Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2)Frostbite by Richelle Mead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Frostbite is the second installment in the Vampire Academy series. The story picks up a little while after the events of the first book. All seems well, or as well as can be, until a particularly brutal Strigoi attack on a royal Moroi family leaves the whole vampiric world stunned and very much afraid. As a precaution, the Academy's winter break is arranged at a posh Moroi ski resort, where Rose has to deal with her many personal issues, including her evolving relationship with Lissa, her complicated relationship with Dimitri, and even the relationship with her mother, renowned Guardian Janine Hathaway.

I thought that this book focused more on Rose's character development than the ongoing plot. The focus of the whole story is on Rose, and we get a glimpse of just how truly heavy her life is. At times, I was irritated with her for making stupid decisions, but I could see that it was the result of her being a teenager, but also having the massive responsibilities that were both imposed upon her and that she took on willingly. And that wasn't just with her Guardian duties; we see that with her love life and its crazy complexities.

Like the first book, the last fifty pages was where all the action was. The story itself, like I said, didn't focus very much on the plot, mostly the beginning and the ending, but I can tell that this is Richelle setting everything into place. I've heard before that everything really kicks off in Shadow Kiss, and I'm very excited to see what happens. These books are startlingly addictive, so prepare to be sucked in.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

In Which I Make Stephanie Perkins Buy Tea

Last Thursday, I was so so lucky to find a way to get myself to the Brentwood stop of the HarperTeen Dark Days Tour! I faced many obstacles, including, but not limited to:

-A tornado (twice)

Needless to say, I was excited, and hoping for good things. Four authors were scheduled specifically for the tour's purposes, but as it was in Nashville, a lot of authors who lived nearby came out. So, like any sane person, I walked into the Barnes and Noble with a 100% full backpack. Like, I-kept-it-with-me-because-I-thought-they'd-suspect-it-was-a-bomb type of full. I felt ridiculous, and it was heavy (18 books is not something light), but in the end, it was SO worth it.

After the panel, where they all gave really good advice (I recorded it but the video is messed up somehow), the signing began. It was very well organized, and I realized that it would take a while to get to everybody, so I decided to make a left and head towards the authors I'd spied on the way in. Stephanie Perkins, the author of Anna and the French Kiss, and Lola and the Boy the Next Door, was the only one not in the middle of signing or conversing, so I very awkwardly sidled over and chatted.

And, after some compliments on shoes, and attempts to be cool, I got a selfie with her.

The rest followed more or less the same. I did mention to Victoria Schwab (below with the short hair; also author of The Near Witch, The Archived series, and Vicious) that I'd seen her at signing before, and had chickened out. We all had a good laugh at my expense.

Also pictured here: Beth Revis of Across the Universe fame.

Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children), who bears an uncanny resemblance to one of my professors, was the only one who required a photo done longways, because the man is capital-T Tall. I'm 5'2", as a reference.

So after that, I finally started getting in line for the official signings. Above is another thumb-clouded selfie, this time with Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky). I always worry that I'll have nothing to say to them, and result in standing silently while they write their name, but I'm pretty sure I was talking a mile a minute and overdid it. Sorry, authors, you just intimidate me (in a good way).

Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me) was fantastic as one would expect. She was really the catalyst that made me decide to go to this signing, since even getting to an event in Memphis (where I live) is difficult, let alone a city 170 miles away; I was still suffering an Ignite Me hangover, which those of you who have read it will understand completely. She was wearing the coolest skeleton leggings, looking incredible, and so I had to buffer a table between us to avoid the shame of not being as incredible.

I was so glad to meet Kiersten White (Paranormalcy, Mind Games, The Chaos of Stars); I hadn't read any of her work in a while, but she emanated that sassy fun that I sensed in Paranormalcy, and she was probably the easiest to talk to. Also, she was actually shorter than me, which never happens. So yay :)

Here with all four, after the lines had dispersed. Though I haven't read anything by Sophie Jordan (Firelight, Uninvited), she was just as cool and I really enjoyed getting a picture with all of them.

