Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman | Review

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman | ReviewIlluminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 608
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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5 Stars

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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At this point I feel like I don’t even need to write a review for this book.  So many other bloggers have read it and reviewed it and I’m pretty sure they have all said everything that I am going to say in this review.  Oh well, you’ll get my review anyway.

Illuminae was one of the most buzzed about books at BEA this year and after reading it, I know why.  I’ve never been a fan of science fiction books and I didn’t think it would be any different with Illuminae.  Boy was I wrong.  I adored everything about this book, from start to finish.  If I had the time to reread it right now, I would.  If you’re like me and a bit skeptical, I understand.  Ignore your misgivings and read it anyway!

The format of Illuminae makes for a quick, easy read.  Although I have to admit, the blacking out of swear words didn’t really do anything except make me curious.  I kept trying to figure out what words would fit in the sentences.  I’m weird like that.  Other than that, the story is told through interviews, chats, schematics, journals, and other odd styles.  I loved everything about that!  I admit there were some parts that confused me a bit and I had to reread sections to make sense of everything but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I was powering through the book.  I just wanted to keep reading and I probably read a little too fast.  I guess that just means I’ll need to reread the book to see if I missed anything.

I was a little worried that because of the style of writing, I wouldn’t be able to connect to the characters.  That was not the case at all.  Kady and Ezra were really easy to like and I truly loved their relationship.  They definitely had their issues but they were so good together.  Even their arguments were cute.  There was actually very little physical interaction between the two but that didn’t bother me.  I’m all for romance and sexy times in my books but the build up in Illuminae might have been even better than actual sexy times between the two.  Together, the two were awesome.  Separate, they were also awesome.  They were strong and smart and funny.  I went through the spectrum of emotions while reading their stories.  I laughed, I squealed, and I definitely cried.  Boy did I cry.  Just goes to show that an amazing story can be told in many different ways.

The story itself is pulse pounding and full of surprises.  I really didn’t know what to expect with this story and I think that was a good thing.  I had no expectations for Illuminae but even if I had, it would have exceeded them.  The story is so unique and Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman did an amazing job with it.  And while things tie up pretty nicely at the end, there is clearly more to come.  I look forward to seeing what these two have in store for readers next.  I’m not sure anything can top Illuminae but I hope the rest of the series does.

Overall, Illuminae deserves every bit of praise it has received so far and I hope that it becomes a huge hit when it hits shelves soon.  Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman are two authors that are new to me but I’m definitely going to seek out more of their work now.  Add this to your TBR, if you haven’t already.  You won’t regret it.

What others are saying about Illuminae:

Cuddlebuggery’s review: “This is fresh and spectacular and clever.”

Book Blog Bake’s review: “There’s so much to love about it, I don’t know where to start.”

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “For real, this book took me on quite the journey and I do not know about you all, but when I come back from a particularly great trip, I have this disoriented feeling as I try to get back to business as usual.”

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater | Review

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater | ReviewThe Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #2
Published by Scholastic on September 17, 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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5 Stars

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

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Maggie Stiefvater has never suffered from second book syndrome and that is still the case with The Dream Thieves. I was surprised to find myself enjoyed The Dream Thieves even more than I enjoyed The Raven Boys. This book truly took things to the next level.

The hunt is still on for Glendower but this time there are new players in the game and Glendower isn’t the only one being hunted.  Ronan’s ability is worth more than he ever could have known and he’s only just learning how it works.  There are people out there who know about the ability and would do whatever it takes to take control of it.  Not only that, Ronan is also learning that he may not be the only one who possesses the ability to take things from dreams and he starts to wonder what exactly has been taken from dreams and what is real.

The characters really start to change in The Dream Thieves.  I honestly wasn’t sure who I liked anymore.  Gansey was still Gansey but he starting being a lot wiser and more introspective.  Adam changed the most and I wasn’t impressed with the changes.  His anger started coming out a lot more and he was downright rude to Blue and his other friends.  I still felt bad for him because of his history and how it affected him but it was still no excuse.  Blue finally started to see that she wasn’t being fair to herself or to Adam and I was proud of her for that.  The prophecy about her true love really started to come into play in The Dream Thieves.  Blue is a strong girl but there were times when she broke down and I loved her even more for that.  Then there was Ronan.  I didn’t love him in the first book but I sure do now.  That boy is so twisted up inside.  I felt horrible for everything he’d been through but I was so happy to see how things were starting to change for him.  He showed the  most growth and development of anyone in The Dream Thieves.  The glances into his past also helped bring me around to see his side of things.

