Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (91)

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 Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (10/28/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
The third installment in the mesmerizing series from the irrepressible, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.
Why I’m Waiting:
Talk about a lack of description. But I guess the description is a moot point. As soon as I saw the cover, I jumped up and down in anticipation. I absolutely love this series. I cannot recommend it enough. I’m dying to know what will happen for all the characters in this last installment. Stiefvater has become a trump author for me. I will need to own everything she writes. True fact. I’m not sure what exactly the picture is on the cover. The other covers were a lot more clear. I guess we’ll figure that out later? I’m just glad they are all cohesive! Waiting till October is going to be hard.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary (from Goodreads):
No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.
This is my favorite one, so far! It was so great watching Daemon and Katy finally be able to have an actual relationship! They still had a lot of arguing and tension, but there was also now a lot of making up and falling in love.
There was also a lot of black mail. After some serious drama went down at the end of the last book (which I will not spoil), the group was really hoping that certain characters would never return to their lives. Unfortunately the characters come back with black mail, a serious gunshot, and the startings of a serious rescue mission. The characters work to build up a tolerance to onyx (their kryptonite), and to do this requires a lot training that the characters compare to self-mutilation. Touching onyx is torture to them, but they have to build up a tolerance in order to rescue their family.
I’m not sure if I’ve adequately shared my love for Katy yet. She serious is kicking some major butt at this point. Her powers are ridiculous and she’s still not backing down when Daemon wishes her to. She makes it darn clear that she is his equal, and I love that about her. I also seriously love that she is a blogger! She does In My Mailbox vlogs. And I never quite felt as guilty for reading (instead of doing other things like cleaning and working) as I would normally when I get so engrossed in a story because Katy would talk about the same thing. Katy’s reading/blogging habits almost seemed to validate my own. But more than that it’s just super nice to relate to a character on this level. There are not many main characters out there who blog and get as excited about books as me.
I also have a soft spot for teen books that involve prom, and what fun prom was had in this one! I also enjoyed slowly watching the other aliens come to accept Katy. They don’t all love her, by any means, but they all seem to accept that she’s there now. I felt so bad for Dee in this one, and I really had a hard time understanding her always, but, things ended on a better not with her I guess.
I also found it interesting that other characters were starting to call out some of the outrageous things about the town they were living in. Like how many teenagers have disappeared? How many have run away? And how many have died? I loved getting to know new characters, and I loved watching all the interactions Daemon had with Katy’s mom! Everything improved in this book (character development, plot, mystery, action, romance) and talk about the worst cliffhanger! I give this one a 10/10, and yes I already started the last book.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary (from Goodreads):
Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we're linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there's this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that's possible. Against all common sense, I'm falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?
So, I read this one insanely fast. I liked the characters more in book 2 than I did in book 1. I loved that we got to see a nicer/kinder side of Daemon. And I loved that Katy let nothing come easy for him. She went out on more than one date with a different guy! While I found all things with the other guy (Blake) to be so frustrating because it was so obvious where Katy’s heart really lies, I also found it kind of endearing. Go Katy for not backing away from what she wants (what her parents had).
It was nice seeing Daemon apologizing, and having to work for it. Seriously his character (in most YA) never really seems to have to work for it. Then, there’s the whole “connection” thing about them each knowing when the other is around, which is nuts. And normally I’d find this romance to be way over the top (I mean they have the same heart beat now!), but I actually never rolled my eyes once. I guess sometimes I want a little bit of a cheesy/cliché romance.
I also loved watching Katy come into her new powers. She’s become so much stronger. And I guess it’s always super nice to not have to wait to the last book in a series for the main character to be equal to her male counterpart. The alien story took a whole new turn with the concept of hybrids (aka: humans healed and mutated by aliens healing them). The idea that the government is into holding hostage on part of the human/alien duo and making the other do things for them doesn’t really seem to far-stretched to me.
The romance was so hot that I literally questioned if I should be reading the book in my staff lounge at work (during my lunch break). The alien story line got a lot more interesting than the whole light versus dark thing of book 1. There’s so much more I need to know in regards to this (like why are hybrids better than the aliens themselves??) And, I guess I just enjoyed the characters a lot more. Katy wasn’t as damsel-like. Daemon wasn’t as Jerk-ish. Dee was still Dee but with a boyfriend! There was a big party, lots of kissing, super power training, fighting, rescuing, deal-making, capturing, and even torturing. There was never a dull moment.
I literally put this book down and then immediately opened the third installment. Like I said, I have an addiction. I may have even finished the next one (before reviewing this one). This book was just so much fun! There was a definite cheese factor, but it kind of worked here. The only thing that did get to me sometimes was the dialogue. Apparently the two heartbeats beating as one was okay for me, but a lot of the dialog was just too much –sometimes the dialogue could use a little more substance. I still give it a 9/10. I loved it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Good Week in Books (73)

