Category Archives: 3.5 Stars

REVIEW {44} – SILVER SHADOWS by Richelle Mead

SILVER SHADOWS
Series: Bloodlines – Book #5
Author: Richelle Mead
My Rating: 3.50/5.00 | Goodreads Rating: 4.40/5.00
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.


LIKES
  • Sydney and Adrian’s love for each other.
  • Hopper – the dragon!
  • Sydney and Adrian’s relationship status – at the end of the book.
  • How fast paced and full of action this book (and ultimately the entire series) is.
  • How strong the bond of friendship is between Jill, Angelina, Eddie, Sydney, Neil, and Adrian. In a world where dhampirs and vampires do not have relationships (friendship or otherwise) with Alchemists, the way they’ve banded together and the loyalty towards each other is insane!
  • Sydney’s magic. I love this aspect of the book, I truly do!
  • Carly Sage.
  • Rowena.
  • Jill’s bond with Adrian – and her maturity.
  • Jill and Eddie. Please, get together! I’m OTP’ing it! Jeddie? 
  • Diversity in characters and lifestyles.

DISLIKES
  • The Re-education center and the Alchemists.
  • Queen Tatiana’s voice in Adrian’s head. (Curious to see what that’s all about.)
  • Adrian’s negative Spirit attributes.
  • Some parts that seem to lag and drag.
  • The Alchemists. Did I already mention them? I hate them.

MY THOUGHTS: 
*I cannot promise that this is a spoiler-free review. If you haven’t read the first 4 books of the series, I recommend not continuing with this review!*
 I have been obsessed with the Vampire Academy world from the first page of Vampire Academy, and when I found out that there was a spin-off series, it made my little vampire-loving heart leap with joy! So far, I’ve loved Sydney and Adrian’s story, told throughout the Bloodlines series.With  every book, I’ve closed the cover and had the worst book hangover – desperately awaiting the next book to come out.
While I did enjoy the continuation of the story, I felt that this one was just a little stagnant. At the end of The Fiery Heart, Sydney was taken by the Alchemists for re-education, and Adrian is left fighting to find her. But in his spirit-wielding way, Adrian falls back into old habits at the start of Silver Shadows, and Sydney is wasting away in a dark cell, drugged until she admits she sinned, and is willing to undergo re-education to find her way back to the light. She is in this dark place both physically and emotionally – as it was her own sister, Zoe, who betrayed her, and her father who committed her to this place. She leaves her hopes of rescue in Adrian – who is back at Court, after his mother came to get him and bring him back after Jill contacted her. Back at Court, Adrian teams up with Nina – another Spirit user – who joins him in his drinking escapades, and makes sure he gets back to his room. She also has feelings for him.
Mostly, this book just starts to tie up the loose ends from the series, getting ready to end it all in just one more book.
While it ended on a cliffhanger in true Richelle Mead style, I found large chunks of this book leaning towards boring. Even though we get the typical unexpected – like what Sydney and Adrian do in the end – that I can say that I wasn’t expecting AT ALL – for the most part it’s Sydney in re-education, confirming what we already know – that she is a bad ass – and Adrian falling back into old drinking patterns and we follow him around Court while he parties. I don’t feel like a lot happens, which I suppose being the last book before the finale, it can happen. 
I still love Mead’s writing style, and her characters feel like they are really some of my BFFs. Her characters have such depth and emotion that it’s hard not to get invested in them. Even though this was not one of my favorite books in the series, I still fully enjoyed it and I am so sad that when I read The Ruby Circle, that this series will be finished. I don’t think I am ready for that!
Would I recommend it? Obviously, if you’ve read the first 4 books then YES you need to read it!

Happy Reading!

Review {28} Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked
AUTHOR: Jessica Spotswood
SERIES: The Cahill Witch Chronicles | OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Star Crossed #2
ACQUIRED: Borrowed | Library
EDITION: Hardcover, 330 pages
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: February 7th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile
CATEGORIES: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Witches, Romance, Magic, 3.5 Stars, Putnam Juvenile Publishing, Jessica Spotswood, 2013 Read, Book 1 in Series, Born Wicked, The Cahill Witch Chronicles
RATING: 3.50/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.95/5.00
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.


Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word… especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

MY THOUGHTS: Born Wicked was an interesting read for me. It’s not one of those action-packed, fast-paced stories where you’re constantly getting whiplash from how quickly the plot goes and how crazy the scenes get. Instead, the first installment in the Cahill Witch Chronicles moves slowly, dishing out dangerous liaisons, magical misuse, and secrets that rock a town to its core.
Cate Cahill is our protagonist. She is almost seventeen, the oldest of three girls, and very maternal since her mother died several years ago. Cate feels that it is her duty to not only care for her two younger sisters, but also to make sure they are not using any of their magical powers, lest the Brotherhood finds out they are witches and tries them. Once tried, a witch would either be sent to the Harwood Asylum or be killed; neither of which are viable options for Cate and her sisters.
Born Wicked is set in an ‘Alternate 1900 New England’ where the Brotherhood rule and at the age of seventeen a girl must announce her intentions to marry (and to whom) or join the Sisterhood. At first I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading a story taking place in an ‘alternate’ place and time, but once I was into the story, Spotswood does a wonderful job creating the world where her characters live.
The characters are well developed, each with their own personalities and attitudes. I can’t say I necessarily loved Cate as the protagonist, but I am going to assume that she will be a wholly different person in the next book(s) to come. Where she tried to stay as out of sight as possible, I think we are going to see a giant change in her, now that she knows how things really are in New England.
One character I really enjoyed, however; was Finn Belastra. He was a wonderful love interest, and one of two guys to make up the love triangle. He’s smart, witty, and willing to fight anyone or anything for the people that he loves. In that way, he and Cate have a lot in common. They only want to protect their families, and put themselves last. He is wonderfully selfless, and a great match for Cate.
Cate’s two sisters, Tess and Maura, each have a unique voice to the story. Cate is overprotective and suffocates them, and Maura acts out at any chance she gets. Tess is the quieter, gentler one who just wants the three of them to stay unified while making decisions together, rather than suppressing their magic and being told how to behave.
One character that I completely disliked was Sister Elena, from the Sisterhood. She annoyed me from the first page she appeared on. I’m not sure completely what it was that irritated me, but she just rubbed me the wrong way! And how she played the sisters against each other and played with Maura’s heart and emotions was just unforgivable.
The slower pacing of the story, I believe actually helped the story to achieve an eerie, kind of maybe almost Gothic-Victorian type of air to it. I would say it felt rather dark and gloomy than a light, airy read. The Brotherhood is oppressive in their rules – and just like any other “government” type body, they have their corruption and flaws. I will be curious to see how things change within the Sisterhood that will ultimately affect the Brotherhood in the end.
There is a great prophecy that is entangled in the web of this tale as well; one that could have several different outcomes and consequences. There is a bit of a twist at the end – one that I cannot say was completely unpredictable, but I am anxious to see how Cate handles her choices and how it will affect those around her.
Overall, I enjoyed this read for the straight-forward story that it is. I would willingly recommend to anyone who enjoys paranormal, steampunk, historical fiction, or just a good fight-for-love story.

SIMILAR READS: Harbinger by Sara Wilson Etienne | When the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen | Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock | The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges | Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Happy Reading!

