The final chapter of The Selection was a wonderful wrap-up to the series! The marathon continued with book three and I could barely put it down untilThe final chapter of The Selection was a wonderful wrap-up to the series! The marathon continued with book three and I could barely put it down until it was over. That's saying a lot considering I was on vacation and I usually put everything else aside while I'm at Disney World. This series had me hooked from start to finish and I am SO glad book four is coming out soon!
The political themes continued to overshadow much of the final book, but tied in nicely to the story. I loved getting to know the new characters and learning what made the different rebel groups tick. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually can't wait to see how this part of the story plays out in the next installment.
America and Maxon continued to keep me intrigued, but I'll admit to getting a little fed up with their repetition this go round. It seemed like they were constantly having communication issues - America doing something dumb, Maxon overreacting and acting like a brat, them thinking it was over forever, and then making up. I'm really glad it finally all worked out (as if there was ever any doubt), but I wish they could've gotten there with a little more originality.
I love the way this book ended and I was sad to see the last page, but I'm super excited that there are at least two more books scheduled! I guess this wasn't a thing from the beginning... Seriously, go out and get this series ASAP if you haven't already! The romance is so good and I don't even care that it's like The Bachelor (I like that show!)....more
I haven't read many books about aliens. I found the Lux series disappointing and have generally steered clear from anything remotely similar. But I waI haven't read many books about aliens. I found the Lux series disappointing and have generally steered clear from anything remotely similar. But I was offered an audiobook copy of this dystopian romance and couldn't turn it down. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with Broken Skies.
Jax Mitchell has had it rough. Her brother, Jace, is the only person she has left and the only one who can help her keep it together. When he's suddenly taken by the E'rikon, she knows she must do whatever she can to get him back. Her means to get there are questionable, but she doesn't really have any other choice but to trust Lir, who should be her enemy.
The characters in Broken Skies were well developed and surprising at times. Lir was a complex and interesting romantic partner for Jax. Even if their romance did seem slightly rushed, it worked within the story and I found myself rooting for them despite the odds against them. The other, more unexpected romance in the book seemed totally natural in comparison. I really wish we had learned more about Jace and his love interest, but maybe that is being saved for the next book.
The world of Broken Skies is one that is profoundly interesting and I really hope I get to hear more about it at some point. I am a sucker for a good post-apocalyptic world and this one did not disappoint. I wish there had been more description of the alien city, but what was there was really exciting, as were the things revealed about the relationship between the aliens and humans.
Alien and human wars are definitely not entirely original, but there were several unique concepts in this book that I enjoyed learning about. For example, the issue of the alien children on earth was one that I look forward to discovering a solution to in later chapters of the Broken Skies series. There were some things that I was a little confused about, though, and maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention. I'm still not quite sure why Jax is able to use her alien powers without assistance while the others are not. I don't understand exactly how the dream communications work either, but maybe that will be further explained later.
While I was left with a lot of questions at the end of Broken Skies, there was enough of a wrap-up to the story that I wasn't left totally hanging. I didn't particularly enjoy the way Jax and Lir left things, but I know it's not the end of them and I definitely look forward to reading the next book in the series to find out what happens next.
Notes on the Audiobook Andrea Emmes was a decent narrator, but certainly not my favorite. The voices provided for some of the characters were a little ridiculous. For example, I seriously had to look to make sure she wasn't Moaning Myrtle when Lir's little sister came on the scene, and the voice used for Jax made him sound like a whiney girl. The accents used for the E'rikon were really weird and I wasn't sure why she chose to make them sound British, especially when they commented on their British relatives having the best slang... I didn't hate her voice acting, but I certainly wouldn't seek out her other work....more
Usually I break up book series by reading something else in between, but every now and then I'll marathon a really good one. I couldn't even help it wUsually I break up book series by reading something else in between, but every now and then I'll marathon a really good one. I couldn't even help it with The Selection series by Kiera Cass.The Selection was so amazing! There was no way I could NOT hurry up and read the second.