And one last picture to close the curtains. This gives you a reference to how many incredible, talented people were in the room that night. Also pictured is Courtney Stevens, whose debut Faking Normal just released. She was very chill, and chatted up everyone nearby like they were old friends.

Thus ended the event. After nearly accidentally stealing forty dollars worth of books, and then going to pay for it, I bought myself some Starbucks, where Beth Revis and Stephanie Perkins had remained for the same purpose. While desperately trying to avoid the awkward possibility of standing in silence, I recommended one of the teas that the store was selling, and inadvertently became a personal shopper for Stephanie Perkins, at least as far as drinks are concerned. I expect my career to take off any day now.

This was the biggest signing I'd ever been to; and though it's really hard to quantify such an experience, if not one of the best signings I'd been to, it is definitely among the most memorable. There's always a real anxiety to meeting these authors; for me, they're essentially my heroes, and I'm a mixture of excitement, nervousness at not being an impressive fan, and the fear that they might not be what I've created in my head. But, as has been the case thus far, and I hope will continue to be, authors prove time and again that they are sincere, genuine, earnest storytellers who want their readers to enjoy the story as much as they enjoy being the ones to tell it. I cannot wait for my next adventure, though hopefully next time will suffice without the threat of tornadoes.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ignite Me

Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ignite Me is the final installment in Tahereh Mafi's dystopian trilogy. In this finale, Juliette has had a revelation and is ready to take down the Establishment and its ruthless leader. Once enemy, now tentative ally Warner is by her side and just as ready to see the world take on a new beginning. But battles, with enemies and friends alike, must be fought and won before victory can be declared.

This book can best be described as a rush. It could also be described as incredible, jaw-dropping, heart-racing, and genius.

Before I go into details about this book, I'd like to applaud Tahereh Mafi for her incredible talent, not only at writing in general, but for her construction of one of the best executed story arcs I've ever witnessed. None of the books in this series are similar to one another, and they don't fall into the common expectations of a trilogy arc. Each installment was a different and exciting chapter into the story of these characters and this world. Each responded to the other in the best possible way, and I don't know what sort of effort and talent it took to pull it off, but I know that I certainly don't have it.

But on to the book itself. We went into this knowing a few things that led us to believe this was not like its predecessors. There would be no strikethroughs in the text, which meant that we were in for a completely changed Juliette. I can honestly say there was no point in the story where I felt frustrated with her. She's finally stepped up to the plate and embraced herself, and figured out what it is she wants out of life. What's more, she's chomping at the bit to go after it.

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of depth we got from Kenji. In the past, he's been the wisecracking smartass who knew when to tell Juliette to quit her crying and start doing something about it. Here, however, we got to see his vulnerable side, and we also got a lot more development in he and Juliette's friendship. He doesn't always agree with her, and doesn't hide his emotions from her when he's upset, but he makes it clear that she can come to him and tell him anything, and that's incredibly refreshing.

I was...surprised by the way I found myself viewing Adam in this story. He above all the other characters has gone through the most change in my eyes, at least in how I viewed him throughout the novels. There are definitely moments in this book where I wanted to tear him a new one and smack him across the mouth, but we also get a lot of observation and perspective from Juliette, and I was able to make myself see why he was doing certain things. I like where the book left him.

By far the best part of this book, and the greatest amount of development, was with Warner. Oh, this boy. We've seen in Unravel Me that he's willing to be vulnerable with Juliette, but at the beginning of Ignite Me he's still incredibly guarded, even around her. And while he was not necessarily changed, as he feared, he finally broke down the walls that closed him off from everybody else, though he may not have enjoyed doing so at the time. I won't spoil things for you, but let it be said that I love Warner and I love seeing him develop as a person.

Those going into this book for the dystopian aspect won't be disappointed, but it should be said that the dystopian setting of the book is not the main plot. This story, and the series as a whole, is about Juliette and her journey from the mentally damaged, terrified girl in Shatter Me, to the fierce, confident, strong woman we leave in Ignite Me. What's going on with Sector 45 is not as highly developed as, say, The Hunger Games or the Divergent trilogy, but those are stories about a dystopian world and how it's changed by the people in it. The Shatter Me series is the story of a girl in the middle of a dystopian world, and how she changes for the better within it.

