Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Summary (from Goodreads):
Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.
This is one of those books whose publication date kept getting pushed further away. I was worried I’d forgotten too much since book 2, which came out over two years ago. I was also a little worried about not getting all the facts I was so desperate to know from earlier in the series.
Let me tell you right now: I remembered everything as soon as I got sucked back into the story. And I got to learn all there was to know about Mara. I forgot how much the author sucks you in. There is no good place to put the book down. I read it under 24 hours. I could not take my eyes off the pages. And it was nice to have another final book in a series, where I was so excited to learn answers and see what the results would be instead of calling everything from page 1. Hodkin shocked me, made me cry, and had me biting my nails in suspense.
There was not a single dull second in this story. Between the torture, teen experiments, crazy supernatural powers, abductions, hitchhiking, clue-solving, snip-bits from the past (aka: Mara’s grandmother’s story), break outs, murder, and revenge, this book was so action-packed, it’s made other action-packed YA novels look boring. The last 100 pages or so went by in a whirlwind for me.
Mara’s not the easiest character to love either. You feel bad for her because well, torture. But, you never know how sane or reliable she is; she does talk to illusions that no one else sees, and sometimes her reflection, which doesn’t always mirror her…And also, she’s gotten to be a little less good. She has no qualms about killing bad guys. While the rest of her friends (also with abilities) might hesitate about what to do, Mara is all about acting on her powers first, and not thinking too much about it later. And she got a little scary.
But, I loved her. I did. I loved having a main character who wasn’t Super Man or Harry Potter or someone so keen on being morally conscious all the time. It stood out for me. And maybe a small part of me was even on her side for her toughest moments. Who wouldn’t want to kill the person responsible for torturing you and your friends for an extended period of time? Main characters aren’t very realistic if they are so good always. And Mara definitely wasn’t so good always.
It was also kind of great to see her coming into her powers. She was finally embracing who she was. She didn’t want a cure. She never once didn’t trust her sanity (though I might have a little), and she stopped at nothing to find what she needed.
I loved this chapters in her grandmother’s point of view. It was so interesting to see the history of this strange gene pool. I’m not 100% sure I understood all the explanation I received about why Mara is the way she is. And there might have been a couple of explanations that made me go, “huh?” However, I love love loved the ending. Right when you think the story is going one way, the author changes it. And then you get comfortable (kind of with the new ending), and BAM, it’s changed to something else completely. I was continuously surprised. I love being surprised in YA!
All in all, this book rocked. It moves at the speed of light. There is so much action. Mara has become a fantastic main character with some extraordinary abilities. All the questions are answered. The surprises and twists kept coming. And while I’m not sure I believed in all the explanations, nothing could take away from my enjoyment of this one. It gets a 10/10 from me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (122)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on The Marvels by Brian Selznick (2015):

Caldecott Award winner and bookmaking trailblazer Brian Selznick once again plays with the form he invented and delivers a moving and mesmerizing adventure about the power of story. Two seemingly unrelated stories -- one in words, the other in pictures -- come together with spellbinding synergy! The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle's puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries. How the picture and word stories intersect will leave readers marveling over Selznick's storytelling prowess. Filled with mystery, vibrant characters, surprise twists, and heartrending beauty, and featuring Selznick's most arresting art to date, The Marvels is a moving tribute to the power of story.
Why I’m Waiting:
2 reasons: 1) It’s another Brian Selznick book. 2) The cover.  Is that not the most gorgeous cover you have seen in a long time? I adored The Invention of Hugo Cabret. And then I fell in love (love not even being a strong enough word choice) with Wonderstruck. And yes, there might be a couple more works by this author that I have not read yet, but still. There’s something about how he mixes the mediums of words and art, and manages to tell separate stories in just the artwork that is so unique. It’s kind of like those picture books I love that have no words –which are great for early literacy; these middle grade books are kind of like a whole new kind of literacy for the more mature brain. They are art and they are beautiful. And I cannot wait to read this one.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Eternal by C.C. Hunter

Summary (from Goodreads):
All her life, Della's secret powers have made her feel separated from her human family. Now, she's where she belongs, at Shadow Falls. With the help of her best friends Kylie and Miranda, she’ll try to prove herself in the paranormal world as an investigator—all the while trying to figure out her own heart. Should she chose Chase, a powerful vampire with whom she shares a special bond? Or Steve, the hot shapeshifter whose kisses make her weak in the knees? When a person with dark connection to her past shows up, it’ll help her decide which guy to choose–and make her question everything she knows about herself.