The Elite had a little bit of middle book syndrome. It definitely did drag more than The Selection. The majority of the book was focused on the politics of Illea, which was interesting, but definitely could have been summed up a lot quicker than it was.
I really enjoyed continuing to get to know the characters of The Selection. The storyline with Kriss was completely unexpected and heartbreaking! What completely blew my mind, though, was how America and Aspen behaved after! I mean, if you love someone, how can you put them in danger like Aspen continued to do throughout The Elite? FYI: That's not love.
The relationship between Maxon and America did become increasingly irritating, but remained believable. I couldn't imagine being in America's shoes as she watched Maxon date other people while she was falling in love with him. I'm not sure I could handle that process... In any case, the relationship between these two (and Aspen) was awesome to read!
As I did in my review of The Selection, I highly recommend this book to fans of YA romance! I love this series and I can't wait to see how it ends......more
The one thing that keeps replaying in my head is: WHY did I wait SO LONG to start this series?! I honestly picked it up a couple years ago and read thThe one thing that keeps replaying in my head is: WHY did I wait SO LONG to start this series?! I honestly picked it up a couple years ago and read the first chapter and, for some reason that I can't recall, ended up putting it right back down and didn't give it a second thought... until this year. When I started blogging I couldn't ignore this book showing up on so many lists! And so I gave it another try. And now I'm devastated that I missed out for two years.
Silver lining: there are three books and two novellas available to read with no wait.
I just need someone to do one thing for me. Okay? Here it is:
Someone draw me a map of Iléa! Because I've seriously been trying to make it make sense in my head and I just can't figure it out! I went to the Interwebs for help, but came up empty handed (I did find a super cool Pinterest board though). Yes, I'm the kind of person who is going to go totally insane trying to figure this out.
Okay, back on topic. The Selection was amazing from start to finish. I do love the idea of the selection! Of course, I'm not sure how it would work in modern societies, but I suppose all the girls volunteer, so it's fine by me. I felt like the whole process was believable and the added drama with the rebels kept me on the edge of my seat! Oh, and the characters!
You know how sometimes there are heroines who are so good they're irritating? America is not that. To me she was totally real and genuine and I totally get her (obviously Kiera Cass did a good job writing this character). I understand why she made the decisions she did regarding basically everything. I'm not sure I could have been as bold with Maxon about my intentions, but it made me like her even more! I loved the progression of their relationship and America's opinion of Maxon.
The other characters were equally easy to love. Marlee especially was so, so likable! I'm excited to see how her story progresses, but I'm predicting something less than wonderful considering her attitude towards Maxon. Oh, and the man himself! I like Maxon. I really do like him, but I'm not 100% sure I can trust him. The whole selection process is just so strange... I'm not quite sure how to feel about Aspen either. I can see where he's coming from when he first pushes America away. But if there's one thing that pisses me off it's when characters make decisions for each other because they think they know what's best. No. No you don't. Get over yourself.
I'm sure that America's actions later in the book (if you've read it then you know and if you haven't, well, that sucks but I'm not spoiling it for you) were probably totally reprehensible to some, but I got it. I mean, I could really feel what she was feeling and I'm sure there have been a lot of people who have gone through similar things.
One thing this book has going for it is that this is truly a love triangle! Sometimes it's super obvious who will end up with who, but I've really found myself unsure a time or two (even though it's pretty obvious if you look at the titles of subsequent books - not sure that was the best idea).
Okay, okay. I've said enough. The moral of the story is that this is an excellent book, I can't wait to read the rest of the series, and I can't believe I waited so long! If you've been waiting on this series like I was, stop that! Go get yourself a copy and you'll probably be hooked too.
Please excuse my severely lacking tact, but HOLY CRAP.
Okay. Deep breath. Let me attempt to do this book justice.
I wasn't planning on reading The R
Please excuse my severely lacking tact, but HOLY CRAP.
