Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Summary (from Goodreads):
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.
There aren’t a lot of writers out there who can pull off switching points of view between such a large cast of main characters as expertly as Meyer does. Then again, I don’t know if anyone else could be as capable of weaving together multiple fairy tales in a futuristic setting with scary mind control Lunars (aka: moon aliens), space travel, a terrifying plague, and cyborgs. When I actually first heard of the idea for Cinder, I remember thinking did Meyer just compile a list of all the things she liked and then just decide she would somehow include them all in her first book? Seriously, how can she combine so many things, so many different elements and not only make it work, but make these books some of my all time favorite YA?
I have decided that Meyer is a master storyteller. And if I were to meet her, it would be hard not to curtsy or go into a Wayne’s World type, “we’re not worthy” mantra. These books could have gone in so many bad directions, and I was a little scared upon seeing the massive size of Cress, that maybe Meyer was finally just going to put too much into one book, but no. Cress was actually my favorite so far. And not until this book, is it clear just how talented Meyer is at weaving all her stories together. She clearly had stuff planned from the beginning that she’s implanting now, and I was a little amazed at how well put together her story is in its entirety.
There are still certain YA clichés that Meyer doesn’t avoid (like a lot of instant love soul mate type romance); however, she is writing fairy tales. And, I’ve been more than impressed by how these modernized tales are holding close to their originals (which involve a lot of this kind of romance). Also, romance never takes the lead in these books. All of the wonderful girl main characters know how to prioritize. World saving comes first. Also, a lot of these characters put themselves first! They actually think about what works for them and what they need before jumping into an instant love romance. I don’t think Cinder of Scarlet would be in love with their guys if they’re guys’ points of view of the world were any different. And I love this about them.
Cress, on the other hand, took me a little longer to love. But, like the others, I do love her. I’m never as interested in damsels in distress as I am strong female characters. And Cress was kind of a damsel. Thankfully, she was a computer genius damsel. So if you have to be saved by your long-time crush you might as well be able to help him hack into places and hide his space ship from those looking for it.
I also just love Cinder, and was happy to realize that she still remains a central element to the whole series. She has really grown into herself as a person, and a cyborg not to be messed with. It’s interesting watching her learn to use her powers. And Scarlet I can’t really talk about without giving things away. But, poor Scarlet! I hope her story improves in the next book!
Cress was loaded with un-put-down-able adventure and action. There’s a royal wedding to interrupt, African desserts to cross, crashing satellites, kidnapping, surgery, long lost family members, discoveries about the plague that change everything, revenge, torture, and more new characters, more romance, and just more! I need the next book now! I give this one a 10/10. And I cannot wait for Winter to come out. Also, how can you not love an author who manages to thank Tuxedo Mask in her acknowledgements section?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (84)