The last five or so chapters rocketed by, and were largely what made this book feel like such a rush. You read through with Juliette's adrenaline in your viens, and it ends feeling like there could be more, but still ending in the best place for the story itself. I absolutely cannot wait to see what Tahereh Mafi has in store for her readers next, knowing that I'll devour it just as readily.

I also might even be meeting Tahereh, and a few other authors, next week! If I can swing it,  I'll be attending the Dark Days tour stop in Tennessee. Let's hope I don't pass out from being too starstruck.

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These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These Broken Stars is the first novel written in the Starbound Universe by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman. In it, heiress Lilac LaRoux and war hero Tarver Merendsen are the sole survivors of the crashing of the Icarus, the universe's biggest interstellar ship. Having crash landed on a planet that appears terraformed but is strangely devoid of human life, the two must find a way to get word to civilization that they are alive, while at the same time navigating the strange new planet and trying not to kill each other in the process. Soon, secrets are uncovered, and their crash seems to have been more than just a freak accident.

I love love loved These Broken Stars! I was wary at first, because the cover drew me in so much in the beginning, and I was nervous that the story wouldn't meet my expectations, but they exceeded them in fact. While it felt like it took a little while to feel totally immersed, once I was there was no stopping me from turning the pages.

From the get go, we know that the story is not like any other, because Tarver and Lilac like each other at first, but then end up hating each other! The reader gets no breaks when it comes to watching the evolution of these characters' relationship to each other. Lilac is tough and stubborn, but also vulnerable and scared. Tarver is strong and in his element, sure, but he's having to struggle with his opinion of Lilac and try to avoid thinking about his own fears. In the end, they make a couple that outshines the stars (just enjoy the pun and move on).

Pacing was phenomenal. At first, it was a little repetitive, because they had a long way to walk, but the pacing of the story itself was on point at all times. By the time I reached the last page, I felt like I'd been stuck on the planet with them for a whole month, instead of the week or so I read this in. Not only do we see both characters in balanced moments of respective strength and weakness, but we also get all the information needed for the main plotline delivered clearly and without feeling like we'd had a dumpster truck drop all the info on it at once. This also allowed for the storyline to be believable--or rather, it felt like something the characters could resonably believe.

I'm very interested as to where Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner will take this story. Not only are we going to read the next volume from the perspective of two new characters, but I can't wait to see how the main conflict is going to grow and manifest itself. I also really reallly hope we get to see more of Tarver and Lilac, because one book was not enough!

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Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dark Triumph is the second installment in the His Fair Assassin trilogy. This story picks up a little bit before Grave Mercy ended, and is told from the perspective of Sybella, the dark and secretive priestess of Saint Mortain. Sybella resides undercover in the household of D'Albret himself, as she uncovers his secrets and eagerly awaits the day she is commissioned to kill him. As the story unfolds, she becomes unlikely allies with the Beast of Waroch, and soon learns that in order to be Death's true daughter, she must first learn to heal herself from within.

I love love loved Dark Triumph! Honestly, my only complaints could be that there wasn't more of it, and that perhaps the cover model didn't look like my image of Sybella. If those are the only problems here, then you've got a good book in your hands.

I was so glad to get into Sybella's story. While I felt that Ismae's story was very important in setting up, not only the convent and the mythology of the Nine Saints, but also of the world of 15th-century Brittany and the court intrigue. I also felt that, while Ismae's characterization was incredibly strong and a great read, Sybella's left a deeper impression on me. Indeed, I sometimes found myself forgetting Ismae's name, though that might have just been because it wasn't used as often on the page.

Sybella was an inredibly strong woman. I was glad that she wasn't simply the angry girl who lashes out at the world because of her dark past. Instead, she was someone trying to heal and endure that darkness which still surrounded her, as well as her conflict of faith, which was not seen with Ismae--which is to be expected, as these two women are night and day to each other. I empathized with her fear of letting herself be vulnerable with others.