The story went places I never expected it to go.  I haven’t been able to predict a single thing about this series.  Every little detail somehow ties together into the bigger picture.  Readers can tell that everything is leading up to something big but I have no clue how the story will get there or what’s going to happen once it does get there.  Also, it’s impossible to tell who is good and who is bad and who does bad things just because they have to.  Each and every character is so complex and has a story all their own.  Good luck trying to figure anything out about this story or the characters.

Overall, The Dream Thieves continues the epicness (new word!) that is the Raven Cycle.  I’m excited to dive into Blue Lily, Lily Blue and see where Maggie Stiefvater takes Blue and her boys next.

What others are saying about The Dream Thieves:

The Streetlight Reader’s review: “The magic of The Raven Boys was lost in this book and the characters I had come to love were no longer present in this book.”

Starlight Book Reviews’ review: “While I missed the heaviness of the first book, it was still appropriate given the focus on Ronan and his progression and revelations.”

Wrapped Up In Books’ review: ” I highly recommend reading it one sitting (or as few as possible) so you can completely immerse yourself in the world and the writing.”

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater | Review

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater | ReviewThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Published by Scholastic on September 18, 2012
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

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I feel like at this point anything I say about The Raven Boys and Maggie Stiefvater will just be reiteration.  I adore her writing and The Raven Boys is probably the best thing she’s written so far.  And I can say that because I’ve read all her other books.

Where do I start with this one?  There was honestly not a single thing about it that I didn’t like.  The characters, the writing, the setting, the story, every last thing about it was completely perfect.  I’ve always had a bit of an issue getting into Maggie Stiefvater’s books because while her writing is gorgeous it is a little weighty at times.  I didn’t find myself having that issue with The Raven Boys.  The story was so captivating that I was hooked from the very start.

The characters in The Raven Boys are some of the quirkiest characters I have ever read about and I mean that in the best possible way.  Blue and her family are psychics.  Well, technically Blue’s family is full of psychics, she just has this weird power to amplify all their supernatural energy.  Growing up in her family made Blue far from normal and she loved to seek out other things and people that were not exactly normal.  I loved that about her.  Her family cracked me up.  Maura was a very chill mom but she definitely looked out for her daughter.  Calla was volatile but fun.  Persephone was just plain odd.  As for Neeve, she was a mystery.  To be honest, all of Blue’s family was a bit of a mystery.

As for the Raven Boys, I honestly don’t know which one I love the most.  Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah were all such intricate, amazing characters.  Gansey was a little entitled but he meant well most of the time.  Ronan was a badass but I loved him.  He definitely had some attitude problems but he intrigued me from the start.  Adam was such a sweetheart and my heart broke for him.  Noah was a bit of a mystery but he was such a cutie.  They were a group of guys I never would have expected to be friends but they all worked together.

The story was so intricate and I never had a clue what was going to happen next.  There is mythology mixed in and magic and romance and so many awesome things I couldn’t help but love.  The Welsh mythology about Owen Glendower was something I knew nothing about and while there wasn’t a whole lot of information about it, it added just another great layer to the story.

Overall, The Raven Boys deserves every bit of hype that it has gotten so far.  I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to read it but I’m also sad that I don’t have all the books in the series to devour in one epic binge-reading session.

What others are saying about The Raven Boys:

Writer of Wrongs’ review: “Characters is how Stiefvater won me over, and characters is how she earned my heart, and Gansey characters is why I neeeeeed the sequel nowwwwww.”

Oh, The Books!’ review: “As if the plot wasn’t enough to keep me going, this book has some great characters.”

The Great Noveling Adventure’s review: “Though Raven Boys seems to be marketed toward the plotline about Blue and the fate of her true love, it’s the quest and characters that carry the story.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blog Tour: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers | Review

Blog Tour: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers | Review

Blog Tour: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers | ReviewMortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin #3
Published by Houghton Mifflin on November 4, 2014
Genres: Historical Fantasy
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

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...

picadillyblueWhere do I even begin?  I didn’t care much for Annith in the first two books and I was nervous that I wouldn’t love Mortal Heart as much as Grave Mercy or Dark Triumph because of that.  I could not have been more wrong.