As I just wrote on Goodreads, I'm having this little problem called the Jennifer L. Armentrout addiction. I think I might have this whole series read in one week...This was so my favorite book by far. And I have some serious reviewing to catch up on and work to do, fingers are twitching in need for the last book.

These books are like Cape Cod Potato chips. One is just not enough. Any way, before finishing Obsidian, I ordered the rest of the series. And it slowly came in this week (one book at a time is weird, Amazon, just weird). I literally put two other books I was reading aside for these and these only.

by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (90)

(First off, this is my 500th blog post! How cool is that? I’ll have to do a giveaway soon.)
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 Young Elites by Marie Lu (10/7/14):

Description on Goodreads:
"Some hate us, think us criminals to hang at the gallows. Some fear us, think us demons to burn at the stake. Some worship us, think us divine children of the gods.

But all know us."
Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood plague: marked by a jagged scar, snow-white hair and lashes. Cast out by her family, Adelina has finally found a place to belong within the secret society of Young Elites. To some, the Elites are heroes, here to save innocents in desperate situations. But to the Inquisition Axis, the white-robed soldiers of Kenettra, they are monsters with demonic powers who must be brought to justice. As Adelina learns more about this perilous world where politics and magic clash, she soon realizes that her own powers may be in danger of bringing on an era of panic such as the world has never seen.
The new series, set in what Putnam described as a “Renaissance-like world,” is called The Young Elites. It follows three rival societies with supernatural powers battling for supremacy.
Why I’m Waiting:
I will most likely be anticipating anything this author has to say. I was a huge fan of the Legend series. And as soon as I heard she was doing something new, I did a little happy dance. Also, how epic does this story sound? Seriously, what an amazing idea for a YA novel. I find the cover to be a little boring, but then again, her other covers were never all that exciting either.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Good Week in Books (72)

I like to wait to do these posts until I have at least two new books to share. So, this time I’m including a book I got last week (via pre-order/aka: it was on my door the day it came out, and I’ve already read, loved, and reviewed it).  I received another pre-order this week. I received one lovely finished copy for review (thank you, Hyperion!). I bought a paperback from my favorite bookstore in Chicago (I took a week’s vacation last week and I already started this book). And then I picked up two freebie ARC’s from the same store.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (review)
Falling Kingdoms
by Morgan Rhodes (the paperback I already started –on my plane)
Odin’s Ravens by K. L.  Armstrong and M. A. Marr (ARC 5/13/14)
The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson (ARC 7/1/14)
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout (thanks, Hyperion!)
How was your week in books?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