I also loved the romance between her and Beast. I loved Beast from the moment I first met him in Grave Mercy, and I was so glad that his character stayed strong as he was more closely observed. I felt like the romance between them formed more naturally and believably than Ismae and Duval's--I love them together, but it felt a bit as though it happened purely for the purpose of there being romance in the story. Beast and Sybella formed themselves around each other, and became better versions of themselves for it.

I can't wait to read Mortal Heart, whenever it comes out. I'm interested to see where Annith will end up, and if there will be any romance between someone new or someone we've already met.

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Just One Year

Just One Year (Just One Day, #2)Just One Year by Gayle Forman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just One Year is the companion novel to Gayle Forman's Just One Day. This book starts around the same time as the end of the "One Day" in Allyson's account of the story, where she wakes up in the art studio. Over the course of a year, the reader follows Willem as he tries to put together the events of his life, both before and after that day. As he traverses over places such as Mexico, India, France, Holland, and beyond, he begins to come to terms with the man he's grown to become and decide what he wants his life to be about.

Oh man. Ohmanohmanohman.

This is gonna have certain spoileres. You've been warned.

So. Willem de Ruiter. Dear God, I did not expect what I got from him. He was a lot sadder, a lot less mature than I expected. Which, of course, made his journey that much sweeter. This poor boy is so lost when he comes across Lulu, aka Allyson, that he was never going to recognize their time together as anything but what it was: different. It was different from any other girl he's been with, and for the very reason that, once Lulu is out of his life, he realizes that the life he's been living up until now is completely unfulfilling. Rather, it brings it into clarity so sharp that he can't go back.

Forman decided to be an incredibly diabolical author and have Willem end up much closer to finding Lulu than I expected we'd see. And by close, I mean at certain times, he was within a matter of HUNDREDS OF FEET FROM HER!!! Cancun ring a freaking bell? He also totally drops the ball when he has a chance to contact the only other person who's aware of what happened and why it would be a big deal for him to be finding her, but what does he do? GIVE UP. And, you know, address the naked lady in front of him in the way only a pessimistic lonely playboy can. *rolls eyes*

It was also very frustrating in that we do not see Allyson until we can see that the ending is VERY NIGH. Seriously, I was scared that it would end on the same cliffhanger as before, it was that close.

But I so loved seeing his transformation. We get to hear more about his family, and see how he resolves that part of his life. He begins to recognize that Lulu is not the answer to finding himself. She was the flashlight in the dark, but when the batteries die, you can still feel around and look for the door on your own. And he did, and in his own time. I also LOVED his acting escapade. Max was perfect, and, as an oft-confused lover of Shakespeare, I really enjoyed seeing how he could see the life in a play that may not read as richly to others, myself included.

The only thing I will say is that we get our resolution, but just that. There's no "and then what happened?" answered, and at first, I was a little disappointed. But two things occurred to me:
1: This was a companion novel. Not a sequel. Forman's last duet was sequential, and I also simply wanted this one to be a sequel, because I wanted to know what happened after the end of Just One Day. But this is Willem's half of the story, and the ending is not necessarily the important part of the story.

2: I realized that, like Allyson and Willem, I was mourning the loss of the One Day. It was perfect, and over too fast. Truth be told, I said in my review of Just One Day that the coverage of the day itself felt like a whole novel, and I was surprised by the end of it that there were more pages to be read.

But then I realized that the two of them start off in their slumps because they've idolized the One Day so much. Yes, they have such good reason to, and there's nothing wrong in remembering it, but because they put so much pressure on the day itself, and not what it revealed about the two of them, that they initially aren't able to grow, which needed to happen in order for them to find each other. So, yes, the One Day was spectacular. And unlike them, I have the privilege of revisiting it whenever I want (the power of a reader, mwahaha!). But the day must not be expected to envelop the whole story. It's the "but one day..." the springboard. It's instrumental, but not all-encompassing.

That being said, I was reading the ending of Just One Year over and over, savoring it. Because it was perfect. This entire novel, this entire series, was perfect.