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 Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (11/4/14):
Description (on Goodreads):
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has.
Why I’m Waiting:
I think the more adequate question should be: why wouldn’t I be waiting? For some reason I remember always having slight trepidation in beginning these books. Maybe it’s something about the nuns that made it off-putting. I don’t know. However, all doubts are vanquished after page 1. And now I have no doubts at all. LaFevers has proven herself to be a great YA writer. And I’m so curious to read about Annith’s adventure. I have a feeling too that more will be learned about the nuns going dark side in this one because Annith has the most experience with everyone. Also, there’s all the seer stuff, so this one promises to be more supernatural. I am beyond looking forward to some supernatural elements to this story. Also, I of course can’t wait for certain cameos of past main characters.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Summary (from Goodreads):
Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called "a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel" in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.
This was a very intense read! I can honestly say I have never read anything else like Code Name Verity. I knew it was going to be sad; a girl spy in German occupied France is interrogated by the Gestapo. I wasn’t expecting happiness by any means of the imagination. I also wasn’t expecting a feminist novel about the women involved in war. And despite a lot of possibly made up (for the purpose delaying her life with the Nazis) jargon about planes, code, and the military in general, which I apparently know very little about, I wasn’t expecting to care so deeply and passionately for the main character’s best friend.
And I guess that’s what this book truly is at its core: a remarkable tale of friendship. We don’t get a lot of YA that focuses on friendship above all else. In a way, it was refreshing to not have any romance in the book at all. (I love romance. I really do. But it really would not have worked here, and I’m so glad the author didn’t find it necessary to add).
There are so many layers to the story that make the writing style shine. The main character has so many names, and I kind of feel like it would be spoiling things to give her true name, so I’m going to call her Queenie, one of her nicknames. Queenie has been captured, interrogated, and tortured by Nazis before the story even truly begins. She’s granted a little reprieve from the torture by being allowed to write her story (and confessions) out for the Gestapo.
But instead of writing from her point of view, Queenie mostly revolves her words around the point of view of Maddie, her best friend/pilot. And it’s not in a narc kind of way, but more in a sentimental way. So the reader actually gets to know and love Maddie first, form the eyes of her best friend. And it wasn’t actually until the last quarter of the book that I truly started feeling more than just empathy for Queenie. I ended up looking up to her and being in awe of her bravery, intelligence, and snark.
After all of Queenie’s words are written (across scrap paper, hotel stationary, and recipe cards), the second half of the book switched to Maddie’s point of view. At first I was really happy to see how things ended up for her, but then I kept worring about Queenie. It’s been my experience that when a book switches point of view, no one is safe –narrators can die when the story switches points of view and as I read more and more about Maddie and the risks she was taking, the more I was biting my nails, delaying finishing the story –terrified for all the women of the book.
The story is told beautifully, with layers upon layers of complexity. There were twists and surprises. And I was never 100% sure I could trust Queenie. Was she letting her country down? Was she lying to the nazis? Either way, I had reasons to question the main character. And this made the book even more interesting and mysterious.  Also, it was fascinating to see the roles women were beginning to play in the military at the time period. I loved learning about Maddie’s climb upward as a pilot.
But more than the wonderful writing, the depth of the story, and the unique topics for a YA book, what really made this book stand out were the characters. I felt like I knew them. I knew what they would decide in dire situations. And I was behind them. Worse than reading about Queenie’s torture, was reading about Maddie knowing of Queenie’s torture.
It took me over a week to read, mostly because I kept postponing finishing it because I was afraid of an ending I couldn’t help but guess at. However, the ending was beautiful to read (sad, beautiful, and worth it). Some times the military language slowed me down a little too. And there were a lot of parts I didn’t really believe needed to be included, but I think that was Queenie’s intentions. I got this one from the library, but I own a copy of the companion novel that was sent to me for review. I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to read it though. It promises more intensity. I know I will get to it eventually because I learned how powerful and amazing a writer Elizabeth Wein was with this book, and it would be one of the dumbest decisions in the world not to read everything else she has to say. I give this a 10/10.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Summary (from Goodreads):
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.
I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of humorous books lately. It’s been a relief of sorts to not be reading any stories about the aftermath of the stupidity and or violence of humankind. I forgot how much I loved this author’s writing style. I have read the first book in the author’s adult series, and I adored it and always regretted never reading more. This book makes me regret it even more. The pure, absolute ridiculousness of the situations that occur in this story sometimes had me laughing for minutes straight, unable to stop.
I knew right away that I would love Sophronia. The book begins with her taking apart a dumbwaiter, to use the special rubber for her shoes. And because of this, there is a dumbwaiter accident of sorts that results in food flying and Sophronia being sent away immediately to finishing school.  I know I’m not adequately explaining the hilarious nature of that beginning scene. I do not have Carriger’s voice or ability to write jokes. Just know the scene was hilarious.
And the world Sophronia lives in is so crazy. It’s a Steam Punk world with flying espionage schools that pose as finishing schools young ladies and other schools for boys who are working on becoming evil geniuses. There’s werewolf weapons teachers, classes on poisons, and also classic etiquette courses that teach girls how to dance, and curtsy, and flutter eyelashes appropriately.
There’s never a dull nor non-humorous moment. There’s secret prototypes, persistent flywaymen, hot air balloons, mechanical animals, girls dressing as boys, fancy balls, ruined petticoats, plenty of spying, and lots of mystery. I loved Sophronia’s relationship with the Sooties (boys who worked in the boiler room). And I guess I loved all of the friends. They were definitely individualized and brought in their own interesting stories to the mix.
There was a little more mean girl drama than I would normally enjoy. At least this mean girl was very bright, and was going though a mission of her own. And a lot of the mean girl moments did turn into some of the most outrageously humorous moments too. There’s one scene with an angry mechanical, a cheese pie, and a flaming gazebo that literally had me laughing for 10 minutes.
The main characters of this book did read a little bit younger than most YA out there. Sophronia is 14. There’s isn’t really much in the way of romance (yet), though there’s plenty of possibilities open. And at first, I didn’t like this because I kept waiting for the romance to happen and I spent too much time waiting. But, eventually I grew to love that this one focused more on machines and friendship than first kisses and soul mates. I think this actually made the book stand out for me even more.
The writing style is over-the-top humorous. There’s enough supernatural elements and characters to keep any paranormal reader happy. The steam punk pieces were done in a way I’m not used to seeing. And the characters each stood out individually enough to make me want to hear more about them. The best friend that faints at blood, but always wants to be included in dangerous spying missions is one awesome best friend. And Soap, the Sootie (who might become a love interest) was just so cool and rebellious. Another favorite character of mine is the friend who was raised by werewolves and doesn’t see the need for being finished. The book just has it all. And I give it a 10/10. I need to go find the sequel now.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (83)