Annith is just as awesome as Ismae or Sybella, just in very different ways.  I think that’s one of the reasons these books are so awesome.  Each character brings something new to the table.  Annith is a little too obedient at first but it’s quickly clear that she has a mind of her own and she’s going to follow her own instincts.  She’s smart and feisty and I did not see that coming. She’s very guarded and she expects very little from people.  That’s why Balthazaar takes her by surprise.  He wants to protect her and she can’t figure out why.  All she knows is that she is drawn to him from the first moment they meet.  And let me tell you, I can’t blame the girl.  Balthazaar is my favorite of the three male love interests in this trilogy.  Beast and Duval are awesome but they can’t hold a candle to Balthazaar.  Once you read Mortal Heart, you’ll know what I mean.

The story is a lot faster paced than the first two books or maybe it was just that I loved the characters so much that I couldn’t stop reading.  There was still a lot of politics in the book but not quite as much as the first two books.  The politics are extremely interesting though.  I’ve never been a fan of them but this series is just so well done that I find every little thing about it fascinating.

Also, the cameos were beyond perfect and I loved seeing Beast, Sybella, Ismae, and Duval again.  I didn’t remember everything from the first two books when I first started Mortal Heart but things quickly came back to me as I read.  It also helped that the stories are all overlapping.  Some of the things that happened in the first two books haven’t actually happened yet and so it’s refreshing to be able to read about them again.

Overall, it’s hard for me to put into words my love for this series.  It’s not often I read a trilogy and love every book but that was the case with this one.  I can’t recommend this series enough and if you’ve already read the first two, rush out and get this one as soon as possible.

What others are saying about Mortal Heart:

Waking Brain Cells’ review: “A fitting end to a grand trilogy, I can’t wait to see what LaFevers has for us next!”

Good Books & Good Wine’s review: “Readers who like their trilogies to have breathtaking endings, kick ass heroines, self contained but connected stories, and expansive character development paired with intricate world building would do well to pick up Mortal Heart as well as it’s predecessors, Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph.”

Read Breathe Relax’s review: “This final book did an amazing job of wrapping up all the stories, and I think Annith is my favorite leading lady yet.”

Robin-Pushing-Tree-281x300 About the author:

Robin LaFevers was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and 19th century poetry. It is not surprising she grew up to be a hopeless romantic.

Though she has never trained as an assassin or joined a convent, she did attend Catholic school for three years, which instilled in her a deep fascination with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She has been on a search for answers to life’s mysteries ever since.

While many of those answers still elude her, she was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in the foothills of southern California.

In addition to writing about teen assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, she writes books for middle grade readers, including the Theodosia books and the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. You can learn more about those books at www.rllafevers.com.

Where you can find Robin:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Tumblr

Giveaway!

(1) One winner will receive a rustic arrow necklace, a leather bound notebook and a hardcover of MORTAL HEART! US Only.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson | Review

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson | ReviewI'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published by Dial Books For Young Readers on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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5 Stars

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. 
 
This radiant, fully alive, sometimes very funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

picadillyblueI’ll Give You The Sun is Jandy Nelson’s highly anticipated sophomore novel.  With my love of her debut novel, The Sky Is Everywhere, I had supremely high expectations for I’ll Give You The Sun.  To be completely honest, my expectations were probably even a little unrealistic.  However, Jandy Nelson definitely delivered and you completely met my expectations and more.

I’ll Give You The Sun is told in a unique way.  Each chapter is told from either Jude or Noah’s point of view.  However, not only does it switch points of view, it also switches from past to present.  Jude’s chapters are about the present and Noah’s chapters are about the past.  It’s an interesting way to tell their story and after reading the book, it’s really the only way that could possibly work.  It’s also very obvious to readers who is narrating each chapter and whether or not it’s in the past or present.

Jude and Noah are twins who couldn’t be more different.  Jude is a bit of a conformist, doing whatever it takes to fit in.  Noah is the opposite.  He doesn’t care what people think of him as long as he likes himself.  At least, that’s how it is at first.  When you switch from the past to the present you realize that the twins have kind of switched roles.  Jude is now the unique one who doesn’t do things to please other people anymore.  As for Noah, he is almost unrecognizable as the boy he used to be.  Every unique aspect of him is gone.  It takes almost the whole of the book to find out what exactly happened to the twins to cause these changes.

