Friday, February 28, 2014

Discussion Question: Do You Peek at the Ending?

My co-blogger Sheri reads the endings of books sometimes.  That makes me crazy, but lately I've found myself doing it.  Just a couple of times.  I don't do it when I'm reading on my Kindle and that's one reason that I love my Kindle (it keeps me honest).  But if I'm reading an actual book, I'll be flipping through to see how long the chapter is and a word or phrase will jump out at me and I'll read a paragraph or a page.   Or I forget how many pages the book has (uh huh) and I flip to the last page just to check how many pages there are and a word or phrase jumps out at me and yeah, I read the ending.  That happened recently when I was reading the second book in a series.  I was about halfway through and I flipped to the end and something caught my eye and of the main characters dies (paranormal book so it's not completely over, but still).  And so I didn't even finish the book.  On the other hand, sometimes I'm so stressed out about how the book is going to end that I find myself reading so fast that I'm not even really enjoying the book.  So if I know, does that mean it's more likely that I can just relax and actually enjoy the book (assuming a happy ending)?  That's why Sheri reads the ending first.  But if you know the ending, all of that drama and emotion that's in the book may not mean as much to you.  

Do you ever read ahead or even peek at the ending?  Does knowing the ending absolutely ruin the book or does it make it easier to sit back and just enjoy the book?  

Posted by:  Pam

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Author:  Sophie Jordan
Publisher:  Harper Teen, 323 pages
Publication Date:  September 7, 2010

From Goodreads:

Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.

Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.

Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

This book is pretty good if you just accept it for what it is.  And what it is is Twilight with dragons instead of vampires.  Jacinda is Bella Swan if Bella was a dragon (well, she's really a draki, a descendant of dragons and she can manifest into a dragon) and Will is Edward Cullen if Edward was a dragon hunter.  Everyone loves Jacinda for no reason whatsoever.  Does this sound familiar?  Well, she is special, she's the only fire-breathing dragon in generations (of course Will doesn't know that and still falls in love with her instantly upon seeing her).  But he can just sense her specialness.  And I digress, but if I read one more book where the main character has red hair...what is up with that?

To give you some background, the leaders of the dragon commune decide that Jacinda must mate with Cassian and hopefully make more fire-breathing dragon babies. Her Mom says no way and takes her and her twin sister Tamra away to the desert to live among humans, where Jacinda's powers will literally dry up.  I actually really liked Tamra, she just wanted to fit in and was pretty resentful that her sister got all of the attention.  Tamra, by the way, never manifested into a dragon so basically she's just a regular girl.  She also spoke her mind, which I appreciated.  

This book is heavy on romance, light on plot (I finished and realized almost nothing happened).  There's a lot of back and forth where Jacinda knows it's not smart to be around Will (you know, since he and his family are dragon hunters) but she just can't help herself.  But then she comes to her senses and pushes him away, but then she's drawn to him again because he's just so gorgeous and they're clearly meant for each other.  Then she comes to her senses again and pushes him away.  Then she again is drawn to him because he's so gorgeous...those teenage hormones!  

I am interested in what happens next so I'm planning on reading the rest of the series.  I did like this book even though all I did was complain about it, but just know what you're getting into.

Posted by:  Pam

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review: Til Death by Linda Evangelista

Til Death
Author:  Linda Evangelista
Publisher:  Entangled Teen
Expected Publication Date:  March 4, 2014
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Sixteen-year old Selena Fallon is a dreamer. Not a day-dreamer, but an I-see-the-future kind of dreamer. Normally this is not a problem as she has gotten pretty good at keeping her weird card hidden from everyone in her small town. Except from her best friend Kyle and her grandparents, of course. But when Selena dreams of her own rather bloody death, things get a little too freaky even for her.

Enter Dillan Sloan. Selena has seen the new guy in a different dream, and he is even more droolworthy in person. Beyond the piercing blue eyes and tousled dark hair, there is something else that draws her to him. Something…electric. Unfortunately, Dillan makes it more than clear that he does not feel the same. They just met, so why would he act like he hates her?

When Dillan and Selena are forced together one weekend to work on a school project, Selena prepares to be ignored as usual. But when she stumbles across a few undead in the backyard, Dillan comes to her rescue and reveals a whole lot more. Not only is he part of a society that hunts otherworldly creatures…she is too. And she is being targeted by a force bigger and darker than anything she ever imagined. Despite her death dream, Selena is not going to give up easy, especially when she discovers that Dillan might not actually hate her after all.