(from Goodreads):
Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don't kill him first, that is.
This was my first Armentrout book. And frankly, I have no idea why it has taken me so long to read books by this author. I read this one practically in one sitting. And kind of like how Katy and Daemon have love/hate relationship with each other, I had a lot of love/hate moments with this book. Keep in mind, I already put an order in for the rest of the series, so (like with Katy), I guess I was feeling the love more than the hate.
I loved the relationship between Katy and Daemon. They had so much building tension that everyone could see. I loved that Katy didn’t put up with his lies or let him get away with too much. Though, frankly, I’m not sure I would have stuck around as long as she did after certain moments/comments. I did like that she recognized his dick-headed-ness and knew that she shouldn’t be attracted to him. She stood up for herself, she did what she thought was right, and she refused to listen to his lies. Go Katy!
I also loved Katy’s relationship with Dee. I liked watching her make friends outside of Dee’s friends. I absolutely loved the fact that Katy was a blogger (with Waiting on Wednesday posts and everything!) I totally agree that getting a box of new releases to review can be the deal breaker for any given day.
I’m not sure how I felt about the similarities this book shared with both Twilight and Roswell. I like that Katy was at least more intelligent than Bella. And I like that Katy bonded with her new friends over important things like loss and family. But, this really kind of was the alien version of Twilight. The similarities were super strong –everything down to the alien friends being matched up (like the vampire family), and the scene where Daemon shows Katy what he can do just like Edward. Also, there’s the whole new girl in town getting the one guy who’s never been interested in humans before. Add that to some serious Roswell-type powers and Roswell-type romance, and well you see what I’m talking about.
On the plus side, I’ve never seen aliens with these kinds of abilities. And I loved the action-packed parts of the plot with the dark aliens and the missing teens. I’m also apparently a sucker for a good sci-fi romance, and this definitely fit the part. I loved the ending. I loved watching Katy prove her worth. And I’m anxious to read more about her connection to Daemon.
It’s another one of those books where the teens seem to have unrealistic amounts of un-supervised freedom. I get that Katy’s mom was a nurse, but really… So much went down in that house…Also, I get that the aliens don’t have parents, but still no one questions this, ever? I also feel like more is coming with the new man in Katy’s mom’s life. I feel like he’s going to be connected somehow.
All in all, my enjoyment did seem to outweigh everything else. I finished it and immediately needed to purchase the rest of the series. I read it super quickly. The romance was sizzling. It did read a little too similarly to Twilight; however, I do think both the main character and the romance were written much better. I give it an 8/10. And I’m definitely going to be reading the rest.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (89)