Okay. Deep breath. Let me attempt to do this book justice.
I wasn't planning on reading The Retribution of Mara Dyer right away. In fact, I wasn't planning on "reading" it at all. I listened to The Unbecoming and The Evolution of Mara Dyer on audiobook, and that was my intention here as well. However, I ended up finding an amazing, signed copy at Barnes and Noble and couldn't pass it up. So here we are a few days later and I feel like I just got off one hell of a roller coaster.
I'm going to be honest here for a minute. I usually read for an hour or two before bed, but not during the day. I am much more likely to be binging a show on Netflix, but I couldn't do it with this book (and my husband is happy to have had the TV all to himself for a couple days). It grabbed me from page one and I had a really hard time putting it down to attend to life's obligations.
This book begins with Mara waking up back in Horizons (sort-of) and not remembering a heck of a lot. What she does remember is that Noah is dead. At least, that's what she's been told, but she can't bring herself to believe it. From there, The Retribution takes off and it's one big whirlwind. The most unlikely person helps her to escape - along with Jamie and Stella - and they proceed to wreak havoc from Florida to New York in search of answers. And Noah.
Throughout the book, Mara struggles to deal with and accept her abilities. As the story progresses, she comes to embrace it more and more, accepting it as necessary to get what she wants and to help her friends.
Unfortunately, while helpful at times, her "gift" terrifies Jamie and Stella (understandably) and threatens to push them away completely. Both of these characters are more fully explored in light of the new information they come across. Stella's full story is explained and I enjoyed learning more about her, though I did not particularly care for her character, especially following her actions later in the book. Jamie continued to be one of my favorite characters, but I found his actions at the end a little reprehensible. Maybe it's just me.
The lack of Noah's presence in the first half of the book, while completely necessary, saddened me. I really kept turning pages because I was dying to see what would happen when he showed finally up. Because, let's be honest, no one thought he was actually dead.
Again, I didn't care for the flashbacks. I understand why they were included and did like how they tied into the present day, but I didn't feel invested in the story of Mara's grandmother. I almost wanted to skip these chapters (but I didn't). This is really the only negative thing I can say about this book.
The big reveal of the big bad at the end completely blew me away!
There was no way I could have seen it coming. At all. And if you did, I applaud you. Michelle Hodkin is the queen of twists, in my opinion. I was actually a little dizzy by by the end. Mara handled the reveal much better than I would have, but she also seems to have an emotional on/off switch that I'm lacking. I'd like to know where I can get one of those.
And then there's our power couple. I've noticed that some people thought the decisions of Noah and Mara were selfish and hated them for it, but it was exactly the ending I was hoping for.
I was truly scared to turn the page because I was worried the author would change it right at the very last minute (à la Allegiant).
There's not much negative that can be said about this book. I could keep going on and on about the things I loved, but I won't because I think you get the idea. Like the first two in the series, The Retribution of Mara Dyer is amazing in every way. This series has officially earned a spot on the top of my list of favorites. Go read it. Now.
Well, I did this thing where I waited around to write this review and now I'm not sure what to say. I wasn't sure what to say once I finished the bookWell, I did this thing where I waited around to write this review and now I'm not sure what to say. I wasn't sure what to say once I finished the book either, which is probably why it's taken me so long to do it.
The Scorch Trials was just a really weird book for me. Thomas and co. wake up to find Teresa missing from the place they've been taken. After a weird guy shows up behind an invisible barrier, they learn that their trials are far from over and they'll have to spend the next two weeks trying to find a safe haven in the middle of a wasteland. Each of the characters is assigned a role - Minho is "The Leader," Newt is "The Glue," and Teresa is "The Betrayer." Unfortunately, Thomas is "To be killed by group B." There is also a new boy added to the Gladers - Aris from Group B, which is explained in much greater detail in The Scorch Trials.