I really wanted to like this one, but I just didn't.  It was mediocre.  Familiar plot, familiar characters. Special girl, hot new guy, and they take an instant dislike to each know the story.  If it had been well done, I wouldn't have minded the familiar story, but it wasn't.  And Selena has this power to see the future, but she never does anything with it and acts like she can't change the future.  So why is her power so special?  

Additionally, I never connected with the characters and I thought the dislike between Selena and Dillan was forced and didn't make much sense.  The reactions of the characters was unrealistic and the dialogue was bad.  And it was so obvious who the villain was...I even knew it very early on (and that usually doesn't happen).  There were two twists at the end that I wasn't expecting and I am curious about where the story is going, but not enough to continue.  In sum, a weak story with forgettable characters that doesn't distinguish itself from the masses of other similar books out there.  

Posted by:  Pam

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book Review: The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

The Shadow Society
Author:  Marie Rutkoski
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 416 pages
Publication Date:  October 16, 2012

From Goodreads:
Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever.

I loved this book, it was smart, original, and creative.   I love the concept of parallel worlds and this one was so well done.  The Shades were fascinating, how they live, why they're considered evil.  Also enjoyed the differences between our Chicago and the other Chicago.  

Darcy is a strong heroine (she's grown up in the foster care system) whose world is turned inside out and upside down when she finds out the truth about her past.  Although the relationship between Darcy and Conn starts off a bit familiar (in an annoying way) it soon changes and I found myself really rooting for them and hoping things would work out.  For some reason, the romance in this book really got to me.  In a good way.  Conn's back story explains so many things and all of his previous behavior makes sense and you realize how tough this is for him.  Both Darcy and Conn are just trying to do the right thing.  And no love triangle!  (Some reviews have complained about the love triangle, but there really isn't one).

The book is well paced, the plot is interesting, and Darcy's friends are funny and quirky.  I wish they had been in the book a bit more.  The final action scenes felt somewhat rushed and too easy and some things happened that were rather implausible (and way too convenient), but I still enjoyed the book and definitely recommend it.  And if all of these series are driving you crazy, know that this is a stand-alone.

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (33)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Pam's Weekly Haul
From the library:
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Hereafter by Tara Hudson
Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Origin by Jessica Khoury
From NetGalley:
Darkside Sun by Jocelyn Adams

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mini Reviews: Recent Releases

Lady Thief
Author:  A.C. Gaughen 
Publisher:  Walker Childrens, 304 pages
Publication Date:  February 11, 2014

From Goodreads:
Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.

I really liked Scarlet but let me just say, I absolutely loved Lady Thief.  It. Has. All. The. Feels.  Political intrigue, action, love, loyalty, secrets...this book really has it all.  The stakes are even higher in this book, I just couldn't put it down.  The scenes between Robin and Scarlet are so sweet yet so heartbreaking.  And nothing goes right for the gang.  Not at all.  Scarlet is such a fierce heroine and she and Robin are so perfect for each other.  And that ending...gah!  Was not expecting it at all (well, I was expecting something, but just not that).  Highly recommend.

A Mad, Wicked Folly
Author:  Sharon Biggs Waller
Publisher:  Viking Juvenile, 448 pages
Publication Date:  January 23, 2014

From Goodreads:
Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.
After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

What a fantastic historical novel, I'm so glad I read this book.  The author definitely did her research, it showed in the descriptions of the clothing, the dialogue, and the details of the suffrage movement.  I found myself completely immersed in that time and world.  Vicky is an engaging and spirited heroine, although I have to say, she was a bit selfish in the beginning.  I guess what bothered me the most was that she was willing to marry someone so she would be free to pursue her art, but given the times, I guess it's understandable that she didn't consider just striking out on her own (even though she did meet people who were doing just that).  But Vicky does grow and her character progresses and matures throughout the course of the novel, which I really enjoyed.  And let me just say, loved the romance between Vicky and Will.  It wasn't insta-love, it was slow burning and realistic and some of the scenes...quite swoony.  Definitely read this one!

Landry Park
Author:  Bethany Hagen
Publisher:  Dial, 384 pages
Publication Date:  February 4, 2014

From Goodreads:
In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  My biggest complaints are with the world-building and the characters.  There are clear classes, with the gentry are at the top (and land-owners are at the absolute top) living on big estates having parties while most of the rest of the world is poor and suffering with the lowest class (the Rootless) being used and abused.  And somehow it's all tied to nuclear technology and a war with China.  What?  I just didn't get it.  And then you have Madeline, who is supposed to take over the family estate and so she doesn't get to go to college.  She meets David and feels an instant attraction, but then he acts so weird and treats her pretty horribly and even though reasons are revealed later for why he does what he does, I just never liked him and I couldn't understand why she was letting him get away with behaving like such a jerk.  And so even though I knew I was supposed to be rooting for their relationship, I just wasn't.  This may be one of those novels that would have benefited from a dual POV.  There's a secret underground rebellion...and parties...and romance.  I did like that the characters are complex and even the mean girl is not all she appears to be, but what ended up happening was that I just didn't like anyone.  