The twins are the focal characters of the story and for a while I had trouble connecting with them.  I honestly thought about giving up on this one because I wasn’t sure how I felt about Jude or Noah, past or present.  Jude came across kind of bitchy all the time and Noah came across a bit whiny and immature at first.  However, as the story progressed, new people came into each of their lives and helped them grow and develop.  The addition of these new people in each of their lives also helped bring them back together.  Their stories were so interwoven it was sometimes hard to see how the two of them could ever have such a rift between them.  Their bond always showed through no matter how they outwardly felt towards each other.

I’ll Give You The Sun is a story of family.  At it’s center is the story of Noah and Jude and what happened to tear them apart.  However, the twins weren’t the only ones affected by what tore them apart.  It affected their whole family and throughout the course of the book their family is torn apart and put back together again, in a new, not necessarily better or worse, way.  Also, I’ll Give You The Sun shows that maybe you can choose to add members to your family but that you can’t ever get rid of the originals.

Jandy Nelson’s lyrical writing style is showcased in I’ll Give You The Sun.  Part of my love for The Sky Is Everywhere was for Jandy Nelson’s writing and I knew I would read this one regardless of the subject matter.  That being the case, the writing didn’t overshadow or take a backseat to the story of Noah and Jude.  Also, I mentioned above that I had trouble connecting to the characters.  The writing really helped me move past that.  I honestly felt that I would be missing out on an amazing story if I did not finish something with such beautiful writing.  And I was right.

Overall, I’ll Give You The Sun is really just one book I feel that everyone should read.  My review will never do it justice.  All I can say is that I feel like readers will be missing out if you don’t give this one a chance.  I’ll Give You The Sun has definitely earned a permanent place on my favorites shelf.

P.S. I feel like I left some things out of my review but I just figured I should probably stop now so you can get your hands on a copy.

What others are saying about I’ll Give You The Sun:

Teen Librarian Toolbox’s review: “For me, this is one of the best books I have read in 2014.”

Forever 17 Books’ review: “I can’t wait for everyone to meet and fall in love with these characters as much as I did.”

Jenna Does Books’ review: “In the end, I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN is an excellent story about coming of age, finding yourself and falling in love.”

Monday, August 11, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins | Review

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins | ReviewIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Published by Penguin Teen on August 14, 2014
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

picadillyblueDoes it really come as a surprise to anyone that I absolutely adored the final book in the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy?  No?  Didn’t think so.  Isla and the Happily Ever After may just be the best book of the trilogy, in my opinion.

Isla and the Happily Ever After brings the trilogy full circle.  The story is once again mainly set at the School of America in Paris and the Paris scenery is just as wonderful as it was in Anna and the French Kiss.  However, the book isn’t fully set in Paris.  There is a little side trip to Barcelona as well as some time spent in New York City.  Stephanie Perkins’ books may just be contemporary romances but the setting always makes things interesting.  While I loved the Paris setting, I think Barcelona was my favorite part of Isla and the Happily Ever After.  Just like Anna and Etienne have Point Zero in Paris, Isla and Josh have La Sagrada Familia and so many other places throughout Barcelona.  They also have a few places throughout New York City and while a good portion of the book was set there, I felt more like their relationship was centered around Paris and Barcelona.

Part of the reason I loved Isla and the Happily Ever After so much was Isla.  Josh too but Isla was really a mystery before this book and she quickly showed to be a complex character with a story that I really connected with.  Isla never felt like she was good enough for anyone.  It was pretty clear that she didn’t think much of herself and so why would anyone else?  Her self esteem was beyond low but she was never a depressing character.  She had her best friend, Kurt, who suffered from Autism.  Kurt was a fantastic character.  His personality was perfect for Isla.  They grew up together and so they knew each other as if they were siblings, which they pretty much were.  I also loved how much Kurt meant to Isla.  She was willing to give up other friendships if the other person couldn’t accept Kurt.  They showed true loyalty to each other.

As for Josh, he was a much more complex character than I ever could have imagined.  Readers only get a glimpse of Josh in Anna and the French Kiss but you get his full story in Isla and the Happily Ever After.  He seems totally carefree at first but it quickly becomes clear that that is just a facade.  Josh is a deep character that balanced Isla perfectly.  Josh and Isla were pretty much opposites but they worked together.  Josh brought out a fun side of Isla and challenged her to try new things.  Isla brought out a more serious side to Josh and forced him to really look at why he did some of the things he did.  Their romance was a bit of a whirlwind but it was so much fun.  I wanted to see them both happy and it was clear that they brought out the best in each other.