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Never Fade

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds, #2)Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Never Fade is the sequel to Alexandra Bracken's The Darkest Minds. (Spoilers for DM ahead.) In this installment, the story begins a few months after Ruby has joined the Children's League. During a mission, the team picks up Cole Stewart, Liam's brother. He reveals to Ruby that he met Liam while he was out on his mission, and that Liam unknowingly has a vital piece of information that the League is desperate to get back. Fearful that they might discover Liam, Ruby sets out on an off-book mission to find him and retrieve the info. With her are Jude, a overfriendly Yellow, and Vida, the blue-haired foulmouthed Blue, as well as a few familiar faces. Once more, Ruby must figure out who to trust, as the puzzle pieces falling into place prove to be even more complex than she had believed.

Wow, I say. Wow. This sequel doesn't give you time to take a breath, much less slow down long enough to get bored.

So, I'll start this off by saying what I've said before about Alexandra Bracken, and what I'll probably keep saying until I die, and that is she possesses the unique ability of originality. This doesn't have to do with her concept of plot, though it is. It's her ability to A) make her setting incredibly plausible, so much so that I could see this future playing out, under the given circumstances. It is also B) to construct characters entirely individual from each other. Her voice is in the story, but the characters read as their own selves. For example, you have some characters who are innocent (relatively): Zu and Jude, for instance. These two on their own are two different flavors of innocent. Then you have characters that sound nothing like anyone else in the book apart from themselves. The one that stands out the most like this is Vida. She gets compared to Chubs a bit, but to me, she read as wholly distinct from any other character present in the book. She's (arguably) very bitchy and rude, but then she has this unwavering, almost naive loyalty towards Cate and the League.

Speaking of Cate, you also have the unique dynamic of mixed morality and moral grey areas in this book. In a lot of dystopians, you get the idea that whatever is the antagonistic element of the dystopia is very definitive. There's no need to worry about who's good and who's bad; it's spelled out. Here, however, there is none of that. There's a situation which everyone seen has a different viewpoint or conflict on. There's organizations based around the IAAN virus, on both sides, but none of them are unequivocally in the right or in the wrong. Again, Cate is a good example of this. She simplified truths, even lied on certain occasions, to Ruby, but then we see a very maternal side of her, which confuses the reader and has them wondering what they're supposed to think about her. And she certainly isn't the only character like that. *SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER ALERT* on the subject of Ruby erasing Liam's mind, both of them stand on different ends of that spectrum, yet both have very good points supporting their opinion. In the end, I couldn't figure out which I agreed with more, Liam or Ruby.

Never Fade is a fantastic book, equally as strong as its predecessor, and I cannot wait for the third one. Not only will we finish the sentence (THE DARKEST MINDS NEVER FADE...) but we will also see the fallout from this book. It wasn't left on a cliffhanger, but we are left with no confusion to the fact that s*** is gonna go down.

Ta ta.

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The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The 5th Wave is a dystopian science fiction by Rick Yancey. It is the first in a series.

The story follows a handful of characters over the course of the alien invasion of the Others. Over the last few months, Earth's population has dwindled down near to 1 or 2% of what it used to be, having been hit by four waves of attack by the Others. With everyone simultaneously anticipating and dreading the next wave to come, the characters must battle with themselves over what they consider worth dying for, living for, and what they plan to do about it. The book mainly follows Cassie, a girl who has lost her whole family and is on the search for her five year-old brother. Over time, she must decide who is trustworthy when absolutely no one can be trusted.

There is so much to this story, yet it moves like lightning. It's almost impossible to write a coherent review.
I'm kicking myself for not having read The Fifth Wave sooner than I did. This book is like being slammed into by a tractor trailer, in the best way possible. In the first sixty pages, we've been told everything that has happened so far, and it's so overwhelming that you become so bonded to the characters, because you're able to understand where they're at. Every emotion Cassie felt, I felt as well. It's overwhelming and frustrating, but an incredible experience. Never in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel have I been able to fully grasp the loneliness and fear that comes with being in the characters' situations, and I applaud Rick Yancey for the accomplishment. Nothing in this story is black and white, and you never know what you're supposed to trust. It's the plight of the characters, that they can't trust anyone or even themselves, and it was incredible to have that so seamlessly communicated through the writing. I can not wait to see what the sequels have in store for us.

P.S. This book reads like the movie it absolutely MUST be adapted into.