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 Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (6/17/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.
Why I’m Waiting:
I think the question should be: why wouldn’t I be waiting? Books 1 and 2 were epic. So epic that just reading the summary of book 3 has me inching towards my bookshelves, craving a serious binge re-reading session. These books are just so good. There’s this whole fantasy world/ culture/ mythology to it that I have never seen before in any other YA novel. The characters are unbelievable. The world is scary and fascinating. And the story is begging to have one seriously amazing conclusion. Also, I love that all the covers cohesively fit together. This one is red, but the style remains the same, and I love that the publishers didn’t feel the need to change them mid series. Success!

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Good Week in Books (68)

I have had a rather nice book week (even though I wish I did more actual reading…). I purchased two new books. I received one for review (Thanks, Macmillan!). And I lucked out at the movie theater recently because I was given a freebie with my Vampire Academy ticket.

The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas (which looks super adorable!)
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Cress by Marissa Meyer
The Offering by Kimberly Derting

How was your week in books?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vampire Academy...the movie, the book, and YA vampires in general

I went to see the movie (opening weekend). I’ve been a fan of the series for years. I wanted to show support right away in hopes that the movie makers will want to continue with the rest of the series. But, also I was just super excited to see my all time favorite YA character come to life on the screen.
I super enjoyed the movie. Was it as good as it could have been? No. Did they make a lot of it rather cheesy? Yes. Was Rose Hathaway as remarkable as I remembered her? Definitely. Thank goodness they got an actress to adequately perform Rose’s sarcasm! Really, her acting is what the made the movie. If Rose wasn’t just right, I would have hated it. The storyline of the movie wasn’t as good as the book’s, mostly for me because of the cheese-factor.
The writers of the movie had this habit of continually mentioning/sort of poking fun at Twilight. Clearly, the makers of the movie wanted to distinguish themselves from the successful franchise that happens to also put the spotlight on teen vampires. And I guess at first, I thought it was funny. But after a while, this seriously bothered me. There were too many Twilight hating jokes, which of course were not in the book –the two books were actually first published not too far apart.
I am not a huge Twilight fan for various reasons (mostly because I’m a feminist), but I don’t hate the series. I have in fact read them all (except the last one) more than once. And I might own all the movies…I get why people make fun of it. I really do. But, making fun of it at this point just seems kind of old. It’s like this stale joke that older relatives bring up at every Thanksgiving dinner because they don’t remember telling it to you before. They just aren’t that funny any more; they’re boring and cliché. And not to mention, I feel like fans of the Twilight series would like the Vampire Academy series as well. Frankly, I find the Vampire Academy books to be 50 times better, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t cross-appeal. And I just don’t feel like pissing off Twilight fans is the best strategy, marketing-wise.
On top of the stale humor, and the clear distinctions the writers of the movie felt they needed to make, there was a much stronger emphasis on the mean girl/school drama than I remembered reading in the first book. I was curious to see if I remembered things correctly though (it has been years), so I spent my day re-reading book 1, and I guess there was a lot of popular girl drama/bullying. It just didn’t fill as much of the book as it did the movie. I’m not sure the school speech by Lissa in the movie was needed; it made me think way too much of an episode of Disney Channel tv show…but all in all I guess I was impressed.
The one thing the book has that the movie doesn’t is a lot of deep-rooted sexual stereotypes. A lot more negative emphasis is put on Dhampir women. And Rose deals a lot more with sexism and sexual harassment than the movie even began to describe. I guess the book felt a lot darker than the movie. Though, there were lines taken directly from the book –and I felt a lot better about it all after my re-read today.