The cameos from Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket were minor but perfect.  I expected a bit more of them than I actually got but I was actually okay with that.  Their parts in the story were absolutely wonderful.  Isla and the Happily Ever After tied things up for all three of the couples and I couldn’t have asked for more from Stephanie Perkins.  The brief glimpses of Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket definitely left me with a smile on my face.

Overall, Isla and the Happily Ever After could not have been better.  It’s the perfect ending to this trilogy and it left me eager to read whatever Stephanie Perkins writes next.  If you haven’t already started this series, you should really get on that.

What others are saying about Isla and the Happily Ever After:

Reading Teen’s review: “Isla and the Happily Ever After is a charmingly sweet addition to the trilogy.”

Lite-Rate-Ture’s review: “Stephanie Perkins knows how to end her story so well, I just felt my tiny heart clench inwards.”

Jenuine Cupcakes’ review: “Isla And The Happily Ever After is intense, heart-wrenching romantic perfection!”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo | Review

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo | ReviewRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Published by Henry Holt on June 17, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 417
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

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.

picadillyblueRuin and Rising, the final book in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, lived up to all my expectations.  I couldn’t have asked for more from this debut series!  I wasn’t a fantasy fan when I started the first book but Leigh Bardugo has definitely turned me into one now.

Leigh Bardugo wastes no time diving right back into the story.  Ruin and Rising picks up shortly after the ending of Siege and Storm.  Readers will immediately recognize the situation that Alina is in.  I’m normally a little confused when I dive back into a series but Leigh Bardugo gives just enough information about the previous books that I knew exactly what was going on.  While the story is a bit slow to start, it’s made clear very quickly how high the stakes are in this final installment.

Alina has taken her role as the Sun Summoner very seriously.  She doesn’t consider her a saint like the Apparat does but she knows that she is the only one who can possibly defeat the Darkling.  However, the power has also gone to her head a bit.  She knows this and she worries constantly about what the third amplifier might do to her.  She’s willing to sacrifice her own life for the lives of others though.  Alina is a very selfless character and while she may not be a saint, she sure is willing to be a martyr.  There wasn’t a page in Ruin and Rising where my heart didn’t break for the position Alina was stuck in.  The day she was discovered as the Sun Summoner, her life was pretty much forfeit.  That girl from the first book, with a crush on her best friend and hope for a future together, is no longer there.

Speaking of the best friend she had a crush on: Mal is not the same either.  It’s clear he and Alina love each other but what isn’t clear is what their future holds.  Mal has become a huge part of Alina’s force against the Darkling.  He may just be human but he knows how to fight and he’s willing to give up his life for Alina.  He’s just as lovely as he was in the first book but it’s clear how much he has grown since then.

As for the Darkling, he really hasn’t changed much since the first book.  He’s still evil and unnecessarily cruel to everyone that means something to Alina.  However, he does show that he has a heart in Ruin and Rising.  He comes across as cold and heartless for most of the trilogy but there are glimpses beneath his exterior.  I still can’t see why people would want Alina to end up with him but I was pleased to see more to him and his backstory.  Also, I did get the special edition from Barnes and Noble which included a prequel story featuring him and Baghra.  If you have the option, get that version because that short story showed a very different side to him.

While the ending didn’t come as a shock to me there were plenty of times throughout the book that I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.  Leigh Bardugo managed to throw me for a loop more than once in Ruin and Rising.  Leigh Bardugo is an author who does not shy away from killing off her characters.  I won’t say any more than that but just be prepared for tears.

Overall, Ruin and Rising solidified my love of Leigh Bardugo’s writing, characters, stories, etc.  I can’t wait for more from her.  If you haven’t started this series, now is the perfect time to binge read them all.

What others are saying about Ruin and Rising:

Shae Has Left The Room’s review: “Thank you, Leigh Bardugo, for such a wonderful adventure.” 

My Friends Are Fiction’s review: “What a bitter sweet feeling to have upon finishing Ruin and Rising; on one hand I’m completely thrilled with the choices Bardugo made in her story but at the same time I’m distraught that we have to say goodbye to these characters we’ve grown to know and love.”