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 Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (9/23/14):
Description on Goodreads:
Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.
Why I’m Waiting:
Westerfeld is one of those authors I like to refer to as trump authors. All I need to see is his name on a book, and I will buy it. I will mostly likely enjoy it. And I will definitely want to own it. Mix that with a story of a young girl writing a YA novel, and well you have a recipe for awesome. And certainly a main character I can relate to. What an interesting concept for a book. Also, it’s about time he came out with another book!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Summary (from Goodreads):
By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?
Normally I give myself a little time between completing a book and then reviewing it. My mind needs to play catch-up and I tend to need time to put into words my exact thoughts. I just finished the last page minutes ago, and I feel such an enormous need to immediately talk about this book.
Beginning this book was kind of like reading the beginning of the last Harry Potter book for the first time. Worlds were colliding, and humans were getting their first glimpses of magic (unfortunately the evil kind). And I really doubted my ability to ever put the book down. But, of course, I did because I’m an adult and I have to work. However, working Friday was almost painful because I was counting down the minutes until I could go back to this story. And it’s no small story at 613 pages!
I have loved Laini Taylor’s books since I first read the arc to Daughter of Smoke and Bone in 2011. I was a little worried about this conclusion if only because I have not been the biggest fan of YA trilogy conclusions as of late. (Also, why is everything ending around the same time?) Thankfully, I had no need to worry. This was one epic finale.
I really do not and cannot spoil too much of the story because so much of it needs to be experienced firsthand. Just know that there are epic war battles, flying monsters, evil angels meeting with the pope (!), religious cults, enormous facades, wars within wars, monster corpses caught on film, angel/monster love stories (plural), old friends, new friends, cross-continental travel, prophetic dreams, and so much more!
I love that the setting in each book spans countries and continents (and now worlds). I love Karou’s best friend! Seriously, she should win a best friend award. And I love a new friend they meet in this book. I love the real-world turmoil the sightings of angels have induced. I love this author’s interpretation of gods. Seriously, the end of this book blew my mind. It went into various levels of weird (that I was not anticipating, really), but seriously it blew my mind!
Throughout the series is this metaphor of beginnings and I loved how it came to play here. Also, I love how Taylor combines darkness with light. There’s torture and pain, but there’s also violins and wish police, and so much humor. I was literally biting my nails in worry one moment, laughing out loud another, and then gasping in shock a few minutes after that. It’s truly only the best writers that can span all of a person’s emotions in one book (or in this case, even a few minutes).
The love story was a little more emphasized in this book than it has been in the past; however, Karou always puts her goals, her dreams, and even her people’s best interests before all else. Have I mentioned how cool a character she is? She’s strong, intelligent, and oh so brave: the best kind of main character. This was one of the those books I didn’t want to read too quickly because I didn’t want it to be over. I seriously postponed my finishing of it, afraid for that moment when I realized there would be no more. I’ve reached that moment, but I’m okay. The ending worked so nicely. All the pieces fit together.
The only somewhat negative thing I have to say is that I didn’t understand one of the storylines completely. The whole plot line of the “vicious queen is hunting Akiva” was really weird and rather confusing and I’m not sure if this is because I wasn’t remembering all I should from books past, or if it was just because the whole story was really strange. Regardless, I guess it mostly made sense at the end. And all in all, I give this book and this series a 10/10. I’ve already recommended the series to a lot of people, and I will definitely continue to do so.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Summary (from Goodreads):
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created 'perfect' life is about to unravel before her eyes. She's forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for: her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.
I have heard so many wonderful things about this author. This was my first book by her. I’m not sure why I’m only getting to this book now. Elkeles has been one of those authors I’ve been embarrassed to admit to never having read before. And I love that she deals with YA contemporaries that involve teens of different ethnic backgrounds than the norm.
That being said, I didn’t exactly love it. If I read it as a teenager, I most likely would have eaten it up. There’s a sizzling love story, there’s tons of family drama, there’s a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, there’s violence, there’s sex, there’s drugs, there’s drinking, and there’s a lot of growing up. It was also interesting to read about a main character whose sister has both a physical and mental disability.  In fact, what Brittany was most afraid of was her parents sending her sister away to a home.
I love that Alex and Brittany build a real relationship slowly over time. I love that both characters have enormous eye-opening moments of clarity where they really learn that no one has it easy. I can see why so many teens love this book. Nothing is really sugar coated. I thought the gang stuff would be from the writing style. But, it was definitely there. There’s drug deals and beatings. There’s murder and lots of suffering. I also like that Alex was a real teenage boy, with real teenage boy thoughts (as compared to an extremely romanticized version of a teen boy).
I did think some people got over their prejudices awfully fast. But, maybe it sometimes works that way? I also feel like there is so much I never got to learn about either main characters’ parents. Like what was wrong with Brittany’s mother? And how could Alex’s mother keep so much from him? I liked the side characters and wished I could see more into their lives.
But the real reason I was not in love with the book was the writing style. Sometimes I’d get really annoyed when the author would write something, and imply something else and then re-iterate what she was implying. It made me feel like she wasn’t sure her audience would understand sarcasm. So she’d be sarcastic one second and literal the next, to make sure we go it. I always got it. And then it just felt repetitive.
But more than several moments of repetition was the layout of the whole thing. It read like most other YA contemporaries or even New Adult novels I’ve read. There is the formula. Boy and girl have to learn to work together for the greater good. Boy sees who girl really is. Girl sees who boy really is. Boy makes girl risk things. Girl makes boy risk things. Both try to make each others' lives better. Boy and girl have a falling out. Boy and girl get back together after life-changing decisions/actions are made.
Sometimes I like formulaic stories. But if a book is to work like that, than the writing better be excellent. And this writing just wasn’t. I did get lost in the love story. I did ship the two star-crossed teens. And I did pretty much finish the book in a day; it was rather addicting. I just wish the writing style was as mature as the topics. I give this a 7/10.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Summary (from Goodreads):
Sophronias first year at Mademoiselle Geraldines Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing. For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy. Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ships boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than is at first apparent. A conspiracy is afoot, one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot and survive the London Season with a full dance card.
I loved the first book, which had me laughing out loud, to an embarrassing degree. I was so excited to know that the sequel was already out. I can always use a good laugh.
This one, sadly, wasn’t quite as funny as the first. It only had me laughing out loud once toward the end during one of those absolutely absurd British humor type, utter chaos moments. This book in the series definitely focused more on the plot than on the humor. It was all about fights with best friends, love triangles, kidnapping missions, balls, vampire and Picklemen politics, espionage lessons, evil geniuses, cross dressing, and mysterious code.
I love that this author can throw a million different elements into her plot, and never make you feel like it’s too much. I also love how much smarter the main character is becoming. Sophronia still has a lot to learn in regards to boys, black mail, and her future. However, as she learns, she becomes increasingly more aware of the world (and sky) around her. I love that she’s never quick to dismiss a character or group of people, even when they disappoint her. She thinks almost everything through and is willing to own up when she is wrong.
I also loved learning more about the crazy world Sophronia is in. A lot was learned about vampires in this book. Also, there were snidbits about werewolves. There were more insane inventions, more steam punk machines, more spying on teachers, more dancing, and more fun. Despite the book’s decrease in humor, I actually enjoyed it even more than the first book. I really got to know more of the side characters I love. And I really go to see more into this world. Plus, the whole thing at the end with the vampires and the kidnapping was crazy awesome!
I can’t wait to pick up book three. I know it will be a giant feast of all supernatural elements, and I know there will be even more mysteries and spying missions to come. I can’t wait to see where things resolve with Sophronia and the boys in her life. I also am interested in seeing what path the girl will take. I highly recommend this series to fans of Poison by Bridget Zinn and Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins. I give it a 10/10. I just loved it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (88)