But back to the whole teen vampire thing…I’m sick of the world comparing all vampires to Edward Cullen. Movie writers shouldn’t have to feel the need to differentiate one vampire from another; this can be shown with a well-written and put together movie –no commentary necessary. Mead has different categories of vampires. There’s some who live in a “civilized” way only drinking blood from voluntary feeders and learning to use their magic. And there’s also the Strigoi, which make me think of very smart zombies. They want to eat and eat, and attack. And I could go on and on about the politics and the world Mead created with these interesting vampires, but I don’t want to spoil it all.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that not all vampires are the same. If they were, I’d find them boring (like an outdated Twilight joke). They have remained interesting to people over centuries. They are a part of classic literature and a part of paranormal romance. So, let’s not group them all together into one category. I sincerely hope that people go see the movie because it would amazing to see all of the books put to film.
Side note: the movie theater I went to was giving away free YA novels with each ticket…I came home with a finished copy of Burn for Burn by Jenny Han. How cool and random is that? Can I receive free YA novels every time I go out? Also, it sadly was not a packed theater. But, I did hear some teens comparing the book to the film at the end, and this made me smile. (The book series is a 10/10. And the movie was more like 8/10).

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (82)

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 Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly (5/6/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
The first in a series of four epic tales set in the depths of the ocean, where six mermaids seek to protect and save their hidden world.

Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe.

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.
Why I’m Waiting:
There are two reasons I’m waiting on this one. First, the story! It kind of sounds like a Sailor Moon/Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants underwater adventure. I am so for this mixture! And second, I absolutely love this author. Donnelly knows how to write a good story. I’ve loved her YA and adult books. She has historical fiction down to a T. And she also knows how to write super compelling, and realistic suspense. I haven’t read any fantasy by her yet, and I have a feeling I will not be disappointed.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catheryne M. Valente

Summary (from Goodreads):
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.
With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.
I knew I would love this book. I’ve owned it for some time and have even read several remarkable reviews for it. For some reason though, it was picking up dust at the bottom of my TBR pile. I am so glad that I added it to my Why Have I not read these books yet 2014 reading challenge. Who knows how long I could have abandoned this gem for other less deserving titles?
I’m not really even sure how exactly to express my love for this one. As the book summary suggests, it’s a mixture of Alice in Wonderland and The Golden Compass, but it’s also Narnia, Neverland and Oz. It’s this kind of modge podge version of all the things I love best about children’s fantasy. It’s even written in the language of Alice in Wonderland with this surreal and also at times absurd and hilariously poignant prose that reads better and more expertly than most adult books do.
There’s a separation between the narrator and the main character. Sometimes the narrator steps back and mentions the adventures of a different character: a very important key. Not many inanimate objects in this book are in fact inanimate. My favorite animated object was the green coat September was given in the beginning, a coat who becomes embarrassed when its not covering September correctly, and who is glad to act as part of September’s ship. There’s also a lamp that can speak to September through writing that appears on it’s shade, and who can hug September with arms…Then there’s the wyvern, who is part wyvern (dragon-like creature), and part library who acts a walking encyclopedia (A-L).
These are just a few of the quirks that add to the whimsical story. There’s also witches, stolen spoons, queens, weird laws about prohibiting flying (unless by flying cat), blue boys, kidnapped friends, stolen shadows and various magical quests for things like swords. I took my time reading this one because it was definitely a book that needed to be slowly savored over time. The language was just so magical, I seriously needed to prolong my overall reading.
I’m not sure I believed all of the phrases from the narrator about children being heartless. And there were definitely a lot of random phrases about things that were stated as fact. Like courage needs to be washed and all people are born with luck that they need to take better care of. But these odd phrasings that I didn’t always agree with definitely added to the absurd charm of the world September went to.
On top of great characters, beautiful language, whimsical charm, and absurd humor, there was also the remarkable world-building. I felt like I was seeing all of the crazy things that September was seeing. The details of it all were fantastic. So fantastic, that I was craving pumpkin pie for days after reading the Autumn scenes. There isn’t anything negative for me to say about this one. I loved it completely. I cannot wait to get my hands on the rest of the series. It gets a 10/10.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Enders by Lissa Price