Carina’s Books’ review: “I just cannot describe how much I loved Ruin and Rising. “

Friday, May 2, 2014

Something Real by Heather Demetrios | Review

Something Real by Heather Demetrios | ReviewSomething Real by Heather Demetrios
Published by Henry Holt on February 4, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

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Something Real by Heather Demetrios has garnered a lot of praise in the few short months that it’s been out.  I’m a huge contemporary fan but for some reason this one wasn’t on my radar until after publication.  It’s safe to say that every bit of praise this book has gotten has been well-deserved.  Heather Demetrios’ debut novel has definitely put her on my radar as an author to watch for.

Bonnie™ Baker is one of 13 kids and one of the key members of the reality show Baker’s Dozen.  The fact that she doesn’t want anything to do with the show or MetaReel, the company behind the show, means nothing to her parents.  4 years after the show is cancelled (following the split of Bonnie™’s parents) MetaReel decides it’s time for a reboot with the clever name of Baker’s Dozen: Fresh Batch.  Once again, Bonnie™ has no say in being on the show.  She is one of the main reasons people watch the show and MetaReel will do anything they have to to keep her on it.  What follows is a lot of televised drama and Bonnie™ coming to terms with who she is and who she wants to be.

First off, this book may come off as a fluffy contemporary read but that really isn’t all there is to it.  Bonnie™ has a lot more going on in her life than just being forced to be on a reality tv show with her crazy family.  She’s got high school, friends, boys, college, depression, anxiety, and all of it is broadcast to the world through 24/7 live streaming cameras throughout her house.  Her phone is bugged, she’s followed everywhere she goes by paparazzi and while the cameras aren’t allowed on school grounds, they are allowed in the car on the way to and from school.  Bonnie™ has nowhere to escape to and she’s got a lot to escape from.

Don’t get me wrong though, there are some very fluffy aspects of Something Real.  Patrick Sheldon, for instance.  I’ve heard a lot of people complain that he’s too perfect but in this case, I didn’t mind it.  I thought Bonnie™ deserved a little something perfect in her life and Patrick was it.  He was supremely quirky, super cute in a grungy way, smart, and so funny.  He got Bonnie™’s sense of humor and he completely understood where she was coming from with all the fame drama.  He was always there for her even when she tried her hardest to push him away.  He is my new literary love.

Bonnie‘s friends were also pretty perfect although they sometimes didn’t quite understand why she was so camera shy.  Tessa and Mer stood by Bonnie through everything and that was tough since she was kind of a bitch at times.  They got that she had been through a lot and just needed them by her side no matter what she wanted to do.  Benton™ was also always there for Bonnie™.  Her family may not have been the greatest but at least she got Benton™.  Benny cracked me up.  He definitely lightened the mood throughout the book.  Also, he and Matt had some of the most aww inducing moments.  They were adorable.  There was also Lexie™ who didn’t initially impress me but by the end I was pleased with her.  

The family aspect really grated on my nerves.  I was so mad at Bonnie™’s parents, both Andrew and Beth (her real parents) and Kirk (her stepdad).  None of them stood up for her rights.  They made her out to be the bad guy when it was very clearly all of them that were the bad guys.  I really wanted to reach in the book and slap some sense into all three of them.  For people who wanted a big family, they didn’t know how to act like a family at all.  

As for the ending, it was perfect for this situation.  I wasn’t happy necessarily but it was realistic and that made me happy.  While there were some things I really wanted to see happen, I’m almost glad they didn’t because I don’t think Bonnie™’s strength would have come across as well as it did.  

Overall, I’ll stop rambling now so you can go out and buy your own copy of Something Real.  Listen to all the amazing reviews and read this as soon as you can!

What others are saying about Something Real:

Alexa Loves Books’ review: “Something Real was absolutely riveting.”

The Book Rat’s review: “Something Real is a pitch-perfect coming of age story about finding yourself and your voice, and how much that struggle is compounded when all eyes are on you.”

The Bevy Bibliotheque’s review: “Thankfully a slew of positive reviews from bloggers I trust convinced me to buy it, for I now have a new favorite sitting on my shelf.”

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (DoSaB #3) by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (DoSaB #3) by Laini TaylorDreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3
Published by Little Brown on April 8, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 528
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

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?

picadillyblueThis review does not contain spoilers for Dreams of Gods & Monsters but does contain spoilers from the previous two books.