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 Clariel by Garth Nix (10/14/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
Clariel is the daughter of the one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most importantly, to the King. When her family moves to the city of Belisaere, there are rumors that her mother is next in line for the throne. However, Clariel wants no part of it—a natural hunter, all she ever thinks about is escaping the city’s confining walls and journeying back to the quiet, green world of the Great Forest.

But many forces conspire against Clariel’s dream. A dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she discovers hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?
Why I’m Waiting:
I grew up on this series. I’ve re-read Sabriel almost as many times as I re-read Ella Enchanted. I seriously love this dark, creepy fantasy. When I first heard that Nix was continuing the series, I didn’t believe it. It has been a very long time. And I’m so excited to read about another kick-butt strong female character. But more than that, I’m excited to get lost in this world again.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Good Week in Books (71)

I received four lovely, finished YA titles for review this week! Thank you Macmillan and Hyperion! I am beyond excited for all of these titles. I’m also excited to read another graphic novel; I feel like it’s been a while. So many good releases this spring.

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Far From You by Tess Sharpe
The Ring and the Crown by Melissa De La Cruz
This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
How was your week in books?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill--a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk--Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death--but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban's release from Keldec's rule. Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.
I feel like I’m in a bit of a reading stump. It’s not that I’m hating all the books I’m reading. I like them. I’m just not loving any of them. I had high hopes for this one too. I love the author. I love her adult fantasy books and I love her YA fantasy books. She tends to write these strong female main characters I can’t get enough of. And she is so amazing at writing a sizzling romance. I figured this book would be just what I needed to get out of my funk.
I found it to be a little dry. It definitely read more like the Irish folklore adult fantasy books I love than the previous YA the author has written. But if you cut a lot of the violence and sizzling romance from the adult fantasy books, they just won’t be as good. And that’s kind of what this felt like. It felt like she wrote one of her amazing adult fantasies, but then cut out a lot of the juicy stuff.
Neryn was definitely another easy to love strong female main character. How can you not love a girl who always shares her meager supplies of food with fairies only she can see? And the poor girl lost her mother at an early age. She lost her brother when he stood up to the evil dictator. She lost her grandmother after she was essentially mind raped. She had to grow up hiding who she was because everyone with magical abilities (like being to see and talk to fairies) were rounded up and either killed or mind controlled to be a king’s soldier. And then her father decided to bet her virginity in a gambling match and lost!  And before Neryn can even think about how low her father has sunk, he’s killed too.
The girl literally only has fairies to talk to. And it’s no wonder she has serious trust issues with the one guy who seems so eager to help her. I loved the guy. And I loved the slow-building relationship between them. However, I did not love what felt like hundreds of pages of Neryn surviving (aka: freezing, practically dying of hunger, and limping) in the forest on her way to a possibly mythical rebel camp. That was hundreds of pages of suffering, where nothing really critical to the plot or substantial to the future parts of the story happened. It was like reading the camping scenes in the last Harry Potter book, all over again. We get it; traveling by yourself is hard. Could we have focused in on the quests and fairies and scary bridges to be crossed and deleted a lot of the lonely, kind of boring traveling?
I love how good of a person Neryn really is. And she’s smart too. I can’t believe how much she learned about her abilities in such a short period of time. However, there were some major things that took her way too long to catch up on. I get that she would have some serious trust issues (particularly after the incident with her father), but it took her so long to figure out Flint (the guy I love).
I loved the characters. The world Neryn lived in was both terrifying and beautiful. I loved the fairies that both believed in her and doubted her. I just was hoping for a little more romance and a little more action. It would have been nice with a little less redundant forest suffering, freezing cold nights, and hunger. I feel like all these things in YA are fine if there is a justified reason for them or if a character grows and learns form the experiences. This just seemed like an unnecessary evil. I give this one an 8/10.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Summary (from Goodreads):
The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do--and they are just as determined to stay together.