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Help! Need Completed Series to Read

I am reading way too many series right now and the wait in between books is just killing me.  I've decided that I'm only going to start new series if I've heard incredible things about the book (like The Winner's Curseor it's a favorite author (like Jennifer Armentrout's White Hot Kiss).  

I'm in the middle of many okay series, but I don't love them.  And it makes me really unexcited to reread just an okay book (and many of them aren't on recaptains).  So other than those series that are almost sure to be five-star reads, I'm going to try and concentrate on reading completed series for awhile.  Below is a list of series I've read that are completed:

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting
Angel Fever by L.A. Weatherly
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Shatter Me by Tehereh Mafi
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Legend by Marie Lu
Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
The Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Paranormalcy by Kriersten White
Anew by Chelsea Fine
Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
Embrace by Jessica Shirvington
Variant by Robison Wells
Eve by Anne Carey
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
In the After by Demetria Lunetta
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Healer series by Maria V. Snyder
Matched by Ally Condie
The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Darkness Before Dawn by J.A. London
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
Rift by Andrea Cremer
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
Starters by Lissa Price
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
Tempest by Julie Cross

Hopefully I'm not forgetting any!

I have the following first books of series that are complete that I haven't read yet:  Firelight by Sophie Jordan, the first book in the Mythos Academy (the last book will be out February 25th), A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, and Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder.  Are any of those worth reading?  

And I didn't really like Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, Everneath by Brodi Ashton, The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, or Gone by Michael Grant (I believe all of those are complete).

So, any recommendations of series where all of the books are out (other than those listed above)?  Help!

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Author:  Elizabeth Scott
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen, 304 pages
Publication Date:  January 28, 2014
*ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:
Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

A thought-provoking and emotional novel about grief, hope, and love.  Emma is so angry in this book and I really felt for her, but I also felt bad for Dan, her stepfather. Emma was so horrible to him, and I understood her anger, but he was also grieving and honestly trying to do what he thought was right. People definitely grieve in different ways, and Emma deals by lashing out. She goes from being a straight A student to failing all of her classes.  She is bitter and so angry. Losing her mother makes her question everything she thought was important to her. Why did she do homework instead of spending time with her mom, the last night she was alive?  

“I always thought of grief as a blow that took everything out of you. And it is like that. But it stays, past that first hard hit. It stays and blows its breath into you.
It's always there, reminding you of what you've lost. What's gone.” 

And then she meets Caleb. My heart broke for Caleb. What he went through, what he continues to go through, was so tragic and painful to read about. I absolutely loved him, and he needed someone in his life who loved him and accepted him, faults and all. I do wonder whether there is a happily ever after for him. I sure hope so.  Although he is described as a bad boy, and he is in a way, it's not the typical obnoxious YA bad boy, which was a refreshing change. There were definitely sweet and swoony moments between he and Emma and, to be honest, those were my favorite parts of the book.

Although this was not an easy read because of the premise, I did appreciate Heartbeat for portraying a difficult subject matter in a realistic way.    

Posted by:  Pam

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Movie Review: Vampire Academy

I was excited to see Vampire Academy, but I had rather low expectations given the trailers.  I actually just thought the first book in the series was ok, but I absolutely loved the entire series and I was curious to see how well it translated to the big screen.  I really enjoyed it.

The plot stays true to the book, and I can't think of any major scene or major plot point that wasn't in the movie.  It had a nice balance of dark and funny (the quips from Rose were pretty hilarious) so it felt like the movie stayed true to the book.  I thought the beginning was fairly well done to explain the vampire world (sometimes that's the hardest thing to do in a movie) and I think it's easy for non book readers to follow and understand.  It did have a Mean Girls kind of feel to it, with a decent amount of high school drama, but if you think about the first book, that was a lot of it.

Ok, the actors.  Zoey Deutch was fantastic, I think she was the perfect Rose.  She was spunky, sassy, beautiful, and hilarious.  I enjoyed watching her play the part. 
I also liked Danila Kozlovsky as Dimitri.  He was definitely the strong and silent type, very reserved, with the occasional facial expressions showing a break in his stoicism (the way he would look at Rose sometimes when she didn't know he was looking...very Dimitri).  And even though sometimes his accent was a little much, it was realistic (I mean, the guy is Russian). 