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FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes, another Rainbow Rowell masterpiece! I just ordered a copy of Attachments, and I cannot wait to sink my teeth into it. I've heard it's every bit as good as the rest of her work.

Fangirl is a story about Cath. She is a twin, a Simon Snow fan, and an incoming college freshman. Cath has never been apart from her sister Wren, but when Wren decides to room with someone other than Cath, her whole view on the upcoming semester begins to tailspin. Cath has always been safely ensconced between the world of Simon Snow, the world she's made with her fanfiction, and her twin. How is she going to navigate becoming an "adult" when she can't even converse with her roommate, her roommate's possible boyfriend (Cath hasn't worked up the guts to ask who he really is), or even find the dining hall?

There was so much perfect to this novel, that it feels almost impossible to write a coherent review. I guess I'll go by sections:

Cath: I had the best love hate relationship with this girl. Love, because she was funny and a geek and very much like me, with her insecurities as well as her good qualities. However, I thought at times she went too far. I despised going to the dining hall my freshman year, but Cath borders on literally starving herself to avoid the situation. She also goes in circles with her reasoning sometimes; however, these problems don't decline from the character. In fact, it made her more real to me.

College: Dear. God. Rainbow Rowell hit college on its head and drove it into the ground! The opening chapter made me get anxious and stressed out and literally have a flashback to how I felt on move-in day (hint: It wasn't fun. Seriously, I love being in college, but you couldn't pay me to relive my orientation or my move-in week). That's what first solidified my sympathy to Cath, because she felt exactly as I did.

There were a bunch of little things that someone who hasn't been in college gets, like when Levi introduces the concept of "freshman time." I constantly think back on certain sections of time from my freshman year, and the amount of memories I have from one month of that year are the equivalent of six months at any other time.

Fangirling: The very heart of this book is the fact that Cath is a die-hard fangirl, writing fanfiction for the Simon Snow saga. When I read the piece on midnight premieres and the fear of getting the last story, I started bawling like a child, because I remembered feeling that way with Harry Potter. What's more is that, though she may not bring it up with strangers, Cath is absolutely unashamed in her love for her stories, something I loved and identified with. College is terrifying on its own, not to mention the biggest period of change you'll experience in your life (or at least, that I've experienced so far), and Cath was meant to evolve over the year, but she also grew and strengthened herself by holding onto what she knew was such a large part of her, even when the whole world seemed to oppose it.

Other parts of the book I loved: the way the story ends with Cath and her mother's relationship. The fact that nobody in this story is perfect. The way Cath takes care of Nick. And Levi. LeviLeviLevi. Dear God, I want to have his pseudo-fictional babies.


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Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2)Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Untold is a fantasy novel by Sarah Rees Brennan. This picks up right after the first installment, Unspoken. In this, Kami Glass must deal with the repercussions of her actions at the end of Unspoken, as well as work to uncover more of Sorry-in-the-Vale's secrets, that go down to the roots of the town itself. Meanwhile, she must try to untangle her complicated relationships with Jared Lynburn, Ash Lynburn, and her own family. This is the second in the Lynburn Legacy, the first being Unspoken, and the third novel Unmade set to release later this year.


If you've read this, you know exactly what the above ugh sounds like. It sounds like despair, sadness, emotional exhaustion, and the overwhelming remains of giddy happiness. In short, this book is Unspoken on crack in terms of emotions.

Okay, so let's start at the beginning, rather than ping-ponging my thoughts onto the Internet. Spoilers if you haven't read Unspoken.

Kami: Lovely as always. She has a lot to deal with in this installment, least of which re-finding herself. With the bond broken, she has to redefine herself around the empty spot where Jared used to always be. Without his indefatigable support in her odd ways, she now experiences feeling of insecurity and loneliness, something she was lucky enough not to have to deal with essentially her entire life.

Jared: Dear god, this boy will be the death of me. He has plenty of silent, sulky, infuriating brooding occurring here, but you're able to see that there is plenty of thinking going on behind that furrowed brow of his, as well as a metric ton of vulnerability he's willing to reveal to no one. Almost no one.