The pacing for the second Maze Runner book is about on par with the first - that is to say, it can be very slow at times. Maybe if I had read it instead of listening to it, it would have kept me turning pages to see what happened. Then again, maybe I would've given up halfway through. While the storyline is very interesting, I feel that it could have been written in a way that would have kept me more invested. I found myself not caring a heck of a lot when a character died or was injured... And the Cranks weren't nearly as terrifying as they should have been.
On their way to the safe haven, the boys have to fight the elements, the Cranks, and more weird creatures created by Wicked. They meet two new characters, Brenda and Jorge, who help them through the Scorch. Wicked is unpredictable, helping when it fits their master plan and abandoning everyone in every other situation The Gladers eventually do find Teresa, who lives up to her new title, but might not be as bad as she seems.
The ending of The Scorch Trials is just as weird as the rest of the book, introducing new monsters and hidden agendas. It remains to be seen if the Gladers really are through with their trials, but I'm not sure if I can muster enough interest to read The Death Cure. I'm surprised to say that I'm really enjoying the Maze Runner movie series (well, the one that's out) more than the books so far....more
When I first read the synopsis for The Appeal of Evil I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy it. It's notYou can find more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!
When I first read the synopsis for The Appeal of Evil I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy it. It's not often you come across a paranormal romance about demons instead of vampires or werewolves! Unfortunately, it was not all I had hoped it would be (not even close).
The Appeal of Evil begins with Katie and Wes arguing and the reader is immediately made privy to their relationship woes. Honestly, there is no relationship. Katie has a crush on Wes and Wes is an unreliable jerk. The end. But not for Katie. She's been pining over him for years even though he's literally never kept a promise and she doesn't really know anything about him (though that hasn't stopped her from sharing every detail of her life with him for whatever reason). But suddenly a new guy named Josh shows up and - INSTALOVE - she can't decide who she cares more about. Even when she finds out he's a demon who wants to kill Wes (who, by the way, is a demon slayer), she can't decide who to side with. Did I mention this is like, one day after she meets Josh?
I cannot wrap my head around the relationships in this book. There is literally no reason whatsoever for Katie to have any loyalty whatsoever to Josh. To be honest, there's no reason she should feel any loyalty towards Wes either since he's a total ass. But she does. And I can't handle it.
This book, despite what I read in other reviews, is not written in such a way that I would want to continue reading it. Apart from the annoyingly unbelievable relationships, Katie is irritating. There are literally full pages of her wondering about various scenarios. For example:
Katie's breath caught in her throat. What was she going to do? In either scenario, someone was going to get hurt. Did she want to alleviate her pain by helping Josh fight against Wes? Josh was right: she did want Wes out of her life, but not permanently. And she didn't want to watch him die. Sure, he'd been a jerk and broken her heart for eleven years, but that didn't mean he deserved to be killed. And why would Josh want her to travel around with him? He was a demon; what could he possibly like about her? What could she possibly see in a demon? Did she have any other choices? If she protected Wes, she'd probably be right back to where they started. If he didn't get close to anyone for fear of them getting hurt, he would totally abandon her after they got out of this alive. Or would he? What if he continued to play the same game, claiming he just wanted to make sure she was safe? Wes popping in and out of her life would drive her insane. It already did. If she helped Josh, she was helping evil, but he'd stayed true to his word and never let her down. Could she count the last day as him keeping his word? She thought so. Wes had never kept his word hours after giving it. What was she going to do?
Please tell me that's not the most infuriating paragraph you've ever read in your life. That's just one of several I ran across in the 22% of the book that I made it through.
Alas, I cannot say much about the world building. All I can say is the main character is one of the most annoying I've ever come across and the plot is ridiculous (so far). It seems that other people enjoyed it and maybe you would too, but I couldn't make it....more
When I first selected All I Want For Christmas on Netgalley, I wasn't really sure how the author was going to fitRead more of my reviews at Cornerfolds!