Summary (from Goodreads):
With the Prime Destinations body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn't want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save Callie's life - but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena's memories, too ...and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body? This is the thrilling sequel to "Starters.”
I kind of loved Starters, so I made sure to put a hold on this at the library right away. I think I’m the first person to read this library book (how cool is that?) I’ve read mixed reviews for both books. I also re-read the first book for a book club I was in before I moved from Chicago. I remember liking the book more the first go-round, but I still enjoyed it.
What Price has going for her is the suspense. I haven’t read a book with this much suspense in a long time. But, what makes her suspense work above all else is just the pure terror of what she has come up with. This book has taken the terror of book 1 and multiplied it times 100. Yes, the company that was renting out teen bodies for old people to do with as they pleased, was shut down. However, now it’s discovered that all of the starters that have had their bodies rented out can also be weapons. This is demonstrated by one of them blowing up at a mall (after being taken over mentally by an outside party)!
 Callie also still has multiple voices in her head, along with the knowledge that she is special; she’s the best weapon out there. And everyone wants to get their hands on her. There’s more kidnappings, experiments, high tech tests, bodies being rented, mind control, and super gross enders.
There were twists. But, I found the twists rather predictable. I don’t think this was because they were bad, but more because I read so much YA and it’s really hard to do such big twists and remain surprising, for me. The ending whizzed by in one high action blur. And there was an epic, almost Ella Enchanted type moment when Callie takes control of things for herself.  And I absolutely loved this moment.
I liked having my questions answered. I loved having a two book series, instead of a trilogy! But, I do think some of the answers to long-lasting questions were kind of zipped past. I’m not sure I understood what happened with Callie’s father. I’m not sure I understand Hyden’s explanations for everything. And I certainly did not buy the very end. I’m not going to go into details about it because I’m not mean. But, it did kind of feel like the author ran out of ideas for a plausible ending that would bring characters together.
I read this super fast. I needed answers as much Callie did. And frankly, I had to know how things could end for these teens with chips inside their heads. I recommend this series to fans of James Patterson’s YA, and fans of all things suspense. I give it an 8/10.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (81)

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 Taking by Kimberly Derting (4/29/14):

Description (from Goodreads):
When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?
Why I’m Waiting:
For starters, Kimberly Derting is awesome. I have read and loved all her other YA books. And I will most likely continue to read and love all her other YA books to come. I’m so excited to start a new series with her. And wow, the plot sounds amazing. It also sounds pretty sci-fi, and I’m super excited to see where that goes. I’m not the biggest fan of the cover, but I’m usually not the biggest fan of her covers. Thankfully her covers aren’t representative of how good the books are.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Summary (from Goodreads):
Bethany Griffin continues the journey of Araby Worth in Dance of the Red Death—the sequel to her teen novel Masque of the Red Death.

In Dance of the Red Death, Araby’s world is in shambles—betrayal, death, disease, and evil forces surround her. She has no one to trust. But she finds herself and discovers that she will fight for the people she loves, and for her city.

Her revenge will take place at the menacing masked ball, though it could destroy her and everyone she loves…or it could turn her into a hero.