Now his hair was just awful, but that is really not his fault.  Why can movies change major plot points but not just give the guy short hair?  I know he had long hair in the books (which I hated, by the way) but why not just change that?  And it doesn't even make sense given that Rose (in the books and movie) talks about cutting her hair so she can show the Strigoi marks.  So it completely doesn't make sense for Dimitri to have long hair.  Ok, I spent way to much time on the hair.  But look at the pictures below.  How much better does he look with short hair???

Now Lucy Fry and Dominic Sherwood as Lissa and Christian...they were okay.  I did like that the movie focused on Rose and Lissa's relationship, which was also true to the book.  Christian was intense, but there was just something lacking for me in his character.  And Lissa's accent...I don't know, there was just something about it that bothered me, but I guess it was royal-like.  

In sum, an enjoyable film and a pretty faithful adaptation.  So go see it!  As Richelle Mead said, there needs to be a second movie so we can see who gets cast as Adrian.  If that's not enough incentive, I don't know what is!  

Posted by:  Pam

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (32)

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!  It is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Pam's Weekly Haul
Split Second by Kasie West
Three by Kristen Simmons
A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen
Rise of the Arcane Fire by Kristin Bailey

From NetGalley:
Til Death by Kate Evangelista

What books did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Discussion Question: Why Such Violent Heroines?

Over the next few weeks I plan to post several discussion topics on a related theme…
Why Must the Heroine….. 

This week I am wondering why violent heroines are often portrayed to be conflicted about their violent natures and the type of work they engage in or activities involving violence while other violent heroines are rarely shown as second-guessing their violent tendencies.
Some examples of tough, resilient, violent heroines who are conflicted about their behaviors are Caelena from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and Tris from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. 
Examples of the same type of heroines, tough, resilient, and violent who seem quite comfortable with their natures and behaviors are Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead and Ismae from the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers.

After talking about this with Pam, we have come up with several possible explanations. 

First, while we the readers like tough, independent, strong heroines we don't actually want them to choose to kill, instead we prefer that they only kill in self-defense.  So authors make it very clear that the characters were forced into these situations and then rose to the challenge for self-preservation.  Then we get to watch the heroine "recover" from her violent acts.  *POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN NEXT PARAGRAPH*

In Hunger Games, Katniss only kills once without an immediate threat and in Crown of Midnightthe assassin only pretends to kill people.

Second, when presented with a violent female character the author will often find a way to highlight her femininity by choice (Caelena who is obsessed with shopping) or through coercion (Katniss who becomes the muse for the well known fashion stylist Cena).

Third, in the few instances where the heroine doesn't second guess her violent behaviors she is almost always acting in the service of another.  Ismae is acting on behalf of her God Mortain and Rose is acting to protect Lissa and other vampires she was born to protect.

What do you think?  Are there other ways the authors try to soften violent female characters or other explanations they develop to explain their violent acts.? Or maybe you don't actually think of them as violent, simply regular people who engage in violent acts.  Finally, what are some other violent heroines who have stood out for you and why?
Posted by:  Sheri

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Series Enders

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3)
Author:  Veronica Rossi
Publisher:  HarperCollins, 400 pages
Publication Date:  January 28, 2014

From Goodreads:
Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

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

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

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

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

What an amazing ending to this spectacular series.  The characters are really what have made this series so incredible.  Aria has grown so much and she is one of the strongest female heroines I've ever read about.  And Perry...he's one of my favorite heroes and he is a hero in this book, truly becoming a leader.  He makes mistakes but he learns from those mistakes and he always is making the choices he makes because he has such a good heart.  He and Aria are absolutely perfect together and I appreciated the fact that, even though they had so many obstacles to overcome, they worked together and were stronger together.  Roar was such an amazing secondary character, I felt so bad for him and his pain and I just wanted him to be happy.  He was such an incredible friend, to both Perry and Aria, and it's so rare to have a male/female friendship without any hint of romance in YA, which I truly appreciated.  This book had it all:  interesting and fast-paced plot, extraordinary characters, impressive world-building and so many emotional moments.  Perfect series, perfect ending.

Infinite (NewSoul #3)
Author:  Jodi Meadows
Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books, 418 pages
Publication Date: January 28, 2014

From Goodreads:
The Year of Souls begins with an earthquake—an alarming rumble from deep within the earth—and it’s only the first of greater dangers to come. The Range caldera is preparing to erupt. Ana knows that as Soul Night approaches, everything near Heart will be at risk.