When I first selected All I Want For Christmas on Netgalley, I wasn't really sure how the author was going to fit a story spanning seven years into so few pages but Jennifer Gracen delivers. She made such great use of backstories and flashbacks that the story really seemed to come together without being overwhelming.
The romance between Cassie and Sean is believable and sweet. I loved watching the two of them come back together. I could totally identify with all of the conflicting emotions Cassie experienced as she tried to decide whether to allow Sean back into her life - I think a lot of us have been there before. I thought, at first, that Cassie was just going to let what he did slide, but she most definitely stood up for herself. I get so tired of male characters thinking they have the right to make major life decisions for their female counterparts, but Cassie wasn't having any of it once she realized what was really going on!
I also loved that the author wrote in such a way that I felt like I was actually in New York, despite my never having been there.
My only real issue with the book was the way Sean's dialogue was written. It's as if the author wanted us not to forget that he was Irish and so she picked a few words here and there to write differently. However, this was pretty inconsistent. For example, in back to back sentences, she'll go back and forth between "you" and "ya" and I'm not quite sure why she didn't just pick one and run with it. And one word I just could not get over was "Jaysus" as opposed to "Jesus." I get that he's Irish, but I just couldn't make that work in my head and found myself giggling a little every time I came across it.
All I Want For Christmas is a fun Christmas read that's quick and heartwarming. I definitely recommend picking it up this holiday season (or next)!...more
The entire time I was reading The Maze Runner one thought kept cycling through my mind: how is the movie even called "TheSee more reviews at Cornerfolds.com!
The entire time I was reading The Maze Runner one thought kept cycling through my mind: how is the movie even called "The Maze Runner"? Because, you see, I saw the movie first. I kept meaning to pick up the book, but something always got in the way. When the movie came out, I wanted to read the book first, but, you know, life happened. I went into the film and absolutely loved every second of it! So I of course made time for the book as soon as possible. My conclusion is that I probably would have hated the movie had I read the book first. Probably.
The Maze Runner, while slow at times, was actually pretty amazing. It begins with Thomas, the main character, in a pitch black box with no idea of where he is (or where he came from) and immediately I just had to know what happened next! I had kind of a hard time accepting the differences from the movie, but once I got over it I was hooked.
The most difficult thing to get over was the changes in the characters. The most obvious difference (and this is probably because I listened to the audiobook) was Alby. Hearing his southern accent was totally off-putting, as was his jerk attitude. I did enjoy getting to know Minho and Newt immensely, however. I also really appreciated the relationship between Thomas and Teresa a lot - especially their special ability that obviously wasn't mentioned in the film.
The world of The Maze Runner seemed a lot more interesting than the one I saw on the big screen. I loved the way the Glade and the Maze were described. It makes me wonder why they changed SO MUCH in the film when the book had already done such a great job! The Glade in the book was so jarringly different from the real world that it made me a little uncomfortable just reading about it. The Maze itself was also much more creepy - especially the way out. WHY would they change that?! Overall, things in the book just made a heck of a lot more sense. The movie left me with a million questions (which is probably why I was so quick to get the book).
At the end of the day, I really enjoyed both, but for different reasons. The movie was an amazing action film and the suspense was tangible. In the book I felt like I got to know the characters a lot better and learned a lot more. The way the puzzle of the Maze was handled in the book made me feel a lot more involved too. I would definitely recommend The Maze Runner, book and film, to everyone!
Notes on the Audiobook I don't listen to a lot of books narrated by men, so it always takes a little while to get used to for some reason. Mark Deakins was actually pretty great! He had distinct voices for each character, which is always a bonus, and none of them sounded super cheesy or weird (except Alby, for reasons I've already stated). I'd definitely listen to more books narrated by Mark Deakins....more
The author of Gabriel's Sacrifice first contacted me whenever he released his first novel, Gabriel's Watch. I enjoRead more of my reviews at Cornerfolds!
