully, we'll see MUCH more of Penryn and Raffe together in the third novel because they make a pretty bad ass couple and fighting duo.
Overall, I enjoyed World After and getting a chance to see these characters I've grown to love again, however I find myself not feeling that same thrill as I did with Angelfall. Now, this may be just a simple case of middle-book-syndrome but I just craved more from certain aspects about it. Nonetheless, I am still a huge fan and am really excited to see what's next for Penryn and the gang (hopefully more creepiness and some good, steamy and intense Penryn & Raffe scenes).(less)