From bestselling author C.C. Hunter comes Eternal—a must-read for fans of the Shadow Falls series—and the sequel to Reborn.
I love these books. This one in particular was the supernatural/romance/comedy medicine I needed to get me back into my reading craze. I finished this book in a couple of days, and literally within seconds of putting it down, picked up another book, which is also already finished. I’m in a book obsession craze again. Thank you, C.C. Hunter. I’m already half way through another book.
There were so many things I loved about this book. For starters, Della is pretty awesome. She’s even more awesome as she learns to use her super reborn vampire powers. She may have some issues letting other people in, and or showing her emotions sometimes; however, she’s the strongest and probably most feminist character in this series, and for that I give her major points. I love that she stands up to the camp director when he gets overprotective. I love that she never gets side-lined for being a girl. And I super love that she’s not afraid to hit a guy where it hurts, when it comes to protecting herself and those she loves.
Her friend, Kylie, may be known as the protector, but Della certainly will stop at nothing to protect her friends. I also found her family back-story to be very interesting. You get to learn a lot more about her dad, cousin, aunt, sister, and mother in this one. There’s still just enough info left out, to make you want to pull out your hair in curiosity, but hey, there’s one more book coming. I’m sure the answers will come then.
The other thing I loved in this one was Della’s handling of the boy situation. At the beginning of the book (it’s not’s really a spoiler if it happens right away), Steve sort of plays the whole, “this needs to be over between us so you can do what you need to do and figure things out,” card. Instead of pining dramatically or being depressed for a year (like some YA heroines are want to do), Della is just angry at Steve for being an idiot. And while she misses the guy, her life goes on. While I’m not the largest fan of the other boy in her life, as I gather most aren’t, I really felt like this was a much better/healthier teen reaction to heart ache, than what I have seen in books past.
There’s also more creepy ghost stuff in this one. Add that to an FRU case about missing vampire teens, a possible family murder, an interesting scene with the Vampire Council, tons of action and violence, and well this book was C.C. Hunter at her best.
And best of all, these books, at their core, are about friendship. They’re about 3 very different, supernatural girls who have each other’s backs. I love their Diet Coke dynamic. Though, speaking as a former Diet Coke addict, these books gave me serious cravings. So, even though Della is the least emotional of the group, she still has a group that accepts her for who she is.
I’m just sad there’s only one book left to the series. Will that be all for Shadow Falls? Will Miranda get books too? I give this one a 9/10. And if you like YA paranormal romance at all, I highly recommend these books.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (121)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill (2015).

Description on Goodreads:
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. . . .

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.
Why I’m Waiting:
I’ve been a fan of this author since Meant to Be. She writes the kind of fun, adorable YA contemporaries that I find myself sometimes craving like chocolate. I know the main character will learn a thing or two by the end of the book. Her books all have a great coming of age vibe going for them. I know the romance will be great. And I know I won’t be able to put it down. I also love the cover. And I’m sensing that the ship might break down…I love a good survival story too.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Summary from Goodreads:
A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson.
I’d like to just take a moment to thank Alaya Dawn Johnson for actually creating a future world/fantasy world/dystopia world/cyberpunk world where women are not oppressed or anywhere near the bottom of the food chain. Finally, there is a future where women are in charge! And yes, this future world is also heavily flawed. There can be so much commentary on the connections between the economic divide in Palmares Tres and the economic divide in the US right now. But, I am so happy that there is finally a fantasy world ruled by women. More please.
Also incredible was the setting. I have never read a YA book that takes place in Brazil. And the mixture of this future Brazil’s customs, art, and politics truly made this book unlike anything else I have ever read before. The city literally came to life. (No really, it sometimes talked to the main characters).
The emphasis on both art and technology was beyond cool. June kept creating these urban street art/political statements. And it took me a little while to fully understand what she was risking, but I was completely blown away by her bravery. June is creative, brave, strong, rebellious, and angry. And she was one killer main character.
A lot of this book was confusing and not everything makes sense right away. It took me a while to fully understand the world. But once I did, it was amazing. The book also had a unique take on sexuality. It seemed relatively normal for the characters to be attracted to both men and women. It was one of the most interesting love triangles I’ve read about. June and her best friend (who is a boy –who she lost her virginity to) are both in love with the Summer King. And the Summer King loves them both back…I also don’t think I’ve ever read a YA book where there’s a full scene of the girl main character pleasuring herself. But, this isn’t so much a book about sex or love, so much as it is about art and politics.
This book is definitely not for everyone. It’s a little out there. And it’s not the easiest to read/piece together. It took me a little longer than normal to finish, and it’s not exactly a fast read. It’s a read that needs to take its own time. But reading it makes me feel like a more artistically creative person. It’s a beautiful book. It’s like nothing else I have ever read. And I know it’s the kind of book that will have me thinking for a long time to come. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (120)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on A Court Of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (5/5/15)