The author of Gabriel's Sacrifice first contacted me whenever he released his first novel, Gabriel's Watch. I enjoyed that one and now he's back with Gabriel's Watch, a prequel to the first installment. It's kind of strange to see a second book in a trilogy as a prequel, but it was an interesting read, nonetheless. I don't read a lot in the sci-fi genre, so I can't really speak with too much confidence here, but I believe the concept is original and well executed.
Gabriel's Sacrifice begins when Mohammad meets Radia, the lone survivor of an alien race sent to earth. Radia is being hunted by Maddox, one of the humans who has holed up in a store to defend their own personal stockpile. Maddox has a posse of badasses, which really seems like the three stooges at times, who are responsible for his security. Unfortunately, after a bad move on their part, Mohammad comes at them with a vengeance and this is where the action begins.
The character development in this book was well done. Following Mohammad's journey from the guy who was holed up in his own fortress and hoping to stay out of view to a total badass out for blood was pretty awesome. It was unfortunate to see Radia go so soon - I would've liked to have seen more from her. I do understand why she had to leave for the sake of the story, though. Maddox was evil from start to finish, as were his cronies. It would've been nice to see more growth on the villain side of things. My number one problem with the characters was that I often got confused about who was talking at any given time. Some characters are given multiple titles - for example, Mohammad is called "the Fijian" and Maddox is called "the hunter." Honestly, I was halfway through the book before I realized that Maddox and "the hunter" were the same person!
One side note on characters: One character in particular was really weird for me to read. The son of "the hunter" is named Coda, which is my husband's name (Noah asked my husband for permission to use it). As you can imagine, this is a very rare name - Coda, not short for anything - and I've never met anyone else with it or read the name anywhere unless it was referring to music. I was so thrown off! I kept comparing the character to my husband and thinking, "no..." Of course, this has no bearing on the way anyone else will experience the book, I just thought it was funny.
Back to the point: The world of Gabriel's Sacrifice was interesting enough, though I do wish that the author had gone into more detail about the state of the world and how it came to be this way. I know this is touched on in both books, but I still wanted more. That being said, I felt like I could see the layout of the town and its buildings in my mind, which says something for quality of writing. In true Fregger fashion, little mythological tidbits were thrown in, which is always fun!
Connections to Gabriel's Watch were few, but it was just enough to make sense within the world the author has created. While it does fit with the first book, Gabriel's Sacrifice could definitely be read as a stand-alone novel or even before the first book in the series. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of adult sci-fi and post-apocalyptic fiction....more
After finishing Eve, I was dying to jump right into Once to see where the story went next! This one started right wSee more of my reviews at Cornerfolds!
After finishing Eve, I was dying to jump right into Once to see where the story went next! This one started right where Eve left off. The book follows Eve's life in the City of Sand with her father, the king. We learn the things that are expected of her and also get to see what is going on with Caleb.
The romance between the main characters continues to progress throughout the book, but I can't help but feel like there's no real progression of the characters themselves. Many of the problems they encounter happen because of their own easily avoidable mistakes. The king is the obvious bad guy and the only sympathetic character is Charles.
Much of the book is spent watching Eve and Caleb plot to escape the city, so the tension was definitely there. I just felt like it needed... more. Maybe it could've used more reality too.
While I didn't end up loving it as much as the first book in the series, it was still a worthwhile read and I still plan to pick up the third one soon....more
Okay, so after reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer I was already totally shocked. After finishing The Evolution of Mara Dyer I was like:
What did I just read???
Okay, so after reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer I was already totally shocked. After finishing The Evolution of Mara Dyer I was like:
What did I just read???
Apparently the ending of the last book wasn't that surprising to some, but I was completely thrown off. Now Mara knows she's not crazy, which almost makes the entire thing even worse! This issue from her past just won't stop. And, let me tell you, the bad guy here... he's completely insane.