Ana’s exile is frightening, but it may also be fortuitous, especially if she can convince her friends to flee Heart and Range with her. They’ll go north, seeking answers and allies to stop Janan’s ascension. And with any luck, the newsouls will be safe from harm’s reach.

The oldsouls might have forgotten the choice they made to give themselves limitless lifetimes, but Ana knows the true cost of reincarnation. What she doesn’t know is whether she’ll have the chance to finish this one sweet life with Sam, especially if she returns to Heart to stop Janan once and for all.

With gorgeous romance and thrilling action, the final book in the Incarnate trilogy offers a brilliant conclusion to the compelling questions of this fascinating world, where one new girl is the key to the lives of millions.

The premise of this series is so fascinating, with Ana being the only NewSoul, surrounding by people who have lived 5000 years.  What would happen if people were reincarnated and remembered their past lives?  Although they do make improvements to their world and become experts at what they do (like Sam with his music), there also isn't that urgency to do anything and there's a lot of stagnation and apathy to a certain extent.  I found the world created by Jodi Meadows to be realistic in that sense and also thought-provoking.  I love the romance between Sam and Ana and there is never even a hint of a love triangle.  Thank you!  And I just have to say...this is how you write a book about love and sacrifice.  Beautifully written, highly emotional, and ultimately so satisfying, this was a wonderful ending to an stunning series.

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)
Author:  Tehereh Mafi
Publisher:  HarperCollins, 416 pages
Publication Date:  February 4, 2014

From Goodreads:
Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she'll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew-about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam-was wrong.

In Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi created a captivating and original story that combined the best of dystopian and paranormal and was praised by Publishers Weekly as "a gripping read from an author who's not afraid to take risks." The sequel, Unravel Me, blew readers away with heart-racing twists and turns, and New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia said it was "dangerous, sexy, romantic, and intense." Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and climactic end.

Although the entire series is very heavy on the romance, including this book, it also is the story of Juliette, who used to be quiet, withdrawn, scared, and ashamed and finally becomes the strong female character we always knew she could be.  Instead of apologizing and feeling terrible for who she is, she finally embraces her powers and learns how to use them.  Although I'm a bit tired of love triangles, I have to say that this is one of the best ones I've read because it is a true triangle, meaning Juliette actually had feelings for both Adam and Warner at different points in time (not the lame not real triangle where you know where her heart is and then there's that other guy that just messes things up).  And no matter which guy you were rooting for, you have to hand it to Tehereh Mafi for creating a love interest from a villain.  I reread both Shatter Me and Unravel Me and Warner was horrible in Shatter Me.  Just horrible.  So for anyone to be rooting for him...that takes talent.  Although it was very clear who Mafi chose from the very beginning of Ignite Me and she pushes very hard so you will agree with her, which annoyed me.  In fact, she basically rewrites history in order to portray both Adam and Warner in certain ways, which I didn't agree with and it really didn't need to be done in order for Juliette to make her choice.  I felt a bit manipulated.  There were also still so many questions left about the world, their powers, etc. that I was disappointed in that aspect of the book.  And what happened with Juliette at the end...yeah, a little far-fetched.  I still enjoyed it and the writing was gorgeous, but...that's all I can say without spoilers.

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Book Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Author:  Sophie Jordan
Publisher:  HarperTeen, 384 pages
Publication Date:  January 28, 2014

From Goodreads:
When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

Loved this book.  When I was reading it, I could easily imagine this happening.  Prejudice, fear, people panicking, segregating those with HTS, etc.  The whole nature vs. nurture debate is fascinating.  Davy was such a relatable character.  She was just a normal girl with a bright future who suddenly has everything ripped away from her and basically has to start over.  She fears those who have tested positive for HTS even while she knows that she has the gene but she certainly isn't a killer.  I felt so bad for her, especially the way her parents acted and her so-called friends were the absolute worst (loved her brother, though, he was amazing).  I really enjoyed the twist of the camp and again, could see that happening.  I appreciated the reality that Davy was trying to become physically strong and capable because she needed to be, but she didn't suddenly turn into some sort of badass ninja.  Sean was amazing, he was intense and fearless (and swoony) and I loved their relationship and how it developed.  The book ends in a good place (no middle of a scene cliffhanger) and I can't wait for the next one (and it's a duology, not a trilogy...yay!) Read it in one sitting.

Posted by:  Pam