Review {16} Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Breathe
BY: Sarah Crossan
SERIES: Breathe #1
PUBLICATION INFORMATION: October 2nd 2012 by Greenwillow
EDITION: Hardcover, 373 pages
ACQUISITION: Borrowed/Library
CATEGORIES: Young adult, Sci-Fi, Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic, Adventure, Romance, Dystopian
RATING: 3.50/5.00 | GOODREADS RATING: 3.73/5.00
WHAT THE BACK OF THE BOOK SAYS: Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe… The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.
ALINA has been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.
QUINN should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.
BEA wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.
And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?
MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed this book, which isn’t a huge surprise considering my love for anything dystopian/apocalyptic. This book has it’s own unique spin, as Crossan creates a world without trees – – without oxygen.  The book centers around the big, bad corporation, Breathe, who manufactures oxygen and pumps it into the dome that the survivors now live under, and who are split into a caste-like system with premiums and auxiliaries, and the Resistance – aka – RATS. 
Of course there is corruption within the dome, and the RATS are trying to bring it to light, and bring the world back how it was before the Switch. Part of the RATS, Alina Moon finds herself mourning the loss of Abel, her crush and fellow RATS member. She runs into Quinn Caffery at school, in line for green flu vaccinations, and he’s smitten. But Bea Whitcraft, an auxiliary, is secretly in love with Quinn, the son of Breathe’s head honcho. Alina suffers alone with the grief of her “missing” (read: Dead) parents, and lives with her aunt, uncle, and cousin Silas – also all RATS. 
When Alina is suddenly being hunted by Breathe, she must escape the dome and make her way through the Outlands to The Grove, one of the outposts of the RATS who call an old soccer stadium home. Of course as a wanted possible criminal, she isn’t able to get access out of the dome, and so Quinn, in an act of lust, gets her out of the dome with himself and Bea, who planned a camping trip. Along the way they meet drifters, one in particular, Maude Blue who is actually the best character in the book, in my opinion. She’s so flawed and imperfect that you can’t help but love her and feel for her. With the stealing of a Breathe tank, Alina unknowingly begins a war between the Resistance and Breathe.
I think the overall theme and plot are my favorite part of the book. To me, this is something I constantly think about. Can we ever eventually log all of the forests? Will there ever be a time where the Earth is tree-less? Clearly Crossan has similar thoughts and even was able to build this world around the same question. While I thoroughly enjoyed Crossan’s writing style, I did have some trouble with the world-building, and had some trouble envisioning the dome world, and The Grove in my mind’s eye. Eventually I was able to get a sense of the world she’s created, and was able to put myself right in the action.
I have a love/hate relationship with the multi-POV as well. The story is told from the POV of three people – Quinn, Alina, and Bea, with Alina being the “Main character”. I did have some issues distinguishing the characters from one another, and sometimes had to go back and check the chapter’s first page to see which character it was “speaking”. I liked each of the characters, as they each had different challenges and inner demons, but I didn’t feel that they were totally rounded and 3D. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d actually pick Quinn. I think of the three, he’s the one who changed and grew the most throughout the book, and had the most to lose.
Another plus is that there aren’t too many obvious twists, and Crossan is wonderful at leaving doors open to be resolved in the sequel/subsequent novels in the series.
TO SUM IT UP: If you are looking for a fast-paced, action packed dystopian with a unique spin on a post-apocalyptic world and incredible characters that you’ll keep thinking about long after you end the book, then you should read Breathe.
READ THIS IF YOU LIKE: Beta by Rachel Cohn | Ashes of Twilight by Kassy Tayler | Skylark by Meagan Spooner | Black City by Elizabeth Richards | The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
MY ‘SIMILAR BOOK FROM MY BOOKSHELF’ SUGGESTION: Matched by Ally Condie
BREATHE MEDIA:

AUTHOR INFO: Sarah Crossan is Irish. She graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Literature before training as an English and Drama teacher at Cambridge University and worked to promote creative writing in schools before leaving teaching to write full time.

She completed her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Warwick in 2003 and in 2010 received an Edward Albee Fellowship for writing.
She currently lives in NYC.

Review {5} Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

Where We Belong
Emily Giffin
Published: July 24th 2012 by St. Martin’s Press
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Categories: Adult Fiction, Romance, Adoption, High Emotions, Chick-Lit
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What the Back of the Book Says: The author of five blockbuster novels, Emily Giffin, delivers an unforgettable story of two women, the families that make them who they are, and the longing, loyalty and love that binds them together

  

Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.

 

For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.

My Thoughts: I know that this is technically not YA, but because it is told in alternate points-of-view and one of the main characters is 18-year-old Kirby Rose, I decided I would write up a review and post it.
The story starts out introducing us to thirty-six-year-old TV producer, Marian Caldwell, who just so happens to be dating the CEO, Peter. After a particular fight over their future, Marian goes home alone and is surprised to hear a knock on her door late that night. Assuming it was Peter there to apologize, she is shocked to find the daughter she gave up for adoption eighteen years ago standing at her door.
We learn through flashbacks about Marian’s relationship with Conrad Knight the summer after graduating high school, and the subsequent conception of Kirby. We follow Marian through her decisions regarding keeping the baby, abortion, and adoption. I feel like Marian’s character was a bit lacking, however. She was a very selfish person throughout the book, from eighteen-year-old Marian to thirty-six-year-old Marian, I feel there was not a lot of growth in her character whatsoever.
Kirby was lucky to be adopted by two loving parents, who ended up conceiving another daughter, Charlotte, after adopting Kirby – which was against all odds. Kirby has always felt a sense of not belonging. When this reaches its peak, she journeys to New York City to track down the birth mother she’s never met.
Their meeting is not what Kirby had planned for, not that she truly knew what to expect anyway. It is nice to see how Kirby and Marian’s relationship evolves though, throughout the book. Kirby’s chapters were always fun and engaging, and innocent. It was great to experience life through her eyes – including her first kiss and her first boyfriend!!
The ending came as expected but left me really wanting more. I’m not sure if Giffin plans on continuing Marian, Conrad, and Kirby’s story in a sequel (Which I must say would be really cool!) but I wasn’t completely satisfied when I read the last page. I would recommend this book to any Emily Giffin fan though, or those looking for a sweet, easy read. Giffin’s writing is easy and flowy and engaging enough for most anyone.
Happy Reading!
Laura