With a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, Bethany Griffin concludes her tragic and mysterious Red Death series with a heroine that young adult readers will never forget.
I absolutely 100% am on board for a YA retelling of an Edgar Allen Poe story. I loved the first book, and I was really excited to get my hands on this one because the characters hadn’t quite gotten to the Edgar Allen Poe parts in the first book (minus some hints of things to come and some character names).
I was not disappointed. It was so cool being able to see all the Poe connections in this one. I was also dying to see how things would end with the love triangle. I wanted answers about Araby’s father. And I have been anxiously awaiting for someone to get payback on Prospero.
I know I must have said this about the first book, but seriously, this book has it all: love triangle, classic literature references, the plague, flying machines, masked balls, scary swamp people, religious zealots, dead bodies (everywhere), torture, and even a smidgen of hope. I did kind of miss all the dance club scenes from the previous book, but I was definitely willing to trade not having those scenes for also not having so many depressing thoughts of suicide scenes.
I guess the charcters had too much escaping, world saving, and romantic understanding to do to have too many depressing thoughts. This book was one nonstop action-filled adventure and Araby has finally become a strong, tough female lead who wants to do things on her own like learn how to use a knife.
Add all the romantic tension to the crazy plot and this book was just pure awesome. The love triangle stuff was done so, so well. I could see why Araby would have a hard time deciding. The scene where the three of them all camped out together, away from all their other friends, was so entertaining. And the ending scene at the ball with the messed up deadly game was beyond cool to read.
There were moments where Griffin literally seemed to be channeling Poe. Some scenes are so surreal that I had to remind myself that they were actually happening in the story, and that they weren’t dream sequences. But, I think that was the point. So much of this story was about escapism and I’m not even sure how many people were there, but also not really there at the same time. Everyone who wasn’t dying from illness or violence was drinking or drugging away their problems. And this made all the party scenes so much more intense. And even though Araby was not intoxicated there were some scenes that just flowed like dream sequences, and I couldn’t not compare this to the original Poe.
The writing in these books is unique and wonderful. The main character truly grew into a strong, rebellious fighter. The love triangle was the best kind. The suspense was killer. The plot was extremely dark and fascinating. And all my questions were finally answered. I hope this author continues to write YA. This gets a 10/10 from me.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Infinityglass by Myra McEntire

Summary (from Goodreads):
The stakes have risen even higher in this third book in the Hourglass series.

The Hourglass is a secret organization focused on the study of manipulating time, and its members — many of them teenagers -­have uncanny abilities to make time work for them in mysterious ways. Inherent in these powers is a responsibility to take great care, because altering one small moment can have devastating consequences for the past, present, and future. But some time trav­elers are not exactly honorable, and sometimes unsavory deals must be struck to maintain order.

With the Infinityglass (central to understanding and harnessing the time gene) at large, the hunt is on to find it before someone else does.

But the Hourglass has an advantage. Lily, who has the ability to locate anything lost, has determined that the Infinityglass isn't an object. It's a person. And the Hourglass must find him or her first. But where do you start searching for the very key to time when every second could be the last?
I’ve really enjoyed reading this series. And I never even really expect to like these books as much as I do. I’m always slightly disappointed that it’s always in the point of view of someone else. I had no idea how the whole infinityglass being a person concept would go, and I was a little worried going in that it would be kind of cheesy.
However, I was sucked into the pages of this book immediately. For starters, it’s in New Orleans, a city filled with so much history and excuses for time rips. Then, there’s the main character, Hallie, the infinityglass itself. She is so strong, audacious, and loud. She does “unlawful” jobs for her mobster father. She sneaks out of her ivory tower (aka: New Orleans mansion) whenever she can. She also has the ability to change her features (like Mystique from X-Men). And in her spare time, she dances in her studio.
Add sizzling romance to a ticking clock, and throw in a million and one rips and a couple of heists and this book really never had a dull moment. I couldn’t stop reading it. I literally finished it in one sitting. McEntire is definitely a fan of insta-love. However, I guess if you have to write insta-love, you better make it sizzle and stand out. And this definitely did both.
Everything ends with a lot of water, a kidnapping, and some serious family drama. I seriously could not put this book down until I read the last page. I liked seeing the return of old characters. However, I did kind of feel like their role in the whole thing was a little irrelevant. Like they kind of came into the plot to add a few humorous teen hangout scenes. I did kind of keep wondering why they all needed to be in New Orleans. I’m not really complaining –they added a lot of fun. I’m just not sure it made sense.
And while I’m a sucker for good romance, and I really do like how McEntire writes it, I’m also always kind of hesitant in these series where every character finds their soulmate as a teen. One of the reasons I have any issues with Katie McGarry’s books is the same thing. I get wanting to explore the multiple points of views of different characters, but when you do this it makes love at first sight for so many teenagers a little harder to believe.
All in all though, I adored this book. I also loved the series (I think it’s over now…). These characters are great. The suspense is awesome. And I love all the creepy, historical time rift things. The romance is good too. I give it a 9/10.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Good Week in Books (67)

It’s been a good January. So many good books came out this month. I received the last of my pre-orders in the mail. And I also received two more for review (thank you, Hyperion!).

by Jodi Meadows
Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
Alienated by Melissa Landers
How was your week in books?