Description on Goodreads:
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!
Why I’m Waiting:
Because I’m human…No, really. Why would anyone not be waiting for this one? I love this author’s other series. I know she can seriously write great characters, insanely interesting worlds, hilarious sarcasm, and lots of great action/adventure to boot! Plus, this one is also supposed to be like Beauty and the Beast? Does anything not sound fantastic here? The cover kind of reminds me of the Pretty Little Liars covers for some reason. But, I don’t care. I would want this book if the cover was the worst cover of all time.  May is an awfully long way away though.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Atlantia by Ally Condie

Summary (from Goodreads):
For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.
So, I’m probably not the first reviewer to say this, but I was expecting something a little more Little Mermaid and a little less dystopia. I am a fan of Condie’s early dystopia trilogy and I was kind of looking forward to a more fantasy/fairytale-esque book. And I’m not even totally sure why that was what I expected. The summary doesn’t quite scream Little Mermaid. Maybe it’s the whole wanting to live above, “Wish I could be part your world” connection I was making, but that’s kind of where the comparison ends.
Like with her other books, Condie’s writing style is very poetic. I can totally see why she has people drooling over her writing and why she has also has people not liking it. You either like it or you don’t; I don’t see many in-betweens. I happen to be one of the readers who loves it. The way she writes about this world is mesmerizing. She legit had me seeing the surreal underwater city. From the races to the black market, to the strange/mythological temple, I saw it all. This is definitely a book for those who like their world-building. Condie nailed this.
It was also slightly a twin story. And you know I love those. But more than that, what it really was, was a story of escape. There was the whole, typical dystopia theme of realizing that everything you thought you knew was most likely a lie. And there’s a lot about learning who to trust, what to believe, and doing what you need to do to survive. I found the siren aspect to be different. I liked that the sirens were both powerful and submissive. I liked how strong the ladies of this world are (even the ones who seem to be incarcerated).
There was a little bit of romance, and I liked it. The love interest (for the first time in a long time) was not a jerk! He was super nice and worked with machines, but was also an artist. All the scenes that took place with the romantic interest helping the main character with the races and the extreme sports type scenarios was just so much fun to read about. I liked the role seashells played in the story. And I also liked all the twists and turns the author kept throwing in.
I think the book is a standalone too (so yay!). It wasn’t perfect. It did read a little bit slowly and it did take me a week to read (though, it was also during the week I was finishing up with NaNoWriMo, which I’m finished with now!). But still, it was a bit descriptive heavy for YA. And I can see not everyone being into this. I did enjoy it though.
I also think the main character could have been a little bit more interesting. She was smart and strong and willing to do whatever it took to go above and find her sister again. But, I never really loved her like I do other characters. And I really wanted to love her.
All in all, the writing was beautiful, and the world-building top-notch. It was descriptive heavy and a little slow at times.  But, the twists and turns, and classic dystopian elements mostly made up for this. I do wish I felt more for the main character, but I’m not really 100% sure why I felt such a disconnect; I just did. I give it an 8/10.