This book picks up where the last left off and things get progressively stranger and more infuriating. Mostly because while we know Mara isn't a crazy person, no one else believes her. Her parents, her doctors, her brothers - they all think that she's a possible schizophrenic. And Jude certainly doesn't make it easy on her. He's constantly moving things, planting things, using people to get to her. I can't believe I'm going to say this about a YA heroine, but Mara is certainly a stronger person than I am. She has to go through this [almost] completely alone! And the whole time I just want to have a... moment... with Mara's idiot family!
Mara's relationship with Noah is honestly quite believable, which is kind of a breath of fresh air in this genre. Still, his attitude is sometimes a little questionable. I mean, I get it. The guy has issues. But sometimes I wonder if he actually couldn't use a little time in a psych ward. Overall, I like him. I don't think he's completely psycho and I don't think he's an abusive boyfriend waiting to happen. My real problem with Noah is the way he flaunts his money all the time. I mean, this guy is constantly throwing around thousands of dollars like it's toilet paper. He's constantly telling Mara (and everyone else) that "it's just money" and "money can buy anything," and I just can't help but feel that this is getting really old.
The one thing that I'm really pretty confused about is the flashbacks - the "before" chapters. I understand that it's supposed to be Mara's grandmother. I get that she's supposed to be sharing memories genetically or something. But...
I really just don't get it. This is one area I'm really hoping they'll clear up in the next book because it really just seemed kind of thrown in. Then again, maybe I'm just really dense and it made perfect sense to everyone else.
I feel like other people "get" things easier than I do and maybe that's a good thing. Because the last few chapters were, like they were in the last book, a complete shock. The big conspiracy is finally uncovered and I'm just over here like
Those of you who have read it know what I'm saying. Those of you who haven't... WHY?! Go pick up this series right now! Luckily I only have a couple months to wait for The Retribution of Mara Dyer.
Notes on the Audiobook
I've figured out what the problem is with Christy Romano. She's a great reader, but she is a TERRIBLE actress. Her voice has the same tone no matter what she's saying or what the situation is. The accent she uses for Noah is awful. Luckily for this book, I cannot rate it based on the audiobook narrator. ...more
So I am a HUGE Spartacus fan. I'm rewatching it now for the third time and, let me tell you, I'm still prettThis review is also available on Cornerfolds!
So I am a HUGE Spartacus fan. I'm rewatching it now for the third time and, let me tell you, I'm still pretty devastated that it's over. When I found out there were a couple novels that went along with the series, I was thrilled! The first one, Swords and Ashes, is set between episodes 1x07 and 1x08, and really went out of its way to explain a few things.
The book begins with Batiatus, Lucretia, Ilithyia, Spartacus, Varro, and Barca heading to the home of Pelorus, a lanista friend of Batiatus who has died by a slave's hand, for his funeral and games. According to custom, all of the slaves in the household must die and are set to be put to death in the arena. While there is a ton of action and killing (obviously), there is actually a lot of unexpected depth to this story. There is a scheme which is slowly uncovered by Batiatus with the help of Spartacus. There are obviously some uncomfortable situations in the book - look at the source material! - but they weren't there just for the shock value and actually added to the story.
Language of the world of Spartacus abounds in this book and is easily my favorite part of the entire series! Best line in the book:
"And what of it to you, if his funeral passes without remark?"
"'I care not a shit for his departure from this world,' Batiatus said..."
Bahaha! I died! Seriously, Spartacus is not for the faint of heart!
The characters, while already having obvious personalities on the TV show, were even more developed and we really get an unusual look inside the relationship between gladiator and lanista. Watching the friendly banter between Spartacus and Varro was both wonderful and gut-wrenching. I didn't want that part of the book to end! It was also really interesting to go back in time to Spartacus' pre-slave life and get a glimpse into the battle between him and the Getae. It comes full circle as his relationship with the Medea, the Getae "witch" who killed Pelorus, progresses. She really provides a lot of insight and foreshadowing to the events that occur in later seasons of Spartacus.