Within the confines of a cave they're using as a makeshift refuge, they struggle to reconcile their people, Dwellers and Outsiders, who are united only in their hatred of their desperate situation. Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. Then Roar arrives in a grief-stricken fury, endangering all with his need for revenge.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble an unlikely team for an impossible rescue mission. Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival--he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her earth-shattering Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.
It took me way too long to finish this book. I have been a fan of this series from book 1. And I have read my fair share of positive reviews for this finale. I was expecting to love this one, and maybe that’s part of my problem. Maybe my hopes were too high.
I just found this one to be a lot less interesting, a lot slower, and a lot more anti-climatic. I think one of my favorite things about the series as a whole was that I never really knew what would happen next. Rossi wasn’t afraid to kill off important characters. Also, the adventures, the ideas, and the general plot-line read rather uniquely for me. I didn’t know what to expect.
In this last installment, not only did I know what was coming (it’s not like there were a lot of options), but I also never really pulled away that unique feeling I had come to know and love. It read like a lot of other dystopia finales. I’m not saying I needed more people to die or even that it was unbelievable in its version of happily ever after. I’m just saying I wanted to be a little more surprised.
It was also super easy to put down. There was a long build-up in the beginning, in which plans were made to rescue Cinder and steal some enemy ships. And not much happened. The story picks up with action half way through, and I didn’t find it to be that engrossing really until the last quarter of the book.
I didn’t hate the book. Getting to read about Aria, Perry, and Roar again was definitely a treat I would not want to miss. I love these characters, even when they are at all time lows. I also loved the setting that continued to get worse and worse. I loved the idea of finding a new place for everyone to cohabitate in. I know I said the preparations made the beginning rather slow. I guess I wanted to see more of the cohabitating in the beginning. I barely saw any of Aria’s past life friends from the pod. I was hoping for a lot more drama than I was given. So, if so much time needs to be spent on the preparations, can there at least be drama too?
I liked seeing Roar slowly heal. I loved the dynamics of his relationship with Perry. And I loved watching Aria play moderator. I also loved Perry’s relationship with Cinder and what he was willing to give up for him really showed who Perry was as a character.
I was not a fan of all the fighting between the two evil bad guys. There was some (rather unneeded) torture in the book too that really didn’t add much to the story line. I think Cinder could have come to the same conclusion a lot earlier than he did. I think all the stuff with the bad guys slowed my reading down too. It was too 90’s cartoon-like, and not enough dystopia/fantasy/adventure.
I am still a huge fan overall of the series. I have no idea how Rossi could come up with such an interesting, complex world. I adore the characters in these books. I just felt like this last installment was lacking a lot of the unique magic that the first two had. I give it a 7/10.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (87)

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 Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey (9/16/14):
Description (on Goodreads):
How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.
Why I’m Waiting:
I’ve been waiting on this one since the last words of the first book. The Fifth Wave was one of those books that’s hard to not read in one sitting. The suspense, the action, the story, and the terrifying concept made for one epic YA book. I might even re-read book one while I’m waiting, maybe. Plus, it ended in such a spot!
What are you waiting on this week?