I was quite a bit nervous when I started Dreams of Gods & Monsters.  Don’t get me wrong, I expected nothing less than perfection from Laini Taylor.  That wasn’t what I was nervous about.  After only three books I’d come to love every character like they were my own friends and I was terrified of how their stories were going to end.  I’m pleased to report that while the ending wasn’t quite as happy as I’d hoped, I was very pleased with it, all the same.

To be honest, this isn’t a series where I actually expected a happy ending.  From the very first book it was clear that Laini Taylor wasn’t afraid to take chances and kill off some very well loved characters.  Knowing that, I kind of knew a little bit of what to expect from Dreams of Gods & Monsters.  I was on the edge of my seat through the whole book.   I laughed a lot, cried a little, and was left smiling like a lunatic at the end.  Like I said, it wasn’t exactly a happy ending but it was the perfect one for this story.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters is not an action-packed book.  From the epilogue of Days of Blood & Starlight, I expected to be immediately entrenched in this war between Jael and the Chimaera/Misbegotten.  I was quite surprised when instead we were taken back to before the epilogue and given a lot more detail about what exactly went down to get the Chimaera and Misbegotten together in those Kirin caves.  The whole book was like that.  There were times when I was expecting one thing (mainly some fighting) and instead I got negotiations and rational logic.  That’s not to say that there isn’t some fighting (and some deaths) but there was a lot less of it than expected.  However, that didn’t make me dislike the book.  There was so much going on and so many little pieces of the puzzle that didn’t seem like they could possibly fit together.  Laini Taylor has a way with weaving stories that completely takes readers by surprise.  Trying to figure out how everything was going to tie together in the end was enough to keep me hooked.

All of (well most of, RIP Brimstone) my favorite characters were back for this final installment.  Karou was as wonderful and brilliant as ever.  Akiva was his brooding self but with some new moods thrown in for variety.  Zuzana was her usual neek-neek  self (possibly even better than in the previous installments).  Mik was so super adorable.  He always puts a smile on my face.  Ziri didn’t play as big a role in this book as I’d expected but he definitely made an impression with his role.  Liraz played a bigger role than expected and I really came to respect her.  There were also a few new characters introduced and they really took me by surprise.  I don’t want to give anything away about them though so that’s all I’ll say.

Overall, I can’t possibly do this book or this series justice in a review.  Laini Taylor has cemented her place on my favorite authors shelf and I’m so eager for more from her.  If you haven’t already started this series (why are you reading this review?) you should really get on that.  And if you have started this series, finish it.  It’s one of the best trilogies I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

What others are saying about Dreams of Gods & Monsters:

The Bookish Manicurist’s review: “Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor, the final instalment in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, is epic.”

Reading Teen’s review: “I am utterly blown away by the brilliance of this book.”

Once Upon a Bookcase’s review:  “But I’m so pleased to say it’s the most perfect ending to the most perfect trilogy!”

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Night of Cake & Puppets (DoSaB #2.5) by Laini Taylor | Review

Short Story Saturday: Night of Cake & Puppets (DoSaB #2.5) by Laini Taylor | ReviewNight of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor
Published by Little Brown on November 26, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 89
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.

picadillyblueI love Laini Taylor. I’m just gonna start out saying that.

The Night of Cake & Puppets is the story of Zuzana and Mik’s first date. Zuzana has always been one of my favorite supporting characters and that’s even more true after reading from her point of view in this story. She’s quite a unique person. The same goes for Mik. I never really felt like I knew him when reading about him in the other books so it was great to finally read from his point of view. He’s so cute! He and Zuzana are so perfect for each other.

The story is fabulous. Mik and Zuzana are such unique people that you know they have to have a unique first date. And boy do they ever. Their story is full of puppets, magic, a little vengeance, and a lot of awws (at least on my part.) I also couldn’t help but laugh at their story.

Overall, I can’t do justice to how fabulous this novella is. I loved it and I highly recommend it, even if you don’t normally read novellas.

What others are saying about Night of Cake & Puppets:

The Book Addict’s Guide’s review: “If you’re a fan of this series, do yourself the favor and read NIGHT OF CAKE & PUPPETS.”

Bending the Spine’s review: “A Night of Cake & Puppets is the exact opposite of DoSB and DoBS—it’s full of hope, and joy, and wonder, and love.”

Utterly Bookish’s review: “Everything about Laini Taylor’s Night of Cake & Puppets, or Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2.5, was as perfect as I expected to be.”