It was really fascinating to read this in conjunction with the course I'm taking on Augustus this semester. There were familiar characters such as Cicero and it was a lot of fun to kind of put a personality with the name. I will admit, though, that it took a long time to finish this one because I was getting a little burned out by all the Roman material.
Those who are unfamiliar may be pretty lost with this one, but I would definitely recommend Spartacus: Swords and Ashes to anyone who is already a fan!...more
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer has been on my to-read list since it was released. I've looked at it and thought about it and almost started it and put
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer has been on my to-read list since it was released. I've looked at it and thought about it and almost started it and put it back several times. But about a week ago I decided to take a break from The Wheel of Time series after finishing Fires of Heaven (those books take a lot of work) and went to find a new audiobook to listen to. This is what I landed on. Now I'm pissed I didn't read it sooner.
When Mara wakes up in the hospital to find her best friend and boyfriend have died, she's devastated. To ease her back into society, her family agrees to move to Florida, where she starts fresh at a new school. Her new BFF, Jamie, warns her against Noah almost immediately, which I guess makes sense amidst high school gossip (admittedly, it's been awhile since I've been there). Somewhat predictably, Noah pursues her, she tries to resist and can't, etc.
There are quite a few obvious cliches within Mara's new private school - the bisexual best friend, the slutty mean girl, and the irritatingly muscular asshole. But I guess that's to be expected. I found the dynamics within the school to be a little unbelievable at times, but hey, it's fiction. Something that seemed a little ridiculous was the way Mara made such a huge deal about how rich the other students were. Um... so her mom is a psychologist and her dad is a lawyer. Yeah, she must be poor.
I've seen a lot of people complain that this book is a romance masquerading as paranormal and I'd tend to disagree. I thought the paranormal aspects of the book were well explored and the romance was convincing enough. It didn't feel forced at all, in my opinion, and it made sense within the circumstances presented.
I've also seen reviews that complain about Noah being a jerk, but I didn't get "jerk" from him. I've read a lot of books with borderline-abusive love interests (Fifty Shades, Beautiful Disaster, etc.) and Noah didn't fit the bill. That being said, he did have some curious similarities to Christian Grey: pants "hanging loose" on his hips, his love of classical music, his "bare, unlived in" bedroom, extensive library, musical talents, and ordering Mara's food for her, to name a few. But I guess these are "in" behaviors for love interests at the moment. In any case, they really didn't subtract from his character - for me, at least. The main thing that bugged me about Noah was really about Mara. She calls him "perfect" about 7,003 times in this book. The only time I've called a man perfect was -before- I really knew him. Noah isn't perfect.
Now, Mara... I didn't dislike her, but I didn't love her either. At times she seemed like kind of an idiot. For example, thinking everything Noah did was a trick and almost being purposely dense about his feelings for her. Or when he took her to his house and she was unable to put two and two together. But I did like her and I felt for her as she struggled through discovering herself. I was overjoyed that she wasn't super dramatic like some other heroines, purposely separating themselves from true love to protect their love interest. I hate that. One thing that seemed a little ridiculous - does Mara not have a smart phone? She dials 411 twice...
The paranormal aspects of this book were original and I like original. It seems like anyone can write a vampire or werewolf romance, but this was different. I loved how things slowly unraveled instead of being presented all at once. I wasn't totally sure what was going on until close to the end, but maybe I'm just slow. The ending was totally unexpected and made me think back to several other scenes.
I'll definitely be getting The Evolution of Mara Dyer immediately! Seriously, if you're like me and have been waiting for three years to read this book, hurry it up. You won't regret it!
Notes On the Audiobook
Audiobook narrators are really hit or miss. Christy Romano was by no means a -bad- narrator, but she wasn't perfect either. The accent she used for Noah was... weird. He was supposed to be from London and, while I'm no expert on accents, I watch a lot of TV and it was just off for me. There were also multiple places where she says something in a totally normal voice and follows it with, "he whispered," or, "I shouted." Um, no, you didn't. Despite the issues I had with her narration, the voice of Mara was convincing....more