At one point, possibly one of my favorite parts of the book, he even shows CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! Praise God, and Sarah Rees Brennan! (Note: his inability to get over himself is not something I disliked about the writing itself, it was merely my own frustration at his personality. I had no problem with it taking this long in terms of the story, merely in terms of Jared standing in the way of his own happiness.)

And then he goes and f***s it up again, per his own tragic prerogative.

Lynburns: Further development on them. Some people disagree with me, but I happen to love Lillian. She's a class-A elitist pompous snob, but she has reasons, and she's undeniably strong in her convictions, which I respect. Ash still isn't my favorite person, but that's due to my own personal preferences with character traits. We get to see reasoning behind some of his actions and thoughts, and realize that he's got just as much going on as everybody else; he just doesn't let it show as easily.

Glass Family: Claire is impossible for me to deal with. Ten and Tomo made me squeal and nearly sob. Jon is perfect.

The story itself is a lot darker; there's less of a mystery aspect, and more of a ticking time bomb. Brennan is not afraid to break a few eggs for this omelet.

And of course, we finally get to see what Brennan means by book two in a trilogy being the "Make Out" book. Fans who endured snippets, you will be rewarded.

This book is utterly fantastic, I finished it in less than three days, and I will now return into hibernation until the final book comes out.

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Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grave Mercy is about a girl named Ismae, who's had a hard life in fifteenth-century Brittany. At fourteen, she is adopted into the convent of Saint Mortain, otherwise known as the God of Death. It's there that she learns the skills to be an assassin, in order to serve her god and country. Once she finishes her training, her debut mission takes her all the way up to the seat of Brittany's power, where she learns that court intrigue is far more deadly than idle gossip, and entire kingdoms hang in the balance. This is the first in the His Fair Assassin trilogy.

I was so glad to finally sit down and take in Grave Mercy. I was a little confused by the presence of a fictional country (I think) in the real world, but Robin LaFevers' world building skill ensured that I didn't get lost. I loved the mythology, especially since polytheism had all but does out in Europe by this time. The fact that they were drawn parallel to the devotion given to saints in Catholicism made my analyzing academic heart go all aflutter.

But enough about practicalities. Ismae was a fantastically wrought character, dynamic and complicated. She has assassin's confidence, yet is self conscious about her body. She also knows how strong she is, and refuses to let the male dictated society she has to work with cast her aside. As Duval says, she is in a "class of her own."

I loved Duval's devotion to his sister and family, even with its complexities. His sense of honor drew me in, and the romantic in me loved his and Ismae's relationship. LaFevers took courtly love, a trope nearly a thousand years old, and breathed life and originality into it.

Her characters were amazingly written, from the housemaids to Beast and De Lornay. I can't wait to read Sybella's story next.

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The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Darkest Minds is a dystopian novel by Alexandra Bracken. In the future, a deadly disease has gone through and damaged the population of children considerably. Those that survived have begun to manifest unique abilities, and no one knows how to handle it. The government finally decides to round up the children and place them in institutions in order to research and possibly find a cure. What those not in the loop don't know is that these institutions are little better than concentration camps, where life is miserable at best, and short-lived at worst. The protagonist Ruby has a past even darker and more twisted than her inmates, and when a possibility of escape arrives, she soon realizes that life on the outside is stranger and more complicated than even she could expect.

This book snuck up on me with how attached I got to it. I was reading along, not thinking I was too invested in it yet, and the next day, it was all I could think about. All I wanted to do was get back to my room so I could sit there and find out what would happen next to Ruby, Liam, Chubs, and Suzume. Something I found interesting was that, at least in the beginning, Ruby is not some strong, brave, defiant heroine whose goal is to take down the system. She's the character you typically scoff at, that you yell at your pages to because they won't stand up and DO something. Because that's realistic. Ruby has been living in what could be considered a concentration camp for six years, told on a daily basis that she's worthless, better off dead, with no forseeable escape. Keeping your head down would be what I would do, at least, and it drew me to Ruby because it made her seem more real. And it doesn't stop the second the plot shifts, but it's a continuing issue with her that she has to overcome throughout the novel.

However, once she grows and begins to realize her self worth, she becomes one of the strongest characters in this book, which I loved. Nothing makes me smile more than visible character development.

I also thought the world building in this was incredibly well done. In Shatter Me, for example, everything is spot on, but the world it takes place in seems a bit randomized, and not entirely developed (though we've been told that will be resolved in the upcoming sequel). The Darkest Minds is one of the better set up dystopians I've read, not simply because it's detailed, but because it is realistic (that word again) to the point where if something like this were to happen, I'd imagine it would go down in a similar way. Alexandra Bracken knows how to spin an amazing impossible tale, and give it a thread of reality strong enough to make it incredible.

And that ending? FOR REAL?!?!?! I can't simply wait around for a sequel with an ending like that! Give me Never Fade, NOW!!!

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Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Slight spoilers ahead. You've been warned.

Eleanor and Park can be summed up in one word: unexpected. I didn't expect it to be set in the eighties. I didn't expect Eleanor to be overweight, or for Park to be Korean. And I didn't expect to fall in love with this book as hopelessly as Eleanor and Park fell in love with each other.

I loved the dual perspective from the two main characters. It allowed me to see how uniquely they thought, and at the same time showed me that the two of them often thought so alike (for instance, they both describe each other at one point as looking like art).

The ending was described by Rainbow Rowell as "like a truck hitting a brick wall," and rightly so. I had to reread the last paragraph before I understood what had happened, but once I did, I wanted to cry for happiness and sadness all at once. The ending is so hopeful, and while it stands perfectly on its own, I would inhale a sequel if it were to happen.

Some favorite parts:
-Park's reaction after the gym scene (you know if you've read)
-Park's evolution into punk
-Eleanor finally giving herself permission to love
-School at midnight
-How subtly they fall for each other. They don't realize it until it's too late.

Read it. Read it read it read it.

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Batten Down the Hatches

So, I finally figured out how to post my Goodreads reviews to my blog, something I've wanted to do for a really long time. I've always enjoyed giving detailed reviews when I finish a book, but I knew that not many people had access to them unless they either were friends with me on Facebook or Goodreads. As a result of that, and because it's a Thursday and I don't feel like writing my essay until later (like, midnight later), I may or may not be flooding this page with a bunch of my older reviews. Not all of them; just the good ones, and just what I feel is worth reading. So prepare to get flooded!

Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'll be honest, I started this book only because my friend (a fan) wanted to see the movie and wanted me to read it before. I didn't finish the book in time, though I did see the film (and was pleasantly surprised by it). But that's beside the point, being that I've read this book, and this is my opinion on it.

I felt that there was a lot of set up in this book. We have to orient ourselves to a whole other world of varying races of vampires, social hierarchy and government, the dynamics of the magical element, all while keeping up with the fact that there's something going on that the characters themselves aren't fully aware of.

I had a few issues with the book, but I recognized that some of the issues had to do with when the book itself came out. This first released in 2007, when both vampire stories and high school/boarding school dramas were in very high demand. At times, Rose or Lissa or whomever would act extremely catty and mean, resorting to tactics with their rivals/enemies in ways that could now be easily identified as bullying. There was also a lot of using words like slut/bitch/fuck/etc. really casually that, as a whole, felt really unnecessary. I wasn't overly offended, it just felt like the text would have gotten its point across without it just as easily. However, I was able to compartmentalize that part of the story and still absorb the plots and conflicts easily.

And once you get down to it, you realize that this story is very compelling. The worldbuilding is strong and fleshed out; nothing feels flimsy or there only in terms of words on a page, instead of feeling like an inherent part of the place I was immersing myself in. Rose is snarky and fun, but she also has a love for her best friend that grounds her and allows her to see past her seventeen years and react accordingly to the bigger picture. Lissa was gentle and kind without coming across as weak or annoying, which I often find characters like her to be. I also loved Dimitri, and not just because I watched him portrayed by "Russia's sexiest actor." All in all, once the main plot got going and not as much focus was put on the "high school" element, it made for an addictive story that is sure to lead to equally as addictive sequels. Now if I can just get my hands on a copy of Frostbite!

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